I’m not sure what possessed me to write this particular story. Perhaps guilt over my many many Spike-gets-raped stories.
Spuffy. Early season six. Buffy and Spike are into the smoochies but not past that yet, and Giles didn’t leave after OMWF because why on earth would you have Giles leave if you can help it? :P
Oh, and Spike gets raped. Sorry. Spoiler or warning? I’m not sure. Warning for my noncon/bdsm fans: it’s not graphic. Again, sorry.
The R Word
Buffy was not looking for Spike, and if she were looking for Spike, it would not be for Spike-kissage. She was patrolling. If it happened to be Spike’s poker night and she happened to be re-crossing the path to and from Willy’s, well, that was just her being very thorough in protecting a seedy part of town.
Okay, so she wanted to run into Spike. It had been a long, miserable day, and her feet hurt and her head felt numb and she wanted some of that alive feeling only he could give her. The poker game must have gone late.
Buffy was stomping back toward the cemetery side of town when she saw some shadows moving around the corner of a building. At first, Buffy thought they were playing a game. She glanced down the alleyway and saw some guys all hunched over together and thought maybe it was one of those dice-throwing things. But then there was a muffled cry and she saw an elbow lift, heard the familiar sound of a fist impacting flesh.
So then she thought it was a mugging or, you know, monster-related, which amounted to about the same thing, only with more killing than stealing.
She grabbed the first elbow and threw him back. Something registered as not right, but she brushed it aside and concentrated on separating attackers from prey. They were human guys, she realized quickly enough. (Ever since The Faith Incident, she always had half an eye out for human-ness in opponents, it was becoming second nature to check for a pulse, and then dial the strength back.) They scattered, leaving her with the victim, who was crawling away, half-naked and bloody.
“Hey,” she said, “it’s okay. Let me help you up.”
He flinched away from her, arms over his head, and that was when a whole lot of things occurred to her at once, like a cascade of falling bricks. This was Spike, bleach blonde hair more than identifiable, his blue eyes wide with panic and searching for escape. His jeans were bunched around his knees. And that first guy Buffy had pulled off of him had also had his pants down.
And there fell the last brick. “Oh god,” said Buffy.
Spike limp-crawled along the ally wall, pulling his jeans up and trying to hide his face. Buffy shook herself out of her shock and reached to help him up again. “If you don’t mind, Slayer,” Spike said to the ground, “I’d like to keep what I have left of my dignity and get out of here on my own.”
“Oh. Uh… sure.” Buffy stepped back and watched, feeling helpless, as Spike got to his feet and staggered away, hugging the wall. His profile was furious, the sort of look that should have engendered fear in any who saw it, but seeing it now just made Buffy sad.
The scene stayed with her throughout the day – in unfairly clear detail. She didn’t go to check in on Spike, sure he wouldn’t want her to, but she felt guilty about it. She assumed he wouldn’t come to their planned strategy meeting that night at the Magic Box.
Except he was already there, leaning casually against the bookshelves at the back, when Buffy arrived. He avoided her gaze so casually she wondered if she’d imagined it.
Giles cleared his throat, halfway through a lecture on – something. “Is there something you’d like to share with the class?”
“Hm?” Buffy opened her eyes all wide and innocent.
It didn’t work on Giles any more than it worked on her high school teachers. “You’ve all but thrown balls of paper at Spike. Do you need to consult privately or would a passed note suffice?”
Spike raised both eyebrows at her expectantly.
“Nothing,” Buffy muttered, feeling her face grow hot. When Giles looked likely to wait all night for her to add to that, she mumbled, “slaying schedule. Patrol stuff.”
She could see Giles wanting to call her on it, but he cleared his throat and went back into his diatribe on choco-puff demons (or something like that.) Buffy tried to pay attention.
Spike was waiting for her when she left the shop, leaning against a lamppost in that way of his, like a cold metal post was comfortable. “Got something to say, slayer?” he asked when she was as close as she was going to get.
Buffy had thought about just walking past, but she did want to know. “Are you all right?”
He straightened up from the lamp and shrugged his shoulders. “Could use a bite to eat.”
“You didn’t tell anyone – you didn’t tell Giles you were attacked.”
He raised an eyebrow. “I notice you didn’t bring it up, either.”
“I thought you wouldn’t like that.”
Spike threw his head back, gesturing at the darkened sky. “Well done, Sunnydale University psychology course!”
“You don’t have to feel ashamed. It’s not your fault you couldn’t fight back. It doesn’t make you less…” Buffy grimaced. Everything was coming out so flat and fake.
“Less of a man?” Spike was suddenly very close to her, lips parted, eyes searching hers. “Don’t worry, love,” he said, “we both know I couldn’t be less of a man in your eyes.” Then he smirked and turned on his heel. “Lovely chat. Time to go kill demons.”
Buffy ran to catch up. “We need to tell the police or something. They could do it again.”
“Well, I hadn’t thought of that, obviously, because I’m massively thick.”
“Spike! We have to go to the police.”
Spike stopped, heaved a sigh, and turned to face her, his expression contemptuous. “And what? File a report? A restraining order? I’ll just list my home address as ‘third crypt from the left’.”
“What were you gong to do? Brood about it?”
“Three little words, Slayer:” He held up one finger with each word, “Hire. Bounty. Hunters.”
Buffy grabbed his sleeve to keep him from turning away from her again. “No, Spike. They’re human. It has to be the police.”
“Christ,” he said. “Could you have a little less moral indignation on behalf of the sodding rapists?”
“Come with me to the police station. We’ll both file reports.”
Spike looked down at her hand on his sleeve, possibly considering the odds the leather would tear if he made a break for it. He stepped closer, chin down. “And what will we do, Nancy Drew, when they ask me to submit to a medical exam? How do we explain my minor heart-beat problem?”
Buffy frowned, sensing defeat but unwilling to concede. “We’ll say you’re a Christian Scientist or something. Opposed to doctory things on religious grounds.”
Spike smirked and looked down at himself.
“Christian Scientists aren’t necessarily opposed to black leather. You’re being stereotype-y.” When he continued to look unmoved, Buffy closed her eyes and said, “I need this, Spike. I need to keep my rules. It’s the only thing that keeps me who I am these days. Please.”
Spike tilted his head back as though to plead with the heavens, and Buffy knew she’d won.
“I’m only doing this to get you off my back,” Spike grumbled as she led the way to the police station. “Still going to hire bounty hunters soon as I can afford to.”
That, Buffy supposed, she could live with. At least he was going to the station.
It started out pretty painless. They were given forms to fill out and chairs and clipboards. Spike gestured and muttered over his paper and chewed on his pencil. Buffy filled out everything as best as she could remember it, leaving out any mention of supernatural activity or the chip or Spike being a vampire. It took her a lot less time than Spike, and less paper, too.
Buffy was a little worried about that. An officer took their papers and told them to wait. Spike fidgeted, knees bouncing. “That’s it, right? We’re done. Did our civic duty.”
“I think they tell us when it’s okay to go,” Buffy said.
Spike groaned. “What’s the fun of being a vampire if you can’t leave when you bloody well want to?”
An officer came over, “This way, please, we have a few questions.”
Spike shot Buffy a completely unfair “I told you so” glare.
They were led to a desk in the middle of a room full of desks with people at them. The woman behind the desk spread their reports out in front of her, on top of manila folders. “These two accounts don’t exactly match up.” She looked straight at Spike. “I’m going to take a wild guess and suggest that you exaggerated a bit. Were there really twenty armed men? And if you fought off the first seventeen, where did they go?”
“Spike!” Buffy hissed. “You have to take this seriously.”
He had the grace to look embarrassed. He ran his hand through his hair. “Didn’t want you thinkin’ I went down easy.”
“Take a seat,” the officer said. “And we’ll go over this point by point.” She picked up a pen and a fresh copy of the incident report form. “First things first, you gave your name simply as ‘Spike’ and you left the social security number and date of birth fields blank.”
“I’m not the sodding criminal here,” Spike said.
“Withholding information could damage your case.”
“Spike lost his green card,” Buffy blurted, and got quite a look from both Spike and the officer. “He… uh… I’ll just be quiet and let Spike explain why he doesn’t want to give out his information.”
Spike dug around in his pockets and pulled out a battered British passport, which he dropped on the desk. “There’s my information. Visa and all.” He said this last slowly and at Buffy.
Buffy watched the officer open and read the passport, and wondered how long Spike had had it, and how good a fake it was. She didn’t know the first thing you’d do to get a fake passport.
“William Pratt. I see why you go by ‘Spike’.” The officer copied information down onto her form.
Buffy looked at Spike. “Shut it,” he said.
“Spike. Describe for me what really happened. Remember we have… Buffy?” She shook her head and mouthed the name again to herself. “Her account already.”
Spike crossed his arms and looked dourly around the busy office. “Fine. All right. I was walking home, past the warehouses there on Orange Grove. I sensed these blokes were following me, so I turned down a side street to see if they would, too. They did. I’m not a coward, so I turned around to confront them. They attacked me. I’d have gotten away if it weren’t for the ch… shock. One of ‘em had a taser or something. Gave me a nasty shock when I tried to fight back.”
The woman nodded, writing. “Do you remember anything about the men? Can you describe them at all?”
“I recognized one of them. Army bloke. High and tight haircut like they all get, one of those twice-broken noses. He recognized me, that’s for sure.”
Buffy reached for his hand. “You didn’t say.”
He moved his hand out of her reach. “Anyway, I’d put him at a couple inches over six foot, thirteen stone.”
“Can you give that in pounds?”
Spike rolled his eyes. “You know, every British person knows their pounds, their stone and their kilos. It’s only you people who can’t convert units.” He stood. “Bugger this. You want a description; Buffy saw them. I’m out of here.”
The wooden chair groaned dangerously as Buffy hauled him back down into it. He scowled at her and she tried to smile for the cop. “How about mug shots? I think we’re better at pointing than describing.”
“Believe me, I want you out of here as fast as you do.” The officer looked directly at Spike. “If not faster. The biggest point of difference in your statements is that one is a witness testimony of a sexual assault and the other…” she glanced down at Spike’s statement, “while a gripping work of heroic fiction, only mentions simple assault. It’ll save us all a lot of time if you decide what crime you’re reporting, first.”
Spike gave Buffy a hurt look. “What did you write?”
“Spike, what do you think we’re doing here?”
“You told…” He jumped up, faster this time than Buffy could grab. “Forget this. I’m hiring a bounty hunter. It’s less paperwork.”
“Mr. Pratt, if you would like, we can discuss the more delicate parts of this case in privacy, or you can request a male officer if that makes you more comfortable.”
Spike scooped up his passport and stormed out, leaving Buffy staring after him.
The policewoman crumpled up Spike’s incident report and tossed it into an over-full trash can by her feet.
Buffy said, “You have to do something.”
“I will.” She focused her large brown eyes on Buffy. She had dark circles under them. “I’ve seen a lot of rape cases, and not a lot of willing testimony from victims. We’ll file the complaint on your account. It’s better with the victim’s report, but we don’t need it. You convinced him to come in at all, which is something. See if you can bring him back.” She stood. “I’ll go get the mug shots.”
Buffy pushed open the crypt door. Spike was in his easy chair with a bottle in hand. He winced like he had a headache. He said, “If your next words aren’t ‘patrol’ or ‘fight’, I’m not interested in what you’re selling.”
“I just spent over an hour staring at pictures of remarkably similar guys with crew cuts on your behalf, and explaining how you look so good for a forty year old.” Buffy clenched her fists, wanting badly to throw something at him. “Get a new passport, Spike.”
He ran a hand over his face, visibly pulling his emotions in. He stood with a sigh. “I know you hate the bounty hunter idea. Fine. I won’t do it. Don’t have enough cash, anyway. Happy? Let’s both forget the whole bloody thing. Odds are I won’t run into them again.”
“You said you recognized one of them.”
Spike walked up to her, dropping his voice to a seductive purr. “Going to beat up the bad man for me?”
Buffy was so not going there. She put a hand on his chest to keep him out of kissing range. “Was he with the initiative?”
Spike’s shoulders dropped. “Not to steal your lines, but DUH.”
“I’ll find him,” Buffy said.
Spike’s leaned forward over her outstretched arm, bringing his lips close to hers. “You’re dead sexy when you get that heroic, determined look.”
Buffy stepped back. “If he was in the initiative, there’ll be a record of him. They can’t have too many guys who stayed in Sunnydale.”
“I can’t believe we’re wasting all this time talking about the bastard,” Spike said, following her step for step. “Let’s just go back to normal, eh?”
Buffy turned and left. Not running, exactly, but he’d touched the back of her hand in that way that made her tingle and make bad kiss-related decisions.
Buffy walked briskly through the cemetery. She knew she’d have to be vague about why she needed the names of all Initiative soldiers or former soldiers still in Sunnydale. If she couldn’t get through to Riley, Willow might know a way to sneak into their computers.
Someone came up behind her. Instinctively, Buffy turned, grabbed and threw.
Spike landed against an obelisk. “Ow,” he said.
Buffy balled her fists. “Don’t sneak up!”
“Bloody hell. If I was sneaking you would know – er, wouldn’t know.” Spike frowned, shook his head, and jumped back to his feet. “Came for my goodbye kiss.”
“So not happening, Spike.”
Spike leaned toward her, brows knit. “If you wanted me clean and untouched, sweetheart, you’re about a century too late.”
Buffy blinked. “What with the huh?”
“Two days ago, you were all over me. You think I’m damaged goods, now.”
“Woah. Talk about damage. Memo to Spike: I’ve been trying not to kiss you for a while now.” Buffy grimaced. “That didn’t come out right.”
Spike stepped closer, lowering his chin and his voice, “So give us a kiss, then.”
Buffy held up her hands to ward him off. “SO not in the mood.”
Spike’s nostrils flared. He looked away, jaw clenched. “I’m right,” he said.
“Wait – is this a guilt trip? Are you guilt-tripping me into kissing you?”
Spike leaned back. “I’d never. I’m far too sexy to need to do that.”
Buffy took hold of his arms and held him so he had to look her directly in the eyes. “I don’t think you’re damaged – more damaged – than before. I loathe you precisely the same amount I did before I saw those men molesting you. Okay? Are we done with that?”
He pouted. “Okay, but where does that leave my kiss?”
She pushed him away and ran. She ran fast enough to feel the exertion and forget how tasty his lips looked when he pouted.
Spike staggered through the cemetery, clutching his empty bottle – he had some bleary-minded idea that it would be handy to show it at the liquor store, rather than try to read the labels to find what he wanted.
Why did she cut him to the quick so easily? Why did he insist on leaning into her knife and testing its sharpness every chance he got?
He should have known better. Buffy didn’t dole her affection out on demand. Every time, and it had only been a few times, she came to him, she decided. He knew that.
It wasn’t that she looked at him and saw something used, something soiled.
Spike rested against a tombstone. He lifted the bottle to his lips, and found it empty. Oh, right. He needed to get more alcohol so he could become properly soused and stop brooding like a nancy. He was getting worse than Angel. At least Angel had never been cool enough to have a rep to lose.
Spike straightened his spine and forced himself to walk with purpose. He knew the quickest route to Mooky’s Beverage on Main. He was going to be a man and bury his emotions behind lovely whisky. He congratulated himself on his resolve and dropped the empty bottle. He didn’t need it. He’d grab bottles at random from the whisky section. It would be a tour of flavor. Then, when he sobered up, he’d hit Willy up for a new passport. Forty years old! Christ, time flew when you were having fun.
When he heard a step behind him, he forced himself to ignore it. He was the big bad, after all. Even if he wasn’t a vampire, most people would think twice before tangling with a dangerous-looking bloke like him.
He heard another step, and unbidden his attention narrowed to the footsteps behind him, walking at the same pace he was. He stopped. The steps stopped. Stomach clenched, Spike turned around.
It was only one of his attackers, the fat one.
“Hello, sweetheart,” the man said. “Out late? All alone?”
“You were a lot nicer to me the other night.”
Spike felt his fists tightening to the point of pain. “You don’t scare me. You don’t have your little pals to help you out.”
“Big talk, but we both know you didn’t fight all that hard.”
Punching one of the bastards was exactly what had gotten Spike in trouble the last time. With difficulty, he turned his back. His steps felt jerky. He could see the friendly yellow sign of the liquor store ahead.
He was grabbed from behind. Panic made him pant, which was worse, because it filled his head with the man’s scent, with his arousal and sweat. Spike only barely kept from swinging his fist. He shook with anger and impotence as he tried to get out of the man’s greasy grip without triggering the chip. He felt the bastard’s hard-on against his ass, and his wet breath on his neck. “That’s rude, walking away while I’m still talking.”
Spike vamped out and growled, but that just made the bastard laugh. Spike told himself to calm down. He knew how to fight, how to break a hold. This guy was nothing, not military trained, not strong. Spike threw himself forward, where the man’s hold was weakest, and stumbled free.
As he ran, he heard the man shout after him, “We know where you live!”
Clem came to his cave entrance blinking sleepily, a teddy-bear under one floppy arm. “Spike?”
“Yeah.” Spike stepped around Clem, into the safety of the cave, looking left and right all the while. “Mind if I crash on your couch tonight? Just for tonight.”
“Um… sure.” Clem scratched one floppy ear. “Nothing’s chasing after you, is it?”
“No. Pfft. No.” Spike looked over his shoulder. “Just… uh, lock the door, yeah?”
Back in high school, in the old library, Buffy remembered Cordelia declaring she’d found “The Big Pervy Book of Vampires Being Pervy”, and how Willow had turned bright red and Xander had looked like he wanted to come up with a way to ask for details without sounding like a pig.
She remembered it had been a smaller book, the size of a hardback novel, though with the same knobby leather cover all of Giles’ books seemed to have. She scanned the shelves at the back of the Magic Box, wondering if somewhere in there she’d find the answer to what, precisely, was wrong with Spike.
“Buffy.” Giles sounded surprised. He stood by the counter, holding a book open.
“Awkward middle-shift day,” Buffy explained. “The dreaded ten-to-seven. Dawn’s at school and I have a few hours of blah, so I thought I’d do some research.”
Giles closed his book and squinted at her. “Are you feeling well?”
“There’s such a thing as bored enough to do research.” Buffy shrugged. “Besides, I have boring adult stuff like bills to procrastinate on.”
“What are you researching?”
“Nothing yet, but I was kinda thinking vampires.”
Giles looked at her like she’d gone completely mental, which, she supposed, was valid. Buffy bit her lip. “Okay,” she said, “can you keep a secret?”
“I’m insulted you feel the need to ask. Come into the training room.”
Giles led her to a comfy seat next to the weight rack, stopping only to shelve the book he’d been carrying. “Why don’t you start from the beginning?”
The training-room couch was an old car bench-seat, left behind by the Magic Box’s previous owners. It was burgundy vinyl and still a little shiny. Buffy stared at the curved edge between her knees. How to start? “I need to convince my vampire not-boyfriend I still find him attractive without encouraging him into thinking he’s my actual boyfriend” didn’t sound like a good opener. She bit her lip. “It’s about Spike.”
She felt Giles stiffen next to her on the couch. “What has the little bastard done?”
“It’s not like that. He was attacked, Giles. By humans.”
“Ah,” Giles said, relaxing. “Well, it was only a matter of time.”
Buffy turned to face him. “Woah. Way to be caring, Giles!”
“The criminal element in Sunnydale has a human component. Spike’s chip is far from a secret, and he hangs around the worst sort of people. I’m very surprised he hasn’t been attacked before now. My advice, and my recommendation, is to report the incident to the police. We don’t enforce human law.”
“We did. I mean, I did. I dragged Spike to the police station, but he couldn’t drop the tough-guy act for half a second and fill out a factual account.”
Giles patted her hand. “You’ve done what you could,” he said.
“Yeah… but… I’m worried about him. How he’s taking this.”
“How is he taking it?”
“He’s acting like nothing happened!”
Giles cleared his throat in a way that Buffy suspected meant he was trying not to laugh. “I’m fairly certain being beaten isn’t all that unusual an experience for Spike.”
“Major understatement,” Buffy said. She bit her lip. “They weren’t beating him, when I got there.” She met Giles’ gaze and wondered why it was so hard to state this one little fact. She couldn’t bring the word to her lips. The icky R-word.
Fortunately, it seemed Giles was fluent in awkward silence. His eyes widened a bit and he looked away. “I see,” he said. He coughed and patted her hand a little too quickly to be natural. “Well. Ahem. Perhaps it would be best to leave him to deal with this on his own, Buffy. Respect his privacy. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he is over twenty-one and should be allowed to handle this in his own way.”
“He wants to hire bounty hunters.”
“Well, that would… not be the way to handle it, no. You should make sure he doesn’t.”
Buffy stood. She walked a few paces away from the bench and turned. “I want to go find those guys. They’re still out there. Spike said he recognized one of them from the Initiative. He could find them fast. He can probably smell them a mile away. What are the police going to do? Add my vague description to a long list of daily ‘be on the lookout for’ stuff?”
Giles gave her his serious-face. “And what would you do, Buffy, if you caught them? Tie them up and leave them on the police station steps? That only works in comic books. In the real world, the police don’t take a vigilante’s word that a crime has been committed and these are the guilty parties. They untie the criminals and ask them if they want to press charges for being assaulted and tied up.”
“There should be something I can do.”
“There isn’t always,” Giles said. He sighed and stood. Buffy followed him back into the main area of the magic shop. He ran a finger along a section of books and picked out a slender volume, which he handed to her. “Vampire Sexual Psychology. This is what you were looking for? I believe Cordelia called it the ‘Big Book of Vampires Being Pervy’?”
“Yeah,” Buffy admitted. She felt the nubbly leather texture of the cover. “I thought it might… explain.”
“You might not like the explanations,” Giles said. “Promise me, you won’t go after Spike’s attackers.”
Buffy tucked the book under her arm and made a muffled sound she hoped sounded affirmative, but not so affirmative she couldn’t deny it later.
* * *
Spike woke to the sound of something falling. He flailed and fell off the tiny, uncomfortable couch. “The hell?” He looked up through a lattice of granny-squares. Clem appeared over him, a lunch box in hand.
“Hi, buddy. I was just heading out. Sorry if I woke you.”
Spike, with difficulty, righted himself. The crochetted afghan was like a spider web, trapping him. “What time is it?”
“Just past ten. You came in so late I thought I’d let you sleep in. If you leave before I get back, just be sure the door locks behind you, okay, buddy?”
“Yeah,” Spike said, and watched Clem leave. He sat for a while, staring blankly at the door. He got himself untangled from the afghan and flicked on Clem’s television.
Two commercials later he said, “To hell with this,” and looked for a more substantial blanket.
Buffy sat on the wicker chair on her front porch, trying to make heads or tails of a sentence with too many ‘whereas’ clauses. “For a book on vampires and sex, this thing reads like a law school text.”
A scraping sound drew her attention to the street. She saw the manhole cover in front of her neighbor’s house lift and slide back. A round, cloth-like bundle poked out, dropped out of sight, and then Spike jumped out onto the street, a nubbly green blanket drapped over his head. He hopped like a barefoot kid on a hot sandy beach, cursing and sizzling. He jumped over the four steps up to her porch and came to a skittering halt against the front door, in a healthy two feet of shade. He patted over his arms and chest and then rang the doorbell.
“I’m right here,” Buffy said.
Spike started a bit. He dropped the blanket from over his head and gave her a nonchalant smile that belied his anxious scramble onto the porch. “Hello, love. Didn’t see you in all that bright sunshine.”
Buffy shook her head. “I have to be at work soon.”
“Oh. Well, I could come with.”
Buffy looked out at the bright sunny day and then back at Spike. “You’ve really got to be joking.”
He picked up her book. “Bloody hell, not this old thing. Let me tell you this watcher bloke is no Dr. Ruth. Did you get to the chapter on ‘Dominant Sires’? Pure fiction.” He paused and his smile faded. “Are you reading this because of me?”
“I really have to get to work.” Buffy hurried past him into the house.
He followed her as she went to retrieve the shoulder-bag she kept her Doublemeat uniform in. It was slouched on the end of the sofa. “You are! You’re hoping to find some Vampire Whisperer secret to help me ‘get over’ my horrific ordeal. Newsflash, pet: you’re the one who’s not over it.”
Buffy turned to face him. “Then why are you here at my house mid-morning on a weekday?”
He shrugged. “I was bored.”
Buffy dropped the bag on the floor and groaned. “Admit it! Admit that you’re affected by this.”
Spike caught her shoulders as she rushed him. “Easy.”
“No. I’m tired of easy. Tell me why you’re here. Why you’re really here.” She pushed him.
Spike staggered back a step. He started to laugh, but her gaze pinned him. He sighed. “All right. I’m here because I’m a big, nancy coward. Are you happy?” He sat down on the couch arm, his shoulders drooping, he stared at the carpet. “I ran into one of them. Last night. I had to run away like a coward, and when I did, he said ‘we know where you live’. Haven’t been home since. I’m terrified. Are you happy?”
“Not so much,” Buffy said. She touched his arm. He let her. “I don’t know how to help you through this, emotionally. I can’t figure out the right words to say. I’m not that girl. But I do know I want to track those guys down, and you can hold them while I beat them up. Deal?”
Spike looked up at her. An unshed tear sparkled in his eye. “I love you.”
Buffy smiled. She felt like a weight had been lifted from her. Why hadn’t she thought of this before? Beat up bad guys. It always worked. “Whatever. I’m late for work.”
“Can I stay here?”
Buffy briefly imagined the state her house would be left in if Spike had the run of it for eight hours. Then she saw him reacting to her pause, looking hurt.
“Right,” he said. “I’ll just…”
Buffy stopped him as he reached for the blanket on the floor. “Yes,” she said, “you can stay. I’ll be home at ten-ish. Then we’ll go for some therapeutic bad-guy smashing.”
“Can’t wait,” he said, with a tired smile.
On impulse, Buffy leaned forward and kissed him. A light peck on the cheek, not the gropey tongue-hockey that had resulted from her last unexpected Spike-kisses. Somehow, that felt more intimate. Her cheeks were warm. “Bye,” she said.
He was still holding his cheek, a wondering look on his face, when she looked back from the sidewalk.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/486060.html