I missed the open day but I hope it’s alright to post the rest of my tale. Thanks again to enigmatic_blue for running this community, thank you to seductivembrace for fixing and guiding me through the morass of Brit and American differences, and thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy.
ALWAYS MY MUSE
It had been two days since Spike had left the envelope on Buffy’s porch, and two nights that he’d avoided patrolling or visiting the Magic Box. He’d been waiting for her to figure out he was the one that penned the doggerel and come visiting him with a sharp stake, but so far she’d stayed away. It had just gone dusk and he was about to head out to Willie’s, stock up on some A+, when there was a tentative knock on the door of the crypt.
Spike stopped searching for money, and looked towards the door. “Come in, Slayer; not like you to announce your dainty self.”
He was stunned when the door opened to reveal not Buffy, but Joyce Summers.
“Hello, Spike. Can I come in? I’m not intruding?”
“Oh, no. Come in.” Spike scrabbled round, tidying up the empty bottles, discarded blood-bags and other rubbish that littered the crypt floor. Joyce stood just inside the doorway, unsure what to say now that she’d made the decision to come. She walked forward to sit in the chair that Spike indicated, refusing the offer of a drink. Spike shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans and toed the ground, nervously.
“I guess you’re wondering why I’m here, Spike.”
“Erm, yeah. Don’t get many visitors.”
Joyce darted her eyes around the dusty crypt and avoided any comment on why that might be.
“Well, I thought I’d come see what was so fascinating about your home that had my daughter scurrying over here every five minutes.”
Joyce knew? That Buffy sometimes came over after patrol?
“Oh, well – you know, we fight, we sometimes catch a movie after. Unwinding, chug down a beer or two.” Spike eyed Joyce’s frown and set her right. “No! I do, the beer – not Buffy. She’s not much with the drinking. Likes juice though.”
“Good to hear. Although, I was actually referring to Dawn. I hear she’s fond of dropping by after school. I hope she isn’t being too much of a nuisance?” She framed the last as a question.
Damn. The Nibblet’s secret visits weren’t that secret then.
“Er… yeah. Sorry about that. I keep on tellin’ her you wouldn’t like it. I make sure she’s home safe though, walk her right to the porch, watch her go in. Sorry.”
Joyce watched as Spike paced, his head down, his jaw twitching. He looked kind of adorable, sneaking sidelong looks at her, then back down to his feet – and not at all the blood-sucking fiend that she knew he was.
But she was becoming convinced that he was much, much more than that anyway.
He appeared to be a budding poet, for one.
“Buffy got your note.” Joyce hid her smile as Spike spun around, his face going even paler than its usual hue.
“M-my note? Erm… not sure what you mean, Joyce. I mean… Mrs Summers.” Spike had faced horned demons, master vampires, all manner of vicious beasties – and he’d never been more scared in his whole existence.
“William. I know it was from you. Don’t be ashamed. It was beautiful. A little trite, but beautiful. And it’s Joyce.”
Spike risked a glance at Joyce Summers, calming a little as he noted the soft shine in her eyes and the warm smile. She was a real lady, the Slayer’s mum. And – he realised – she didn’t seem to be mad at him for daring to write to her daughter professing his love. Now that was interesting…
“Did Buffy …”
“She doesn’t know. She’s no idea who it’s from. Sorry, Spike.” Joyce’s heart almost broke as she watched the hope flare and quickly fade from his stunning blue eyes. “She’s stubborn, though, and won’t give up until she finds out. Thing is, do you want her to?”
Wasn’t that the question?
Spike stopped pacing and leant against the fridge, considering his answer. Of course he wanted her to know, yet conversely, he was terrified of her finding out. But, all his life he’d ran towards danger rather than run away from it, was famous for it, in fact. And if Buffy never found out the poem was from him, what was the point of it anyway?
“I guess,” Spike muttered, warily. Eyeing Joyce to gauge her reaction, he continued. “Won’t matter anyway. Slayer’ll kick me in the head, stake me probably. Maybe she should.”
Joyce huffed and got to her feet, walking towards the vampire who was rapidly becoming a part of the circle of people she thought of as hers. When she reached him, she cuffed him on the back of his head.
“Oi! What was that for?”
“For being an idiot, Spike. Look. I’m not saying I’m happy about my daughter being involved with a vampire. I ran the last one out of town, you know.”
Spike snorted. “Yeah. Thanks for that. Never did show how much I ‘ppreciated it.”
Joyce smiled, despite her best efforts not to. What was it about this vampire, this bloodthirsty being, that tugged at her heartstrings? “Spike…” she warned. “The thing is… well… To be honest with you, I don’t think Buffy’s ever going to return your feelings.”
Spike gasped. “Oh, right. Nice low blow. Could’ve just staked me, would’ve hurt less.”
“No, hear me out.” Joyce placed her hands over his, stopping them twitching. “I like you, Spike. I tried not to, but I find it real hard sometimes to believe you’re a vampire. You like hot chocolate with little marshmallows, and that’s not what I’d expect. I know you look after her, when she’s patrolling. And Dawn? She adores you.”
Spike smile shyly. “Yeah, well – the Nibblet and me, we get on, you know? And the Slayer… erm, Buffy. Just trying to help out. Got nothin’ else I can do. Not since this buggerin’ chip was stuffed in my head. Sorry.”
“See! There you go again. Apologising for unsavoury language. Not your typical vampire trait, I’m sure.”
Spike shrugged, started to pace again. Joyce was making him uncomfortable. He couldn’t tell whether she was here to run him off as she’d done with Angel, or whether she was inviting him to move in. Bloody Summers’ women and their conflicting signals. One day, probably a long, long time from now, he’d figure them out.
“So — what are you sayin’?”
“I’m saying, Spike, that I want to thank you for looking after my girls and that I know you love them both, in your own way. And if things were different, and Buffy ever… well, I just wanted you to know that I trust you to do what’s right for her. Will you promise me?”
Spike considered what she was asking. It wasn’t really clear; was she saying that if Buffy ever returned his affections he would be expected to leave her, like that bastard Angel did? Or did she mean that if Buffy felt anything for him he was to do anything he could to make her happy?
For once, he overruled the impulse to bugger up his plans and simply left her words unquestioned, nodding his assent. That way, he figured, he could interpret them whichever way was appropriate if the time arose.
And anyway, like Joyce said, Buffy wasn’t ever going to feel for him the way he did about her. Nothing she’d said changed anything really. Except, now he knew that Dawn’s secret visits were kind of sanctioned so he didn’t have to make her stop calling round.
“So, Buffy – any news on your would-be sweetheart?” Willow teased as they walked towards the Espresso Pump.
It had been six days and despite every effort, Buffy was still no wiser as to who had written the poem and left it on her porch. She’d been through everybody she’d met in college, boys from school – even girls from school – but so far, none of them seemed likely candidates. Last night, she’d even telephoned Angel in LA and after skirting around the issue had finally outright asked him if he had sent it.
And if he had, he added, he would have made a better job of it. With illustrations. As Buffy remembered the last time he’d left her illustrations, the conversation had ended badly and she’d gone out and slain with relish. Spike tagged along, of course, and was uncharacteristically silent when she groused about Angel. Usually he’d be all into the doing down of his sire, or grand-sire, whatever Angel was to him. But last night, Spike simply gave her a wry smile and headed off early to wherever it was he went when he wasn’t bugging her. He’d been really weird this last week, but she’d figured it was because she was being weird around him, taking all possible steps to avoid anything date-like, and dressing in sweats with no make-up of any description. Her shock at finding that she’d been treating the vampire less like an enemy and more like a soon-to-be-boyfriend had her jumpy around him and constantly analysing everything he said and did.
Willow’s brow furrowed as she listened to Buffy whine over their sugary mocha lattes. Things were happening to her and Buffy wasn’t even drawing breath to give her time to speak, so here she was listening. Again. Spike this. Spike that. It was always Spike these days. Letting her mind wander, Willow wasn’t aware she’d spoken out loud until Buffy tilted her head and let out a ‘huh?’.
“I said, ‘huh?’, Willow. What’s that about Spike?”
Willow panicked; what had she said? “Erm… maybe it’s Spike?” she squeaked out, raising her eyebrows as Buffy dissolved into manic laughter, spitting out her latte and causing heads to turn.
“Spike! Oh, that’s a good one, Will. There’s no way he’d be able to write like that, and he certainly wouldn’t send it to me. Vampire, vampire slayer remember? Non-mixy. And besides, I’d so kick his ass.” Buffy tried to control her voice, as she went into panic mode. Was she broadcasting her thoughts to Willow, with her ever-growing witchy skills?
Willow giggled nervously. “Yeah, you’re right. Must be too much coffee, you know what it does to me.”
But as Buffy laid out her plans for the weekend, Willow found herself wondering just how crazy the idea of Spike being the author really was. He’d surprised her on more than one occasion by knowing things that – as an evil, doom-worshipping master of evil – she really hadn’t expected. Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian and even demon languages and customs that had previously been purely the domain of Rupert Giles. It paid not to underestimate the vampire, she’d started to believe.
“So… how’re you going to find out?” Willow questioned, the two of them slurping their drinks as Buffy shrugged her reply.
“No idea. I guess I’ll just forget it, go slay, the usual. It’s not a big deal, really.”
“Yeah. Guess not.”
But Buffy pondered Willow’s words as she walked home, and really, really began to panic when she realised that she now hoped with a fluttering heart that it was Spike.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/349181.html