Title: LAWFUL IMPEDIMENT
Season: Post-series. It’s four years after the Hellmouth imploded, and Buffy’s moving on, or so her friends think. But if you’re about to say your vows and the man at your side isn’t the man you’re thinking of, surely somebody should stand up and say something? Wonder who that will be…
Many thanks to seductivembrace for her prompt and efficient tidying up of this story so that it’s fit to read. Any errors are mine alone as I fiddle… Thanks also to enigmaticblues for running this community and giving me the opportunity to keep the Spuffy alive.
It was cold in the shadows. Not that he usually felt the cold, not physically anyway. Oh, he was aware that it was cold, but in an abstract way. But today, with the sun shining high in the cloudless sky, when everybody around him was happy and wearing bright, summer colours – today, he felt it.
He waited until they’d all gone inside, all except one. She was late, but it was her prerogative, her big day. He wondered who would give her away? Giles, probably. Maybe Xander. Possibly Willow; Red would love that, getting to wear the tux. The sound of the limo pulling up dragged his attention away from the church entrance.
He’d been dreading this moment – and longing for it. It had been four years since he’d last seen her, and even though his long-dead heart was crumbling in his chest, he craned his neck as the door to the limo opened.
Ah. Giles then. Good. She’d need his support, and it must be a proud day for him. She was finally getting her normal life. Good for her.
Inside, he was dying.
Time stopped as Giles bent and stretched out his hand, reaching into the darkened interior of the car and drawing back. He was grasping her hand, Spike knew, recognised even that insignificant part of her, his throat closing with emotion as the hand became an arm, a shoulder…a slender neck. Her face.
Spike took a step forward, barely noticing as his skin began to sizzle, only stepping back when his hand caught fire. He cursed up a blue storm as he smothered the flames, ignoring the pain. In comparison to the pain he was already feeling, it was little more than an ant-bite anyway.
Beautiful. Hair swept up into a simple chignon, no veil, a dainty tiara. Her dress was a classic sheath, off the shoulder with a bandeau bodice, draped tight about her slim form and sliding across the floor behind her as she smiled at Giles, took his arm and moved towards the entrance to the church.
Spike watched through eyes blurry with tears as she moved away from him, always moving away. Wait! he wanted to shout, you’re making a mistake. But she wasn’t and he didn’t. He bowed his head, unable to watch her walk through the door and out of his world forever. Again.
And still he couldn’t leave, had to see it through. Had to wait to watch her as she came out happy and smiling and ready to start her normal life with her normal husband in her normal house with its normal door. Behind which, no doubt, there would be lots of normal sex leading to lots of normal babies…
“Buffy,” he whispered, no louder than the flap of a butterfly’s wing – and at the top of the steps Buffy stopped and turned, Giles turning with her.
“Buffy? Are you alright?” Giles queried, failing to find anything that would draw her attention.
For a moment, the blushing bride simply stared out into the street, narrowing her eyes as she searched…for something…
With a sigh, she shook her head, finally, turning back and gifting Giles with a haunted smile.
“Yes. I’m fine. It was just…I thought there was someone…silly really. And I’ve no idea why I would think…” Buffy took a deep breath and then tried a brighter smile. “Shall we? Don’t want them all thinking I’ve done a Julia Roberts, do we?”
Giles patted her hand and carried on walking, throwing one anxious look over his shoulder as they reached the door. She hadn’t said, but he knew who she was looking for, who she was hoping to see. But he wouldn’t dare to come today. Not after all that had passed and the harsh words that had been spoken the last time the vampire came calling at his door.
Five weeks after the apocalyptic showdown in the alleyway, LA:
Spike stretched out his neck and settled the soft leather of his duster around his shoulders, thanking the Powers that the weather in London was murky grey rain. He wanted to get this over and done with, and having to wait for the sun to set would have really pissed him off. He’d made the decision to come once he’d healed from the battle-wounds that had almost dusted him, and it had taken him a good few weeks for that to happen, but now that he was here, he was nervous as hell.
It had been over a year since he’d seen her, and he was expecting to be met with the point of a stake, for many reasons. For one, the last time Angel had spoken to Giles, asked for help with Fred, the Watcher was dismissive and scathing, not even listening as Angel explained that he was fully aware of the dangers of being inside Wolfram and Hart and that he was still wearing a white hat. As far as Giles was concerned, Angel was tainted with the evil of the law firm, and by association, so was Spike.
Second – well, it had been over a year that he’d been solid through and not one word had he spoken to Buffy in all that time. He’d never tried to contact her, never sent her a ‘sorry I burned your hand in the hellmouth and rebuffed your love – but look I’m back now’ card.
And standing here, on the slippery step to the unprepossessing mid-terraced, three storey house far beyond the outskirts of fashionable London, he couldn’t come up with a satisfactory explanation as to why he hadn’t.
Still, he was here now, and getting wetter by the second, so he knocked on the door and thrust his hands into the pockets of his coat, toeing the ground and watching the bubbles form as he swept his foot across the stone step. Deep within the recesses of the house he heard voices and footsteps approaching the door. Chewing on his lip he took a steadying, yet useless, breath as the door opened, and looked up right into the eyes of a shocked Watcher.
“Hey, Rupes. Was passin’, thought I’d drop in.”
Giles was frozen to the spot, his mouth open and glasses steaming up with the unrelenting rain that was already plastering his hair to his head. The door behind him was ajar and Spike tried to look past him down the hall, aching, now that he’d taken the plunge, to see her. As Spike stepped to one side to get a better view, Giles shook himself and moved to block him.
“What are you doing here, Spike. You’re not welcome.”
“Oh, nice way to greet the returning hero. Where’s the bunting and the bloody brass band?”
Pulling the door on the latch behind him, Giles took a step towards the vampire and hissed “You’ve got a bloody nerve coming here. Like I told Angel, as far as I’m concerned, he crossed the line, and all his companions with him. And as for the returning hero, from what Andrew told me you may well have been indentured to Wolfram and Hart by your immolation. For all we know, Angel set it all up, delivering their gaudy necklace to Buffy knowing you’d be the one to wear it, ensuring your return to boost his ranks. It all seems very convenient, don’t you think?”
Spike opened his mouth to speak, but was beaten to it by the Watcher as he continued his rant.
“And don’t think a quick flash of your blue eyes is going to have any effect on Buffy. You did her a favour in Sunnydale, disappearing as you did, and I thought you’d realised how ridiculous your obsession with her was. You haven’t exactly been breaking all barriers to get to her, have you?”
Oh, that was too much. Spike snarled and Giles took a step back, fumbling for the doorknob and gratefully darting back behind the sanctuary of the unseen barrier that would keep the vampire from entering the property.
“Look, you sanctimonious prick! You’ve no right to get all high and mighty on me. What’s between me and Buffy’s between me and Buffy, so say one more word, and I will bite you. And this thing you’ve got about Angel – you really think he turned? Soft sod fought to the end, went down battling a bloody dragon – so I think you can come down off the moral high ground now. Good friends of mine died saving this sorry-arsed world – again – and where were you? Tucked up all snug in bed with a goodnight story? Cataloguing your nose-hairs? So – Watcher- why don’t you run off like a good chap and fetch the Slayer. Me and the girl have unfinished business. Chop, chop!” Spike waved his hand in a dismissive shoo and smirked at the red-faced Englishman.
“No! Are you off your chump? I’m not movin’ from here, so fetch her, don’t fetch her – she’ll have to leave some time and I will speak to her. May as well be now, or I’ll annoy the neighbours with my Pistols’ repertoire. Your choice.”
Giles stepped over the invisible barrier and ended up toe to toe with the vampire, uncaring now of the danger he posed. “You leave her alone. She hardly spoke for two weeks after you…after the hellmouth. She was skin and bone, ate less than a sparrow and spent every day locked away in her room. We tried everything to get her involved, but in the end it was only when Dawn had an accident and had to go to hospital that she started to rally round. Since then, she’s making progress day by day – but seeing you will set her right back. Now, if you care for her half as much as you claim to, do you really want to see her suffer? It’s hardly as if you can give her the future she deserves, is it? What would happen, Spike, if by some quirk of fate she agrees to resume your quite frankly puzzling relationship? Would you get a 9 to 5 job, make sure the mortgage is paid and there’s food on the table? And when she’s sixty or so, and you still look like a young man – what then? Angel isn’t my favourite being, I’ll admit, but I have to give him his due, he realised a relationship with Buffy was doomed and did the right thing. Pity you don’t have the decency to do the same.”
Spike set his jaw and ground his teeth, holding Giles’ icy stare with one of his own. But behind his bravado, the doubt set in. Truth was, he’d been thinking along the same lines. Once he’d conquered the lack of corporeal solidity and been physically able to leave LA and go find Buffy, he’d second-guessed himself constantly as to why he hadn’t. He’d made excuses: Team Angel needed him, he was carrying out his duty as a bona fide hero, he didn’t know what to say to her, what would Dawn do? And when he and Angel had travelled to Rome and discovered her shimmying with the Immortal – well, he’d pretty much accepted that all he would ever have of paradise was that final night in the basement before the battle of Sunnydale. He’d made his peace with it, or thought he had, throwing himself fully into the ‘help the helpless’ gig that Angel had gotten such a kick out of. It wasn’t a bad way to spend his time, and as he’d told Giles, he had made friends. Good friends, his friends, not second-hand ones. Friends that he missed with gut-wrenching intensity. It was that feeling, finally, that had led him here. He had nothing else left but the burning of his love for Buffy Summers – and he had to know if that flame was always going to burn in the darkness alone.
Finally, Spike dropped his head and took a step back, diffusing the tension on the doorstep. He made a performance out of locating his cigarettes and lighting up. “I take your point, Rupes. Don’t necessarily agree with it, but I hear you. Still think you should let the girl decide; you’ve no idea what strength she carries inside her. You might let her use it, sometime.”
Impasse reached, and threat of imminent death averted it appeared, Giles relaxed a little and surprised the vampire by holding out a hand for a cigarette of his own. Spike shrugged and handed over the packet and the gaudy plastic lighter he’d been reduced to, his own trusty and treasured silver one having disappeared and presumably buried deep within the crater that had once been Sunnydale.
“Pink?” Giles noted, as he handed it back. “Not your usual style.”
“Yeah. Fancied a change. Matched Peaches’ eyes.”
Giles threw him a quizzical look and motioned out into the rain, indicating a walk. Spike nodded and kept step as they left the house behind. He risked a glance back as they turned the corner, watching until he couldn’t see the door any more.
“So?” Giles asked, not bothering to elaborate. They both knew what the question was.
Spike sighed. “You win. But I don’t agree with what you’re doing, and I’m not promisin’ that I’ll stay away forever. An’ you’ve gotta promise me that if she needs me, you’ll call. An’ if she asks about me, you tell her the truth. What happened, that I came back, the fight, Angel…the whole lot. Deal?”
Giles considered. It was a fairly safe promise to make; Buffy would never need Spike, not as long as he was around, and she never mentioned his name any more, never mind ask about him. No; she’d assigned her incomprehensible obsession with the vampire to the past, left it behind in Sunnydale. It was ended.
“Good then.” Spike stopped walking and turned to the Watcher. “I’ll know if you lie to me. And I’ll be around. ‘m not leavin’ her to your tender mercies. As long as I’m not dust, I’ll be watchin’ over her.”
“I know. But you won’t approach her, not unless I say. I’m thinking of Buffy, Spike, much as you’d like to imagine I’m doing this for some kind of grudge against you. She’s my only concern.”
“Yeah, and it’s only for that reason that I’m letting you push me away. But if she asks…” Spike couldn’t help clinging on to the hope that one day Buffy would ask the question, and Giles would tell her all. He was giving his word, and there was one thing that Giles wasn’t, and that was an oath-breaker.
“If she asks…”
Spike pursed his lips, met Giles’ eyes, and nodded silently, turning on his heel and striding off into the distance. Giles watched until there was nothing on the horizon but the bustle of afternoon businesses shutting up shop. Truth was, he’d been expecting Spike to turn up ever since he’d discovered he’d joined Angel’s crew. For the whole year, nothing, other than Andrew reporting that he and Angel had been to Buffy’s apartment in Rome, but thankfully she’d been out and inexplicably, Andrew had kept his mouth shut about her visitors. And even though it had been reported that all of Angel’s compatriots had perished in the battle with the darkness, Giles had an idea that he hadn’t seen the last of the blond vampire.
Now all he had to do was avoid Buffy wanting to reminisce, and Spike could be forgotten as they all got on with their lives.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/293459.html