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And Lethe's Fetters Break

"Come, blessed power, thy mystic's mem'ry wake
To holy rites, and Lethe's fetters break."
Orphic Hymn 77 to Mnemosyne.

 

Prologue

Sunnydale - June 2007

"Dollar!"

The golden retriever bounded along the beach, turning towards the young blonde woman excitedly at her shout, before continuing with his run. They walked the same route every morning before the day had fully begun, when all that could be heard was the roar of the ocean and the cry's of the birds overhead. Some days they played together, on others his mistress would sit and stare out across the water and he would stay close to her, understanding on some level her need for the peace and quiet. Today she was walking at the water's edge, strappy sandals swinging in her hands as she followed her beloved dog. She lifted her face to the morning sun and smiled.

A sudden bark made her look round sharply. "Dollar!" she called again as she followed the dog's frantic barking, towards to a more secluded spot, hidden from the rest of the beach by the cliff point. "Dollar! Here, boy! What's wrong baby?" She stopped short as she rounded the curve of the bay and found Dollar standing over the body a man. The dog turned towards her and gave another bark before turning back to the man and licking encouragingly at the side of his face.

"Oh my God," Anya breathed as she stumbled forward towards the man lying naked and unconscious on the beach. She looked around for any sign of what might have brought him there but, finding nothing, she sank down onto the sand next to him. "Hey! Sir? Can you hear me? Oh God. No move out of the way Dollar." She pushed the animal gently to one side and turned the man's face toward her.

She screamed.

Dollar started to bark again as his mistress began to cry, heaving sobs wracking her small body. "Spike?" she gasped out finally, her voice hoarse. "Spike? Spike, wake up!" she started screaming her small hands shaking the prone body before her. "Spike! Wake up!"

The man moaned. His head shook slowly from side to side and Anya sat back slightly, her hands resting on his chest as she waited for him to come round. "Spike?"
He blinked a couple of times and flinched at the morning sun, shining brightly into his eyes. He raised one hand up to shield them as he pushed himself into a sitting position with the other. He felt two warm hands move to help him and squinted at the woman he found kneeling next to him. "Thanks."

Anya's face lit up and she threw her arms around him. "Oh thank God. Thank God you're home. We've missed you so much."
The man froze as the former demon wrapped her arms around him and stared down at the top of her head confused. "I'm sorry," he croaked and coughed to try and clear his dry throat.
"No. No, it's fine. Don't worry about it. Everything's going to be alright now, you'll see."
"No," he interrupted the young woman's reassurances. "Sorry, I meant… Do I know you?"

Anya sat back as though she had been slapped and the young man instantly felt bad. He opened his mouth to try and explain but Anya beat him to it. "What do you mean, 'do I know you?' It's me. Anya." He continued to stare blankly at her. "You know this isn't funny Spike. You can't just disappear for five years and then turn up and pretend that…" She stopped suddenly and looked up towards the sky and then back at the man sitting in front of her. "How did you do that?" she asked him, ignoring the bewildered expression on his face. "How are you doing that?"
"What?"
"Not burning like that."

The man closed his eyes against the young woman's searching gaze and took a deep breath. "I don't know what you're talking about. I can't remember…"
"What?"
He searched his mind, trying to find some memory to explain who he was or where he was, or even who the blonde woman next to him was. There was nothing. He couldn't remember anything about his life. His eyes clouded with fear and he pushed himself to his feet, backing away from the woman still staring at him intently.
"Spike…"
"What? Who? I don't remember… I can't remember anything? Who am I? Who are you?"
"Spike, please," Anya begged quickly jumping up to follow him. "You have to calm down."
"Do I? Why do I? Where am I? I don't… I don't…"

He stumbled backwards onto the beach and Anya ran to help him. "It's ok. Everything's going to be ok. I'm a friend. I'm your friend and everything will be just fine. We'll have your memory back in no time. You'll see. Now, let's get you home."


Chapter 1

With a blanket wrapped around his naked form, Anya led the man up the front walk to her house. The front door opened immediately into the living room and Anya ushered him inside, smiling proudly as he looked around. "It's ok if you don't recognise anything. You've never been here." She gestured towards the couch, tossing her keys onto the table by the door. "Make yourself comfortable. I need to make a call."

Nodding slightly, the man stepped down into the living room, towards the couch. He felt uncomfortable, knowing that the woman's phone call was about him and tried to push his feelings of fear to the back of his mind. Spotting a series of pictures on the mantelpiece, he moved closer. Most were of Anya, some with a group of friends, others with a young man, including in pride of place, a wedding photo. The young woman stood, radiant in white, beaming up at the same dark haired man. Next to him stood a pretty redhead, who looked almost as happy as the newly married couple, even in the hideous green bridesmaid dress she had been forced to wear. She was clutching the hand of another bridesmaid, blonde this time, whose long hair fell forward, obscuring part of her face. Her eyes however were fixed solely on the redhead. The two were clearly in love.

With a smile, the man turned his attention to the other two people in the photo, who were standing next to Anya, once again wearing the dreaded green dresses. The girl standing immediately next to Anya was the younger of the two. Her dark hair fell down to her waist and her face was lit up with a beautiful smile. He unconsciously reached out his hand to touch the image of her face, but pulled his hand back sharply as his eyes drifted to the final blonde bridesmaid, standing next to the taller brunette.

He suddenly felt as though all the air had been sucked from the room, and his breathing became shallower as his eyes remained fixed on the young woman. She was smiling as brightly as the others in the photo, but it didn't reach her eyes. They were screaming in desperation and depression, staring longingly at point far beyond the camera. For a moment he felt a burning desire to wrap his arms around her and take all the pain she felt away, to keep her safe, to slay her demons and leave her nothing but happiness.

He stepped back hurriedly away from the picture, turning his back on the tiny blonde with the sad eyes that seemed to reach right into his very soul.

****

The phone was answered on the second ring.

"Good morning, Sunnydale & District High School, how can I help?"
"I need to speak to Willow Rosenburg."
"I'm sorry Miss Rosenburg is in a staff meeting at the moment, can I take a mes…"
"No. I need you to go and get her for me now. It's an emergency," Anya explained, trying her best to remain calm and avoid biting her fingernails, which were always the first casualty when she was stressed.
"May I ask what kind of emergency?"
"A family one," Anya insisted, using their usual phrase to signal trouble. As she waited for her friend to be called to the phone, Anya wondered exactly how many 'family emergencies' Willow had had since she started working at the high school.

It took less than a minute for Willow to reach the phone. "Buffy?"
"No it's me."
"An? Are you ok? What's…?"
"You have to come right now. I need you."
"Is it Buffy? Is she hurt? Where are you?"
"It's not Buffy. It's Spike."
There was a lengthy pause.
"I'm on my way."

****

"Willow's on her way," Anya explained as she stepped back into the living room, where Spike sat nervously on the end of the couch, still wrapped in the blanket. He glanced up at her as she entered the room, but gave no indication of recognising Willow's name.
"Do you remember Willow?"
He shook his head.
"Well she's your friend. Was. Sort of. She'll help you. It's what she does. She has all this guilt and… And this isn't helping at all is it?"
Spike shook his head.
"Do you remember anything?"
"No."

"Can I get you something?"
"I'm fine."
"Do you want another blanket? There might be some clothes that would fit you. I'll go check."
"Anya…"
"What?" she asked excitedly turning back to him. "Do you remember something?"
"No…"
"But you called me Anya!"
"It's your name. You told me on the beach remember."
"Spike…"

"Stop calling me that!" he shouted, jumping up from the seat. "I don't… What is that? It can't be my name."
"It's a nickname," Anya told him quietly, watching him apprehensively.
"Spike? Why?"
She stared at him for a moment, trying to find an answer that wouldn't scare him to death. "I don't… You've just always been Spike. William is your real name."
He looked up at her, some of the anger receding from his eyes. "William? William what?"
"I don't…"
"You don't know?"
Anya shook her head, stepping back from him, her eyes clouding with tears as she watched her friend's struggle.

He didn't say anymore. He didn't ask how she could claim to be his friend when she didn't even know his full name. He simply sank back down onto the couch and tried his best to ignore her. Staring fixedly at the coffee table he was surprised and grateful when a glass was placed in front of him.
"You've had a bad shock," Anya murmured as she sat down next to him. "It's brandy. Drink it."
He took the glass and turned to face her. "You not joining me? You've had a bad shock too. Apparently."
Anya smiled wryly. "I don't drink." She smiled when his scarred eyebrow inched higher in surprise.
"What?"
"You used to do that," she said pointing at the scar. "You used to…" she stopped and looked away and they lapsed once more into an uncomfortable silence.


Chapter 2

Upon hanging up the phone Willow had immediately left the high school without a second thought to the students waiting in class for her or to Principal Wood who watched her with narrowed eyes as she dashed from the building. She drove flat out across town to Anya's, running two red lights on the way.

Parking haphazardly in the driveway, Willow jumped from the car and ran towards the house, gasping for breath as she threw the door open. Her eyes immediately found Spike on the couch and she froze in the doorway, staring at him.

Anya had jumped up from her seat as her friend had entered and Spike noticed she let out a faint breath of relief at the redhead's appearance. "Surprise!"
"Willow?" Spike asked Anya, nodding towards the woman in the doorway.
Anya nodded. "Yes. Sp… William this is…"
But Willow wasn't paying attention. In two steps she had crossed the room and thrown her arms around the nervous young man. "Oh God!" Still holding him tightly Willow began to sob, laying her head against his shoulder. "Where have you been?" she whispered eventually.
"I… I, uh…" he looked towards Anya over the top of Willow's head for help.
The young witch stepped back and looked at him. "What?" She turned to Anya and then back to Spike. "What?"

"He doesn't remember anything," Anya explained gently and Spike fidgeted slightly, stepping further away from Willow. "I found him on the beach this morning," he heard the blonde continue as he turned his back to them and his eyes drifted once again to the photos on top of the fire. "Alive, unconscious and not the slightest bit on fire." He frowned at that. It was the second time Anya had mentioned him not being on fire. Why should he ever be on fire? "So Will, please explain to me what's going on."

Willow watched Spike as he gazed at Anya and Xander's wedding photo. She waited for him to make a comment, to tell how awful she looked in her bridesmaid dress, to ask her when exactly she and Tara had made up. When he said nothing, she turned to Anya, her face showing a small amount of fear. The blonde shrugged and shook her head.

"Where are his clothes?" Willow asked finally and Spike swung round to face her wide-eyed, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth as she blushed. "I mean… uh…"
"I was just going to get him something," Anya explained as Spike turned away from them again, the smile still lingering around his lips.
"I'll come with you," Willow told her, following her upstairs. "We'll just be a minute."
"Take your time," Spike muttered as he was left alone once again.

****

"Should we tell Buffy?" Anya asked as soon as the bedroom door closed behind them.
Willow closed her eyes and sank down onto the bed. "We'll have to." She paused and opened her eyes, looking determinedly at her friend. "But not yet."
"Willow…" Anya began to argue but was immediately cut off.
"We'll talk to Giles first."
"And Faith?"
"No."

Anya took a deep breath, shaking her head at the witch. "Will, we have to tell the truth. That's the whole reason this happened. Buffy needs to know."
"How?" Willow shouted jumping up to face Anya, who waved her hands emphatically for the redhead to lower her voice. "How can we tell her that now?" she continued more quietly. "It's too late. Getting Spike's memory back has to be our priority from now on."

"Why bother?" Anya asked nastily, twisting her face. "As soon as he remembers he'll leave again. She's getting married."
"I know that."
"And you want that?" Anya pleaded, her tone causing Willow's lower lip to tremble. "You want that, when we know…"
"We don't know anything," Willow growled, steeling herself against the confusion Spike's reappearance and Anya's words were causing. "That was years ago."

"She hasn't changed her mind."
"How do you know?"
"Willow, for God's sake. You know as well as I do. She's never once believed he was dead. Even when Dawn gave up hope, Buffy was determined that he was out there somewhere. She said she could feel him."
"So?" Willow asked, pretending she had no idea what Anya was talking about.
"So, you don't think it's strange that she can't feel the man she's going to marry when he's ten feet away, but knows for a fact her former lover is undead and well thousands of miles away?"
Willow said nothing.

"Look," Anya said finally, rubbing her hands over her face and through her hair as Willow started to pace back and forth between the door and the bed. "Buffy deserves to be happy. And if going through with this wedding makes her happy then fine. We'll go, we'll sit, we'll laugh, we'll throw rice at them and then we'll pray to whoever will listen that they have a wonderful life together. But she needs to know the truth Will. Because if she goes through with this and she really is still in love with Spike…"
"Ok," the redhead agreed as Anya stopped. "We'll tell her. But please let's find the right time?" Anya nodded. "I'll tell her he's back. That'll be a big enough shock right now," Willow continued. "You'll talk to Giles?"

"Yeah," Anya said, rifling through the bottom drawer of her dresser and pulling out a pair of black sweat pants and grey t-shirt. "He's going to freak."
"Well I can tell Giles," Willow offered hopefully as they walked towards the door. "And you can tell…"
Anya smirked at her friend. "Nice try Red," she said using Spike's old nickname for her. "How stupid do you think I am?"


Chapter 3

Willow's car pulled up in front of the day care centre and the redheaded Witch stepped slowly from it, her eyes fixed on the diminutive blonde who was, at that moment, rounding up a group of half a dozen four year olds.

"Mommy!"

Buffy looked up as her godson ran shrieking across the playground and jumped straight into his mother's arms. "Hey Will."
Willow hugged her son close and pressed a kiss to the top of his head. "Hey," she greeted Buffy with a smile and turned back to her son. "Have you been good for Auntie Buffy today?"
"He's always good. Aren't you Alex?"
The boy nodded enthusiastically. "Auntie Buffy says the vampires will eat me if I'm naughty."
Willow looked back at her friend who blushed. "She did, did she? Why don't you go back inside with the others and let Auntie Buffy and I have a little chat huh?"
Alex quickly kissed his mother's cheek and wriggled from her arms, hurtling across the playground to join his friends.

"Vampires?" Willow asked, trying not to smirk at her friend. She knew Buffy was incredible with the children at the centre and would only have mentioned vampires to Alex if he had been doing something especially naughty. She also knew however that Buffy took these little slips more seriously than anyone else.
"It was months ago," Buffy explained at last, sitting down at one of the tables. "He poured a bottle of paint onto Emily Pearson's hair."
"He what?" Willow exclaimed, not believing that Buffy had never brought this up before.
"Months ago," Buffy reminded her friend gently. "And he's never put a foot wrong since. Vampire's are good for something after all."

The mention of vampires brought Willow back to the reason for her visit and she immediately sobered. Buffy picked up on the change of mood immediately. "What? What's wrong? Vampires? Demons? Apocalypse number two thousand and fifteen?"
Willow opened her mouth but found she couldn't think of what to say. She had practiced a speech on the way there, but sitting here with Buffy, it all seemed so inadequate. "No it's not... it's nothing bad. Well I don't think it's bad. At least…" she trailed off and looked away, nervously pushing her hair back behind her ears.

"Will, whatever it is you can tell me. You know that right?"
"Buffy, this is really hard." The Slayer tilted her head slightly, willing the Witch to continue. "Oh God. Ok. I'm just going to say it. Please, please, try not to freak ok?" Buffy nodded once. Willow took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

"Spike's back."

****

Sunnydale - December 2001

Buffy stood outside Spike's crypt, staring intently at the door. She'd been waiting there almost ten minutes, trying to collect her thoughts and put things in some sort of rational order in her mind.
'It's ok,' she thought to herself. 'I can do this. We just have to stop. It can't go on like this. We can't be this way. I can't be this way. He will understand.'

Buffy shook her head and marched determinedly towards the crypt. She sooner she did this, the sooner things would be better. The door slammed open as she entered, impressively announcing her presence. Unfortunately Spike wasn't there to see it. With a slight grimace that her dramatic entrance had gone unnoticed, Buffy walked towards the ladder that led to the underground portion of the crypt.

"Spike," she called, jumping agilely down through the hole. "I need to talk to you." Looking around she realised that he wasn't in the main living area. She frowned again. "Spike? Spike, you here?" As she paced the small 'room' calling out to her lover, Buffy began to focus on her surroundings. The books and cd's that usually littered the tops of the tables and cabinets were missing. There were no clothes flung carelessly over the old armchair next to the bed. In fact there were no personal belongings out it the open whatsoever.

A feeling of dread began to form in the pit of her stomach. Although afraid of what she would find, she nevertheless moved slowly towards the chest of drawers on the far side of the bed. She pulled all five drawers open in quick succession hoping that the next one would contain something that would give her a reason to hope. She turned the room upside down. None of Spike's belongings were there.

He had gone. He had left.

'Just like you told him to,' a voice inside Buffy's head reminded her and the Slayer closed her eyes against the tears that were threatening to form as she sank down onto the bed and wrapped herself in the comforter, hoping that when she opened them again, Spike would be with her.

****

Sunnydale - June 2007

"Buffy did you hear me?" Willow asked worriedly as her friend continued to stare blankly at her. "Buffy?" She waved a hand in front of Buffy's face, her mind flashing back six years to when the Slayer had forced herself into a stress induced catatonia.

The young blonde blinked and shook her head, her mind racing as she tried to take in Willow's words. He was back. He had come back. He had come home. She wanted to go to him that moment. To ask him where he had gone, why he had gone, why he had left her. To punch him and hurt him as much as he had hurt her. To kiss his beautiful face and apologise for what she had done to him.

But she couldn't do any of those things. The time for that had passed. She had moved on with her life and he, she presumed, had moved on with his as well. She schooled her features into an indifferent mask.

"Oh."
Willow blinked. "That's it? That's all you have to say? Oh?"
"What do you want me to say? Spike's back. So what?"
"So wh…?" Willow stammered disbelieving. "Buffy…"
The Slayer jumped up from her seat and started back towards the centre, waiting until Willow followed to continue. "Look Wills, Spike's been gone for over five years now. It's not like I think about him everyday. Sure I've wondered where he was occasionally, but I haven't missed him. Where has he been anyway?"

"We don't know," Willow told her and explained what had happened that morning; how Anya had found the unconscious Spike on the beach and that he didn't remember anything.
"Alive?" Buffy asked, her eyes wide and pained.
Willow nodded, watching her friend intently. "Breathing in and out, not burning in the sun kind of alive. And his heart was beating too. I could feel it when I hugged him." She waited while Buffy took this in.

"So he's at Anya's?"
"Yeah."
"And you're going back there now?"
"Yes."
"Ok. Give me fifteen minutes."


Chapter 4

"Hello?"
"White orchids or red roses?" the voice greeted Buffy over her cell phone as she sat next to Willow at a set of traffic lights.
"Huh?"
"White orchids or…"
"I don't care."

"Buffy," Andrew whined down the phone. "How can you expect me to arrange this wedding with absolutely no help from you?"
"I can expect it because I am paying you a ridiculous amount of money to make everything perfect."
"What is more important than your wedding?" Andrew snapped and then lowered his voice as he asked, "The world isn't ending is it?"

The Slayer sighed and let her head fall back against the seat, closing her eyes as she prayed for patience. "No, the world isn't ending. I just have something important to do right now. You pick the flowers."
"Is this a Scooby thing?" Andrew asked as he jotted down some notes about the flowers and passed them to the owner of Sunnydale's only flower store.
"No, it's not a thing," Buffy informed him, turning away from Willow as she added, "It's Spike." She heard something clatter and some rustling in the background. "Hello? Andrew?"

Andrew scrambled out from under the cash desk, waving his retrieved phone at the owner with a nervous smile. "Spike?" he practically squeaked down the phone. "Spike's back."
"It's a long story," Buffy murmured. "Can we do this later?"
"Are you sure you don't want me to come over? Lend moral support."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Bye Andrew."

****

Sunnydale - May 2006

"Buffy? Buff, you here?" Andrew called as he entered the Summers' house and looked around the living room. He pulled off his coat and hung it neatly by the door before heading through the dining room to the kitchen. "Buffy?" Andrew called anxiously as he pulled the boiling saucepan of pasta from the stove and turned it off. "Are you here?"

He heard something move above him and then sound of breaking glass. Without a second thought he ran towards the stairs and the source of the noise. At the top of the staircase he heard a something coming from the bathroom. As he moved closer he realized there was someone in there. Crying.

Pushing open the door he found Buffy, curled up on the floor in her bathrobe, her body shaking as she sobbed, her face red and wet with tears. "Buffy?" he questioned gently, fidgeting in the doorway. His voice startled her and she looked up, her eyes wide, and he could see her pain as she looked at him.

"Andrew," she croaked, sitting up and wiping hastily at her face. "I didn't hear you. Could you go down and switch off the stove before the kitchen is set on fire?"
"I already did it," he answered, crouching down next to her. "Has something happened? Is something wrong?"
"No, no," she said, forcing a smile to her face. "You know how it is sometimes. You just need to have a good cry. Let everything out. I'm fine really. Just give me a minute. I'll get dressed and we'll have lunch."
"Buffy," Andrew stopped her, placing his hands on her shoulders. "You're not ok. Tell me what's' wrong?"

She opened her mouth to protest, to tell him that everything was ok, but he just stood there, looking at her with kind eyes, waiting for her to tell him the truth. It broke through all her resistance and her shoulders started to shake again. Slowly, the young man pulled Buffy against him and rubbed her back as she cried into his chest. They stood like that for five minutes, before she quieted and pulled back from him slightly. "Sorry."

Andrew shook his head and smiled sympathetically at her. "Should I call someone? Willow?"
This time the Slayer's smile was genuine. "No. It's fine."
Andrew nodded. "Well if you need to talk."
"I do, I…" Buffy began. She stopped and sighed, looking down at herself. "Can we do this over some food?"
Her friend smiled and nodded. "Sure. Get dressed and come down. Then we can talk. Ok?"
"Thanks Andrew."

****

Sunnydale - June 2007

"Buffy are you ok?" Willow asked as she parked outside Anya's house for the second time that day. She watched her friend with concern as the Slayer continued to stare out of the window. "Buffy?"
"Huh?" Buffy jumped slightly and turned to face her friend. "Sorry Will, what did you say?"
"We're here," the redhead told her, nodding towards the house. "Are you sure you're up to it?"
"Why wouldn't I be?" the young blonde asked, her voice shaking with suppressed emotion.
Willow opened her mouth to answer, but snapped it shut again, almost instantly. She shook her head. "No reason."
Buffy nodded determinedly. "Let's go then."


Chapter 5

Spike stopped at the top of the stairs when he heard Anya talking in the living room.

"….Won't be a minute… needed a bath… change of… well actually he wasn't wearing any…"
He sat down and closed his eyes, hoping that when he opened them again he'd remember Anya. That he'd remember the other people in the photos and what they meant to him. That he'd remember who he was and what had happened to him.

"Did he remember anything?"
That was the redhead. Wendy, Winifred… No, no. More peculiar than that. Willow. That was it. Spike shrugged. 'Could be worse,' he thought. 'She could be called…'

"Buffy? Are you ok?"
Buffy? Was that a real name? Surely, even in California no one could name their child Buffy. He waited for Buffy to answer Anya's question but the minutes ticked by and no one spoke. An uneasy silence had fallen over the house.

Spike took a deep breath and tried to calm down, mentally preparing himself for what he would have to endure downstairs. He knew that Anya and Willow were only trying to help, but their eyes followed every moved he made, begging him to recognize them and be who he was before. The silent pleading had made him so uncomfortable that he had jumped at Anya's suggestion that he wash and change. But that had been over and hour ago.

"Is he ok?"
Spike's eyes snapped open at the softly spoken words. The voice pulled at something within him, and though he didn't remember who that voice belonged to or why it was significant, he did realize that whoever was speaking was important to him.

He couldn't do this. He couldn't go down there and meet someone else who was waiting for him to remember them. He needed to find some space away from these people who claimed to know him. He needed to get away.

****

Buffy sat in Anya's spacious living room as though awaiting an executioner. She tuned out her friends' nervous chatter as she waited for her former lover. She barely moved, save for the anxious glances at the door and the unconscious twisting of the diamond engagement ring that adorned her left hand. As the minutes passed she itched to take it off and slip it out of sight.

They sat for fifteen minutes. Anya and Willow slowly quieted until the three were left in silence; all shooting subtle looks in the direction of the staircase.
"I need some fresh air," Buffy announced when the silence became too much for her. "I'll be out back. Just call me when he comes down."

The Slayer hurried out of the room and down the corridor to the back door. She stepped outside, and all but fell onto the swing on the back porch. Eyes closed, she took several deep breaths and lowered her head to her knees.

She couldn't do it. There was no way she could go through with it. How could she pretend that they were friends when they had never gotten that far? How could she hide the fact that they had been lovers when every move she made or look she gave him would proclaim their level of intimacy? How could she explain her impending marriage, knowing that at any minute he could remember the truth and break his heart all over again?

And yet, she wanted to see him, to touch him, to hear his voice. She wanted to tell him what he had missed, help him regain what he had lost. She ached to make things right between them, even though she knew that they never could be.

She sat up and opened her eyes, blinking against the sun. She heard a sound to her left and turned sharply towards it, raising her hand to shield her eyes, so that she could see clearly.

"Spike?"

****

Spike wandered slowly around Anya's back yard, trying his best not to think. It was more difficult than he expected. How was it possible that he could simply forget everything about himself? And where was his family? Did he have family? He was English apparently. Were his family in England? Did they know where he had been? Would they come when Anya or Willow called and told them he was alive?

Anya didn't even know his last name. They couldn't be that close to him if they didn't even know basic facts about him. But they seemed close. Willow had run to him immediately upon seeing him, implying a familiar relationship. None of it made sense.

The back door opened and Spike turned to see a small blonde woman step from the house and sit down on the porch swing. It was the girl from the wedding photos. The one with the sad eyes that had affected him so much. Buffy, he assumed. Her hair was longer than it had been in the picture, but it was loosely tied back from her face. She was wearing grey trousers and a long-sleeved red shirt, which looked a little big for her. She looked tired and somehow he knew that her eyes would be no happier or alive today than they had been the day those photographs had been taken.

He started towards her without realising it, as though she were pulling him to her. He watched her intently as she curled her body up, as though she needed to protect herself. He walked slowly across the garden to the porch steps, unsure even as he reached them, of what he was going to say.

He winced as the first step creaked when he put his weight on it, drawing Buffy's attention to him immediately. She lifted her hand to shield her eyes from the sun as he climbed the rest of the steps and their eyes met as he moved into the shade.

"Spike?"

****

"Hi."

Buffy smiled sadly in reply to his greeting, as she realised there was no spark of awareness in his eyes. It was silly of her, she thought, to imagine that she would be the trigger that would give Spike back his memory. Why would she, when she had been the cause of so many painful memories herself?

"Are you ok?" he asked stepping closer to her, his head tilted slightly to one side in concern. A familiar gesture that brought another smile, happier this time as she took in his appearance. She couldn't stop staring at him. He'd been gone five years and the image he'd left her with seemed to sharpen in her mind. She had no photographs of him to refer to, no sketches or drawings, even of William that she could take out if she found her memories fading. So she had clung desperately to the image of him in her mind, sometimes strong and arrogant and deadly, other times gentle and loving. Always hers.

But now here he was, standing before her, and she could see the changes time had brought. His hair was longer and darker, and had started to curl slightly. His eyes were brighter than she remembered but held none of the passion they once had. He looked scared and confused.

"I'm fine. How are you?" She winced at the foolishness of her question, but Spike simply smiled at her and sat down next to her on the swing.
"Well I have amnesia. Other than that I'm fine."
Buffy chuckled softly. "Good. I'm glad."

They sat silently for a moment, looking out over the garden as they adjusted to being in each other's company.
"Who are you?"
Buffy started at the question and turned sharply to face Spike. He was looking at her thoughtfully, as though willing himself to remember. She looked determinedly into his eyes.
"Buffy Summers."
Spike grinned widely at that and Buffy found herself smiling in return. "And do we know each other well Buffy Summers?"

He frowned at the look of panic that crossed her face and watched her, concerned, as she turned hurriedly away. "We were friends once."
"Only once?"


Chapter 6

"Of course not. For a while. I mean…" Buffy stuttered nervously for a few moments and then, looking back towards Spike, she saw a slight smile quirking the corners of his lips. He was laughing at her. Some of the tension left her body and she returned the smile. "Sorry."

Spike shook his head. "Don't apologise. This must be strange for you. Believe me, it's a thousand times worse at this end."
Buffy nodded, acknowledging that she understood. "I'm not being very helpful am I?"
"You're here to help me?"
"No," Buffy answered resolutely, looking the man opposite her squarely in the eye. He looked surprised at her answer, but didn't comment. After a moment she continued. "I'm here to make sure you're real."

"There's a chance I'm not?"
She shrugged. "Most people thought you were dead."
"But not you?"
"I didn't know what to think. You've been gone a long time. Without a trace. Trust me."
"You looked for me?" he asked, just catching Buffy's mumbled words.
"Yes."
"Because we were friends?"
Buffy looked away and answered quietly, "No."
"Do I have to ask questions which can only be answered yes or no?"
Buffy rolled her eyes. "It's good to know some things never change. God, could you be more annoying?"
"I don't know. Could I?"

"Yes," Buffy sighed. "You can be a hell of a lot more annoying."
Spike grinned. "Ok. So I'm annoying. What else do you know about me?" He frowned as Buffy hesitated. "What?"
"I don't know if I should tell you."
"Why shouldn't you?"
"I don't know. I'm not a doctor. Maybe you have to leave these things to sort themselves out. You should see a doctor before everyone starts telling you things."
"Buffy…"
"I mean, it could do you serious psychological damage…"
"Buffy…."
"What?"
"Are you always this cute when you're nervous, or is it just around me?"

****

"What's going on?" Anya hissed as she and Willow stood behind the kitchen door, straining to hear what was happening outside.
"I don't know An. I know as much as you do," Willow said impatiently, nudging her friend slightly so that she had more room. This descended into a couple of minutes of pointless struggling until the sound of Buffy's laughter made them freeze.
"She's laughing," Anya stated and Willow sighed.
"Thanks for pointing that out.
Anya scowled. "There's no need to get all sarcastic with me. What's she laughing at?"
"For about the millionth time I'm not psychic."

"Do some magic," the former demon demanded another several more moments of silence.
"What?"
"Magnify their voices," Anya stated simply, not noticing the look of horror and disbelief on Willow's face. "Or make us invisible so we can go outside."
"No! Anya that's wrong. I can't do that."
"Why not?" Anya exclaimed loudly, causing both of them to duck down behind the door in case they had been heard.
"Because it's intrusive. And I don't do stuff like that." She continued as her friend opened her mouth to comment. "Anymore."

"I want to know what they're doing. This is so frustrating. Why can't she be normal and tell us all her problems? I tell her all of mine."
Willow stared at her. "You tell everyone yours."
"I think it's very unfair of her to make us behave like this."
"She's not making us crazy," Willow protested. "We're naturally crazy. We're the queens of crazy. And don't forget, this is all our fault. Of course she's not going to talk to us about it."
"Well this isn't working is it?" Anya pursed her lips thoughtfully and stood, before walking back into the living room. Willow frowned, but followed her friend without comment.
"What?"
"How can we fix it if we don't know what's happening?"
"I'm not doing any magic," the redhead stated, folding her arms across her chest protectively. Anya's eyes drifted to the bottle of brandy on the table and her then her eyes met Willow's with understanding. "I know. But we're going to have to think of something."

****

The phone was ringing.

Faith pulled the bed covers up higher and burrowed underneath them, trying to drown out the incessant noise. The warm arm around her waist shook her slightly, but she ignored it. "'S your turn."
"It bloody well isn't," came the muffled reply and Faith grimaced.
"Whatever," she mumbled and curled up against the lean body behind her, not making any move to answer the phone. She smiled contentedly as she felt her lover reach out and grab the phone. He hated to think he was missing something.

"This better be important," Wesley growled into the receiver as Faith rubbed her leg against his and began to slide her hand down his stomach to his…
"I need to speak to Faith," a shrill voice called out, loud enough for the Slayer herself to hear. She reached up her hand and took the phone from Wesley.
"Andrew. Do you have any idea what time it is?"
"It's half past eleven in the morning," Andrew stated and Faith sighed.
"Fine. What's up?"
"Spike's back."

The Slayer was instantly alert. She sat up and started to fumble at the side of the bed for her clothes. Wesley, realising something important was happening, began to get dressed too. Faith didn't say another word, but he could just make out Andrew's nervous chatter.
"…I called to ask her about the flowers for the wedding and she said he was back. I wanted to be with her but Willow was there and…"
"And she didn't want Red to wonder why she wanted you there."
"That's my guess."
"And they're at Anya's?"
"Yes. Should we go over?"
"I'll go. You need to call…"
"On it. Line was engaged. I'll try again in a few. They're probably having s…"
"Andrew, that's too gross for even me to contemplate. If you can't reach her room try her cell, then try the building."
"Yes. I know. I'm not completely incompetent."
"And I'll see you here tonight ok?"
"Ok."

Faith hung up the phone and glanced at her boyfriend. "Spike's back." She watched for any sign that the news disturbed him, but his face remained impassive.
"Is Buffy ok?"
"That's what I'm going to find out."

****

"'lo?"
"Connor?"
"Mm-hm."
"It's Andrew."
"Hm."
"I need to speak to Dawn."
"Sh' n' 'ere."
"It's important."
"Uh-huh."
"Look just have her ring me back when she wakes up. And Connor?"
"Yeah?"
"You'd be more believable if you stopped answering Dawn's phone."

 

Chapter 7

"We should really get you to a doctor," Buffy said looking away from Spike. He grinned at the abrupt change of subject but didn't comment. He didn't understand his own behaviour towards her, how comfortable he felt around her. What had they been to each other before he left? And for that matter, why had he left? Buffy had clearly been looking for him; these people, his friends, appeared to be relieved he was here and alive, so what had happened to make him leave?

"Do you know any doctors?"
Buffy shook her head with a grimace. "The only doctor I know won't be much use to you. Yet," she added mischievously.
"Yet?"
"He's a psychiatrist."
"Oh." Spike blinked at Buffy, wondering if she was going to continue, but she seemed to be lost in thought.
"Webs is Anya's only doctor too," she mused, talking more to herself than to him.
"Webs?"
"My shrink," Buffy clarified, still not looking at him.
"You call him Webs?"
"It's his name. We went to school together."

Spike nodded and sat back in his chair, enjoying the chance to watch her while she figured it out. "Can't we go to the hospital?"
He was surprised at the look of near panic that flashed across her face and was about to ask what was wrong when forestalled him.
"It might be complicated."
"Why?"
"I can't…" she stuttered out and then shook her head and said determinedly, ""We'll go and see Giles. He should know someone who can help."
Spike sighed, angry that she was deliberately keeping things from him and asked "And Giles is?"
Buffy smiled. "My dad."

****

"I can't believe you did that!" Dawn shouted at Connor as she frantically pulled on her clothes while he remained in bed watching her.
"The phone was ringing. I was half asleep," he protested. "What did you expect me to do?"
"He's going to tell Buffy," she continued as though he hadn't spoken, "and she's going to freak. And then she'll tell your dad and at least one of us will be dead."
"Dawn, calm…"
"Don't you dare tell me to calm down!"
"Will you relax, he exclaimed eventually, catching hold of her arm and pulling her down onto the bed next to him.
"Let go," Dawn protested, wriggling slightly.
Connor grinned at her. "Uh-uh. Not until you calm yourself down. You're an adult. I'm sure Buffy realises that you've had sex."
Dawn stopped moving and stared at her boyfriend. "You've met my sister, right?"

Pushing him aside, she jumped up and grabbed her cell phone from her bedside table. "Anyway, she may accept that I am old enough to do it," she told him as she dialled Andrew's number, "but not with you. Not in a million years.
Connor's face hardened as Dawn turned away to speak to Andrew. Leaning over the side of the bed he grabbed his jeans and hurriedly pulled them on. How dare she say those things to him? She acted as though she were ashamed that they were together. It seemed as though she never wanted Buffy to know what was going on between them. He pulled his shirt on and left it unbuttoned as he fastened his boots. He was two steps from the door when Dawn's voice penetrated his angry haze.

"What? But… how? That's impossible. No. You're lying."
Connor stopped and turned back to her, surprised to see that she was shaking. She was facing away from him, so he moved slowly to stand in front of her. She was crying. He froze in terror at the thought of what she might be hearing.

"It's not true. Stop saying it. I won't believe it. Don't make me hope. Please Andrew don't make me…"
The phone hung uselessly in her hand as she began to cry in earnest. Connor took it from her, confused and fearful of what he might hear.
"Andrew?"
"Connor. Is Dawn still there? Is she ok?"
"No she's not ok," the younger man growled feeling a wave of protectiveness. "What's going on?"
"Spike's alive. And he's here. In Sunnydale."

Unlike Dawn, it took Connor barely a second for the words to register and for him to accept them as fact. Without another word he hung up the phone and tossed it on the bed before pulling Dawn into his arms,

****

The kitchen door opened and Buffy preceded Spike into the house.

"Everything ok?" Willow asked as she appeared in the living room doorway, Anya close behind her.
"It's fine," Buffy answered with a reassuring smile that failed to comfort the anxious redhead. They stood awkwardly together for a moment before the Slayer remembered why they had ventured back inside. "Spike needs to get to a doctor. Get checked out."
Willow nodded. "Ok. Well I know a very good obstetrician but I doubt she'll be much use."
Buffy smiled. "I'm hoping Giles will know someone we can…" she glanced nervously and Spike and he raised an eyebrow at her, daring her to continue. "Someone we can trust," she finished defiantly.

"That's a good idea. Willow can drive us," Anya said leading them through the house to the front door.
Buffy frowned. "You guys don't have to come. It's not exactly far. We can walk."
"Safety in numbers?" Willow offered as she pulled her car keys out of her pocket. "I doubt any of us would fare well explaining this to Giles alone. Magic Box here we come."

Opening the front door Buffy was greeted by the sight of Faith, stalking purposefully up the front walk towards them. The blonde Slayer rolled her eyes. "I'm going to kill Andrew."
The brunette stopped short when she saw Buffy standing framed in the doorway with Spike next to her. "Hey B," she greeted as casually as she could and Buffy allowed herself a small smile.

"Morning Faith. You know I don't think I've seen you awake this early for years. Something bad happening?"
The younger Slayer raised her eyebrows. "That's what I'm here to find out."
"Everything's fine. This is Spike. You met him once I think."
Faith had the grace to blush under Buffy's scrutiny, but nodded and held out her hand to Spike. "We were never formally introduced. I'm Faith."

"Pleased to meet you," Spike greeted quietly and went back to studying the behaviour of the two girls in front of him. It was as though they were having a conversation with no actual words being spoken, like they could send thoughts directly to each other's mind. From the outside the conversation was relatively mundane, but the two young women continued to stare at each with a strange sort of intensity.

"So, family outing?" Faith asked, smiling at Willow and Anya.
"To the Magic Box," Buffy informed her. "You don't have to…"
They watched each other a moment longer and Faith nodded and stepped back.
"Your call B. Swing by later. Wesley's going out. We can catch up."
Buffy nodded in agreement. "I'd like that."

 

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