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“How?” His voice came out as little more than a whisper.

The mirage sat down on his lap, and he was struck by the scent of her, which was really the scent of the two of them together. Whoever this was, it seemed as though he was a part of them.

“Spell,” she answered softly, peeking out from under her golden hair.

“I’m from the future. I can’t stay here long, but I needed to come and do this. When you told me how hard it was for you on your way back to Sunnydale…”

Her voice broke off, and he misunderstood. He was in too much pain to be angry, so his voice just came out weary.

“Had to make sure I hadn’t lied about goin’ on the straight an’ narrow?”

She rolled her eyes, but grabbed his face to bring his eyes to hers.

“I was worried about you, you dope. I almost cried thinking about you in that much pain. Especially because this next year isn’t exactly sunshine and roses. I mean, definitely, compared to what we had before, but outside forces really screw things up for us,” she rambled for a second.

He took a second and pulled back to look at her as best he could in the dim light of the ship’s hold.

“So you’re sayin’ you’re really Buffy?”

She leaned forward and her lips grazed his ear.

“I dunno, do weapons still make you feel manly?”

He shuddered, then flinched away, guilt filling him for feeling something for someone other than his Buffy.

As if she could read his mind, she replied. “Look, I wouldn’t tell the other Buffy that I’m here, no. But eventually she becomes me and me decided to do this in the first place! I love you too much to be jealous because my future self gave you some hope.”

“This can’t be real,” Spike shook his head vigorously, shying back again.

“Spike… William…”

She tried to catch his eyes and failed. Instead, she grabbed his hand from where it rested around her waist, still unwilling to let her fall off his lap even though his mind was in agony.

She shifted to lean on him more, moving the hand she’d grabbed up to her neck, pressing it against the mark he would leave there in just a couple of years.

His breathing sped up the moment his skin made contact with the scar. He was horrified. There was no way he would’ve done that, no way he would’ve claimed her because there was no way she would consent.

“No!” He shouted, panicking, struggling when she held him tighter.

“Spike, yes. It’s okay, honey,” she said soothingly, pressing a hand to his cheek. “I told you I’m from the future. I claim you back, I swear.”

His instinct was to fight back– he must be going crazier than he’d realized– but instead his hand moved back to touch the scar, reveling in the sensations it brought through his body. An echo of a connection not yet made.

“Really?”

He looked up into her eyes, not willing to risk her just taking pity on him.

She nodded gently. “In the future, you are my husband– my mate.”

She leaned forward to press her forehead against his, but he had other ideas.

He surged up and kissed her with everything he had, reveling in the feeling of being touched by a woman who truly loved him.

“How is this possible? After everything I’ve done?” He asked pleadingly when she broke away for air.

“What happened between us wasn’t completely either of our faults. What you’ve already done to make up for it is incredible, but it’s not just that.

“You stand by me. Things are going to get bad over the next few months. All-out war levels of bad. But you stick by me, Spike, when even my own sister turns away. You never push me, even when you really should have. Just… ugh, this is a horrible idea, but I’m going to say it anyways…

“Please believe me when I say that I love you. I don’t say those words lightly. Ever. And don’t waste time coming back to me if something does happen and we get separated. I will never, ever be ready for you to not be with me.”

Her voice shook slightly at the end, and he clutched her tighter.

“I don’t believe you? But we’re together in the future.”

“Yes, but it’s been a long road getting here. We both went through a lot of pain. I have no idea what telling you that will do to the future, but I’m willing to risk it. Maybe it’ll go different and you’ll find me sooner.”

He shook his head and looked away. “‘Ve felt crazy since I got the soul, but this is just…”

“Real, Spike. I know you felt it.” She sought his eyes and gave him a teasing smile. “All the crazy things you’ve seen on the hellmouth, and this is the one you don’t believe?”

He smiled a little at that, but then his face turned anguished. Telling him about the future meant she had to leave. Had to go back, away from him. He’d be alone again.

“How could you do this to me, Buffy? Show me bliss like this and then make me live through whatever hell is waiting for me back in Sunnydale.”

Tears filled her eyes, and he immediately felt guilty for putting that on her.

“Because maybe you’ll make it different,” she sighed. “I have to go now, but don’t forget that I love you. Even the… how did you put it, that once? Less-pleasant Buffy? She loves you too, even if she won’t say it.”

She grabbed his face and pulled him in for a long kiss, willing all her love into it. Hoping to make the next few months just a little bit easier on the man she loved so dearly.

When she pulled away, she forced herself not to turn back. Spike watched as she stood and tossed a bottle on the ground a few feet away before disappearing.

 

~

 

All at once she felt herself slipping, all sense of direction lost. It was the same feeling she’d had the last time through, but something was just a little different. She could feel memories clicking into place, multiple versions of events slotting themselves together.

She scanned her brain, frantic to make sure nothing was worse than before.

But instead, somehow… she’d fixed everything.

 

~

 

Spike was more confident when he came back to Sunnydale, explaining to her what he’d done and asking her if she wanted to give being friends a shot. She’d said yes.

He’d been so together during that conversation, that it had made her realize something was wrong as soon as she found him crazy in the basement. He moved in with her right away after that.

They still had to chain him up, but he told her about the memory flashes he’d been having and together they worked out the trigger the First was using.

Without the trigger, the First was never able to kidnap and torture him, so instead he hung around and helped. He and Buffy spent many a night side by side on the back porch, indulging in some much-needed quiet companionship.

When his chip fried, she still chose to get it out. But then she kissed him.

He’d quickly moved into her room, Buffy brokering no arguments from anyone about the situation. Her friends had seen it coming, at least, and didn’t fight her very hard.

With his support, the first raid for the scythe was successful. Instead of fracturing and turning against one another, they stayed united as they worked towards a plan to defeat the first.

Angel still showed, but there was no cookie dough speech, no hellos with tongue.

She’d still been shattered when Spike died, but this time she had the support of her friends. And somehow, this time it sunk into the heads of Angel’s crew just how much she loved him. And so, just a few days later, she received a call from Fred with the big news.

She’d raced to his side and stood by him the whole time he was incorporeal. She was the first thing he touched when he got his body back, and oh, did he touch her. They’d locked themselves in an empty conference room and clung to each other as they made love.

They’d left LA. She had no idea what had gone different for the crew down there, since Spike wasn’t a part of it. Instead, she and Spike had moved into his childhood home just outside London earlier than in the first timeline, but otherwise it was much the same. Dawn still had a room there for when she was home from college, Willow and her new girlfriend (a sweet girl, much more like Tara than Kennedy) would come to visit every few days, and Xander flew in from the States for holidays. Buffy still patrolled, but mostly her job was training new slayers. Spike helped, and came with her any time an apocalypse arose and the big guns were called in.

She was happy, her friends were happy, her mate was happy…

It was amazing what a little hope could do.


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Reviews ( 1 )

Zab Jade
October 25, 2020 15:46

Excellent story. I love that all Spike really needed was the hope future Buffy was able to give him, and that was enough to change so much.