Title: Bloody Poetic
Genre: Fiction – Spuffy (duh!)
Word Count: 3,066
A/N: There is some mention of previous relationships, but nothing squicky. Takes place post tv series with allusions to events happening in the comics. :D
“Poetic, that’s what it is. Bloody, soddin’ …” he paused for a moment to duck the swing, “Poetic.”
“What are you… ugh … going on about?” she grunted with effort.
“This … you … me … this … demon … bloody, soddin’ poetic.” With a final roundhouse kick to its head, he dropped the demon. In a move that flowed as though they’d practiced it, he spun out of the way as she swung the ax and neatly removed its head. A stench rose from the demon’s corpse that had Buffy wrinkling her nose in disgust.
“Ugh! That is so not poetic. How is any of this poetic, Spike?” She stared at the beheaded demon corpse at her feet, her hand covering her nose. “I mean look at it … all … scaly and bumpy and … a tail. Nothin’ poetic about it.”
He stared at her, eyes wide with surprise. “That’s you all over, isn’t it, Summers? So bleedin’ literal. I mean, here we are, finally on the same continent for a change, finally talkin’ …”
“You mean how you just happened to be oh-so-conveniently at World’s End, just as I came looking for intel? How is that poetic? You planted yourself there when you heard I was in Edinburgh looking for answers. And how did you know that anyway? It was supposed to be a stealth operation!” She faced him now, arms crossed over her chest, hip cocked in defiance.
“Oh, real stealthy, Slayer. Waltzing in there like you owned the place. Did you even think that this atmosphere isn’t healthy for you?” He pulled off his coat and started to pat the dust out of it.
She glared at him. It rankled, this whole bizarre-o world where slayers were evil and vampires were the good guys. What rankled even more is that he was right. She knew better than to be all in-your-face-bad-ass with her informants these days. She knew, but still she threw caution to the winds. And here he was, helping. Again. She considered him as he shook out his coat and started to swirl it back on.
“Why aren’t you in L.A. anyway, Spike? Aren’t you part of the evil law firm now? You and … and … everybody there … in L.A.?”
Spike paused mid-swirl, the heavy leather slapping lightly at his legs. “You didn’t hear? The Wolf, the Ram and the Hart are no more. The apocalypse that was supposed to happen … didn’t. Angel …”
“No … he’s not. Was human … for a minute, but not dead … not really. Not in this reality.”
Spike winced at the mingled joy and despair in her voice. “Yeah. Not anymore, though. Figured out the way to stop the apocalypse was to become a vampire again. Brought the whole bleedin’ city back from Hell. Now he’s the ‘Savior of L.A.’ Guess that means you’re off then …?” He straightened the lapels on his coat with a stiff jerk.
“Off? What? What are you talking about? I never know what you’re talking about!” Confusion and exasperation warred with each other across her face.
“Angel. He’s still alive. You’re still alive. Reckon you’ll be running off to L.A. the soonest …”
Buffy hauled back and punched him in the nose.
“Ow!” He grabbed the offended proboscis. “Buffy! What was that for?”
“You’re stupid, Spike!”
“So you’ve been tellin’ me since the day we met. Doesn’t tell me why you had to haul off and punch me in the nose. Again.”
“You’re stupid. You think just because I know Angel … Spike you still don’t get it do you? I. Still. Love. You!” She punctuated each word with a jab of her finger into his chest. “You! You stupid vampire! You! Not Angel. Not Riley. Not Satsu. You!”
“You. I love you. And I can’t fall out of love with you no matter what I do. No matter how many weird, crazy symbolic calla lily dreams I have of you. No matter how much mind blowing lesbian sex I have. You. Do you understand me yet?”
“Lesbian…?” Spike’s eyes started to lose focus at the images his imagination started to play out. “You and Willow…?”
“No! Focus, Spike! Listen to what I am telling you. I. Love. You. And I’m not just saying it because you helped me kill that … admittedly very large … powerful demon. I’m not just saying it because I’m so glad to see someone from Sunnydale that I’d kiss the first person I see because they used to see the same sky I saw everyday for seven years. I’m saying it because it’s true. I love you. You, Spike. I love you.” She took a deep breath and turned her attentions back to the corpse. “Not that any of that matters now because Harmony … God! Harmony! Is the queen bee now and all the little TV drones are following her every command.” She paused mid-rant to stare at the stinking demon corpse at her feet. She nudged it with the toes of her tastefully shod foot. “Isn’t this thing going to go … poof or melt into a puddle of goo or … something?”
“Goo … in about an hour …” Spike replied absently.
They stood there in the tiny close, staring at the corpse from either side. The sounds of night traffic wound their way back to them. She looked up and met his eyes.
He gave her a wry smile. “Soddin’ poetic.”
“You still need to explain it to me.”
“The girls … Xander… Willow… they’re all at the…”
“Mmpf. I figured. I got a place. It’s not the Ritz, but it’s a place. Quiet. Private.”
He backpedaled quickly, “Or we could go to a pub. Grab a bite. Some fish ‘n chips maybe?”
“Oh, no! No! Private sounds good. Private is great! It’s been so long since I’ve been… private. Do you know what it’s like having to live with so many teenaged girls… Oh! But you do…”
Spike tried to quell the bubble of happiness that rose in his chest at her acceptance. He tried to play it cool. “Then come along, madame. Your refuge … awaits.” He bowed with mock formality and ushered her out of the close.
Buffy gave a giggle at his absurdity and, feeling much lighter of heart than she had in a very long while, swept past him with play majesty. She tried to ignore the little flip of her heart when she caught the laughing twinkle in his eyes. She walked into the shadows of the main thoroughfare and tried not to think “private” and “poetic.” She tried not to hope.
The door creaked as he pushed it open to the labyrinth of corridors under North Bridge. A wave of damp and dank air engulfed them as they slipped through the open door. Buffy was surprised to see a string of dim electric bulbs lining the walls near the low ceiling.
“What is this place, Spike? It’s so… ” she shivered slightly, “So cold.”
“Seriously. Tourists pay good money for a tour through the haunted underground of Edinburgh. This is just one of the stops.”
“Haunted? You’re kidding me. This place isn’t haunted.” She paused as an errant breeze from the gappy door wafted by. “It isn’t haunted, right, Spike?”
“Oh, it’s haunted all right, but nothing you haven’t seen before.” He was surprised when she didn’t toss off a flippant remark. “Never say the great Vampire Slayer, the bloody great Chosen One is afraid of a wee ghostie!”
Buffy glanced nervously from side to side as they walked deeper into the underground caverns. “Shut up, Spike.”
His laughter echoed from the stone walls. “Oh, isn’t that grand! You’re afraid of ghosts!”
Buffy grimaced, looking straight ahead. “It was a thing… back in Sunnydale… vengeful ghosts.. It wasn’t… well… see the fraternity house was a foster home and the kids… ”
“That was you? Oh my, oh my! Heard about that – the ghosts were fueled by sexual heat. I knew you had it in you, Slayer, but who… surely not Captain Cardboard?”
She stopped walking abruptly. “And why is that so hard to believe, Spike?”
He gave her a look, head tilted. “I’ve reason to know your… appetites when you… oopf!”
He grunted slightly when she punched him in the gut.
“If you only want to make snide comments, Spike, I’m heading back. I’ve got too much to deal with to waste time.”
Spike was instantly repentant. “Here… only havin’ a little fun. Nothin’ to get your knickers all in a bunch about. Come on. We’re nearly there.”
He stepped around Buffy to continue on down the passage way. For all of her irritation at the vampire for his digs and obnoxious remarks, Buffy found herself lured by the thought of a place not inhabited by several hundred teenaged girls. She followed him closely, only a few steps behind.
After a few minutes of twisting corridors and going up then down innumerable flights of stairs, they came to what appeared to be a low vaulted room. A faint whistling floated to Buffy as she paused on the threshold. Spike continued on.
“What’s with the whistling, Spike?”
“The whistling… that… you’re doing… even though you’re now… oh… oh God.” A faint note of panic crept into her voice. “It’s a ghost isn’t it? A real, live… ghost…” She whispered the last, as if the word itself held the power to conjure the spirit. And true to her fears she started to hear the faint tink-tink-tink of a cobbler’s hammer working nails into the thick sole of a boot.
Spike confirmed her fear. “Oh, that’s just Willy. Nothin’ to worry ‘bout. He’s harmless enough. Just happy sittin’ there cobblin’ away.”
Buffy felt faint. It was one thing to face the very corporeal form of the evil undead, but it was another to know there really were ghosts – unseen beings that walked the world. “What… what does he want?”
Spike pondered that for a moment. “I don’t think he really wants anything, Slayer. He just fades in and out, mostly, working on the same shoe. But if you’d like, I’ll ask him.”
He made to approach the corner of the room the sound came from. Buffy called out to him, her voice cracking a little bit, “No! No… that’s all right. I don’t want to … disturb him.”
Spike grinned at her discomfiture. “Sure thing then, Slayer. So… are you going to stand there all day, or…”
“Oh… right,” Buffy glanced quickly at the corner the tink-tink-tink sound came from and made an undignified dash across the uneven brick and cobblestone floor. A few feet from Spike, she tripped over a brick that rose a little higher than the others and started to fall. Her arms flailed wildly. She squeezed her eyes shut and braced for impact. Then gasped as she felt a pair of arms go around her and stop her sudden descent. Her startled intake of tobacco, whiskey and old leather, informed her that it was Spike’s arms and she relaxed.
“Steady on there, Slayer,” he murmured.
Her eyes fluttered open and she was looking up into his bright blue gaze. She was abruptly aware of the solid chest and shoulders under her hands, the warmth of the leather lapels she was unconsciously clutching. Suddenly shy, Buffy got her feet under her and pulled away from the embrace. She looked away, not sure of herself for all of her protestations earlier. Silently, he led her from the chamber into another corridor.
This one was straighter than the others they had traveled through. The low ceiling arched gracefully from the evenly hewn walls. Every so often, there was a shallow alcove carved into the walls. More frequently, there were wide wooden doors, roughly 10 feet wide and 6 feet high. The wood was obviously old, almost grey with age on some of the doors, yet some of them boasted distinctly new padlocks. After passing the third such door, Buffy ventured a question.
“Back when this bridge was built, there were merchants who built shops on the surface of the bridge. They turned some of the vaults under the bridge into storage rooms. Now, the storage rooms are still used. Used to be body snatchers, hunted things, demons mostly, some homeless. Now… well… since the above world is a little more hospitable… turning back into storage and some pretty posh vampire apartments.”
Buffy stared incredulously at Spike. “Vampire… apartments?”
Spike kept moving, “Yeah. Condos more like. Pretty posh in this section. They don’t mention that on the tours.” He considered that briefly. “Although now that Harmony’s made vampires popular, maybe that will change. Don’t know how the residents would like that, though. Might have to bring it up to the management.”
“Bring it up to the … management?” Buffy echoed faintly. “You mean like a property management person? And you… live here?”
“Nah. Just borrowin’ a friend’s place. Watchin’ it for ‘im while he’s on holiday. Figured since I was here anyway, might as well be helpful, right?” He came to a stop in front of a door with a shiny brass padlock that winked playfully in the light provided by a motion activated LED above the door. “And here we are.”
Spike fumbled in his pocket for the key. He pulled it out, held it up for Buffy to see with a smug little smile, then fitted it into the lock. The tumblers turned with a satisfied little snick and the hasp released smoothly. Spike removed the lock from the door and pushed it open to reveal a dark expanse beyond.
“Oh. Hang on, let me get the light.”
He moved through the door and Buffy could hear him stumbling around looking for a light. There was a thud and a muffled invective from inside the reaches of the dark room. She took a tentative step into the blackness and felt along the wall by the door. Her fingers found the reassuringly familiar contours of an everyday light switch and she flipped it up. The room was lit by the warm glow of low wattage bulbs. Spike was in the middle of the room, blinking at the sudden illumination.
“Ah. By the door… right. I never think to look there.”
Buffy shrugged and looked around. The room looked relatively normal to her, discounting the lack of windows. There was a leather couch, a low table, some lamps, a few pictures on the walls, and a writing desk with a chair next to it. A plush shag area rug covered most of the floor. A vase of flowers graced one of the corners of the desk. A doorway led to another room beyond this one.
“It’s… nice,” she said, not really able to hide her surprise.
“What did you expect, Slayer? A barren crypt?” he asked, a little defensively she thought.
“Well… yeah. Maybe a battered tv, but this… it’s nice, Spike.”
She pulled the door shut behind her, fumbling with it a little, not sure how to lock it from the inside.
“Here, let me,” he said and crossed the room to her side.
He worked some hidden mechanism and then paused. He was close enough to smell the faint floral-citrus scent of her shampoo, the slight earthiness of her perspiration from the hike through the underground labyrinth, and a hint of musk that proclaimed her identity to him. He ached to reach for her, to hold her again in his arms, but he hesitated, unsure of her reaction, unsure of her. Sure he remembered her last words to him as all of Sunnydale came crashing down on his head, but even clearer, he remembered his last words to her. No you don’t, but thanks for sayin’ it. He moved away to the desk, looked down at the abandoned papers lying there without seeing them.
Buffy frowned a bit at this tactical retreat, but didn’t say anything. Instead she walked to the couch.
“What did you mean?”
“What were you… ”
Their words collided in the air. They were left standing there, not looking at each other, unaccountably reluctant to speak, to ask the questions burning in their minds.
“I missed you.” Her words whispered across the nape of his neck. He raised his head to look at her.
“I missed you, too.”
“What did you mean?” she asked again.
He didn’t pretend to misunderstand her. “Us meetin’ like that again. Classic, poetic… call it what you will. It wasn’t what… how… I imagined it, running into you again. Figured on moonlight and roses and…” He stumbled to a halt, embarrassed by the sudden revelation of his romantic nature to her. He hadn’t meant to tell her that – not yet, not ever. But there it was, in the open. It couldn’t be unsaid.
Buffy smiled. “Yeah… I didn’t imagine it that way, either. When Andrew first told me… I… well… I had half a mind to hop on a plane and yell at you, tell you how stupid you were… tell you…” It was her turn to let her words fade away.
Spike took a step towards her. “You did. Yell at me that is. Told me I was stupid. Even punched me in the nose.”
Buffy took a step towards him. “I’m sorry for that, Spike.”
He took another step. “No, you’re not, but thanks for sayin’ it.”
She took a step back. “Why don’t you ever believe me? You said that… before… when you… I meant it you know.”
Spike stood his ground. “Did you? Wasn’t just the impending apocalypse and a swell of emotion, knowing that I wasn’t going to make it out of there?”
Buffy took two steps forward. “No. It wasn’t. You know that, Spike. You’re just too stubborn to admit you were wrong!” She was shouting now.
Spike grinned and stepped forward again, closing the distance. He whispered, “I was wrong,” and lowered his head to hers. His lips touched her forehead. “I was wrong,” he whispered again. “Wrong.” He kissed her temples. “Wrong.” He kissed her nose. “Wrong.” He kissed her lips.
She wound her arms around his neck and pulled him closer.
“Wrong,” she murmured against his lips in return.
And just like that they were kissing, falling into each other, losing all sense of up and down, then and now.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/342503.html