Spike was quiet for a few minutes after Buffy had finished telling him her story. It was hard to believe. Had she been anyone but the Slayer or had he not been around when she and her band of Scoobies had experienced some of their whacky moments he would be tempted to discount her story entirely. "So you actually believe this," Spike asked seated in a wooden chair, his arms resting on the chair's back. "I mean, it seems pretty far fetched to me."
"Then explain it to me. Explain to me how as soon as I realized I couldn't do it. That I couldn't kill Angel or stop Dru from turning you I woke up at the hospital."
"I can't. I wish I could, but I can't. Maybe Red," he said with a shake of his head. She was in England, too far away really to pull off something quite like this.
"No, it wasn't Willow. It was real, Spike. The clothes, the hair, the servants, and the driver who knew not just who I was but what I was. I don't think he wanted me to do it either."
"Well that wasn't very Watcherly of him, was it?"
"Probably not, but he made a comment that got me thinking. If I had stopped Drusilla, who is to say events would have happened the way they did originally. I might not have had Angel here."
"And that would be bad because?"
"Stop. I loved him alright? I still love him."
"Listen, I don't need to hear about it. If you want to go off to LA and hook back up with Peaches, I have nothing to stop you with. I guess you got all the shagging you might be in need of out of your system last year and everything," he said as evenly as he could. He hated himself for the crude words. He hated that he would in fact let her go without challenge if she told him here and now that she wanted to go back to Angel. How she could live like that he had no idea, but it was not his place to question someone choosing a life of celibacy. He had gotten the impression, though, from her behavior downstairs that maybe, just maybe there was hope for him. For them. Foolish of him to get hopeful about such a thing.
"No, Spike, that's not it. I do still love him, but it's not the same." She stood from the bed, her mom's bed he wagered and walked to him. She knelt on the floor in front of him, her hands grasping the rungs of the chair's back. "But that also meant you and Drusilla might not have been in Prague."
"Yeah, well, I could have done without that experience," he said without thinking about the implication behind those words. He realized too late his mistake when he saw the pained look in her eyes. "I'm sorry, luv, didn't mean it like that."
"I know. But it's all connected. Don't you see? Had I killed Angelus who is to say you'd have come here. I think that's what he meant. He did not say much. Was cryptic with the talk, but that was clear enough. If Angel was there in the future for me to love."
"So what is it you are driving at, Slayer? You'll forgive me if I don't care to sit here listening to you profess your feelings for your one and only true love."
"Are you mad at me?"
"No, not mad, but I know how you feel about him already, don't need to be caught up on the details."
"No, I'm not talking about Angel. I meant that I didn't do it, couldn't do it? Are you mad that I was selfish and wanted you both here for me?"
He stood from the chair, his hands at the chair's back supporting his weight as he did. He walked to the window, guilt washing through him when he realized this had to be the window Glinda had been shot through. Not that his presence here on that day would have changed the outcome. He could have lost Buffy that day for a second time. Just how many more times did she, or he for that matter, think she could cheat death? She had already done it twice; getting shot by Warren had brought it nearer to a third. He raked his hand through his hair not liking where his thoughts were taking him.
Would he want to have lived William's life out? No, but he was not sure he could explain it to her. He saw vividly in his mind now the murdering, raping and pillaging he had been doing since eighteen hundred eighty and while he regretted it, the new soul made him feel regret, he would not want that other life back. He would not want to miss out on knowing Buffy.
"No, I'm not mad at you. But I'm curious about something."
"What if you could have killed Angel, not saved me and still had me here with you now, would you have done it?"
"I don't know. I don't think so. He was an important part of my life. Helping me to deal with my calling. Spike," she said, walking toward him. She placed a hand on his chest where his heart would beat if it needed to. "Would you take back the hundred twenty years with Drusilla? Would you take back the poems you wrote for that witch Cecily? Are you going to get jealous of Angel and the past? Angel was only a couple years of my life you know."
He was surprised to hear her talk like this. "No, it made me who I am. I was pathetic, I've done things and seen things that I can't say I'm sorry about." That was true to a point. There were lots of things over the years he could honestly say he was not sorry to have been there for. He placed a hand over hers, basking in the warmth and the scent that was Buffy. He kissed the back of her hand and placed it against his chest once again.
"You weren't pathetic. I didn't see you, but I heard you. You just seemed like a man who wanted true love. Not love that could be bought by the highest bidder."
"I wish I could have seen you kick Angelus' ass. I'll bet he was shocked as hell. A human woman, a tiny one at that."
"Well, I had an advantage."
He scoffed slightly. "What was that, luv? Tits and a nice ass to distract him with?"
She began to draw away from him but he stopped her, his hand at her wrist. "Hello? Slayer, was still the Slayer. I don't need those things to kick demon ass."
"I know, pet, tell me about your advantage."
"I knew how he fights."
"I wish I knew if that really happened, if you really did alter something somehow. But, well, Drusilla killed me that night and all, so I wasn't privy to their conversations. I could ask her."
"You know where she is," she said and Spike wondered if she was jealous. First, her uncertainty about him and Anya and now a comment about Dru.
"Well, she's in Brazil or Peru or somewhere down there. Not sure exactly. I haven't seen her since I left here if that's what you're driving at. If I didn't know better I'd think you were jealous, pet. Kind of strange considering I'm your ex and all. Do I even rate that classification?"
"Yes, you do," she said softly. He relaxed his hold on her wrist sensing she was not going anywhere. "I realized something about you."
"Oh," he queried as a knock at the door came. He released Buffy's hand, tempted to muss his hair and unfasten his jeans just to be an ass but refrained. He knew it was Xander on the other side of the door, no sense antagonizing the whelp so soon. And there was no sense getting her angry with him, especially since things seemed to be pointing in a good direction. If he did not need to go on his little journey he was going to be a little pissed off. He had not had a good night's sleep in months, the voices and pictures in his head were almost intolerable sometimes. He had imbibed in a good deal of Jack to aid him in sleeping, but now maybe he would have her to help him through this. He could hope.
"What do you want, Xander?"
"Just making sure you're alright."
"I'm fine," she said. "Bye," she said, closing the door. She leaned her back against it and rolled her eyes. "It's going to take them a while to trust you again. Or me for that matter."
He nodded his head slightly in understanding. "You were saying."
"You realized something," he coached her helpfully.
"Oh right. That. I just realized that I was wrong about you. About you not being able to care or love or feel. I'm sorry I doubted you."
He shrugged. "It goes against what you were taught and told. Is that it then?" he queried disappointed. He was not sure what he had hoped for, but that had not been it.
"What do you mean?"
"Slayer, I told you a few years ago I can't go from being your lover to being your friend. We were never really friends to begin with, cordial adversaries perhaps. But we went from that to my fulfilling some sort of need you had last year, after," he trailed off not being able to give those one hundred forty seven days voice. "Well, just after. I won't do that again. I can't go back to that, I might be a monster but I deserve to be treated better than what you gave me. That's why I stayed away. I was afraid to come near you."
"You were afraid of me?"
"Well, yeah. Buffy, what we did, what we were doing, while it wasn't wrong it wasn't right either. I loved you and you took that love and used it against me. You used me. No man deserves that. I gave and gave and gave, all I wanted was some security. Some sense that I rated somewhere above a monster to you. I never got it. That night here I guess I proved I didn't deserve it, but I still wanted it. Still want it. That's why I left. To see if I couldn't fix it. Fix me. To give you what you need, what you deserve, because I obviously wasn't giving it to you."
He chanced looking into her eyes afraid he had revealed too much. His new soul rebelled against him when he saw tears in her eyes. What had he said wrong? He had not meant to upset her, but he could not go back to being someone she used when she needed help or information from the demon world.
He winced when she touched his cheek, the gesture unexpected. He was unsure what he expected from her after that little soliloquy, a rebuff, teasing, mockery but not sensitivity or understanding. "I know," she whispered. He would have missed it if not for his enhanced hearing.
"I know. I was unfair to you. I realized something else, too. You were right."
"Change for me," she said, caressing his face with her hand.
"What," he asked confused wondering where the request had come from. What did his dropping his human visage have to do with his being right about anything?
"Change for me. I want to see your demon, your true self."
"Buffy, I can't."
"You can. Please. I need to see it."
"Just do it for me. Then I'll tell you."
He lowered his gaze, drawing away from her hand but she only reached out to maintain contact. He felt his demon come out, the shifting of his facial features. What a poof he was. Hadn't he just got done saying he was through being her lap dog? And here he was doing what she asked merely because she was touching him. The fact she smelled good might have had something to do with it.
"Look at me," she said as she stepped toward him. He lifted his eyes to meet hers curious as to her point. Her body pressed against his, he could feel her heat, feel her curves. His eyes fluttered closed briefly as the intimate pictures of what those curves felt like came to his mind. A soft growl escaped his throat, but he opened his eyes again.
Her other hand joined its mate in its gentle and curious caress. It was as if she was touching him to memorize what his demon felt like. Her thumb grazed the scar above his left eye. Her fingertips touched his eyelids and lashes and he knew she was going to tell him good bye. He felt it in his gut, felt the sinking sensation in his soul that recognized she belonged with him, to him, yet he was going to be unable to claim her in his new state. She was to his mouth now, her thumbs skimming his lips.
"Open," she whispered and he opened his mouth without question. She did not touch his teeth or fangs, merely looked. He noticed she licked her lips and another low growl escaped his throat. She was aroused, he could smell it and knew she had to know he could.
"What is this, Slayer?"
"I realized that I'd never done that before, touched you like this."
"Well, when you love someone you should know every aspect of them, don't you think?"
He swallowed hard. Had he heard right? Surely his ears were playing tricks on him. "What?"
She shook her head slightly almost as if she could not believe she had said it either. "Where did you go," she asked, her hands still touching his face. Her hands felt oddly soothing against him. A pad of a thumb grazed against a fang and he had to push back his demon to stop from biting down, drawing her blood and tasting her. Her question brought him out of his inner conflict.
Here goes. "Africa, to do some soul searching."
She laughed lightly. "Cute little play on words."
"Yeah, well," he said with a shrug. "Strange what some will do for love."
"When did you get back?"
"A couple months ago."
"I've sensed you for a while."
"I know. I worried about you. You're not sleeping well."
"What kind of dreams," he asked, wondering if the experience she believed she had was really just an intense, realistic dream she had had.
"About girls dying. Over and over. It's basically the same. The chase isn't always the same and it's a different girl each time. But the outcome is the same. Girl dies. The last one talked to me."
"She mouthed something to me, but I couldn't hear her," Buffy said simply.
"Yeah, there's something coming I know that, anyone who's anyone in the demon world knows it."
"Any ideas as to what it is?"
"Are you using me for information, Slayer?"
"No," she said with a pout. He wanted to kiss her then and there but refrained. She had not invited him to and he was not going to take without permission. Not this soon anyway. "You're the one who mentioned I wasn't sleeping well."
"Right," he said, giving her that.
"How did you know that anyway?"
"You never did the spell," he said simply as if that explained it all. Of course it did, he was still welcome to come into her home and he had many evenings over the past couple of months. "I have watched you patrol, too. I've seen you come out more than once a night. You've been hunting."
"Maybe there was a big bad in town."
"There was, pet, you're looking at him," he said with a wink, finally giving into the temptation and nipping a finger with his blunter center teeth. Her breath caught and her eyes met his, running her finger along his teeth before pushing the tip further into his mouth. He pursed his lips around her finger and sucked, his eyes closing at the taste of her.
"Yes, I can see that. All threatening like and everything. Should I be scared?"
A low rumble started in his chest and was stifled only because his mouth remained closed, his lips pursed around her finger. She started to pull her finger out and his lips parted, the growl becoming louder. She was teasing him, taunting him and despite knowing it was in fun he could not stop his demon from wanting to lash out at her insubordination. He was not human after all and could only hold himself in check through so much.
"I guess so," she said, removing her finger entirely from his mouth. He made a sound that was a mixture of disappointed whelp and possessive growl. "But I'm not."
He was surprised at the relief that washed through him at those words. She placed the finger she had just withdrawn from his mouth into her own mouth and suckled it. "You're killing me, Slayer," he said.
She shook her head, a faux innocence about her as she withdrew her finger from her mouth. She trailed it along her lips. He watched raptly as a trail of moisture from both of their mouths combined was visible on her lips now. "Can't. Already dead, remember?"
"If anyone could make me forget such a detail it would be you, luv."
"Really?" she said coquettishly, and he was sorely tempted to kiss the smug little grin off her mouth that was echoed by the look in her eyes.
"You already know the answer to that."
"Yes," he said changing back to his human form.
"You're pale," she said.
"I haven't fed recently."
"I was with you last night, remember."
"Wait a minute. Did you say feed?"
"Yeah," he said cautiously.
"Feeding as in feeding or feeding as in drinking pig's blood?"
"Haven't had money to go to a butcher and get blood, but I've not been feeding on humans if that's what you're worrying about."
He heard her exhale, saw the relief wash over her. Apparently it did not cross her mind what that implied he had been feeding on for the past few months. "I thought maybe you found a way to get the chip out."
"And what if I had? Would that change the way you feel about me?"
"I don't know, I guess as long as you weren't hurting humans, no. And so long as you didn't go stalker boy."
"I'm not Angelus, luv, what you see is what you get, chip or no chip. I may be the big bad, but I know when to be good. You know that," he drawled, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
"Yeah, I do," she said accompanied by a blush. He could barely believe she had admitted that. Today was a day for firsts. If he did not know better due to its being impossible he might believe he'd died and gone to heaven.
"So now what, pet? You know your sis and the whelp are downstairs waiting for us to come down."
"We can go downstairs now. I needed to tell you. To make sure you didn't hate me or anything. For everything. Can I tell you now I'm sorry?"
"No need to apologize, I told you I'm not mad. You did what you thought was the best thing."
"I just hope it was the right thing."
"Do you think it was?"
"Yeah," she said after a moment's hesitation.
He cupped her jaw, his fingertips grazing her earlobe. "Then you did the right thing, Slayer. You can't doubt yourself, you'll drive yourself crazy if you do that. You can't change it, there's nothing saying you would anyway. You might have gotten past Angelus only to not have found me in time. Drusilla could have killed you," he said with a grimace.
"You think so?"
"Yeah, I think so. I'm not saying it would have been a definite or anything, but the chance would have been there sure. She bagged a slayer on her own, remember?"
"Yeah, I remember," she said and closed her eyes.
"Sorry, pet, didn't mean to bring up memories better left in the past."
"No, it's all right. I need to remember these things, too. I just wish," she shrugged. "I wish I knew for sure."
"What? That you did the right thing? Or that you're better off with things the way they are, Angel Angelusing out on you and all?"
"The right thing. I know I'm better off." She looked at him curiously, a pained look on her face. "Why didn't you ever tell me I said the same thing to you she did?"
"Because I knew the circumstances were different. I probably was truly beneath her and had very little chance of redeeming myself in her eyes. You, on the other hand," he shrugged. "I thought it was just a matter of time before you realized it wasn't true."
"Mm," she said with a little pout. "Did I take too long then?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "I get the feeling this is different, waters we have not chartered before."
He laughed. "That's an understatement, Slayer. You have no idea how different. Do you want to find out," he asked, lowering his mouth towards hers.
"Yes." He felt the warm caress of the lone word whispered against his lips and a growl started deep in his chest again. He was having a difficult time keeping his demon in check for the first time in months. Having a soul seemed to make it easier to quell it from rearing its head, but it wanted to come out with Buffy for some reason. Needing her light perhaps. His darkness needing to mate with her light, needing to claim her once and for all as his.
He kissed her, hesitant at first. It was a kiss unlike any they had shared before that moment. There was no urgency, no violence, no conflict there was simply the two of them and need. Slowly, he deepened the kiss taking his cue from her response. His hands encircled her waist as hers went around his neck. If he was dreaming he was going to regret ever waking up. He had dreamt of her kissing him like this, out of pure love and desire for him. Her lips tasted like vanilla and pears, matching the scent of her body. Some bath lotion he imagined and he broke the kiss lapping at her lips with his tongue the need to taste strong.
"We need to stop," he said, his voice ragged from pushing his desire to take her then and there down.
"Why," she gasped her breath warm against his neck.
"Because I don't want sex from you, pet. If we're doing this, if you want to get to know me, then we're going to do it right. Can you handle that?"
"You mean, like start all over?"
"Yes," he said the 's' sounding very much like a hiss. It was not easy for him to say this, she was willing and she had said she loved him. It would be easy to bed her and be done with it, but he wanted more than that. He needed to know that she loved him, not just an idea or a memory of him. He had come back, something Angel, her father, and Riley had not done other than for closure. Giles, well, Spike suspected this time the Watcher was indeed gone for good.
She nodded and he chuckled as her hair tickled his neck. His hand clasped her head and he stroked her hair, letting the silky strands move through his fingertips. "Okay," she said simply. She drew away from him, his arms still around her. "I'm sorry I hurt you, didn't mean to. I just couldn't see it, wouldn't admit it."
"I know, pet, no worries. I shouldn't have been so persistent. Who knows where things would have led if I had been more patient, but patience has never been my strong point. And when I realized Drusilla was right that I loved you, had loved you almost from the beginning I couldn't just sit back."
"Where are you staying?"
"An abandoned building," he said with a shrug. "It was empty and in better shape than the factory was after the fire, so no real danger."
"Do you want to stay here?"
"Better ask the li'l bit if she approves of that."
"No, I don't need to ask her, Spike. You can stay in the basement if she has a real problem with it. We can look at finding you some place that isn't abandoned. You deserve better than that. It's too bad the crypt isn't really livable anymore."
"Don't want to live there anymore anyway," he said with a shake of his head. The crypt was part of the old him, too many memories there, good and bad. He wanted to make a new start, make new memories, and if Buffy wanted to be a part of them all the better.
"Well, see, then this will work. You can be here with Dawn when I have to work," she said and then shook her head. "No, I'll stop. If you stay there will be no expectation for you to help beyond cleaning up after yourself."
"I don't mind looking after her so long as she doesn't mind, pet. Why did you tell her?"
"Xander did, I didn't. I found out you had left when I brought her to you because I trusted you to keep her safe. Despite it all, despite that night, I still trusted you with her. That's how I knew that you weren't completely at fault."
He kissed the top of her head, glad to hear her say that but it did not mean he was not torn up inside over that night. "Everything I did after I left was for you, Slayer, I hope you know that."
"I hope not entirely for me, hopefully you did it for yourself, too." She frowned then and he smiled slightly at the creases around her eyes at the gesture. "What exactly is it you did?"
"Not ready to talk about it, pet. I want to enjoy tonight for tonight. Okay?"
"Sure," she said but he could tell she was puzzled and curious. "Movies then?"
"I guess," he said with a huff.
"Hey, this was your idea."
"Don't remind me."
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Sure, pet, anything."
"When was the last time you had a girlfriend?"
"Uh," he said, avoiding her gaze. "Why do you want to know that?"
"I'm just curious where I stand, you know. Number twenty, forty," she frowned then. "Forget I asked. I don't want to know."
"I've never had a girlfriend," he said quickly hating to see her think like that, that she was or could be one of several.
"No. Cecily was as close to one I got and you apparently witnessed how that turned out."
"You mean you never had a girlfriend before Drusilla turned you?"
"Well, back then we didn't change girlfriends like people change underwear now."
"No fair, you don't wear any."
"Yeah, well, you do, so you know what I mean."
"So, none. What was Harmony?"
"A nightmare," he said his voice laced with question. "She certainly wasn't a girlfriend," he barked out at the look she gave him at his first response.
"So I'm the first?"
"I guess so. I could ask you the same question, but I don't think I want to know. Any girl I might have courted when I was human has been dead for a very very long time. An ex you have is still around somewhere. Peaches and Captain Cardboard two prime examples."
"Um, Angel out of the picture for three years now. Riley, married. Anyone else?"
His eyes narrowed. "Oh, I suspect there are more that I don't know. I wasn't here for your senior year when you and Angel were doing the just friends bit and there's before I came to town. Something tells me you weren't headed toward the nunnery or anything."
She laughed lightly. "No."
"Why don't you consider Drusilla," Spike queried intrigued at her reasoning.
"Um, well, over a hundred years with her? I think categorizes her as more than merely a girlfriend."
"You're more than a girlfriend and I'll never get one hundred years with you," he said observantly.
"You know you are. I don't know that I like it, though."
"Girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever. Why do we need a name?" She cocked her head at his question. "What? Why do we? I love you, what does it matter what I am to you?"
"Do you want me to go to the Bronze and tell other guys who ask me to dance that you're just the guy who loves me?"
His human face fell away in an instant at the thought. "No," he growled. She placed her hand against his chest and smiled, he was not sure what she found amusing.
"Do that again," she said. "Growl," she added in response to his eyebrows shooting up in an unasked question. He did without questioning her request. "I love when you do that."
"You do," he said, his tongue grazing his fangs. "Why?"
"I don't know. It's just cool. It's like you're an animal. All predatory like. About me. It's cool."
"Let's go downstairs before I get more predatory like." She tilted her head to one side, her hair falling away exposing the right side of her neck where three bite mark scars existed. She ran her finger along the scars, his growl growing louder. "Stop teasing me, Slayer." She had no idea how much the demon in him wanted to put his own mark on her, claim her once and for all as his, be the top layer of scar tissue over the Master's, Angelus' and Dracula's. His demon needed that, Spike needed it too in a primal way that was probably influence of the demon inside of him.
"But it's so fun."
"No fun," he said shaking his head, his human mask back in place with a bit of effort. "No fun is to be had."
She pouted and tapped her foot against the hardwood floor beneath them. "No fun at all?"
"We will have fun, downstairs with the whelp and your li'l sis."
"Oh right, watching movies. I wish I could do something else."
"Just got home from the hospital, coma like thing, nothing else for you to do, out of body experience being the cause or not."
This was getting him nowhere and if she kept pouting like that, her lower lip extended and trembling he would be sorely tempted to forget his resolve. "After you, Slayer. Ladies first and all that."
A brow arched at that. "Since when are you treating me like a lady?"
Her words made him flinch. "Always wanted to, pet, you weren't open to it until now. So now I get to be the gentleman you have yet to be privy to."
"That's cool, I guess. I kinda like it, being treated like that."
"Figured you would. I saw how Angelus treated you, and your commando guy, proper like. It's what you deserve, Slayery darkness in you or not."
"But I still get the unladylike stuff, too," she asked and he shook his head at the hope he detected in her voice.
"In time, pet, we'll get to that I wager." His hands went to either shoulder, rotating so he cupped them. "Maybe we'll discover you don't like all that unladylike stuff so much after all. That was then, this is now. Different Spike. Different Buffy. Different."
"I know," she murmured.
A hand slid from her shoulder and slid along her jaw, under her chin. He tilted her head so she could look at him. "Sweetheart, don't sound so downtrodden. You make it sound like it's a horrible fate. If that's all you want me for, I'll just be heading out now, because I'm not here for that anymore. Through being love's bitch."
"No, that's not what I want you for. I just," she shrugged.
"Do you think I don't want you," he asked. The idea was blasphemous, but maybe she did not understand.
"I don't know what to think. This is all so new to me. Me wanting, you saying no. Me admitting I want, that I love you. Letting you in when it goes against everything I believe in."
He took her hand and slid it to the front of his jeans, letting her feel he was hard, ready for her, wanted her. She looked at him confused, but her eyes darkened in a look of arousal he knew well by now. "If vampires have saints I deserve to be one, Buffy. It's not a matter of wanting, it's a matter of doing this the right way. You need to learn you can trust me, that I'm not going to leave, that you're right in believing I can actually feel. I need to learn that you might actually want me for me, the entire me, not just this part of me," he said squeezing her hand over the bulge in his jeans for emphasis. "We have things to prove to one another, to your friends. No more hiding, I'm not going to be your dirty little secret anymore."
"Okay," she said after a deep intake of breath. He drew her hand away and kissed her forehead. "I'm ready to go downstairs I guess. Staying up here just gives me bad ideas."
"All right, pet," he said with a low chuckle. "Go on down without me, I'll be down in a minute."
"Are you okay?"
"Uh, yeah," he said, gesturing to the front of his jeans. "Just don't care to go down there like this and give your sis or Xander any reason to jump to conclusions."
"Oh," she said and blushed deeply. He smiled that after all they had done together, done to each other he could still make her blush like an innocent. "Well then, I'll see you downstairs in a few minutes," she said and left the room like a bat out of hell.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com