Summary: Two years after NFA, Buffy is about to leave the country when she sees Spike on TV. Thought to be dead, he’s anything but – except he has no memories of who or what he once was. Buffy decides to return to California in hopes of seeing Spike again. She finds herself falling in love with a man who calls himself John, who has found contentment in a career he loves and in a new lifestyle that would have been impossible for him to be a part of in the past. It isn’t long, though, before their budding relationship is threatened when the secrets of their past come out.
Disclaimer: This story is not for profit and no copyright infringement is intended.
One Glorious Summer
It was half past ten when Buffy climbed into the cab at LAX and gave Angel’s address to the driver. Exhausted and with a headache, she requested that the light be turned on. She opened the book that she’d picked up at the airport in Cleveland and began reading Chapter five. She would have been further along if she hadn’t sat gazing at the black and white photo on the back of the dust jacket for most of her flight. Suddenly, she closed the book and turned it over.
Spike, but without the bleached hair. She could tell, even with the absence of color, that his eyes were a clear blue. Touching her finger to his lips, she longed to hear him talk again. She had no idea how long she’d been staring at the picture, but she jumped when the driver had to tell her that they’d arrived at her destination.
“Are you sure this is where you want to be dropped off, lady? Place looks abandoned.”
She handed him a fifty-dollar bill. “This is it.”
With her luggage at her feet, her carry-on bag across her shoulder and the book tucked under her arm, she watched the cab go around the corner and then she turned to stare at the hotel that had been her home for close to two years. She’d been gone just two weeks and she wasn’t happy to be back. She grabbed her bags and, ignoring the boarded up front doors, she went into the alley to a side door and punched the code in the keypad. The door unlocked with a sharp click and she pushed her way inside.
It was quiet and dark in the kitchen, but she knew it would be. With all the slayers gone, it would just be Angel and Illyria.
Buffy left her bags by the back exit and crossed the large space, going through the swinging double doors and turning the corner. The only light in the lobby came from the window in Angel’s office. She held the book against her chest and knocked.
She heard fumbling and then the door flew open with Angel standing on the other side, ready to do battle.
“It’s just me!”
“Buffy?” The sword hit the floor with a loud clank. “What are you doing here? I thought you were in Cleveland.”
The book on his desk caught her eye and she held up her own copy. “This.”
The surprised look turned sour, but he offered her a seat before he rounded the desk and got settled in his chair. “I was hoping you wouldn’t see that.”
She tried without success to keep the hope out of her voice. “It’s him, isn’t it?”
“I think so, but I can’t say for sure. There was an article in the calendar section of The L.A. Times, with dates for book signings. I wasn’t sure if the picture was really him, so I went to his only night time signing two days ago and bought this copy.” Angel opened to the first page and scowled at the scrawled ink on the paper. “Even got it signed.”
With white knuckles, she gripped her book and leaned forward in her seat. “Did he recognize you?”
“No, but the article in the paper says he has amnesia and we didn’t have a conversation. He barely even glanced at me before he took the book from the person behind me.”
Buffy nodded. “I saw an interview that he did on T.V. I think… I mean…”
“He says he does his writing while relaxing at the beach.”
In a rush of words said through gritted teeth, Angel said, “He’s human. The Shanshu Prophecy.”
The thought of Spike as human was too crazy to comprehend. She couldn’t see it, even though she’d actually seen him on live television. “I thought that was about…you.”
Angel stood up, hitting his palms against the desk. “It was about me.” He turned away from her, looked to the ceiling and then faced her again. “He has a heartbeat. I heard it loud and strong—he didn’t even want it! Not really. I mean sure, he fought me for it once, but only because he wanted to beat me and maybe it was a little bit about winning for you, but he liked being a vampire.”
As she watched her ex-boyfriend gesticulate wildly and complain about Spike, Buffy’s head was spinning with it all. Angel reminded her of the three-year-old girl that had been on the plane. She’d asked for ice cream and had kicked at the seat in front of her and hit her mother when she was told no. And yet, Buffy felt for Angel. He was all about redemption and now it was even more out of reach while he was stuck in a huge, rundown hotel, all alone. She had to remind herself that he had brought all of this down on himself when he’d agreed to become head of Wolfram and Hart.
Angel hadn’t really grown all that much since she’d met him when she was a sophomore in high school. Buffy had matured, changed and hoped she’d grown up. But Angel was still Angel. When she’d moved to L.A. with her group of a dozen young slayers, they’d slowly become friends again, always keeping just enough distance between them. Both had realized within days that any magic that had existed once between them was long gone.
“Do you mind if I stay in my old room tonight?” she asked as she stood.
“Stay as long as you like.” The vampire sounded tired. He gazed at her, a slight frown still marring his features. “You know you’re always welcome.”
“Thanks. I’ll just go get my bags.”
She turned to walk out, but Angel stopped her with a question. “What are you planning to do?”
It was none of his business. With her jaw set and her back to him, she said, “I’ll be gone in the morning.”
~ * ~ * ~
Despite having stayed up most of the night, Buffy was wide-awake. She sat on the steps in front of the hotel as the sky turned pink, and waited for the rental car company to deliver the Ford Focus that she’d ordered last night with her Council issued credit card. The day promised to be hot and dry, her sundress already sticking to her back. She was looking forward to getting to the beach where the breeze would be some relief.
She squinted at the pages of the book in her lap, hoping to finish Chapter ten. Spike was a good storyteller, but it was painful to read. He might not think he could remember his past, but the words on the page proved that his memories were still there, somewhere.
When her car arrived, the driver rushed her through the signing of the paperwork as another car idled behind him. As soon as he had her last set of initials, he grabbed the clipboard and without even saying ‘have a good day’, he hopped into the passenger side of the other car and they sped off. She couldn’t blame him. This part of L.A. was still in shambles and the buildings stood empty; even the homeless avoided the area.
Buffy got in the small blue car and took a deep breath, her hands on the wheel. First thing to do was figure out where she was going, since she’d only been there a few times before, years ago. She took the map out of the glove compartment, spread it open and traced her finger over the route she would need to take to get to Redondo Beach. If memory served her correctly, she would be able to park close to the shoreline if she got there early enough. It was the first week of summer vacation for the schools and the parking lot would fill up quickly.
Her stomach gurgled, but just the thought of eating made her sick to her stomach. Spike’s face would come to mind as she thought of seeing him again and her stomach would roll with nerves. Maybe when she got close, she could grab a bite to eat, but for now, her only goal was getting to that beach. Before turning the car on, she flipped the visor down and checked her makeup in the tiny mirror. She gingerly touched the corner of her eye and wiped away a small smudge of eyeliner. She couldn’t remember the last time that she’d paid this much attention to her appearance, and she scowled at her reflection before starting the car up.
Buffy kept the volume down on the radio, the top forty songs just drowning out the hum of the fast moving car. As she navigated the freeway system, she had a lot of time to think. Spike was human. What would he be like? He couldn’t remember who and what he’d been and she was curious to find out how much he was changed by that. Her heart soared at the thought of seeing Spike again. The traffic cleared a bit and she accelerated.
She didn’t even know what she was going to do if and when she saw Spike. She just knew she had to see him in person.
By the time she got off the freeway, she was hungry enough to pull into a McDonald’s drive-thru. She ate as she drove the last two miles to the beach, but couldn’t finish it once she was in the parking lot, next to the tall apartment complex that ended at the sand. The lot was already more than half-full. She parked, checked her teeth and then popped a stick of Winterfresh gum in her mouth.
Stalling, she tied her hair back and pulled a visor out of her bag, taking more time than was necessary to adjust it. With her heart pounding like crazy, she got out of the car, reached into her beach bag and put her sunglasses on. Now that she was here, she was unsure of what to do. Spike hadn’t said he went to the beach every day to write. He could be off signing books or doing more interviews for all she knew, but she was here now and it wouldn’t hurt to look.
It was a short walk to the steps that led down to the sand. Buffy stood at the top and scanned the crowded beach. There were a few umbrellas scattered about and surfers were coming back to shore after riding the early swells. The younger crowd was just starting to show up and many groups were laying down their towels. She paid close attention to any man that she noticed but, to her great disappointment, none resembled Spike.
She descended the steps, crossed the busy paved path called The Strand and nearly fell over when she went by a low umbrella. She stopped before she could see his face, but his legs were in the sun, a laptop perched comfortably on his knees as he tapped away. She’d know those hands anywhere. Backing up a few steps, she tried not to hyperventilate.
Think, Buffy. Should I find a spot where he can see me, or should I put my blanket down where I can see him without him letting him know I’m here?
He was set so far back from the water, almost up against the slope to The Strand, parking lot and apartment buildings, that she doubted she could find an angle where he couldn’t see her without having to stay behind the umbrella where she wouldn’t be able to see his face. She wanted to see his face. So bad was the desire that her hands trembled. Two girls in bikinis went by her, their feet kicking up sand that hit her legs. They both gave her curious glances, but kept going.
“John!” a guy with long blond hair and a surfboard under his arm said as he trotted up from the water. “You missed some glorious sets.” The guy planted his board into the sand on the other side of the umbrella, unzipped his wetsuit and leaned down to get a good look at the computer screen. “Aren’t you done with that thing yet?”
Buffy took the opportunity to skirt around the umbrella, not even daring to look at Spike, and set up her blanket a few feet away from them, but level with them. She figured this way she would be able to steal glances at him. As they talked, she pulled the sundress over her head, revealing her yellow bikini.
“No, I’m not close to being done.” Spike closed his laptop and glared at the surfer. “And don’t drip on the keyboard, mate. Can’t afford to have this thing short out.”
“Dude, you could afford it.”
Buffy’s heart clenched at the smirk on Spike’s face, but did a double take when she noticed the gold, wire-rimmed glasses. He shrugged as the surfer sat down with him and then his face was blocked from her view. “You’re right, but I don’t have this last bit of story backed up yet. That I can’t afford to lose. Got a bloody deadline I have to meet.”
He was barefoot, his legs lightly sprinkled with hair like she remembered, but the tan was something different. His dark brown cargo shorts looked as if they’d been through the wash countless times.
The surfer jumped up and grabbed his board. “Well, I’m going back to the apartment to get something to eat. It’s getting too crowded for my taste.” He scowled at a group of people laughing as they walked by. “Is it me or are these high school kids getting younger and younger?”
“It’s just you, mate. Sucks getting older, I know, but that’s life.”
“You coming with?”
“No. I’m still feeling it. I’ll be up in an hour or so, unless I fall asleep.” As his friend jogged towards the steps, Spike called out to him, “Don’t eat all the roast beef.”
Busying herself, she covered her legs with sunscreen and watched him out of the corner of her eye as he reached into a small ice chest and opened a frosty beer. He looked so good with his light blue shirt unbuttoned, his abs and chest just as toned as she remembered them. Unable to stand it any longer, she lowered her head until she was stretched out on the blanket and staring up at the blue sky.
She had no idea what to do next. Would it be right to tell him who he had been? He seemed so content just as he was now. He had at least one friend, a job he seemed to like and a peaceful existence. The thought crossed her mind that she should just get up and leave, head towards LAX and take that assignment in Ireland.
Instead, she stayed where she was, letting the tapping of Spike’s keyboard, the gentle roar of the ocean and the call of gulls lull her into a light sleep.
TBC ~ On my personal LJ. Updates will happen twice a week.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/355098.html