Spike entered the mansion, hoping against hope that Buffy had not decided to search out Angel there. He felt waves of relief wash over him as he noted the absence of her scent and the lack of loud, angry voices. Obviously, she had decided to hold off on confronting his grandsire, giving Spike enough time to warn Angel of the coming confrontation. Not that he cared if Angel received a few broken bones at the hands of his former lover, but for some reason, Fred did. After all, she had done for him over the past year; he would do anything to spare her from disappointment and pain. He’d protect anything she cared about, and so far, unfortunately, she cared about Captain Broods-a-lot.
“Is she here? Where’s Angel?” Fred rushed in, running into Spike as he stood in middle of the foyer, trying to get a sense of where Angel may be.
“Study. Brooding again. Don’t worry, Pet. The slayer isn’t here. Not yet anyway. Listen, stay here, or do whatever you normally do and I’ll go tell Angel that Buffy’s in town.”
Fred frowned. Over the year, she had come to find out that Spike and Angel in the same room alone together, was not a good thing. There was too much bad blood and suspicion between the two. She opened her mouth to protest, but changed her mind upon seeing the determined gleam in Spike’s eyes. There was going to be no argument. She was to let Spike talk to Angel alone. “O-ok. But promise to call if you need anything?”
Spike’s mouth softened into an affectionate smile. He definitely had a soft spot for the southern scientist. She was the purest person he had ever known…next to Tara, may she rest in peace. “Cross my unbeating heart. Now go. Keep yourself busy.”
Fred glanced at her friend one last time as she exited the room, leaving Spike to the task at hand. She hated leaving him tell Angel alone, but there was nothing she could do about it. Spike didn’t want her there, and she had to respect that. Sighing sadly, Fred returned to her analysis of the soil of Sunnydale, hoping to find a clue that could explain the town’s return.
Once Fred was out of sight, Spike took headed for the study that Angel had claimed as his office. Telling Angel that Buffy was in town was definitely on his list of least favorite things to do. He grimaced, again wondering why he was doing this. It wasn’t as if he cared for the Poof or anything. Honestly, he hated his guts and would be all to glad to see Buffy give Angel a good beating. It must be the bloody soul. It was moving him to make things easier on even his greatest enemy.
Spike shook his head as he entered the room. He should have known. His broodiness was at his desk, doing just that. Brooding. The poor git ought to take up a hobby. Do something to take his mind off the atrocities he had committed in the past. Maybe Lorne could help come up with something once all this Sunnydale mess is behind them. Of course, the news of Buffy’s arrival was sure to worsen his grandsire’s disposition, but that couldn’t be helped. At least he was giving a heads up before the slayer arrived in all her fisted glory.
“Buffy’s here,” Spike simply stated. No use in beating behind the bush. Spike always believed in getting straight to the heart of the matter. Avoiding the subject was just going to make it worse.
Angel glared at Spike, his brown eyes void of concern. “What happened to your face and what do you mean Buffy’s here? Don’t you mean the First?”
Spike rolled his eyes. He had forgotten just how daft the elder vampire was. At least his bloody nose was proof that Buffy was real enough. “It was Buffy. Which explains the bloody nose. She must have arrived this afternoon. Wasn’t too pleased to find out that I’m not dust anymore and that you’ve known for months. Just thought you’d like a heads up before she came kicking the door off its hinges.”
“Buffy’s really here? You’re sure it was her?” Angel’s voice softened as he sat up straight in his chair.
“My sore back is enough proof that it was really her, mate. She’s here and she’s pissed. Especially about not calling her when I came back.”
Angel sat back, his eyes unreadable, but his shoulders slumped. At that moment, he looked his age. Tired and defeated. “Why is she mad at me? You’re the one that didn’t call her. I had nothing to do with that.”
Nothing to do with it? It was Angel’s speech about normal life and sunshine that had made Spike’s mind up to stay away. He remembered the day all too clearly. He was all packed up; ready to go to the woman he loved when Angel had called him into the office. The poof had questioned him about his plans and then talked of how he had given up Buffy so she could have as much of a normal life as possible. Now that Sunnydale was gone and there were other slayers to take the reins, Buffy could have that normal life and did Spike really think she would want a souled vampire to be part of it? Champion or not? After that speech, Spike couldn’t help but agree. There was once a time that the vampire would have had confidence in Buffy’s reaction to him, but now…after all they’ve gone through in the past…he wasn’t so sure.
“You had everything to do with it, and you know it. I know, I didn’t have to listen to you, but it was your speech of normal life that made me unpack my bags and stay in LA. It was Buffy’s anger and hurt and Fred’s confidence in me that made me see that you were wrong. I should never have stayed away. Now Buffy is angry with us both.”
“I still don’t get why she’d blame me…”
“Because she’s not stupid. She knows you and your ability to try to make decisions for everyone else. She knows that I would never had made the conclusion to stay away from her on my own. Especially when she found out that I’ve been in LA all this time, working with her all knowing ex. Listen, I didn’t come in here to throw accusations at you or even fight with you for that matter. I’m too tired and sore for that right now, even though I wouldn’t exactly turn down a good spot of violence at the moment. I wouldn’t mind seeing you and Buffy duke it out. If it wasn’t for this sodden soul, I wouldn’t have came in here to warn you. I’d let the slayer come at you with out fair warning.”
“What do you expect me to do? Thank you?” Angel snorted. “I don’t owe you anything Spike.”
“Never said you did, you fucking bastard. I was just doing you a favor. Bugger this, I’m going up to my room and get plastered, good and proper. Was a fool to tell you anything,” Spike left the room, leaving Angel to settle back into his deepening despair.
It wasn’t that Angel didn’t appreciate Spike’s warning about Buffy…he just wasn’t about to tell that to his grandchilde. Start doing that and Spike would expect it all the time. Couldn’t have that happening. To be truthful, he was beginning to care about the younger vampire. Spike had became the brother that Angel never had over the past year. His only purpose of telling Spike to leave Buffy alone was just to protect him. Angel didn’t care to see Spike get hurt again. Buffy could be cruel when faced with what she didn’t want to. If she hadn’t wanted to see Spike ever again, she would have made it so, by staking him. A reason that Angel himself had stayed away. He had no idea that Buffy would have welcomed Spike back into her life with open arms, or that she would have been so angry that they hadn’t told her about his reappearance.
Sighing forlornly, Angel opened a worn book he had read a thousand times already and just stared at the picture of his former lover, tracing her smile with his finger. He had never stopped loving her, not for a moment and he knew that deep down, she hadn’t stopped either, even if it was Spike she wanted now, Angel knew that he would always own a part of her heart. He could only hope that it was whatever love she had left for him that would keep her from staking him and that it was love for her that would allow him to stand aside as she chose the vampire that was obviously the new champion of her heart.
It was another night of patrolling for Buffy. Again she was by herself. The others had wanted to join her, but she insisted being alone. She had a lot to think about and didn‘t want to have to worry about the others running into trouble.. Spike…and Angel. She couldn’t believe the audacity of the both of them. How dare they keep Spike’s return from her! She had never been this hurt…and angry at the same time and had no where to go with those feelings. Well…she knew what to do with the anger. She should just go and dust Angel right now and get it over with. But she really didn’t want to do that. She still cared a great deal about Angel and was well aware of his misguided good intentions. He just couldn’t see that it was those decisions that were causing her the most pain . He should have told her about Spike, if nothing else but to end the grief of the past year.
Sighing, Buffy tried to banish all thoughts of the two souled-vampires out of her mind. She needed to be on the alert, and thinking about them was just distracting her. But that task seemed to be impossible, especially when she found herself entering the crypt that had once been Spike’s home. She frowned at the blue glow of the television, throwing off the darkness that wanted to shroud the tomb. Her frown deepened as she saw Spike seated on the raggedy sofa, watching what looked to be Passions, the soap that had given her mother and the vampire a bond that she never had the heart to break.
So much for not thinking about him. He seemed to fill her thoughts whenever he had been in the room and now was no different. Looking at him now…it was like Buffy was in one of the dreams she had been plagued with for the past year. They would be in his crypt, either watching television, or having passionate sex. A few times, he would simply hold her like he had the night her friends hand banished her from her house. His arms held cool comfort as she had cried on his shoulder, letting her grief consume her. Sometimes they would talk about how her life was normal, yet she still felt incomplete without him by her side. She had dreamed of this moment so many times…now that it was real, she had nothing to say. Buffy’s anger drained away as soon as Spike turned to acknowledge her presence, his blue eyes were full of emotion, yet, she couldn’t tell what he was feeling.
Spike got to his feet, shoulders tensed, readying himself for a blow that never came. He stared at her, drinking her in bit by bit. All he wanted to do at that moment was pull his slayer into his arms and hold her, never letting go again. He knew he had to say something to break this unbearable silence that seemed to fill the room with tension. But what? It was this time that he wished that Harmony was there, jabbering about her nails or something else just as frivolous. Anything was better then this. Finally he cleared his throat. He was going to have to make the first move.
“Amazing, isn’t it? After all this time…the hell mouth decided to put the crypt back to the way it was. And the house…it’s like the apocalypse never happened.”
Buffy sighed, clearly irritated that he would say something so…trivial. Especially when they had something much more serious to talk about. “Is that all you have to say? Don’t you at least think you owe me an explanation of why you never called me? That I grieved for nothing? That the only reason I couldn’t see you again was because you didn’t care enough to let me know that you were alive?”
“What? You’re sorry? That’s not an explanation Spike. I want, no I demand to know why I was kept in the dark. What did I do to you that was so horrible that you never wanted to see me again,” Hot tears ran from her eyes. Buffy angrily wiped them away. She didn’t want to cry. Not in front of Spike. She didn’t want him to know how deeply he had hurt her, but the tears wouldn’t stop and she couldn’t stop him from embracing her trembling form against the strong wall of his chest.
Spike’s heart broke as she sobbed out her hurt and frustration. His soul ached, knowing that he had caused her pain once again. It seemed that was all he ever did when it came to Buffy, even when he tried not to. Even when he was trying to keep her happy. “Luv, what can I say? Hurting you was never my intention. I’ve done enough of that already. Angel and I…we just wanted to make sure you had the life you always wanted. Normal. Let’s face it, pet. I’m not normal. Never was, and never will be. Besides, I’m not important enough for your tears anyway. Just a vamp that got a soul to try to impress a lady and…”
“Stop,” Buffy pulled a way from his chest, yet remained in the circle of his arms. She never wanted to leave those arms again. His arms was where she felt most safe, most secure and confident. Especially in this town that was bound to draw her back into the fight. “You stupid dope. You don’t get it do you? You are important to me. Always was…even when I was too afraid to admit it to myself. Spike, how can you say that you’re not important enough for me to care about when it was you that made sure that I never let go of my feelings. That reminded me time and time again of who I was. Who never let me fall, even when I wanted to. How can you stand there and say that you’re not important when you were the one person that loved me, no matter what. That made sure that I always had something to keep me here. When you were the one person that pushed back all those death wishes I had. No matter how many times I tried to protest. Spike…you are important to me. You’ll never know how much.”
Touched beyond words, Spike pushed back a strand of honey blond hair away from her face, loving the soft, silken texture and the scent of vanilla that insulted him instantly. “Forgive me, pet?” She had to forgive him. He’d die if she didn’t. Never mind that the only thing that could do him in at the moment was a stake through the heart.
Buffy gave him her answer in the form of a kiss that cut off any doubts Spike could’ve had about her feeling for him. He groaned as he deepened the kiss, drowning in the soft, sweet taste of her mouth as her lips seemed to devour his. At that moment, Spike was lost in the scent of vanilla and roses. His arms tightened around Buffy, pulling her against the body she had thought was gone forever. She was in heaven once again, and this time, not even her friends could rip her away.
Unbeknownst to either slayer or vampire, they were under surveillance. Willow and Pike stood just outside the door, watching the reunion with totally different reactions. Willow was instantly happy for her friend. At last, Buffy could be happy again. She had seemed so lost without Spike, and now she seemed to have found her way again. Pike on the other hand felt disgust. How could she? How could Buffy even allow that evil…thing to even touch her? Why was a vampire worth her love, while he wasn’t?
Well there was only one way to fix this problem. Gripping his stake tighter, he moved forward, ready to do what should have been done when he had first met the bastard.
“Halt,” Willow held out her hand and Pike could move no further. There was not going to be any disruption of the scene inside the crypt. At last Buffy was happy and she wasn’t going to let this Pike ruin it. Her and the others had already done just that once before and it almost destroyed Buffy. She wasn’t going to allow it to happen again.
Pike angrily glared at the witch. What in the hell was she doing? He had thought Willow was Buffy’s friend! How could she approve of her friend locking lips with a vampire? “What are you doing? He has her in a thrall, we have to stop it!”
“We have to stop nothing. Buffy and Spike deserve no interruptions.”
“He’s a vampire!” Pike grew more desperate as he watched the kiss stop and a passionate hug begin. This was bad. This was very bad. If Buffy got turned because of this witch…there was no telling what he was going to do.
“Spike’s different. He’s one of the two ensouled vampires in the world. He was the main force that destroyed Sunnydale the first time. He loves Buffy and Buffy loves him. You will not get in the way of that.”
Willow’s eyes flashed with a bright white light, her face set in a determination that made Pike stop in mid-sentence. She didn’t like showing off just what she was now. Much more then a witch. On a higher level then Glory herself. The spell that had made every potential into a slayer had made her into a Goddess. There was nothing she couldn’t do now. No, she didn’t like bragging, but if that’s what kept Pike away from her friends inside the crypt, she would.
“You don’t want to piss me off Pike. I’m already pissed about the eye comment you made to Xander. You want me even more pissed? Be my guess. I can take you apart and put you back together if I so chose and the Slayer would be no more the wiser. I can claim it’s the hell mouth. Now get out of here before I do something you’ll regret,” Willow waved her hand, releasing him from the spell. Unprepared, Pike fell to his knees. He glanced at Willow one last time before darting out of the cemetery, wanting to get as far away as possible. Willow watched him go with a pleased smile. Oh yeah, she was good. Glancing one last time at Spike and Buffy, who were now seated and talking, She backed away into the night, just knowing that nothing else would threaten to disturb them that evening.
Pike looked behind him one last time as he came to a stop. He had ran and ran, wanting to get away from the witch, or whatever Willow was. He couldn’t believe the taste Buffy had in friends…and boyfriends. He shook his head, remembering the sight of her in the vampires arms, clinging to him as if he was her lifeline. Why? Why would Buffy do that? Had she forgotten about Merrick? About Benny. About all her friends that were victims back in LA? How could she even stand for that creature to touch her like that?
Well…he wasn’t going to stand for it. He and Buffy were going to have a long talk. He was going to make her see the error of her ways. No matter what Willow had to say about it. Pike frowned as he looked at his surroundings. He was at some kind of vineyard, it seemed. He looked into the building to find nothing but barrels of wine. He turned around and screamed as he saw Benny standing right behind him, a smile lighting up his face.
“Hi ya Pike,” Benny came closer, as Pike backed away. “Long time no see.”
“You’re dead, Benny,” Pike fought to keep his cool. Freaking out was not going to help his situation here. Cool, collected. That was what he had to be, for his own sanity if nothing else.
“No shit Sherlock. I know that, and so do you, obviously. I came back to help you Pike. I came back to help you take back what was yours. I know just how to do it too. All you have to do is listen to me, man.”
“Come on Pike…”
“No!” his heartbeat thundering in his chest, Pike ran past Benny away from the vineyard. That wasn’t Benny. It couldn’t have been. He had staked him all those years ago in LA. Benny was good and dead. Whoever that was…it was evil. No doubt about it. He had to go back to Revillo Drive. He had to not only talk sense into Buffy, but tell her what he had seen tonight. Maybe this reappearance of Benny was why Sunnydale was now standing. Maybe the mystery was about to be solved and they all could return to their normal lives, without seductive vampires and leering dead friends.
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