Title: The Dark
Summary: Buffy and Spike talk.
“Jeez, Buff,” Xander winced. “You could’ve spared us the details.”
Buffy shrugged. “You asked. I told.”
Buffy still ached from the night before. Fighting with a shadow really took its toll on her back.
She sat around the table in the Magic Box with the gang as she recounted the fight as Giles had asked. They all looked very concerned and grossed out. Buffy shivered remembering Spike’s screams. She wondered if she should check up on him. Wondered if she could do that. Lately, she’d found it easier to confide in Spike than her friends. But she was leery of the way she had started to think of him. Thought maybe it would be better to keep her distance. But how could she now? He had been hurt trying to help her.
She sighed. It was all so confusing.
“Spike’s vision remains unaffected?” Giles asked more in curiosity than concern.
Buffy nodded. “I guess. He could see after. Just shook him up pretty bad.”
Giles removed his glasses, brow furrowed. “And this… thing. You say it was black. Anything else?”
“That’s it. It was… well, I guess it was in the shape of a man. But it so wasn’t. It was just like…”
“Nothing,” Dawn chimed in, eyes distant. “Like the lack of anything.”
Buffy reached over and slid an arm around her shoulders. “It was evil, Giles. 100% Concentrated Evil.”
His frown deepened but he promised to research the demon as best he could. Buffy decided it was time to take Dawn back home and so she did and she sat with her as they watched re-runs of Seinfeld and laughed and pretended to be okay. Her mind was elsewhere. When Dawn fell asleep finally Buffy left her in the care of Willow and Tara and went to find Spike.
Regardless of her hesitation at becoming too attached to the vampire she owed it to him to make sure he was alright. It wasn’t a lot but it was something she felt she needed to do. To keep herself human. To keep her humanity. Since being pulled from Heaven she’d worried about that. About how her feelings seemed to be diluted. Tainted. Not whole, not full, not real. She worried about how little she seemed to feel for the people she loved.
She didn’t love Spike but she did feel a connection with him now. Thinking on it as she walked through his graveyard, she felt like maybe they’d always had some kind of link. It wasn’t the same bond of family or even of friends but something more obscure, less commonplace. Buffy thought that maybe Spike was her mirror. The person who reminded her most of herself.
It was a cold night. Odd, considering it was summer. The graveyard – or his graveyard as she’d taken to thinking of it – was bathed in blue. The moon above wasn’t full, it remained unfinished. There was dew clinging to the grass beneath her shoes. When she walked the hem of her jeans grew damp. She shoved her hands deeper into the pockets of her coat and wove between the gravestones with a familiarity that meant when she looked up she’d made it to his crypt without even thinking about where she was going.
Buffy thought about knocking but decided that would be uncharacteristic. Instead she pushed the door in slowly, calling out his name. She didn’t know what she expected. Perhaps some spooky scene. An empty crypt. Trashed. Claw marks on the wall. Spike howling in pain.
Instead what she found was the vampire sitting slumped in his tattered armchair watching Dark Angel. Buffy frowned. Spike turned to her and sat up straighter.
“Buffy,” he sounded surprised.
Now she felt like an idiot of epic proportions. He was fine. He didn’t need her to rescue him. It was her that needed the rescuing.
“I… I came to see if you were alright,” she said awkwardly, leaning against the door. “After last night. But I can see you’re just dandy. So, I’ll go.”
Spike stood, shook his head. “Don’t have to. And as a matter of fact I’m not alright. Far from it. But if you mean physically, then yeah. I’ll make do. Not like I expect sympathy from your lot.”
Buffy looked down at the floor then sighed and took a step into the crypt and came to stand in front of him. “Not from my ‘lot’, maybe. But from me, you’ll get it. You…you came to help me. And that means something to me, Spike. I haven’t exactly been myself recently but I want to be. I want to be that Buffy but I don’t know if I can. I figure helping you out would be a good start.”
“Not to be a wanker, love,” Spike murmured softly. “But that Buffy didn’t care too much about helping me out.”
Buffy laughed a little. “Okay, then. A better Buffy. The new improved model.”
“Nothin’ wrong with the old one. I didn’t deserve your help. Still don’t.”
She shrugged slowly. “I don’t know about that.”
Spike looked confused for a moment before he turned and walked over to his fridge. Buffy stood rooted to the spot and watched him. The black of his t-shirt glided over his shoulder blades as he pulled the door open. She flashbacked to the dark figure and swallowed. She didn’t want to be afraid of that thing. It was just another demon and she was the Slayer. Spike cleared his throat and held a can of coke up, his head still shoved in the fridge searching. Ever since their little Drunkfest he’d taken to stocking up on non-alcoholic beverages for her. She didn’t really know why. But it was nice.
Buffy unbuttoned her coat and shrugged it off her shoulders, draping it over the stone coffin. She hadn’t intended to stay but then she hadn’t intended a lot of things recently.
She crossed the floor towards him and took the drink. Spike rifled around in the fridge a few moments longer and finally pulled out a beer. The Slayer wandered back over to the coffin and sat on it. She was wholly aware of the symbolism of it and didn’t much care.
He turned back to her, leant up against a wall.
“So…” she kicked her feet back and forth. “How’d you know I needed help?”
Spike shrugged one-shouldered. “Didn’t. Was just bored playing Monopoly with Dawn.”
They smiled slyly at one another.
“You always know,” Buffy announced. “You’re all-knowing guy.”
He nodded, casually, lighting a cigarette. “S’why they call me The Omniscient Spike.”
“And the Verbose Spike, too.”
“Demon-in-the-sack Spike is a favourite as well.”
Buffy’s eyebrows rose. “I think I’ll stick with Modest Spike. Makes you sound real humble and… what’s the word?”
“I don’t know. What is the word?”
“I… really want to say… genital…?”
Spike laughed. “Then by all means say genital.”
“Spike,” she chided.
“Genial would be the one you’re searching for, love.” Spike inhaled the nicotine with a sigh. “You alright, then?”
Buffy sipped her coke. “Have to be.”
“Don’t. Not here.”
She put the can down and looked at him. “Don’t want to turn you into my own personal Dr. Phil.”
Spike pushed off from the wall and wandered back over to his chair, he sat down on the arm of it, facing her. “Then don’t. But I’ve got two ears that are going to waste when they could be listening to your woes.”
Buffy thought he had the most interesting way of saying things. And it wasn’t just the weird British slang he used often. Although that had caused her to wish she carried a dictionary around with her every time they met. No, there was something about the way he said things that made them seem logical even when they probably weren’t. Things made sense around him. When he asked her how she was he really wanted to know, he wouldn’t settle for ‘fine’.
“I want to be normal,” she said then groaned. “That’s not… I can’t think of how to put it. I just want to be what everyone wants me to be.”
Spike tapped some ash onto the floor. “You’ll never be that, Buffy.”
That was undoubtedly true. Everyone seemed to want different things from her. Wanted her to be more innocent or happier or stronger or kinder. They wanted normal Buffy. They wanted Slayer Buffy. A girl who could go on picnics and wear floral dresses and be nice. A girl who could stake a vamp at twenty paces and not flinch when she was kicked in the face. A girl who waited for love. A girl who fucked.
She glanced at Spike then.
It was impossible to be all those things when they all contradicted each other. People wanted her to be so many things and she didn’t know if she could be any of them anymore.
“I guess so,” Buffy nodded. “But it’d be nice to be someone’s ideal. I’d like to be everything someone wanted me to be.”
Spike contemplated her for a moment. “Not to sound Dr. Phil-esque but that one person should be you.”
She smiled bittersweet. “And if I don’t know what I want?”
“Then you’re in the same boat as everyone else,” was all he said for a moment. “You’re still young, Slayer. You’ve still got time to work out who you want to be and who you want to surround yourself with. No rush.”
“Slayer’s lifespan is short.”
Spike remained impassive. “Humans, as a rule, don’t last for long. And there’s no saying you can’t have fun in the finding out.”
Buffy wondered if maybe he wanted that fun to be him. Wondered if he wished she’d walk up to him now, wrap herself around him and just let it happen. Or maybe more than that. Maybe make it happen. She didn’t think he’d protest, at least.
But she’d been wrong before. Often, in fact.
Spike eyed her. “The cogs are turnin’ in your head. I can see it in your eyes.”
“Don’t know what you mean,” she replied coyly. “I think you’ve got me confused with your robot companion.”
“Never gonna let me forget that one, are you?”
Buffy shook her head. “Never.”
“Didn’t think so.”
“Never ever. Never.” Buffy punctuated each word with light tap of her fist on the coffin. “Ever.”
Spike glared. “I get it.”
“I’ve killed for less,” he warned.
Buffy tilted her head and smiled. “Me too. Wanna see who wins?”
Spike grumbled to himself and slugged his beer. Buffy knew she enjoyed this too much. Enjoyed talking to him, just being in his company. It wasn’t right. He was a vampire. She was a slayer. He didn’t even have a soul for her to justify this new companionship they seemed to be developing. It was wrong. But he was all that kept her going sometimes. Not long times, it wasn’t as if she found herself sitting alone for hours thinking of Spike and being ever so grateful he was around. No, not long. Just the odd moment here or there. She might think about something he’d said and it would pull her through that moment into the next. Like he was her bridge. Her liaison between one breath, one beat of the heart, one more moment of existence.
Or maybe she was just being incredibly overdramatic. Whatever worked.
Buffy thought about that for a moment. “Not really, no.”
“Shouldn’t have brought her. I know it,” Spike scuffed his boot against the floor shamefully. “You trusted me with her and I exposed her to that.”
She shook her head, spoke slowly. “You know, maybe last year I would’ve agreed. Would’ve called you on it, said you were irresponsible. Thing is though, Spike, Dawn isn’t your responsibility. She’s mine. I left her. It’s my fault. And you saved my life. So I can’t blame you. Too much.”
Spike chuckled but shook his head. “Left in my care, she was. My fault.”
“Don’t argue with me, vamp-guy,” Buffy pointed at him. “You know I’m always right.”
“You’re right and true.” Spike nodded, smoke drifting in front of his eyes in ribbons, watching her from beneath his lashes. “And I’m the villain of the story.”
Buffy shook her head. “No. Not for a long time.”
And then there it was. This thing, this intangible thing that hung between them. Buffy worried about it. She worried about how he looked at her, worried that she was looking back at him in the same way. He loved her and when he looked at her like this she believed it. She didn’t want him to love her. She wanted things between them to be uncomplicated. This – what they had now – this was good for her. She liked having him as a friend, or the beginning of a friend. She didn’t want to complicate it with love or lust or any of that.
So she stood. “I should get back.”
“You should,” Spike nodded, stood, and walked to the crypt door. Held it open for her in a gesture of courtly good manners.
Buffy walked up to and past him. “Spike…”
He said nothing and waited for her.
“I just… I am grateful, you know. For everything you do for Dawn. And me. And my friends, even if they don’t know it,” she cleared her throat. “I just wanted to say that. In case you didn’t know.”
Spike inclined his head. “Thank you.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/158078.html