It had been the pillows. Well, actually, it had been the pillowcases more than the pillows.
It seemed to always be those little things. She wasn't used to this; when her mother had died things had been too insane for her to really grieve. Then, later, she'd been getting over being dead. She'd never gone through the normal grieving process before. And she hadn't expected it all. I t was the little things were what reminded her. Made her remember.
Remember that Spike was dead.
This time it was the pillowcases.
And she'd been doing so well.
Stupid forgetting to wash the pillowcases with the sheets last week
At times like this it didn't matter what had led to it. Nothing much mattered at all. None of what she'd been doing these past months to keep herself together.
They'd moved to Rome shortly after Sunnydale had, well, collapsed. She'd thrown herself full force into this new life; she and Dawn had found an apartment within the week and Dawn was attending school shortly thereafter. Buffy was still the Slayer--sure there were others, but she was still the Slayer.
During the day she trained girls at the Rome headquarters of the Council, when it got dark, she patrolled; patrolled until she was so exhausted she could barely stand.
And she was dating the Immortal. But that was simply what everything else was, a distraction. As long as she never had time to sit down and think--to remember, she was okay. She'd cried her heart out the first day in the apartment...almost literally. She'd lied when she told Angel that Spike was in her heart, the truth was he was her heart. So she'd cried him ou thtat day. As long as he wasn't there, she couldn't hurt.
Too bad it didn't work that way.
The only thing that had happened was that she'd lost her heart.
So, yeah, she was dating the Immortal, but only because Giles had gotten worried of how long and hard she was pushing herself; said she was running herself ragged. So, she told Giles that she was out relaxing when really she was going places with the Immortal, letting his pointless rambling stories distract her.
The only rule was that he wasn't allowed to talk about Spike. Or Angel since thoughts of Angel led to thoughts of Spike.
Usually all of that worked, never having any down time.
But then things would remind her and it wouldn't matter.
As she sat here on her bed, blinking her wide eyes to hold back the eyes, it felt like she hadn't done any of those things. The past eight months were washed away at times like this. Eight months...had it only been eight months? When thinking of how long she was going to have to be alone, it was barely any time. But actually living it, it felt like forever.
Right now it felt like she was right back where she started from, that no time had passed. It didn't matter that he'd never been here before; the thoughts still came.
What he'd look like sitting here on her bed; walking down the hall; cooking dinner. What his laugh would sound like reverberating off the walls; what it would sound like to have him greet her when she came home.
She knew that imagining all of that was just torturing herself, but she couldn't help it. Couldn't help wondering what he'd think of the new sofa she'd bought last week or the completely new style of her apartment. Her apartment looked more like the lower level of his crypt had than her house had. Probably some sort of subconscious thing to comfort herself.
Usually it worked, but when she remembered it made it that much worse. If she'd had some stupid flowery sofa it probably would have been harder to imagine him sitting on that sofa. But the black one, well that just made it easier.
She wondered if he really would have liked it; would he have liked the rest of her furniture? Like the way she'd arranged her bedroom? Like the larger television she'd bought? She really hated to admit it, but she had made her apartment something she hoped Spike would like.
If he were there.
God, she was a masochist.
She took a few deep breaths, consciously letting them out slow and tried to relax. She hadn't meditated much lately, Spike always seemed to sneak in her mind when she was doing her best to clear it.
He always had done that, sneaked up on her when she least needed him to. And, if she were honest, also when she most needed him to.
Sometimes, though, she hated him for leaving her. For not being there when she so needed him. And hated herself for the hating. It was horrible, it was selfish, it was immature, it was a million different kinds of bad. But she couldn't help it.
She need him with her. Wanted him with her.
If only she could have managed to tell him before...
For the millionth time she promised herself that if something, anything, ever brought him back to her, she'd make sure he knew it...that she told him this time.
She'd make him believe it.
Because she wouldn't be able to really move on until he was back.
Buffy knew exactly how that sounded...like she was crazy for one. But it was the truth. The only way she would be able to get over Spike was if Spike was there with her. It was a bit of a problem.
He'd finally taught her to lean on him, but it had worked too well. Now that he was gone, she didn't know how to let anyone else help her; to let anyone else be there for her.
Couldn't Spike just come back? She'd done it...twice.
Before she could stop herself, she picked the phone up from beside her bed and dialed the number for Wolfram and Hart, having to look it up as she hadn't used it often.
Angel answered the phone after nearly a minute of ringing--she guessed he knew it was her--and she couldn't stop herself, "I need Spike."
"Buffy?" He sounded confused and...hurt.
"Yeah," She answered, then again, "I need Spike."
He mumbled something, sounding awfully grumpy and she could hear the phone being passed around.
When the noises stopped she thought someone might be on the phone, but vampires didn't breath so she wasn't sure.
"Not quite, luv."
Buffy froze. She didn't breath, she didn't move, not one bit.
She was calling Angel to tell him tha Wolfram and Hart needed to bring Spike back for her.
Either they worked really fast--and somewhat psychically--or Angel had thought she knew...
But knew what?
"Spike?" Her voice was quieter, weaker than she wanted.
"Yeah, it's me pet." His own voice was softer now, calming and comforting her.
"Guess you didn't know then," And he started to explain but she cut him off.
"Were you going to tell me?" She sounded hurt, but...it had hurt so why shouldn't she.
"I was," He answered simply. "Been ghosty for a bit and wanted to make sure that I wasn't just going to...wanted to make sure I wasn't leaving again before I told you. Couldn't do that to you again."
"Been all touchable for a day or so now, seems it's gonna stick. Been trying to get hair boy over here to tell me where you were."
"So you were going to come?"
"Course I was, Buffy. I told you I wouldn't leave. Had a bit of a...vacation against my will, but now...I'll be there. Well," He added, "As soon as I know where there is I will."
"I'm in Rome, Angel might have the exact address or I can give it to you."
"Nah, like making the poofter squirm a bit, I'll get it from him. And I'll be there in a few hours. Apparently being evil means you get super fast jets."
Buffy didn't say anything, still trying to absorb it all.
"Please don't let this be a dream, Spike," She finally said.
"It's not," he promised. "You hang on for just a few hours and I'll be right there to prove it to you. I love you Buffy."
She wanted to return the sentiment, but didn't want this second time of her saying it to be done over the phone.
"I'll tell you when you get here," She compromised.
"Then I'm on my way."
And Buffy smiled again.
To think it all started with pillowcases.