Coming Back Wrong by dreamweaver
Summary: SunnyD Icon After the destruction of Sunnydale and the Hellmouth, Spike comes back wrong. Runner Up Winner of Best Pairing and Best Post-Series at the Sunnydale Memorial Fanfiction Awards!
Categories: General NC-17 Fics Characters: None
Genres: Romance
Warnings: Adult Language, Sexual Situations
Series: None
Chapters: 8 Completed: Yes Word count: 48870 Read: 25766 Published: 11/14/2009 Updated: 11/20/2009
Chapter 2 by dreamweaver
Chapter 2

“For that matter, who am I?” said Spike, his eyes widening.

“What do you mean?” Buffy whispered in shock.

He jerked to his feet, stood there clutching his head. His eyes were blank and panicked, his gaze turned inward. “I can’t...I can’t remember who I am!”


“You keep calling me that and it feels right. But it doesn’t mean anything!” He fell suddenly into the room’s one armchair, sat there with his elbows on his spread knees and his head in his hands. “Wanker,” he muttered at himself. “Get a grip. Just breathe. Get your head together...”

She scooted over to kneel beside him. “You can’t remember anything?”

He shook his head helplessly. “Not a thing.”


“Oh, I know where San Clemente is and who’s the sodding President and that Man U lost this year and that this is a motel room.” He cast a disparaging glance at their shabby surroundings. “But I don’t know anything about myself! I don’t know anything personal! It’s all a blank!”

“Trauma,” she said slowly, trying to work it out. “It must have been traumatic, burning up like that, resurrecting...It took me a while when I resurrected. I didn’t know where I was, who I was. It will come back, Spike. It did for me. Just give it time.”

He was staring at her. “Wanna run that by me one more time? Most of that, what you said, it doesn’t make any sense, yeah? You resurrected?”

She let out a little rueful breath. “It’s, uh, complicated. I’ll explain later. Let’s just concentrate on simple things right now. Way I see it, you went through some pretty serious shit. And it kind of wiped your memory. But we’ll get it back. I know people who can help.” She gripped his knee and shook it lightly, reassuringly. “And I’ll help, Spike. Any way I can.”

He dropped his hands from his head and caught her hands in his, held on tightly.

“You know me,” he said. “You can tell me things.”

“Yes. It’s not like you’re all alone somewhere being amnesiac where nobody knows you.”

“What’s your name?”


“Okay, that’s even worse than Spike,” he muttered and she couldn’t help laughing.

“Elizabeth Anne Summers. That’s the whole monicker.”

“Buffy.” He turned that over. She could see him trying to make connections in his head and failing. “So we know each other pretty well.”

“Several years.”

“So what’s my whole monicker? Spike. That’s a nickname if ever I heard one.”

“William.” She shrugged helplessly as he waited for the rest, his brows up inquiringly. “I, uh, I don’t know the rest.”

“You say we’ve known each other for years and you don’t know my full name?”

“You never told anyone.”

“Didn’t think anybody could make it in the world these days without a full name coming to light some way or the other.” He gave her a puzzled look. “How about a little more gen, pet? I can tell right off I’m a Brit and you’re a Yank, just from our accents. But what am I doing on this side of the pond? What do I do at all? What’s my job? How old am I? Bitty factoids like that would be much appreciated, luv.”

She could see the pitfalls opening up at her feet. “Whoa. This is gonna be a lot more complicated than I thought.”

“What’s so bleeding complicated about it?” He jerked to his feet and started to pace restlessly around the room. “Stuff like that’s bloody small talk, not a sodding state secret!”

“I know.” She ducked her head and rubbed at her forehead nervously. “We’ve got kind of a major problem here. This is gonna be really hard to explain.”

“Uh, Buffy?”


“Why am I smoking?”

She looked up in surprise and saw him standing in the sun rays pouring through the open blinds of the window. He was already smouldering.

Aiigh!” She tackled him, throwing them both onto the bed and out of the sunlight. “Never ever go out in the sun, Spike! It’ll kill you! You’ll catch fire and burn up!”

She bounced off the bed and ran to the window to close the blinds. When she turned around again, he had pushed himself up onto his elbows, one knee bent, and was lying staring at her.

“Something I should know, pet? Guessing this is not just some kind of skin allergy here.”

She took a deep breath. “Okay, you are so not gonna believe this. Gonna give it to you straight.”

“Lay it on me then.”

“Spike, you’re a vampire.”

He just looked at her, his mouth open on a laugh of disbelief. “Yeah, right. Like vampires exist.”

“They do and you’re one.”

“C’mon, pet! Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.”

Great. Now she had to convince Spike that he was a vampire. She reached out, grabbed his hand and yanked him off the bed. Grinning, he let her drag him over to the dresser.

“Look in the mirror, Spike. Vampires don’t have reflections, right? Where’s your reflection?”

He stared at the mirror over the dresser, where only her reflection showed, not his. After several blank moments, he went to stand right in front of the dresser, angling his body so that it should have blocked out her reflection. Of course it didn’t. He peered around the back of the mirror suspiciously.

“Some kind of gag,” he mumbled. “Trick mirror. Gotta be.”

“Oh, yeah? Pick me up, Spike.”

He frowned, then scooped her up. She settled her arms around his neck to balance herself, then nodded at the mirror.

“Take a look.”

Her reflection looked as if she were hanging weightless in midair.

“Bloody hell!”

“See?” She snapped her fingers suddenly. “Put me down. I just thought of something.”

She had a digital camera in her suitcase. She dug it out and checked the memory card. Plenty of space.

“Hold still.”

She took some shots of him, both full length and close-up, then showed them to him. He squinted at the camera’s miniature screen.

“Look like Billy Idol,” he growled. “Shouldn’t it be Bela Lugosi?”

“Billy Idol stole your look,” she grinned and he was surprised into a laugh. “Okay, now go into gameface.”


“Right. You don’t know how.” She thought about it. “Gimme your switchblade.”

He searched the pockets of his duster and came up with it. “That kind, am I?”

“A lot worse. You’re really into the illegalities, buster. That blade’s nothing.”

She sliced the ball of her thumb with the switchblade, then pressed her thumb lightly to his lips and watched with satisfaction as his fangs emerged and he went reflexively into gameface at the scent and taste of Slayer blood.

“Perfect. Now don’t move or relax or do whatever you normally do to lose that look.”

She took a couple of rapid shots before his puzzlement made the gameface wear off and fade back into his human features.

“I felt...” he whispered.

“Hunger, right? It’s the blood. You’re a vampire. You want the blood.”

She held the camera up for him to see himself in all his glory of fangs, yellow eyes and ridges.

“Having trouble getting my lobes around this,” he muttered, staring hard at the tiny screen.

“Let’s see whether I can get you a better view.”

The room’s TV had the right hook-ups. She connected the camera to it by the AV cables from the camera’s accessory bag in her suitcase and called up Video 2 with the remote. The TV screen provided a large, clear view of the gameface. Spike sank down on the foot of the bed and stared at it.

“Vampire,” he said at last. “Bloodsucker, huh? So do I also turn into a bat and sleep in a coffin?”

“No bats. No coffins. But you do have extra strength and speed and you heal fast. And you can only get killed if you’re staked through the heart or set on fire. Or walk into the sunlight. That’s why I shoved you out of it. The sun will fry you. You gotta stay in the shadows.”

“Creature of the night. Got it. And what about you?” He turned his head to frown at her. “Why are you so matey with a vamp? What keeps me from drinking your blood?”

“I’m a Slayer.” She explained what that was.

“So I’m a vamp and you kill vamps. So how come we’re so cozy like?”

She sighed. “Long and very complicated story. I’ll explain it in detail later, but the main thing is you started helping me. And that’s how you died.”

She explained what had happened at the Hellmouth. He sat listening to her intently.

“So I’ve got a soul.”

She nodded. “Only two vampires with a soul in the whole world.”

“Do I still have it? Being resurrected like this?”

Buffy blinked at him. That hadn’t even occurred to her. “Gee, I don’t know. I guess that’s one of the things we’ll have to find out.”

“What if I don’t anymore?”

“It doesn’t matter.” It had always mattered to her before. She had never let him get close to her precisely because he had not had a soul. And then when he made that enormous, terrible, magnificent sacrifice, going against his very nature as a demon to get a soul just so he would never hurt her again, she had still not been able to forgive him for the attempted rape that had driven him to that point of desperation. Now she understood clearly what he had done, valued it more than she could say. With or without a soul, he was precious to her. “Just don’t go killing people.”

“Not feeling the urge right now,” he said dryly.

Buffy smiled a little wryly. “You might. You’re a vamp. Don’t. I’d have to stop you.”

The scarred eyebrow rose mockingly and she nearly wept at that familiar sardonic look. “Would you stake me?”

She shook her head. “No. Can’t. I’d have to fight you though. I’m the Slayer. I can’t let you hurt anybody.”

“I might hurt you.”

“You probably would. You’re the best fighter I know, Spike. It’s always been a stalemate between us, even when we were enemies and seriously trying to kill each other. Neither of us could get the upper hand. But now you’ve got the advantage. I can’t kill you. So if you wanted to, you could probably kill me.”

There was a little silence.

“Wouldn’t,” he said suddenly. “Wouldn’t hurt you.”

His eyes were very grave and still. Her own eyes blurred. With or without a memory, he would still never hurt her. She smiled shakily.

“Thank you. I’m glad.”

“Trust you,” he muttered and looked away, embarrassed. “Still tabula rasa here, pet. Nothing’s coming back. Anything else you can tell me?”

She realized suddenly how little she really knew about him. All these years and she knew almost nothing about him. She knew more about Willy the Snitch than she did about Spike. And that was her own fault. He would have loved to tell her. He’d even told Dawn stories about himself. But Buffy had never listened, never let him talk, always cut him off whenever he even tried to talk to her. “Are we having a conversation?” he had asked in amazement the one time she had relaxed and said something personal. Something silly about redecorating her room, it had been. Something that unimportant and it had both pleased and surprised him. The only time she had allowed him to say anything really important was that one night when she had been kicked out of her house and he had come after her. She bit her lip painfully hard.

“What is it?” he asked at once, sensitive to her reactions as always.

She shook her head, blinking back the tears. “I know so little. My bad. You would have told me, but I wouldn’t let you.”

“It’s all right, pet. Tell me what you do know and we’ll fill in the blanks later.”

“Angel would know,” she muttered, almost to herself. “Angel’s the one to ask. We’ll go to L.A. tomorrow, to Wolfram and Hart. The amulet came from there. Maybe they might have some answers.”

“Angel,” he said slowly, testing the name. “Who’s she?”

“He. It’s another nickname. His real name’s Liam, but just like with you I don’t know his last name. He’s a vamp too, the other one with a soul. I guess vamps don’t like to give away their family names.”

She thought suddenly that Angel was the wrong one for Spike to ask about himself. They had always been rivals, with a long and painful history between them. On top of that, Angel with his guilt and angst, resented Spike’s very existence. Angel had turned Dru who had turned Spike. The way Angel saw it, that made Angel responsible for all the killing both Dru and Spike had done. Every death Spike had caused was on the debit side of Angel’s ledger, essentially Angel’s fault. That logic was flawed, of course. The chain went further back than that—to Darla, then to the Master, then to whoever had turned the Master and so on back into the depths of time. But Angel, guilt-ridden as always, took the blame on himself.

Anything Angel said about Spike would be heavily biased and negative, would give Spike a distorted view of himself—and Spike wouldn’t know that, would have no defenses against it. Crazy as she was, Dru would have given him a more balanced picture. But no one knew where Dru had vanished to these days.

“Liam. That’s Irish,” Spike was saying. “He connected with me somehow?”

“Sort of. A vampire called Darla who’s dust now turned him. He turned Drusilla. Dru turned you. You ran together as a pack for decades. They called you four the Scourge of Europe.”

He grinned. “Flattering.”

“You would think that.” Buffy grinned back. “Let’s see. You were a poet and a gentleman. Dru turned you when you were twenty-eight, in 1880 in London. You stayed with her for a hundred and twenty years until she dumped you for a chaos demon.”

“What the fuck’s a chaos demon?”

“Has antlers, slime.” She shrugged. “That’s what I hear. Never saw one myself.”

“Charming. So I was hung up on this Dru bird?”

“Oh, yeah. You loved her. Your dark princess, you called her.”


Buffy nodded. “Sleek, sexy, slinky, seriously psycho. I mean like way psycho.”

“You sound jealous.” The blue eyes were vivid with laughter.

Buffy blushed and hurriedly changed the subject. “So, does that bring anything back?”

He shook his head.

“Your mother’s name was Anne. You really cared for her.” She looked at him hopefully.

“Sorry, pet. Still nothing.” He was looking thoughtful. “So I’ve killed a lot of people?”

“You’re a vamp. Rest of us are happy meals on legs. At least one a night for a hundred and twenty years. You do the math.”

He was frowning at her. “But you’re a Slayer. You protect humans. Why didn’t you kill me?”

“I tried in the beginning. But you’re a damn good fighter. Then this government agency put a chip in your head that kept you from killing people. You weren’t hurting anyone, so I didn’t dust you. And then you started helping. You like fighting and at least you could fight demons.”

“I’ve got a chip in my head?” His hand went unthinkingly to his temple.

“It’s gone now. But then you got a soul and didn’t kill anyone, so...”

She could see him putting it in order, trying to make connections. He shrugged finally.

“Oh, well.” He tilted his head curiously. “Why Spike? As nicknames go, that one either sounds like a dog or has a real Freudian connotation.”

She laughed involuntarily. Trust Spike to notice a sexual innuendo. “I understand you used to go around driving railroad spikes into people’s heads in the beginning.”

“Can’t say I lack originality, can you? Talk about making a name for myself.” He was grinning. “So what do we do now?”

“We’ll stay here today. I’m tired and you can’t go anywhere while the sun’s up. We’ll rest for most of the night, then drive up to L.A., time it so we’ll get there before dawn. Go see Wolfram and Hart and find out if they can give us any answers.” She got up. “Are you hungry?”

He thought about it. “Yeah.”

“So am I. I’ll go get us something.” Her appetite had come back. She just felt so happy. It didn’t matter that he didn’t remember her, that he didn’t love her. It was enough to have him alive. She looked at him suddenly. “You don’t have to stay with me. You know that, don’t you? You’re a free agent. You can go anywhere, do anything. Don’t feel you’re obliged...”

“Rather stay with you,” he said. He looked up at her, his eyes very blue. “Until I get my memory back. Or even if I don’t. It just feels right somehow.”

It felt right to her too. She couldn’t help smiling at him. “Okay.”

She called Willow on her cell while driving to get pig’s blood for Spike. Willow was as shocked as she had been.

“From the amulet? I’ve never heard of something like that happening! Buffy, are you sure it’s Spike?”

“It’s Spike,” said Buffy positively. “He may not have his memory, but it really is Spike.”

“Does he have his soul?”

“I don’t know. It’s one of the things we’ll have to find out. The amulet belonged to Wolfram and Hart, so we’re going to take it to Angel tomorrow and see whether he can tell us anything.”

“I’ll do some research on this side too. What if Angel comes up empty?”

“I’ll ask Spike if he’ll come to London with me and we’ll take it from there. Will you tell Giles and the others for me? Kinda cushion the shock?”

“It will be a shock,” Willow agreed. Her voice became suddenly gentle. “I’m really glad for you, Buff.”

“Thanks, Will.” Buffy choked up a little. “If his memory doesn’t come back, he...he may not stay with me. But it’s enough that he’s alive. You know?”

“I know. If Tara...” Buffy heard Willow swallow hard. “It would be enough to know that she was alive even if I never saw her again.”

“Yeah,” said Buffy softly. “I’m not asking anything of Spike. I cut him up too much before, hurt him so much. Maybe it’s a good thing he doesn’t remember. Losing his memory has saved him all that pain and ugliness. Maybe it’s better if he never gets his memory back. I don’t care if he never cares for me again. I just want him safe and happy.”

“Yes,” said Willow. “I understand completely.”

“So you tell the others.” Buffy’s voice turned suddenly hard. “And you tell them anyone gives him any grief, they’re in for a world of hurt. I’m not taking any crap this time around.”

“I’ll tell them,” said Willow.

Spike was still staring in fascination at his gameface on the TV screen when Buffy got back. He had taken more shots of himself with the camera while she was gone.

“I can do it now whenever I want to,” he said and went triumphantly into gameface as she put the paper bags of food down on the dresser. It was a novelty to him, she saw. Something majorly weird and fun.

She laughed involuntarily. “You sound about two.”

He licked his fangs pointedly, then laughed as well and shook the gameface off.

“I got you some blood,” she said, handing it to him. “I’m sorry it’s only pig’s blood. I don’t know San Clemente that well. But I know a couple of blood banks in L.A. where I can get human blood that’s expired, so you’ll have that tomorrow. This is just for today. But I did manage to get it heated up for you. And we’ve got some wings as well. I know you like them.”

“I eat wings?” He looked interested. “So vamps don’t have to live on just blood.”

“Vamps can’t get any nourishment from regular food, so most of them don’t even try it. Angel won’t drink human blood, only animal blood now that he’s got the soul. But you eat all kinds of things. You’ve always liked variety.”

“So I’m the adventurous type?”

She grinned at him. “In spades.”

“Good.” He made a face over the pig’s blood. “Sodding hell! This is disgusting! That Angel wanker lives on this?”

“I think he adds stuff like otter. Is it really that bad?”

“Fills the void,” he said and sipped at it determinedly. “Didn’t mean to sound ungrateful. Was just surprised, is all. And it’s only for one night.”

“Let me try something.”

She took the styrofoam container and his switchblade over to the sink in the bathroom, cut the side of her palm and let her blood drip down to join the pig’s blood in the wide cup.

“Try it now.”

He tasted it and his brows went up. “Now that’s a hell of a lot more...” He stopped abruptly. “What did you do?”

“Added some flavor. You always liked stuff like burba weed spicing it up. Or Weetabix for texture.”

“So what did you add?” He caught the hand she was trying to hide and turned it over to expose the gash. “Your own blood?”

She flushed. “It only needed a little. Slayer blood’s powerful.”

His eyes were ablaze, their pupils widening over an intense darkness. “You didn’t have to do that!”

“No big.”

“I could have drunk it the way it was! You didn’t have to hurt yourself!”

“Cut’s already clotted. Slayers heal fast. The mark will be gone in less than an hour.”

He lifted her hand to his mouth, kissed the gash. “Buffy...”

“Didn’t cost me anything,” she muttered, trying to keep the color out of her face.

He was watching her intently. “Did you do that for me before?”

“Never.” She laughed a little bitterly. “Everyone, including me, would have had a fit. I told you things were complicated.”

“Slayer feeding a vamp. I can see how they would be.”

“Yeah.” Now things were very simple for her and she had no qualms at all about feeding him. Anything he wanted. Anything to make things easier for him. “Forget it. C’mon, drink that, then let’s try the wings. I’m starving. I haven’t eaten anything all day.”

He drank the blood, then ditched his boots and duster. They both ended up sitting cross-legged on the bed, working their way with relish through the wings.

“Garlic,” he remarked. “So that’s another myth, huh? That vamps are allergic to garlic.”

“Actually, they are . But you like the taste, so you built up a tolerance over the years.” She smiled fondly at him. “You always like taking risks.”

“Well, good. I’d have hated finding out I’m some kind of wimp.”

Buffy snorted. “Reckless idiot, more like. Angel always thinks things out carefully. But you? You go throwing yourself headlong into trouble. God knows how you’ve survived all these decades!”

He grinned at her. “But you like it.”

“Yeah.” She always had, but never admitted it to herself. Giles and Angel were conservative, always telling her to think first and act later. She had always had a redwood up her tush. But somewhere deep inside, she had envied the zest with which Spike threw himself into things. That sheer enjoyment of life. She had never let herself enjoy life, had always been so caught up with the duties and responsibilities of being a Slayer. But now she was just one among many. She was free. She could do what she liked and she would.

Willow’s spell activating the other Slayers was what had made it possible. But it was Spike who had really given that to her, with his sacrifice at the Hellmouth that had defeated the ultimate enemy.

She couldn’t take her eyes off him. It was still a wonder to her that he was here. She leaned back against the headboard, watching the play of expressions across his face as he asked questions and listened to the answers. She tried to explain how life had been in Sunnydale these last few years, answering his questions honestly but carefully avoiding any mention of that tortured relationship of theirs. She didn’t want to lay the burden of that on him once more, didn’t want the chains of that painful, twisted, ruined passion between them to fall on him again. He was free now. She wanted to keep him that way.

Just watching him laugh underlined that for her. When he had first come to Sunnydale, he had laughed like that, easily, joyously. But once he had fallen in love with her, that laughter had turned wry and rueful, had come only rarely, and then she had always angrily said something to kill it. Only when he was burning up in the Hellmouth had she heard him laugh once again with pure enjoyment and triumph, that last gleeful defiance thrown in the face of annihilation.

She cherished it in him now, watched him under her lashes. She had never allowed herself to see quite how beautiful he was. Now the turn of his head, the movements of that fluid, supple body, the line of his straight shoulders or lean back, even the shadow cast by his thick lashes down the flat plane of his cheek, caught painfully at her heart.

“You’re tired,” he said suddenly and she jumped. He reached out and touched her face lightly, his thumb stroking her cheekbone. Her breath shook in her mouth. “You’ve got shadows under your eyes. Why don’t you get some kip, pet? We don’t have to leave for hours.”

“You’re right, I should sleep,” she agreed. “I think I’ve still got jet-lag and it’s been a stressful day. You’ve got shadows too.”

If the amulet had caught him and released him at the exact point when he had burned up, he too must be exhausted. That last day at the Hellmouth had been more than stressful, what with the preparations for the battle and then the fight itself. And the strain of his channeling the sunfire energy would have been a powerful drain on top of it all.

His eyes went suddenly dark. “No. Not sleepy. Think I’ll watch a little telly if that won’t bother you, pet.”

“It won’t. You don’t have to turn down the sound. I can block it out without even thinking.” She glanced at the king-sized bed. “Bed’s more than big enough for two. We can share it if you find you do want to sleep.”


She dumped the remains of the wings and their cartons, then set the alarm on her tiny travel clock to wake her early enough for them to reach L.A. before the sun came up. Spike had detached the camera from the TV and was flipping through channels with the remote when she climbed into bed.

A clatter woke her a couple of hours later. It was dark now outside. The lights were off and the sound on the TV was turned down to the tiniest whisper that wouldn’t bother her, but could still be picked up by Spike’s vampire hearing. In the flickering light from the TV screen, she could see Spike slouched down low in the armchair, his legs stretched out in front of him. He was asleep and the noise had been the remote falling from his hand onto the floor.

He muttered something in his sleep and moved restlessly. One hand rose, palm outward, as if he were thrusting something away, fell back against his forehead. He shifted again uneasily, his movements agitated and struggling.

Buffy switched on the bedside lamp next to her, then got out of bed and went over to him.

“Spike? Are you all right?”

His eyes opened a little, glazed and blind, their blue almost swallowed up by the enlarged pupils.

“Fire,” he whispered. “Fire.”

No wonder he hadn’t wanted to sleep. He had been afraid of this, that sleep would take him back to the only personal memory he had left—that of burning into ash.

“It’s all right. It’s over.” She bent and pulled him onto his feet, braced him as he sagged against her, still really asleep. “Come on, dear heart. It will be better in bed.”

She got him into bed, slid in beside him, leaving the light on so that he would know where he was if he woke up. His arms came tightly about her waist; his face burrowed itself into the curve of her shoulder. His body was tense as a violin string, shivering. She held him close, stroking his shoulders and back, soothing him.

“Shh. Shh. It’s over,” she murmured. “No more pain, Spike. I won’t let anything hurt you. Ever again. Not even me,” she vowed grimly, more to herself than to him. “Go to sleep. Trust me.”

“Yes,” he muttered and she felt the tension run out of him, felt him relax against her.

He had slept in her arms like this once before, head on her shoulder, arm about her waist. But she had spent that time not really aware of him, staring up at the ceiling and planning her next move against the First. Now she thought of nothing but him—his body in her arms, his hair soft against her cheek, his weight, the scent of him, the smooth texture of his forehead against her lips. All precious to her, the way they had never been before.

She must have fallen asleep too in the end, because she woke with a start some hours later to find him watching her intently, his head on the pillow beside her. The alarm clock hadn’t gone off yet and it was still dark outside.

“What are we to each other?” he asked.

She didn’t know how to answer that. “Nothing. Everything. It’s hard to explain.”

“Were we lovers?”

She closed her eyes in pain for a moment. “For three months.”

“Only that? What did I do wrong?”

Her lips trembled. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I did. I screwed things up. So badly.”

“Was it because I’m a vamp?”

“Don’t care about that now. But it mattered then. So many issues. I had so many stupid, stupid issues. I hurt you so bad. I hope you never remember that. Don’t want you to remember all that pain.”

“It’s over. Just like the fire. Not gonna let that eat away at me either. It’s done. It’s all done. Can start fresh now.”

“Can you? But you want your memory back, don’t you?”

“Sure. But that doesn’t get in the way of a fresh start.”

“Doesn’t it?”

“No. One learns, one adapts, one moves on. That’s the way of it.”

Spike’s genius. That ability to adapt.

“I’m trying to learn that,” she whispered.

He reached out and stroked her hair delicately. “It’s simple really, pet. If you want a fresh start, you make it. Do you want it?”

“Oh, yes. So much.” Her hand rose and touched his hesitantly. “Do you?”


Their hands folded together, interlocking. No sunfire flames this time as there had been at the Hellmouth. But a rightness.

“But you can’t really know,” she said worriedly. “I don’t want to cheat you. The best fresh start for you might be a complete break from everything.”

“We’ll find out, yeah?” He was watching her thoughtfully. “You’re scared. Take the risk, pet.”

She had never done that before. Always held back. Now she didn’t care. She had already been hurt so badly when he was gone that she had wanted to die. Didn’t matter what happened now. Every day, every moment, was a gift.

“I’ll take the risk.”

He smiled at her, his eyes soft. “That’s all right then, innit?”

Oh, she hoped so. But so much still stood in the way.

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