All About Spike
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Shelter
By Colleen

Chapter 4

She ran all the way to the address Angel had given her. He tried to tell her what had happened, but all she'd asked was "Where is he?" and taken off. He was back. Spike was back.

And he hadn't tried to contact her. She slowed her pace. It made sense. Where would he have looked for her? Sunnydale was gone.

What if he were hurt? What if ...

What if she recognized the tall girl with the bag of groceries, walking towards the house from the other direction.

"Buffy!" The girl rushed towards her. "What are you doing here? It's so good to see you."

"Lily?" Buffy stopped in front of the building. "You're still in LA."

"Yep." She pointed towards the house. "This is my place. But it's Anne now. Just like your nametag."

"You took my name. I'm flattered. Better than a mushroom." Buffy looked at the house. "This is your place? I'm guessing you aren't still a waitress."

"I run a teen shelter. Don't look so surprised. You inspired me." She started up the walkway. "Come inside."

Buffy followed her. "Actually, I'm looking for someone."

"A kid? We don't have anyone here from Sunnydale, I'm pretty sure." She kicked at the door with her toe. "I forgot my key."

"Not a kid ..."

He opened the door. She looked up into his blue eyes. His hair was dark, longer than it had been when he got back from Africa, without the blond tips. She wanted to throw herself at him, bury herself in him. Tell him he was so wrong about the last thing he'd said to her.

He looked right past her, taking the bag from Anne's arms. "I wish you'd told me you were going shopping, sweetheart. Would have carried those for you."

"They aren't that heavy." Anne looked around, saw that none of the residents were watching, then kissed him gently. Smiled. "Buffy, this is William."

"Hi." He reached out his hand to her, shaking it. "Nice to meet you."

"Buffy's the friend I told you about. The one who helped me out when Richie died."

Buffy's hand was limp in his.

"Then I'm even more happy to meet you." He put his arm around Anne's shoulder. "Thanks for keeping my girl safe. Means more to me than you can know."

Anne looked at Buffy with concern. "You okay?"

"I'm fine. It's just ... It's a little hot today."

"You look like you're going to faint. Come in and I'll get you a cold drink. We'll talk."

"No ... I have to go." Buffy looked at him one last time. "I don't think my friend is here after all."

"You sure?" William cocked his head to the side. "Look like you need to sit down."

She wasn't sure she could answer. Wasn't sure if there was air left in her body. "I'm sure," she said quietly, turned and walked away.

*****

They were in bed, his arm draped across her chest, when he started screaming. She rolled him over, trying to hold him still, cooing his name calmly. His eyes stared open, but he wasn't awake. They flitted back and forth, watching images she couldn't imagine. He started babbling, incoherent words she couldn't follow, except for an occasional name. Dru. Buffy. Angelus.

When he did wake up, he shot straight up in the bed, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, holding his head in his hand. Moaning.

She wrapped herself around him. "William? Darling? What happened?"

"I remember." He turned his head and looked at her. "My name is Spike."

"No," she laughed, a nervous laugh. "That can't be. Spike was a vampire. He killed Billie Fordam. Almost killed me, but Buffy saved us." She pushed the hair back from his forehead. "I must have mentioned it to you."

"No. I remember everything. Over a hundred years of everything. My name was William, once. But I'm Spike. I knew Angel. Know him. That's why he recognized me."

"But you aren't a vampire," she insisted. She took his hands between hers. "You're warm and alive."

"Something happened to me. Something with that amulet. I don't know."

"You can't be Spike." She was growing angry. "Spike was a killer. He was dangerous. Stop this."

He bent over the edge of the bed and picked up his pants. "I have to go."

"Where?"

He picked his shirt off the end of the bed. "I have to see Buffy."

*****

A tall, thin young woman answered the apartment door. "Is Buffy here?" Spike asked. "Angel said she stayed here last night."

"Oh, you must be Spike." The girl held out her hand. "Fred. I work with Angel. You're the guy that used to be a vampire, but now he isn't, and you must be so confused. I mean, I would be, if it were me. I had to live in another dimension for a long time, and it's so disorienting, isn't it, being brought back?"

"Is Buffy here?" he asked again. "Can I see her?"

The woman blushed. "Oh, where are my manners? Come on in. She's in the bedroom, and I'll go get her. It's just - I'm met vampires before, but not used to be vampires. Sit down here and I'll go get her." She walked down the hall and knocked on the bedroom door. "Buffy," she called, "There's someone here to see you."

Buffy opened the door. "Tell Angel I'm not in the mood right now."

"It's not Angel. It's Spike."

Buffy ran her fingers through her hair as she headed towards the living room. He stood up when he saw her.

"Buffy." He put his arms out and she hugged him. "It's so good to see you. I'm so glad you got out okay."

"You're alive." She put her hand on his chest and felt the heart beat. "I mean, really alive. How?"

"I don't know. Don't remember anything between the Hellmouth and waking up here in LA. Didn't even remember who I was until last night." He smiled down at her. "You look good, pet."

"You've been staying with Lily?" She stepped back. "Anne, I mean."

"Yeah, she took me in. Takes in all kinds of strays. She's amazing, really. Not much older than those kids herself, and she helps them. We had this one girl, Mary. Poor little thing could barely speak when she got there. Gonna be okay now, I reckon.” He realized she'd looked away. "Sorry. Rambling on. How've you been?"

"Fine." She shook her head. "This is a miracle. You know that, right? We all thought you were dead. I thought you were dead."

"Maybe I was. Got no explanation, 'cept that shiny bauble you gave me." He took her hand. "In any case, I'm alive now."

"Yeah. You are. And you look happy. Yesterday, you looked happy."

"This'll sound strange, what with my past, but I really seem to fit in there. At the shelter. With those kids."

She squeezed his hand, then let it go. "With Anne." She studied him, trying to hold on to the memory of his face. "I'm glad for you."

He rested a hand on her shoulder. "Buffy, I wouldn't hurt you for the world. You mean far too much to me for that. What you said, just before you left. When I told you to go."

She reached her hand to cover his. "You were right. I didn't really mean it. I was just trying to make you feel better."

He let out a breath that sounded too much to her ears like relief. "That's good, then. You'll always be with me," he took her hand and held it over his chest. "Here."

"Me too." She smiled her brightest smile. "I came here look for a girl. The coven said she was in LA, and she needs some help. She's a Slayer, and she didn't know what hit her. Did you know Angel isn't even a detective anymore? He's like a lawyer or something." She turned aside, not daring to look at him. "I called Giles, and now they say she isn't even here anymore. So I'm leaving in the morning." She sat on the couch. "It was great to see you. We'll keep in touch. I know where you live, right?"

"And you?"

"Wherever these girls take me." She looked down at her hands. "I guess we sort of have the same job. Helping kids."

"Yeah. Who'd a thought."

Fred opened the bedroom door and stepped out. "I'm really sorry to interrupt, but I just have to use the little girl's room."

"That's okay, pet. Just going." He tipped Buffy's chin up with his forefinger. "You need anything, luv. Anytime. I'll be there." Kissed her forehead and let himself out the door.

"Buffy? You okay?" Fred looked with dismay as Buffy collapsed in tears. She sat on the couch beside her and took her in her arms. "What happened?"

"Life," Buffy sniffed, her head buried in Fred's shoulder. "Just life."

*****

Brian was standing at the door when he got home. "What the hell did you do to her?"

"Who?" Spike readied himself to duck.

"Anne. She's been crying since you left."

"Anne?" Spike pushed past the taller man. "Anne?" he called. "I'm back."

"I see." Her face was set. "You find Buffy? You come back to get your things?"

"What?" He looked at Brian. "Do you mind?"

Anne gestured to the big man, and he left the foyer. "I put two and two together. The way she looked at you. The way you ran out of here when you got your memory back. She's your girlfriend, right?"

"I won't lie to you." He reached for her, but she pulled back. "I did love her, for a long time. And we were ... intimate. But whatever Buffy was to me, she was never my girlfriend."

Anne bit her lower lip, raising her eyes to meet his. "Then why?"

"I had to see her. Let her know I remembered. What she must have thought yesterday..." He could see the pain on Anne's face. "What you must have thought." He took her hand. "Come with me."

She let him lead her into the living room. "What are you doing?"

"Hey, guys." An assortment of heads turned his way. "I'm in love with Anne. That okay with you lot"

Karen beamed, Nat grinned, Glen gave him a thumbs up, and Ranna shrugged. "Whatever."

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