Author's Chapter Notes:
I was never entirely happy with this story, so I rewrote it, added more detailing, more chapters, etc. There is still a huge WARNING – Spike does cheat on Buffy. It’s mentioned in the prologue, the same way it was in the original. This is your only warning, so please don’t review complaining about it, because it won’t change. This story is about innocence and redemption and I know it’s hard to read (because it was hard to write) but I felt – and still feel – that it’s a story that needed to be told.



Standing on the balcony of his hotel, bottle of whiskey in hand, Spike stared out at the Los Angeles skyline, letting the lights of the city blur together in front of his vision.

He was two hours away from her.

Two hours, and he might as well have been on the other side of the planet.

It had been a hundred and forty seven days since the last time he saw her. A hundred and forty seven days, and tomorrow, he was going home for the first time in almost a year. Tomorrow his world would have felt completed for the first time, but instead, it merely represented a place he used to live.

‘Home,’ he thought. ‘Except it’s not home anymore, is it, mate? You screwed that up, good and proper.’

Spike swallowed hard as the images came back to him- the pain in her eyes, the disbelief written on her features. He felt something squeeze his heart like it was in a vice as all the images came rushing back to him in an unforgiving memory.

* * * * *

5 Months Earlier

Walking through the lobby of the Seattle hotel, Buffy took a deep breath as she approached the desk. It was well past midnight and the lobby was silent, but she was sure that anyone who happened to be straggling through could hear the thumping of her heart.

Coming to a stop in front of the desk, she managed to give the clerk who was working a friendly smile.

“The penthouse, please,” she said softly, her nervousness threatening to overwhelm her.

“What’s the password?” the clerk asked.

“Sunnyhell,” she said with a soft smile, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear before she was handed the key and instructed toward the elevator.

She didn’t want to be here.

She didn’t want to see if this was true.

She didn’t want her entire reason for existence to be questioned.

Would it really be so hard to simply turn around and go home, live in her happy little fantasy world where everything was goodness and light? Ignorance really is bliss, after all.

It might have been easier…but she couldn’t. Not anymore. Not when her heart and her gut were both working simultaneously against her, telling her to put this to rest once and for all.

Her ‘happy fantasy world’ had been shattered when she answered her front door earlier that morning to find Willow on the other side.

After having spent the entire morning on the phone with Oz, Willow had finally gone over to her best friend’s house with the news that was sure to break her heart.

”No,” Buffy said, shaking her head in disbelief. “The facts have to be all jumbled up or something…this isn’t my boyfriend, he would never…”

Trailing off in a choked voice, Buffy closed her eyes, biting her lip as she desperately wished it wasn’t true.

“Did you get the full story from Oz?” she asked, looking up at her redheaded friend and clinging to the last shred of hope she could latch on to.

“Oz didn’t know the full story,” Willow said softly. “He doesn’t know why Spike’s acting this way…he thought he was happy with the way the band had taken off and the direction they seemed to be headed, but…”

“Tell me it’s not true, Wills,” Buffy whispered with tears in her eyes, trying to keep her emotions under control. “Lie to me, if you have to.”

“I wish I could do that, Buffy,” Willow said, soothingly rubbing her friend’s back. “I wish I could make it better and make all the pain go away, but…but I just can’t.”

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better, isn’t it?” she whispered miserably.

Handing her friend the phone, Willow tried to keep her own tears at bay. “Only one way to find out.”

And after booking the first available flight from Los Angeles to Seattle, Buffy was packed and on her way with a little more prodding from Willow.

‘What was missing?’ Buffy wondered as the elevator continued to climb the floors, marking the ascent with a soft click for each floor. ‘The band was a success, he was with his friends, his life was finally starting… what was missing?’

When the elevator finally opened its doors, she felt as if her heart was going to stop.

Here she was, standing outside a simple door of a hotel room, and she had never been more terrified in her life.

Slipping the key card into the lock, Buffy took a deep breath before opening the door. And she saw the one thing she was terrified of seeing.

There was her boyfriend in the arms of some random girl, moving on top of her naked body.

Her heart shattered. Her stomach churned. Her eyes watered.

She felt as if she was being stabbed to death. Slowly.

She felt as if her life was draining out of her and there was nothing she could do to stop it.

Never understanding what it took to actually have any homicidal tendencies, Buffy felt the honest urge to kill for the first time.

“You son of a bitch,” she whispered, shaking her head slowly to try and shake away the images that felt like they would be forever frozen in her brain.

Spike froze before snapping his head to the door. It was in that moment, in that particular split second, that he knew. He knew what he wanted out of his life was exactly the one thing he could never have again. Jumping up, Spike grabbed his pants off the floor and quickly slid them on, ignoring the woman in his bed as his sole focus became the blonde in front of him.

The love of his life, who he was too stupid to cherish and love the way she was meant to be loved.

“You bastard,” she said, her voice rising slightly before she turned and ran down the hall. She hit the door leading to the stairs and pushed it open with enough force to shake the heavy cement block in the walls before beginning to run down the twenty flights.

Buffy heard Spike chasing her, calling her name, but she didn’t care. She had to get out of there- she couldn’t handle it. As fast as she was, her tears blurred her vision, giving Spike the opportunity to catch her halfway down.

“Buffy, please wait!”

“NO!” she screamed, spinning around to face him, her eyes sparking with pain and anger. “I’ve waited for you long enough, Spike. Apparently, it was you who wasn’t as concerned with that part of our relationship. God,” she whispered, catching her breath and staring up at the flights of stairs running the length of the building as she tried to rein in her emotions.

When she finally turned her gaze toward him, Spike felt tears stinging his own eyes at the pain he saw in hers.

The pain that he had caused.

He had purposely put it there, and for what? For a few minutes of gratification because some little bitch wanted to say she had screwed a rock star, once upon a time?

Reaching for her, Spike cringed when he was immediately met with a slap in the face for his efforts. Biting his lip, he briefly looked down at the floor, unsure of what to do as he slowly looked back at the woman he loved. He’d realized in the moment that he saw her standing in the doorway that he loved Buffy more than he loved himself.

Why couldn’t he have realized that when he still had her? Before his selfish needs destroyed what they had together?

“How could you?” she whispered, not bothering to hide the anguish in her voice. “How could you!?”

“I’m so sorry, baby,” he whispered in a choked voice, taking another step toward her, stopping when she immediately cowered away from him. “It wasn’t real,” he said softly, shaking his head. “It wasn’t about anything…just…it was just physical. Just lust…that was all.”

“That’s all?” she questioned in disbelief. “That’s all? You bastard. You might as well have ripped my heart out and said that’s all!”

“It wasn’t about them,” he said, shaking his head. “It was…I love you.”

“Them?” she whispered in disbelief. “I should have known. You can’t even keep your affairs monogamous!”

“It’s not like that, pet, it’s not…I just felt…I thought that if…if it wasn’t the same woman, it wouldn’t…it was nothing serious.”

“Why are you telling me this?” she whispered with tears streaming down her face.

“Because I need you to understand.”

“Understand?” she asked in a menacing whisper. “You expect me to stand here and listen to you talk about your whores? Fine. Tell me,” she demanded, crossing her arms over her chest, fighting the fresh tears that wanted to spill free. “Give me details, Spike. Tell me what they’re obviously giving you that I can’t.”

“Nothing,” he replied immediately, shaking his head in desperation. “They’re nothing to me, Buffy. They’re meaningless. You’re the one I need,” he whispered, closing the distance between them and gently cupping her face in his hands, pressing his forehead against hers as they each began to cry. “I need you.”

Realizing what he was doing, Buffy angrily shoved him away. “Yeah…you need me real bad. What if I told you the same goes for me? That I just needed the passion?” she asked, standing her ground as her voice continued to rise in anger. “What if I said it was just for a night, Spike? Just a few times…just a few different guys. It was all because I missed you, baby,” she continued sarcastically. “Do you forgive me? What do you say, Spike?” she asked, practically spitting out his name as she glared at him.

Feeling his jaw tighten as he looked at the floor, he listened to every word she was saying, knowing that he deserved every ounce of pain she could cause him and so much worse. “It’s just hard sometimes, love,” he whispered after a moment.

“You don’t think I know that?” she asked in disbelief. “God, it’s been hard on me, too, but I didn’t find myself in a stranger’s bed every night!”

“But I wasn’t… I was just alone, and they were there and…and I was weak. I haven’t seen you in seven months, and I felt as if we were growing apart.”

“And what?” she asked angrily. “What else did you want me to do, Spike? What the hell did you want from me? I gave you everything. You had it all- my heart, my body…and you were still willing to throw it all away.”

“No,” he whispered, tears filling his eyes again. “It wasn’t like that. I just missed you so much, and you weren’t here, and I-”

“Well, whose fault is that?” she asked through gritted teeth. “Who told me not to tag along on this little adventure? Is this why, Spike? Did you want to be free of me so you could live it up?”

“God, no! I meant everything I said back then. I still mean it. This has only happened a few times, and I just felt like I didn’t have you anymore.”

“And because you didn’t have me…you just go out and fuck a few random women. Well, that clears it all up, then. Thanks for the pep talk.”


“You just don’t get it,” she continued, shaking her head as she looked at him. “This is it…this is me,” she said, holding her arms out to her sides. “This is the package. And apparently, you think it’s so deficient that you have to get your kicks elsewhere, so we really have a problem.”

Closing her eyes as she tilted her head downward, Buffy could feel his eyes boring into her, waiting for her to make the next move.

“It’s over,” she whispered, barely choking out the words as the lump in her throat seemed to double in size.

“Buffy, no-”

“You’re using me,” she whispered, looking up at him with watery eyes. “You can’t love me-”

“I do!”

“You don’t,” she murmured, shaking her head. “I don’t know if you ever did.”

“I love you,” he whispered, pinning her against the railing of the stairs, desperately trying to get her to see that he meant it. “I love you…I can’t lose you.”

“You already did,” she said in a choked voice, looking up at him with tears streaming down her cheeks. “It’s over…William.”

* * * * *

“Buffy, I’m so sorry…it must be horrible.”

“I think horrible is still coming. Right now it’s worse. Right now, I’m just trying to keep from dying,” she sobbed as she dropped her head onto her friend’s lap. “I can’t breathe, Will. I feel like I can’t breathe.”

* * * * *

Assaulted by the memories of that horrible night, Buffy woke up with a gasp, remembering how she had wept for hours, wishing that Willow could make it better, crying harder when she realized that nothing would make it better. A day hadn’t passed that she hadn’t thought about it or cried herself to sleep at night. The wound was still as fresh as it had been in that moment. Two weeks before Christmas, with Spike coming back to Sunnydale for the first time the following night, and Buffy felt the familiar symptoms of an anxiety attack threaten to overwhelm her.

She had tried not to keep up with him. She didn’t want to know what he was doing now or if he still thought about her. She didn’t want to know if he had moved on and thrown himself into the typical life of the rock star- more so than he already had before they broke up. It was impossible not to keep up with him, though. Not of her own free will, most of the time, but Willow and Giles were always kind enough to let her know how much he missed her.

She didn’t want to know that he missed her.

That’s what she told herself.

Feeling the tears continue to slip down her cheeks, Buffy tried to relax as she curled her body into itself, seeking solace, even when there was none.

It was going to be another long night.

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