Fic: The Distance Between Us (7/11)

This entry is part 7 of 11 in the series The Distance Between Us
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Title: The Distance Between Us
Author: PrettyPoppy
Summary: Nineteen years after leaving Sunnydale, Spike encounters a startlingly familiar young woman fighting vampires in the alleyways of London – a young woman who holds the key to both his past and his future.
Rated: R

Chapter Seven

Spike was standing outside the hospital, watching Willow’s window, when Buffy walked out the front door. She was more than a hundred yards away, but he could tell it was her. There was no mistaking Buffy; her look, her scent. Spike ducked behind a nearby tree, hoping that her spidey senses wouldn’t pick up on him. He wasn’t ready to have a confrontation with her yet. Not here, not now. He needed time; time to gather his thoughts, time to get his emotions under control. One word from Buffy and he knew he’d fall apart.

Spike listened intently, trying to track Buffy’s movements, but she wasn’t moving. He concentrated harder, trying to hone in on her heartbeat, her breathing. She was still standing by the entrance. What was she waiting for? Had she already sensed him? Did she know it was him, or did she think it was just some random vampire out for a midnight snack?

Before Spike could decide what to do, he heard footsteps coming his way. Distinct, determined footsteps. He would recognize that sound anywhere. She was coming toward him; slowly, taking her time. No doubt intentionally trying to prolong his agony. A part of him wanted to run. But another part of him – the part of him that always had been and always would be Buffy’s – was urging him to stay. Without a second thought, Spike stepped out onto the pavement and found himself face to face with Buffy Summers for the first time in nineteen years.

Buffy stopped dead in her tracks. They stared at each other across the open space – a mere handful of yards separating them. Their eyes searched each other’s and Spike felt every nerve in his body cry out for her.

It had been a long time since he had set eyes on his slayer. Too long. Nothing had changed though. Maybe it was because she was a slayer, but she didn’t seem to have aged at all. Her hair was still that warm honey-blonde, her hazel eyes still bright and sparkling with hidden flecks of green, her skin was smooth and looked so soft that his long-deprived fingers were just aching to touch her. But he couldn’t touch her. That wasn’t what this was about. She had made her decision long ago when she had chosen Soldier Boy over him. He knew now that things had turned out the way they were meant to. Riley had given her something that he never could, a beautiful, vibrant baby girl, a girl who was all grown up now and getting into trouble just like her mother.

“Slayer,” Spike drawled, when he finally found his voice.

“Spike,” Buffy said, as she began to walk toward him.

The sound of his name on her lips sent a shock through his entire body. His breath caught in his throat and his eyes glazed over in wonder. A moment later, she was mere inches away from him. She looked up into his eyes with what he thought was tenderness, but a moment later, she pulled back her fist and punched him solidly in the face.

“Ow!” Spike exclaimed, as he cradled his nose. “What the hell was that for?”

“For being a dope,” Buffy replied.

“A what?” Spike lowered his hand and stared at her as if she were crazy.

“A dope. And a bonehead. How could you think that I would run off after Riley? Just how stupid are you? You big, stupid vampire.”

Spike wanted to be angry, but he couldn’t. All he could do was smirk. There was just something so irresistible about her when she talked like that. He’d forgotten how absolutely entrancing she was.

“Well?” she continued, when he didn’t speak. “Don’t you have anything to say for yourself?”

It took Spike a moment to get his bearings, then he replied, “You were the one who was pregnant with his baby. Don’t go blaming me for thinking you were going to go running after him.”

“I wasn’t pregnant with his baby, you idiot. God,” Buffy rolled her eyes in exasperation, “you can be so stupid sometimes.”

“I know you were pregnant. Don’t go pretendin’ that it wasn’t Riley’s. I knew you were with child when I left.”

“You knew?” Buffy looked at him in shock. “How could you have possibly known?”

“Vampire, remember? Extraordinary sense of hearing and all that. I could hear the heartbeat when you were just a few weeks along. I knew before anyone,” he said proudly, causing the frown on Buffy’s face to deepen.

“You knew and you just left?”

“’Course I did. What was I supposed to do, stick around and take care of Finn’s bastard? Let you use me and kick me around some more? Thanks, but no thanks.”

He expected Buffy to yell at him some more, but she didn’t. She dragged her eyes away from his and looked down at the pavement. “I’m sorry about that,” she said quietly. “I did a lot of terrible, hurtful things to you. I treated you like you were worthless, less than human. I’m sorry.”

“That’s all right, luv. I am less than human, so, not really your fault.”

She looked up at him then, meeting his gaze directly. “Of course it’s my fault. Just because you’re a vampire, doesn’t mean you’re worthless. It doesn’t mean you deserve to be mistreated and abused. I’m just glad that I finally got a chance to apologize. That’s all.”

“No need for an apology, pet.”

“Please, Spike. Just take it.”

“Alright. Apology accepted.”

“Good.” She straightened a bit and crossed her arms over her chest, tilting her chin upward defiantly as she did so. “Now I can go back to being mad at you.”

“For what?”

“For abandoning me and your daughter when we needed you most.”

“What?” Spike was certain that he hadn’t heard her correctly. His brain refused to register what she had just said.

“Willow? Your daughter? You knew I was pregnant with her and you walked out anyway.”

Spike opened his mouth to protest but no words came out. Was she completely and totally off her bird? She really thought that he was Willow’s father? That was crazy. Insane. Ludicrous.

“Oh, I see I’ve rendered you speechless for once. I’m going to have to remember this. I didn’t think it possible to ever shut you up.”

Spike inhaled a sharp breath and tried to form some kind of coherent remark. “But I’m a vampire,” was all he got out.

“Yes, I know.”

“We don’t have live offspring.”

“Well aware of that too,” Buffy said disinterestedly, as if all of this had already occurred to her a long time ago.

“You can’t be serious.”

Buffy cocked her head to the side and skewered him with her eyes. “Are you through?”

“Am I through? I’m just getting started. This is completely and totally insane. Just because Riley’s apparently gone off somewhere, leaving you two in the lurch, doesn’t mean you can now recruit me to play daddy dearest. It doesn’t work that way, pet. I’m not fallin’ for it.”

“You know Angel had a kid, right? After he was a vampire?”

Spike glared at her, hating the sound of Angel’s name falling from her lips. “Yeah, I heard somethin’ about it. So what?”

“Well, it proves that anything’s possible.”

“Not this. This is not possible.”

“Giles always thought it had something to do with the spell that brought me back from the dead. He thought maybe it had some lingering effects, just magically brought your cold, dead seed back to life.”

“Well that’s a charming thought, isn’t it?”

“It’s possible. Who knows how these things work. The point is, I didn’t sleep with Riley. Riley had a wife by the time he came back to Sunnydale; a beautiful, dark-haired Amazon. She was Black Ops, a real G.I. Jane. Not the kind of girl I could compete with.”

“You’re joking, right? You can compete with anyone. You’re Buffy.”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t feel like it at the time. And anyway, it didn’t matter. I didn’t want Riley. Not really. I was just down on myself and feeling depressed, that was all. But I never wanted Riley. I just wanted you.”

“You had a funny way of showin’ it. Ending it all. Walking away.”

“I know.” She looked away then, her eyes searching the shadows for answers. “I’m sorry I ever did that. It’s caused us all a lot of unnecessary pain.”

They were both silent for a long time. So much time had passed, so much had been said, so much was still unsaid. Neither one of them knew where to go from here.

Finally, Spike couldn’t stand the silence anymore. “You really expect me to believe that she’s my kid?”

Buffy finally looked at him. “She’s yours Spike. There was no one else. There’s never been anyone else. Not since I came back from the dead. There’s only been you.”

Spike’s eyes frantically searched Buffy’s face, looking for the truth in her words. It was true, wasn’t it? There hadn’t been anyone else. Had she been punishing herself all this time? Was that why she had never allowed herself to be with anyone again? If that were the case, he felt sorry for her. And he felt guilty. He had never wanted her to live a life of loneliness; he just hadn’t wanted to have her happiness thrown in his face, that was all.

“Why? Why would you do that?” he couldn’t help but ask. “Why would you deny yourself affection all these years?”

“Because I learned something very important after you left. I learned something the day Willow was born. I learned what love was. Real love. And I knew then that there was only one person I could ever feel it for. And that was you.”

The shock to Spike’s system was absolute. Everything within him completely shut down and he vaguely wondered how he was still managing to exist even though his body had ceased to function. The world completely closed in on him and he felt as if he was going to faint.

“Spike?”

He heard Buffy’s voice and, a moment later, felt her hand touch his sleeve. He nearly collapsed from the weight of it.

“Spike. You do believe me, don’t you?”

The fear and uncertainty in her voice was too much for him to bear. He quickly shook himself out of his stupor and looked down at her. There were tears glistening in her eyes.

“Spike?”

He wanted to believe. He wanted to believe her more than he had ever wanted anything in his entire existence. He wanted to believe that she loved him and that Willow was their daughter – not Riley’s – but theirs. He wanted to believe in hearts and flowers and happily-ever-after for them. He just didn’t know how he could do it. After what had seemed like a lifetime of pain and loneliness, how could he just start believing again? How could he ever make that leap of faith?

“I see you don’t believe me.” Buffy let go of his arm and stepped back, putting a sizeable distance between them. “I understand. I hope though,” she said, through unshed tears, “that you do believe me about Willow. Because she is your daughter. And she does need you. She trusts you.” Buffy smiled in spite of herself. “And it would mean a lot to her if you wanted to be a part of her life.”

Spike stared at Buffy, trying to make it all make sense; trying to get his emotions under control. Of course he wanted to be a part of Willow’s life. He had wanted to be a part of her life even when he had thought that she was Riley’s daughter, simply because she was a part of Buffy, and he loved everything that was Buffy. Did he really believe that she was his daughter? He wanted to, but it was a difficult proposition.

Of course, it was in Buffy’s favor that she had told Willow that her father’s name was William. That wasn’t something that was just made up on the spot, to convince him in the here and now. Willow had told him, during one of their training sessions, that she had always known her father’s name, since earliest childhood. Maybe Buffy hadn’t lied about that, to either of them.

And if Buffy hadn’t lied about that, maybe she wasn’t lying about being in love with him either. If she really had kept herself only unto him all those years, perhaps the love she claimed to feel was a good enough reason. Perhaps it was the only reason that was good enough. The truth was, Spike hadn’t been with anyone either since he had left Buffy. He had told himself that it was just part of his personal penance; that he was abstaining to atone for his myriad sins. But that wasn’t it. He had done it because he loved her and he missed her. And because no other woman could ever compare to his Buffy.

Oh, of course he had flirted, but that was just part of the game, part of his public persona. No matter who he talked to, or who he flirted with, he always went home alone. Always. Because no matter how much time had passed, it was always all about Buffy.

If his love for her had kept him true, then why couldn’t hers do the same? They shared a child together – Spike was more and more certain of it with each passing moment – why shouldn’t the bond between them be strong? Why shouldn’t it have made Buffy finally come to her senses and acknowledge what he had known all along – that she loved him?

“Well,” Buffy began, “I can see you’re going to need some time to think about it. I won’t bother you anymore tonight.”

She turned and began to walking down the pavement, but Spike couldn’t let her go.

“Slayer wait,” he called, as he ran after.

She stopped a few feet in front of him and turned back around. She looked miserable, dejected, as if the only thing she had ever wanted was forever out of her reach, as if she had been rejected by the only person she had ever truly loved. Spike knew that feeling. Knew it intimately. It was the worst feeling in the world.

Spike wanted to say so much, but he didn’t know where to begin. He said the first thing that popped into his mind. “Do you have a place to stay?”

“What?” She asked, as if she hadn’t heard the question.

“Do you have a place to stay?”

She shook her head in the negative, not saying a word.

“You wanna crash at my flat?”

“Stay… with you?” she asked, the disbelief painfully apparent in her voice.

“Yeah. Unless you got someplace better to go.”

“Are you sure you want me? I mean… after everything.”

Of course he wanted her. He always wanted her. But that wasn’t what she was asking and he knew it. “Yeah. Come on,” he said, motioning for her to follow him. “My flat’s only a few blocks from here.”

***

Chapter Eight

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/365376.html

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