Lovers and Lethe
Buffy hesitated as she approached the shelter's parking lot, stopping to apply more lip gloss and run a hand over her hair.
Ok, no reason to be nervous. I know he has amnesia. He probably won't remember me right away. But that's okay. I can cope. I'll fill him in on the way back to England. I just have to keep my cool. Don't frighten him. Calm, controlled Buffy. That's the way to go.
Squaring her shoulders, she walked toward the front door, waiting as a homeless man shuffled out before going from the bright sunshine into the gloomy interior. She looked around for another woman, remembering that she was told the director was someone named Anne. Spotting a head of long blond hair, she made her way through the various people sitting and standing around the large room until she was close enough to see the other woman.
"Lily?" Buffy asked with uncertainty. "Is that you?"
Anne whirled around at the sound of her old name and frowned briefly before she broke into a smile and ran up to hug Buffy.
"Buffy! It's so good to see you. What are you doing here?"
"I'm here to…what are you doing here? And, you're 'Anne' now?"
Anne blushed and nodded. "Yes, I took that name tag you gave me and went to work at your old job. Eventually I was spending so much time helping out at the shelter that they hired me. Been here ever since. I try to help people who are lost –the way I was."
"Oh." Buffy wasn't sure how to reply to that. It was obviously a step up from the streets and probably another step up from the greasy spoon where Buffy had sent her to work in her place. She knew her memories of that summer in LA were tainted by the misery she'd been in after sending Angel to Hell, but even so….
"So," Anne asked again. "Why are you here?"
"I'm…I'm looking for a…man…a vamp, actually. But I doubt he's here." She looked around at the humans sitting in various states of misery or indifference. "I'm pretty sure after he'd tried to kill you years ago, you wouldn't want him anywhere near you."
At Anne's incredulous smile, Buffy hastened to add, "Not that he would hurt you now! He's got his soul, and he saved the world, and he…I'm sorry. I guess we got bad information."
Buffy's shoulders slumped and she fought back the tears as she turned to leave. "It was great to see you again," she said as she walked toward the door.
"Buffy. Buffy!" Anne's voice rose as she watched the slayer who had saved her life at least twice walking away. "If it's Spike you're looking for, he's here. He's downstairs. I'll get him for you. Follow me over here."
Anne was already turning to walk toward the back of the room and missed the flash of sheer joy that flew across Buffy's face at her words. Before she had taken two steps, Buffy was at her side asking softly, "Is he all right? I mean except for the amnesia thing."
"Oh, yeah. He was pretty beat up and it's taken a long time for him to heal, but I think he's all right. It's frustrating for him not being able to remember anything, though. He'll be so happy to see somebody who can tell him more about his life. I mean, I covered the basics – you know, stay out of the sun, avoid girls with pointy wooden things, stuff like that. But I really don't know much about what happened before he showed up at Angel's and started helping them. I know he was in Sunnydale and that he supposedly saved the world somehow. Gunn had told me that, but that's all I know."
Anne interrupted her chattering as they reached the top of the stairs and she shouted down, "Spike? Honey? There's somebody here to see you. Somebody who knows you."
Buffy's breath caught in her throat as a familiar blond head came into sight and she felt the prickle of tears when a pair of curious blue eyes met hers briefly before turning to smile at Anne. He came the rest of the way up and stepped to her side, resting his arm on Anne's shoulder as he looked back at Buffy and tilted his head.
"So, you know me, do you?"
Buffy couldn't answer. All she could do was drink in the sight of the vampire she'd loved too late. The vampire she'd mourned for twice before finding out he was still alive after the near-apocalypse that had taken Angel's un-life. At the last second, just before she threw herself on him in a frenzy of grateful kissing, she noticed the easy familiarity with which he and Anne touched each other and the way he was looking at the slender blond woman. With an effort of will she didn't know she was capable of summoning, she stopped herself from touching him and settled for a strangled, "I guess you could say that."
Spike cocked his head at her curiously. He could hear her accelerated heart rate, as well as smell the barely suppressed tears. He frowned in confusion. Anne had implied that this woman was someone who knew him well and yet she was reacting to him as though she'd seen a ghost.
"Is something wrong?" he asked kindly.
"No…no," she struggled to control her voice. "I'm just…I didn't think…I mean we didn't know you were alive until just a week ago and I…we thought you'd be glad to see me…somebody you knew."
"Oh, I am glad to see you. I hope I didn't give the impression I wasn't. I can't wait to sit down and talk about my life – or what you know of it. Did – do you know me well? Were we friends?"
"I'd like to think so," Buffy replied softly, regaining control of herself and smiling brightly at the slender couple staring at her. There was no question that she was facing Spike, but the upper class accent, so unlike his normal one, and his obvious affection for Anne were throwing her off.
"Buffy is a slayer, honey. I've told you about her. She used to be the only slayer – back when you were evil."
"Oh! That Buffy. Why didn't you say so?" He beamed at Buffy and took her hand lightly as he searched her face. "So, you're the famous last of the Chosen Ones. I'm honored. I mean to think you would come all the way over here to see me. Of course this is your home, isn't it? So perhaps you're not really here to see me? "
Buffy continued to drink in the sight in front of her, trying not to notice the way he and Anne were holding hands. She put her hands behind her back to prevent herself from shoving the other woman out of the way so she could run her hands over him and assure herself he was really there.
"Buffy?" Anne was puzzled by the sudden silence on the slayer's part. "Did you not mean to come here? You could have sent one of the LA slayers to see if he was here."
"No, I couldn't do that," she said as steadily as she could, never taking her eyes off Spike. "You are—were too important to…to us. You deserve the real thing. Anyway, Dawn would never have forgiven me if I didn't come myself."
Buffy saw Anne stiffen beside him and watched how he used his hands to soothe her while he asked, "Dawn?"
"My sister," she explained. "She and you – you were very fond of each other at one time, and she was devastated when she thought you had died without her having healed the rift between you."
"So," Anne asked carefully, "Your sister and Spike were…involved?"
"What? Oh no. Oh, god, no! He protected her for me and then he was her babysitter while I was – and then he was like a big brother to her. And then she got angry at him for—and then he died and… She loves you," she finished, looking him in the eye.
Spike smiled at her in relief, and said, "Then I am sure I will love her too." He turned to Anne to ask, "What do you think, love? Shall we ask Buffy to join us for dinner tonight? Give me a chance to pick her brain?"
Buffy felt her smile turning into a grimace as the other woman reached up to stoke his cheek.
"Of course it is, honey. Why don't you two go on upstairs and start talking while I close up here?"
Buffy was having trouble breathing as her body reacted to the obvious affection and familiarity between Anne and Spike. The slayer in her wanted to rip the other woman away from him, while the woman who had been so full of joy just a few minutes before wanted to fall to the floor and scream. She trembled as she struggled to come up with an excuse to leave before her poor impulse control ruined everything.
"Um…I have…um…things. Yes, that's it. I have things to do. Can I take a rain check on that dinner?"
In an uncanny example of the way Spike could always see right through her, he frowned and asked suspiciously, "What kind of things? I thought you came to see me?"
"I need to… to patrol! I need to patrol. There are things out there that need to be killed and I…I really need to kill something right now. I'll come back later. After dinner maybe?"
He was wearing his "who do you think you're kidding, Slayer?" look and Buffy felt her heart cracking. That he could seem so familiar with her and yet be so unaware of who she was. Even as he looked at her in clear disbelief, he wrapped his arms around Anne from behind and spoke to Buffy over her shoulder.
"I could patrol with you. Could use a bit of violence to work out the kinks"
"No!" Anne's voice was fearful as she lifted her head to look back at him. "You're not well enough yet."
"I'm fine, pet. You know that," he murmured into her ear, nuzzling it as he did so. "You ought to know. Being as how you donated the medicine," he leered as he licked her neck.
Neither one saw the stricken look on Buffy's face as she fought to remain impassive. The sight of twin fang marks on Anne's neck was all it took to destroy her shaky grip on her emotions and she whirled before they could see the tears on her cheeks.
"I have to go now," she managed to choke out. "I'll try to come back later."
Before either one could say or do anything, she had crossed the large room and bolted out the door into the waning sunlight, heedless of who she knocked out of her way.
Buffy ran until the light was gone and she couldn't run anymore. Over and over she replayed the impersonal way Spike had looked at and talked to her. The tender way he looked at Anne and the gentleness with which he touched her. She thought she'd known what to expect. She'd been told that he remembered nothing and no one, but in her heart she'd been sure that the sight of her would be all it took to snap him out of it. Never, in all the reunion dreams she'd indulged in the past week had it occurred to her that he might have fallen in love with someone else.
Shaking off the despair that threatened to overwhelm her, she began walking back toward her hotel, biting her lips to prevent the sobs that wanted to break out. She made it back to her room with no interruptions except for one very brave or foolish vampire who challenged her even after she'd identified herself as a slayer.
"I think I'd like to eat a slayer," he growled. "I'd become the Slayer of Slayers!"
"No, you really wouldn't," Buffy replied grimly, delighted to have found something on which to take out her anger. "I know the Slayer of Slayers. I've fought with the Slayer of Slayers, and trust me," she growled as she plunged her never-absent stake into his chest, "you are no Slayer of Slayers." She watched wistfully as his dust drifted down to the ground.
"You're not him," she whispered as she put her stake away and continued toward her hotel.
She got back to her room and called Dawn to report what she'd found, soft-pedaling the fact that Spike was living with someone, but telling her that he didn't seem to remember either one of them. She hung up after promising to call again when she had spoken to him more. She pulled off her dusty clothes as she walked toward the bathroom.
Standing in the shower, she finally allowed the disappointment and pain to wash over her and she stood in the pounding water, clutching her stomach and allowing the gut-wrenching sobs to wrack her body. The water had turned cold by the time she stopped crying and moved, zombie-like to put some more patrol-appropriate clothes on.
She listlessly dried her hair, leaving it down and long the way she knew he liked it and carefully reapplied her make-up. She stared at herself in the mirror and tried to find the slayer he'd fallen in love with so many years ago.
All right, I can do this. I'm not the slayer for nothing. He's not dead. He's not even rejecting me. He doesn't remember us, that's all. I will be understanding, informative and…and…understanding.
Summoning up all her determination, Buffy left the room and marched down the street toward the shelter where the vampire she loved was living happily with another woman.
Spike stared after Buffy as she pushed her way out of the building. There was something very off about her behavior and he growled in familiar frustration at his lack of understanding. Somehow he knew he was missing something very important about the whole situation, but nothing penetrated the thick wall surrounding his memories.
"Not a very polite girl, is she, pet?" he said as he rested his chin on Anne's shoulder and looked at the humans Buffy had bowled over on her way out the door.
"That's really not like her," Anne frowned. "I wonder what's wrong? She didn't seem very glad to see you after coming all this way."
"Maybe we don't really like each other very much, and she just came because she promised her sister." He shrugged and gave his girlfriend a squeeze. "I hope she comes back later, though. I have a feeling she could fill in a lot of gaps for me."
"Maybe her memories aren't good ones," Anne agreed. "I think I remember that she and Angel were involved when we were in high school. Maybe she's resentful that you survived and he didn't."
Smothering the unexpected growl that her words evoked, he agreed quickly, "I hadn't thought about that. Seeing me probably reminds her of him. Poor chit. No wonder she was in tears."
Anne shot him a look. "She was in tears?"
"Yeah. Could smell 'em. She tried to hide it though. Got to give her credit. She's a strong one."
Anne flinched a little internally at the admiration in his voice. "She's very pretty too," she offered, suddenly remembering how "put together" Buffy had looked and glancing down at her own serviceable jeans and tee shirt.
"That she is, love," he mused, not noticing the way her face darkened. "Maybe she has a date tonight and that's why she didn't want to eat with us."
"Sure, that's probably it." Anne's agreement didn't reach her eyes as she searched her memory for any snippets of information anyone from Angel Investigations might have let slip about Sunnydale. Nothing came to mind, and she shook her head silently at herself for worrying. All she could remember was that Angel and Buffy were in love and couldn't be together for some reason.
Spike helped Anne close up the kitchen for the night and make sure everyone who was staying over had a cot before heading up to the apartment over the shelter. He prowled around the small apartment, at a loss to understand his restlessness and decided to blame it on Buffy's arrival stirring up his anxieties about his past.
Most of the time he was quite happy living over the shelter with Anne. Something about being loved completely for himself fed a need that he didn't understand and hated to admit to, but that he couldn't deny. She had found him wandering, hurt and confused, after some sort of battle in which, apparently, everyone else from Angel's group of fighters on the side of good had died. She had taken him in, welcoming him into her home and, eventually, into her bed. Anne told him as much as she knew about his life, but it was very limited as she had been in LA since shortly after his aborted attempt to eat her group of vampire worshiping friends and she knew nothing about his life in Sunnydale after she left.
He went back over what he knew about Buffy the vampire slayer, and his relationship with her. Anne told him how Buffy had held a stake to his lover's heart and how he had immediately called off the carnage at the threat of danger to the strange but beautiful Drusilla. He wondered briefly where that vampire was and if she was still in the world or had become dust at some other time. And what had changed that he and the slayer had gone from bitter enemies to friends? Good enough friends that her sister loved him.
He pondered what sort of relationship Buffy had with his grandsire, and what could have kept them apart all these years if they loved each other.
Damned if I would have let anything keep me from her if I loved her he growled to himself, startled by the vehemence of the thought.
The unease brought on by his visceral reaction to thinking about Angel and Buffy went away as soon as Anne came up the stairs, and he promptly put it out of his mind as he went to help her prepare the evening meal. While she poured his blood into a mug for the microwave, he pulled a plate of left over Chinese food from the fridge and waited to put her dinner in the oven.
They ate their respective meals in companionable silence, broken only by the occasional comment about one of the people below. Suddenly Spike froze and lifted his head to scan the room.
"Slayer's here," he responded, getting up from the table.
Anne looked at him in surprise before asking as casually as she could, "What makes you think so?"
"Can feel her." His reply was short and did nothing to alleviate her sudden apprehension.
"Since when can you feel slayers?" she asked, trying to keep her tone light.
"Can feel this one. Best go let her in, I suspect. She seems like the kind who would just kick down the door if it didn't open fast enough."
As he spoke, he could feel Buffy standing just on the other side of the door and he heard her heart rate going up as she raised her hand to knock. Anne was already opening the door when Buffy's fist came down on it and she flinched away as it barely missed her face.
"Oh my god! I'm so sorry!" Buffy's babbled apology broke the tension that had held them in it's grip since Spike had sensed the slayer's approach and Anne quickly assured her she was fine while Spike pulled out a chair and offered Buffy a glass of wine.
"Wine?" Buffy gaped at him. "You drink wine?"
"Well, Anne does. Point is, we have it if you'd like some."
He missed Buffy's flinch at the "we", but Anne did not. She closed the door and moved to his side, putting her arm around his waist possessively. Once again she noticed that Buffy was wearing make-up and had changed her clothes into tight fitting pants and a leather jacket.
Buffy perched uncomfortably on the seat of the chair, looking as though she wanted to bolt any second. She smiled tightly as she turned down Spike's repeated offer of something to drink, and twisted her hands together nervously. As she did so, Anne caught a glimpse of the scarring on Buffy's left hand and she grabbed it and turned it over.
"You've burned your hand," she said almost accusingly. She felt Spike stiffen beside her as he clenched his right fist tight.
"Yes," was the terse answer as Buffy pulled her hand back.
Anne did not give up. "Spike has a burn like that on his right hand," she said. "Show her, honey."
Reluctantly, the vampire opened his fist to show the ropy scar tissue that covered the palm of his hand. Buffy bit back a gasp as they compared scars.
"So," Anne said brightly, "Looks like you two touched the same thing back there in Sunnydale. Was that when Spike saved the world?"
Spike was staring at the almost identical scars on their hands and almost missed Buffy's whispered, "Yes. We both touched the same thing." She didn't look at him, keeping her eyes focused on their hands until he closed his fist again and turned away.
"Must have been bloody hot," he muttered as he moved across the room.
Anne watched Buffy's face carefully as the vampire walked away, and this time she caught the longing and grief in the slayer's eyes as Spike turned away from her. Her jaw tightened and her stomach clenched in fear as the tension in the room went up again. She watched Buffy shut her eyes tightly for a second, take a deep breath, and then visibly relax her shoulders and sit back in the chair.
"Okay," Buffy said quietly. "What do you want to know?"
Spike turned and looked at her. "I want to know how I got from what I was when Anne first met me " – he sent an apologetic look toward the woman he lived with, and was rewarded with a forgiving smile and a blown kiss – "and what I am now. A souled vampire who fights evil and saves the world."
Buffy met his eyes steadily and said, "Are you sure you want to know all this?"
"Bloody hell, Buffy!" he exploded, sounded more like the Spike she knew. "I don't know anything about my life before six months ago when Anne found me wanderin' around in an alley and brought me home. Of course I want to know it. I want to know everything. Wouldn't you?" he challenged her.
"I suppose I would," she agreed. "Even if I was happy where I was," she shot a look at a surprised Anne, "I guess I'd want to know how I got there."
"Right then," he said pulling his chair around and straddling it. He rested his arms on the back of the chair and fixed his gaze on her face. "So let's have it. Start with how long have we known each other?"
"Uh, since you came to Sunnydale to…um, okay, that'll lead to more questions. About seven years. We met right after you got there. You were planning to kill me," she added, meeting his gaze head on. "I was to be your third slayer."
If a vampire could have blanched, he would have. "My what?"
"You are William the Bloody. Slayer of slayers. You'd killed two of them and planned to make me your third."
"Not one of my better plans, it would seem," he said wryly. "You look remarkably healthy for a dead slayer."
Buffy gave him her first genuine smile. "Well, it went about as well as most of your plans," she teased.
"Watch it, woman," he glared back. "Could still make you my third conquest – er – kill."
His stumble over his words took the edge off the mock threat and Buffy couldn't control her giggle at his discomfort, bringing on another glare.
"I tend not to stay dead anyway," she said cheerfully. "So it probably wouldn't do you much good to try."
Suddenly they were more comfortable with each other, and Buffy quickly went on to fill him in on the highlights of his first time in Sunnydale. When she came to the truce they'd made and their unsuccessful attempt to prevent Angelus from opening Acathla, his eyes were riveted on her face as she described his escape with Drusilla while she sent her lover to hell to save the world.
"So, I ran away? I ran away and left you to face Angelus by yourself?" He looked so devastated that both women moved toward him sympathetically, Buffy drawing back at the last second as he automatically leaned toward Anne.
"That was the deal we made," she said with a small shrug, sitting back in her chair. "You would distract him and get Drusilla out of the way, and I would let you take her and leave Sunnydale forever."
"You had to kill him? Then who was I fighting beside all last year?"
"I had to let him get sucked into the hell dimension in order to close the portal. It didn't kill him, he just was trapped there for a long time before it spit him back out several months later."
"I ran away," he mumbled, clearly still disturbed to hear that he would do such a thing.
"So did I," Buffy said quietly.
Anne gave a little gasp as she realized where Buffy had run to. They exchanged looks and Anne unconsciously reached toward Buffy's hand sympathetically. "That's why you—"
Buffy nodded tightly, drawing her hand back out of reach.
Spike noticed the exchange but decided to wait and ask Anne about it later. He turned his gaze back to Buffy and said with sincere sympathy, "So, you and Angel – you were a couple then?" Again, his internal growl caused him to wonder about his relationships with them.
She looked at him and bit her lip. "For a while we were. But, we couldn't…I mean, he didn't want to…he left. He left and came here."
Spike could smell the tears she was blinking away and remembered what Anne had said about Buffy's love for the other souled vampire. He leaned forward and took her hands in his, wondering at her sudden gasp, but determined to say what he wanted to say.
"I'm so very sorry, Buffy. I realize this must be hard for you. To be reminded of him like this and to see me here…alive. I'm sorry, pet, I'm being very selfish to ask you to—"
"No!" the vehemence of her response startled them all. "I mean, no," she continued more softly, gently removing her hands from his. "I'm fine with it. Not that I'm not sorry Angel is gone. I am. He will always hold a place in my heart. But he had long since stopped being the love of my life. I moved on a long time ago."
He cocked his head at her and examined her rapidly coloring face for a second.
Alright, so much for that theory of why she's so emotional around me. If it's not because I remind her of him, then what the bloody hell is it?
"Right then," he cleared his throat, "so I scampered off with my lady friend never to return. Then what?"
"You returned." She gave him a smirk, making him growl softly. "You came back because she broke up with you. You wanted Willow to do a love spell to get her back. My mom made you hot chocolate and you cried on her shoulder. Then you left again, but you were back less than a year later, looking for the Gem of Amara."
"With or without the lady friend?"
"Um, without. She broke up with you again."
"Can't keep a woman, huh?" he joked, smiling softly at Anne who immediately moved behind him and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. She whispered something in his ear that made him smile again and Buffy shut her eyes against the pain of watching them together.
It's not like I ever went out of my way to make him happy, after all. All he asked for were crumbs and I gave him nothing. Even when I was giving him something, it wasn't what he wanted. All he wanted was for me to look at him like she does. To touch him like that.
One look at Buffy's frozen face and Anne was reminded of her earlier concerns about why the slayer was there for Spike. She unconsciously clutched him tighter and he turned his head to give her a puzzled look. She shrugged sheepishly and let go him, moving back to her chair so that he and Buffy could continue their conversation.
Spike wasn't oblivious to the emotions rolling off their visitor and he asked her bluntly, "Buffy, if I ask you something, will you give me an honest answer?"
Her face took on a deer-in-the-headlights look as she stammered, "uh…um…well, sure. Yes. Of course I would. Why wouldn't I?"
Ignoring her rhetorical question, he asked softly, "How do we – you and I – get along?"
To his chagrin, her expressive green eyes once again began to fill with tears and he watched in dismay as her chin began to quiver. He waited while she visibly took a grip on her emotions and pushed them down so that she could answer him.
"It's…it's complicated," she said slowly. "We fight a lot – we fight with each other and we fight together when we need to. We're pretty awesome when we're fighting something together," she said with a watery smile. She stopped and when she didn't seem inclined to continue, he pushed a little.
"So, that's it? We fight a lot?"
His disbelief was palpable and she could feel him looking right through her as she shook her head from side to side.
"Buffy, I'd really like to know. You promised me an honest answer," he prodded when she just continued to shake her head.
She raised her damp eyes to his and said firmly, "Sometimes, the most honest answer to a question is that I'd rather not answer it. Not right now, anyway."
While Anne looked back and forth between the two, waiting for one of them to break eye contact, the two former lovers stared at each other for long minutes until finally Spike dropped his eyes and shrugged.
"All right, Slayer. I'll wait. Let me try another one, then. Do you know why Drusilla broke up with me? Must have been something important to leave me after a hundred years being together."
"Okaaay, see here's the thing. I'm getting real uncomfortable here. That promise to give you honest answers? Turns out it was a really bad idea. Honest answers and Buffy? Not so mixy." She stood up abruptly. "I'm just gonna go patrol now."
"So that's it? That's all you're going to tell me about my life? Because you're not comfortable?" She could hear the underlying anger in his voice and raised pleading eyes to his.
"I will tell you. I promise. Just…not right now, ok? Right now I have to go find something to slay. Maybe a lot of somethings."
Without even looking at Anne again, Buffy got up and headed for the door, telling herself she just needed some more time to get used to the situation before she was honest with him. She hadn't missed the hard looks Anne sent her way and knew that the other woman was far ahead of Spike in figuring out what was wrong.
Not that she'd be able to figure out how messed up our lives have been over the years, but she obviously knows there is—was something there.
Buffy didn't bother to say good night to the angry vampire or his worried girlfriend, she just flew down the stairs and back out into the night, running down the street just as she had earlier in the day. This time, she only had to go a few blocks before sensing a vampire nearby and she slowed her steps to allow the unsuspecting demon to catch up. She slipped a stake into her sleeve and began walking slowly, looking around nervously as though lost and confused.
When she felt the movement of air behind her that indicated the vamp's approach, she whirled and smiled into his started eyes. Without so much as a quip, she let the stake drop into her hand, raising and lowering it to his chest in one smooth movement. She stared in disappointment as the dust floated away.
"Well, that didn't make me feel better at all," she grumbled, stepping through the dust and pushing the stake back up her sleeve. "That better not be the best this city can come up with."
She vaguely remembered passing a cemetery on her earlier sprint away from the man she'd come to find, and headed in that general direction hoping all the fledglings weren't already up and out on the town. She stopped once, sure she felt another vampire, but shook it off as being too far away and too faint. She didn't notice the shadow moving along the rooftops and carefully keeping a safe distance behind her.
Spike grabbed his coat and started for the door, which had slammed behind Buffy's back, only to be stopped by a firm hand on his arm.
"Where are you going?"
"I'm going after her, pet. She's clearly upset and she might get herself killed."
"She's been the slayer for a long time, Spike. I'm sure she'll be fine without your help. She made it pretty clear she doesn't want to talk to you any more tonight." Anne tried to sound reasonable, even as every womanly instinct she had was screaming not to let him anywhere near the pretty girl with the yearning eyes.
"I'm not going to let her know I'm there. Just going to watch her back. It seems like the right thing to do." He leaned in and kissed her forehead, saying gently, "I'll be back before you know it."
She watched him leave the apartment, saying softly to herself, "I hope you're right, Spike."
He jumped down the stairs, actually grateful for an excuse to get out in the night air and get some exercise. He was very fond of Anne, and grateful to her for both her help when he was injured and for the undemanding love she gave him, but there were times when he craved a little more excitement in his life. Times when he could feel something missing, both from the relationship and from his life and he suspected the deadly woman he was following could help him find what those things were.
He easily followed her scent in the cool night air, slowing down when he began to feel her presence before he even saw her. He saw her hesitate and look around when he finally began to catch up, and quickly retreated until he could no longer feel her.
So, she can feel me too. Is that just because I'm a vampire?
Spike watched Buffy go into the local cemetery and risked getting closer so as not to lose sight of her among the trees and tombs. Suddenly, the ground erupted in front of her and a newly made vamp began clawing his way out of the ground. Before the slayer could decide whether she wanted to stake him right then or to wait and see if he could make a fight of it, several more showed up. They had obviously been waiting for their buddy to rise and began running toward the grave whooping with delight at the sight of a human standing there.
"Man," said the one in the lead. "Mo gets all the luck. I had to go hunt down my first meal, and here's his just standing there waiting for him!"
Buffy looked at the onrushing vamps and her eyes lit up with the joy of battle. Giving the still struggling fledgling a kick to his jaw to keep him out of the way, she let her stakes drop into her hands and waited for the still oblivious vampires.
"Hey, boys. You're just what I've been waiting for." She grinned at them, bouncing lightly on the balls of her feet. "I'm going to feel so much better when you are broomable."
Buffy whirled into action, staking the first vamp before her words had even registered, and spinning around to kick the next one in the face before rolling to come up behind the two lagging behind. Spike had rushed forward when he saw the small gang running toward her, but slowed as he saw the light in her eyes when she faced them. He stayed behind a tree and watched in wonder and admiration as she played with the remaining vamps, quipping and taunting as she worked her way through their ranks.
When the dust from the last one had settled at her feet, she turned and looked right at the tree, saying with resignation, "Come on out, Spike. I know you're there."
He came around the tree, clapping his hands slowly as he did so. He didn't miss her flinch at his actions or the way she squeezed her eyes shut briefly, and he stopped immediately to tilt his head at her.
"I've upset you again, haven't I?" he asked, frowning. "You know, that would be much less likely to happen if you would just bloody tell me the things I need to know." The exasperation in his voice was so familiar that she laughed shakily as she moved closer to him.
"I don't see what's so funny," he grumbled. "You're a damned irritating bint, you know?"
"I know," she smiled at him. "It's why you lo- It's part of who we are. We make each other really mad sometimes."
"You said we fight with each other – who usually wins?"
She just looked at him, smiling slightly as she ran her eyes over his face and body. No longer inhibited by Anne's presence or Spike's visible affection for her former classmate, Buffy felt free to indulge herself in the sheer joy of seeing him again. Without conscious thought her hand went to his face and she gently ghosted it over his cheek causing him to shiver involuntarily and lean in to it.
"No fair, Slayer," he said hoarsely, "You know what's going on here and I don't."
"I'm sorry," she said quickly, dropping her hand to her side and turning away. "I didn't mean to do that."
She raised her head and looked at him with eyes that told him much more than he was ready to know.
"Did you want to do it?"
"Oh yes," she said with a catch in her voice. "I wanted to. It just didn't seem…right. To do it before."
"In front of Anne." His voice was flat and she couldn't guess what he was thinking.
She nodded. "I mean, obviously you and she…and I don't have any…not that you couldn't…but, I wouldn't want to…and if I started touching you I might not…Are you in love with her?" The words burst out before she could stop them and she slapped her hand over her mouth in dismay.
"I'm sorry. It's none of my business. Your life here is what it is, and I should just—"
"Buffy." His voice stopped her embarrassed babbling and she froze, staring at his too-familiar face and the unusually gentle expression on it. She continued to stand, unable to speak or move until he took her hands and led her to a tombstone, indicating she should sit on it.
"Tell me about us," he said gently, kneeling in front of her. "Tell me why I keep making you cry. Tell me why you can touch me now, but couldn't or wouldn't in front of my girlfriend."
When she didn't speak, but just continued to stare at him he added quietly, "Please?"
"It isn't very pretty," she said finally.
"Is it real?"
"Oh, it's real all right," she snorted. "About as real as it gets. Real and messy and—"
"Just tell me, Slayer. I have a right to know."
"I suppose you do," she said softly. She took a deep, shuddering breath and let it out with an explosive sigh. "Ok, here's the sitch…."
Without looking at him, focusing her gaze on her hands where they twisted in her lap, she ran through their entire relationship with each other, beginning with his clapping appearance in the alley behind the Bronze after she dusted his minion and ending with his apparent death in the Hellmouth. She smiled slightly when his eyes widened at her description of the first time she met him and he realized why she'd reacted so strongly to his emergence from behind the tree.
He didn't interrupt to ask any questions, just flinched when she came to something unpleasant like the description of what the chip did to him. He smiled briefly when she described Willow's spell that had them planning a wedding even as they continued to argue and fight with each other. He frowned when she told him about Adam and his attempts to make a deal with the monster and gasped when she told him about chaining her up so that he could declare his love for her in front of his former undead lover.
Buffy talked about his growing love for her in an unemotional voice, telling him quite honestly about how sure she'd been that vampires couldn't love and that it was just a twisted obsession that grew out of his inability to kill her. She told him about her faith in his ability to protect her mother and Dawn from Glory, about her mother's illness and his attempts to comfort her, about Riley's betrayal with the vamp whores and Spike's insistence on showing it to her. Her voice softened when she told him about how he had resisted Glory's torture to protect Dawn, for her, and about her growing trust in him and the friendship they seemed to be forging.
When she told him about her sacrifice to save the world from the apocalypse Glory had begun and about how peaceful and happy she'd been in Heaven, he unconsciously reached for her hand to squeeze it sympathetically. He continued to hold it lightly as she talked about being ripped out of heaven by her friends; about coming back to find that he had kept his promise to her and stayed in Sunnydale taking care of Dawn and helping her friends defend the Hellmouth.
She spoke about her new-found willingness to spend time with him, her complete lack of interest in life and her inability to feel anything except the desire to be at rest again. In a soft voice she told of how she'd confided in him and how she'd begun to spend more and more time in the crypt with him. How much at ease she was where she didn't have to pretend. He grimaced when she talked about the song he sang during Sweet's visit to Sunnydale and squeezed her fingers again when she told him how he'd stopped her dancing and saved her life.
And, then, in a shaky voice, she talked about his discovery that the chip didn't work on her, about their fight and the subsequent love making that brought down a building. She spared nothing as she told him about the months-long affair in which she allowed him to use his body to bring her back to life, even as she denied feeling anything for him but disgust. Her voice shook as she talked about beating him up for trying to protect her from herself. She didn't spare herself as she talked about how she'd returned his love and devotion with brutal sex and insistence that there was nothing else between them but physical release. Her voice broke as she spoke about ending the relationship. How destroyed he'd looked and how sure she'd been that it was the best thing for both of them. Of how devastated she'd been when she saw him with Anya's legs wrapped around his hips; how angry and betrayed she'd felt even though she knew he had every right to move on as she'd ordered him to do.
She prefaced her report of the incident in the bathroom by telling him she knew that she was the queen of mixed signals, that she knew he wasn't trying to hurt her, and that he was very drunk at the time. The more excuses she made for what she was about to tell him, the darker his face became and when she finally told him what he'd tried to do, he dropped her fingers and buried his face in his own hands.
"That…that's when you went to get the soul," she whispered, touching his bowed head gently before going on. "You got it for me. Because you hurt me."
She told him how she'd forgiven him almost immediately, but hadn't been able to tell him because he was gone and they didn't know where he was. He twitched when she told him how much she had missed him those months while he was in Africa, and how happy she'd been to find him back in the school basement, even if he was insane.
He shuddered all over when she described how the First had controlled him, forcing him to kill and making him dangerous to be around. She talked about the potentials, the Turok-han and the torture he'd been through while she struggled to defeat the ancient vampire and find him. Once again, she could tell him about the growing trust she had in him and the way she relied on him for both emotional and physical support in her battle against the First.
Her description of the fear that had seized her heart when she realized that he was in danger from Robin Wood; her relief that he was still alive and her estrangement from her former watcher and the rest of her friends made him raise his head again to watch as she calmly talked about the betrayal and rejection. He watched her smile lightly as she described how he'd found her and given her back her courage and determination in one short night.
She licked her lips nervously as she talked about their short conversation in the kitchen in which she'd admitted to being as affected as he was by their chaste night together. She ended with the destruction of the Hellmouth; with his refusal to leave as the amulet channeled his soul into cleansing fire. Her lip trembled as she repeated what she'd said to him and the way he rejected her tardy declaration of love.
"You didn't believe me," she finished quietly. "You didn't think I meant it. After everything we'd been though. After this." She held up his hand and matched the scars on it up with hers, watching his look of wonder as he linked their fingers and felt the ropy ridges of flesh blend together like pieces of a puzzle.
"And, I guess that's why you didn't come to me when you came back," she finished briskly. "You didn't think I loved you, so you stayed with Angel and didn't tell me you were alive. I didn't find out about it until just before the big fight with the demon army, and then we thought you'd all been killed, so…"
She unlaced her fingers from his and dropped her hands down in her lap again, twisting them around and rubbing her scar.
Spike was silent for a long while, staring at his own scarred hand and trying to process the things he'd learned about the past six years of his life and the large part the woman in front of him had played in it. Finally he stood up from where he'd remained kneeling in front of her the whole time and stretched stiff muscles.
"When you said 'complicated' you weren't kidding, were you, pet?" he asked dryly.
Buffy gave him a weak smile of agreement, heartened by his use of the endearment even if it was a generic term for him. She sat quietly and watched him pace around the tombstones, his face a study in confusion, amazement and anger. He stopped periodically to stare at her as though he could read the answers to his unanswered questions in her face and body. Then he would give himself a shake and go back to his nervous pacing, trying to process what he'd just learned.
Finally, he stopped in front of her and blew out an unnecessary breath before he said, "You've given me a lot to think about, Buffy. Not just us – but Angel, Drusilla, all these people I should know and can't remember." He looked at her incredulously, asking, "Did you say I've been a vampire for over a hundred and twenty-five years?"
When she nodded silently, he shook his head and muttered more to himself than her, "The things I must have done, the places I must have been, the people I should remember…gone, all of it. Just gone."
"May-maybe not gone forever. Your memory might come back. I…um, I read up on amnesia while I was on the plane and it said that sometimes the memories start coming back a little bit at a time. Sometimes it's in dreams, or like – deja-vuey kinda things during the day. And, it said once it starts, then they just keep coming until…"
Her voice trailed off as he raised a skeptical eyebrow at her and she frowned and stamped her foot in irritation.
"Well, they could! That's what the book said. And even if they don't, Willow's this amazingly awesome witch and she could—"
"This is the same witch that had us getting married when we hated each other?" he asked with some humor. "If it's all the same to you, pet, I think I'll give that a miss."
"You don't want to remember…things?" Her plump lower lip came out in a small pout and he found his eyes drawn to it as he struggled to remember what they were talking about. He unconsciously moved closer to her, never taking his eyes off her lip. When her tongue came out to lick it nervously, he almost groaned out loud.
Alright, wanker. You need to put those thoughts away right now. This woman is a complete stranger to you and you have a very sweet girlfriend waiting for you to come back to her. Jus' keep your mind on learning about your past and never mind how suckable that lip looks to be.
Buffy's heart rate went up and her breathing increased as he moved closer to her, his eyes clearly focused on her mouth. The common sense that said she shouldn't force anything on him for which he wasn't ready and willing was at outright war with her need to touch him, to feel those lips again and to have that body pressed against hers.
She tried to satisfy the battling desires by putting her hands behind her back, but tipping her face up for the kiss she was sure was coming. Instead, to her distress, he stopped before he actually reached her lips, visibly controlling himself and backing away quickly.
"I…I'm sorry, Buffy. I just can't. I'm not that kind of man. It doesn't matter what you say we had…or maybe didn't have, if I understood half of that correctly." He ran a nervous hand through his hair and tried not to see the pain in her eyes as he continued, "I don't know you now, and I have a lovely woman who trusts me waiting for me to come home. I'm sorry, love. I truly am."
He whirled, his duster flaring out around him, and headed for the cemetery's gate at a brisk walk. He'd only gone a few steps when there was a furious woman in front of him.
"When did you turn into such a coward?" she demanded.
"I beg your pardon?" His anger immediately rose to match her own. "I am not a coward. I am an honorable man-er-vampire."
"You're afraid," she said flatly. "You're afraid if you kiss me you'll find out you want me and it would spoil the happy little life you've got."
"If I understood your little saga correctly, Slayer, I've helped save the world several times, even givin' up my unlife to do it. I think I'm entitled to a 'happy little life' if I want one. Whether it meets with your approval or not."
Buffy's anger vanished as quickly as it had arisen. "Yes," she whispered. "You are entitled to a happy life." She raised tear-filled eyes to his. "I just expected you to want to have it with me."
"I don't know you, love," he responded gently, his own anger gone in face of her unhappiness. "I know you think you know me, but I can't give you what you came here for. If the man you're seeking is here, he's buried too deeply for me to find him. I'm sorry, pet."
Buffy cocked her head in an unconscious imitation of his own gesture and studied him for a second. Then, before he could react, she grabbed his head and captured his cool lips with her own soft, warm ones, using her slayer strength to hold his mouth to hers until she felt him kissing her back. Immediately, her tongue came out to lightly trace around his lips, asking, but not demanding that he let her in. With a sigh of surrender, he parted his lips and allowed her tongue to gently probe his mouth, running sweetly around the indentations that held his fangs and stroking his own willing tongue.
Without conscious effort on his part, his arms went around her waist and he pulled her soft but strong body against his own, giving in to the wonderful sensation of holding this heated bundle of feminine curves. While his mind struggled to pull some trace of a memory of the woman he was holding from his blank brain, his body responded to her with a rapidity that left no doubt that she'd told him the truth about their relationship.
Buffy allowed herself joyful minutes to bask in the feeling of having his hands on her once again and to give in to the bone melting kisses she'd never stopped thinking about since the unfortunate spell that Willow was never going to live down. She drank in the scent of leather and tobacco that was so familiar; the taste and feel of his lips on hers, the way his tongue curled around her own and teased it and the way his hard lean body molded itself perfectly to her own, fitting together as though made for each other.
When she'd absorbed what she thought was enough of him to get her through the night and the next day, she reluctantly pulled back and whispered softly, "Your body remembers me, Spike." With a final stroke of his shell-shocked face, she stepped completely away from him and walked away toward her hotel leaving a very confused and aroused vampire behind.