I’m first up, and I’ve got three ficlets that I’ll be posting throughout the course of the day. Please remember to put your stories and artwork, etc. behind a cut tag.
Those Who Wait
Disclaimer: Yeah, I don’t own these characters. I would think that would be obvious.
Summary: Set during Into the Woods. The confrontation between Riley and Buffy goes a little differently, and Buffy finds herself contemplating a relationship that isn’t exactly normal.
A/N: This has probably been done before, but I wanted to try my hand at a little early-ish S5 Spuffy. Believe it or not, I liked Riley, but he’s kind of a bad guy in this one.
Buffy stared in horror at the sight before her. “Riley?”
Whatever she had expected Spike to show her, this wasn’t it. Riley was as straight-arrow as they came, and to see this—
“Buffy. What are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same question,” she replied tightly. “What the hell are you doing?”
Riley shook off the vampire that had her teeth buried in his arm and reached for his shirt. “It’s only physical, Buffy. This has nothing to do with us.”
Buffy felt as though he’d slapped her. “Excuse me?”
“It’s not a big deal.”
“It’s a very big deal!” she shot back. “I’m the Slayer, Riley, and you’ve got vampires hanging on you like leeches!”
“You brought the Slayer here?”
That question came from one of the vampires present, possibly the same one that Spike had punched out.
“She wasn’t—” Riley stopped. “I didn’t know she would show up. Buffy, please. We can talk about this.”
She snorted. “I don’t think so.” Turning away, Buffy headed for the exit, not wanting to hear anything else Riley might have to say at the moment.
“Like you have any right to talk!”
Buffy stopped in her tracks. “Excuse me?”
“Slayer, I don’t think this is the best place.”
When Spike was the voice of reason, Buffy knew there was a serious problem, but she could see vampires creeping up on them from out of the corner of her eye. She turned to face one of the leading vampires. “Don’t even start with me.”
Riley stumbled as he moved towards her. “Buffy—”
“Shut up!” she said furiously. “Just shut up!”
She heard a flurry of movement behind her and turned just in time to see Spike stake one of the vampires that had tried to block their exit. “Slayer!”
Buffy swore and pulled out her own stake. Obviously, this was no time to be airing dirty laundry, especially not in front of vampires. The last thing she wanted was to be the laughingstock of the vampire population of Sunnydale.
Hell, who was she kidding? She was already a laughingstock. How many vampires and demons knew that the Slayer’s boyfriend was getting suck-jobs from vamp-hos?
It was a relief to get back to what she did best.
Vampires fell before her; Spike was a whirling dervish beside her. Buffy didn’t care where Riley was, although she supposed that if he died, she wouldn’t get to kick his ass. And that would be unfortunate.
She ignored the dust, used to it by now, even when it filled her nostrils. There weren’t nearly enough vampires to dull her anger. Although some of those in the flophouse had tried to fight, more of them had run away.
In the end, the only ones left standing were her, Spike, and Riley.
“Okay, what the hell did you mean by that?” Buffy demanded.
“Look who you came with tonight,” Riley shot back, pointing at Spike. “You keep that vampire around, and for what? You let Dracula bite you, you had this fascination with Angel. Normal isn’t going to do it for you, is it?”
“I can’t listen to this.” Buffy marched out of the warehouse, ignoring Riley’s voice calling her to stop, ignoring Spike’s insistent footsteps at her back. He’d stayed quiet for the most part, which was highly unusual for him. Typically, Spike didn’t stop running his mouth.
Her fury grew every time she thought about Riley’s justifications. How could he claim that it was only physical when every time he let a vampire bite him, he risked death—or worse. What if he’d been turned? He might have shown up at her door, or Giles’ or any of her friends’, and they might have invited him inside before they realized that he wasn’t Riley anymore.
Buffy turned to find him still following her. “What the hell were you doing there, anyway?”
“I followed him. Figured it was a bad area of town, an’ you wouldn’t want your boy-toy broken.” The guilty expression on his face told Buffy that he probably wasn’t telling her the whole truth, and that she likely didn’t want to inquire further.
“What made you think that it was any of your business?”
His eyes were strangely sympathetic. “I thought you’d rather know.”
She didn’t want to know. Just a few hours before, Buffy had been reveling in her relationship with Riley, in how perfect it was. He was sweet and dependable and everything she had ever believed she needed or wanted in a man.
It turned out that he was as much a traitor as Angel or Parker had been—although it hadn’t entirely been Angel’s fault, because he’d lost his soul.
Why was it that the human men she’d been with were the ones who had completely betrayed her?
Then again, what Riley had been doing was dangerous; she knew that. It was better this way, no matter how much it stung right now.
Buffy turned back towards her house, not wanting to admit that Spike was right, that it was better to know.
“Do you want me to walk you home?”
She faltered, remembering how he had comforted her on her back steps not that long ago—but then she recalled Riley’s accusation. “No. Just—go away, Spike.”
Buffy didn’t bother looking behind her to see if he’d done as she’d asked. She couldn’t hear his footsteps trailing her anymore, and that was good enough.
Spike watched her walk away, hesitating to follow. Buffy was brassed off, and he knew that there was at least a good chance that she’d take her anger out on him. On the other hand, in her current state of mind, Buffy might not pay enough attention to her surroundings and get herself hurt.
After a moment’s thought, he decided that it was worth the risk. Spike remained far enough behind her that she wouldn’t sense his presence.
He understood the Slayer’s pain better than he wanted to. He still remembered what it had been like to walk in on Drusilla and the fungus demon. And the chaos demon. And Angelus. Although not in that order.
She had blamed him, had said that the Slayer was floating around his head, an accusation that he’d taken exception to at the time. Spike still believed that had Drusilla not cheated, he’d have remained with her for as long as they were both alive.
Not that his motives for informing the Slayer of Riley’s activities were entirely pure. He knew that in order to have a shot with Buffy, Riley would have to be out of the picture, and this was an easy way to do it.
Well, he hadn’t forced Captain Cardboard to get bitten by female vampires, and it was no skin off his nose to have the soldier revealed as less-than-perfect.
Spike’s steps slowed as Buffy approached her house. He could see Riley’s car parked on the street, and he wondered if the Slayer had noticed it there. She appeared distracted, and Spike made sure that he couldn’t be seen.
Although he was probably risking his life by sticking around, Spike wanted to see how this went down. Because if Buffy kicked the soldier’s arse, that would go a long way to getting the images of the two of them having sex out of his mind.
Keeping carefully to the shadows, Spike moved close, picking up Buffy’s question. “What are you doing here, Riley?”
“I needed to talk to you. I want to explain.”
“I thought you already did,” Buffy said bitterly.
“Not very well, obviously.”
“What? You think that explaining that it was just physical, and that this was my fault, was going to make me feel better?”
Spike could tell that Buffy was gearing up for a serious fight, and he figured if Captain Cardboard wasn’t such an idiot, he’d start running.
Then again, Spike had never had a terribly high opinion of the man’s intelligence.
“That’s not what I meant,” Riley said, raising his hands in a placating gesture.
Spike raised an eyebrow and settled back to watch the show. This was going to be interesting; he could just tell.
“Then what did you mean?” Buffy inquired sweetly, in a tone of voice that would cause sane men to run.
Riley appeared to be too focused on getting his point across to read the warning signs. “You let Dracula bite you,” he pointed out. “You have this fascination with vampires, and I just wanted to figure it out.”
“So you volunteering to be a blood donor is my fault,” she said, her tone hard.
Riley grimaced. “No. Not exactly. How else was I supposed to understand you, Buffy?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe ask me?” She glared at him. “And for the record, I didn’t let Dracula bite me. It’s called thrall, Riley.”
“It’s not just Dracula,” Riley objected. “You’ve been shutting me out, Buffy. You won’t let me get close to you, and you don’t tell me about the important things. I had to find out about your mom going to the hospital from Spike.”
“Spike was around when I found out!” Buffy protested. “You weren’t.”
“I should have been your first phone call.”
“I didn’t call anybody!”
“Maybe that’s your problem.”
“Maybe you should be focusing on your own problems.” She looked pointedly at his arms, now covered by his long sleeves.
Riley crossed his arms over his chest defensively. “Why haven’t you killed Spike?”
“What?” Buffy stared at him in disbelief. “What does Spike have to do with anything?”
“You keep him around; he’s a vampire. Why not dust him, or run him out of town? You know he has a thing for you.”
Spike’s eyebrows went up in alarm. He had no idea that the soldier knew about that, and this certainly wasn’t how he wanted the Slayer to find out.
“So what?” Buffy demanded. “Even if that’s true, it doesn’t mean anything. Spike is harmless.”
“No, he’s not. He nearly got all of you killed with Adam last year.”
While Spike appreciated the fact that Riley didn’t think him harmless, he really didn’t want Buffy reminded of his role in dealing with the Initiative. He had a sneaking suspicion that he’d have a better chance if she thought him incapable of doing harm, unless it was to a demon.
“Why are we even talking about this?” Buffy threw up her hands. “Forget it, Riley. You got sucked on by vampire ‘hos. You risked your life and the lives of my friends and family in order to get a thrill. We’re done.”
Spike watched Riley’s face twist in anger, and he knew what was coming. Catch a man in the act of doing something he knew was wrong, and chances were he’d strike out. “You’re never going to make it with a normal guy, Buffy. It’s always going to have to be a monster. Nothing else is going to be good enough for you.”
Riley turned and headed for his car, leaving Buffy staring after him from her front porch. She had her arms wrapped around herself tightly, and Spike took a half-step closer, wanting to comfort her as he had the other night.
He stopped himself before she saw him, knowing that if he appeared now, Buffy was more likely to stake him than to accept any kind of comfort.
Slipping off into the night, Spike headed for his crypt. He’d give her a couple of days, then approach her. Not that he believed he had any real chance with her, not when he still heard her words echo in his head.
She thought him beneath her, and that wasn’t likely to change, not unless she had an epiphany. Spike thought those were probably in fairly short supply lately.
Buffy watched Riley leave, feeling cold inside. Although there was a part of her that knew he’d only said what he had because he wanted to hurt her, she feared that he was right. If she couldn’t make things work with Riley, who knew all about her slaying and the strange tangle that was her life, what chance did she have at having a boyfriend at all?
She went inside the house and back to bed, finding herself lying sleepless, staring at the ceiling, Riley’s words echoing in her head. Buffy knew she’d shut him out, but that was just how she dealt with things. She was the Slayer; she couldn’t afford to give into weakness.
Spike had been right when he’d said that her personal issues were a distraction from her duties, and that distraction would get her killed.
Buffy groaned. There was Spike again. He’d been around a lot lately, and Buffy had no idea what to do about that. She wished she could say that she minded, but she didn’t, not really. He’d actually been fairly helpful recently, and his awkward comfort on her back porch had been exactly what she’d needed at the time.
That’s one thing she would never tell Riley; Buffy knew that her friends and her boyfriend—ex-boyfriend—would have offered meaningless platitudes. They would have told her that everything would be fine, that her mom would pull through, that she shouldn’t worry.
Spike hadn’t said anything at all.
She sat up in bed, punching the mattress angrily. Buffy had been deeply asleep when Spike had shown up in her bedroom, and now there was no way she’d be able to get back to sleep.
“Damn him,” Buffy muttered, deciding that she was mad at Spike for telling her about Riley after all. If the vampire hadn’t shown up the other night just when she’d found out about her mother, if he hadn’t followed Riley into the vamp brothel—or whatever you called it—if he hadn’t told her…
She’d still be asleep and quite happy after a candlelight dinner and a round of good sex.
Buffy flopped back down on the bed, deciding that there was nothing to be done tonight. She would wait until tomorrow, when Spike was sure to be asleep. She would roust him and ruin his sleep, and then they would be even.
Spike wished he could say that he had been surprised when Riley showed up to give him hell. The plastic stake? Now that was a surprise.
The alcohol had helped to dull the pain some, but the wound was a dull ache in his chest—much like the one in his heart every time he thought about Buffy and how she’d never be his.
He still thought that Riley had the better deal, and Spike knew that was the difference between the two of them. Riley wanted the whole feast; Spike would settle for the crumbs, for anything he could get.
Hell, he was used to settling.
The door crashed open, and he craned his neck warily. He couldn’t see who had entered with the sun shining behind them, but he caught Buffy’s unique scent. He’d know that smell anywhere.
“Come to finish off your boyfriend’s half-arsed job?” he inquired bitterly, the mixture of pain and alcohol loosening his tongue.
“What the hell are you talking about?” The door slammed shut behind her again, and Spike slouched down further in his chair, waiting for her attack, knowing it was coming.
He glanced up at her as she came to stand in front of him, and the words died on his lips when he realized that Buffy really didn’t know what he was talking about. “Forget it. How’s your mum?”
Consternation flooded her face. “What do you care?”
“I don’t,” he muttered. “Forget it. I was just makin’ small talk.”
“You never make small talk.” She sighed. “Mom’s fine. They’re releasing her from the hospital soon.”
An awkward silence fell, and Spike looked away as Buffy shuffled her feet. “What did you mean about finishing what Riley started?”
“Nothing. Just forget it.”
“And why aren’t you asleep?”
“What the hell are you doing here?” Spike felt off-balance. This wasn’t a typical conversation for them, and he had no idea what to expect from Buffy next.
She glared at him. “I didn’t sleep last night, and it was your fault.”
Spike pushed himself out of his chair, trying not to grunt in pain. “So, what? You came to ruin my sleep today?”
“Misery loves company, right?” Her eyes widened as she looked at his chest. “You’re bleeding. What happened?”
“It’s no big deal.”
“That’s what you meant about Riley.” Realization was dawning. “He hurt you.”
“More specifically, he staked me,” Spike shot back, pleased to be able to give her further proof of Riley’s not-so-perfect character. Somehow he didn’t think that the Slayer would be nearly as amused by the idea of a plastic stake as Riley had been.
She frowned. “He missed?”
“It was plastic.”
“No.” Buffy shook her head. “Why would he do that? He—” She stopped. “Oh, my God. He was right, wasn’t he? That’s why he staked you.”
Panic struck him. “Huh?”
“You’ve got a thing for me. Riley was jealous.”
There was real horror in Buffy’s voice, and Spike decided that his best response was denial. “What? No! You’re real full of yourself, aren’t you, Summers?”
She was still looking at him, her eyes narrowed. “You suck at lying, Spike.”
“No, I don’t,” he said immediately. “I’m evil, remember? Lying is what I do best.”
Buffy crossed her arms, the expression on her face now considering, as though she was weighing her options. Spike had a feeling that if she pulled a stake out, it wouldn’t be plastic.
“No, you really suck at it. You do have a thing for me.”
He snorted, opening his mouth to deny it again, but then stopped. ‘What the hell?” he thought. “Yeah. Just so happens that I’m a masochist.”
“I already knew that.” Now her lips were curved in amusement, and the light in her eyes was one Spike could not interpret. “Is that why you told me about what he was doing?”
Spike was beginning to get a little worried. “Not the whole reason,” he admitted. “Figured you deserved to know.”
Buffy nodded slowly. “Well, let’s see if he was right, then.”
You could have knocked Spike over with a feather when Buffy put her lips to his, moving so quickly that he didn’t have time to brace himself. The kiss wasn’t gentle, nor was it bruising. It fell somewhere in between, and Spike didn’t think that she had her heart in it.
Once he got over his shock, Spike began kissing back, pouring himself into it. This might be his only chance to be this close to her, and he was going to take every advantage.
When Buffy broke off, she stared at him with wide eyes, clearly not knowing what to make of his gesture. “What was that?”
“That was a kiss,” he said with a smirk. “What’s the matter, Slayer? Haven’t you had one of those before?”
“Don’t you dare tell anyone about this,” she said, backing up.
He shrugged. “Who would believe me? And I thought this was what you wanted.”
Buffy didn’t reply to that, other than to turn and run out the door.
Spike watched her go with bemusement, touching his lips reflectively. He couldn’t follow her now, but he’d find her later. Somehow, some way, he’d find a way to get under her skin just the way she’d done to him.
Buffy couldn’t believe what she’d just done. She’d kissed Spike, and she hadn’t been under a spell, or drunk, or otherwise influenced by evil.
She’d kissed Spike.
The words didn’t make sense, even in her own mind, but what was worse was that she’d enjoyed it. A lot.
She should have remembered that Spike was a really good kisser, but she’d honestly believed that had been Willow’s spell. After all, it was Spike.
“Crap.” Buffy stopped, trying to figure out what the hell she was supposed to do next. If Spike told anyone…
While staking him would solve that problem, Buffy’s innate sense of fair play wouldn’t allow her to do that. She was the one who’d initiated the kiss.
And she had liked it. Her lips were still tingling.
Spike had indicated that he would keep their secret, and she would just have to trust him. That’s all there was to it.
Making a quick decision that what she really needed was some time spent pummeling something, Buffy headed to the Magic Box and the training room. She should probably tell Giles what had happened with Riley, as well.
“Buffy, there you are,” Giles greeted her as the bell over the door rang. “Riley was just here looking for you.”
Her eyebrows went up. “Oh, really?”
Giles frowned, clearly sensing that something was amiss. “Anya, please watch the store.” He led her back to the training room and turned to face her. “What’s wrong, Buffy?”
“I found Riley getting sucked on by a vampire last night,” she said without preamble. “Did you know about this?”
“No, about the vampires. Did you know that people went and—” She stopped, not knowing how to explain it.
Giles sighed. “It’s a great rush for some, Buffy, and there are vampires who would prefer to get their meals that way, rather than hunting.”
“And you’re okay with that?”
“No, but it’s an established fact.” He shook his head. “Of course, the fact that Riley was engaging in that sort of activity is worrisome. Someone could easily use him to get to you.”
“Not anymore,” Buffy replied bitterly. “We’re done. I told him it was over.”
“Did he give you an explanation?”
“Other than telling me that it was my fault? No.”
Giles’ expression was sympathetic. “I’m sorry, Buffy.”
“Am I warped, Giles? Do you think I’ll ever have a normal relationship?”
His hesitation was palpable. “Of course.”
“No, you don’t.”
With a sigh, he said, “You are the Slayer, Buffy. Relationships are difficult at best, but that only makes it more difficult.”
There was a moment of silence, and Giles asked, “What would you like me to tell Riley when he comes back?”
“Send him back.” Buffy didn’t really want to talk with him again, but she knew it was probably in her best interests to make sure it was well and truly finished. She wondered if she should confront him about fake-staking Spike, but that would mean admitting she’d seen the vampire.
She took out her frustration and uncertainty on the practice dummy. When its head finally flew off, she doubled the ferocity of her attack, wanting to tear it to pieces.
“Let me guess. You were imagining me as the dummy.”
Riley’s voice startled her, and Buffy froze. “Maybe,” she admitted. “What do you want, Riley?”
“I got an offer from the army. They want me back.”
She turned to face him, controlling her breathing with some effort. “Fine.”
“Unless you can give me a reason to stay, I leave tonight.”
“I think you pretty much destroyed any reason you might have had,” Buffy said evenly. “Did you ever think about the fact that you’re my boyfriend, and that a vampire might have turned you to use you against me? Did you think at all?”
“What about Angel? Did you think about what would happen if you let a vampire hang around?”
“So, this is about me again, huh?” Buffy took a step back. “Get out of here, Riley. I clearly wasn’t enough for you.”
“I never got any part of you.”
Buffy nodded. “Maybe that’s true, but maybe you should have brought that up a few months ago, before you risked your life, and the lives of my family and friends.”
They stared at each other, at an impasse. Buffy was unwilling to bend on this one. Riley turned and left without another word; it was a relief not to field any more accusations. She sighed and began picking up the scattered pieces of the practice dummy.
“You know, if this chip weren’t holding me back, I’d kill him for you.”
Buffy turned to see Spike standing in the training room. “How did you get in here?”
“Tunnels. There’s a trap door in the storage room.” He took a step closer, hands in his pockets. “He’s a wanker.”
“He’s not wrong.” Buffy went back to what she’d been doing. “I’m never going to have a normal relationship.”
“Who wants normal? You’re the bloody Slayer. If that wasn’t good enough for him, he didn’t deserve you.”
Buffy stopped and turned. She couldn’t believe that Spike was being nice to her. “What’s gotten into you?”
He cocked his head. “What do you mean?”
“You’re being nice. Shouldn’t you be gloating?”
“Did you love him?”
It wasn’t an answer to her question, but Buffy responded anyway. “I thought I did.”
He shrugged. “There you go, then.”
She didn’t really like what that said about him, about his feelings for her. “It’s not like I have time for a boyfriend right now,” she said aloud, trying to convince herself more than Spike. “With Glory running around, and trying to protect Dawn, and Mom still recovering, I don’t have time to coddle somebody and make them feel better.”
“What if somebody didn’t need coddling?”
Buffy had no idea when he’d moved, but Spike was suddenly a lot closer to her, and she stiffened. “Spike—”
“You still need someone to watch your back,” he said, his voice low. “Make sure that there aren’t any other vampires getting through your defenses.”
“I’m already through.”
“In your dreams.” The words didn’t come out quite as strongly as she’d intended, and all she could see were Spike’s blue eyes.
He grinned, and the expression was not reassuring. “That’s right.” Spike took a step back. “I’ll be around, Buffy. I can afford to wait.”
Buffy watched him leave with wide eyes, and she wondered why she found his words comforting.
Spike whistled as he made his way through the tunnels, back to his crypt. He’d wanted to get under her skin, and he thought he might have managed it.
He had smelled her arousal and had sensed fascination, not fear or anger. After all, she’d just broken up with her boyfriend, and she would need time to adjust to the idea that he wasn’t the enemy.
It would take time, but he was willing to wait. Patience might not be his strong suit, but eventually Buffy would figure out that normal wasn’t good enough for her, and he’d have his chance.
Spike wasn’t going to let it pass him by.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/269809.html