Era/season/setting: S6, between Older And Far Away – As You Were
Rating: uh… NC-17?
For three nights running, Spike’s obvious only by his absence. She spends her work breaks leaning against the dumpster with her arms folded over herself, and wonders if she should take up smoking to pass the time. She patrols with a dull sense of necessity, wondering when a hundred thousand to nil might become a hundred thousand to one. Or is she already down two points? Glance at the sky and wonder if the Powers that Be are keeping count and placing bets while they screw with her life. Wonder when the game ends. Wonder anything except where Spike is and why he seems to finally have taken her words to heart. Anything except whether she ever really wanted him to.
Tomorrow, she decides, she’ll go over to the crypt. Not because she’s worried (she isn’t, that would be ridiculous). Just to make sure he’s not up to some nefarious scheme over there. She could go now, but it’s one a.m. and Dawn’s asleep and Willow’s staying over at Xander’s after a wedding planning thing, and besides, she’s not really worried. His schemes never go anywhere anyway.
At three a.m, a pebble plinks off her window. Then a second one, while she’s still trying to decide if she really heard the first. She kicks off the covers and stomps out of bed before a third stone can come careening through the glass.
Her eyes are on the tree as she throws the window open, but it’s empty, tripping up the angry words on her tongue before she spots him standing on the path below. “What?” she hisses.
“Need to talk,” he says, volume down but the words firm. “Come out.”
“No,” she says instantly, wrinkling up her nose. Preposterous.
He makes a frustrated sound that’s part sigh and part growl. His hair’s a mess, now that she’s had time to take it in, and he’s fidgeting constantly, all a snappy, lit-fuse restlessness that can only bode ill. She crosses her arms stubbornly and waits.
He spits a curse at the nearest bushes, and she can see the accompanying glare he gives them from here. Another growl-sigh, then he turns to face her window solidly and squares his shoulders, determined and defiant. Oh hell, he’d better keep his voice down, whatever he’s come to get off his chest- oh god, he’d better not be about to tell the whole neighbourhood that they’ve been sleeping together. Heat drains from her cheeks at the thought.
“What if you’re not the one who came back wrong?” he proclaims, a little too loud, a little too forced, jaw thrust out as if he doesn’t want to admit this but is charging ahead anyway.
She doesn’t need to ask for him to expand upon it; charging ahead was an apt description, because he’s on a roll now. “You want to know how I could fall in love with you? How I can ask you to take me out of this fucking speciesist box and treat me like more than a monster?” His voice drops for a moment as he looks down to mutter, “Like you used to.” Then his eyes are back on her, piercing in their stormy turbulence. “I came back wrong, Buffy,” he growls. “Never was the evil creature Dru hoped for – though god knows I bloody tried – let her down from the bloody get-go, I did. Felt too much, cared too much, too much fucking humanity left in me. Her sodding fault, gotta be. She’s not bloody right either.”
Buffy raises her eyebrows, nods in weakly mocking agreement with that last bit, because, what the fuck?
“Wasn’t ever enough of a sodding monster even before they put this damn thing in my head. No hope of becoming one now. But you won’t bleeding accept me as anything else long as you can throw my gaping insufficiency in my face – yeah, don’t tell me, I fucking get it now.” He points a finger at her, vaguely threatening. “Got your number, I do, slayer. Killer of monsters that go bump in the night. Protector of the people.” He huffs a laugh that’s the opposite of amused. “You’re right, too,” he tosses at her, suddenly friendly. “They’re not bloody people, ninety-nine point nine-nine-nine per cent of ’em. All bloodlust and hate and nothing between the ears.” He snickers to himself darkly. “But that’s not fucking me,” he growls, snapping back to dead seriousness. “Might not be a person, but I’m not a monster either. Can feel what’s missing.” A note of regret enters his voice, and he shakes his head, “I’ve been using you just as much, pet, to fill the emptiness inside. And I get it now. Why you’ve got to have those lines in the sand. Why you can’t afford to admit a vampire could be something more than waiting dust.” He shrugs one shoulder sadly. “But I’m nothing, Buffy. Nothing but your…” His eyes flick over the rest of the house, and he presses his lips closed on whatever he’d been about to say. “Yours. Do what you want with me, luv, and it doesn’t change who you are. Doesn’t-“
“Spike,” she hisses, “shut up.” Blessedly, he does. This has gone on far too long – and far too loudly – with her gaping stupidly while he slaps her from one point to the next. She glances over her shoulder, ears pricked to Dawn’s room; snoring. That one could sleep through anything. Then she swings her legs over the windowsill and makes her way down the roof.
Grabbing Spike by the sleeve, she marches him around the house and down to the bottom of the garden, away from sleeping sisters and potential passersby. Once there, she drops her hold on him to cross her arms again. “What?” she asks.
Up close, he looks… unhinged would not be inaccurate. His eyes are too wide, too dark, roiling with too many things. “I worked it out,” he says, utterly guileless. “Worked everything out…” His focus drifts off into mid-air, and for the first time in a long while, a warning prickles down her spine at the lurking power of him. Then his attention jumps back to her, and he only looks familiarly irritated, and the warning fades. “Don’t believe me, do you?”
“Believe what?” she asks slowly. There’s been too much dumped out to make sense of, let alone form an opinion on. Except that parts of her already are; reaching for something just out of sight in it, a tiny golden key, a lie that would taste too sweet.
“That I’ll never match any of your definitions. That every time you try to squash me into one, something doesn’t fit. That we work- that we could work, slayer, if you’d just give us a chance, if I… That it’s because there’s just something wrong about me.”
“Oh there’s something wrong with you, alright,” she mutters.
He snorts at the brush off, shaking his head like it’s exactly what he expected. Then he looks at her, really looks at her, falling still at last as his eyes travel over her face, throat, hair so intently that she can all but feel the touch of them. When he meets her eyes again, his are calmer. Settled, as though he’s just come to grips with some decision. And softened, tender in that way that makes her feel… things.
“I know. Gonna fix it,” he says quietly, a hint of a smile on his lips. “Gonna prove it to you once and for all, luv, just you bloody wait.” He casts a glance back towards the street, beyond it, and a shifting hint of fear colours his expression briefly. “Got to, um, head a ways off from here, though. Reckon you can manage without me for a bit?” He eyes her with anxious concern.
She means to say, of course I can manage without you! Or maybe, I don’t need you anyway. But what comes out is, “You’re leaving?” and her voice is horribly small.
“Not leaving you,” he growls. “Just need to… go do something. I’ll always come back to you, slayer, you know it.” He tries to smirk at her, but it sort of falls short and he gives it up with a sigh. “You going to be all right while I’m gone?” All of his earlier bravado and sharp insistence have evaporated, leaving him sounding only worried and torn.
“Yes,” she says quietly, despite her million questions and objections and a whole lot of you just hold on there, buster. It matters, whatever he’s on about, whatever he’s not revealing. He wouldn’t be talking about leaving her if it didn’t. Not Spike. Maybe he’s got a point – maybe he isn’t exactly a proper vampire – but he’s still not a man. He’ll come back. He has to. So she can settle this worried part of him, before she tries to understand and put a stop to whatever sure-to-be-terrible wild idea he’s come up with to ‘fix’ things this time.
“You’d better,” he threatens. “I get back and find you’ve got into any kind of trouble and I’ll bleeding slaughter you myself.” He glares at her for a moment, drilling the message home – then whirls on his heel and heads for the path back to the street.
“Wait!” she calls, taking a few steps after him. “You’re going now?”
“No time like the present,” he says jauntily, turning to walk backwards as he answers. He still looks afraid, under the skin, but there’s a determined gleam in his eye that she knows well. She gives up trying to follow him.
“Spike?” she asks quietly instead, and he pauses his backwards retreat to cock an eyebrow at her. She chews her lip, stuck with too many things to say to fit into the second or two she’s caught him for. “Be careful?”
He smiles, surprised and grateful, and it pangs straight through her. “Promise,” he says firmly. “You too, yeah?”
“I will,” she says, and means it.
He nods once, then he’s gone.
She stands on the back lawn in her pyjamas for what might have been a very long time, then creeps back inside, mind still swirling.
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/714356.html