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Just A Crush
Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters. If I did, they’d have lived happily ever after, and we all know how often Joss lets that happen.
Summary: Set in a very AU S5, in which Riley has taken off and Glory isn’t an issue. This may border on pure fluff.
A/N: Written for Valentine’s Day 2008. I’m happy, so Spike and Buffy ought to be, too.
Buffy took two steps inside the Bronze and realized her mistake. There were pink and red hearts everywhere, the band on the stage was playing one of those slow songs that tended to pull all of the couples out on the floor—and there wasn’t a single person in sight.
Torn between leaving immediately and letting her friends know she was there and wasn’t staying, Buffy froze.
“You in or out, Slayer?”
The growl was immediately recognizable, and there wasn’t anyone else who called her “Slayer” these days without an immediate attempt on her life. “Out,” she said, making a split second decision. There was no way she was going to spend a miserable evening with a bunch of people who were celebrating a fake holiday.
Because Valentine’s Day was just an excuse for couples to gloat in their coupley-ness, and singles to be depressed, and Buffy was happy being single. She was discovering herself. She didn’t need a boyfriend.
The tingles that started up every time Spike was around followed her out, and she turned to glare at him. “What are you doing?”
“You’re goin’ to patrol, aren’t you?”
She raised an eyebrow. “So?”
He shrugged. “Thought you might want some company.”
Buffy was about to tell him to get lost when she reconsidered. Spike had been invading her thoughts a lot lately, ever since Riley had left town. She’d been pissed off at his role in that affair, but now that a little time had passed, she was almost grateful.
Besides, who wanted to be alone on Valentine’s Day? Even if the alternative was Spike.
“Yeah, okay,” she replied, trying to sound as grudging as possible. Buffy didn’t want him to get any ideas.
As he fell into step next to her, Buffy realized that he was dressed differently. A lot differently. In fact, he looked almost—normal. “What are you wearing?”
“What are you talking about?” Spike glanced down, looking a little self-conscious, as well he might. The all-black ensemble was gone, as was the duster; instead, he wore a pair of khakis, a blue button-down over a black t-shirt, and a brown leather jacket.
“You look like you fell into the Gap,” Buffy pointed out.
Spike refused to look at her. “Didn’t have any other clean clothes.”
Somehow, Buffy doubted that, but she didn’t think it would be a good idea to push the issue. Who knew what kind of information she’d get?
They walked along in a silence that was almost comfortable, and Buffy kept glancing at him. It was weird, but seeing Spike out of his regular clothing just underscored his attractiveness. Granted, the duster was sexy, but this…
Buffy shook her head. Clearly, Valentine’s Day was going to her head. She was ready to settle for anyone just to escape being alone, and she was not that desperate.
He actually sounded concerned, which was the only reason that Buffy gave him a truthful response. “Mostly. It’s just—you know.”
“It’s a made up holiday, you know.” The bitterness that coated his voice was unmistakable, and Buffy realized that he didn’t have anybody either.
She frowned. “I didn’t think that vampires cared about Valentine’s Day.”
Caught out, he snorted. “Of course we don’t. Like I said, it’s a made up holiday. Doesn’t mean anything.”
“Right. Which is why you’re with me.”
“I’m with you because I thought you wanted the company,” Spike shot back. “I could be drowning my sorrows right about now.”
“What sorrows? I thought you said you didn’t care.”
“It’s not all about you, or the date,” he responded, leaving it at that.
Buffy was about to prod him a little bit when she heard a sound behind them. “Spike—”
“I heard it,” he whispered. “They’re tryin’ to sneak up on us.”
She nodded tersely, sensing Spike readying himself for attack even as she did the same. One thing she had to give him, the vampire could take care of himself. It was a refreshing change from Riley, whom she had always worried about when they were patrolling together. Her ex-boyfriend tended to think that he was more capable than he was.
When the attack came, Buffy was ready for it.
At least, she thought she was.
Ignoring Valentine’s Day was easier said than done. Even the convenience store where he normally got his cigarettes had been decorated with red and pink hearts. If Drusilla hadn’t been such a fan of it, Spike might not have cared. As he’d told Buffy, it was a made up holiday, and a bloody stupid one if you asked him.
Drusilla had been entranced with the idea, however, and Spike had always had a gift for her. The last gift had been the necklace that she’d completely disregarded for Angelus’. Granted, his gifts were usually a little bloodier, but Spike hadn’t exactly been mobile at the time.
Spike wasn’t sure if this year was worse or better. He was spending the evening with Buffy, but the night wasn’t going quite how he’d planned.
“Slayer,” he hissed, trying to wake her up without alerting their captors. He could easily make out her form in the dim light. “Wake up!” Spike nudged her gently with the toe of his boot, not wanting to hurt her anymore than she was already.
She moaned, but that was it, and he let out a harsh breath.
Spike had gone to the Bronze hoping that Buffy would be there. He didn’t regret showing her what Captain Cardboard had been up to, but he’d been hoping for a slightly different reaction, more gratitude and less anger.
Going to the Bronze had been a gamble, thinking that she’d had time to get over her resentment and would be ready to put the blame where it belonged—at the soldier’s door. Spike didn’t think she’d fall in his arms, but he wanted her to see a different side of him.
It just figured that tonight was going to be one of those nights when he needed the protection his duster afforded.
Spike had no idea what sort of demons had attacked them, but it had quickly become clear that they wanted to capture, not kill them. What the ugly bastards had in mind, Spike couldn’t begin to guess.
“Summers,” he hissed, trying to wake her up again. They had both been knocked unconscious at some point, and he’d come to chained to a wall in a dank cave next to Buffy. If his hands hadn’t been bound above his head, Spike might have been able to pick the lock—assuming that Buffy had something he could use for that purpose.
She moaned again, but this time she shifted a little, and her eyes fluttered open. “Spike?”
“Yeah. You okay?”
“I don’t know.” He knew the exact moment when she realized their predicament. Her eyes went wide and the chains rattled as she pulled at them. “Crap. What happened?”
“You know as much as I do,” he admitted ruefully, keeping his voice low. “Think we went down about the same time.”
“Have you seen any of them?”
“No. Dunno what they are either.”
“Crap,” she repeated. “My day just keeps getting better and better.”
“You’re telling me,” he muttered. Trying to make as little noise as possible, Spike tugged at the chains, feeling for weakness. While he couldn’t be sure that he wasn’t imagining things, he thought he felt them give just a little. “See if you can loosen them,” he instructed.
To her credit, Buffy didn’t argue with him, instead twisting around, grabbing the chains, and bracing herself against the rock wall.
Spike kept his eyes on the metal eye that attached the chain to the wall, encouraged when he saw a small shower of dust. “Don’t think they were expecting a Slayer as a guest,” he murmured, not wanting to risk discovery, not when things were beginning to look up.
“Try yours,” Buffy instructed, turning back to her own task, putting all of her weight on the chains and pulling as hard as she could.
Spike watched in admiration, before applying himself to the task at hand—even though he liked nothing better than to watch Buffy work. He was concentrating so hard on freeing himself that he completely missed the approach of the demons.
He was slammed from behind, and his head hit the cave wall. When the stars cleared from his vision, he could a second demon holding a long pike to Buffy’s throat. “You will die soon enough,” the demon growled. “Do not seek to escape. You will never find your way out.”
“You know, I find optimism so much more attractive,” Buffy quipped.
The sharp point pressed a little harder under her chin, her sense of humor lost on the creature. “We need a pair of lovers for the sacrifice,” it growled. “Trust me. You would prefer the quick death by sword.”
The two turned to walk out, although Spike could tell by the sound of their footsteps that they hadn’t gone far, probably stopping just outside of the cavern that they were being held in.
And now that they had mentioned a sacrifice, Spike could see the stone altar laid out in the center of the stone floor. Judging from the bloodstains, it was fairly well used.
“Wait, what?” Buffy said.
“Huh?” Spike glanced over at her.
“Did he say lovers?”
After a moment’s consideration, he replied, “I think he did.”
“What the hell does he mean, lovers?” Buffy demanded. “We’re not lovers. We’re enemies.”
Spike felt a small stab of hurt. “Thought we were more than that, luv.” At her expression, he quickly added, “Thought we were allies at least.”
“Well, okay, allies,” Buffy conceded. “Maybe even friends. But we are not lovers.”
“Feel free to tell him that, but I tend to think that what he wanted was a pair, and we fit the bill.”
“But if he needs lovers or whatever for his stupid Valentine’s Day sacrifice, we don’t fit the bill,” she argued. “We could tell him that, and—”
“And send them out to find another couple of innocents?” Spike raised an eyebrow.
She pouted, her bottom lip jutting out adorably. “You know that’s not what I meant.”
“Back to the drawing board,” he said, and started pulling again. This time, however, he kept an ear out for footsteps signaling their guards’ approach, and Buffy remained still, keeping an eye on the entrance.
He felt the chains give even as he heard a roar from behind him, and with one mighty yank, Spike pulled them free from the wall—just in time to duck the blade from the sword one of the demons held.
Spike used the chains as a makeshift weapon, trying to hold off the demons while Buffy worked on freeing herself. It didn’t take long, and a second crash told him that she was loose.
Knowing that Buffy was no longer unable to fight allowed Spike to concentrate on one demon, leaving the second to the Slayer. With a bit of fancy footwork, he managed to not only avoid the demon’s weapon, but to wrap the chain around its neck, pulling tight until he heard something snap.
Looking over, it was pretty clear that Buffy didn’t need his help. Her demon was on the ground, and she was delivering another sharp kick to its head. “We are not lovers,” she spat.
If Spike hadn’t been quite so busy figuring out how to get them both out of the cave system, he might have paused to wonder why Buffy was so insistent about that fact. He might even have quoted a line from Shakespeare.
Buffy was still a little pissed off as she followed Spike through the tunnels, staying close on his heels. He had snagged a lantern on their way out of the first cave, and had quickly led her out into darker tunnels.
As the darkness pressed in around her, her nerves began to overcome her anger. “Do you know where we’re going?”
“Yes. Be quiet.” She opened her mouth to protest, and he turned towards her, yellow eyes glowing. Buffy felt her heart jump in her chest; it had been a long time since she had been scared of Spike, but she suddenly remembered that he could probably survive down here a lot longer than she could.
“Voices echo,” he said in explanation, and kept going, giving Buffy no choice but to follow.
She was pretty sure that this had to be the worst Valentine’s Day ever. Okay, so the one with Angelus running loose in Sunnydale had ranked right up there, but this—
This was definitely worse, because if she didn’t know any better, she’d say that she was developing a crush on Spike.
But it was just a crush, an acknowledgment that he was hot, and that he could be handy in a fight, nothing more. There wasn’t even any affection there. Really.
He stopped abruptly, and Buffy ran right into his back. She could feel the hardness of muscle, and the strength of his hand when he reached back to steady her. “What’s wrong?” she whispered.
“Not sure which way to go,” he admitted.
The tunnel they were in branched off in different directions, and Buffy honestly couldn’t tell the difference between the two choices. They both looked equally dark and dank.
“I have no bloody clue.”
Spike sounded as tired as she felt, and she didn’t protest when he sat down on the cave floor, his head leaning back against the wall. He was wearing his human face again, and Buffy sat down next to him.
“You were scared back there,” he observed out of the blue.
She snorted. “Yeah, right.”
“I heard your heart rate jump.”
“Damn vamp hearing.”
“So, you were scared, unless it was something else.”
It took her a second to figure out what “something else” might be, and she grimaced, although she didn’t bother arguing with him. Buffy thought it was probably wise to avoid pissing off the vampire who was going to get her out of this mess. Much easier to admit the truth. “A little.”
He sounded downright delighted, and Buffy moved quickly to squash any ideas he might have that she found him frightening. “Only a little.”
“Any particular reason why?”
There was no way she was going to answer that; it might give him ideas. “It was just a trick of the light,” Buffy said repressively.
“I’m going to get you out of here.” There was a fervent promise in his voice, and she stiffened, wondering if he had read her thoughts.
“I will. I’m goin’ to get you out of here in one piece.”
There was something in his voice, some hidden emotion that she couldn’t quite read, even though he was normally an open book to her. She shivered suddenly, the moment feeling dangerous for another reason altogether.
“Are you cold?” he asked, slipping out of his jacket before she could frame a reply. “Here.”
Buffy took the leather jacket from him, pulling it on over her thin blouse. It hadn’t been cold enough for a coat in Sunnydale, but the caves were a little chilly. That was the sort of gesture she would have expected from anyone but Spike, however.
Buffy felt the kindling of a small flame of affection. “So, how much trouble are we in?”
“A hell of a lot if I can’t figure out the right one,” he admitted.
She frowned. “I thought you knew these caves.”
“I know some of them.” Spike looked sour. “There are a lot of tunnels under this hell hole, Slayer.”
The lamp he’d set between them flickered, and they both looked at one another, alarmed. “Break’s over,” he declared. “If this dies, I’m not goin’ to be able to see anything.”
“I thought vampires had good night vision,” she protested.
“Not even a vamp can see when there’s no light at all,” he shot back. “Let’s go.”
Once again, Buffy bit back the retort on the tip of her tongue. “Which way?”
“Right,” he said. “If it doesn’t look right, we’ll double back.”
Right about the time the lamp died completely, Spike recognized where they were. Of course, that was when Buffy grabbed his hand because there was no other way to navigate the darkness and stick together. Even if there had been, Spike wasn’t sure that she trusted him not to leave her behind.
In a way, he supposed he should be grateful for that. If she had any idea what his true feelings towards her were, she’d probably stake him.
Selfish bastard that he was, Spike did not want to tell her that they were out of danger for fear she’d pull away. On the other hand, telling her might get him some gratitude for a change. It was a dilemma.
“How are we doing?”
“I think we might be almost out,” he admitted, knowing that he’d get it later if he lied to her now.
He could hear her sigh of relief. “Good. I was beginning to think we’d be stuck in here forever.”
“I wouldn’t let that happen,” he replied without thinking.
Buffy stopped dead, halting his progress by necessity. The darkness was overwhelming, and the only way to proceed was if he kept one hand on the rock wall, with Buffy holding the other.
“Why what?” he replied, thinking that playing dumb might be his best option.
She tugged at his hand impatiently. “Don’t play dumb.”
“I’m not,” he insisted.
“Fine. Why is making sure I’m still alive at the end of this so important to you?”
It was the question that Spike had been dreading. “Does it really matter?”
There was a long pause, then she said quietly, “Yeah, I think it does.”
“Let’s just say that I don’t feel the same way I used to.”
“You mean you don’t hate my guts?”
“Somethin’ like that,” he admitted.
“I don’t hate your guts either.”
That was news to him. Spike had suspected that her feelings had changed that much at least, but he hadn’t been sure. “Is that right?”
“You’ve been different lately.”
He couldn’t quite believe that she had actually admitted that much out loud. “Nice of you to notice.”
“So why have you been different?”
“Could we not talk about this?”
“What’s the big deal?” Buffy asked. “It’s not like you have feelings for me, right?”
Spike didn’t respond to that, deciding that silence might be the better option in this case.
“Oh my God,” Buffy said, yanking her hand out of his. “You do have feelings for me.”
He snorted. “No, I don’t.”
She seemed to ignore that protest. “But it’s just a crush, right? You’ll get over it.”
“This isn’t a bloody disease, Slayer. Love isn’t something you get over.” In his disgust with her abrupt dismissal, Spike let slip more than he’d meant to.
“You can’t be in love with me,” she protested. They were still standing in darkness, and Spike knew that she couldn’t see him. Somehow, that gave him the courage to reply.
“Why? Because vampires can’t love? Guess again, Summers. Love an’ hate are two sides of the same coin, an’ if we can hate, we can love, too.” He felt her readying a protest. “An’ if you’re going to bring up Angelus, I don’t know what to tell you other than he was a right bastard.”
Silence followed that pronouncement, and Spike wondered what was going through her head; he half expected her to reach for a stake, but he sensed no such movement on her part.
“It’s just a crush,” she finally muttered. “You can get over a crush.”
“Speak for yourself, luv.”
“I am.” He could hear her gulp. “I didn’t mean to say that out loud.”
“What are we going to do about this?” he asked.
Buffy sighed. “I say we get out of here and figure out the rest later.”
Spike knew that he couldn’t really argue with her. They did need to get out of the tunnels. For one thing, he was getting hungry. “Yeah. Let’s go. Shouldn’t be too long now.”
He was just grateful that Buffy put her hand in his again.
Buffy couldn’t believe that she’d said that out loud. Admitting that she had a crush on Spike to his face was just asking for him to make a serious pain in the ass out of himself once they were out. Not that it wasn’t already bad enough. Knowing Spike, just the fact that he’d saved her hide would make him insufferable for weeks.
On the other hand, maybe this would work out for the best. He’d been on her mind a lot lately, and she could use this as an opportunity to purge her brain of all things Spike. In the past when she’d been crushing on a guy, getting up close and personal with him tended to nip it in the bud. There was nothing like getting to know a person to bring a dose of reality to the situation.
In her case, the reality was that while Spike might have been marginally more helpful lately, he was still an evil vampire. Well, somewhat evil, anyway. Buffy had a feeling that if he was totally evil, Spike would have found a way to ditch her; Angelus certainly would have.
Plus, he was hot, but there was no way that she was actually attracted to him. If they kissed while she wasn’t under the influence of a spell, she could get him out of her system and move on with her life.
It was that easy.
Her relief upon stumbling out under the open sky again after what seemed like days in the tunnels pushed most of those thoughts out of her head. Most of those thoughts, anyway, because it seemed like as good a time as any to show a little gratitude.
Buffy didn’t stop to think about it, instead grabbing him by the shoulders and pulling him towards her. He stiffened and pulled back slightly, but she just tugged a little more forcefully, her lips finding his with an ease that surprised her.
After a second’s surprise, Spike returned her embrace enthusiastically, deepening the kiss, his hands grasping her upper arms, then moving down to seize her waist.
It turned out that Buffy didn’t have to be under a spell to enjoy Spike’s kisses.
When she finally pulled back to breathe, Spike looked both stunned and wary. “What was that?”
“That was a thank you,” she replied primly.
He blinked. “Right. You’re welcome.” His eyes narrowed slightly. “‘Just a crush,’ huh?”
“I’m sure I’ll get over it eventually,” Buffy said.
One corner of his mouth tilted up. “Is that right?”
“Yep. And you can get over it, too.”
Spike appeared fairly skeptical, but he shrugged good-naturedly. “An’ how are we goin’ to do that?”
“We’ll think of something.” Buffy took a deep breath and realized that in spite of everything, she’d had a pretty decent Valentine’s Day. “Come on. You can walk me home.”
He fell into step beside her without argument, and she thought that she wouldn’t mind so much if that didn’t change. Really, she’d get over this crush eventually.
And if she didn’t—well, he was a really good kisser.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/236978.html