TITLE: Heaven Can Wait
DISCLAIMER: Surprisingly enough, I don't own any of this. ME and Joss do. But I can pretend.
THE STORY: Picks up where "As You Were" left off. I felt like making up my own little story on why Riley happened to turn up in Sunnydale just as Buffy's life had reached its lowest point. I also felt like sorting out Buffy and Spike to my own satisfaction. It turned into a slightly longer story than I expected... Anyway, for the purposes of my fic, the events of Normal Again do take place at some point in my story, but the rest of it is AU.
FEEDBACK: Please. In fact, I'd love some serious reviews on what you think works and what doesn't in my writing.

So let's go ...


CHAPTER ONE - BRIEF ENCOUNTER

"I'm sorry ... William."

Buffy exited into sunlight, hesitating for a moment as the bright rays struck her full in the face, making her blink.

She knew she'd done the right thing. Sex with Spike was wrong, on every level. Aside from the whole feeling fantastic thing. It was wrong. She had to make it stop.

So why did she feel so close to tears? She should be feeling relieved. Proud of herself for taking control of her life. Making a good decision, based on logic, common sense, all those sensible things that Giles had told her about.

"I have to be strong about this."

For some reason, she felt disappointed. Guilty, even. The look on Spike's face just now when she had told him that sleeping with him was killing her. It was as though she had shoved a stake through his heart.

"I can't love you. I'm just ... being weak, and selfish ... and it's killing me."

She took a deep breath and made her way through the cemetery, lifting her face to feel the warmth of the sun. Symbolic much? Leaving the crypt of the vampire, moving into the sunlight …. out of the darkness and into the light.

Except she knew it wasn't symbolic. It was deliberate. And cowardly. She had chosen to tell Spike at this time of day, because she didn't want him to be able to follow her. To come after her and try to convince her she was making a mistake.

"Not that he would be able to," Buffy mumbled under her breath. "Cause it's not a mistake. It's a Good Thing."

Seeing Riley again had made her realise just how off the rails things - her life - had gone. He had made her remember what life was supposed to be like, when she was just a college student, with her mother at home, and a nice, normal boyfriend who treated her like a princess. Buffy ignored the little voice in her head that was trying to point out that the college girl had also been the Slayer, and that the nice normal boyfriend worked for a secret government army that hunted demons. Those were unimportant, minor details.

While she was ignoring that little voice, Buffy decided that she was also going to refuse to let herself think about last night, when she had gone to Spike, sought him out, knowing he was the one person that could make her feel better after finding out about Riley's marriage.

"I'm using you."

She was not going to think about asking him, begging him to tell her that he loved her. Not going to think about the emotion in his voice as he did as she asked. Not going to think about the way his eyes had searched hers for some spark of reciprocal feeling …

And definitely not going to think about the way his hands felt on her skin, his lips on her body.

Nope, not going to think about that.

****

It was impossible to stop thinking about her.

Spike raised the bottle to his lips, then scowled when nothing came out. With a growl, he lobbed the bottle across the room, watching it smash against the far wall, the shards joining the rubbish heap left by the blast. How could he have finished an entire bottle of whiskey and not even remember it? And worse, not even feel drunk? He shook his head violently, hoping to feel that wave of dizziness that meant 'drunk'. Nothing. He stood and jumped around. No dizziness. No swaying. Nothing.

"Bloody hell." And no more whiskey. So now what? How the hell was he supposed to rid himself of images of Buffy, here, in his arms, just last night? His to touch, to caress, to love.

He closed his eyes, deliberately conjuring up the picture of her, naked, in his bed, glowing with passion, mindless with need. Then he brought to mind the Buffy that had been here this morning. Still beautiful. Not naked, unfortunately. And dumping him. Could you call it dumping when there had never even been a relationship? Just amazing sex. And a hell of a lot of pain.

Spike chuckled cynically. "Sounds like a bloody relationship to me," he told himself.

So now what? No whiskey. No Buffy. No point in staying in Sunnydale any longer.

Except for one thing.

"She called me William," he whispered. The sound of his voice echoed softly around his crypt. He sighed and sank back down to his seat.

Why did she do that? Why, if she was breaking up with me because I'm a vampire, did she call me by my human name? What was all that about?

He settled back further into the armchair, legs stretched out in front, and closed his eyes. Think, Spike. Why would she do that?

All right. How about this for a theory? Was she trying to break it gentle? Throw him a crumb by calling him by his human name, for the first time ever? But why would she bother? She was breaking up with him, so why bother trying to make him feel good? It didn't make sense.

Scratch that, then. What else could it be?

Perhaps she was trying to make herself feel better. Trying to tell herself that she hadn't been screwing a vampire, that it was a human standing in front of her, a human called William.

Again. Why would she do that? If she was going to try to convince herself that he was human, surely she would have done so while they were sleeping together. Not while she was telling him that it could never work out. Again, not making sense.

He opened his eyes. He couldn't think of anything else, except ….

Except that, somehow, perhaps subconsciously, she was trying to tell him that she did see something else in him. Maybe she knew that, deep down, there was a "William" inside him somewhere, something or someone that she could admit to loving. He just needed to prove this to her ...

Spike considered this for a few minutes. Maybe he was fooling himself. Most likely, in fact. But if there was a chance ….

"What do you have to lose, mate?" he told himself. After all, all the other ponces in her life had left her. Maybe, just this once, she would want one that could prove he wasn't just going to give up on her.

He had had this debate with himself many, many times. If it was true that being with him was bad for her, then he knew that he would have to leave her. But he just didn't believe it was true. Something kept telling him that he could be right for her. He simply had to make her acknowledge it.

It wasn't as though he had been all that nice to her, he admitted. She knew how to rub him up the wrong way, that's for sure, and he retaliated in kind. He cringed a bit to think of some of the things he had said to her, or in front of her. He wasn't good at bottling his emotions up, and sometimes he would snap. Not exactly gentlemanly, he agreed.

He closed his eyes again. It was worth thinking about. He had a few hours to kill before sundown anyway.

****

"I'll kill her!" Buffy muttered as she rummaged further in her closet. If Dawn had taken her favourite leather jacket, without asking, to wear to the Bronze, then Buffy would definitely kill her. "And no court in this country would blame me!" she warned the empty room. How could she go on patrol without that jacket? She loved that jacket …

The peal of the doorbell interrupted her rant, and she straightened up with a sigh. She stomped down the stairs, renewing her vows to kill her little sister with each thud of her foot, and ignoring the little voice in her head that told her she was being a cranky-pants. She'd been in a bad mood all day, and finding her favourite jacket missing was just the final straw.

No, she was wrong. The final straw was standing outside her front door.

"What do you want, Spike?" she said, not bothering to hide the exasperation in her voice.

One of his eyebrows went up. "Thought you might miss this," he drawled, holding out a leather jacket. Her favourite leather jacket. The one she had been prepared to kill Dawn over. The one she had worn when she went to Spike's crypt one night last week …

"Oh. Thanks." She took the jacket from him, making sure that no physical contact took place.

"Don't worry, I've not come over to get in your hair," Spike told her, keeping his voice light. "Just thought you'd want your jacket. Um, and this …" he reached into an inside pocket of his leather duster "…is for Dawn. I promised it to her a while back."

He handed her an old book, bound in leather. It fell open in her hands and she stared blankly at page of verse.

"What is it?" she asked automatically, then winced, waiting for the sarcastic rejoinder.

"Poetry?" It came as expected, and she sighed. Sometimes he could be so predictable. "It's a book I've had for a while, it has some lines I thought Dawn would find interesting. We talked about some of it a while back, when she first found out she was the Key. So I told her I'd lend it to her."

"Oh." That's so nice. But she wasn't going to say those words out loud.

"Just two things I need to say, Buffy."

She looked up, prepared to forestall him. She wasn't going to let him try to sweet talk her. Or any other kind of talk.

He continued before she got the chance. "Don't fret, love, I heard what you said this morning." His head tilted in that way that made her stomach flutter, and his eyes bored into hers. "I won't be pestering you, Buffy. I just wanted to say that, I'll still be around if you need any help. You know, looking after Dawn or anything like that.

"Secondly, I need to tell you … I was minding those eggs for friend, Buffy. I didn't know what they were, I just owed him a favour. He needed a place to store them. I don't know if you believe me or not, but I want you to know the truth."

He stopped speaking. She wouldn't even meet his eyes, and he sighed. Oh well. Can't say he didn't try.

"Right then. Bye, Slayer." He gave her a half-grin, just that little curl of his mouth, then turned and walked away, the darkness swallowing him quickly until even his white-blonde hair wasn't visible in the night.

Only then did Buffy realise she was still standing at the open door, clutching her jacket and the book.

****

"We'll do this by the book, Finn!"

"Yes sir." Riley answered smartly, but mentally he was shaking his head. With Buffy, and the Scoobies, there was no "by the book". Improvisation was their best weapon. He remembered hearing the story about the time Buffy had destroyed the Judge. Books had been pretty useless then, hadn't they? But you couldn't argue with Colonel McNamara. He was too senior in the Initiative. And if he wanted to stick to the original plan for getting rid of Buffy, then that's what they would do.

TBC