Title: Back in Town (2003)
AtV season V
Word Count - 1639
disclaimer - just playing with Joss’s characters
Notes: another take on how it might have happened if I had been writing the show!
BACK IN TOWN
“Look, Fred, we’ve had this conversation before. I’ll let her know when I’m ready to let her know!” The vampire made no attempt to hide his exasperation.
“But, Spike, don’t you want to see her? Don’t you love her anymore? I don’t understand. Why didn’t you go to her when you said you were going to?” As Fred argued, she was guiding him into one of the vacant offices.
“Loving her’s not the bleedin’ point, pet. I’m just not ready to face--”
“Face what, Spike?” Buffy asked quietly from where she was standing near the window.
Spike remained frozen in place just inside the door. His already pale face went impossibly paler. In response to the accusatory look he gave her, Fred ducked her head, whispering apologetically, “I’m sorry, Spike. She had a right to know.” Giving him a little shove into the room, she waved at Buffy and exited quickly, shutting the door firmly behind her.
For a full minute the two blonds stared at each other from opposite sides of the room. Spike could hear the Slayer’s heart pounding as her eyes searched his face and ran over his body. She unconsciously leaned toward him but didn’t move from her spot by the window.
She looked wonderful to him. The thin, drawn look she’d worn all last year was gone; although there was a maturity and sadness to her face that was new. He thought she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen - no cuts, no bruises, no rips in her obviously new clothes.
Of course she’s here to see the Great Pouf; naturally she looks good.
“You look gorgeous, love,” he was able to choke out. “Being one of the many Chosen Ones agrees with you.”
“Well, you look surprisingly good yourself, for someone who was internally combusting the last time I saw him.”
There was an awkward pause while all the unspoken issues between them remained unspoken for a while longer.
“So, Slayer, what have you been up to?” He broke the tense silence. “How was Europe? How’s Niblet?”
“Europe was just great - except for the whole being-in-mourning-for-a-jerk-who couldn’t-even-let-me-know-he-wasn’t-dead part!” Her voice rose, then cracked just enough to melt his resolve.
With one stride, he was beside her, holding her tightly. “I’m sorry, Buffy. l’m sorry. I really am.” As soon as his arms went around her, Buffy’s self-control broke and she sniffled onto his chest, her tears quickly soaking his tee shirt. “Ah, don’t, love, please don’t,” he murmured into her hair.
“How could you let me think you were d...gone? Why didn’t you call me or come to find me or...?”
“I just needed some more time, pet. At first I wasn’t really here. Just a ghost, driftin’ in and out of Hell. What would have been the point? I couldn’t have held you, or felt you, or…or...anything. And I could have been gone again at any time.”
“I know,” she sniffed, “Fred told me how you gave up a chance to be solid to save her. But now you are solid and you still didn’t call me! Did you stop loving me while you were a ghost?”
He pushed her away from his chest and looked down into her still-wet eyes, his astonishment evident on his face. “I will never stop loving you, Buffy. Never. It’s part of who and what I am. But....”
“But? What but? There are no ‘buts’ here. Except the butthead who let the women he claims to love grieve for him for months longer than they had to!”
“Oh, sweetheart, I never meant to hurt you. Or the Niblet,” he mumbled into her hair as he pulled her close again. “I’m just such a bleedin’ coward. I wasn’t ready to....”
“Ready to what? What was it you weren’t ready to face?” she asked, showing that she had not forgotten his words to Fred as he entered the room.
He pulled her tighter, clutching her as though she would evaporate if he let go. With his face still buried in her neck, he inhaled her scent, rubbing his face in her hair and running his hands up and down her back. When it became obvious he wasn’t planning to answer her any time soon, Buffy pushed herself gently away from his chest, far enough that she could look up at him. She ran a trembling hand over his cheek - tracing the sharp angles and ending at his lips. Against his better judgment, Spike found himself kissing her fingers. He barely resisted the urge to pull one into his mouth.
“What weren’t you ready to face?” she asked again softly.
“You, love. I wasn’t ready to face you. The last time you saw me, I was dying a hero. Hard act to follow, innit? Now I’m back - just me again. And I’m...I’m...oh bollocks! “ He turned away from her abruptly.
“You’re still a hero, Spike. Coming back doesn’t change anything.”
“Doesn’t it? ”He looked at her with so much adoration on his face she had to look away briefly. When she looked back, his eyes were squeezed shut and his mouth was set in a tight line.
“Did you think it would make a difference to me if you were a dead hero or a live one? Why were you afraid to see me?”
“Because I’m not a strong man, Buffy, and I didn’t want to put either one of us in this position yet.” He gently touched her face and pushed a piece of hair back where it belonged.
“What position? What are you talking about? We’re both alive at the same time, no apocalypse to worry about, we’re in the same room, and we missed each other. I, personally, think there should be major kissage by now! “ She raised her chin expectantly and was astonished to feel his body trembling. “Spike? Spike - I don’t get it. What’s wrong? Don’t you want me?”
The bewildered look she gave him was like a stake through his heart. He reached a trembling hand toward her mouth and touched her lips gently. “More than anything in the world, love. More than you know.” Then he took a deep, shuddering breath and moved away from her.
“Okay,” she growled, “you are totally wigging me out. I want, you want - what is the problem here? I’m not going to beg you, you know.”
He smiled a little and looked back over his shoulder. “I know you’re not, love. Not the beggin’ type. Knew that the first time I saw you, didn’t I?”
She smiled back at him, “You’ve always known me better than anyone else.”
He looked at her still puzzled face and said, “That’s why I wasn’t ready. I know you - you’d feel obligated to..to...”
“Obligated? To...? What the hell are you talking about, Spike?”
“Buffy, you told me you loved me! We both know you weren’t expecting to ever see me again. And now I’m here and you’ve got two choices: pretend you do because you think I earned it - and how long do you think you could do that before you’d start to resent me and I’d suss it out? Or, admit you don’t, and...and I’m just not ready to hear that from you...again.” He stood rigidly, hands in his pockets, shoulders hunched as though waiting for a blow.
Buffy felt an ache growing in her chest as she digested what he was saying. She remembered what he’d told her the night after he held her and she allowed his unwavering love to renew the emotional strength she needed to get back in the fight. He had said he was “terrified” by the feelings between them and asked what she thought it meant. As usual, she wasn’t willing to examine or talk about it and they went off “to be heroes”. The next time he saw her, she was kissing Angel.
She looked at his defeated posture and miserable face, saying softly, “You really didn’t believe me, did you? I thought you were just trying to get me to leave. But you ...I wasn’t...-you died thinking I was lying to you? Oh, Spike!” She sank to the floor, pulled her knees up to her chest and buried her head in her arms.
“It’s all right, love. Really it is. I can handle it. Been livin’ with it for years, haven’t I? I just was puttin’ off making you have to say it again. That’s all.” He slumped down on the floor beside her, resting his back against the desk. “You’re right, pet. I should have called you straight away. Given you time to get used to the idea, suss out what you wanted to do about it....”
“What I wanted to do about it?” She raised angry, tear-filled eyes to his. “ I want to beat you to a bloody pulp for not believing me! That’s what I want to do about it! “ He stared at her, his mouth agape. “Have I ever been dishonest with you about my feelings?” she demanded. “Have I?”
Well...” he started, but she raised her hand to stop him.
“Self-denial mode doesn’t count. That never fooled you anyway.”
“No, I guess you haven’t...” he said slowly, a small warm glow trying to grow under his breastbone.
Buffy rose to her knees, pulling him up to face her. “Then listen to me, and listen good. I. Love. You. Not because you died, or because you’re a hero. Because that’s how I feel about you. I love you and I missed you more than you can imagine. And if you don’t start kissing me right now...” The rest of her sentence never made it out of her suddenly very busy mouth.
Outside the office door, Fred smiled to herself and put a “Do not enter without knocking” sign on the doorknob.
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