Spike sat across from Buffy unable to get enough of her. He had known where she was for a while but had continued to put off seeking her out. He lied to her when he said he wondered if The Immortal had come with her. He knew he had not, knew that Buffy would not have returned to the States unless the relationship had ended.
The past week had been hell, being so close to her yet not able to talk to or touch her. He was fully aware she had picked up on being watched. The subtle clues she gave off were obvious to him that others might have missed. Until tonight he was going to take the coward's way out and leave town without so much as a hello. Until tonight he thought he could take the high road and remain out of her life. She seemed to be doing all right.
Tonight, everything had changed. Tonight he came to the realization that he was on the verge of losing her for good. The Immortal was a fluke, he knew that even when he saw her dancing with him in Rome.
Tonight he stood outside her apartment building and watched as she snogged with her latest honey. There was a big difference about this honey and that's when it hit him. Spike had witnessed enough to believe he might just be the long haul guy. He had baited Finn relentlessly about how that position was not his, but this fellow very well could be. He could tell even from his vantage point outside standing on the street that she was kissing him with an urgency that could only end one way. In bed with him.
"I needed to see you were all right."
"I am," she said quietly as she bit into a fry. She had pushed the plate closer to the middle of the table so that he could help himself. The only thing was Spike did not want to help himself to French fries, he wanted her. Over two years had gone by since he had seen her last. He could not count that brief moment in Rome as seeing her. He still wanted her. But had he waited too long? Was he too late? She admitted she did not love the other bloke yet, so maybe not.
"And this latest love. Is he good to you?"
"Colum? Yeah, he's great," Buffy said. The emotion in her voice did not quite match the words she was saying.
"I can't believe you're here," she said. She placed a hand over his and Spike took a deep breath. "I mean, I had dreams but always I woke up and you were still gone."
She had dreamt about him? He tried not to let the pride he got from that thought show on his face. "It feels like I never left."
"Why didn't you find me sooner?"
She was hurt that he had not come to her before now. He could see it clearly in her eyes. Eyes that no matter how hard she tried to put on a strong front always betrayed her true feelings. To him anyway. "I'm sorry, Pet, I," he shrugged. "I was going to, more than once."
"And what stopped you? Why now? Why did you have to come now, Spike?"
His lips curled up into a smile as he glanced at her hand still over his. "I don't know, Luv, I just don't know."
"Buffy?" Buffy's hand withdrew from his very quickly and Spike glanced over his shoulder to see the boyfriend.
"Colum," she said, unable to wipe the guilty look off her face.
"What are you doing here?"
"Having something to eat?"
"Who the hell is he?"
Not long ago, Spike would have enjoyed seeing the Slayer put on the spot like this, he would have gotten off on her stammering to come up with an explanation. Not now, he did not enjoy it at all. "I'm Spike, mate, just an old friend of Buffy's," he volunteered in an attempt to appease the bloke.
"Are you who called earlier?" the man asked. Very astute, though he would never be able to prove it. "You told me it was a wrong number."
"Did you call me?" she asks. He smiled widely at the obvious sound of hope in her voice. Another bolster to Spike's ego, two in one night was definitely a good sign.
He nodded simply, unable to tell her that he was spying. And that his spying had led to his feeling jealous like never before. Angelus moving in on Drusilla had pissed him off more than anything and after that it was more of the same rage at her antics. Tonight, watching Buffy kiss this man with such enthusiasm made him want to go up there and drain them both dry.
"Why didn't you say anything?"
He shrugged again. "Listen, Pet, I should go."
"No, Spike, don't go," she said. He could see the fear in her eyes, fear that he would not come back. He had disappeared on her twice now, she did not believe he was going to come back a third time.
"I'll see you soon."
He gestured to lover boy still standing by the booth. Now was not the time for her to wear her normally reserved heart on her sleeve for everyone to see. He stood from the booth, picking up the coffee cup to drain it dry. "Excuse me, mate," he said as he moved to stand next to Buffy. "I'll see you tomorrow, Slayer," he said in a low voice and placed a kiss against her temple. "Hope I didn't cause any problems, Luv."
He walked toward the counter where the waitress sat, rolling tableware up in napkins. He gave her enough money to cover Buffy's bill. "Make sure she's all right when he leaves, will you?"
She beamed at his request, her smile clearly meant to gain his interest. He could tell when she knew he was not interested and was relieved she caught on so quickly. "I sure will. Buffy's a sweet girl, I always look out for her. She comes in here so late and while this neighborhood isn't all bad this is still Chicago. But I don't think you have anything to worry about from him," she said, glancing at the young couple. "He's crazy about her."
"Is he now?"
"But so are you," she said.
He simply nodded, that was answer enough.
"And you have a past?"
"You could say that, a pretty colored one at that."
"Well, I like Colum, don't get me wrong. He's the type of guy every girl dreams of marrying one day. He's got a nephew, Buffy raves about how he dotes on that boy. But I've never seen her react to him the way she did to you tonight. For what it's worth. Far be it from me to interfere with anything, but Buffy's a good kid."
"She's no kid."
"Oh, I know, hon, I just," she shrugged as she gathered a fork, knife and spoon together to wrap another set of tableware in a napkin. "I consider her a friend, that's all. She's a private one, though. But I can tell she's got a checkered past. Do you have anything to do with that?"
"I've always gotten the impression she's on the lam or something, but I can't imagine who would be after such a sweet girl." If he was expecting him to confess any of Buffy's deep dark secrets, she was way off base about him. He betrayed her trust once, he would never do it again. It was why he had stayed away for as long as he had. A part of him still found it hard to believe she had forgiven him for the things he had done.
Spike chuckled lightly and drew the cigarette from behind his ear. "Well, thanks, Luv, for looking out for her. Have a good night," he said. He realized as he glanced at the clock behind the counter that even if Buffy's boyfriend had not come into the diner he would have had to go. The sun was due to rise in about thirty minutes. Luckily, he had a place to stay close by so he would not turn to dust again.
"You too, hon," she said with a smile. "And good luck. Whatever you decide to do."
"Thanks," he said with a wave as he left. He glanced at Buffy before he left and hoped he would have the chance to see her tomorrow. If Lover Boy said the right words, Buffy might not give him the chance to see her again. Chances were, he realized as he walked down the street, once the novelty of actually seeing him again wore off Buffy would be furious. What else was new? Spike could not count how many times he had dealt with a brassed off Buffy. It had led to some of their steamiest sex, but that had led to a lot of badness in Buffy's life as well as his life. It would be nice to find out if they could put the steamy sex together with genuine caring for one another. He hoped he had not ruined his chances of being able to find out.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com