For chen, who's feeling a bit blue.
"No," she replied. "I came looking for you."
"Ah." He cocked his head. "Feeling a little frustrated? Looking for someone to pummel? Can't think of any other reason you'd come callin'. After all, I'm not a part of your life. You made that quite clear."
"You misunderstood me." She sat on a stone beside him. "I'm not surprised. I don't understand myself much, lately." She wrapped her arms around herself and took a deep breath. "That demon poison, it was horrible. It put me in another place, a place that made me question, well, everything. You're lucky you left the house. I probably would have killed you. I almost murdered Willow and Xander. Even Dawn. If Tara hadn't showed up…" Her lip quivered as she fought back tears.
He jumped from the headstone and stood beside her. "Are they okay? What happened."
"Xander has a nasty bump on his head where I hit him with the frying pan. Stop laughing. It isn't funny." She didn't flinch when he put his hand on her shoulder. "I tied them up in the basement, with the demon. I taped their mouths shut so I couldn't hear them. Spike, I almost killed my sister."
"But you didn't." He stroked her hair. "What stopped you?"
"Mom. She was in that other world. She told me I had to be strong. But not like a hero. Not like a martyr, like you said. She didn't see me that way. Just strong like her daughter. So I pulled back out of that safe place. Fought the demon." She looked up at him. "God, I hope I did the right thing. I hope this is real."
"You seem real enough to me, love."
"Yeah. I guess I'm real enough. But the reason I wanted to see you…the doctor at the hospital where I thought I was, my parents, they said that Sunnydale was a reality I created. That there weren't demons and vampires. So, you see, there couldn't be a you." She took his hand. "That's what I meant, about you not in my life. You came into my room at a really rough spot. Then you gave me the speech about the hero trip, and it seemed like what the doctor was saying. That I should just be a regular girl. So I poured the antidote in the garbage can."
He stared in shock. "It's my fault then. All of it. Willow told me to see you drank it, an I just walked away." He took a step back. "So, you came to blame me, then."
"No." She stood up and walked towards him. "I came to ask you to forgive me. I realized that since I've been back, a part of me was hiding in that world all the time. The poison just made me face it head on. I need to face a lot of things in my life."
"Which means I don't want to hide any more. I don't want to hide you, us, from my friends. I don't want to hide my feelings. What we were doing, when we were together, it was wrong."
"You've told me that. I'm tryin' to cope. But, every time I see you…"
"You aren't listening. For once, let me be the one to talk." She put her hand on his upper arm. "It was wrong, because I was using you. Trying to escape with you without giving anything back. That's what was killing me. Hiding in the dark, pretending I didn't care." She sighed. "Pretending I didn't love you, because I couldn't face all that would mean."
"Lying to you. Lying to me. Do you know how much I've missed you? Being with you? Not just the sex. You. You are a part of my life. The biggest part. And it scares the hell out of me." She looked into his eyes. "Can we start over?" She reached for him, and he pulled her into his arms. "If you say the words, I promise I won't hit you. Never again."
"I love you, Buffy."
"Good." She held him tight. "I love you too."