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but it’s only 8:15 here in Boston! So I’m posting away.

Title: Montage
Timeline: During “Touched,” starting after Faith and Spike had their fistfight and wending through until Willow and Xander get back from their errand to check on Buffy
Summary: A relationship as viewed from the outside

Breathe in, breathe out. It had been a while since she needed an emergency meditation, but honestly, Spike was totally out of control. Did you see the ripping into her, and the punching and the breaking? If she’d learned one thing, it was that control was key. Control, and perspective. Spike wasn’t exactly famous for either. And yet… There awful, wibbly feeling in the pit of her stomach wasn’t going anywhere soon, and because Spike – Spike– had given her a lecture.

What he didn’t see, couldn’t see, was that they didn’t have a choice. Buffy’s power might not end the world, but she’d nearly ended Xander, and that was enough. She couldn’t step back, look at the risks, look at other people. She was so lost in her own plan that she couldn’t pull back to see the reactions of everyone around her. Familiar, much? What were they even supposed to do? Just let her keep running them at things until everyone was dead? She knew, knew, that you had to stop this kind of thing before it got too big for everybody. Before the death toll was a whole lot higher and you couldn’t shake Buffy’s belief in her own invincibility with a thunderbolt. Spike. He’d enable her ‘till the cows came home. He always had. Always, with the making things worse and the yelling and the guilty… It had to be done. No matter how bad it felt, Buffy just didn’t know best. OK, Willow. Breathe in, breathe out.


The text was swimming in front of her eyes. No wonder. Sumarian? Not exactly an exciting distraction. She was totally wiped out. Like, beyond tired, and plus, worrying about Buffy. Her face… this wasn’t supposed to have happened. She was supposed to get that everyone was serious, and calm down, and start acting like Buffy again instead of the Buffybot set to angry instead of chipper. Oh, God, the look on her face when they’d said it…

It made her sick to her stomach, that she still felt in her gut that Buffy would be fine now that Spike was out there with her. But even that one time, when she’s punched him and punched him and cried so hard she threw up all over his shoes… Even when she’d cut her hand and gone wandering around the graveyard… The thing with Spike, was that he was good at taking care of people. It was sick, after all that had happened. After he’d done… that to Buffy, after he’d left them. But he was probably taking care of her and…

A tear fell on the manuscript, muddying 2000 year old ink. Great. One more thing to worry about.


Jeez, B. All these years, and still working the virgin thing. You could tell by lookin’ that Spike’s lucky days were long gone. And still… She rubbed the bruise on her jaw. Wasn’t taking the treat set right in front of him. Nah, he was out trotting around after her like a fucking golden retriever.

Truth be told, she was kinda relieved that somebody was gonna go check up on her. Not just because she could be dangerous – nah, not perfect Buffy. Sabotage? Not her style. More… Well, Faith knew a thing or two about getting the boot. Not that Buffy didn’t have it coming – had it coming for a long time, even – but… B would have somebody to stick by her, even now. Christ. Maybe, if people were free… yeah. Maybe somebody to check on ‘em. Just in case.


He might not have Willow’s spider-sense, and his eyesight might be a little less than 20-20, but there was no way he was gonna miss the black-and-platinum curled up on that bed. Sure, Buffy wasn’t in the house, but wasn’t Spike a blinking red flashing sign that said “clue?”

Willow crept up next to him, bouncing up and down a little bit. “She’s not here.” Even her whisper? A hundred percent Nervous Willow.

“You’re sure your spell was set to Buffy and not her fan club?”

A pinched look, from behind that flat, long hair that reminded him uncomfortably of mousy middle-school Willow. “Sure as shootin’.”

Xander closed his eye. Still getting used to that singular. There he was, all curled up, deep asleep. If Buffy had been there ten minutes ago…

It still made him sick to his stomach, Buffy on the floor, terrified, bruised, a victim. Buffy. A victim. How could you trust somebody, after that? But if Willow’s mojo was right…

You had to hand it to the guy. He did know how to stick with her. Sure, it might be in that restraining-order kind of way. Had been, if he was gonna be brutally honest. Can’t stalk the willing, right? And a lot of it… Yeah, Buff, great decision-making skills. When you need someone to talk to about the plan, let’s bypass our longtime friends and have a powwow with a mass murderer who, oh yeah, tried to rape you.

Still… He swallowed, shook his head. The Buffster, out on the streets, practically kicked out… She needed the reality check, yeah, but that didn’t mean it was fun to deal it out. At least somebody was there to cushion it a little bit.

Except Spike had never learned the trick. You listen, yeah, you’re there for them. But you can’t let them call all the shots. When you do… Somebody’s got to hammer that reality check home. And, hey, construction foreman here. When you hang out with witches, vampires, almost-slayers… Well, somebody’s gotta volunteer to be in touch with reality. And who better to hold the truthy hammer than a carpenter? But Spike? He was on Buffy’s side, no matter what, no truth required. You almost had to respect the guy for that. Almost. Especially because he was in that bed alone. Poor guy, just as shoved out as the rest of them, because Buffy… She didn’t wanna be touched lately.

He let Willow tug him out the door, her fingers bony on his sleeve. He covered her little hand with his, drank up the hopeful grin he got in return. Maybe it wasn’t so bad, to be the cheerleading section. He might not fit the uniform so well – bad mental places, Xander! – but, well, maybe Spike? Not so bad for the Buff right now. Maybe.


Willow and Xander, without Buffy. Willow and Xander, and not Faith. All their strength, out there and unaccounted for. This waiting was hell.

This was a losing fight, a desperate fight even with two Slayers. God willing, Buffy would realize the gravity of their situation. It was so hard to predict, impossible to understand this new Buffy. She’d been bewildering, maddening, when she wouldn’t lift a finger to affect the course of her own life. She’d gone from passive to maddeningly over-independent, rejecting all advice and spitting “inspiration” that took days to smooth over. And now? Now she was gone. Gone, alone with bloody Spike who would just make a bad situation worse.

Angel. Dawn. And now Spike. She’d never been able to step back, make the necessary calculations. Even as she grew older, brittle, closed off, she was still so soft. How nice, that she could still remain vulnerable after all this time, but they simply couldn’t afford it. She’d come to her senses, come back. She’d follow, or at least bloody listen. Of course. Of course she would.


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