So, it’s my posting day and I come bearing a fic. It is fluffy and sappy and set in a sort of AU Season 6 where Tara and Willow no longer live in Buffy’s house and though Buffy and Spike have shared a few kisses, the dysfunctional sexual relationship hasn’t started. I may add a sequel which may or may not be ready for the free-for-all day. We’ll see, no promises though cuz RL has been amazingly busy these last few weeks.
Title: To Woo A Slayer
Word Count: Just over 2,800
Disclaimer: I own nothing, but I love playing with Joss’ creations.
Summary: A study session with Dawn leads to some realizations for the Slayer.
Spike had been helping Dawn with her homework for months now. Coming home after patrol to find him sitting at the dining room table, textbooks from a variety of subjects scattered over its polished surface, was no longer surprising to Buffy. Dawn reciting Shakespeare over breakfast however, that was something she wasn’t used to. And she’d been doing it all week. Buffy had meant to ask her about it, but every time she opened her mouth the words just seemed to slip away.
Buffy hung her coat in its usual spot near the door and followed the low rumbling voices coming from the dining room. She propped herself up against the doorjamb and watched the interaction between Spike and her teenaged sister with interest.
“What does reprehend mean?” Dawned asked him, brows furrowed in confusion.
“To express strong disapproval, or to find fault with,” Spike answered with a soft smile. To Buffy, he seemed to genuinely enjoy the time he spent with Dawn, patiently explaining anything she asked about.
“So is Puck saying that we the audience should just ignore what happened in the play, as if it was a dream, or just an imagined story? That he will sort everything out like the fairies did with the lovers in the play if we just pretend it was all a dream?”
“Yeah, bit, tha’s exactly right,” Spike’s face lit up in a bright smile. “So you have been listenin’ in class then…”
Buffy couldn’t help the giggle that escaped when her sister stuck her tongue out and she regretted interrupting the quiet moment between the pair when they both noticed her presence.
“Hey, Buffy,” Dawn looked up at her sister with a grin before turning her attention back to her notebook and starting to scribble furiously.
“How’s the homework coming?” she asked as the moved further into the dining room towards the pair.
“Great! Spike really knows about this stuff,” Dawn slid a mischievous glance towards him. “Probably cause he’s like ancient and there was nothing to do back then other than read and write poetry…” she trailed off with a meaningful glance at the ‘ancient’ vamp in question.
“Oi!” Spike exclaimed indignantly. “’M not bloody ancient,” he seethed, glaring at the teen a little too intensely.
“Sure, you’re not,” Dawn continued teasing. “You probably saw the first run of all of old Willie’s plays.”
“I did not!”
“I thought Shakespeare was around in the 1600s,”Buffy said absently, leafing through one of Dawn’s textbooks. “And Spike was turned in the late 1800s.”
Both Dawn and Spike broke off their intense glaring contest to look over at Buffy in shock.
“What? I know stuff,” she defended herself. “And I really liked my poetry class…”
Spike was the first to recover his composure as Buffy’s features were starting to set themselves into an annoyed frown.
“Well, pull up a seat, luv,” he said, pushing out the chair opposite himself and next to Dawn. “We’re just about to go over some sonnets before calling it a night.”
“Yeah, Buffy, sit!” Dawn enthused, overjoyed at the prospect of spending time with Buffy. There had been very few quiet moments alone with her since her ‘return’ from beyond.
“I don’t want to interrupt your studies, sweetie,” Buffy said, unsure.
“’S always better to count with an extra set of ideas when discussin’ poetry, Slayer. Even if they’re yours,” he took the sting out of his words with a soft smile.
Buffy acquiesced with a smile and took her seat next to her little sister, pulling the textbook closer to see what they were about to go over.
“So you have to read sonnets 18, 73 and 116, right?” Spike asked once Buffy had settled at the desk. Dawn nodded at him and he continued. “I’ll read 18; Dawn, you read 73 and Buffy’ll take 116. We’ll discuss each of ‘em after, then the lot as a theme, yeah?”
Dawn nodded happily, preparing to make any notes needed while under Spike’s tutelage. Buffy cast a sideways glance at Dawn and decided against arguing that she didn’t want to stumble over the complicated stanzas of sonnet 116. Dawn seemed so content, and for the first time since she’d been back, she wanted to join in and enjoy herself in much the same way.
Spike closed his eyes before starting to recite from memory, his voice deepening and his accent going back to the more dignified aristocratic accent of his youth.
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”
He spoke softly, letting each word of the poem come to life as he recited each carefully memorized line. Losing himself to the rhythm of the piece, Buffy noticed a small smile appear on his face as he pronounced each syllable correctly. She was fixated on his lips as they moved and as much as her mind wanted to wander into seriously naughty territory, the words those same lips formed held her in a thrall. She had heard the sonnet before, but never spoken with such understanding and depth of emotion.
He opened his eyes to meet Buffy’s awestruck gaze at the final couplet, emphasizing each inflection and word to perfection. Buffy had never realized how incredibly sexy poetry could sound if read correctly, or recited from memory as the case seemed to be with Spike. She flushed as his eyes stayed fixed on hers even as her sister wrote furiously in her notebook while asking Spike about the key lines of the poem.
“So, there is personification of summer, and basically the main theme is that their love is eternal now because this poem exists and as long as it’s recited, then the speaker’s love lives on,” Dawn said, writing everything down as she said it.
“Basically, pet,” Spike answered, still holding Buffy’s gaze captive.
“Cool,” Dawn remarked before pulling her textbook towards herself. “I don’t think I need much more on that one because we’re discussing it in class tomorrow. Something about it being his most famous sonnet.”
“Yeah, we studied it in school, too,” Buffy said, finally breaking off the intense staring contest with the blond vampire. “Alrighty, your turn, Dawnie.”
Dawn cleared her throat and recited Shakespeare’s 73 sonnet without too many stumbles with the wording.
“That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.”
“Right, so what does this one talk about then?” Spike asked Dawn when she was finished reciting.
“Um, growing old?” Dawn asked, unsure of herself.
“I think it’s about how he comes to accept that he’s growing old and how he urges the young man he’s speaking to, to love well,” Buffy added, wanting to contribute to the discussion.
“And he uses a lot of metaphors to do that right?” Dawn asked, furiously scribbling her notes down.
“Yeah, bit, why don’t you find a few of them to point out in class,” Spike said and observed her as she followed his instruction, writing down a few passages and what they were saying. He shook his head when she asked him what something meant, encouraging her to figure it out on her own instead of taking the easy way out for a quick answer.
Buffy watched silently, helping when she could with a definition but mainly focussing on the patient man sitting across the table from her. It was no wonder Dawn’s grades had improved dramatically since he started helping her with her schoolwork. Dawn herself had suggested it after Buffy got back since Willow and Tara had moved out of the house, leaving the sisters more time to bond. Giles had gone back to England a couple of months ago and Buffy was no help when she was trying her best to re-acclimatize herself with being among the living once more. Spike had been a Godsend.
“Pet?” Spike’s voice brought her out of her musings.
“What?” she asked, knowing she’d missed something.
“Your turn, luv,” Spike pushed the book towards her and Buffy stared down at the page. “116.”
“Right,” Buffy said, taking a breath to bring herself back to the present. She cleared her throat and began.
“Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”
Buffy looked up to find Spike staring at her, a small smile playing over his features. She saw a soft light in his eyes, one which she had furiously denied when he admitted to his feelings for her before the whole debacle with Glory, but for once she simply accepted it. Maybe Spike really was changing. Or maybe he had never really changed at all and he’d been like this all along?
“So, what’s this one about, nibblet?” Spike broke eye contact with her and turned his attention to the teenager.
“Love,” Dawn said firmly, grinning cheekily and hoping someone would fill in on the details.
“Yes, but you can do better than that,” Spike admonished, smiling.
“What love is not?” she answered unsure.
“Good,” Buffy replied, confident that she was right, but casting a glance at the smirking vamp. “Shakespeare tries to define love by what it is not in order to tell you what it is. As far as he can, I guess. Because defining love is definitely tricky business.”
“Tricky business, eh, Slayer?” Spike smirked.
“Yup, I’d much rather stick to slaying vamps and chopping off demon heads. Much less to think about. Stake, heart, and poof! Vamp is dust,” Buffy explained, gesturing with her hands to match what she was saying. Dawn rolled her eyes in reply while Spike bit back a laugh.
“So you think you have enough to go on for class tomorrow?” Buffy asked her sister, abruptly changing the subject.
Dawn nodded, looking over her notes. “I just have to fill in some more specifics about the poems and sonnets, but that should be easy to do.”
While Dawn set about getting the last things in order for the following day at school, Buffy made her way to the kitchen to clean up. Spike stayed behind to make sure that Dawn had no more questions for him until she cleared her stuff and headed up to her room. She could sense him the moment he entered the kitchen behind her. Buffy smiled to herself and started to pull the ingredients for hot cocoa out of the cupboard.
Dawn had gone to bed and Spike accepted Buffy’s offer of drinking some hot cocoa on the back steps of her house. This was the place that’d defined so many moments in their relationship, whether they were aware of it or not. They sat in silence for a long time, just sipping their chocolate and watching the few scattered stars in the sky.
“I just can’t believe that someone would write so many poems for one person, to want to express their love that way is pretty amazing,” Buffy said quietly, looking out over her darkened backyard. “I couldn’t imagine anyone writing a poem about me, let alone over a hundred. Not to mention all the other poets in the world who have written thousands of them.”
“Is jus’ what love does to people, I expect.” Spike reclined further back on the steps, cigarette dangling from his lips. “Love’s a powerful emotion an’ they’re just trying to capture some of it in a way that will last beyond them.”
“I wish I could meet some of them,” Buffy replied after a short silence.
“Who? Shakespeare and his like?” Spike asked, sitting up again so he could watch her features with interest.
“No, well, yeah, maybe,” she started, glancing over at him. “But I meant the people who inspired the poems. They must have been something really special.”
“You’re special, Buffy,” Spike said before being able to catch himself.
She looked over at him, a faint blush staining her cheeks. She watched him for a while, knowing he meant the words, but not believing them.
“Thanks for saying that, Spike,” she said finally, reaching over to take his hand. “But I’m just me. Plain old Buffy Summers. Nothing really exceptional about that.”
“I wouldn’t say that, pet,” Spike began, but didn’t finish when he saw the look in her eyes. She was back to being that lost little girl who was struggling through her third life again. He wished he could do something to alleviate her suffering.
“I should go,” she sighed, making her way to her feet. As she neared the kitchen door she turned toward him again. “Thanks again for helping Dawn. It means a lot.”
And with a small smile which warmed the vampire’s long dead heart she disappeared inside, leaving him out in the empty darkness of the night. He watched as the lights in the house were extinguished one by one, and listened until he heard two slow and steady heart beats signal his girls’ entry into the world of dreams. One he could only hope contained a respite from the dark reality and hardship of their world. He sighed and turned towards his own home, knowing there was at least one thing he could do to lift the spirits of the elder Summers’ girl.
The next morning Buffy woke up to a soft breeze flowing in from her open window. A window she knew she’d kept shut the night before. She stretched and crawled out of bed, walking up to see a single rose on her window sill. Picking it up she found a piece of rolled up parchment attached to it with her name inscribed in beautiful cursive across it.
Unrolling it she found tears forming in her eyes as she read the letter.
Anyone as special as you deserves to be immortalized in writing. Though I cannot claim to possess the talent of the revered William Shakespeare, I have tried my hand at something just for you…
Pale fingers, like moonlight,
Caress her skin
In silent supplication.
She is my lonely prayer;
For a greater sin.
My lips move in reverent worship
Across her silken skin
Golden, radiant light
Infuses my own midnight cloak;
A world beyond fantasy
In the soft valley of her breasts.
A breath of hope
Feeding my quest.
My own redemption
Cradled in small, delicate hands.
Fingers parted like petals.
Holding within its centre
A guiding light.
Were I a stronger man
I would pluck her
For my own sanctuary
Yet here I wait
Awed to stillness;
Content to stay
A shadow to her light.
All my love,
(The bloody awful poet)”
The kiss which Buffy thanked him with was worth all the years of ridicule at the hands of snobby aristocrats. That night he learned just how soft the Slayer’s skin was, and just how poetry can find many different forms of expression. When asked what finally convinced her that Spike was worth the risk, Buffy smiled and said.
“My very own William ‘the bloody’ Shakespeare.”
A/N: There you have it, let me know what you think!
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/319482.html