Caught Between Two Lovers
Pattyanne 's Fic
Kings of Mercia
LoobyLoos' Fic
Jen's Fic

Part Fifteen...

The Dance


"Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared 'neath the stars above
For a moment, all the world was right
How could I know, that you'd ever say goodbye"


Buffy's life officially fell apart on the day Joyce Summers returned from New York.

She had spent more than a few sleepless hours trying to come up with a way to introduce William to her mother. She'd considered and rejected several different scenarios based on her "I met him at school" platform. That was going to be difficult to pull off, because he really didn't have anything in common with the boys she usually dated.

Buffy couldn't say he was a student, because he simply looked too old for it. And if she said he was a teacher, her mother would no doubt have him arrested. An older brother of a school friend would be too difficult to back up, since none of her friends knew he existed at this point.

In the end, she decided to tell her mother a carefully edited and selective version of the truth, and hope she wouldn't be too freaked when Buffy told her he was only 23.

The airport limo dropped Joyce off at the house at 5:30. After a suitably mushy homecoming, Buffy told her mom that she had made a date for that evening before she knew that Joyce would be coming home that day.

Joyce was suffering from a monstrous case of jet lag, and she encouraged Buffy not to break the date on her account, because all she planned to do that night was take a hot bath, then crawl into bed and sleep for three days.

Sunset came and went, with no sign of William. Joyce stayed awake as long as she could, but threw in the towel at 9:00, and went to bed.

Buffy kissed her mother goodnight, then stationed herself on the sofa, trying to fight off the fear induced nausea churning in the bottom of her stomach.

At midnight, she finally accepted the fact that he wasn't coming and went to bed.

She lay awake most of the night, trying to come up with a plausible reason for William's non-appearance.

It was completely unlike him not to show up when he'd promised to, and certainly if he couldn't show, he would have called her. Only something serious could have kept him from contacting her, and it terrified her to think of all the possibilities.

Perhaps he had been badly injured in some way, badly enough to harm a vampire. Or maybe, Drusilla had found out about his "marriage" and had killed him in a jealous rage.

The only other thing she could come up with was the worst of all...maybe he was finally tired of her, and had returned to his former mate.

Towards dawn, she finally fell asleep, but it was a thin and restless sleep and it didn't refresh her in any way.

As she sat at the kitchen table, forcing herself to eat a bowl of cereal, she considered going to look for him, before she remembered that she had no idea where he lived.

The weekend crawled by, and Monday morning found her all cried out. She went to school, drifting through her classes with depressed disinterest. After the final bell, she presented herself in the library for some hand to hand training, keeping a carefully phony facade of happiness and willingness to learn.

When they were finished, she turned down Willow and Xander's offer of some quality time at the Bronze, and ran home.

Before she went into the house, she stopped at the curb and opened the mailbox. The only thing it contained was an envelope addressed to her.

With shaking hands, she removed it from the box and studied it. It was a thick, cream colored vellum envelope, and it looked very expensive. Her name was written in an elegantly old fashioned style.

Buffy didn't want to open it. She knew that whatever was inside the envelope was something she wouldn't want to know about. Her palms became sweaty and she felt a large lump forming in her throat as she plodded upstairs to her bedroom.

Locking the door, she sat down on the bed and slid her finger between the flap and the back of the envelope. Her movements were slow and deliberate, and she wished desperately that something would happen right now to keep her from going any further. She wanted the phone to ring, or someone to knock on the front door...anything, as long as she could put this off.

A half an hour later, she reached in and extracted a single sheet of paper, folded over. It was of the same beautiful parchment as the envelope and she could see the swirls and loops of her name etched in black ink.

Buffy took a deep breath and unfolded the paper.


"And now, I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end
The way it all would go..."


As she read the letter, tears formed in her eyes. A dull ache began somewhere in the region where she judged her heart to be.

Dearest Buffy...
Before you begin reading this, I want you to know that what I'm about to tell you has nothing to do with my feelings for you, or about you being the slayer.

You're very beautiful and very sweet, and the time that we've spent together has been all a man could want or ask for in life. You've been the sunshine in my eternal darkness, Angelface, and I will always treasure you for it. I'm already miles away from you, and my arms ache to hold you and never let go.

But, darling, I have responsibilities that I can't set aside. Someone is counting on me, so I have to go and deal with the realities of it.

I love you so much, Angelface, and I wish you a long and happy life. Please be careful in everything you do. I don't want to think of a world without you in it. I want you to be safe and warm and cared for. I only wish that I could be the man who keeps you that way forever.

I'm so sorry that I have to tell you this in a letter, but I know that if I were to see look into your lovely eyes...I wouldn't have the strength or the will to go.

I love you, sweetheart. I love you very much. Always remember that. I will love you until the day I no longer exist on this planet, and even beyond that as well.

Take care of yourself, my love. Live...for me.

All my love forever,

Buffy had believed that she had no more tears left inside of her.

She knew now that she'd been horribly wrong.

Dropping the letter on the bed, she rolled over and buried her face in her pillow and cried harsh, painful tears that made her chest ache and her throat raw.

She cried for hours...for days...forever....


"And now, I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end
The way it all would go

Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance..."






Part Sixteen...


The Dance (cont.)





"Holding you, I held everything

 For a moment, wasn't I a king

 But if I'd only known how the king would fall

 Hey, who's to say, you know I might have changed it all.."




Spike stood on the terrace overlooking the orchard, watching as a fat yellow moon rose in the sky.


He had been on Isla Nueva for almost three weeks now, and he didn't like it anymore than he had the first night they had arrived.


Oh, the grounds were spectacular, and the castle itself was magnificent, thoroughly befitting the warlock who owned it.  But for all it's beauty, the whole place left him cold and uninterested, because it was lacking the one thing that would make it heaven on earth.


Buffy...his sweet, shy little child bride. If she were here with him, he would be content to stay forever.


The pain of missing her was almost physical. Leaving Sunnydale had felt like hacking off a limb and being left to slowly bleed to death.


The first cut had been shallow. He had received it the morning he'd returned in response to Luke's increasingly panicky messages.


Before he'd even gotten to the front door, he had known that he would find trouble inside. He'd heard Drusilla screaming all the way out in his car.


When he'd gotten inside, he had stared around in shock at the mess he'd found.


Every window in the house had been shattered. The furniture had been hacked at by what looked like a fire ax. There was a pile of books in the foyer, or what was left of them after they'd been doused in lighter fluid and torched.


Upstairs was a hellish scene. The vamps he'd taken on as hired help were being held at bay by their mistress. Fearsome creatures they all might be in their own right, but each and every one of them was frightened out of their meager wits by Drusilla.


She stood on one side of her bedroom, throwing everything she could lay her hands on at them. Everything that wasn't nailed down became a missel lobbed straight at them; pictures on the wall, bric-a-brac, books...anything at all. 


He'd had to admit, she'd been a frightening sight. Her hair was a mass of tangles, and her fingers were bent like claws. She had scratched and cut herself, and there were ribbons of blood running over her like a macabre road map.


She'd been shrieking accusations and epithets at them all, singling them out individually for the punishments they would receive when "her Spike" came home.


"Caroline" would have her hair torn out at the roots, for accidentally snagging Dru's when she'd been brushing her hair for her.


"Samuel" would have his fingers and toes chopped off one by one for bringing her the wrong pair of shoes.


"Dalton" would have his eyes plucked from his head, because he had been "looking at her strangely."


"Benjamin" would have hot pokers jammed in his ears until they popped through his brain, for talking about her behind her back.


"Luke" would be chopped into small pieces, for no reason at all except that she didn't like him.


They would all die horrible deaths, she'd screamed, because they'd been deceiving her, keeping secrets from her, and keeping Spike away from home on nonsensical errands.


By the time he'd managed to sedate her and put her to bed, the entire household had been packed and ready to leave.


Although once he would have killed them all for their disloyalty, something inside of him had changed.  He didn't want to be there anymore than they did, and they didn't HAVE to be.


When the house was settled down, only Dalton and Luke remained. The three of them sat in the library, drinking steadily to calm their shattered nerves.


Luke had shot him several accusatory looks, but hadn't had the balls to actually say anything, or ask him where he'd been spending so much time lately.


Dalton had sensed the tension in the room and tried to smooth it over with what he claimed was good news.


"Good news," Spike muttered, a little bitterly as he watched an owl dive out of the sky and scoop up a field mouse.


It hadn't been good news to him. It had been the most horrible fucking news of his life.  Dalton had finally managed to locate the one individual who had any hope at all of curing Drusilla. Only hitch was, he lived at the very southern-most tip of South America, on a tiny island off the coast of Tierra del Fuego.


Then the news got worse.


Dalton had informed him that he'd taken the initiative and booked passage for them on an outgoing cargo ship. He'd arranged for them to meet up with an old friend in La Paz, Mexico. This old friend owned a very luxurious yacht, perfectly outfitted for vamps, as he was one himself.


The four of them would board the yacht at midnight, then cruise along to their final destination. The problem was, they had to be at the Port of Los Angeles that very night, which meant they had to leave immediately.


Spike had raged at them for this. He couldn't leave that night. He had to see Buffy, to tell her what was happening. There was no goddamn way he was leaving Sunnydale without saying goodbye to his bride.


But, in the end, both Dalton and Luke had made him face the fact that he had no choice. Dru was getting steadily worse, and soon there might be no helping her at all.  If they were gonna go...then they had to go now!


He'd sat in the backseat of the car that night, Dru's head in his lap as she slept, unaware of anything going on around her. The entire packing up of the car and transferring her into it had been done without her waking.


As he'd watched the miles fly by, he had tried to compose a proper letter to Buffy. He'd begun and torn up three of them where he'd told her he had every intention of returning to her as soon as he could.


Apologizing profusely for abandoning her so abruptly, he had promised her the sun, the moon, and the stars when he returned. He would bring her beautiful clothes and jewels, including a ring with a three carat diamond  to grace her tiny hand.


When he came back, he told her, the first thing they would do would be to find a new house. He didn't want to bring her to the one he'd been renting. This was a fresh new life, and she deserved a house of her own. They would look for one together, and he would give her carte blanche to decorate it any way she liked.


Then, after he'd seen to it that she had proper driving lessons, he would buy her any car she chose. Reading that back to himself, he'd chuckled.  Maybe it would be better, and safer, to provide her with a driver for the times when she wanted to go out during the day. 


He promised her that he would meet her mother and all her friends, and he would help her break the news to them that her husband was a vampire. It wouldn't be easy for her, and he was fairly certain that they would all want to stake him on sight, especially her watcher.


But he would do whatever he had to do in order to spend the rest of his time on this earth with Buffy, even to the extent of living on packaged blood or blood obtained at a butcher shop.


And, if her first experience was anything to judge by, he knew that Buffy would allow him a taste of slayers blood once in a while.




"And now, I'm glad I didn't know

 The way it all would end

 The way it all would go


 Our lives are better left to chance

 I could have missed the pain

 But I'd have had to miss the dance.."




He'd had every intention of mailing that letter. Had actually been standing in front of a mailbox, ready to drop it in, when his attention was caught by the sound of a child laughing.


Turning around, he saw a small family consisting of a mother, a father, and a little girl who couldn't be more than five years old.


The three of them walked along side-by-side, the child in between her parents, holding both their hands.


She was a beautiful little girl, and the first thought that came to him was "My, God...she looks like Buffy."


Long, light brown braids...large expressive eyes...and an air of innocence as she bounced happily along, obviously enjoying the fun of being out so late at night.


As they passed by him, Spike could hear the parents talking about the outings they had planned. Tomorow, the beach. After that, the zoo.


He frowned.  For some reason, the sight of the little tableau made him uncomfortably sad.


Watching them walk along, he tried to analyze just what there was about this family unit that was making him react in this manner.


Realization came to him, followed by the reality of the situation sinking in, possibly for the first time since he'd set eyes on Buffy. 


This was what Buffy should be doing a few years down the road, mothering a child, married to a man capable of taking her and their child out into the sun to play. 


As long as HE was in her life taking up room, it was something she would never have.


So, reluctantly, he tore the letter in half and consigned it to the first trash can he came across.


"Fuck, this hurts," he said,  returning to the car, and to Drusilla, and to a future he no longer cared anything about.




"Yes, our lives are better left to chance

 I could have missed the pain

 But I'd have had to miss the dance..."










Part seventeen...

Who Wants To Live Forever?


"There's no time for us

There's no place for us

What is this thing that builds our dreams

Yet slips away from us..."


The moon hung lower in the sky, and he could feel a light breeze that brought the scent of citrus from the orchard.

Although he wasn't big on self inflicted pain, he reached into the inner pocket of his coat and brought out the photograph that Buffy had given him.

Tracing her delicate features with one fingertip, he could almost feel her standing beside him. If he concentrated hard enough, he could hear her laughter and even feel the warmth of her skin.

Spike sighed deeply. "I'm sorry, angelface," he whispered. "I'm so sorry. I never should have one anywhere near you. We just weren't meant to be for each other."

If he had just left town that night, the night he met her, she wouldn't be in pain now. This was his fault. He deserved the punishment and the pain...but she didn't.

Looking ahead, all he could see was an empty void of years without her. Used to be, he'd considered immortality to be a wonderful thing. Now, all it was to him was living fucking forever without the girl he loved.

How was he going to manage it? And what if she found someone else? As much as he would try to be happy for her, he knew damn well he wouldn't be. He'd be furious and savagely jealous. Even the thought of another man with her was like a dull knife digging into his gut.


"Who wants to live forever?"



Drusilla's voice floated out onto the balcony.

"Coming, luv." He shoved the picture back into his pocket and stepped through the terrace doors.

She was sitting up in bed, her hair mussed and her eyes sleepy.

"Feeling better?" he asked, forcing a smile as he sat down beside her.

"Somewhat," she replied. "Did you see her out there?"

Lowering his eyes, he asked, "See who, princess?"

Dru shook her head slowly, her eyes drifting shut. "I can see her. Her face is filled with tears. She cries and cries, and begs for things she can never have."

"Who are you talking about?" he asked again, his voice a little shaky.

"She's not being careful, you know." Dru smiled and snapped her teeth. "Foolish babies take foolish chances." Her eyes opened and she looked into his. "Not to worry, precious," she said sweetly. "It won't hurt much longer."

Spike tried to force an explanation out of her, but she just reclined back into her pillows and refused to say another word.


"Who wants to live forever?"


Down in the library, he poured brandy into a cut crystal glass with shaking hands. Dru's cryptic words kept echoing in his ears.

"Her face is filled with tears. She cries and cries, and begs for things she can never have..."

She had to be referring to Buffy. Which meant she knew about Buffy. How long she had known was anyone's guess.

It made his heart ache to have his fears about the slayer confirmed. And they had definitely been confirmed. Dru was a little off the beam, but her visions were always spot on. If she said that Buffy was crying and begging to have him back...that's exactly what was happening.

But as much as that image bothered him, her next words were the really frightening ones.

"She's not being careful, you know. Foolish babies take foolish chances."

There was only one kind of foolish chance that Buffy could be taking. If Dru was right, and she always was, then Buffy was behaving recklessly when she went out at night to do her job. Taking risks she had no business taking. Opening herself up to being hurt, or even....

He threw the alcohol down his throat, relishing the burning path it took through his system. Refilling his glass, he lowered himself into the huge wing chair by the fireplace.

"Not to worry precious. It won't hurt much longer."

It won't hurt WHO much longer? And why? Was this Dru's way of telling him that Buffy was going to get over him, and would no longer be hurt by his leaving?

Or, was she saying that soon Buffy would be completely out of pain, any kind of pain, because she would be....


"When love must die..."


The crystal in his hand shattered under his squeezing fingers and sliced into his palm. The brandy mingled with his blood, and dripped steadily onto the floor between his feet.

He wanted to go back. More than he'd ever wanted anything in his life, he wanted to be back in Sunnydale with Buffy. Taking her to carnivals, making her eat dinner, teaching her to drive, making love to her.

If there was one thing that he knew without a bit of doubt, it was that he could not go through eternity and never make love to Buffy again. She was his mate...his wife, and there wasn't a chance in hell that he was going to let some other man lay claim to her.

What they'd had together was wonderful, but it wasn't enough. He had to have more. He WOULD have more.


"There's no chance for us

It's all decided for us

This world has only one sweet moment

Set aside for us..."


"You look pensive tonight."

Spike was standing at the bathroom sink, wrapping his hand in cotton gauze until the cuts closed over.

Lysander edged a little further into the room, looking over Spike's shoulder. "I'm afraid to ask what she threw at you this time."

Spike shook his head. "It wasn't Dru. I broke a glass downstairs."

He knew he sounded curt, but he didn't feel like going into the whys and wherefors with his host. For all his enormous power with dark magic, Lysander fancied himself some sort of frustrated therapist and would quiz him endlessly on the hidden meaning behind his accident.

But, he was grateful to the warlock. He had opened his home to them, and was diligently working to perfect a cure for Drusilla. He was currently keeping her stable by giving her an elixer he concocted from certain plants he'd been cultivating in a large greenhouse.

Lysander had a bit of "mad scientist" in him. He had a well stocked lab in what was once the dungeon of his castle, and he spent hours in it, mixing and measuring, adding an ingredient here, subtracting it there, replacing it with something else.

It was helping Dru, but it wasn't curing her.

Now, he looking at Spike speculatively. "I don't wish to seem as though I'm complaining," he said. "But I get the feeling that you'd rather be somewhere else these days."

Spike just shrugged, fiddling with the gauze. "I'm fine," he insisted. "If I wanted to be somewhere else, then I would be."

"I'm not so sure," Lysander replied, then abruptly changed the subject. "Drusilla said something very interesting earlier."

"Yeah? Do tell," Spike muttered.

"She said you no longer care for her."

Spike denied it immediately. "That's not true. Don't believe half of what you hear her say. In fact, don't believe ANY of it."

Lysander narrowed his eyes. "Then YOU tell me," he said. "What do you feel for her?"

" her, okay?" Spike said impatiently. "I do."

"And've relinquished your claim on her."

Spike's eyes darted away. "How did you know that?"

The warlock smiled. "You have the scent of another woman on you. It's quite obvious that you're unhappy being here, and you barely speak to Drusilla, let alone touch her."

He stepped closer and dropped his voice as he touched the outside of Spike's coat, right at the place where Buffy's pictured was pocketed. "You carry her image here. And here," he added, moving his hand over Spike's heart. "How long can you go on like this, young one?"


"Who wants to live forever?"


Spike pulled away. "Mind your own business, warlock," he warned. "And do what you're being paid for."

Lysander seemed about to say more on the subject, but the look on Spike's face changed his mind.

"Yes. As to that," he said, "tell me you know who sired Drusilla?"

Spike frowned. "Yeah, why?"

Ignoring the question, Lysander said, "Tell me."

"Some poncy git in London. Used to get his rocks off by pretending to be a priest. Kept going after the novices, grabbing them in the confessionals."

" nothing sacred to you vampires?" Lysander asked, shaking his head.

"Turned fourteen of them before he got hold of Dru." Spike leaned back against the counter, arms folded across his chest. "So, why do you ask?"

"Does he still live?" Lysander asked. "In YOUR sense of the word, I mean."

"I think so," Spike replied. "Why?" he asked again.

The warlock shrugged his shoulders. "He is the answer, my friend. The key to your cage."

Spike felt a jolt of energy race up and down his spine. "The key to....what do you mean?"

Lysander's face never changed expression. "Find him...bring him...and you can fly."


"But touch my tears with your lips

Touch my world with your fingertips

And we can have forever

And we can love forever

Forever is our today..."




Chapter Eighteen...

When You Remember Me


"When you remember me

If you remember me

I hope you see, it's not the way

I want it to be

Or I'd be with you now

But wherever you go

My love goes with you..."


Time passed, as it inevitably does, but her wounds remained as fresh and painful as they'd been the day she'd received them.

Buffy had tried to get her life back on track. She'd reconnected with her friends, attempted to buckle down at school and improve her grades, and went out and performed her nightly tasks with a zealous passion that bordered on recklessness.

Up until now, she had never imagined that such pain was even possible. Every morning when she woke up, she was assaulted by it all over again.

The first couple of weeks had been horrible beyond bearing. Her appetite all but disappeared, and she couldn't sleep for more than fifteen minutes at a time. When she did manage to drop off, her sleep was plagued with nightmares that made her wake up screaming.

She had begun cutting classes, spending her days wandering aimlessly around town. One morning, she had taken the bus all the way out to the beach where they had made love. Sitting on the lifeguard tower, shivering in the cold breeze, she had cried intermittently, all day long.

Sometimes, she was sure she heard him talking to her, apologizing for having to leave her, and begging her not to cry anymore...telling her how much he still loved her...would always love her.


"Keep on smiling

Keep on shining

Even though you know you want to cry

I tried to love you

Looking in my eyes

You saw promises and lies

Too many times...."


It hadn't taken long for her mother to figure out what was wrong, and when she did, she employed a series of attempted cures all the way from tender consolation to tough love.

Buffy had responded to none of it, until Joyce had threatened to put her in the hospital for treatment if she lost one more pound.

She'd presented herself at school the very next day.

After the last bell had gone off, she had collared Willow and Xander, and the three of them had gone to the library to see Giles.

Once there, she had given them a halting explanation of what had happened to her, leaving out the fact that the man who had effectively broken her heart was a vampire. She kept the more intimate details to herself, not because she was ashamed of them, but because they were simply too personal to share, even with her best friends.

All three of them had been kind and consoling, and promised to do anything they could to make her heart heal a little faster.

Xander, being Xander, had gone to the absurd length of offering to track down her errant lover and "pound him into the dirt" for hurting her so. If she hadn't been so unhappy, she would have laughed herself silly at the idea of Xander taking on William.

Gradually, she had begun to come out of the blackest of her depression. She had forced herself to eat, until her appetite began to return on it's own, and she replaced the weight she had lost.

Then, she had thrown herself into her training schedule with a fervor she'd never shown before, hoping to tire herself out enough to allow her to sleep through the night.

After serving two solid weeks of detention, she had apologized to her teachers and then spent her evenings trying to make up the work she had missed.

But, she turned down every boy who asked her out, unable to work up even the smallest interest in any type of romance. None of the boys in her school could even begin to compare to William, and the thought of being kissed or touched intimately by one of them made her slightly nauseous.

Buffy simply couldn't forget about him. She could force herself not to think about him for a time, but he always came back into her mind and her heart...a place she feared he would own forever.


"When you remember me

If you remember me

I hope you see, it's not the way

I want it to be

Or I'd be with you now

But, wherever you go

My love goes with you..."


Willow and Xander tried to include her in their plans, but they were both getting involved in relationships that were quickly changing from casual dating to going steady. It made Buffy feel more like an outsider than ever.

But, she liked the two new people in her friend's lives well enough, and she worked hard at being sincerely happy that they'd all found each other.

Oz, she liked very much. Funny and good natured, but also soft spoken and a little mysterious, Buffy thought of him as a secret that was searching for the right person to reveal itself to.

And he adored Willow, which was what Buffy liked the most about him.

The new girl in Xander's life was a real surprise.

She had only known Cordelia for a couple of years, but Xander and Willow had a slight history with her.

None of them had really liked her much before, her OR the group of shallow, mean spirited girls she associated herself with.

But, much to Buffy's amazement, she seemed to be changing. Still fairly shallow, but no longer so completely stuck up and cruel, she had begun to fit into their inner circle, helping them, even though she complained about it every step of the way.

As Buffy moved through her days and nights, she couldn't help notice that nearly everyone in Sunnydale was paired up with someone else. Spring fever had arrived, bringing with it warm, breezy days and cool nights.

Even in her own immediate galaxy, romance was at an all time high. Besides Willow and Xander, Giles was still dating Miss Calender, and her mother...HER MOTHER!...was seeing some artist who'd had a recent showing at her gallery. Buffy couldn't remember ever feeling so completely alone.


"I'll be with you

Keep believing

Some things even time can't come between

And if you blame me, try and realize

There were promises and lies

Too many times.."


Sitting in her English lit. class one afternoon, she struggled to concentrate on the words her teacher was saying, but more and more, she found herself staring out the window.

All she could think about was him. Where he was. What he was doing. And whether or not he still loved her at all, or had taken up with Drusilla again and was.....

Her thoughts were abruptly cut off when her hair was yanked from behind. She turned in her seat to glare at Xander, rubbing the side of her head. "What was THAT for?" she hissed.


Buffy swiveled back around and saw Mrs. Calvin staring at her with an angry light in her eye. She swallowed hard, and heard Xander whisper "Read page nineteen."

"Yes, ma'am?"

"Have you been paying attention?"

Buffy nodded. "Yes, ma'am."

"Really?" Mrs. Calvin asked, rolling her eyes. "Then you know what I just said?"

" Page nineteen?" Buffy glanced down at her book, surprised to see that she was still on page eight. How long had she been zoning out?

Looking irritated, her teacher gestured for her to continue.

Not wanting to be seen turning to the correct page, Buffy casually nudged her book onto the floor. "I'm sorry," she murmured.

Her teacher rolled her eyes again, and sighed heavily.

Scooping up her book, Buffy flipped to page nineteen, cleared her throat, and began to read out loud...

"What though the radiance which was once so bright

Be now forever taken from my sight

Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower..."

Tears blurred the page as she read the final lines.

"We will grieve not, rather find strength in what is left...behind."

"Very nice," Mrs. Calvin said. "Now, what do you think Wordsworth was..." Her question was cut off by the blare of the dismissal bell. "All right everyone, we'll continue this on Monday, and remember, your short essays are due next Friday."

Out in the corridor, Xander caught up with her as she headed for her locker. "Hey...are you okay, Buff?"

"Yeah," she replied, working the combination lock. "Thanks for the save in there."

"No problem," he assured her, smiling. "You, umm...want to go and grab some chow? Lunch was mystery meat and green glop, and I see enough of THAT as it is, so..."

Buffy shut her locker and gave him a half-hearted smile. "No thanks. I'm gonna go on home and try to get a nap in before the nightly festivities begin."

"You patrolling tonight?"

She sighed. "As ever."

"Want some company?"

Buffy considered it for a moment, then shook her head. "I don't know. I'll call if I do, but don't wait around for me."

Xander still looked concerned. "If you want to talk, I can..."

Buffy wanted no part of the discussion she sensed was coming. "I'll see you later," she interrupted, then merged in with a crowd of kids heading for the exit.

She walked home slowly, trying to quell the emotions that were threatening to spill over and make her cry, wondering if she would ever be able to let him go.


"When you remember me

If you remember me

I hope you see, it's not the way

I want it to be

Or I'd be with you now

But wherever you go

My love goes with you"





Part Nineteen....
Almost Paradise.

"Find strength in what is left behind...sure I will. No problem."

Buffy turned the corner on to Revello Drive.

"And what do you think Wordsworth means by this, Miss Summers?" she asked, mimicking her teacher in a nasty tone. "Like I care what he means, anyway."

She cut across the neighbor's front yard and into her own, fumbling in her purse for her keys.

Her mother's car wasn't in the driveway, so she didn't call out her customary "Hi, Mom!" when she walked into the house.

Instead, she went into the kitchen and opened a can of Pepsi. She grabbed a bag of chocolate chip cookies, taking advantage of the fact that there was no one there to scold her about the detrimental effects that her snack was liable to have on her complexion, not to mention her teeth.

Upstairs in her bedroom, she changed into a t-shirt and an old pair of paint stained sweat pants. Gathering her messy hair into a clip, she took a look at herself in her mirror and stuck out her tongue at the reflection.

She looked awful, but she couldn't have cared any less if she'd tried. There was no one around to look pretty for these days.

Flopping down on her bed, she switched on the radio, then opened the bag of cookies as she listened to a commercial tell her that she needed to switch her long distance carrier before another day went by.

Seven commercials and half a bag of cookies later, the station announced it's call letters. "Yuck," she said, scowling and wrinkling her nose. "Oldies but not necessarily goodies."

Glancing around the room, she noticed that it looked a little neater than she had left it, and deduced that "Mom" had struck.

Every great once in a while, whenever she got tired of nagging Buffy to clean up her room, her neat freak mother would take a shot at it herself. Books were picked up off the floor and returned to their home on the shelf, the bed was made, her favorite stuffed animals were lined up in a tidy row on another shelf, and her overflowing clothes hamper was empty.

Joyce must have turned on the radio as she straightened up the room, and had changed the station from the one Buffy preferred.

As she reached for the radio, intending to tune it back where she wanted it, a song she didn't recognize began to play, stopping her hand in mid-air.

"I thought that dreams belonged to other men
Cause each time I got close, they'd fall apart again
I feared my heart would beat in secrecy
I faced the nights alone
Oh, how could I have known
That all my life I only needed you..."

As she listened to the song, sadness and hurt began to take a slow stranglehold on her throat.

"Almost paradise
We're knocking on heaven's door
Almost paradise
How could we ask for more.."

Buffy sniffled, wiping eyes that were suddenly filled with tears on the back of her hand.

"I swear that I can see forever in yours eyes

Her mother had managed to tune in the 'All love songs all the time' station. The twenty-four hour, makes you want to stick your head in the oven and turn on the gas, love song station.

"It seems like perfect love's so hard to find
I'd almost given up
You must have read my mind.."

She pressed one hand over her heart, breathing hard. This was unbearable. Almost physically painful.

"And all those dreams I saved for a rainy day
They're finally coming true
I'll share them all with you
Now we hold the future in our hands..."

Buffy closed her eyes tightly. She tried not to see him, not to imagine him lying here beside her, as he'd done so many times. The ache in her heart grew steadily worse, but she couldn't make herself do what she knew was the sensible thing to do in these situations...turn off the damn radio!

Her brain told her to do it, but her heart stepped in and over ruled it.

"Almost paradise
We're knocking on heaven's door
Almost paradise
How could we ask for more..."

She wanted to scream, to cry, to throw the radio across the room and smash it to pieces.

"I swear that I can see forever in your eyes

But all she could do was sit on her bed, her arms wrapped tightly around herself, rocking slightly back and forth as soft whimpers escaped from her tightly compressed lips.

"And in your arms, salvation's not so far away
We're getting closer, closer every day..."

No. No, it wasn't true. Each day that passed did nothing but pull them farther apart.

She didn't even know where he was. The letter she'd received had been post marked in Los Angeles, but that told her nothing, except that he'd passed through long enough to drop it in a mailbox.

"Almost paradise
We're knocking on heaven's door
Almost paradise
How could we ask for more

I swear that I can see forever in your eyes

By the time the song ended, she was swallowing hard lumps of pain, giving herself a headache from the strain of trying to control her natural instinct to break down and scream herself senseless.

Now she knew that the hurt wasn't really getting any better. All she had been doing over these endless days and nights was covering it up, burying it in a grave packed down with nothing more substantial than shifting sand.

This wasn't fair. She wanted to wail the words to the skies, like a spoiled child. Not fair! Not fair! Not fair!

Everytime she thought she could see a glimmer of light at the end of this black, black tunnel, something blindsided her. A poem...a song...the scent of roses...seeing a man with a faint resemblance...all these things could pounce on her unexpectedly, sending
her right back to where she'd started.

Sometimes, when it was particularly bad, she almost wished that he'd never come to Sunnydale. Before he'd walked into her life, she'd been fairly happy with the way it was going, and her heart had been in one unbroken piece.

She'd read about love and heartbreak, but she'd never experienced either of those things. All she had ever done was daydream and imagine and giggle with her friends over what it would be like to fall in love.

Now, she had known the reality of it, and she'd discovered the hard way that memory was much better equipped to torture her than imagination had ever been.

Rolling off the bed, she grabbed a handful of tissue from the box on her vanity table, glaring at herself in the mirror.

She looked like living hell. Runny nose, red eyes, black streaks of mascara staining her cheeks from when she'd rubbed her eyes.

"Bet he wouldn't think I'm pretty now," she said, tossing the wadded up tissue into a waste basket.

She turned off the radio before another song came along to finish the job that the previous one had started, then stood at the window and watched the sun go down.

It was time to go to work.

Buffy pulled her weapons bag out from under the bed, then took another cookie out of the package. Holding it between her teeth, she struggled into a jacket with it's sleeves turned inside out, as she made her way down the stairs.

With one hand on the doorknob, she glanced out of the corner of her eye at a stack of mail on the stupid and pretty much useless little table next to the front door.

She froze into a solid block of ice when she saw another one of those fancy envelopes, addressed to her in familiar handwriting.

Her hands were shaking as she opened the envelope and pulled out the paper inside. There was a much shorter message written on it this time. Only two lines....

Wait for me, Angelface. I'm coming back.




Part Twenty....


Here I am



"Here I am

Playing with those memories again

And just when I thought time had set me free

Those thoughts of you keep taunting me..."



Buffy's eyes went wide with shock. She turned hot, then cold, then hot again.


<He's coming back, he's coming back, he's coming...>


"Ahhhh!"  Looking up, she saw her reflection, squealed, and clapped both hands over her eyes to shut out the image, dropping the envelope and letter.


<He's coming back...and I look like something the cat wouldn't bother to drag in.>


The letter settled on her foot, but the envelope played hide and seek by sailing under her mother's curio cabinet.


She dropped to her knees and tried to wedge her hand between the bottom of the cabinet and the floor.


Groping around blindly, she was beginning to think that she'd have to move the stupid cabinet away from the stupid wall when the tips of her fingers touched the very edge of the envelope.


Buffy scanned the front of the envelope for the postmark, but it was smudged and she couldn't tell where he'd sent it from.


The frustration she felt was beginning to give way to a surge of pure happiness and excitement, as she felt herself coming alive for the first time in endless, dreary weeks.


Jumping to her feet, she ran back upstairs and pulled off all her baggy clothing, then streaked down the hall to the bathroom.



"Holding you...a feeling I never out grew

Though each and every part of me has tried

Only you can fill that space inside."



She showered, washed and conditioned her hair, then shaved her legs and underarms.  Dashing back to her room with a towel wrapped around her, she used her blow dryer, brushing her hair until it gleamed in the lamplight.


Sitting down at her vanity table, she made up her face, using a taupe shadow on her eyes, followed by a soft brown liner and a few strokes of mascara.


She was about to apply her favorite lip color when she ran her tongue over her teeth, grimacing at the gritty feeling.  Back to the bathroom she went, where she flossed and brushed her teeth, then rinsed with a mint flavored mouthwash.


Buffy gave her reflection a big smile. "Much better."


She returned to her bedroom and finished applying her make-up, painting her lips a dusky rose, then adding just a touch of gloss.


Logically, she knew it was unlikely..although certainly not impossible..that he would come that night, but decided there was nothing wrong with a girl wanting to look nice while she kills things.


Suddenly anxious and jumpy, she needed to leave the house, to get moving, to go somewhere and do anything..just to keep busy.


She donned an emerald green pullover that he had admired on her once, telling her that he loved the way the color deepened the green in her eyes.


After slipping on a pair of her tightest jeans, the ones that clung lovingly to every dip and curve they touched, she fished around under her bed for her black ankle high boots. 


She took one more look in the mirror and smiled, pleased with her results.


"He's coming back," she whispered, afraid to say it too loud. If this was all just an elaborate dream she was having, she wasn't taking the slightest chance of waking herself up.



"So there's no sense pretending

My heart, it's not mending.."



Grabbing a light denim jacket, she skipped happily downstairs. After scribbling a quick note to her mother explaining that she'd gone out with Willow and Xander, she left the house and headed straight for Mount Hope cemetery.


When she crossed the street where they'd had their second encounter, Buffy paused, unconsciously straining her ears for the roar of a powerful V-8 engine.


But the only sound she heard was the sputtering motor of a VW that was already old before she'd been born.


With a smile and a shake of her head, she practically jogged the three miles to Mount Hope. A feeling of anticipation that she just couldn't quell flared in her heart when she walked through the front gates.


As she wove in and out of the tombstones, paying scant attention to whatever might be going on around her, she imagined their reunion.  Even if he didn't show up tonight, he soon would, and she had to decide just exactly how to behave when he did.


Should she be angry that he'd left without saying goodbye, or just be happy he was back?  Maybe a combination of of both emotions would be the right thing to do.


Briefly considering the option of acting very sophisticated about the whole thing, she dismissed it just as quickly. The last thing SHE could pull off would be a "woman of the world" attitude, acting as if she'd barely noticed he was gone.  He knew her far too well to swallow a line like that.


Deciding to decide later, she then began to worry.


What if she froze up and couldn't think of anything to say, or said something stupid and babyish, or said nothing at all and just burst into tears? 


These worries were bad enough, but they were nothing really..just insignificant trifles..compared to her biggest worry, the one that frightened her more than any demon ever could. 


What if he had brought Drusilla back with him?


She couldn't bear that, not again. It just hurt too much to be 'the other woman' in William's life. Married to him or not, she wasn't going to put up with it this time.



"Just when I thought I was over you

And just when I thought I could stand on my own

Oh, baby those memories come crashing through

And I just can't

Go on"



She was so lost in thought that she almost tripped over the exposed roots of an ancient tree. Shaking her head, she tried to pay attention to what she was there for.


But she completely lost her concentration again when she saw where she'd ended up.


The huge, gloomy bulk of the mausoleum that William had pressed her against when he had kissed her for the first time loomed up in front of her.


Closing her eyes, Buffy leaned back against it, her palms flat on the cold marble.  This was where it had all started. The first touch...the first embrace...the first kiss.


Here was the place where she had fallen in love. The place where she had abandoned everything she stood for and gave herself over into his keeping. 


Smiling, she opened her eyes and paced around the perimeter of the building, then stood back and studied every inch of it.


Her knowledge of romance was limited, but one thing she DID know was that almost every couple had certain things they considered to be "theirs".


A song, a favorite restaurant, a particular time of the year, or a special place that held beautiful memories; a place where they'd met, perhaps, or gone to on a first date.


"It just figures," she said matter of factly, "MY special a cemetery!"


With a resigned shrug of her shoulders, she slowly made her way back to the front gates, dusting three new vamps along the way.



"On my own, I tried to make the best of it alone

I've done everything I can to ease the pain

But only you can stop the rain.."



Later that night, Buffy was restless in her bed. Sitting up, lying down, rolling over, practically standing on her head to find a comfortable spot.


She couldn't help thinking that she had come home too soon. If she'd stayed just a little longer, maybe he would have....


Pushing that thought away, she sighed. If she'd stayed much longer, the sun would have been up...not to mention her mother, who would definitely want an explanation.


She turned on her side and stared out the window, watching as the sky turned from black to indigo blue.  When she saw streaks of pinkish orange on the horizon, she gave up trying to sleep and went downstairs in her pajamas to fix breakfast.


For the first time in weeks, she had a serious appetite for it.



"I just can't live without you

I miss everything about you.."



"You're up early."


Buffy looked up and smiled when her mother walked into the kitchen, wrapped up in her fuzzy blue robe.


"I am," she agreed. "Woke up this morning really hungry." Half a lie, in a good cause. No point in telling her mom she hadn't slept all night.


Joyce returned her daughter's smile and ruffled her hair as she walked by. "Up early AND in a good mood? I should call the Sunnydale Daily News."


Buffy winced. "Have I been that bad?"


Her mother nodded. "You've had your moments."


"Well, those days are over," Buffy said firmly. "From now on, I'm gonna be a brand new me. The new and improved Buffy Summers."


"I can't wait," Joyce replied, taking a coffee mug out of the cupboard. "Actually, I believe you," she added. "I don't remember the old Buffy Summers ever making a pot of coffee."


"Yay for me!"


"Want some?" Joyce asked as she filled her mug.


"Yes, please." After more than twenty-four hours with no sleep, she knew she was going to need it.


Joyce poured a second cup half full of coffee and handed it to Buffy. She opened the fridge and took out a carton of milk, then joined her daughter at the table.


Buffy reached for the sugar bowl and began dumping spoonfuls from it into her cup.  When she had it as sweet as she preferred, she topped the cup off with milk, turning the dark brown liquid a light mocha.


Even this simple act reminded her of William, bringing back the memory of the time he'd stayed all day with her. After making love when they woke up, he had dragged her down to the kitchen and made breakfast for her.


She had sat at the table and watched as he produced huge mounds of pale yellow scrambled eggs, lightly crisp bacon, and golden brown toast, which she slathered in raspberry jam.


He had poured her a cup of coffee, then watched in amazement as she doctored it to her liking. With a huge grin on his face, he had asked her if she would care for a little coffee with her

milk and sugar.


"So," Joyce said, breaking into Buffy's thoughts. "Does this new found happiness and change for the better have anything to do with a boy?"


Buffy grinned. "Does it show?"


"Kind of, yes."


"Well...." Buffy's cheeks turned pink as she nodded.


Joyce sipped her coffee. "This isn't by any chance the boy you were going to introduce me to when I got home from New York, is it?"


"Yes," Buffy said briefly.


Her mother studied her face for a moment. "Everything's all right then?"


Buffy stirred her coffee. "It will be soon," she murmured. "Everything will be perfect."


Joyce arched her eyebrows. "I hope so, honey. You were awfully unhappy up until...well, up until now!"


"I know," Buffy replied. "But things are different now. You'll see."


"So, you're planning on introducing him to your old mom, huh?"




Joyce waited half a beat, then changed the subject. "Did you say you were hungry?"


"Starved," Buffy nodded eagerly.




"Chocolate chip?" 


"What else?"



"Just when I thought I was over you

And just when I thought I could stand on my own

Oh, baby, those memories come crashing through

And I just can't...go on without.."



Darkness came once more, and Buffy left the house to take up her vigil in the cemetery.


By midnight, she had slain four vampires, but saw no sign of the one she most wanted to appear.


She loitered around the front gates of Mount Hope for as long as she could without getting chased home by the police.


Completely exhausted, she crawled into bed and slept for fifteen hours.



"It's just no good"



More please...