Spike spent the better part of the night's rounds feeling not just out of the loop as far as what was going on, and there was something going on, but it cut him more than he thought it would to see Angel and Buffy working together again. For the past year or so Spike had been there to help her, not that she really needed help when it got down to it. But Buffy and his grandsire seemed to be pretty much ignoring everyone else in their little patrolling party. The fact that they did in fact work better together than Buffy had with Spike or her soldier boy only served to twist the knife in the already existing wound.
They were making their way from the last cemetery they were going to cover for the night when Spike walked upon what he imagined was supposed to be a private moment between his grandsire and the Slayer. He was not overly surprised Angel had not sensed Spike's presence given his attentiveness to Buffy. He was checking a wound on her cheek, the touch more intimate than the gesture warranted. And then Spike watched as Angel kissed her. He did not want to watch, but it was like an accident scene he had to watch for fear he would miss something.
"The chains are for you, aren't they?" Spike asked, realization dawning on him. "You're going to shag her and have the witch on standby to restore your soul again while you're still chained."
"Spike," Angel said softly.
"I'm right, aren't I? You have a lot of nerve, Slayer, wanting my stuff so that you can get your rocks off."
"No, I mean, yes, but no," Buffy said, walking up to Spike. "Can you just trust us?"
"Trust you two? You get with the pelvis' touching and we're back to Angelus trying to rid the world of humanity again. Have you forgotten what he did to you and your friends, Slayer?"
"No, just like I haven't forgotten what you did either. Spike, Willow and Wesley are working on anchoring his soul, making it permanent. So, yes the chains are for us, but I would never make love to Angel if I knew for sure he would lose his soul. But it's the only way we can find out, and I knew your chains were of the superhuman strength variety because they held me."
"So, after all is said and done, after everything I've done for you, you're going back to him?"
"Spike, I appreciate everything you did for me and for Dawn. I told you after what Glory did to you that what you did was real and I would never forget it, and I meant that. But I never said I loved you, Spike. I never even said I liked you like that."
"We kissed, Buffy."
"Spike," Buffy hissed under her breath.
"It was one kiss, Angel," Buffy whispered.
"Two," Spike clarified.
"Spike, you're not helping."
"I don't really want to help in this instance, pet," Spike said, enjoying the look on Angel's face. The pained expression at the thought of his beloved Buffy kissing Spike was almost worth losing her over.
"You kissed him. Buffy?"
"Yeah, I did, all right. Do you have any idea what it was like to be brought back? To be ripped out of a place where I was happy and at peace, where I didn't have to fight every minute, where I didn't have to worry about bills and losing my house, where I knew that my friends and Dawn were safe? I lost that, and you had left me. I kissed him before I got those memories back. Spike was the only person since I've been back I could talk to. He listened when I needed to talk, didn't judge me, and I needed that. But it wasn't enough, I wanted to feel, and I thought that would do it. It might have, too, I suppose but then I got those memories back and I had to come here and find out what it was I was remembering."
"What memories, Slayer?" Spike asked, almost afraid to ask.
"It's personal, Spike. And I'm sorry I kissed you okay? I mean, it wasn't my fault. If anything, blame Willow, she's the one who did that crazy memory spell."
"So you're saying if it weren't for Red and her witchcraft I would have had a shot with you?"
"I don't know, I can't answer that. I wasn't thinking clearly when I kissed you, either time. They were both out of desperation, wanting to feel something other than misery for a brief moment. I want to be with Angel, Spike."
"Bloody brilliant, well, don't come looking for more than kissing when the soul anchoring thing doesn't work, Slayer. I love you, but I'm not going to be your consolation prize."
"I would never ask you to be, Spike. I've never lied to you, you know."
"I know," Spike admitted. She had been nothing but brutally honest with him. So honest it hurt sometimes. "Right, well, I hope it works for your sake, Slayer, not for his. He doesn't deserve you." He shrugged, shoving his hands into the pockets of his leather duster as Angel's version of Buffy's Scoobies approached them. "Are we done then?" Spike asked with a frown as Buffy's attention was already on Angel again. Was there a woman in Spike's life that he did not have to compete with Angel for?
"Yeah, let's head back," Angel said. "You all right over there, Gunn?"
"Yeah," he said, but did not sound overly convincing even to Spike.
"Angel, he needs to get to a hospital," Buffy said and Spike smelled it then, blood.
Buffy rushed to Gunn's side to offer him her support, Spike watched as she placed her hand on the wound under his ribcage. How had it escaped Spike's notice until now? Too focused on being jealous and irritated at the situation he imagined.
"No, no hospitals," Gunn said.
"Is he always this stubborn?"
"Yeah, I'll get him stitched up when we get back."
"Okay," Buffy said. Spike chuckled, he could tell she was not convinced. "At least let me help you back to the car."
"I can manage, Buffy."
"I know you can manage. Geez, this isn't because I'm a girl is it?"
"No," Gunn said. "Well, okay maybe a little."
"Fine. Angel," she called. "You help him back, never mind that I could pick him up and carry him if I had to. Come on, Spike," Buffy said and stalked off in the opposite direction of Angel's car.
"Smart move, moron," Spike hissed in Gunn's direction. "A brassed off Slayer is not what you want on your hands." He met Angel's gaze evenly and followed Buffy. "I'll make sure she gets back safely."
"What?" Gunn asked.
"You pissed her off, idiot. She's gone off to find something more to kill. Sorry, Peaches, I'd offer to take him back instead and let you go traipsing off after her, but I don't have suturing skills. Looks like you just have to trust me with your woman."
"If anything happens to her, Spike."
"I won't do anything to her, I can't hurt her anyway, remember?"
"The only reason I haven't killed you for this, Spike, is because she claims you were good to her, and to Dawn."
"Right," Spike said and stalked off in the direction Buffy had gone.
He saw her sitting on top of a headstone, stake at the ready, left foot crossed over the right, kicking her feet up. He had seen this pose many times, she was stewing.
"Your problem is, pet, you take things too personally. No man, human or vampire, likes to have a bit of a girl show them up, particularly in front of their girlfriend."
"I didn't show him up, I offered to help him. Whatever. It's okay for me to be the Slayer to kill things when I'm with them, but not otherwise. It's just stupid."
"Buffy," he said cautiously. "What's this really about? If Angel is pressuring you."
"No, he's not, Spike, not at all. I didn't want him to leave Sunnydale to begin with, he chose to leave. Life is too short and I refuse to live what time I have left miserable. He seems to agree, and apparently hasn't been doing all that well with our separation either."
"I guess you won't be needing me then."
"Spike, don't say that. Angel's going to be staying here and I'll still be in Sunnydale, I'd be happy to have your help. Unless you want to go?"
"I don't know, I'll think about it. I'd miss Niblet."
Buffy smiled with a shake of her head. "And she'd miss you. I would, too. I had hoped if nothing else we were sort of becoming friends, more than simply allies at any rate."
"I had hopes for more than friendship, pet."
"I can't choose who I love, Spike."
"I understand that, you don't think it haunts me that I fell for you. Angel has his soul, I don't, it goes against everything I know to feel this way for you."
"You know, Angel has offered to let me live at the mansion."
"You going to do it?"
"I'm thinking about it, it'd be nice not to have to worry about bills so much, and Dawn would love it."
"Yeah, Niblet would go crazy in that place."
"I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you do decide to stay and if you're tired of your crypt, there'd be room for you there."
"Better make sure he won't mind that."
"I think he'd like knowing you're there to look out for us. No one's going to try to break into a house where a vampire, the Slayer and a powerful witch lives."
"I don't suppose they would. I'll think on it, Slayer. It's not exactly the kind of live-in arrangements I pictured when I pictured being with you."
"I guess not," she said somberly.
"You ready to head back then, don't want Peaches to worry about you."
"Yeah, I'm really not in the mood to," she started to say but was cut off by the appearance of a newly risen vamp struggling to get out of his grave. She jumped from the headstone and walked to where the vamp was. "Sorry, buddy," she said as she stuck the stake through his heart. Normally, she gave them the chance to at least get out of the grave, but obviously she was not in the mood for an actual fight just then. That was good, Spike realized. That meant he had calmed her down some.
They walked in silence in the direction of the Hyperion. They were about a block away when Spike decided to pose the question that had been on his mind since he realized who and what the chains were for. "What if his soul can't be anchored, Buffy? What then?"
"Then I guess it doesn't get anchored and we live the rest of my life out the same way we did after he came back to us."
"And you can do that?"
"If it means having him in my life, yes," she said simply. "I can't do it anymore, Spike."
He placed an arm around her, his hand resting on her shoulder. "Then I wish you luck, pet. Far be it from me to tell anyone not to follow their heart."
"Thanks, and I am sorry I kissed you. I mean, not sorry exactly. It was nice."
"Yeah, it was, and I knew what you were doing. I'm not stupid you know."
"I know. You're a good man, Spike, you know there are girls out there who would be happy to have you."
"You think so?"
"I know so. So don't go looking for Drusilla or Harmony, okay?"
"Wouldn't dream of it," he said with a scoff. He would always love Drusilla, but he would never go back to her. Not again. Choosing Angelus over Spike had been one thing, Angelus and Drusilla had a past when Drusilla turned Spike. It was at least somewhat forgivable in Spike's eyes. But choosing a chaos demon over him was another thing entirely.
They entered the Hyperion and Angel was nowhere to be seen, but Gunn was lying on one of the lobby couches, apparently waiting for them.
"Listen, Buffy," Gunn said as he stood slowly. He was shirtless now, and the gash under his ribcage was not as bad as the blood stain on his shirt had made it seem. "I didn't mean to be a prick earlier."
"No problem," Buffy said. "You're all right, that's what matters most."
"Need help getting up the stairs, mate?" Spike offered.
"Sure. Buffy, they're waiting for you in your room."
"Thanks," Buffy said walking toward a hall Spike had not been down.
"Where are you going, pet?"
"To my room."
"You're room is down here?"
"Yeah, it's real nice, too, maybe you can see it tomorrow."
"Right," Spike grimaced. If Red and Watcher Junior were able to do their mojo on Angel, Spike suspected no one would see Buffy or Angel for days. "Lucky bastard," Spike muttered.
"Nothing, mate, let's get you up to your room," Spike said and walked with Gunn upstairs.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com