Hi! *waves* This is hollydb. Megan’s out of town, and she asked me to post her new fic for her on her assigned day. So if there are any glaring mistakes (like my posting on the wrong day) it’s my fault, not hers. Just wanted to clear that up.
This is a GREAT little fic. Hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did!
Title: Divine Epiphanies
Author: Megan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Timeline: Season Six, end of Tabula Rasa
Summary: While talking with Spike over a few drinks, Buffy comes to a realization about life, herself, and her former mortal enemy.
Disclaimer: The characters herein are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. They are being used for entertainment purposes out of love and admiration, and not for the sake of profit. No copyright infringement is intended.
“Why Seventeen?” Spike sat morosely at his table, staring into the froth of his beer and contemplated one of the many questions that kept him ticking. “I mean, was I the seventeenth demon they’d managed to catch? Or the seventeenth one they successfully chipped without the poor sod dusting along with the op? And if I was caught that early in the game, just what did the numbers get up to? Is there a hostile 598 out there wandering about, confused and as bleeding useless as a kitten?”
Buffy was truly fascinated by the way Spike’s mind worked once he had alcohol to motivate it.
“There are just too many hours in your day,” she observed, completely captivated. “You ever consider taking up a hobby?” Her eyes wide and clear green, she watched as he tipped the glass to his lips and then swallowed, his throat moving just how a man’s throat should when he was quenching a thirst. It made her salivate and that was just so much wrong that she was totally gonna ignore now—examine later.
“Did have a bloody hobby. It was called lurking—till you put the big grand kibosh on it.” The pout was pure, emotionally injured Spike and Buffy felt like giggling. God, he was so animated sometimes. So real and alive and irritating.
“So, new hobbies are good. You could, like, I don’t know…make beer?” She so hoped he didn’t detect that little hopeful inflection in her voice.
There was no other way to describe the look on his face but stunned. He took a breath, looked at her warily, then exhaled carefully.
“An’ why would I want to go and do that?” He was leaning forward now, his elbow and forearm resting on the tiny table as he watched her with narrowed, speculative eyes.
“Well, you’d have alcohol on tap. You wouldn’t have to go and steal people’s money—Xander’s money—anymore. You can say goodbye to all that pool swindling of the college boys.”
Now he was looking really flustered, and deeply affronted.
“Why don’t you just dress me up in white and make me a meek little choir boy? That’d work wonders for the old ego too, Slayer.”
Ahhh, so he was back to the name-calling. Big Bad clung a little too desperately to the fringes of seedy just for the sake of his ‘reputation’ and it was kind of endearing. In a disturbing and highly unexpected way.
“There are possibilities in that, Spike. Come on, we both know you can sing.” She grinned as the compulsive disagreement burst out between them.
“Can not. Stop claiming I’m some kind of ponce and go buy me another beer. Or a bottle of Jack just might see me right through this weird bloody night.” He was watching her slyly, an amused grin tickling the corners of his mouth. It was good to see Buffy relaxed. Good to see her eager for his communication and a bit of white wine to soften the objectives of the night.
If only he had a clue what they were.
“You use Jack to get through any night,” Buffy teased. As much as moments like these were a relief, it struck her in a painful place that she could enjoy Spike’s company so much.
“Yeah, with the glaring omission of the pretty blonde girl who quips like a master.”
Spike was cursing himself the second the words left his mouth. Trust him to bring old batface into the discussion. As if she needed any reminders of her catalogue of deaths. Not only did he single-handedly extinguish the glittering light in her eye, but he was solely responsible for the tear that wibbled on the rim of her eye.
“Spike, do you think the next time I die, I might stay dead? It’d be nice, you know? Just once for something to be the way it’s supposed to be.” Her eyes had glazed over and he could tell she was dreaming once again of a softness that was quiet and peaceful in rest rather than the fire and spirit of life. It made him apprehensive. Would Buffy slip up in order to return there and be less explicit in making her friends pay for bringing her back?
“Tell you what, pet,” he said, leaning forward so that he was an inch from her face and unable to look away from him. “Next time you’re there you can come back and tell me if it stuck.”
Her shock was palpable, but then a grin broke out and her eyes shone with humour. “How about you come and visit instead?”
Now that did make him laugh. She was a bleeding riot sometimes.
“Sure. I’ll take that bus that detours through Heaven before it lets off at the gates of Hell.”
The Bronze suddenly became enthusiastic with the service and Buffy was supplied with another glass of wine, and she giggled appreciatively. “You setting me up to get drunk?”
He leered in that way he knew he’d never have gotten away with if Buffy hadn’t already finished off a glass. “Not drunk, luv. Pissed, good and proper.” He leaned forward again and stared intently into her eyes. “How’s it going so far?”
“Peachy.” She hiccupped adorably and Spike smiled before relaxing back in his chair.
“I’m gonna ignore the obvious bad points of that small orange-coloured fruit and concentrate on the smile on your lips.” And he couldn’t take his eyes off them. God they looked delicious, all plump and supple, glistening with some maddeningly seductive lip gloss. She always shone when he saw her and it was the hardest thing ever to keep his lips to himself.
Buffy sat looking introspective for a moment, but then her expression cleared and she sighed. “I was gonna ignore you when you first came in.”
Spike cocked a brow and waited. It wasn’t exactly ground-breaking. He would have expected as much and was, quite frankly, surprised that she’d welcomed him, first to the bar and then a table, before sharing her drink with him.
She nodded abruptly, swaying slightly in her tipsy state and then straightened right back up.
“Imagined a major make-out session too. Over there under the stairs. I figured that might be a mistake though, being that we’re all with the enemies and I’m mixed signals girl. But…drinking’s good, right? This is on the right track of being with the friendliness? Not too heavy and yet not too much with the rude ignoring of you?”
“I dunno, pet. A decent snog might have set the friendship up right nice.”
The Slayer flushed and looked hard at the table in front of her. She might have been the one to bring the subject up, but that didn’t dim the guilt she felt over thinking of Spike in a very lusty manner the past month. And hating herself for it. It didn’t eradicate the shame she experienced for denying him the truth of their shared kiss the night she revealed her secret to the gang. Shame she would gladly embrace if she could lose herself in his kisses again.
Spike chuckled and it sent liquid heat storming along her veins, making her clothing feel tight and scratchy. This night had started out a major suckfest. Giles’s announcement had left her breathless and sapped of strength of will. All she’d been able to concentrate on was getting out and being alone. She’d started to believe that her emotions had been in cold storage since she’d come back, but when Giles had told her he was leaving, she felt something all right. Something huge.
Abandoned. Helpless. Weak. Hurt.
There’d been no end to the things she’d been feeling and Buffy knew if she hadn’t removed herself from his presence right then, she’d have unveiled every one of them, leaving herself not only susceptible, but also prove how pathetic back-from-the-dead Buffy really was..
Not that she’d made it far. Thanks to Willow, they’d all been made vulnerable and stupid, and when she snapped out of it to find Spike so close to her and the desire to hug him so critically overwhelming, the impulse to run again hadn’t been given a second thought. She was nothing but a frightened scent on the wind.
She should have known he’d follow. That was Spike all over. The stalker, protector, the evil vampire hunter. Spike, the evil guy who loved her. And now she was feeling soft…and kind of…happy. Even if some innocent wine had been used to get her there.
“He’s not leaving you, you know.”
How the hell did he always manage to do that? Just as she was almost ready to decide to put away the self-pity, Spike came along with a glaringly accurate interpretation of her feelings and remind her of them all over again. He never let her hide—unless it was in his crypt and it was from all of her so-called friends. Still, Giles made it pretty obvious he was leaving her. He wanted her to grow up, be strong, save the world, yadda yadda. Hadn’t he been awake for the past five years? She’d done all that and more. When was she allowed to break?
The Slayer took a deep breath and tried to focus on the rather tart flavour of her liquid path to oblivion. Or Spike’s bed. Whichever one she could decide was the best course of action on the Hellmouth.
“Really? He sure fooled me.” But she smiled. The wine was making it hurt less, and she was so very close to seeing the funny side. Something was happening inside her—something warm and ticklish—that was making her see things in an entirely different way.
“Stupid git’s runnin’ away. He’s scared you’re gonna up and die again.”
Buffy’s lips separated and formed a perfect ‘O’. She was the one who’d taken Professor Walsh’s class in psychology. How come she couldn’t have figured that out?
“Well, that’s just silly. Willow wouldn’t allow it.” Okay, that bit wasn’t so funny and the laugh that had been pressing in her throat suddenly died. Her vision blurred after the next sip of her drink and Buffy wondered what it would be like to admit that dying was very low on her list of things to do. As down and dumpy as she felt, the last thing she wanted to do was get to a place she could be ripped back out of. There was that niggling suspicion too that she just wasn’t ready yet for eternal peace. As she stared at Spike’s startling bleached hair, his severely sculpted face and his implacable blue eyes, the warmth that guided her to the realisation that things on earth could be a whole lot more fun than being finished and happy spread throughout her body. It lodged in her belly and grew, the pressure of feeling heat and want almost causing Buffy to wantonly rock and writhe on her chair for some kind of relief.
“Well, as much as the bastard is off on the island reserved by God for idiots, I have a plan.”
Buffy nearly spat her drink across the table, mirth erupting around her mouthful of white. She tried to swallow, slowing down her thought processes while the wine was gulped into her belly, the warmth swelling to extreme temperatures.
“Please tell me you didn’t just say you have a plan?” Buffy watched as Spike huffed and looked affronted, but then just smirked and leaned back in his chair, arms crossed and resting behind his head. Man he looked hot, and open, and so available. The girl in her was drooling at the picture he made, but the Slayer was getting impatient. Surprisingly it had been the primal warrior part of her that had wanted to attack Spike when he came in, wrestling him to the floor and finding out just how virile he claimed to be.
“Any time, pet. I’m not gonna knock you back.”
Oh crap, she’d turned her thoughts into words that made sound and Spike—being that he was a vampire and not deaf—heard her. His eyes glittered with mischief and Buffy couldn’t be mad at herself. Why did she always try so hard to deny what she was feeling?
“Bloody friends won’t give you the room to find out who you are inside, Slayer. If they did, maybe you’d shock yourself with wanting things that were the opposite of what they want for you.”
Gulping hard, “So, I’m kinda having trouble keeping my thoughts in my head. They seem to keep coming out of my mouth.”
Spike seared her soul, seeing deeper than she knew she had depths, and when he came back out, she wanted to believe everything he said. But it was the alcohol guiding her. She should have known, but something inside her had fought hard against her inner-angel telling her booze bad, soda good.
“Maybe you’re finally ready to be open to the truth, Buffy. Maybe you’re ready to question all the bollocks you’ve been fed and see things in a new, less prejudicial way.” Spike seemed to thrum with hopeful curiosity and watched as Buffy thought over his point.
Except as soon as that word occurred to her, she was racing off on another tangent that focused on things other than conversation or reasoned argument about her life. She was off on a more physical wavelength, considering Spike stripped and naked, pointing dramatically straight at her.
And she felt like there was nothing wrong with that.
“You wanna know about my plan? About Rupert?”
Buffy narrowed her eyes and focused unwaveringly—until her groggy mind wavered just slightly—on Spike. “Why do you call him that? You call everyone else by weird little nicknames—like Xander you call whelp, and Willow’s Red, and Tara’s Glinda or the Good Witch, and you call me Slayer, which is so incredibly original and witty—but you call Giles by his given name. What’s with that?”
He waited a second, then, “Would you want to be known as Rupert if you were a man?”
Buffy blushed. Okay, so she was majorly wigged as to why such an obvious taunt hadn’t occurred to her. Now that he’d admitted it, the tone of voice he’d often paired the term with played over in her head and Buffy’s forehead fast met the surface of their wooden table.
“God, I am so thick.” And again with the banging of her head on the table.
“It’s the grog, baby. Dulls the senses.”
Her head flew up and Buffy felt goosebumps break out all over her skin. He called her baby. Was that to be glib? Or was it a term of endearment that just slipped out?
By the look of confusion on his face, Buffy was hoping she’d managed to keep those questions in her head and chose instead to resurrect—bad pun—the whole plan thing.
“You were about to screw something up.”
His brow crinkled as Spike hazarded a trip down the Buffy highway of subject jumping.
She slapped a hand down on the table and her wineglass jumped and fell off the edge. “You so was. Your plan?” she nudged, hoping he’d get to it before their conversation ended up with so many trails she wouldn’t know which one to explore first.
“Oh yeah. See, Rupert might have announced he was going, but he’s not.”
Buffy blinked, observed Spike tip back his glass and gulp down several mouthfuls of his beer before placing it once again on the table and falling back into quiet. She waited a few seconds, hoping her expectant stare would clue him in to talking again. It didn’t.
“Well?” she demanded impatiently, and Spike grinned. Buffy rolled her eyes at being caught, but God, could he be any more exasperating? He was the king of plan failure and casually announcing he had one tied up with her watcher was major cause for concern.
“He’s not going anywhere ‘cause the silly git missed his plane.”
No way did that sound like Giles to Buffy’s admittedly not-so-clear way of thinking.
“How did he do that?” she asked, fully expecting to hear him admit that the plane had been grounded for some reason.
Spike could barely contain his mirth, his smile the brightest she’d ever seen him wear. “Poor bloke got a bit tied up.”
Now that really didn’t sound like Giles. He was all with the prepared and forethought and there was no way he’d decided to leave her without having everything all set beforehand. And then Buffy’s fuzzy braincells kicked in—which was rather impressive as she’d just started sipping a new glass of newly delivered wine—and a few dots were connected between Spike’s words and his infectious grin.
“Nooo!” How did Spike manage that? And why wasn’t she wigged by his ability to achieve something like that? “How did you manage that?”
“Didn’t,” he admitted, pure glee sparkling in his eyes. “Hired some mates to do it for me. These buggers don’t need invites and don’t have chips.”
Okay, scary. And how stupid of them to never figure he could do something like that to get back at them than be the passive accepting vamp that he’d been for the past few years. Maybe he really did love her.
“You know that requires more of an explanation, right?” Buffy watched as Spike almost preened for her benefit. He was obviously very proud of what he’d done, and every cell on her body confirmed that he’d done it for her. It made her feel…happy. It was an emotion she’d not really felt since she’d been back—excluding all memory erasing spells that made happiness the default condition. It felt good to feel it now, and with Spike a bleary presence across the table from her.
Too late Spike realised that maybe she wouldn’t think so kindly of him hiring demons to kidnap and restrain her watcher and he ducked his head bashfully.
“I’m sorry, pet. But I couldn’t stand seeing the pain you were in, and when he announced he was going like that…and I knew what it was doing to you…well, let’s just say that thinkin’ isn’t so much my strong suit.”
He was too cute sitting there all woebegone and worried he’d done the wrong thing. And she was thinking Spike was cute now? Liar. She’d been thinking Spike was cute for a long time now, but like he’d said in an earlier part of the night when she was more lucid, she’d dismissed the realisation as a fancy her friends would never allow her to have.
“So we’ve established you’re not with the thinking, and see me truly with the astonished. But what did you do, Spike?” She wasn’t really concerned—though that could be the wine talking. Buffy would just be happy to hear him talk, because that voice? Did wonders for her libido. And while every other part of her had struggled with the concept that she wasn’t so dead anymore, it was good to feel alive if even in the desire department. She didn’t even mind that it was Spike, and strangely, it felt like the obvious choice. Who else was she going to go for? Xander? So taken. Giles? Ewwwww, and totally old. Thank God. Other than the vampire thing—and that was something she had real skill at getting around—there wasn’t anything about Spike that made her balk. She’d come a long way since her days of fighting Glory—all the way to Heaven and back, and the acceptance and reassurance of his unwavering concern for her welfare did wonders for the butterflies in her belly. And from the way he was looking at her now, all worried and mystified—probably about why she wasn’t pounding him toward a broken nose—she was sure the lid on the butterflies was blown wide open and they were careening playfully all the way to her lower extremities. And wasn’t that sensation completely extreme?
“I did it for you. Don’t you forget that when you’re staring at the shiny new black eye you’re getting ready to pop out and give me.” He stared at her intently and Buffy gulped. Was she guilty of unfairly keeping Spike inline the only way she thought he’d understand? Right, no more of that then. Strictly fists off from now on. Of course not hands off—that would totally defeat the realisation she was working up to.
“Gotcha. Did it for me. What’d you do, Spike?” If she smiled, he’d so get that she wasn’t upset, and she couldn’t give her game away just yet.
“Prankster demons,” he blurted out, then quickly grabbed for his glass and threw back one of the many spirit selections he had spread out on the table.
Buffy perked a brow and waited. This was gonna be good, she was sure of it. After a full minute of nothing but background Bronze noise, Buffy realised he wasn’t going to continue and she stomped on the indulgent smile that was quirking her lips. “You said something about Prankster demons?”
“Yeah.” He cleared his throat, rubbed the back of neck and tossed back another shot of something ambiguous. “That’s about the extent of it. Right helpful they were. Figured they were playing a fine trick on the Slayer. You should pat them on the back when you see them. Buggers did it for free.”
He looked so concerned that Buffy didn’t have a hope of being mad. As furious as Giles was gonna be with them later on, Buffy half-way thought he deserved it. “So where is he now? You mentioned something about being tied up?”
Spike snorted. “Told them to tie him to that bleeding chair I hated so much. Or the tub, but that’s a second choice. Not as uncomfy as that wooden chair is for hours on end.”
Buffy giggled, remembering the days when Spike was an unwelcome permanent visitor and she could be guaranteed more than a couple of quips hitting their target with very little return. Her smile slipped and she wondered if that had been hurtful. Spike had been newly chipped and probably sensitive to his situation. He had come to them for help—which was so incredibly brave of him, considering.
Suddenly she was done talking and ready to go home to her cold, lonely house. She was positive Tara would be moving out right about now, and while that made her feel sad, she couldn’t help but feel a malicious sense of glee that Willow was getting what she deserved. Once again she’d tried to manipulate her own experiences to loss and Buffy finally saw her for a coward.
She’d always thought of Willow as strong—the girl with the mojo and the brains that had been her trump card in so many of her save-the-world battles. Now she could see that Willow was only strong when things went her way—when things supported her happiness. Everyone else was expected to deal with pain and loss like normal humans, but Willow wanted what she wanted and anyone in the way was an automatic casualty.
Dawn would be crying in her room more than likely. Willow would be sobbing somewhere, and Buffy was meant to return to it all. It was stifling and she wasn’t ready. Besides, she wanted a taste of Spike and see if things on her terms could be any more right than on those of her friends.
Her legs felt a little wobbly as she looked down at his glowing head, and for a minute Buffy wondered if he’d become fluorescent or if it was just the funky thing her eyes did when they were influenced by alcohol.
“Spike, I’ve spent the best part of today thinking I was someone else, and as much as I don’t want to be grateful to Willow for screwing with my life yet again, I have to say I liked it. It was freeing.”
His little grin and sleepy looking eyes were encouraging and Buffy held her hand out to him, feeling an electrifying sizzle charge up her arm when he took it. “You were glorious, pet.”
She preened. What else could she do when he said things like that? She so wasn’t letting go of his hand, she knew that much.
“I feel like being free some more. Wanna go for a walk, Spike?”
He looked more than willing, but before he could concede, worry wrinkled his forehead and he bit his lip. “You walkin’ us to the Watcher’s place? ‘Cause I might not want to be around for that one.”
She was totally going to end her night attached to those lips.
“He was going to leave. How about I go untie him in the morning?”
The flash of white teeth was its own reward and Buffy flushed happily. Hands still joined, she barely even eeped as Spike tugged her against his chest. “Git had me tied up for longer periods than that. How ‘bout lunch time?”
An answer was impossible as Spike’s lips settled on hers and Buffy forgot what he was talking about. Forgot everything but her name. What was her mother thinking calling her Joan?
His mouth caressed hers in a kiss so gentle that Buffy knew straight away. Her friends had been lying to her, supporting a lie (misapprehension) for far too long. Spike may have been a vampire, but he wasn’t evil—well, not by Sunnydale standards—and he was very attracted to her if not totally in love. The possibility warmed her all over and Buffy decided finally to stop listening to her friends and instead trust her own instincts. They’d flashed her with insight on occasions before. The time she’d kissed him for not betraying Dawn to Glory, when he’d cut his hands holding a sword that had almost found its sheath in her head. When he’d given up what he was doing to protect her family in his own home and when he’d rushed out into the sun to find an escape vehicle for the whole gang. There’d been snippets of his caring all along and only the hardest headed and stupid person would fail to fall for such a charismatic and good-looking hero type.
As his tongue slipped between her lips and bumped against hers, fire raged through her body. Buffy felt light-headed and clung to his leather, clenching handfuls in her hands as she tried to get closer and deeper. She didn’t care about telling him to stop when the cool stroke of his fingers found the skin of her belly before sweeping up her ribs. She forgot she was in the Bronze and cared only that he touch her where she needed him. But that would mean everywhere. She wanted him to touch her on the inside and out, her heart and soul. Only Spike was allowing her to breathe and make mistakes and find her way again after losing perfect happiness. She didn’t feel like she was lost when he held her like this; didn’t feel like she’d been displaced, even though this experience was a world away from what she’d considered a year before.
Her lips were wet and she was panting hard when Spike pulled away. He held her in the circle of his arms and looked down at her with awe obscuring the question on his face.
“Buffy?” His voice was husky, tentative and Buffy slipped a little closer, rubbing her breasts against his chest and giving away her last reservations. This had been building since the last time Willow had given her good memories with Spike. She decided it was time they make some on their own—without the influence of magic. And this time if she was going to get married, she’d have the courtship to back it up.
“I’m not gonna run away this time, Spike.”
Her sincerity couldn’t be questioned and Spike sighed in relief, squeezing her a little harder.
“You’re hell on a bloke’s constitution, Slayer.”
She didn’t want that. Didn’t want to be hell on anyone’s anything. There’d been too much denying and running from her emotions. She’d been looking at this resurrection thing all wrong. So glass-half-empty that Buffy felt ashamed. What was she expecting? That Willow would feel so guilty that she’d take it back and send her back to Heaven? She didn’t think even Willow was that good—or bad, depending on one’s point of view. This was something that wasn’t going to change. She was here and she could either sink or swim. Sinking would lead her again to death—but that was giving in. She wasn’t like that. She wasn’t a coward, and before she’d died, she’d been taking chances. Had been using her brain to see the value of those around her. The night she’d died she’d seen Spike as if for the very first time—and she liked everything about him.
No, she wasn’t going to run anymore. She was going to live.
Smiling brightly, Buffy slipped her leg between Spike’s and wound her arms around his neck.
“No more hell, Spike. Let me show you how good Heaven can be.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/158671.html