And the next chapter…
ALWAYS MY MUSE
Spike grabbed his smokes and his duster and swung open the heavy door to his crypt, almost knocking Buffy over as he strode out. He’d no idea she was there; so much for his legendary vampire skills.
“Slayer,” he intoned casually, despite his shock. “What can I do you for? Just on my way out.”
“Erm… yeah. I can see that.”
When she showed no sign of moving and no further explanation seemed forthcoming, Spike made to step around her. “Well, unless there’s something, got a date with a bottle at Willy’s. He’s holding me some out of date bloodbags, and they won’t go another day. Not too bad if you water ’em down with booze.” He cringed as he listened to what he was spouting. What had he come to? Exchanging pleasantries with the Slayer and admitting to eating ruined blood, bagged no less. He expected some pithy comeback, or at least an ewww.
“Oh. Sorry. I was just wondering…” She trailed off, then added hurriedly, “It doesn’t matter.”
Buffy turned to walk away and Spike pulled the door shut and raced to catch her up.
“Wonderin’ what, Slayer? Can’t get a guy’s interest piqued like that then take off. There’s a name for girls like you.”
This was weird. Where was the snarling and the punching? Something was definitely off with Buffy Summers.
“Girls. Teasing a guy, not deliverin’. Prick tease.”
Spike was already ducking a punch, but the punch didn’t come. He grabbed hold of Buffy’s arm to stop her, forcing her to turn towards him.
“Summers, you alright? Seem a bit out of sorts, love. Usually I’d be lying on my back nursin’ a busted nose for any one of those comments.”
Buffy nibbled on her bottom lip. He was right, she wasn’t herself. Not by a long shot. She was terrified she was half-way to falling for another vampire, and not just any vampire. Spike. The soulless demon who had dogged her steps for so long and sent her crazy with his taunts and his always being there when she turned around. And somehow – and this was what was making her insane – somehow, if he wasn’t there, she no longer felt whole.
Add to that the realisation she’d had the week before, when she’d spent a night trying to get him out of her head only to end up with sweaty palms and a satisfied grin when she woke from the dream she’d never admit to having; well, she was so beyond being herself, it was hard to know where to start.
And then there was the poem. Willow might have been joking, but the more Buffy thought about it, the more it just seemed obvious. It had to be Spike, purely by the process of elimination. He was an enigma, she had to admit. More than once he’d dropped his cool swagger and betrayed the fact that he was far more educated than he’d like people to believe. In fact, she’d accused him once of trying to out-Giles Giles. Yep, he just could be the guy…
“Buffy. You’re freaking me out now, goin’ ta-ta on me. You on drugs?”
“What? No – and don’t look at me like that. You’re making me nervous.”
Spike narrowed his eyes as he tilted his head and focused on her face. Her eyes were fluttering closed nervously, and she kept licking her lips. He could hear her elevated heart-rate and she was clearly uneasy about something. It was kind of nice to have her on edge around him, like he wasn’t fangless. A reminder of the days when he actually mattered to her, even if it was only as a mortal enemy.
They’d been walking as they both struggled to continue the conversation and the cemetery gates were now right in front of them. If Buffy was to go home, she had to go right – and if Spike was to go to Willy’s he had to go left.
They both went left.
Spike, being a vampire of little brain, instead of keeping silent, decided to push the Slayer into a corner. He couldn’t bear the lack of conversation any longer, the click-clack of her heels on the concrete buzzing in his head. And, maybe he was imagining it, but she seemed to want him to speak.
“So, – you fancy a night at Willy’s? I’m buyin’ – well, if I’m honest, I’m staring threateningly at Willy for the drinks. But, the result is the same.”
“You asking me on a date, Spike?”
Buffy’s question stopped him in his tracks. His mouth engaged before his brain kicked in.
“I suppose I am, yeah.” He waited for the punch, which yet again didn’t arrive. Head down to avoid soft green eyes, he went for it. “So? Willy’s, then? You up for it?”
Buffy surprised him. She looked at him for an age, her eyes narrowed as though she was seriously considering something of great importance to her, then smiled and shrugged her shoulders.
“Sure. Why not? Can we slay on the way home?”
Spike found himself struck dumb, simply nodding his agreement. Somehow, he’d gone from wanting to drown his sorrows in some rank blood and caustic bourbon to realising his wildest dreams and going on a date with the Slayer. Okay, it was only to Willy’s and it would probably be no more than they’d done before, maybe some chatting, a drink or two. But he’d asked her on a date – and she’d said yes.
Buffy giggled as they walked towards the bar, glancing covertly at her dumbstruck companion, the big bad with the sappiest grin on his drop dead gorgeous face.
She was definitely in big, big trouble…
Willy did a double-take when he noticed the Slayer giggling and nudging Spike as they made their way through the rapidly thinning crowd. One thing guaranteed to empty a demon bar faster than snow melting in Sunnydale was the Slayer paying a visit, and this time was no different. By the time the oddly-matched – and oddly flirting – couple reached the bar, Willy’s early evening crowd was down to just three. And that was only because Toreg, the Lircha demon who smelled like rotten eggs on a good day, was fast asleep in a booth and nobody had wanted to touch him to wake him and get him out of danger.
“Hey, Spike! Good to see you – and I’ve got that bloo… erm… drink… you wanted.” Willy shuffled his feet nervously as he fixed his eyes on the vampire and tried to ignore the grinning Slayer.
“Ewww,” Buffy stage-whispered while wrinkling her nose. “You drink blood? And here I am, on a first date, with a guy I’ve just met. What are you, a vampire or something?”
Spike chuckled as he latched on to her game. “Yeah, love. I’m the big bad. You afraid I’m gonna bite you?” He tilted his head and sucked on his bottom lip as he watched her eyes go round. She rallied well.
“No. I’m afraid that you’re not.”
Spike reached for the shot of liquor that Willy slid into his waiting grip, his hand shaking as he brought it to his lips and gulped it. Wisely, the bartender ducked out the back, not wanting to be caught up in whatever sick psychological warfare the vampire and the Slayer were indulging in. No doubt whatever it was there’d be somebody paying the price, and he wasn’t going to be the that guy.
Neither of them noticed Willy leaving, only realising they were alone when Spike bellowed for another drink. When none came, he vaulted the bar and grabbed two bottles of beer, sliding one across to Buffy while he leaned back against the service area and downed a good half of the other one, eyeing her warily on the other side of the counter.
“Erm, Spike – not good with the drinking, remember?”
“Yeah, love. But I figure you might need a slug, looking kinda peaky.”
Buffy pushed the bottle away from her slowly and smiled. She made sure she looked Spike dead in the eye as she spoke. “Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever felt better. Things make sense, more than I think they ever have before. You know?”
Spike didn’t have a clue, although he did have a little flicker of hope; the way she was looking at him was making his toes tingle. Buffy Summers had only ever looked at him like he was a demon, or lately a useful ally, if he was lucky. But this…she was looking at him like she saw him. And what’s more, she was smiling at him.
“Gonna have to clue me in, Slayer. Not really following you round that bend. Must be the booze.” He smirked, more to cover his confusion and out of habit than anything else. He found himself trying to push himself further up against the bar-back as Buffy vaulted the counter and leant back against it facing him. He raised his eyebrow questioningly as she opened her mouth a half-dozen times, but failed to say anything.
Eventually, Buffy managed to speak. “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, Spike. I mean, we’ve been spending a lot of time together lately.” Spike eyed her warily. “Slaying, I mean. You know. And patrolling. Talking.”
“Yeah, love. I guess we have.”
“And… well, I kinda… what I mean is… I like it. The slaying. Talking and stuff.”
Spike swallowed, not wanting to jinx things. He kept silent and waited for her to carry on.
Buffy hugged herself, nervously. She wasn’t very good at being open, emotionally, and it was even harder coming clean to a vampire about feelings she hadn’t even properly admitted to herself she had. But her mouth kept on working…
“And… I liked your poem.”
Bugger. She knew. Spike hung his head and toed the ground, his jaw tight with tension. He braced himself for the inevitable ‘you’re beneath me’ speech and the ridicule. It didn’t come.
“I… thought it was beautiful.” She didn’t continue until Spike raised his eyes to meet hers. “You wrote that?”
Spike nodded, chewing on his bottom lip. “It’s crap, was pissed when I wrote it. Can’t even bloody remember what I wrote.” He lied. The words were seared on his heart.
“Don’t put yourself down, Spike. It was lovely. Nobody ever wrote a poem about me before. And I’m sorry if I make you feel like you don’t matter. Because believe me, you do.”
Spike risked a glance, almost burning up as she smiled shyly at him, her cheeks softly blushed with pink and her eyes shining.
The awkward silence returned, and stretched. Willy peeked around the door and ducked right back as he caught the flash of yellow in Spike’s eyes as he spotted him. Locking up could wait; not like anybody would dare try and stiff him over with the Slayer and William the Bloody taking up residence behind the bar. And the Lircha could look out for himself.
Just one more chapter to go :) Putting up now.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/349355.html