Escaping the hubbub of girls inside, Spike retreated out to the back porch. He sat down, finding it strange that the lawn wasn't filled with the potentials training day after day after day. At the moment, they were all fighting over what movie to watch.
Lighting up his cigarette, Spike inhaled deeply and blew out a smoky breath, looking up at the otherwise clear sky.
"Those things will kill you, you know?"
"So I've been told, love," he replied as Buffy dropped onto the step beside him. "But if the world ends tomorrow, I might die anyway."
Buffy looked over at him. "What the hell." She snatched the fag from his hand and took a long drag. Her lips spluttered as she spat the cigarette out, choking on the smoke.
Spike chuckled and took it back.
"I'll never understand what you and Faith see in those things," remarked Buffy.
"I started because it looked cool and I knew it couldn't do me any harm," Spike confessed. "It's not such a high anymore. Just habit."
"Mind you, your teeth are going a bit yellow." The slayer laughed at the vampire's aghast expression. "I'm kidding."
They sat in silence for a few moments before Buffy broke it. "Willow and I were just looking through a few spell books, trying to find something that might help tomorrow."
"Find anything?" Spike asked, curious.
Buffy shook her head. "Nothing for tomorrow. There was one spell, to absorb someone's power. We thought we could use it to absorb the power of any ubervamps we killed but there was a footnote saying that it didn't work with demons."
"Pity, a little extra power would've been useful," Spike sighed in disappointment.
"It was strange," Buffy continued. "The book also said the spell was one of five spells created by some great magician, Cappo-something, none of which worked on demons."
"Really?" asked Spike, wondering where the conversation was going.
"The really wiggy thing was that one of the other spells was the Will-Be-Done spell," Buffy told him, her eyes concentrating on the vampire, waiting for a reaction. "Remember, the one that Willow did, that made us get engaged."
"Yeah, strange," Spike muttered hurriedly, suddenly becoming fidgety.
"And that made me think," Buffy explained. "If the spell didn't work on demons, including vampires, how come it was you that proposed to me?"
Spike froze for a second.
"You're right. That is really weird," he said slowly. "I should probably go make sure that Andrew isn't trying to flirt again," he excused himself, attempting to get up.
Buffy's hand shot out and grabbed his duster. She pulled him back down. "Oh no, you're not getting away with it that easily. You have some explaining to do, Spike."
Resigning, Spike turned to the girl beside him, unable to look her directly in the eye. "You haven't told the others, have you?"
"No, not yet. I thought I'd give you a chance to explain yourself before I let Xander loose and he comes demanding answers."
"Comes to lynch me, more likely," Spike pointed out.
"So?" pressed Buffy. "Why would you pretend to love me? If it happened a year later, I could understand it. But 1999? You hated me." She looked at his face. "Didn't you?"
"Not hated. Even though I'd never have admitted it, I was grateful."
"Yeah, if it weren't for you, love, I'd have starved. That chip meant that I couldn't kill, and I was too stubborn and bloody proud to go to the butcher's myself."
"You would have given in eventually," she reminded him.
"No I wouldn't. I would have felt like I was sinking to Peaches' level." Spike shuddered.
"But even if you didn't hate me, why would you ask me to marry you?"
"I might not have hated you, but I didn't particularly like you. Then, that day, we were in the middle of an argument and all of a sudden, there was this zap, like electricity. All these ideas sprung into my head, ideas of love for you. They muddled up among my own thoughts."
"That was the same for me," Buffy remembered.
"Yeah, but I could separate mine from my real thoughts and feelings," Spike explained. "When I looked at you, I could see it in your eyes that the same had happened to you, except yours weren't separate."
"What do you mean 'you could see it in my eyes'?" interrupted Buffy.
"You had the look of a lovesick schoolgirl."
"No, I didn't!" snapped an offended Buffy.
"Yes, you did, love. But it was cute," he smiled. "Anyway, I guessed it was some kind of love spell or something but thought that maybe I could have a little fun."
"So you proposed?"
"So, I proposed. It was the first thing I thought of," Spike sighed, rubbing his head with his hands. "There was a horrible moment when I thought you were going to say no and that I'd got the whole situation wrong. Now that would have been embarrassing."
"That would have been hilarious," Buffy laughed, imagining Xander mocking Spike for months on end.
"But obviously, you, like all other women, succumbed to my charms and good-looks," Spike grinned. "So I played along, laughing whenever Rupert and the others made looks of disgust."
"You were mocking me, while I was – for one day at least – in love with you?" questioned Buffy, a little hurt.
"Love, I didn't have a soul, had just been cursed with a chip and had spent the last couple of weeks chained in your watcher's bathtub. It was the best fun I'd had for weeks."
"I guess, now that we're friends, when I look back, I was quite funny."
"My favourite bit was when I told Xander he was off the usher's list," Spike smirked, recalling at the look of complete horror as Xander had watched the bride-to-be kiss her groom.
"But, what about all the disgust afterwards?"
"In the crypt, when all the demons disappeared and you stopped kissing me, I realised that Willow or Anya must have broken the spell. You expressed your utter abhorrence, so I did the same."
The slayer shrugged. "I guess that explains your delayed reaction," she said, slightly miserable. Her head turn away from him.
"I'm sorry, love. I didn't mean to hurt you," Spike apologised, regretting it more than anything. "I thought you knew it wasn't real."
"I know." Buffy turned back, a weak, fake smile shining through her tears.
"Buff," Spike whispered. "If I could go back and change it, I-"
"No," she stopped him quickly. "Don't say you would change it."
"Because…" Buffy looked down at her hands, the loose thread on her sleeve suddenly becoming prime-time entertainment. "Because, for the only time in my entire life, I was just a normal girl, in love, planning her perfect wedding. And…I'm never going to get that." She burst into tears.
Spike's arm wrapped around her shoulders. "Buffy I…I didn't know."
"It's not your fault." She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand; it was useless as more tears kept falling.
"You want to know a secret?" he asked, hoping to cheer her up.
"Remember you were saying that wedding planning made you feel normal?"
"Uhuh," Buffy responded.
"It made me feel human," Spike admitted. "For the first time in over a hundred years, I felt like I could do anything that any human could. I probably would have walked in the sunlight, if we were discussing seating arrangements or venues or something."
"I wouldn't recommend that. At least you had a normal relationship with Drusilla."
"Normal? Drusilla?" Spike raised an eyebrow.
"Normal for a vampire. Looks like I'm the only one who can't achieve normal. I'm the slayer. I'm not meant to have a normal relationship."
"You will, Buffy," Spike promised. "When all this is over, you will."
"When all this is over, they'll be another vampire, another fight, another apocalypse. I mean, look at my track record. First there was Angel: I slept with him, took his soul, killed him and once he came back, I moaned so much about having such a complicated life that he ran away to LA."
"Love," he began but she continued.
"Then it was Riley, a perfectly nice guy, who felt like he had to risk his life to be with me and became addicted to having his blood sucked by vampires. Then he disappeared too."
"Love, stop torturing yourself," Spike begged.
"Last it was you."
"Nothing's wrong with me, love. And I'm not going to run away, either."
"I led you on, for months. When it started, I knew I didn't love you, that I didn't even like you most of the time. But I used you. For a while, you helped me forget the hell I was living in."
"Buffy," he said, twisting her to face him. "I let you use me. I could see what was happening between us but I ignored it. I didn't want to believe it."
"I'm so sorry. If I'd have admitted how I felt, things might be so different."
"You did admit it," Spike told her. "You ended things, when I would have let it carry on if you wanted. You're my kryptonite, Buffy. I can't say no to you."
"But those weren't my feelings, at least not at the end. By that point, I was…ashamed, for feeling those things. I couldn't even admit it to myself. I even asked Tara to find out why I let you do those things to me. I should have been asking why I wanted you to do those things. Why I wanted you."
"Buffy," he said cautiously, "don't pretend. What are you saying?"
"I'm saying I was wrong to end it. I was lying to myself as much as you when said I didn't love you."
"Buffy, you…" Spike trying to think what he was trying to say. "You know how I feel about you. You know that I love you."
"Of course," Buffy clarified. "I just don't want to ruin everything."
"Tell me, love." He cupped her cheek in his left hand and stroked her lips with the other. "Nothing you say is ever wrong, as far as I'm concerned."
Her lips moved, forming the shapes of words but without making any noise.
"Love, I might be a vampire with super scent and hearing. But you have to say the words for me to hear them. I can't mind read."
"Thank god," Buffy, murmured.
"Oi! That I heard!"
She smiled and waited a second or two, building up the courage to confesses feelings that had been supressed for years.
"I love you, Spike," she whispered.
"Buffy, I know," Spike told her.
"What?" Buffy's head jerked up to look at him. "I only just admitted it to myself, let alone you, or anyone else."
"I've known ever since Willow's stupid Will-Be-Done spell. I felt it in your kiss."
"That was the spell," Buffy rolled her eyes. "Anyway, you can't tell something like that from a kiss."
"Of course you can. A kiss can show anger or happiness or fear or love. And nothing, not even a spell, can create love. I felt it, Buffy. Those kisses, they were kisses of love, not of a spell."
"How do you know that i-"
Buffy's question was never finished, her lips halted as Spike's lips gently touched hers.
The kiss wasn't filled with the fire she remembered from their long nights together the year before. Nor was it filled with the childish lust of a schoolgirl crush that she recalled from her time with Angel. It wasn't even the kisses that changed her from a girl to a woman that she shared with Riley.
It was a kiss that helped her to understand what Spike was talking about.
Each movement felt embellished and accentuated.
It was no longer just his lips that she could feel either. His arms encircled her, pulling her close and her fingers twisted up in his hair. The other hand ran from his ear, down his jaw, along the bite mark on his neck, and around to the top of his back, where it rested, clinging, holding on.
If she let go, he might disappear.
Buffy could feel Spike's need, his pleading, and his wanting. She could feel his worry that in a few moments, this could all vanish.
She could feel his love.
Their lips parted but their eyes connected.
"Buffy, I lov-"
"Shhh," she told him, putting one finger on his lips to stop him saying anymore.
"You've said it enough. I need to make it equal."
"Well, that's going to take a while, love," Spike smirked, earning him an elbow in the ribs.
"I'd better start now, hadn't I?" Buffy smiled and spoke the words as though she savoured every one. "Spike, I love you."
Spike closed his eyes to soak up the words. "You have no idea how long I've been waiting for that."
"Yes, I do. And I'm sorry that it took so long. I mean, I waited until the end of the world."
"It's not the end, Buffy. I promise."
"Spike," she started slowly, "for all we know-"
"I forbid it. I promised you a normal relationship, and you will get one."
"We will get one, William," she stressed.
"Exactly," Spike smiled as his name trailed off her lips, "and we can't do that if we're dead, can we?"
There was a pause for a few moments.
"Thank you, Spike." Buffy leaned her head on his shoulder and he put his arm around hers.
"For what, love?"
"For always saying the right thing."
"And what's that then?"
The slayer looked lovingly into the eyes of the vampire.
"You say something true."