Each of the cars was a classic. Pristine, with elegant lines worthy of any of the beautiful women Spike had known in his lifetime. Pick one, anyone, Angel wouldn=t really know—or honestly even care—and he=d be gone, away, down to the docks for a month-long voyage that=d take him to where he was supposed to be. Where he needed to be.
If only he could get moving.
“Uh, sir?” A pasty-faced attendant was holding a small ring of keys. “I know you said that Mr. Angel—”
“Piss off.” Grabbing the ring out of the git’s hands, he sorted through until he found the viper’s tiny, paper-thin key. He was going. He was. Had the identification to keep people off his back, enough dosh to get wherever he liked, and he was in love. Truly, deeply in love, and it was time for him to show up on his white horse—well, red viper—and sweep the lady off her feet.
It’s what the shining white hero did.
Repeating that sustained him all the way to the docks.
Moving around in daylight was simple, now. He’d gotten good at it, the last three years, but the addition of tinted windows made it a cakewalk that he wasn’t sure he liked having to share with Angel—and every other vampire at Wolfram and Hart, he reminded himself, thinking of Harm’s teary-eyed goodbye. Not that he cared about her, really he didn’t, but she definitely needed a keeper. Someone to remind her that she was a silly bint that needed a bloke to—
No. True love. Going.
Except. . . Spike stared at the ticket in his hand, dark ink blotchy from a printer needing a new drum, the perforations on the edge making him itch to snap each thread of paper. He’d died for her. Not Harmony, who would’ve never appreciated a grand gesture like that. Buffy. His true love. His. . .
Standing in the middle of the docks, people and cargo streaming around him on their busy way to whatever the final destination might be, Spike remembered fire. It was never truly far from his mind, his dreams always red hot and smokey, flames burned yellow-gold behind his eyes to taunt him the moment he relaxed enough. He’d known what he faced, under the high school. Not just death, but the pain of his body dying and the longer agony of his soul remaining. He’d known, accepted, that it was—
Not for her.
Was that why he’d waited so long? Ghostly him was of no use to a girl cutting her ties to her former life, but was solid him really any better? Forget about the romantic ending, something he knew that Buffy didn’t truly understand just like she’d never truly understood him, but what was he going to gain?
He could see the mental fingers ticking, skin sometimes stained yellow and run with blood, sometimes small and delicate and each one still felt like a slice inside him:
Hot sex. . . even though while sex tantalized him with erotic fingers, the thought of sex with Buffy felt wrong. Tainted. Too many nights between cold walls, dripping with condensation, and smelling of desperation.
The woman he loved. . . that didn’t love him in return. Spike could even plan out her reaction, from the shock, to the joy, to the realization of yet another person who wanted something from her, and the crushing weight of memories.
A life he knew. . . he’d hate.
The realization made him blink, focus pulling back from the individual dots of ink to find a small boy staring at him with wide, fathomless eyes. Little sprite had wandered away from his mum, probably, and was sucking on his thumb with nervous curiosity. Such a young thing, this was, full of life and energy and all the things he knew Buffy wanted, for herself and for those she loved.
Something he couldn’t ever give her.
He skipped the office on the way back, choosing a bar at random. Skulked around a bit, still thinking and listening, enough to catch the tail end of a story that made him demand a full repeat. He couldn’t go back yet, face Angel’s smug condescension, even though it hid an understanding Spike couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge. Bloody arrogant bastard would think this meant he’d won, or something. That Spike was giving up, which he was, but he didn’t have to tell his hedgehog majesty that.
He settled next to her at the bar, pre-planned words already tumbling out before she finished the question, half hearted and listless, focusing on him, because he was a selfish asshole: the sacrifice he’d made, the ending he’d created, and just barely hinting on the lack of anything to build on. Shallow, superficial things he knew she’d believe and spread around, one liners to pepper through the gossip that was mother’s milk to a firm like this. She ate it up exactly as he’d thought, her attention distracted, distorted, and Spike had never been any good at lying to himself.
He’d died for more than just one girl. And knowing that, knowing Buffy never would know that, kept him here.
The line of Harmony’s shoulder was curved and soft, body always welcoming to him no matter how often he wished it wasn’t. Her frown, though, was small and sad on lips he’d kissed, and the words pulled out of him, not nearly as mocking as he wished, but still putting a smile on her face.
Yeah, fine, all right. He was a ponce who’d do anything for the girls he loved. Even if it meant staying away.