by L.A. Ward

Buffy had laughed. There was something just a bit absurd
in the world's most renowned Slayer killer standing on
a granite headstone yelling his uncontained joy at her
return.  When Buffy had explained that Willow had
brought her back, Spike had laughed again.  "Red's one
frighteningly awesome witch when she's wound up, isn't


No one would ever call Spike emotionally reticent.
Buffy never needed to wonder what Spike was feeling.
Most of the time he announced it, or, if by some miracle
he wasn't in a chatty mood, what he felt was written
in his eyes.

Buffy wondered when she had first noticed that Spike's
eyes were blue. She didn't know when, just as she didn't
know why she had ever thought they were dark and
expressionless in the first place.  Of course Spike was
a vampire, and Buffy didn't make a habit of gazing
deeply into a vampire's eyes looking for feelings. . .but
maybe she should have. 

Spike gave away his secrets with his eyes.

It figured that Buffy would discover this useful bit of
information at this late date. It would have come in
handy during the days when she and Spike had been
trying to kill each other. . .only Buffy somehow doubted
that in the old days she would have been allowed to see
naked emotion laid bare in the shadowy blue depths. He'd
had more defenses then.

"You're back," Spike had repeated and, oh yeah, he
expressed stuff with his eyes. He expressed all over.
"Do the Scoobs know?  We've *got* to tell Niblet--"

"She knows. They all know."

Spike had paused, his black leather duster settling
around him as he jumped to the ground.  "Everyone?"


"Oh." Some of the light had died in his eyes.

It was that expressive thing again. As Spike's inner
light dimmed, Buffy knew she had hurt him...which was
weird and nuts and should have been impossible but

When in the hell had she begun wondering whether
Spike's feelings had been hurt? When had she begun
thinking he *had* feelings?

Um...always, her inner evil voice noted.

Oh, not the part where she had worried about hurting
his feelings just the part where she had known he
had them. After all, when Spike had shown up asking
for a truce to 'save the world' there had been a flash
of something in his eyes that said Dru's actions had
wounded him. 

That wasn't supposed to be, right?

Nothing about Buffy had made an impact on Angelus
--other making him hate her more violenntly--and that
had been because Angelus was a soulless vamp. He had
been incapable of feeling, but there had stood Spike,
equally soulless, showing real pain over Dru's
infidelity and talking about saving the world. Yes,
Spike's motivations had been selfish, but even
selfishness was a human emotion.  It meant caring
about something.

Yeah, so? Buffy's strident psyche mocked. She had
always known Spike felt *something,* she just wasn't
supposed to care what that something might be.  His
feelings weren't supposed to matter to Buffy any more
than her feelings were supposed to matter to Spike.

"I couldn't live her bein' in that much pain. I'd let
Glory kill me first."

Her. Buffy. And Spike had meant it. Buffy knew Spike
had meant it. He had been willing to die for her.

Okay! Buffy had surrendered to the memory. Spike *did*
care what she felt, and as she had stood in the cemetery,
Buffy had found herself squirming at his kicked puppy
expression even as he valiantly fought to hide it.

"So I'm last to know, eh." Spike had searched his
pockets for a cigarette.
"Well, not last exactly,"  At Spike's arched brow Buffy
had added, "I haven't called L.A. yet."

He had breathed out a thin cloud of gray smoke. "So
that's what's wrong."

"Wrong? Did I say anything was wrong?"

"Didn't need to. You're standing here with me instead
of out celebrating with your friends. Can't say wrong
doesn't factor in there somewhere."

Buffy had crossed her arms over her chest. "For your
information the 'Buffy is Back' bash is scheduled
for tomorrow night."  And oooh!  See the pretty
lifeline.  It had hung right in front of her. "And
I'm here to invite you."

It had been worth saying it just to see a look
of shock cross Spike's face.  "It's not nice to fool
the Big Bad," he had warned.

"Who's fooling?"

Spike had closed his eyes. "Niblet must've forced you.
I've been her project lately."

"This is a project free offer. had
nothing to do with it. I thought this one up all
by myself." Right there on the spot as a matter
of fact.



"Slayer, just go ahead say what's wrong."

Damnit, how could Spike always see through her as if
she was made of glass? 

"Why does anything have to be wrong for me to show
up--"  Buffy had stopped as it hit. Something had to be
wrong for her to show up looking for Spike because
something was *always* wrong when she showed up looking
for Spike. Dawn was missing, or she needed information,
or she needed help stealing a RV for the big 'fraidy run
away. It was always something.

Spike had dropped his cigarette to the ground and crushed
it with his heel.  "So what is it, Slayer? Why are you
here rather than at home?"

"Alone," she had interjected.  "If I was home, I'd
be alone.  Dawn's spending the night at a friend's.
Willow and Tara are at some Wiccan lecture. And Anya
has Xander picking out china."

Spike had frowned, and Buffy had been quick to explain,
"I mean, we had the big hug and tears scene. Everyone
was happy to see me. Dawn and I stayed up talking
until sunrise last night. And there *will* be a big
Buffy is Back bash tomorrow at the Bronze--and you
*are* invited by the way. It's just that tonight
everyone had previously arranged plans."

"'Cept me."

"Well, yeah, but that's not the reason I'm here."

Demons always chose the most inconvenient times to
attack, and that had been the moment the Lazuli
demons had chosen. 

It turned out the headless corpse at Spike's feet
had buddies--three to be exact.  Demon One had tackled
Spike. Demon Two had launched himself at Buffy. And
Demon Three had stood in the middle of the fray looking
uncertain about who to attack first. Not that it
mattered because the trio had bitten off far more than
they could chop, chew, or kill.

The fight had taken less than four minutes and ended
with Spike covered in yet more goo, Buffy examining
the bottom of her shoes hoping that goo stuff could
be easily scraped off, and Demon Three running
screaming from the graveyard.

Buffy had looked down at her pants in dismay.
"You know, I bet this stuff stains."

"Probably." Spike had shown a complete lack of
concern for her outfit. "So why are you here?"

"I don't know.  I thought I'd drop by and tell you I
wasn't dead. For some reason I thought you might
like to hear it."

"I do like to hear it," he had protested.  "I could
hear it all night, tomorrow night and the next day
besides. You could repeat it for the next two bloody
weeks and I wouldn't tire of hearin' it. But if you're
standing there saying nothing is wrong, you're full
of it. I can see it on you, Slayer."

"I've got blue goo on me."

"Slayer! What is it?"

Oh, Spike was so damn good at confrontation, at calling
her out, at not allowing her to live in the land of
denial.  "I'm not dead!" Buffy had screamed.

Spike had blinked, and she had prepared herself for the
next quip, the next witticism, the next barb. It didn't
come.  Instead he had quietly asked, "You're bothered
by that, aren't you?"

"By the 'not being dead' or the 'dying' part? Because
I'm having a hard time deciding which one bothers
me more."

Spike had sighed and sat on a doublewide headstone.
He had patted the place beside him and slowly,
reluctantly Buffy had taken the offered seat.

"So talk," he had instructed.

"I died."

"I noticed."

"No, I mean I *died.*  Not like that time with the
Master. Not a few minutes and--wham--thank goodness
someone invented mouth to mouth resuscitation.  I'm
talking dead, buried, over and done."

"I got that part. Believe me. I was there, pet." Spike
had tilted his head and watched her. "This bothers
you. Guess I can see how it might."

"Oh yeah, I'm bothered."

"It's stressful, disorienting."

"As if you would know."

Spike had rolled his eyes heavenward. "Oh right, 'cause
what would I know about dyin' what with being a vampire
and all."

"Did they bury you?" Buffy had suddenly asked.


"You know, six feet under with dirt on top."

"Nah." At her glance he had clarified. "Family crypt."

"And now you live in one. That's...kind of creepy,

"I *am* a vampire, pet."

But Buffy hadn't really heard Spike. Oh, she had heard
him. She just hadn't listened very closely. "You guys
buried me. She saved the world a lot."

"Hmm, yeah.  Harris did the engraving. Thought it
was appropriate."

Buffy had stared at the gravestone in front of her
and tried to make out the letters in the darkness
but couldn't. "I dug myself out of that grave. Just
like. . ."

After seconds of silence Spike had finished the
sentence for her.  "Just like the blokes you dust in
this graveyard night after night." He had cocked his
head to the side and looked straight at her. "Is that
what's bothering you? 'Cause if it is let me tell
you, you aren't a vampire."

"Oh yeah, I just rose from the dead and that happens
to so many people who aren't vampires."

"Well, we could ask a few zombies." She had punched
him in the shoulder and he had chuckled.  "Hey,
watch it! The leather takes enough abuse as it is."

"I'm serious, Spike."

"I know you are, love, and I also know you aren't a
vampire.  And I'm not just talkin' about the fact that
the night you died there was only one vampire around who
could've done the job." Spike had suddenly looked away,
his posture uncharacteristically stiff. "And I wouldn't
have done that to you."

"This coming from the creature who threatened to
kill me like a thousand times."

"Turning is different than killing," he had said
seriously.  "It's worse."

The silence between them had been tense and maybe even
a bit profound.  It had scared the crap out of her so
Buffy had shaken herself and quipped, "I don't know
why I even brought it up. I can walk in sunlight.  I

"There you go."

Buffy had shifted anxiously.  "But not technically
being a vampire doesn't mean I'm the same as before."

Spike had looked at Buffy with piercing blue eyes. 
"You're *you.*"  He had pronounced it so distinctly
that Buffy had hard time doubting him.

"Sure about that?" No way would she ever, *ever*
admit how badly she had needed to hear Spike's

"Dead sure. Do you feel like you?"

Buffy had shrugged.  "Sort of, but what does that

"It matters."  Spike had fished another cigarette out
of his pocket and lit it.

"When you become a vampire parts of you go missing. You
know it right off, from the moment you wake up with
bloodlust screaming in your head. There's no debating
with it. There's no ignoring it. All the  rational
thought in the world doesn't make it go away--"  Spike
had stopped and there was a bright speck of red in the
darkness as he had taken a drag off his cigarette. When
Spike had started to speak again, his voice had been
low and deep and haunted. "You remember what you were.
You think the same thoughts so you know those urges
weren't there before."

At Buffy's questioning frown Spike had explained. "It's
not like your memory is wiped clean. Up here--" he had
pointed to his head "--you're the same person.
Intellectually you can even be horrified by what you
do, by what you *want* to do. But the urge is so
strong, and...and parts of you are missing." 

"You make it sound like you're at war with yourself."

"Then I'm sounding wrong 'cause you're not."  Spike's
words had been little more than breath in the night.
"*That's* the scary part."

"I don't understand."

"It's complicated."

They had sat watching the ash of his cigarette grow to
a gravity defying length. Buffy had waited for it to
break and fall to the ground, but Spike had sat so
perfectly still that the ash had continued to grow
with the silence.  Buffy had wanted to say something,
anything to break the quiet, to bring the conversation
to a close or to at least open a new one. However, it
had been Spike who had spoken.

"You know those blokes who lose a limb," he had murmured.
"They talk about phantom pain. Part of them was severed,
cut away, but they remember how it felt when it was there.
Sometimes it feels like it's *still* there--even though
it's not. I feel like that sometimes." He had faced Buffy. 

Buffy had asked breathlessly, "Is there a hole inside
you?  I the parts used to be."

Spike had shrugged.  "I don't feel empty if that's
what you're asking. Never have."

"So what fills you up?" They both knew they were
talking about his soul, or rather his lack thereof. 
"What takes the missing part's place?"

"Don't know, love.  Whatever is handy I 'spose.
Rage, obsession, despair, whatever is our personal
raison d'etre."

Spike had dropped his cigarette to the ground. "And
none of this has anything to do with you. *You've*
got your parts."  Spike had shot her a leering,
wolfish smile. "I checked."

Buffy had rolled her eyes, but to her own surprise she
had also returned his smile.

Spike had reached out then, had lifted his hand and
almost touched her hair, had almost touched *her.*
But even as his hand had hovered close to her Spike
must have seen something reflected in her face because
he had a abandoned the telling gesture to rise to his
feet. Shoving his hands into his pockets Spike had said
gruffly, "You may be confused, pet, but you're whole.
You believe that, don't you?"

"Maybe, I do."

"Right then. Glad we cleared that up." He must have
sensed her hesitation. "What's the rest, love?"

Buffy had heard herself blurting, "Dawn is spending the
night at a friend's. Willow and Tara are at some Wiccan
lecture. And Anya has Xander picking out china."

"Pshaw!  Is that all?"

"First, no, that's not 'all,' and second, no one born
after 1850 says 'pshaw!'"

"1854 actually, and if that's not all, what's the

"They had plans for tonight! Plans they made last week. 
I wasn't here last week. I  didn't make plans."

"Yeah, that would've been difficult." Again Buffy had
punched Spike in the shoulder. "Ow!" He had glowered
at her. "What was that for?"

"I don't know, I..."  Buffy had looked around. Nope.
Trees and gravestones didn't have answers. "I just
need to hit something and you're convenient."

"Maybe I should be *inconvenient* then."

"They made plans without me." It was irrational. 
Buffy had known it even as she said it, but there it
had been. "They did things without me.  I died and the
world didn't end."

"That was sort of the point, wasn't it?"

Buffy's unfocused anger had dissipated, and suddenly
she had felt very small and very lost. "They went on
without me."

"They missed you, Buffy.  You weren't forgotten."

Her head had felt fuzzy. "They didn't forget me, but
they went on without me."  Her gaze had snapped to meet
Spike's.  "You said I haven't changed, and I haven't.
*They* have though. Willow is stronger than ever.
Tara isn't brain sucked. Xander and Anya are getting 
married. Giles moved to London, and Dawn is now an
inch taller than I am!"

Spike's eyes had become a shadowed, darker blue and
his sharply sculpted features had seemed to soften. 
"They're only human, Buffy. Besides, the Scoobs are
young.  Lots of changes at that age."

"It's not fair," she had whispered.

"No.  It's not. I can quote the cliché if you'd like
--the one about life." The corner of his mouth had
quirked. "I can even bring up the one about it being
a bitch, but I'd have to add an addenda after the
'then you die' bit."  At her unwavering stare Spike
had added, "No, it isn't fair. You die and the world
doesn't stop. Everyone goes on without you."

"Is that what it was like for you?"

Spike had blinked.  "Why are you asking that, pet?"

She had shrugged. "I'm curious. Did they go on without
you like nothing had happened? I mean before you
returned and killed them all."

Spike had staggered backward.  "Where in the bloody
hell did you hatch that idea?"  He had even managed to
look offended. "What? Do you think after Dru killed me in
that stable I returned home late one night and murdered
my Mum and kid sis?"

Buffy hadn't nodded but her answer must have been clear
in her eyes. 

A muscle had jumped in Spike's jaw.  "You know just
because Angelus had some weird hang-up about his father
and decided to get his jollies by chopping down his
family tree doesn't mean I did the same. Mum wasn't
perfect, but she didn't deserve to die."

"Neither did a lot of your victims."

Spike's indignation had seemed to dissipate. "Maybe,"
At her arched brow he had conceded, "Okay, no they
didn't, but they also weren't my Mum."

For some reason, Buffy hadn't questioned Spike's sincere
horror at the thought. Maybe some people--maybe a lot
of people--would say she was naïve to believe him.  Spike
was a proven liar. He was a vampire and made no effort to
hide that fact.  Maybe it was *because* he had never
made an effort to hide his sins that Buffy was inclined
to believe him.  "So life went on without William the
Bloody," she had concluded softly.

Spike had sniffed.  "Life didn't even pause to notice
William the Bloody got off the soddin' ride."