Summary: When Xander comes across Spike in Los Angeles and discovers the vampire isn't dust after all, Spike is faced with an important decision. Will he go see Buffy? Will she be happy to see him or will she dust him for not telling her he survived the Hellmouth.
Dawn's noisy entrance came to a halt when she caught sight of the vampire sitting on the sofa. It seemed as if the noise had been suddenly sucked from the room as the silent reunited trio stared at one another. The younger Summers sister seemed unable to form coherent words, her mouth moving uselessly.
"Hi Dawn." Spike looked up at her and smiled softly. The sound of his voice seemed to spur Dawn into speech, and her shocked expression quickly turned to suspicion.
"Buffy, is that the First, because it sure as hell can't be who it looks like?" She turned to her sister. She pointed toward Spike, her eyes wide with incredulity.
"Yep, Dawnie, the one and the only!" Buffy replied glibly.
Dawn's gaze turned back to the vampire. Her eyes were wide with shock and her mouth gaped in surprise at the familiar face before her. There were not a lot of things that silenced Dawn Summers, but this was one of them.
"Spike," she gasped. "It is really you!"
Buffy smiled at her sister's enthusiasm with a wistful look in her eyes. "She looks like a little girl again."
"Dawn." Spike's eyes held a look of hopefulness.
Dawn mumbled at a loss as to where she should begin. "Wow, here you are, not quite as dusty as we thought."
She was torn between jumping into his arms and shaking his hand. There had been a time when he had been her best friend, but they were no longer as close. So many things had happened during that last year in Sunnydale. Sensing her hesitancy, Spike eventually put out his hand, as if to shake hers, but Dawn threw her arms around him instead.
"I'm glad you are back," Dawn said, sincerely. "We really missed you."
Spike breathed a sigh of relief as Dawn burst into tears of joy. Buffy watched the scene with watery eyes.
"Buffy, what did you do?" Dawn asked, between sobs.
"I didn't do anything." Buffy arched her brows and squared her shoulders with an indignant air. "He just turned up on the doorstep an hour ago".
Buffy suddenly found the need to excuse herself for a little while. The wealth of emotion in the room was getting to her, and she needed to be alone to collect her thoughts.
"Spike I don't have any blood in the kitchen, but I can offer you almost anything else." She stood to make her way to the kitchen.
"Cocoa," Dawn and Spike said in unison.
She smiled, tightly. "I guess that's three hot cocoas." She went into the kitchen and left Spike and Dawn alone.
"I don't think I will be ever able to forgive or forget what you tried to do, but when I thought you were gone forever, all I wanted was to let you know that I missed my friend."
"You were perfectly right you know," Spike answered, honestly. "I never expected forgiveness. Got more than I deserve, I daresay."
"So spill it. How did you come back?"
"Remember that big bauble I got, courtesy of the grand poof. Well, it trapped my essence and spat me out in Peaches' office. Turns out he got it from Wolfram and Hart."
"You have been back a while then," she said accusingly. "How long Spike?" Her gaze hardened and Spike gulped. She was barely more than a little girl, but next to Buffy, her opinion was the most important to him.
"The better part of a year," he admitted, waiting for the storm to hit.
"What!" She yelled.
"It is a long story," he said, avoiding her furious gaze. "It starts with being stuck as a real live Casper and being unable to leave Hell incorporated."
"You look pretty solid to me." She poked him hard in the chest for emphasis. "You really hurt her, Spike."
"I know." he said, as he ran his hand through his hair mussing up his carefully gelled curls.
Spike grimaced. It was only proper that he felt like shit, but it didn't make it any easier.
"Do you still love her?"
"I never stopped."
"Then how, Spike?" How could you stay away?" She shook her head in disbelief.
He finally found the courage to raise his eyes to meet hers. "At first I couldn't, but later when I was able, I found that I didn't know how. Then the longer it went on the more difficult it became. Maybe, I needed to see who I could be without Buffy or a chip as my conscience?"
"And did it work? Do you know who you are now?"
"The name's Spike," he said, playfully trying to dodge the question.
Dawn knew he was avoiding the question. She frowned and rolled her eyes.
Spike raised his hands, as if in surrender. "I know it was the wrong decision, just another wrong decision in a long line of them. The thing is I missed my girls, but I convinced myself it was for the best. I figured the grandsire was right. My girls deserved some sweetness and light."
Her expression softened a little at his words. "And don't forget the fear that Buffy was going to stake your ass for hiding," Dawn pointed out.
"I was not hiding but essentially yeah," he admitted grudgingly.
"You know for someone who's been around for more than a century, you're a real dumb ass."
"I know, but it is part of my charm."
Spike suspected Buffy had just needed to get away as she had been quite a while in the kitchen. Sure enough, he soon heard the quiet sobs of the Slayer, and his heart constricted painfully. It was only Spike's vampire hearing that allowed him to hear Buffy's crying, so Dawn was still unaware her sister was sobbing her heart out in the kitchen.
"Dawn, I think you better go to your sister"
Dawn looked at him quizzically.
"She's crying pet and seeing I'm probably the reason, you should probably be the one who comforts her."
"Maybe I should go and come back tomorrow." Spike started to get up from his seat to leave.
"Don't you dare! Uh uh, you caused this mess in the first place. No, you will sit there and squirm with guilt."
Dawn pointed back at the chair he'd vacated. He could see Dawn was furious, and her tone brooked no argument, so he sat back down.
Dawn went into the kitchen. Spike was right. Buffy was a mess, sobbing on the floor of the kitchen. Her back was up against the cupboard and her eyes were red.
"Oh Buffy!" Dawn said and wrapped her arms around her shaking sister.
"Did Spike send you in?"
"Is he.....?" Buffy was suddenly alert.
"No, not yet, but I will tell him to go if you want me to?"
"No." Buffy got up quickly, dabbing her eyes. She had to face him. Things were complicated as always with him. She was delighted he was back, yet she was furious he had concealed his return from her. Anger and joy were warring for dominance within her. One minute she was fuming and the next she was elated. However, above all else she was tired. The two sisters returned to the concerned vampire.
"Buffy, are you all right?" He could barely meet her gaze as if the guilt of his actions were weighing him down.
"What do you want, Spike? Why are you really here?" Buffy felt she sounded so tired and confused.
"Why do you think, love? You know how I feel, but I think we could be friends."
"Ha that's funny coming from you, especially since I meant so much to you that you never bothered to tell me you were playing lawyer with Angel. Speaking of my ex boyfriend, remember what you once said to Angel and me?"
Spike remembered well. "You'll never be friends," he had told them. Spike's stomach roiled at the reminder of her past relationship with his grandsire. Their past relationship still bothered him and caused a bout of envy. He couldn't help but feel --he would always be second best to Angel. Buffy was starting to realise that maybe the suggestion that Spike leave was not such a bad one after all. She could see the hurt in his eyes, and she hated to see it, but she was perfectly right to be angry.
"I'm sorry, Spike. I'm just confused and emotional. Maybe, I just need some space to think. Could you leave for a while? I don't want you to disappear again, but I just need some time alone. Take Dawnie with you. Have a proper catch up."
Spike bowed his head in acquiescence. He knew he was losing the battle. In fact, he probably had already had, the moment he decided to keep his reappearance a secret
Dawn grabbed his arm and squeezed it. "So, looks like I get to be your babysitter this time," she whispered and winked.
Spike smirked despite himself and took one last longing look back at Buffy. He headed out the door and onto the street.
"Spike," Buffy called at his retreating back and he turned around.
"Promise you will come back again at dusk?"
"Don't worry, I am not running away, pet".
"Good," she said smiling.
Maybe all was not lost yet.
To be continued.....
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