Angel and Fred walk among the shimmering white headstones that littered one of Sunnydale’s twelve cemeteries. Both were concerned about the disappearance of Spike. The second vampire had not been seen since the evening began, so they had o decided to go in search of him. They had rummaged around what once had been Willie’s bar, the old church where the Master used to reign, the hell mouth itself, and they had stopped by the Summer’s residence. They had not bothered to go in since Angel could sense the people inside. He knew that Spike was not one of them, and neither was Buffy. The crypt was going to be their last stop. It was getting late and Fred could barely keep her eyes open.
“Do you really think he’ll be here?” Fred looked up at her companion, trying to keep the worry she was feeling out of her voice.
“There’s nowhere else he can be. Listen, I wouldn’t fret about him if I were you. This is Spike all over again. He’s always taking off, not caring how it’d affect anyone else. He’s not worth the energy it’ll take to be worried,” Angel growled, clenching his fist angrily. All he could think about was how stupid his grandchilde was, putting himself in danger like this, with the First wandering about.
“You’re worried too aren’t you?” Fred smiled, seeing right through Angel’s angry façade. “You just don’t want to admit it.”
“Shhh, we’re almost to the crypt,” Angel ignored the statement. There was no time to discuss his feelings about Spike, and he especially didn’t want to discuss it with Fred. He stopped as they arrived at the crypt and stood outside of the closed door. Angel placed his hand on the cool knob. Surely, Spike was inside, probably falling down drunk. Looking at Fred one last time, he opened the door to the sight of Buffy and Spike lying on the couch together. Buffy was spooned behind Spike, watching him sleep, lightly stroking a few stray strands of hair back in place. She looked up and her eyes widened at the sight of Angel and Fred.
A deep silence permeated the room. Anger filled Buffy at the sight of her ex and both Fred and Angel felt nothing but dismay. Neither of them was expecting to find her with Spike. Fred was the one that broke the silence with a loud, perky “Hi!” Jolting Spike from his slumber.
“Buffy,” Angel couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was even more beautiful then she was the last time he saw her. She had gained enough weight that she no longer looked anorexic. Her hair had a healthy golden sheen and her complexion was a rosy pink. Normal life has obviously been good to her.
“Peaches,” Spike got to his feet, smiling gently at Fred, who looked as if she wished the earth would open up and swallow her up. “Hello pet,” he winked at her, knowing how shy she was around people she didn’t know.
“I hope we’re not interrupting anything here…” Fred looked at Buffy and back at Spike, who had slipped a possessive arm around the blonde-haired woman at his side, who had her arms crossed as she angrily glared at Angel.
“Spike, why don’t you take Fred back to the mansion? She’s been out for hours looking for you. She has to be tired,” Angel said, not looking away from Buffy, her anger not escaping him. He knew that she was a time bomb waiting to off and it would be best if it were just the two of them.
“Oh I’m fine, thank you. Not tired a bit,” Fred, grinned, not wanting to leave Angel and the Slayer alone together. From what Spike had told her, Buffy had a temper. By time the night was over, Angel could be a pile of dust. “We can stay….”
“How about a walk then, Luv? Not too far away. We’ll be near enough if anyone should need us,” Spike suggested, well aware of why she was anxious.
“That sounds good. See you later Fred,” Angel dismissed her, taking a step closer to the slayer. He pushed back his jealousy as he watched Spike kiss Buffy’s cheek before taking Fred’s hand and leading her outside. “You look good.”
“Don’t try to change the subject,” Buffy pursed her lips, not daring to step any closer to him. If she did, he could end up as a pile of dust. “You know why I’m angry.”
“He didn’t want me to contact you. I was just respecting his wishes.”
“Respecting his wishes? He didn’t want to see me because you convinced him of this insane notion that I wouldn’t want him any more! That there was no room in my life for him!”
“Buffy…Ow!” He gasped as her fist connected with his nose. Hurt was clear in his eyes as he glared at his ex, confused by the sudden violent turn things had taken. He knew she was mad, but he had hoped that they could keep things civilized. “What was that for?”
“For presuming too much about my life! You had no right Angel! I told you how much Spike had meant to me! You knew was grieving his loss! Yet you didn’t think it good enough to tell me that he was alive! You thought that I was better off without him!”
And she was. No matter what happened from here, Angel would not, could not change that opinion. “You were happy weren’t you? You had a good life. You didn’t need…”
“You have no fucking idea what I need!” Buffy yelled, her anger threatening to overtake her. She hands were itching for a stake right now. “I needed Spike! That’s what I needed. My life was completely empty without him! Why are you refusing to see that?”
“Buffy calm down. I’m not refusing to see anything.”
“Yes you are! God Angel. We’ve talked about this back in Sunnydale. I told you, Spike had changed and he was in my heart. I admitted to you, before I left for Europe that I had loved him and missed him. Yet, when he returns from the dead, do you call me? No. You convince him that I’d never want to see him again. You made it seem as if I had wanted to forget about him.”
“And I thought you did. I thought you had wanted to forget about all of us. Let’s not forget how you never bothered to call or visit, Buffy. You had completely blocked me and everyone else from your life in Sunnydale out. How was I supposed to know that you didn’t feel that way about Spike? I didn’t. I only did what I had thought was best for the both of you.”
“Humph, figures. Figuring out what’s best for others is your specialty, isn’t it?”
“No Angel,” She held her hand up to silence him. She wanted no interruptions. She needed to get this off her chest before she could even think of moving on to a relationship with Spike. She had to put all the old hurts she had with Angel in the past. “Let me finish for once. You owe me that much. You know, I really can’t believe you and what gets me is that…I still love you. Not in love with you. No, not anymore. However, I still do love you. I always will. You were my first real love. The first guy I was intimate with…even though that ended badly. You will always hold a special place in my heart. But the one thing that I absolutely hate about you…have always hated…was your ability to assume that you knew what was best. Not only for me, but for everyone around you.
“You thought it was best that you leave the night of my birthday, the day before you lost your soul. You thought it was best to pretend to be switching sides with the mayor and Faith. You thought it best that you’d commit suicide, and you thought it best to break up with me and leave Sunnydale all together. You thought it best to return to Sunnydale and never tell me that you were there. You thought it best to take Faith’s side against me; even though you knew what she had done…I think I hate you for that most of all. Then…after I came back from the dead…you thought it best to stay away from each other for good, breaking my heart once and for all. Then had the nerve to get jealous over Spike when I refused you help before the final battle. Now, here you are telling me that you thought it was best that I never know that Spike was alive. How dare you.”
Angel didn’t look at her…he couldn’t. She was right. He had hurt her in so many ways with trying to do what he had thought was the right thing. He had broken her heart repeatedly and he was still doing it, by trying to keep her and Spike apart. Not for the first time, he felt deeply ashamed of his actions. He could never make up for them, but there was one thing he could do. He was going to step aside. Let go of any notions of them being together. She was no longer his girl. That was obvious now.
“You’re right. I have hurt you long enough by trying to protect you by doing what I thought was the right thing,” Angel sighed, shifting from one foot to the other. He didn’t dare look at her. He couldn’t. She was right, he had been an egotistical moron and it was time to stop, starting now. “I only wanted the best for you Buffy and I thought I was giving you that by not telling you about Spike. I thought the normal life you had was enough. I had no idea that you would have wanted Spike there. All I can say is I am sorry and I hope you can forgive me. I promise never to presume anything about what may or may not be best for you ever again.”
Buffy’s arms fell to her sides, her anger draining away. She had said what she needed to and didn’t need to hang on to her anger any longer. Grudges were never her thing, and they definitely weren’t now. She took Angel’s hand and squeezed it lightly. “Fine. I forgive you. But if you ever presume anything about my life or Spike’s again…I’ll dust you faster then you’d think. Is this clear?”
“Perfectly,” Angel nodded. “…listen…I still love you too. Always will. But you’re right. Our relationship is over. It’s best that we remain friends and I won’t stand in the way of you and Spike ever again.”
Buffy smiled gently, her anger and indignation gone. Friends with Angel were a very good idea. “Friends. I like that. I think friends is good,” She hugged him gently, wanting to show that there were no more hard feelings.
“Should I be jealous?” Spike and Fred returned. His hold on Fred’s hand tightened as he fought back the jealousy that threatened to rise up. If he started acting like a jealous Poofter, the slayer would probably stake him good and proper.
“Of course not,” Buffy left Angel’s arms and slipped into Spike’s, kissing his lips softly, conveying that she was his and no one else’s. There was no need for jealousy. “Angel and I had come to an understanding. He is to stop making decisions for both you and I and we are going to be friends.”
Spike arched a brow in amusement. Friends. Angel and Buffy? Why did that word seem so familiar? Oh yeah. Now he remembered, but Buffy placed a tight hand over his mouth and shook her head.
“Don’t even think about saying it. We’ve heard the speech and both Angel and I disagree. We are friends. That’s it. Understood?”
With blue eyes laughing, Spike nodded and pulled her in for a kiss just as she took her hand away.
“I’m so glad everything worked out,” Fred grinned, watching Spike and Buffy, as they looked deep in each other’s eyes as if they were the only people in the room. Spike was happy, in the arms of the woman, he loved, and Angel wasn’t dust. She couldn’t ask for more. “We should go though. The others will worry.”
“Spike?” Angel asked his hand once again on the doorknob, leading out of the crypt.
“I’ll be along in a bit. Give me a minute,” Spike never looked at them, he was lost in his slayer’s eyes. He had never been so happy in all his life or unlife. For once, he felt as if he was where he belonged.
“Angel,” Buffy tore her gaze away. She hated to, but this was important. There had to be a meeting of the minds and she might as well make the arrangements now. “Tell your group to be at my house at sundown. We have to figure out what’s going on here and its best if we’re all on the same page.”
Angel just nodded in agreement, as he followed Fred out into the night, leaving Spike and Buffy alone.
“You weren’t too hard on him, were you Pet?” Spike asked, pulling her in closer.
Buffy looked at Spike in disbelief. Was that concern she heard? Concern for Angel? From Spike? But Spike hated Angel. What was going on here? “Hey, are you feeling ok? For a second there you sounded like you were worried about him.”
“Worried? About Captain Hair gel? As if! Please! I was worried about you. I know what he had meant to you at one time and…”
“Shhh…” She placed a finger on his lips, a soft smile gracing her features. “It’s ok if you were worried about him. You two are…family I suppose. There’s no need to act the big bad around me Spike. I already know the real you. The sweet, romantic, poet. If you were afraid that I’d dust Angel, it’s ok to admit that.”
Spike didn’t smile. His eyes were dark and serious. “Ok. Fine. I was worried. It’s this sodden soul. Makes me feel things that I otherwise…”
“Do I have to say it? You already know anyway, so what’s the point? What do you want me to say? That I love the fucking bastard? That he’s like a sodden brother to me? “
“No. Just that you care about him. That’s all.”
“Well then, I care about him. Now let it drop. No more talking about it.”
“Ok. Fine. No more talking,” Buffy pulled him into another kiss. Spike shut all else out of his mind as he and Buffy landed on the couch, letting the passion carry them away, up into the stars above.
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