William stood up when he saw Buffy enter the restaurant. He hoped he could pull this whole blind date thing off. Willow hadn’t recognized him at all when he approached her at the Watcher’s headquarters asking about the sad, blond Slayer that moved through the hallways like a ghost.
William gave a welcoming smile when Buffy approached his table. He wondered if she’d recognize him right away or just chalk it up to a coincidence. Since Shanshuing, William found himself talking more and more in the refined accents of his youth. Sometimes, he really missed being Spike.
“Willow said curly brown hair, blue eyes, and a carnation in the lapel.” Buffy looked around the restaurant. “That’s you.”
William nodded. “William Jamison, but all my friends call me Jamie.” He came up with the nickname so no one would associate him with William the Bloody. He had heard how the Scoobies spoke about his former life. He shouldn’t have been surprised that they still spoke angrily, but he had hoped his sacrifice would have helped. There was no way that he planned on telling them that Spike still hid deep within him, shining through at the most inopportune moments.
“Buffy Summers. My friends call me Buffy.” Buffy let out a small, dry laugh that William echoed with one of his own. “I’m not really sure why I agreed to this. I’m not sure I’m ready to date yet.”
William gestured towards the chair opposite of his own. “Please take a seat.” He waited for Buffy to sit before he took his seat. “Why don’t we just have dinner as friends then?”
Buffy nodded shakily. She wasn’t sure what to say to the handsome young man across the table from her. Something niggled at the back of her mind when she looked at him.
The waitress came up to the table to hand Buffy and William menus. “Would you like something to drink?”
“Water’s fine,” Buffy replied, looking over the menu. “I already know what I want though.”
“And you, sir?”
“Water for me too,” William answered. “I know what I want also. We can go ahead and order then?”
Buffy nodded while she closed the menu to hand to the waitress. “I’d like the Chef Salad with extra boiled eggs, please. I’d also like some French dressing and fresh fruit.”
“I’ll take a steak, rare, baked potato with sour cream and chives, and the vegetable of the day.” William leaned forward. “I eat here once a week.”
The waitress took the menus, and she hurried off to the kitchen to give the cook the orders. She’d never seen young Mr. Jamison with a young woman before, but she admitted that he had excellent taste. The young lady was quite pretty and well spoken.
“So, Jamie, you work with the Council?” Buffy wasn’t going to allow any awkward silences. She had been pushed into this date by Willow, but she was trying to get her life back on track after the disaster with the Immortal. The Idiot – with a capital I -- should have known better than to mess with a Slayer.
Buffy accepted the fact that Spike had moved on from her. Not that she blamed him really. It wasn’t like she’d ever been very nice to him except in the last few days of Sunnydale, but here she was letting her friends run her life again. Buffy wished she had the courage to break away from them.
William nodded, pretending not to notice his date’s spacey demeanor. “Yes, I know several obscure demonic languages. They offered a better salary than my last employer. It was a deal I couldn’t pass up.” He smirked inwardly at his stretching of the truth. “Plus, I seem to be a bit stronger than I was before.”
“I don’t think I’ve seen you around the headquarters, Jamie?”
William picked up his glass of water to wet his mouth before speaking to the love of his life. “I haven’t worked for the Council for very long, I’m afraid. A year ago I was a completely different person. I saw you a few times, but I don’t think we were officially introduced.”
“Ah, I’ve been in Rome on assignment.” Buffy reached for her own glass. “It wasn’t very exciting I’m afraid.” She glanced around before she leaned slightly forward. “Slaying some fool that thinks he’s immortal is kinda old hat anymore. Just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to find his weak spot.”
William stared at Buffy in astonishment. “I thought you were dating him.”
“No, ew. I don’t think so. Is that what the rumor mill is saying?” Buffy shook her head. “My heart belongs to another. His name was William too, by the way.”
“Sorry, I heard different. That nasty rumor mill, I suppose.” William did his level best to look sad and defeated at Buffy’s words, but inside, he was jumping for joy. She loved him. She really loved him. Now if he could just figure out how to spill his secrets to her. “May I ask why you’re not with your William, if you love him so much?”
Buffy ducked her head. “I wasn’t good for him. I hurt him too badly, and he’s better off without me.” She clutched her hands in her lap, and she struggled to hold back the tears.
William’s joy died. Did his Slayer really think that? He would need to make sure she knew different. “I’m sure that’s not true.”
Buffy wasn’t sure why she was spilling her guts to this stranger. Maybe it was because she had held it all bottled up inside for so long. Spike, and her relationship with the vampire, was the one thing she refused to let her friends speculate about.
William glanced around before he moved his chair to Buffy’s side. It was time to reveal himself to his lady love. He couldn’t bear the thought that Buffy was in pain because she thought he didn’t care for her. He leaned in, and he whispered softly, “Have you gone completely carrot-top?”
Buffy jerked her head up, and she stared into William’s face. “What did you say, Jamie?”
“I think you heard me, luv.” William changed his accent, allowing Spike to push forward for the first time since he’d Shanshued.
“Spike?” Buffy said in a hopeful whisper. “Is it really you?”
Buffy reached out with a tentative hand to touch William’s cheek with her fingertips. “You’re warm. How is that possible?”
“Prophecy. Now what is this shite about me being better off without you?” William growled. “Have you been listening to that pillock Angelus again?”
Buffy shook her head, her eyes filling with tears. “We both know it’s true though, Spike. I’ve hurt you so much.”
“And I’ve hurt you, pet. All is forgiven. Let it go.” William leaned into the soft, yet deadly hand still lying against his cheek. “Forgive yourself, Slayer.”
“We hurt each other. It’s time to start over. I love you. You’re all I think about.”
“I dream about you too,” Buffy said, remembering a similar conversation years before. “I think about you all the time. Not sure you’re in my guts or throat, but you’re in my heart. I love you, Spike.”
William smirked. “I finally got my crumb of cookie dough,” he chortled.
Buffy laughed too. “So, you love me and I love you. Where do we go from here?”
William hummed a familiar tune under his breath. “Forward, baby. Forward.