My eyes seek reality
My fingers feel for flame
Touch clean with a dirty hand
I touched the clean to the waste
Metallica 'Low Man's Lyric'
Neither man wanted to knock, but both wanted desperately to see what was on the other side. After a few minutes of staring at the apartment number and looking around the hall, the bleached blonde vampire got antsy and knocked gently. They could hear movement from inside the domicile and both of the nervous beings considered bolting momentarily, but the fear of never seeing her again rooted the men to the spot. They heard the door's lock jiggling and then it opened, revealing a vision they thought they would never behold. The petite blonde woman looked as though she had barely aged since they had seen her six years ago.
She stood speechless as she regarded her two former lovers. The tall brunette man seemed to have aged and gained weight, although that was impossible. Perhaps she was just no longer seeing him with the rose colored glasses of her youth and maybe he had always looked like he did standing in her doorway. The smaller bleached blonde man looked exactly as he had the night she met him in the alley behind the Bronze. Still beautiful and proud. "Angel…Spike. How…why…Spike, I thought you were dead," she whispered.
"Got resurrected, pet," he said softly.
"Can we…" Angel gestured towards the door.
Buffy smiled tightly. "Of course. Come in." She stepped aside and allowed them entrance.
The apartment was huge and both men were quite shocked at the size. Maybe the Council was paying its Slayers now. The ceilings were at least twelve feet high with large floor to ceiling windows. Both vampires were lucky it was evening or the sun would defiantly have turned them to dust. The entryway was open to the kitchen and the living room. It was all contained in one large square space. It was well decorated and opulent. There was a hall off to one side that Spike assumed contained her bedroom and a bathroom.
Buffy led them to the couches on the living area. She motioned for them to sit on one and she sat on the other across from them. She looked between the two of them expectantly. She wasn't sure why they had come and she was shocked as hell to see Spike at her door. As far as she knew, he had been dead. Well, deader than usual anyway.
Spike took a deep unnecessary breath. "I was resurrected nineteen days after the Hellmouth closed."
Six years ago. Six years of mourning that were apparently unwarranted. She wanted to be angry that no one had contacted her. She wanted to feel sorrow for all the time that they had missed. She wanted to feel betrayed that this had been hidden from her. But she just couldn't. Buffy looked at the two men on her couch. Both of them were studiously staring at their hands, obviously afraid that she was going to yell and scream and possibly hit them, which she just might have done six years ago. But times were different now.
She was going to tell them they had nothing to be afraid of, when she was interrupted by a small high voice.
"Mommy, will you help me get my shoes on?"
Spike and Angel watched in awe as a tiny strawberry blonde girl ran to her mother and hopped up on the couch, said shoes in hand. Buffy smiled down at her. "Of course I will, sweetie." She helped her daughter into the little red Converse tennis shoes and tied them.
"You have a daughter?" Angel squeaked out.
Buffy smiled softly at him as her child continued to talk. "Can I take my wolf toy to Auntie Dawn's and Uncle Xander's?"
"The Whelp and my Nibblet? Did they get married?" Spike asked incredulously.
Buffy nodded. "About a year ago actually. They live three floors down from here in this very building."
A voice echoed from the hallway. "Hey, baby. Who was at the door?" A familiar man walked into the room carrying a boy on his back. The boy, like his sister, had strawberry blonde hair and bright green eyes. Twins. The man froze when he saw the visitors, but didn't allow any of the shock to show in his face. "Angel. Spike. Less dead than I expected."
Angel couldn't believe what he was seeing. Buffy and Oz were together? They had kids? He had honestly thought she would be waiting for him, even after all this time. She had really moved on? Spike on the other hand was overjoyed for Buffy. Yeah, he was sad it wasn't him, but he knew he had sullied any chance they had had to be together when he never contacted her. But he was so happy for her. These were things he never thought she could have, never thought she'd live long enough to have. He was proud.
The two children were sitting on her lap, one on each knee, staring curiously at the unknown men in front of them. "Remember the story I told you about how you got your names?" she gently asked the two cherubs.
They nodded gleefully. "Tell us again! Tell us again!" they chanted.
Oz reclined against the wall to watch as Buffy began a tale she had obviously told many times. "After your Daddy left Sunnydale, my friends and I had a lot of adventures. We beat a huge robot demon man named Adam. We defeated a god named Glory. And after than, a bunch of monsters came out of a door to the underworld called the Hellmouth. We had a huge battle with these monsters. They were called uber vamps. In this battle fought a beautiful woman named Anya."
"Like me!" the little girl squealed.
Buffy smiled at her and kissed her forehead. "Yes, my darling, just like you. She was brave and courageous. She died protecting one of our friends. Your Uncle Xander was very proud of her. We all loved her so much." Buffy wiped at a stray tear before continuing, this time looking at her little boy twin. "Also fighting in that battle was a man I loved very much. You know, he saved the whole world that day? He was and still is to this day, my hero. And that's where you got your name." She turned to the vampires in front of her. "Angel and William, this is my son, Will and my daughter, Anya."
Spike blinked back the tears in his eyes as he scooted to the floor. Sitting cross-legged, he extended his hand to the young boy. "Hello, Will. My name is William. How old are you?" Will held up three fingers.
Anya had crawled up and was sitting in Angel's lap, chattering away about what she planned to do at her sleepover at her Aunt and Uncle's place. But Will asked a question that brought silence to the small group.
"Can I call you Uncle William?" he asked shyly.
Spike looked at Buffy and Buffy looked at Oz. He nodded his head sagely, much to the delight of his children. For the next ten minutes, the twins chattered to their newfound and very amused adopted uncles. Oz left the room and returned with little backpacks for the kids, announcing it was time for them to begin their trek down to Dawn's apartment. The two children hugged their mother and then ran excitedly to the door to follow their father down the three floors to their waiting Aunt and Uncle.
Angel cleared his throat after the door was shut. "So, you and Oz, huh? How'd that happen?"
"Long story," she smiled. "Sure you wanna hear it?"
"We're vampires, pet. We have nothing but time," Spike said as he smiled encouragingly at her.
She nodded. "After Sunnydale, Dawn and I went to Rome. She enrolled to finish high school there and I lived the life of leisure off the Council's invested money. I still patrolled, but when I went out at night, it was usually just to wander the streets. To lose myself. I wasn't the same anymore. I was a broken down mockery of the human condition." She looked at Spike. "Losing you hurt me more than you'll ever know. I felt shattered. So I wandered the streets to escape."
She closed her eyes to relive the memory that changed her life forever. "One night, I walked to Trevi Fountain. It was lit up like a beacon in the night. It was probably two or three in the morning at the time. There were only a handful of people anywhere nearby. I was walking around it, looking at all the different sculptures and not watching where I was going at all. I tripped into someone. I was babbling apologies and he said, 'Don't worry, Buffy. It's cool.' I looked up and it was Oz. He was working as a bartender to finance the next leg of his journey of discovery around the world. I drug him back to the apartment and we talked all night. He told me stories of where he'd been and I told him everything that had happened in Sunnydale."
Eyes still closed, her head laid back against the couch, she smiled at the memories. "It became a routine. We hung out, sometimes with Dawn, sometimes without, three or four times a week until Dawn finished high school. She applied here, to NYU, and was accepted and I had already planned to come back to the states with her. Of course, now I didn't want to, because it would mean losing my new old friend. But, as it turned out, I didn't need to worry at all. Devon, the old lead singer from Dingoes ate My Baby got in contact with Oz, saying that they had all relocated to New York and they wanted to know if he planned on coming back because his spot in the band was open. He didn't even hesitate."
She opened her eyes and smiled brightly at the two men. "Dawn had just started school and we were living in this small apartment downtown. Oz came over to help me put a bookcase together. When he wasn't looking, I swiped the instructions and half of the nails. He got all frustrated when he couldn't find them and I was giggling, which is I guess what tipped him off. He got all pretend growly with me and I held the instructions over my head while I was sitting on the couch and he was on his knees trying to reach without getting up. We were face to face and it was one of those moments, you know? I looked at his lips and he was looking at mine and we just kissed. It was spectacular. Tender and really beautiful."
Buffy blushed as studied the expressions on the faces of the men in front of her. Angel looked upset and Spike looked like he was truly happy for her. Maybe he was. Perhaps he loved her enough that her being happy was enough for him.
"We took everything slowly. We even waited six months after we started dating to have sex. About eight months into our relationship, we got an invitation to Faith and Robin's wedding. Needless to say, I was shocked. I didn't think see had it in her. She even made me the Maid of Honor! The three of us flew to Cleveland. At the rehearsal dinner, Willow freaked out." She looked at the two men. Angel looked confused and Spike was shaking his head with a sad half smile. "You see, Angel, I broke the best friends rule. Never date your best friends ex."
The brunette vampire sputtered, "But she's gay! Why would it matter if you and Oz were together? If she wasn't with him, no one she knows is allowed to be?"
"Exactly. She said that she wanted us both to be happy, but not together. She left that night without even staying for the wedding. She cast spell after spell at us to break us apart. Sometimes she succeeded, but not for long. My sister kept a close eye on us. Then she got a brilliant idea. Dawn called the coven in Devon, every few days they would have to cast protective spells on us. It was better that having to cast reversal spells constantly. We had been dating for a year when he asked me to marry him and six months later, I did. We were married in England by the coven. We were magically bonded in such a way that we can no longer be broken apart by spells. A few months later, when we found out I was pregnant, Xander moved here, in case Willow…well, just in case. Oz quit the Dingoes. He's a music producer now. A lot of bands prefer working with him. He doesn't show up in a suit and tie. Much more of a come as you are type. Makes people feel comfortable"
She shook her head slightly, as if clearing the memory. "A few months into my pregnancy, Dawn fell sick. Really sick. That's when Xander moved in with her. Doctors couldn't tell us what was wrong with her and Oz kept telling me she didn't smell right. More astringent and yet herby as well. On a hunch, we called the coven and had them bind Willow's power and Dawn suddenly got better. We didn't even hear from Willow ever again. She killed herself a few months ago."
Buffy's face betrayed nothing about her feelings. It was a cold and composed mask. Spike broke the heavy silence that had settled over them. "I'm sorry, luv. Even if she did go a bit starkers, she was your best mate, and it must have been hard," he said softly.
"It was for a while, until I realized that the girl who was my friend was gone way before that. Willow wasn't the same after she brought me back from the grave. It was probably happening even before that, but I had never noticed. I mean, my Willow was already gone…before she ever died, if that makes any sense."
Spike nodded his understanding. "But you are happy now, right?"
Buffy smiled at him. "I consider myself very lucky, Spike. I have had three epic loves in my life. I consider an 'Epic Love' one that changes you, for better or worse, and the ways you view your life. The first was you, Angel." She watched him as she explained. "When I fell in love with you, I was a starry eyed child, trusting and naive. When you left, for my own good of course and when you decided I needed a normal man, I was changed. I was bitter and cynical. Took me years to finally trust someone fully again. And then there was you, Spike."
Spike sat up a little straighter on the couch. Somehow, he didn't think he was going to be included in this little speech. She had never really loved him, had she? She had said it…but he still had so much doubt.
"When you told me all we had ever done was dance, I thought you were insane. It was only looking back on it I could pick up the subtle nuances of our slow seduction that started the first moment you came crashing into Sunnydale. You challenged me, you respected me, and you treated me as an equal, something no one had ever done before. And then you told me you were in love with me. You see, I couldn't believe that, because if I had, it would mean everything I had been taught about demons wasn't true, and the last thing I needed was my entire worldview to get knocked on its ass. When Glory tortured you and you didn't give Dawn up, I knew it was real. And I understood I felt something for you as well, but I had no time to really examine it before I took a swan dive off a tower."
Buffy gave the blonde vampire a shy smile. "After I was gone, you could have taken off. It's not like I would have ever known had I not been brought back. But you didn't. You stayed. Just because you promised you would. I did horrible things to you when I came back. Things I will never forgive myself for, but you didn't leave. You stayed. I knew I loved you and I was terrified. I was so afraid of what my stupid friends would say, I never told you how I really felt. Until, of course, it was to late to matter."
No one noticed the werewolf slip silently back into the apartment, so focused on Buffy's expiation they were. Although he would never outwardly show it, Oz was worried. These two men were the loves of Buffy's life. Sure, she couldn't be with Angel because of his curse, but what of Spike? Death had separated them, but since that was no longer an issue, where did he, the husband and perhaps third choice stand?
"But with Oz, everything is different. More real. He accepts me for who and what I am, never trying to change me, make me into something else, or convince me that I belong in the dark. Through patience and understanding, he has helped me piece my heart back together and I am more whole now than I have ever been. More complete. When I fell in love with Oz…it felt right for the first time."
Just because Buffy had made no mention of Oz standing in the doorway, it didn't mean she didn't know he was there. As she finished up what she was saying, she watched him, a small smile on her lips. Sure, she had loved these men, but she loved Oz so much. And their beautiful children as well. There was no place in any dimension that she would rather be.
Oz winked at her, reading the wealth of emotions she didn't say in her eyes. He understood then that he never need worry. His wife loved him. And he would always love her.