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Ghost of Future's Past

Spike stumbled forward and fell to his knees. Even then he weaved with dizziness and had to brace himself with his hands on the ground. "Bugger," he cursed, and worked his vision back into focus.

He knelt before a house. It was a familiar, abandoned, dilapidated place. He realized the impossibility of being here, because this house was destroyed, along with all of Sunnydale. It was the place where he and Buffy had first ...

From inside the house came a violent crashing, and Spike lurched to his feet and shook the cobwebs from his head. He heared voices amid the clatter and realized exactly where he was.

His teeth gritted and he whispered, "Shite."

The front door was open. He blew through the front room and saw the two fighting. He saw Buffy shoved brutally against the wall by Spike, and he watched transfixed as his earlier self backhanded her and taunted her.

"I wasn't planning to hurt you ... much."

Buffy spat, "You haven't even come close to hurting me."

"Afraid to give me a chance?"

Buffy's arms shot up to break his hold, then she gripped his jacket and spun him over her hip and into the wall, cracking the plaster. She clutched his throat in a reinforced hold, pinning his head back.

The past Spike cheered her sarcastically, but Buffy pressed her lips against his mouth furiously and cut him off. Spike watched the two with growing distaste as they commenced to make out viciously, damaging the already trashed house. He charged in on them.

"Not this time 'round," he muttered, then bellowed, "Stop it, you bloody git!"

Buffy and Past-Spike recoiled and uncoupled, staring in disbelief. Buffy's eyes darted from one Spike to the other, her hands checking her clothes guiltily. "Spike. What is this?"

The Past-Spike glared at his alter ego. "You didn't have to go make a bleedin' 'bot, Slayer. I'm here. I'm willing."

Spike moved closer. He smiled at his past self disarmingly. His fist sprang out and smacked the past Spike in the nose. "Stupid prat! I'm disgusted to be you."

Past-Spike clutched his nose and glowered. "What's this prattle?"

Spike ignored him. "As long as I'm here - stop it." He faced Buffy guardedly. "That's not really me, you know." He tried to find the right words, failing and angry at himself for his failure. "I won't let you hurt her," he said at last to Past-Spike. "Not now. Not ever."

Buffy grabbed his shoulder and spun him to face her. "Who are you?"

Spike met her eyes. It had been such a long time since he had been with her, and he had to bite down the urge to snatch her into an embrace. "I'm Spike," he said weakly, "I'm him ... only from the future."

Past-Spike scoffed. "Yeah, sure."

Buffy crossed her arms defiantly. "Prove it."

Spike found a rubble pile and sat, gesturing at the pair. "I know what you and him - uh, me - were about to do."

Past-Spike rolled his eyes. "And you stopped us? Some mate you are."

Spike ignored him. "I also know about all the trouble the three nerds are causing you, Buffy. It'll get worse."

Buffy challenged, "How much worse?"

"One of those nerds will shoot you, and Tara will get hit by a stray bullet and die. For revenge, Red gets into some heavy magics, almost ends the world."

Buffy clenched and unclenched her jaw. "Lies."

Spike shrugged. "If you don't believe me, explain what I'm doing here?"

Past-Spike snorted. "If this is true, what will I be doing as this happens?"

"Contained ... elsewhere." Spike answered haltingly.

Buffy's lips were tight. "You leave?"

Spike stood up and worked his shoulders, dying for a smoke. "For a few months. Had to go, couldn't be helped. But I came back."

Buffy nodded. Spike could read the play of emotions in her, the relief, followed by the air of uncaring, as though Spike's presence or absence wasn't important to her. "So, where'd you go?"

"Can't tell you. It doesn't happen for a while yet."

Past-Spike laughed derisively. "Oh, some future boy you are. You break up our snog, then clam up and keep secrets. Don't let the door smack you in the arse on your way out. We have some business to attend to."

Spike threw himself onto Past-Spike and they flew to the ground. Spike knelt on top of his earlier self. "You don't touch her, got it? Not ever."

Past-Spike tried to throw him off, but he held on relentlessly. "Well, why the hell not? I'm you, after all. Don't you have the same feelings?"

Spike got off him, pulled him upright and backed off. "Yes, I have the same feelings, William. I don't want the same things to happen. Not this ... not this way. Tonight wasn't the time."

Buffy stepped between them. "Don't talk like I'm not here."

Spike shrugged. "You shouldn't be here. Go home, don't be seduced by him - by me. You're good, you deserve someone whole."

Buffy took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. "Why are you acting like this? You're not acting like my Spike - I mean, not my Spike, I mean the -"

"I've changed, Buffy," Spike interrupted. "Him? He can't even imagine what I've seen, the things I've gone through. I'm changed. I'm not ... no longer a monster."

Past-Spike clapped his hands.

"What happened?" Buffy asked. "And don't say you can't tell me."

Spike brushed his fingers against her cheek. She shifted her feet uncertainly but didn't move away. Spike felt tears come and he blinked them away.

Buffy regarded him blandly. "I didn't know vampires could cry. Except for ..." she trailed off.

Spike nodded. "Angel," he rasped.

Past-Spike regarded his double searchingly. "I get cursed with a soul?"

Spike shook his head. "No curse, my younger, stupider self. We win our soul back. We fight for it, bleed for it, endure unspeakable agonies."

Buffy grabbed his arm. "Why?"

"Don't fall for that line of shite, Slayer. He's lying. Prob'ly a demon going for a possession, or some robot the dorks have sent to take you off your game. Go on, cut him, or break something, no blood in that fake shite. He's all tears. You won't see the real me blubbering like a baby after the tit."

Spike closed his eyes, reveling in Buffy's touch, the heat from her hand sending sparks through his skin. He loved this, her fire.

"I got it because I hurt you, Buffy. I hurt you, and I swore I would die or get my soul back, because I wanted to give you what you deserved."

"That's what I was going to do," Past-Spike muttered.

Buffy caressed Spike's cheek, and Spike inclined his head into her touch. He longed to kiss her but dared not push, yearned to take her in his arms but held back, the effort overwhelming him so that for a moment he felt woozy and vulnerable. The Spike of the past could kill him if he attacked, he would put up no defense. But Buffy would defend him. This knowledge made him smile. He knew he couldn't have her, but the memory of her lips on his was burned in his memory, which meant that they would kiss. She may be forbidden fruit, but he was destined to have a taste.

Past Spike knocked him to the ground. He leapt on him, ignoring Buffy's cry to stop. "Lyin' wanker!" he snarled and punched. "Go. Away. Bloody liar."

Spike's assurance of Buffy's protection was punched away, and he vamped out in irritation. Grabbing Past-Spike's lapels, he headbutted him and then flipped him over. He got to his feet and kicked Past-Spike in the ribs.

"Quit it dummy," Spike graveled. "We're equally matched, damn you. I am you."

"Bollocks that," Past-Spike returned, and punched at Spike's groin. Spike jumped back and angrily kicked his younger self in the face. Past-Spike fell back, semi-concious.

"Maybe I picked up some better moves along the way," he gloated.

"That was fun," Buffy commented, and took hold of Spike's elbow, steering him to the door. "We need to get to The Magic Box. And get rid of that."

At Spike's look of askance she indicated his face, and he forced it to unvamp, following her dutifully.

Past-Spike stirred. Hate burned in his eyes and he hissed, "This ... isn't over, mate. She's ... mine."

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