|Okay, so now we've
all seen "Grave", and we know that Spike has had his soul returned to him, because he wanted to "give Buffy what she
deserves." I'd like to assume that this is really what he wanted all along (of course, I have been known as a longterm resident of the first class cabin "Hope" on the cruiser "Denile", too - consider this just a warning that what you're about to read is complete and utter speculation on my part regarding Season 7). But his words were more like "make me what I was" - and he never was a vampire with a soul. He was a man.
He hadn't intended to let himself be seen. It was his own curiosity that doomed him - he knew that she would be out patrolling and had found himself a vantage point where he thought to remain undiscovered. He'd been watching her for a week already and was sure he knew the pattern of her movements through the cemeteries.
He didn't know what to make of the fact that she was wearing his coat, the one he'd left behind in his haste to get away that awful day. Though it was clearly too large for her, it didn't seem to impede her movements at all. She was as beautiful and as dangerous as ever, and it both soothed and savaged his heart to see her again.
After she had passed by, he climbed down from the roof of the crypt from where he had been watching and set out again for home. Clem was still staying with him, though he would have preferred solitude, and he had sworn his friend to secrecy on the topic of his return. He knew that Dawn had taken a liking to stopping in to visit, and wasn't ready to see her again yet either, so he hid when she came by.
He was completely taken by surprise when he came upon the Slayer in the space between two mausoleums. She whirled with deadly grace to strike, stopping herself only fractions of an inch from his flesh when she realized his identity. You'd get a most unpleasant surprise if you hadn't, he thought.
"Spike!" she exclaimed, her mouth agape. "You're the one who's been following me around all week? When did you get back?"
"It's been a few weeks now," he admitted, and her face fell. "I said I was sorry." Her presence near him licked at him like fire, and his newly won conscience twinged at the memory of what he had nearly done to her.
"Yes, you did," she said shortly, meaning that the apology really wasn't the issue any more. Silence awkwardly filled the space between them.
Having become accustomed to long silences with only himself for company, he waited her out. Buffy broke the stillness first.
"Did you . . . find what you wanted . . . what you left for?" she ventured at last.
And how do I answer that question? he wondered. Do I tell you that I can't sleep for the pounding of my heart in my ears - a sound that I haven't heard for more than a century? That even just talking to you now has it hammering in my chest? I'm surprised you can't hear it yourself. I love you more than I would have thought possible before, but I can hardly stomach remembering all the things I've done to you. And now, having unwittingly transformed myself into someone you might not find it impossible to love, I don't know if I could even bear the strength of your embrace any longer. I'm stronger than any normal man, but I still don't know exactly what I am.
All this and more burned wildfire through his mind in the space it took him to blink twice and look away. "I . . . I don't want to talk about it," was all he managed.
"Is that all you have to say?" she asked angrily. "After four months? I - Dawn was worried sick about you."
He spread his arms apologetically wide; da Vinci's Infinite Man rendered in flesh and blood. "Ecce homo," he said, knowing full well she wouldn't understand. Behold the man.
He whirled abruptly and left for home and the comfort of solitude, grateful when he heard no pursuit.
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