Buffy literally couldn't move. She kept staring at the
car, staring into Spike's angry eyes, almost feeling as
though she was standing off to one side observing
rather than participating.
This couldn't actually be happening because Spike
was many miles away from Sunnydale. He was, she
had no doubt, standing on a stage right now, singing
his heart out.
No, this person before her, sitting in the drivers seat of
a car that was definitely ringing a bell in her memory,
had to be an amazing look alike....an exact duplicate
in fact, right down to the scar through his left eyebrow.
Perhaps this was a fan, someone who idolized Devlin to
the point of wanting to resemble him physically, who had
gone to the extreme measure of some pretty extensive
plastic surgery, who had somehow found out that he was
thinking about buying a fully restored 1974 MG Midget
But how likely was that, really?
"Hey," Riley said, releasing his hold on her face and
following the direction of her gaze, "isn't that him?"
Buffy finally shook off her shock and regained her
ability to move. Her eyes darted to meet Riley's, then
snapped back to Spike.
"I think...." was all she was able to say before her
disbelief of what was happening climbed to an all new
Instead of doing what she expected, which would be
pulling to the curb, climbing out, and coming over to
start at the very least a verbal confrontation, Spike threw
the car into gear and peeled away from the corner with a
scream of acceleration.
"Wow," Riley continued after a moment. "What was THAT
It was a valid question, one she had no idea how to reply
"Buffy? That WAS him....wasn't it? Spike Devlin?"
She nodded silently, trying to marshal her thoughts together
and decide her next course of action. "Yes," she finally said.
"That was him....and...and I have to go. Um...thank you for
Feeling as though she was moving in the right direction,
she picked up her purse and fumbled around for her keys.
"You're welcome. Buffy....is everything going to be all right
for you?" Riley was still talking.
Well, that was another damn good question for which she
had no answer.
She drove home, not knowing what to expect or what
she would find until she saw the car sitting in her drive-
Pulling in next to it, she set the parking brake with
ridiculous care and switched off the engine.
Spike was sitting on the front porch swing, his guitar
in his lap, picking out some tune she didn't recognize.
Buffy tried to assess his mood by his facial expression, but
he was in shadow and she had no clear view.
At this point, there was nothing to do but get out of the car
and find out for herself how bad the fallout of this incident
was going to be.
Taking in and releasing a deep breath, she climbed out of
the car and walked up the front pathway.
The music stopped and Spike raised his head and glared
at her, waiting, head tilted to one side and that scarred
Buffy sighed. "Stop looking at me like that."
"Looking at you like what?" he queried calmly.
"Like I'm a cross between Hitler and the Whore of Babylon,"
Much to her surprise, she saw a smile tug at the corner of
his mouth....a look he quickly took control of.
"Who was that?" he asked, still holding a quiet tone.
Buffy steeled herself for the outburst that would surely
follow her reply. "That was Riley Finn."
"Mmm," Spike nodded. "The banker? The friend?"
She narrowed her eyes. What was THIS all about? Was
he trying to lull her into a false sense of 'See? Nothing
bad is going to happen here as long as you're honest with
me'...only to lower the boom on her afterwards?
"Yes, Riley is....that person."
He strummed a few chords. "Mmm," he said again. "Did
you have a nice time?"
This whole scene was getting more surreal by the
"It was all right." She shivered a little, although the
evening air was far from cold. "Do you want to...come
"Yes. Thank you."
All this politeness was unnerving her, and she dropped
her keys twice trying to unlock the door.
"Need some help?"
"No...I've got it."
Once they were in the house, with the door secured
behind them, Buffy dropped her purse on the table and
turned to face him again.
"Want anything?" she asked.
"No, thank you." He leaned his guitar against the wall.
"No." He shook his head. "I'm fine, thanks."
Now that the niceties has been performed, she was
free to ask, "Spike....what are you doing here?"
His eyebrows arched at her tone.
"I just meant," she added quickly, "aren't you supposed
to be in Cleveland or something tonight?"
He was silent for a moment, then nodded. "Columbus,
actually....but the concert had to be canceled."
Dropping to the sofa in a graceful sprawl, he stretched
his arms out along the back and crossed one leg over
"It was a fairly new concert hall...and it must have been
built on the cheap," he explained, looking her right in the
eye. "Sometime during the night bad wiring sparked a fire.
Sprinkler system failed. Gutted the whole interior. It was
too late to try and reschedule anywhere else."
Buffy stared at him in horror. "Oh, my god....well....well,
that's awful....I'm just....I'm glad it happened while no one
While HE hadn't been there, is what she'd truly meant. Just
the thought of such a thing happening...of him being in that
place...around all that electrical equipment that surrounded
him every time he set foot on stage....equipment plugged into
She sank down on the sofa next to him, feeling a sudden
need for physical contact with his alive and healthy body.
"You're all right?"
Spike acknowledged her concern with a slight nod. "I'm
fine, Buffy. We were nowhere near the place when it caught
She swallowed hard, sending a silent thank you somewhere
in the direction she judged heaven might be.
"Anyway," he continued briskly. "Since I suddenly found
myself with a couple of days free....I decided to surprise
It had worked....beautifully.
"So I caught a flight to San Francisco....picked up the
car...and drove like hell to get here. To you."
His eyes darted across the room, spotting the video he'd
sent her. "You've got mail."
That comment reminded her of the content of the video;
his sorta/kinda/ marriage proposal, deal sweetening
diamond ring included. "Uh-huh. It came today. It was
"Too bad," he cut her off, rising to his feet and crossing
the room. Picking up the envelope it had arrived in, he
slipped the tape back into it and placed it on the coffee
table. "Here I was, hoping it hadn't arrived yet."
Buffy's heart took a sickening dive into her stomach. "You
He gave her an impassive look. "Yeah, when I pulled up I
checked your mailbox to see if I could intercept it."
Well, this couldn't be going anywhere good at all.
Sticking his hands into the pockets of his short leather
jacket, he leaned against the wall, watching her...a cat
with a jittery mouse.
Disappointment began to settle around her, a heavy
blanket she was determined to shrug off. "Why?" she
His lips quirked in a small smile. "Did you watch the
"Yes....the song was beautiful, by the way."
"Glad you liked it."
Her thoughts were skittering around like leaves in a
wind eddy. "About the last part....where you...."
"Yeah, about that," he interrupted again, then shrugged
his shoulders. "All the way over here, I was hoping you
hadn't gotten that far."
She could almost feel the rug tightening below her
feet, about to be yanked out from under her. "Spike..."
"No....let me say this." He looked down at his feet for a
moment, then back up into her eyes. "I shouldn't have said
all that stuff at the end. It was obviously a mistake, and I'm
sorry I did it...."
Buffy swallowed a tight lump in her throat. This was
grossly unfair. She hadn't done anything to deserve this,
hadn't been unfaithful...hadn't even THOUGHT about being
unfaithful. A hectic color mounted in her cheeks and she
opened her mouth to tell him exactly where he could go
and how he could get there.
"...that way," he went on calmly, his devilish grin finally
breaking through as he withdrew a small satin box from his
pocket, tossed it once, then caught it on the palm of his
hand and extended it towards her. "A gentleman should
always propose to a lady.....in person."