On we go to the final part.
Part IV: Resolution
Buffy had heard the old saying that you didn’t know what was missing until it was gone; she thought that sometimes you didn’t know what had been missing until it reappeared, though.
She’d known that Spike was different when she dragged him out of the Initiative, but had chalked it up to a long ordeal. Then, when nothing had changed, Buffy had thought that perhaps it was her imagination. Two years had passed since the last time she’d seen him, and Buffy figured that her memory was fuzzy.
Lying in her bed, thinking back to the night before, Buffy finally figured out what had been absent. Spike had always had a certain reckless joy about him; he’d thrown himself into whatever fight was before him without thought to the consequences.
Until last night, that fire had been extinguished. He’d seemed to be simply existing, except for those few moments when they’d fucked against the wall of the crypt.
Buffy grew warm at the thought, and though it might be wrong, she wanted Spike again.
It couldn’t happen, she thought silently. Everything was different now. She was different. Buffy was no longer the desperate, hopeless girl she had been; Spike wasn’t some white knight come to save her.
She was the Slayer; he was a vampire caught up in a really messed up government experiment. That was it.
Buffy sighed. She only wished it were that simple.
Rolling out of bed, Buffy got ready for the day, knowing that she owed her Watcher a visit. He would want to know about the previous night’s events, particularly the fact that Spike’s chip didn’t work against anything other than humans.
As far as Buffy was concerned, that was good news.
“And you’re certain he wasn’t lying?” Giles asked when she told him what had happened.
Buffy raised her eyebrows. “Of course I’m sure, Giles. I saw it work.”
He frowned. “When was this?”
She felt heat rise to her face. “A few days ago.”
“He attacked someone?”
“No,” Buffy said slowly. “I attacked him, and he struck back out of reflex.”
“Did he do something?”
From the expression on Giles’ face, he had a pretty good idea of what had happened, but Buffy wasn’t about to describe the circumstances in detail. “Very well,” he finally said. “Where is Spike staying currently?”
“A crypt in the Restview Cemetery,” Buffy responded. “Why?”
Giles leaned back in his chair. “I heard your warning loud and clear, Buffy. I have no intention of doing Spike harm—unless, of course, he deserves it.”
Buffy looked away; she’d given too much away just then. She shouldn’t have been concerned at all.
“I can understand that you would feel some connection, Buffy, given what happened.”
Buffy rose and walked over to the window, looking out at the peaceful courtyard. “I don’t want to be connected to him, Giles. It’s not like I want to care.”
“But you do.”
“I do,” she admitted.
Giles sighed, the sound harsh in the silence that hung between them. “Be careful, Buffy. He may appear harmless now, but he is still a vampire.”
Buffy turned to face him. “He saved my life last night, and he didn’t have to. Even thinking that he was going to be in pain, he saved me.”
That was what Buffy kept coming back to; she didn’t mind if they kept saving each other, just as long as they didn’t destroy one another while they were at it.
Spike wished he could be surprised at Giles’ arrival, but he wasn’t. Spike had expected a visit from the Watcher at some point, telling him to get out of town and leave his Slayer be.
“How did you find me?” Spike asked, wanting to postpone the inevitable.
“Buffy told me you were at Restview. There aren’t many crypts suitable for a vampire around here.” Giles glanced around the interior of the crypt, distaste clear in his expression.
Spike sat on the sarcophagus, his feet hanging down, drinking from a flask he’d stolen. “Yeah. They don’t make crypts like they used to,” he said with a sardonic smile.
Giles faced him fully. “Buffy told me that the chip doesn’t work against demons.”
“Looks that way.”
“She also said that you saved her life.”
“I suppose I did.”
“Perhaps you might find a new purpose for your life,” Giles suggested. “You could be of great service to Buffy.”
Spike blinked. “Excuse me?”
“You can protect her in the way others cannot.”
“What’s in it for me?”
Giles raised his eyebrows. “I suppose the satisfaction of saving lives isn’t sufficient.”
Spike snorted. “I’m still a vampire, Watcher. You’re going to need more than pretty words to convince me to kill my own kind and protect the Slayer.”
“Then let me put it this way,” Giles said. “You can help the Slayer, or you can be at the mercy of every vampire and demon in Sunnydale when they find out you’re working for us.”
“I won’t be working for you.”
“They won’t know that.”
Spike looked into Giles’ eyes and knew he was dead serious. Oddly enough, it was easier to say yes when he knew he was being blackmailed.
“Yeah, alright, but I want something from you.”
“A carton of smokes every two weeks, and enough blood to live on.” Spike shrugged at Giles’ expression. “I can steal it, but it’s risky, and I hate getting shot.”
A smile tugged the corner of Giles’ mouth. “I’ll see what I can do.”
Spike nodded. “Fair enough. Tell Buffy she can meet me here if she wants a partner on patrol.”
“I’ll do that.”
Giles left, and Spike finished his drink, considering the strange turn his life had taken. He would much rather be hunting down sweet young things, but he at least had some purpose now. It was a fucked up purpose, but it was what he had.
And he’d be able to take his rage out on something.
“So, Buffy, need some company tonight?” Xander asked from his lounging position on Giles’ couch. “I brought popcorn.”
“Thanks for the offer, Xander, but I’ve got company,” Buffy replied.
“Who?” Willow asked, reaching a hand into the bag of popcorn Xander held.
Buffy sighed, knowing that this wasn’t going to go over well. “Spike.”
“What? Why the hell would you go with Spike?” Xander demanded.
“Because I asked him to,” Giles said calmly from the kitchen as he finished making a pot of tea. “He’s a capable fighter, he can’t harm Buffy, and he’s unlikely to be hurt. And if he is hurt, he will heal quickly”
Willow looked from Buffy to Giles to Xander. “He’s right, Xander. Spike is way more indestructible than we are.”
“He’s evil!” Xander protested.
“Maybe, but he’s a good fighter, and he saved my life the other night,” Buffy responded. “If he’s willing to help, I’m going to take him up on the offer.” She rose from the chair. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Giles.”
Buffy left before Xander could offer any other arguments. He had a point; Buffy knew that the chip hadn’t changed Spike in any fundamental way. Spike was still a vampire, and would likely feed on a human just as soon as not.
But she was finding it hard to focus on Spike being evil. Buffy would much rather focus on how Spike seemed to know the best way to get her off.
“Thought you might be by,” Spike said from the roof of the crypt as Buffy reached for the door. He leapt down nimbly. “We patrolling any particular place?”
“Just the usual rounds.” Buffy looked at him out of the corner of her eye. “Any reason you were on the roof?”
Spike shrugged. “I’d rather not be inside if I can help it.”
His tone of voice made it clear that he had no intention of discussing his time in the Initiative.
“Thanks for caring.” His dry tone got her back up, but Buffy didn’t respond. Technically, she shouldn’t have cared; the fact that she did—just a little—made her squirm a bit.
Patrol was uneventful, not too surprising since a lot of the demons and vampires had been killed in the final battle inside the Initiative. Buffy finished her usual rounds only a couple of hours after they’d started, and she was loath to leave Spike at his crypt and head back home.
Spike raised an eyebrow as she dawdled. “Want to come in for a drink?”
It was a bad idea; it was a really bad idea, but Buffy couldn’t say no.
Spike led the way inside the crypt, shutting the door before pressing his lips to hers. Out of necessity, he was gentler than he’d been in the past, but Buffy clutched him tightly, pulling him closer.
She could feel his fingers thread through her hair, and he gently pulled her head back to leave her neck exposed. His kisses there were tender, careful. “I have a bed downstairs,” he murmured against her skin.
Buffy knew that she should leave. She should keep her relationship with Spike strictly business—they could do friendly business, but that was it.
“Yes,” she said instead.
“Hang on.” Spike released her, and Buffy was dismayed at the whimper coming out of her throat. He opened a trap door behind the sarcophagus and disappeared into the darkness. Buffy peered over the edge and saw a soft glow start up. “Come on down.”
She hesitated only a moment before she dropped down, seeing Spike in the dim candlelight. There was a mattress on the floor in one corner, covered with a thick comforter. She couldn’t tell what color it was in the flickering light, but they had fucked in worse places.
“What are we doing, Spike?” she asked.
He shrugged. “We’re finding comfort. There’s precious little of it in this world, Summers.”
The explanation was enough; Buffy surged forward, pushing Spike backwards, both of them stumbling over their feet as they fought with lips and tongues. Buffy pushed him onto his back on the mattress and straddled him, their position an unconscious mirror of one of their first nights together.
They undressed each other quickly and without care for ripping seams or tangled limbs. Buffy saw familiar, pale flesh, decorated with new scars. There was a large patch of scar tissue on Spike’s chest where it appeared he’d been burned, and she mapped the area with her fingertips, giving him a questioning look.
“Don’t heal as fast when I’m not drinking human blood,” Spike explained, his face going blank.
“When did you get burned?”
She couldn’t read him, and his tone was expressionless as he replied, “Inside the Initiative. I was lucky.”
“Lucky?” The patch was larger than her two hands, and although she knew Spike would eventually heal completely, it made her sick to see it and the other scars she could just make out in the dim light.
“They put a lot of research into the chip in my head,” Spike said, his laughter devoid of humor. “They wanted to know how quick I’d heal, but they still needed test subjects to find out how quick vampires burn.”
Buffy had no words to reply to that, so she pressed her lips to the scar tissue, nipping around the borders, causing Spike to twist beneath her as she used her tongue to good effect.
She moved lower, kissing and licking her way south until Spike stopped her with a harsh, “No! Not like that, not this time.”
Buffy knew what he meant, and she allowed him to pull her up until they were joined—kissing wildly, Spike’s arms holding her tightly.
They kept up the rhythm they’d learned by heart so long ago, and it was just as easy now as it had been then.
Spike made sure she got off first before his own release, and they collapsed on the shoddy mattress, Buffy half-draped across him. She could smell sex and sweat, old earth and stone, and Spike.
“I should go,” she said without moving.
“Mom will be worried.”
“She won’t be waiting up for you.”
“I’ll wake you before dawn. Sleep.”
She wanted to stay; Buffy was sated and wrung out. In the darkness, here and now, she could pretend that this relationship had a chance at working out.
And sometimes, she needed to pretend. “Okay. Don’t let me sleep too late.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll wait until daylight for a nap.” He pulled her closer and Buffy was too tired to resist—and it felt too good to be in his arms. “Go on, luv.”
The endearment fell off his tongue easily, and Buffy moved closer, feeling Spike drag the comforter up over the both of them.
“I’m glad you’re staying in Sunnydale,” she whispered against his chest, and Buffy felt him tighten his grip on her.
“Yeah. I’ll stay as long as you need me.”
And really, Buffy thought as she drifted off to sleep, that kind of promise was better than a declaration of love.
Spike made certain that the comforter was securely tucked around Buffy’s shoulders. The candlelight intensified the golden color of her hair and the tan of her skin.
What he was feeling couldn’t be love; Spike thought he’d had enough pain to last a lifetime, and a vampire loving the Slayer was a masochist’s game.
But he thought he’d stay with her, given the opportunity. Spike knew he’d protect her, with his life if necessary.
He owed her that much, and her touch was a balm to him; her company a blessing.
And maybe, given what he knew of love, this was better.
Brushing Buffy’s hair back from her face, Spike laid down next to her and closed his eyes, letting the sound of her heartbeat lull him to sleep.
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
in which there is no I or you
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is your hand
so intimate that when you fall asleep it is my eyes that close.
~Pablo Neruda, Sonnet 17
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/368746.html