Title: Love’s Growth
Author: Miss Murchison
Words: 857, some stolen from John Donne
Summary: For this story, I went to an old favorite, John Donne. Opening the book, I found myself reading “Love’s Growth,” and I’ve written three short fics based on lines from the poem. This is the first one, but they can be read in any order.
I consider these outtakes from some of my happier Spuffy stories, where soulless Spike and Buffy have a conflicted but working relationship.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc.
I scarce believe my love to be so pure
As I had thought it was
Buffy was paying bills. Well, at least she had been looking at bills and trying to drown out the sounds of a prolonged argument between Spike and Dawn about custody of the TV remote. It had been a long, frustrating day, she had a headache, and…what was that smell? She jumped up. “Spike! I thought you said you’d stop smoking in the house.”
“You did.” Dawn chipped in helpfully. “You said you loved her more than a pack of fags and you’d do anything for her, even go into nicotine withdrawal.”
“Did I?” Spike repeated. “I must have been panting to get a leg over, then.” He was sprawled in the big chair in the living room, watching some ancient movie on TV.
“You–” Buffy’s eyes narrowed to slits of green fire. She reminded herself with an effort that picking a fight with her boyfriend in the house would lead to expensive home repairs. And it was still just light enough outside that dragging him out there would result in his turning into a pile of dust before she could have the satisfaction of beating him into a small, obscenity-spouting, mound of pulp. “And that is a candy dish, not an ashtray!”
Spike didn’t look away from the TV screen. “I know. I ate all the candy before lighting up.”
“What? All the M&Ms? Stupid vampire.” Really enraged now, Dawn stormed off.
Buffy found her in the kitchen doing the dishes, a sure sign she was too aggravated to be thinking clearly about her actions. Buffy picked up a dishcloth and began to dry. “Sorry, Dawn. He’s been driving me crazy all day too. It’s like he’s doing it on purpose—”
Dawn picked up the thread, supplying a litany of complaints about Spike’s behavior. But now Buffy was staring at the fridge, where a magnet bearing the name and phone number of a local pizza chain kept a frayed calendar of the Sunnydale school year from sliding to the floor.
Dawn was still talking, but Buffy only half-heard the grumbling. She slowly finished cleaning the kitchen, and eventually Dawn stopped whining and flounced upstairs to finish her homework.
Buffy snatched up a jacket and left the house by the back door.
Spike found her twenty minutes later, standing over Joyce’s grave. Twice, his hand reached out to her, and twice he dropped it again. He stood behind her and a bit to the side, waiting.
“I forgot what day it was,” she said at last, not turning around.
He started to say something but thought better of it and turned it into a cough.
“So, this is the Spike version of tact? Drive Buffy so crazy she punches you instead of crying because this is the day her mom died?”
Spike thought that he might actually be learning, if not tact exactly, at least caution, because he didn’t answer that question either.
“Dawn still hasn’t remembered.” Buffy turned at last. “Thank you.”
He moved only to spread his hands in a gesture of helplessness. “Anything I can do, love, you know that.”
They stood there a long time, in silence.
Buffy did know. She could ask him anything. He might or might not do the little things, but he’d risk his unlife to get her the big ones, even if he bitched and moaned about it the whole time. And he’d try to give her things she hadn’t asked for, that she didn’t know she needed. Sometimes, when he tried to decide what she needed, he made the most infuriating mistakes.
Today—today had been one of his mistakes, but she wasn’t furious. She and Dawn needed to grieve, needed to remember Mom, and he should have let them. Eventually, she’d try and explain that to him.
But she knew that Spike didn’t get all the subtleties of human emotions. He was learning. More than that, he was trying to learn. And when he realized he’d made a mistake, instead of giving up, he tried again, another way.
Today had been an act of love, a willingness to accept abuse to spare her pain. He’d gotten it wrong, but in a way that showed how close he was to getting it right. She couldn’t expect someone as imperfect as he was to love perfectly. The miracle was that he kept loving.
So she stood and grieved for her mother. Then she did something for her lover. She asked him for help. “Remind me why I want to stay alive. I need that right now.”
And when his arms came around her, she knew that in spite of all she’d lost, she’d have the will to fight on for her sister, her friend, and for the world. And for him. Because she’d also learned that his need was greater than hers.
Her love was imperfect too. But, like her, it was a survivor.
I scarce believe my love to be so pure
As I had thought it was,
Because it doth endure
Vicissitude, and season, as the grass…
There will be at least one more short fic based on this poem.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/346217.html