Chp 1 Meetings
Forever and a Day
Chp 1 Meetings
Her mobile phone started chirping as soon as she turned it on. The arrivals area at Gatwick Airport was crowded with people, meeting, greeting, laughing, crying. Buffy pulled her suitcase to one side to avoid a party of noisy school-children being met by happy parents and gazed at the little window on her phone.
Messages, lots of them, as usual! She’d read them in a minute. People never stopped contacting her, wanting advice or help. She wondered briefly what her life would have been like if she’d had a mobile phone ten years earlier. She could think of countless occasions when a phone call would have changed things completely. One day she’d make a list....
She yawned, then yawned again. She was so tired. She seemed to have been travelling for ever. Sometimes it struck her as odd. She, who’d never had a chance to leave Sunnydale because she was the Slayer, now found herself almost constantly in motion, flying round the world to check up on young Slayers in other countries.
Although she was based in Rome, she didn’t feel it was really home. Home was still California, a town called Sunnydale which was being slowly rebuilt. The tragic ‘earthquake’ was beginning to fade in people’s memories and Buffy had heard that houses were going up now, schools, shops, churches and, of course, cemeteries.
But for now she was in England to see in the New Year with Giles and Willow. She was two days late because she’d stopped in Switzerland to spend some time with Dawn who’d been skiing with friends over the Christmas holidays. It was so nice to see Dawn happy. Even nicer to know that Andrew was also in Switzerland, ostensibly taking care of a Swiss slayer who was having parent problems, but also keeping an eye on Dawn.
Buffy looked round now for Willow’s red hair, for Giles’ smiling face. It would be so lovely to be met, tucked into a warm car and driven somewhere without having to think too much about what or where she was going.
Make no decisions. She decided that was going to be her New year’s resolution. She didn’t even want to choose between hamburger or cheese burger until next year!
But there was no sign of anyone she recognised waiting for her. They’d probably been held up in traffic and were trying to park. She leant against a wall and allowed her weary limbs to relax. For a brief second she let her brain go down a track that she’d forbidden herself to walk again.
What would it be like to be met by a thin, blond man wearing a black leather coat and dusty boots? It was odd: his voice would sound completely at home here in England. He would reach out and take her case, run his hand down her cheek, bend to kiss her....
No! She slammed the door shut on those thoughts. Why would he be at the airport? Oh, he’d professed to love her; she could remember all the fine words he’d spoken, all the romantic actions, her body was still imprinted with the feel of his hands. Her nerve endings still sang in memory of what he’d done to them. But like all the men in her life, living or dead!, he’d walked away when it suited him.
She’d known he was back before Andrew let it slip, of course. The ties that bound them were still there. She would always know if he was in her world.
She’d been so happy it was painful to remember. She couldn’t stop trembling, found herself looking out of the window at the Roman streets, expecting to see him getting out of a cab, walking up to the door of the building. She had lain awake, night after night, shaking with an emotion too powerful to name, but it felt like joy.
She’d waited in agony for the phone to ring; she’d refused to leave the apartment for days, not eating, surviving on black coffee until Dawn had got really angry with her. Even when she’d reluctantly started to live her life again, she’d rushed home at every opportunity, checking the answer phone, picking up the receiver every ten minutes to check that it was working.
She’d felt sick all the time. That gut-clenching pain deep inside that never went away, night or day. It was as if she was back in the time of the awful Parker, feeling insecure, unhappy, unloved, lost.
She hadn’t known where Spike was, of course, so had been unable to ring him. Then Andrew had told her and it was as if her whole world had dissolved into acid around her.
He was in Los Angeles with Angel! And neither of them had told her. She couldn’t believe it. But it was true. Oh, she could understand Angel not telling her. No one could carry jealousy so long or so well as a vampire, particularly that one.
But one phone call from Spike, that was all she wanted. To hear his voice, know that it wasn’t some game Andrew was playing, some story he was making up, that Spike was back. Even if he didn’t want to see her again, surely she deserved more than this silence? And if she didn’t, then what about Dawn?
For a few weeks she’d lost herself. She’d met the Immortal, gone on a round of sex, drinking, dancing, clubbing, anything to stop herself thinking about Spike and the fact that he didn’t love her, had probably never loved her. She’d just been a challenge to his male ego. What was it he had once said to her, something like, ‘Nothing as good as doing a slayer!’
But hey - she came back to her surroundings with a jerk. She was Buffy Summers and it was time she faced up to the reality of her life: there was something about her that men found distasteful, or boring or hard to cope with in the long run. That was a fact she had to face. Eventually they all left her - her Dad, Angel, Parker, Riley, Spike - okay, she’d once thought Spike was different. But she’d been proved wrong. So grow up, Buffy and face the facts.
Also a fact to face was that Willow and Giles were not here to meet her. She flicked open her phone and began to scroll down through her messages.
Hi, Buffy, can’t meet u. Got demon nest in Norwich. Tell Willow we’re out of milk. Happy New Year. Giles.
Hey Buffy, can’t get thru to Giles but tell him when he picks you up that front door key is under flower pot. Have to go to Wales. Kennedy having problems with 2 vamps who are siring like mad. Happy New Year. Willow.
‘Oh great, just what I need,’ Buffy groaned. She wanted a bath and a hot drink and a comfy bed to sleep in, but instead she headed wearily for the train to take her into London.
The Gatwick Express was crowded with people happy to celebrate the New Year. Buffy was crunched between two large men, trying desperately to stop herself using her slayer strength to shove them out of the way so she could breathe.
At London Bridge station she caught a taxi out to Limehouse, the area of the rejuvenated London docklands where Giles and Willow had a large flat overlooking the Thames.
The block of apartments was new and shiny and modern and the collection of antique books about magic and vampires and demons looked odd on the chrome shelves lining the walls, but Giles said it was worth living in a new development just to get the panoramic view of the river, especially at night.
The key was just where Willow had said it would be. Buffy unpacked, had a shower, then wandered round the empty flat, restless and uneasy, looking at all the weird and wonderful things Giles and Willow had collected over the months since the end of Sunnydale.
The old year was on its way out, a new one was beginning. She wondered what it would bring for her and those she loved, why she couldn't summon up any enthusiasm for the months that lay ahead.
Dawn had plunged into her new life, Xander was busy with Faith and Robin in Cleveland, keeping an eye on the baby Hellmouth that was beginning to develop there. Willow, Kennedy - even Giles, were busy, busy, busy. Everyone looking forward, never back.
Suddenly, she couldn’t face being here indoors on her own any longer. She wanted to loose herself in the middle of a crowd, somewhere noisy so she didn’t have to think - or remember what and whom she’d lost. It was New Year’s Eve - she would go to Trafalgar Square and see in the new year in style.
She snatched up a jacket and headed for the dark London night.
Outside, Buffy hesitated. As she’d arrived by taxi, she wasn’t at all sure which way to walk to the nearest Underground station. Once outside the security gates of the new development, the roads were narrow, dark and empty.
She could smell the river close by, feel the chill coming off the water. Her footsteps echoed off the pavement as she hurried along. She shivered; she had the distinct impression that she was being followed.
She stopped abruptly, swinging round, her hand going to the stake she still carried in her pocket. Nothing. Nobody. No footsteps echoed hers. Just dark, empty shadows, the rumble of a train somewhere and the hooting of a boat on the Thames.
But the hairs on the back of her neck were rising, and she could feel that shiver running through her body that meant only one thing - vampire!
“You might as well come out and get it over with,” she called. “Look, it’s New Year’s Eve and I simply haven’t got time to play games. Either go away or come and fight.”
The rattle of a can being kicked was her answer as three dark, hooded shapes appeared. And two of them were holding knives.
But these weren’t vampires. “Oh English muggers! Great!” Buffy said. “That’s just what I need tonight. Don’t you lot have a party to go to?”
She side-stepped as they rushed her and the next few seconds were a blur of motion. Two went down, howling as she kicked them in extremely delicate parts of their anatomy. But the biggest got lucky. As she spun to kick him, her supporting foot slipped off the edge of the kerb and the next second he was on her, swearing, punching, the knife perilously close to her face.
Then suddenly he was being hauled away from her and sent flying across the road, screaming, to land in a heap on the far side. As she rolled over and leapt up, he and his mates clambered to their feet and fled.
“Hey, thanks for your help, that was - ”
She turned round, dusting herself down, then looked up at her rescuer, the words dying on her lips.
The hair was still blond but softer, curlier. He looked older, thinner. There were unhealed bruises and cuts on the face that was turning to human from vampire even as she looked. But the eyes were still a blazing blue, the expression in them making her knees shake.
He was standing in the circle of light thrown by a street lamp, his fists pushed deep in the pockets of his duster, just looking at her.
“Spike,” she whispered.
“I think we’ve already established that, pet.”
“What....” her head was spinning and she reached out a hand, blindly, in his direction. But he didn’t move.
“How are you?”
“Me? How am I? Oh, I’m very well,” she said sarcastically. “Absolutely first class, as you Brits would say. Top hole, old bean. Tally ho. God save the Queen. Rule Britannia!”
Spike looked at her puzzled and concerned. “Have you been drinking, Slayer? You weren’t fighting very well and you sound - odd.”
“Odd? Odd?” Buffy had never felt so angry in her entire life. It was as if the very blood in her veins was boiling. She was sure that at every step she took, the pavement beneath her feet would melt.
Before she could think about what she was doing, she stepped forward and slapped his face as hard as she could. The blow sent him crashing across the pavement, slamming him against a wall.
“How dare you! How dare you just appear out of nowhere and ask me how I am? How dare you be not all dead and burnt up and not contact me.” Every word was accompanied by a slap which he fended off easily.
She couldn’t see where she was hitting, the tears were running down her face now, blinding her. She hated him! Hated, loathed, despised him. Then two black leather clad arms were tight round her, holding her against his chest and a wordless murmur began as his lips brushed her hair.
Buffy allowed herself a few more moments to be held, safe in his arms, then pushed him away, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. She wasn’t going to make a fool of herself all over again. He didn’t love her, didn’t want to be with her. She had her pride, even if he’d left her nothing else. No life, no heart, no future.
“Sorry!” she said. “I’ve had a bad day. Been travelling. All jet-laggy and emotiony. I’m pleased to see you, Spike. I heard you had come back after the Hellmouth and were living in L.A. with Angel. How’s that been for you?”
The vampire stepped away, his arms dropping to his sides. His hands went back into his pockets, two clenched fists that he couldn’t relax.
“Interesting. Sad. Tragic. We lost some good people. Apocalypse, the usual thing, you know. Big evil. Big battle. Hey, there was a massive dragon! That was a first. Well, not the First, but the first for us to fight. Liam killed it, but I sort of helped. I think he choked it with his hair gell, actually!”
“Saved the world again, then, did you?” She busied herself tightly tying back her hair, determined not to look at him again. His expression was too unsettling.
“Getting to be a habit, pet,” he drawled. “Reckon we’re safe for another couple of months before the next bloody disaster strikes. Angel’s gone back to his Tibetan hideaway with - well, the girl who used to be Fred.”
His voice changed, became deeper. “Wesley’s dead. He left a lot of research papers for Giles, so thought I’ve come over and deliver them. Stay with the Watcher. Have a word. Catch up on the news. Saw you leaving his posh pad and followed. I was sure you were aware of me back there a ways, then the muggers jumped you and I stood admiring the fight until - ”
“Until you thought I needed help.”
Spike shrugged. “Don’t knock it, luv. That was one mean knife that wanker had.“
“I’m sure I could have managed, but thank you, all the same,” she said politely, determined not to show him how upset she was. “Now, I simply must get going. Nice to see you again, Spike. Glad everything’s worked out well for you. I’ll remember you to Dawn, shall I? Remember Dawn? My sister? Tall girl, dark hair. Fond of you. Used to be a ball of green energy, but over all that now. Of course, it will be a little difficult to explain why you never bothered to contact her when you came back, but I’m sure she’ll understand when I explain about the important end-of-the-world scenario, big dragon, etc. etc.”
Spike shifted uncomfortably. “Didn’t think she’d want to hear from me. Or you, Slayer, if I’m honest.”
Buffy laughed and even to her ears it sounded too high, out of control. “Honest? Well, that’s a word to conjure with. When were you ever honest with me, Spike? What about, ‘I love you.’. No? Oh, then how about ‘ that was the best night of my life.’ What rubbish. What lies! No, please don’t say anything! It really doesn’t matter anymore. Oh, look, there’s a taxi! ”
“No, wait a minute. I’ve got a car. I’ll give you a lift. We need to talk, Buffy.”
Buffy lifted her chin defiantly. “I’d rather ride with the First! And talking to him would be far better than talking to you!”
She ran for the cab, then sat in the back as it headed into central London, shivering. She’d stopped crying; her eyes felt as though they’d been turned to stone. She didn’t think she’d ever cry again.
She was bitterly angry with herself now. She’d thought a lot over the months about what would happen at their first meeting, had planned on being distant and dignified, showing him that he was of absolutely no importance to her. Instead she’d acted like a stupid, lovesick teenager, slapping his face like the heroine in some soppy romance.
“I should have punched him on the nose,” she muttered. “Not slapped him. Well, at least we’ve met and now that’s out of the way, we can both move on. I won’t go back to Giles’ tonight, not if he’s going to be there. I’ll book into a hotel.” She shuddered at the thought of him sleeping in the next room to her.
The streets around Trafalgar Square were packed with people, singing, laughing, shouting, all moving towards the square as the time ticked down to midnight. It was the place that Londoners traditionally went to celebrate the coming of the New Year.
Buffy let herself be pulled along by the crowd. She had no idea where she was going, or what was happening. Her fury had gone and along with it her desire to kill him. The cold realisation was sweeping over her that she’d made a dreadful mistake.
All she could think of now was that he’d go away again and this was truly the only chance she’d ever have to tell Spike exactly what she was feeling. So what if he only felt sorry for her, told her that he just wanted to be friends? That would hurt dreadfully, but nothing could feel as bad as not telling him. Of not convincing him she was being truthful.
She turned and tried to retrace her steps, but the crush of people was too great. She felt herself being swept helplessly along, sure her feet weren’t even on the ground some of the time.
Then there was Nelson’s Column with the Admiral himself standing high above them. The giant Christmas tree still blazed with lights, but the fountains in the Square had been turned off.
“LET ME PASS! Please, I need to get back to Limehouse!” Buffy was trying to fight her way clear of the crowd, then suddenly she realised that she wasn’t fighting against soft human flesh. The arms holding her were like steel; the leather covering them dark and soft.
She was held effortlessly against his body, his grip tight, even cruel.“My turn to talk, Slayer,” his voice grated in her ear.
He carved a way through the crowd, pulling her with him. His long stride took him out of the Square, under Admiralty Arch, into the Mall, the long road that lead down to Buckingham Palace. Seconds later they were standing under the trees in the park.
It was very dark, the grass damp under their feet, the noise of the celebrations sounding a long way away.
Spike grasped her by her shoulders and forced her to look at him. “Now listen, Slayer. I’ve never lied to you about how I feel. It’s important that you know that. When I came back, I tried to come to you, to see you, but whatever force brought me back, wouldn’t let me. Then I got cold feet. You’d moved on. You were happy - people told me you were happy. What was I going to say? Hi, Buffy, remember me? Remember you said you loved me just as I was about to go up in flames, how about a shag?”
“You came to Rome - with Angel. You could have tried - ”
“Remember who you were with at the time? Couldn’t stand the bloke when I first met him, but hey, if he was your choice, then what right had I to but in?”
“Every right, you - you - poop! Every right! That’s the whole point!” Buffy could feel the anger building again.
Spike’s lips twitched at her words, then the humour died out of his eyes and he drew her very close. “Every right?” he muttered, pushing the long blonde hair away from her face. “Do you mean that, Buffy? Don’t tease. This is too important. If you mean it...”
For a second the world hung, silent between them, then sonorously, the chimes of Big Ben began to toll nearby. The giant clock was about to strike midnight. It was the beginning of the new year.
Buffy stared into the face of the man she loved. She’d told him once and he hadn’t believed her. The time had come to stop letting pride, resentment and stupid anger get between them.
“I love you, William,” she whispered and slid her arms round his neck, pulling his head down to hers. “I’m yours if you still want me, forever.”
Their kiss was slow and hesitant at first, as if they were two strangers, searching out the tender, sensitive places - then as the clock struck ten, eleven, twelve and the car horns sounded, and bells rang out across the nation, their kiss deepened.
Spike’s tongue twined possessively around hers as his hands thrust up under her jacket, under her jersey, searching for the soft flesh he had to feel.
Like a man starving with hunger, he couldn’t get enough of her. They sank down onto the grass and as the new year began and the fireworks shot up into the night sky over London, they made love over and over again with a power and passion and tenderness that rocked them both into trembling silence. Because this was love - not sex, not lust, not fucking or shagging. They were making love to each other, for each other.
It was nearly two in the morning when Buffy opened her eyes to find herself lying in a tangle with Spike, their clothes scattered under the bushes. She shivered as a cold breeze cut at her skin and he pulled his leather duster across them to keep her warm.
“Not getting dressed,” he growled. “Nor are you. OK?”
Buffy smiled. “OK,” she agreed. “Not getting dressed good idea. Going back to Giles’ place and sleeping in nice cosy bed also good idea.”
“Can’t move. Legs gone wonky,” Spike muttered thickly and she giggled. The months had fallen away and they were back together again and this time nothing was ever going to part them.
“New year, luv,” he said, shifting his arm so he could look down at her face. “Make a resolution. Hey, mine is, I get to tell Xander we’re together!”
Buffy growled and flipped him over so he lay on his back. She wriggled as close as she could get, glorying in the feel of his skin against hers. How could she ever have doubted how she felt? Why hadn’t she just listened to her body and her heart, not her brain.
She stared at the starlight that was reflected in his eyes. She couldn’t recall ever seeing anyone look as happy as Spike did now.
And she couldn’t remember feeling this happy herself, ever.
Ducks and geese on the lake in the park quacked and hissed, then cowered down in the mud as something thin and dark, trailing disease and pain, passed them.
It paused, watching the Slayer and her lover, planning, plotting, making its own new year’s resolution. This partnership should never have come to pass. It had been forbidden. All sorts of powers had been evoked to make sure this love would never flourish. But he looked and knew - this love could ruin everything.
So it must be destroyed. They must be destroyed...both of them
to be continued
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