Personal Attention by Jaesha

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: After Spike Giles' wife leaves him for another man he falls into despair. Will Buffy be able to save him before he destroys himself?

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Chapter 22: Until Now...

Sunnydale, 2000

“C’mon, Buffy. I’m not ready for any of this.”

Buffy couldn’t believe what she was hearing. How could he stand there with that look on his face and tell her he didn’t want to be with her? He expected her to understand, to just automatically ‘get’ where he was coming from.

Yeah, well, she didn’t.

“I don’t understand,” she said numbly, shaking her head slightly.

He smiled sweetly. “You’ve got this whole deal with taking care of your sister and I’m just not ready to settle down and play house.”

“Play house? Do you think this is what I wanted? I never asked for any of this to happen,” she ground out. Her anger was winning its battle over her anguish and confusion.

“No, of course, I don’t think you asked for it, Buffy. Nobody wants their parent to die and leave them holding the bag.” His brown eyes were shining with compassion that only went down as far as the clear surface. It was an expression she had seen on him before, but she had never allowed herself to believe it was superficial…until now. “But I have to be strong. As much as I care for you, I can’t let myself be dragged into this.”

“Care? You told me you loved me.”

A little ‘aww’ noise escaped his mouth as he leaned over and patted her on the shoulder. “I do, Buffy. Just not that way. We’re friends, right?”

Her breath lodged itself in her lungs and refused to budge. It had meant nothing to him. She had given herself to him and it meant nothing. How could he have lied to her? He’d fed her all of that…bullshit! about how much he loved her and just wanted to make her feel better when all he’d really wanted was to get into her pants.

“You asshole!” It was low and gravelly, her chest shaking with the emotion that threatened to burst out even further. From the way he jumped, he seemed to be as shocked as she at the uncharacteristic tone her voice had taken on.

Suddenly, his demeanor changed. Gone was the sympathetic smile and kind-looking eyes. His face was cold and hard while his eyes darkened to glassy black.

“Oh, get over it! Jesus, Buffy, I thought you were adult enough to handle this, but I guess I was wrong. But then again, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at all. I should have known you’d be immature about this after the less-than-stellar performance you gave a couple of weeks ago,” he spat out with a sneer curling at his lip.

Her head lowered to one side. “What?”

“Yeah,” he laughed. “You really wanna know why I don’t want you, Buffy? I’ll tell you.”

“What?” Nothing was making sense anymore.

“God, you really are dense, aren’t you?” He shook his head in disgust. “You sucked, okay? And not in a good way since I couldn’t get your virginal mouth past my waist. You’ve got a lot to learn, Buff, but unfortunately for you, I’m not looking for a trainee.”

A furious blush spread across her cheeks and she glanced around to make sure no one was listening. Her eyes stopped on the smiling face of Dawnie as she sat, oblivious to the verbal lashing Buffy was receiving, at one of the food court tables eating her ice cream.

“Why did you lie to me?” She asked, her gaze sliding back to him.

“Would you have given it up if I’d said that I was only interested in fucking you?”

She didn’t need to answer him. He already knew the answer to that just as he had months ago when this whole thing had started. He’d played her and she had fallen for every word and every insincere smile that he had in his repertoire.

God, she couldn’t even really be that angry at him. Oh, she was furious, that was for damn sure, but not at him. The oldest trick in the book and she had blindly fallen for it.

With a sigh, his expression changed again. “Look, I didn’t want it to be this way. We’re just not…compatible, Buffy. Can’t we just leave it at that?”

“Sure,” she replied sadly. “Whatever you say. Bye, Parker.”


******

Phoenix, 2006

Her hair was wet and plastered to one side of her head, cold droplets sliding down the blond strands to drip under the collar of her shirt. A shiver ran down her spine and goose bumps flared up over her pale, translucent skin. It was freezing, but she couldn’t muster up the strength to care.

They were magic words, it seemed. Saying goodbye had made the door shut to her emotions. When she’d turned on her heel and walked away, she hadn’t shed one more tear. Not for him and not for anyone since.

Until now.

The hot tears washed over her cold cheeks, warming them but not the rest of her frigid body. If anything, her tears left her even emptier than she had been before.

She had promised herself not to let him break her, but in the end, that is exactly what she’d let him do. Not through heartache, though. Every day that passed the more distant and detached she became. It was through her own self-preservation that he turned her into what she feared most.

She was the empty shell of what she used to be.

Looking back, she could see it now; the change from Buffy Summers to someone unrecognizable. Certain things stood out boldly, waving a red flag at her as if trying to warn her that she was damaging not only herself but the people around her. She had said and done things that made her sick to her stomach, things that shouldn’t have been forgiven.

Her cell phone rang suddenly and she jumped a little at the sound. Glancing down at the display, another sob escaped her throat. It was Dawn.

Instead of answering it, she let it slide out of her hand and onto the wet asphalt. She couldn’t talk to Dawn, not now. It was too much to handle, the emotions that she had kept so carefully buried now swimming to the surface and making her feel out of control.

Her heart was pounding fast and her breathing came out in short bursts as her hand clutched at her shirt. The world was spinning…spinning….spinning…

******
Spike was giving into the urge.

With a sigh, he tapped the pack of cigarettes against his palm before flipping it around and fishing one out. It was just pure weakness on his part, but even as he scolded himself for not having more self-control, he placed the cigarette between his lips and struck a match anyway.

He was a private person by nature. It was really nobody’s business how he lived his personal life and until tonight, he had never spoken of it to the press. His nerves were shot and his skin threatened to break out in a cold sweat over the details he had spilled.

Despite his assurances to Buffy that he didn’t care, a large part of him worried how Dru was going to use his words against him. It was becoming more and more real as the days wore on. She was out to ruin him and he had no illusions about her capability to do so.

It wasn’t so much him that he was concerned with, but the band and Buffy. Dru had no scruples when it came down to it. She would do whatever she needed to if it helped her to accomplish her goal even if it meant hurting innocent people.

At this point, he was ready just to give the sodding bitch what she wanted if it got her out of his life.

His lungs filled with smoke and a surge of nicotine went to his brain, making his body sag in relief. He was getting pretty tired of all this damned tension. It wasn’t like he expected it to be easy, but he really wished someone would cut him some slack already.

With any luck, Buffy would finally stop tugging on the rope long enough to let him in. She said she would, but Spike knew better than anyone that what Buffy said isn’t always what she did.

He loved her. For all of her stubbornness and hypocritical bullshit, he loved her anyway. He just wished that she would accept that and stop keeping him at arm’s length.

They certainly had their problems, but that didn’t stop Spike from daydreaming about a life with her. About maybe getting married and having a couple of sprogs. About a home that was filled with love and laughter like he had had during his childhood. About Christmases and puppies and vacations to Disneyland.

He felt himself smiling despite the craziness of the idea. Oliver was right. He wasn’t built for the rockstar life, too soft in the middle, he guessed.

Dropping what was left of his cigarette to the ground, he set off towards the bus. Next stop was New Mexico…Albuquerque, if he wasn’t mistaken. There was a lot of ground to cover and time was a-wasting.

Just as he turned the corner, an odd sound caught his attention. It was faint, but high-pitched enough to be heard over the sound of passing cars on the street next to the arena. He turned back to the side of the building and made his way along the wall, the sound becoming louder the further he went.

It was bloody stupid for him to be wandering around in the dark by himself. He knew what kind of nasties tended to lurk in hidden corners, had had the displeasure of running across them a time or two when he was in London. And yet, the sound drew him in and wouldn’t let go until his curiosity was satisfied.

His brow furrowed. Now that he thought about it, the noise was really familiar, but he’d be damned if he could place it.

It was her hair he caught sight of first. Wet, blond strands shimmering in the slight light that peered through the passing rain clouds.

“Buffy!”

He ran, sliding down into the pavement to get to her unmoving body. His hands and eyes searched for any signs of injury as he picked her head off the sidewalk and cradled it in his lap.

His heart was beating a mile a minute. “Buffy, baby, c’mon an’ wake up. I need you t’ wake up for me, luv. C’mon!”

God, he couldn’t lose her! Not now!

******
Oliver rubbed his tired green eyes before glancing around the room. They’d been in the waiting area of the emergency room for almost two hours now without any word on how Buffy was doing and right about now, everyone was getting pretty impatient. Well, impatience was a mild word to describe Spike’s constant pacing and cursing, but everyone else was handling it pretty well.

“Why ‘aven’t they told us anythin’ yet? I ‘ave a bloody right t’ know what the soddin’ ‘ell is goin’ on, dammit!” Spike all but shouted, his pacing becoming frantic.

“Calm down, Spike. They’ll come out and tell us after they’ve finished running all the tests,” Xander replied, trying to calm the upset Brit.

With a sigh, Oliver stood up and walked into Spike’s path, his hands coming up to grasp his friend’s shoulders. “I think we need a fag, mate. Let’s take a walk outside.”

For a minute it looked like Spike was going to argue with him, but instead he just let his head fall in defeat and allowed Oliver lead him out to the designated smoking area.

Oliver pulled out two cigarettes and handed one to Spike before flipping out his lighter, leaning over to offer the flame to Spike before lighting his own.

He let the rich flavor of the tobacco settle over his tongue before blowing the smoke out from his lungs and glancing over at a weary-looking Spike. “Truth time, then, is it?”

Spike shook his head slowly. “I can’t lose her, Olie.”

“I gathered that from the scene you were making back there.”

“She was fine when I left her. God, I shoulda made her come with me,” Spike said.

Oliver rolled his eyes. “I know you’re not about to tell me this was your fault.”

“It’s not? She was actin’ strange an’ I-” He swallowed back the emotion. “All I could do was hassle her about commitment or some rot.”

“Back to that again? I thought that was all said and done.”

Spike chuckled humorlessly. “Yeah, well, so did I. But every time I think were makin’ progress, she changes her mind. Two steps forward an’ three steps back.”

“We’re all damaged, Will. Some of us more than others,” Oliver mused, glancing up into the black night. “The girl’s got her demons, that’s for sure. Problem is she’s the only one who can face them. You can’t blame yourself for not being able to slay her dragons.”

“But she saved me.”

Oliver’s gaze rolled back over to Spike. “You,” he began, pointing his cigarette in Spike’s direction, “saved yourself, Will. Let’s give credit where credit is due. You got your sorry ass back to reality. She was just a dry rock while you were drowning.”

Spike shook his head. “No, I would be six feet under by now if it wasn’t for her.”

Shrugging, Oliver just looked back up to the sky. “Think what you want, but you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped and you certainly can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. It starts with you just like it starts with her. She has to want to be saved, mate. And she has to realize that she needs saving.”

Just as Spike opened his mouth to respond, Xander came jogging out of the automatic doors. “Doc just came in. He’s waiting for you.”

******
“Ms. Summers is fine.”

Spike felt a huge weight lifted off his shoulders when he heard those words.

“All of her tests came back normal including her CAT scan and there was no injury that we could see beyond a slight bruising from the collapse. Apparently, Ms. Summers was under some emotional stress and I believe she had an anxiety attack that caused her to hyperventilate and faint,” the doctor explained.

“But she’s okay?” Spike asked, needing more reassurance.

The doctor smiled. “Yes, she’s perfectly okay. We’ll be releasing her as soon as the paperwork is processed. I’ve given her a prescription for the anxiety attacks that she’ll need to get filled as soon as possible.”

“Tonight. I’ll make sure it gets filled tonight,” Spike replied a bit frantically.

“Okay, good,” the doctor said with a warm smile before taking his leave and going back into the ER.

Thoughts were swimming wildly in his head, had been since the minute he realized it was Buffy’s unconscious form lying on the pavement. First, it had been frantic fear and a panic that he couldn’t shake, then once they arrived at the hospital, it had morphed into anxious worry and now…now it was a deliberate focus.

“Anya, can you find us a hotel for the night?” He asked, looking over at her frazzled form in the corner.

“For everyone?”

Before Spike could respond, Oliver spoke up. “Nah, sweets. The rest of us can head onward to the next city. No need to hold up the entire wagon train.”

“What about the show tomorrow?”

“I don’t bloody care about the show,” Spike told her harshly.

He really didn’t give a damn. All he cared about was making sure Buffy was okay and if he had to cancel every show to do it, he would.

“But-”

“Anya, let’s worry about it later. If we need to postpone the show, then that’s what we’ll do,” Oliver said with an uncharacteristic softness. “Family comes first.”

Anya looked around the room, a questioning expression on her face. One by one everyone nodded, reiterating Oliver’s statement.

“Okay.” Anya’s face set to resolve as she picked up her cell phone and began making arrangements.

A/N: Many apologies for the delay in posting. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but I’ve been sick and am now just beginning to get over it. If anyone is interested in the what’s and why’s, it’s posted on my LJ.

Hope you enjoyed this latest update and as always, feedback makes me do the Snoopy Dance. ~ Love, Jae

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