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 24: Best Laid Plans and High Expectations

“Here’s the deal. We do this my way an’ if by the end o’ it, you still can’t trust me, then I’ll let it lie. No more pushin’, no more proddin’. You in?”

Spike was on thin ice with this latest plan, but the time for playing nice was over. He couldn’t continue to treat her with kid gloves if they were ever going to work out their problems. Besides, he owed her this. It was the least he could do considering how she had turned his life around.

The deer-in-headlights expression faded as self-control flooded her body. It was a process he had seen many times, but not once until now had he appreciated it.

“There’s nothing to talk about, Spike. It was just…” Her voice drifted off, knowing she couldn’t come up with a valid excuse this time.

“It was jus’ what? Either you must think I’m a complete idiot or you’ve gone off your rocker, luv, if you expect me t’ believe anythin’ other than the plain truth o’ it.” He leaned in, his face mere inches apart from hers. “Got news for you, sweetheart. I’m not as stupid as I look an’ I am very familiar with insane women. So, try singin’ that song again.”

Buffy winced as he spoke about Dru. Yeah, that one hadn’t gone unnoticed either. Despite the fact that Spike had openly declared his love for her and publicly denounced his crazy ex, Buffy still turned into the green-eyed monster of jealousy whenever he mentioned Drusilla. It filled him with pride and pain at the same time.

But this was what he was trying to work through. Their trust issues, her trust issues specifically.

“I don’t think you’re stupid,” she said softly. Her gaze was turned towards the floor not in an act of dishonesty but in shame.

“Then prove it. Tell me what the hell happened tonight.” He made no move to give her more space. Backing her into a corner was the only way to make her release whatever she was holding in.

She looked up at him with tears swimming in her shining green eyes. “I can’t.”

Keep your cool, mate. Keep your cool, a voice inside his head chanted as anger began to flare up inside of him. Nothing would be gained from his furious outbursts. No, this required cold calculation and steady patience.

Of course, that was something he didn’t exactly excel in.

“Why?”

A heavy sigh escaped her chest and she backed up slowly until her knees hit the back of the sofa. She plopped down into the soft cushions, sinking into them until the furniture threatened to swallow her whole.

“I don’t know,” she replied with a gentle shake of her head. “Maybe because I’ve kept it buried for so long that I don’t know how to talk about it out loud anymore. Maybe because now it seems like a ridiculous thing to be so worked up about. Maybe because I’m afraid.”

One small step for man…

“Afraid of what, luv?” He asked, even though he had an idea of what her answer was going to be already.

Her response was a whisper on the breeze, so soft that he barely heard it. “You.”

Spike had been expecting her to say that, but it still shoved at him hard, like the breath had been knocked from him. “Me?”

Suddenly, her expression was full of solid determination. “Yeah, you! It’s all your fault! None of this would have happened if I had just listened to that voice inside my head that told me to push you out my front door and slam it in your face. But no! You needed someone to take care of you and I needed…” Her jaw tensed up and she shook her head fiercely.

He stood, frozen, afraid that any sudden movement would knock her off course. God, he was so close. All of the answers were right there on the tip of her tongue, if only she would just let them slip out.

A reminiscent smile spread across her lips. “God, you were such a mess. So lost. I remember thinking that you needed someone to help you out, to make sure you didn’t lose it again.”

Well, didn’t that just make his day. She thought he was feeble. The girl certainly had a way of inspiring self-respect, didn’t she?

“And I rationalized it.” The smile disappeared and a gray look appeared in its stead. “I kept telling myself that I needed the money, which I did, but that’s not the reason I took the job. I told myself that you were just another celebrity who needed a babysitter to make sure they didn’t O.D. on something. But that was a lie.”

His heart was pounding in his chest and he didn’t know why. Moving slowly, he sat down in one of the oversized chairs, fearing his legs would give out. Perhaps he hadn’t been prepared for her confession at all.

Her head shot up and her gaze pierced his. “You think I didn’t know what was going on between you and Dru? I knew it the first week I came to work for her. How she used and abused you. How she hurt you. Do you think it was easy for me to sit back and watch as she terrorized you? This wonderful guy who worshipped the ground his wife walked on, completely devoted to her in spite of everything she put him through?”

His blue eyes widened. “Buffy, don’t-”

“Don’t what? Tell you the truth? It’s what you wanted, isn’t it? You told me you wanted to know what happened tonight. Well, I’m telling you, Spike. This all started with you.”

Okay, just what in the bleeding hell was she talking about?

“I kept my mouth shut about the whole thing, but what I really wanted to do was go up to you and shake you until all thoughts of Drusilla were gone. I hate her. God, I hate her. And not because she fired me or even because she was a demanding bitch most days.” Her stare remained locked on him. “I hate her for hurting you. I hate her for still hurting you.”

Spike couldn’t stop the wash of tears over his eyes. He tried to blink them back, but it wasn’t working. Did she have any idea of what she was doing to him? Did she know how his love was growing for her with every word she uttered? Did she know how much he feared she would take it all back in a moment of anger or frustration?

“I cared about you way before I found you that day.”

Oh, God! He wished he could say the same thing, but the truth of it was he’d never seen her before that day. She was just a shadow, a mere shade in the presence of Drusilla. Now that he knew her, his heart ached for all the lost time.

“You did?” His voice sounded weak and suddenly, he knew that he had willingly given up control to her once again.

She nodded. “I wanted to help you. The thought of something bad happening to you made me sick to my stomach and I was afraid that if I didn’t go with you that you might…”

He snorted a little. “Drink myself to death?”

“Or worse.”

She was probably right. Sure, he had been in pretty good spirits that day he went to her house, but he was positive that would have changed had she chosen to turn down his offer. He had needed someone to keep his head above water… No, not someone. He had needed her and somehow she had known that.

Her head hung low, nodding slowly as if she was testing an idea. “I shouldn’t have cared. I mean, I’ve spent years pushing my emotions back and then all the sudden… there you are. Making me feel. Making it hard to pretend that everything is okay and I was so… God, I was angry. I hated you at first, for making me feel everything I tried so hard to hide from.”

He tilted his head to study her from another angle. She couldn’t have meant that, could she?

“You hated me.” It wasn’t even a question because the moment he had really thought about it, he knew. Although, to be honest, he knew it was more resentment than it was hatred.

It explained a lot, actually. Why she would be fine one minute and shutting down the next. He had made her feel something and when she realized what was happening she tried to shove it away, feeling overwhelmed and angry.

That look of shame appeared on her face again. “Yes. And I’m sorry for how I treated you. It wasn’t really your fault, but it was so much easier to blame you than it was to actually admit that I wasn’t okay.”

“And now?”

Buffy sighed. “And now… I don’t know, Spike. Everything is such a mess in my head. I know that you care-”

“Correction.” He spoke intensely, making sure her gaze met his. “I love you. There’s a pretty big difference, luv.”

“Why!” She cried, her hands flying up.

“Why what?”

“Why do you love me? I don’t get it. What’s so great about me? I’m horrible to you most of the time. I keep things from you. I won’t fuck you. I’m-”

“Still the love of my bloody life! Jesus, Buffy,” he exclaimed, running a hand through his two-toned curls. “What’s it gonna take for you t’ stop questionin’ me? Yeah, you’re a right bitch an’ I’m the stupid sod that keeps crawlin’ back t’ you. An’ fuck! If you don’t want t’ tell me about your soddin’ past, don’t! All I know is that if you keep up the way you have been, you’re gonna lose your goddamn mind!”

“You-”

“An’ don’t you dare throw me wantin’ t’ make love t’ you in my face. I told you I’d wait for you an’ I meant it. You’re more than jus’ a quick shag t’ me, Buffy. If you knew me at all, you’d know that.”

“Why do you have to make things so damned difficult?”

Spike smirked and let out a short laugh. “Difficult? What’s so bloody difficult about it? I love you and I want you.”

“Well, it’s not that easy!”

“No?”

A frustrated little scream escaped her throat. “Don’t you get it? I’m fucking scared, okay?”

In a split second, he was out of his chair and moving to her. He sat down on the couch and grasped her by the shoulders, spinning her around to face him.

“Why, Buffy? Time’s up for riddles an’ I need you t’ tell me why you’re so scared of me.”

Her hands were shaking and she fidgeted, trying to get them to stop trembling. She took a shaky breath to steady herself before she looked up into his eyes.

“What happens if I let you in? If I let myself fall in love with you and then you leave?”





******





His dark eyebrows scrunched together and Buffy knew he was trying to figure out if he’d heard her right.

“Leave you? Why would I leave you?”

“Because everyone else has.”

He shook his head. “Buffy, I would never leave you.”

“Yeah,” she scoffed. “Because I haven’t heard that one before.”

The confusion and compassion left his face, swiftly being replaced with fury. His soft blue eyes turned as hard and cold as steel.

She had gone too far this time.

“You fuckin’ bitch! Jus’ who the hell do you think you are?” He still had a tight grip on her shoulders, his fingers digging into the delicate skin, bruising her. “You keep talkin’ about how it bothered you so much that Dru played with my soddin’ head an’ yet, here you are. I’m not your bloody punchin’ bag, pet. I went through that before an’ I don’t care how much I love you, it won’t be happenin’ again.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered as a hot tear rolled down her flushed cheek. “I’m so-”

Spike shoved her away from him. “Stop it. Sayin’ your sorry doesn’t make it okay. It’s not a good enough excuse anymore, Buffy. If you really were sorry, then you’d quit treatin’ me like shit an’ you’d quit lyin’ to yourself.”

God, she was losing him. “What do you want me to do?” She pleaded.

The muscles in his jaw tightened and he gave her a fierce look. “I don’t want you t’ do anythin’. Maybe this… Maybe you should jus’ go home.”

Her heart dropped out of her chest. Did he not want her anymore?

Well, you finally got what you wanted. He’s pushing you away and now you can go back to the way things used to be. Safe. Numb.

Except she couldn’t go back. Not after Spike had changed her. Not after he had made feel again. She was living again, breathing for the first time in years, and she couldn’t go back to being emotionally comatose. She wouldn’t go back.

He stood with his back to her, his fists clenching and unclenching at his sides.

“I don’t want to leave.”

Spike spun around. “Oh? Well, maybe you should have thought about that before you decided it would be easier t’ jus’ give up on me than t’ try an’ make it work.”

“Do you think this is easy-” Abruptly, she stopped. What was she doing? Throwing more blame and accusations at him? He wasn’t the problem. She was.

He must have seen the battle she was waging with herself and decided to stay out of it because he just stood there; as unyielding as a marble statue with a blank expression to boot.

She squeezed her eyes shut and silently wished for strength. “My dad left us. Left me. My mom died. Left me. And Parker…well, he stomped on my heart and then he left too. I guess that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I needed someone in my corner, to help me deal with my mom dying and I thought he was the one. But he didn’t want to ‘play house’. Thought I was holding him back from having a real life.

“I’d never asked him to help me with Dawnie, but I guess that didn’t matter. He really didn’t want me. And here I am, stupid Buffy, thinking he was this great guy who loved me and all he really wanted was to fuck me. Apparently, I wasn’t worth a second round because he said he didn’t have time for amateurs.”

“Buffy-”

Buffy held up her hand to stop him. No, it was time for her to tell the truth and she wasn’t going to let him soothe away the pain. For so long she had tried to keep the pain at bay, but all she was really doing was letting it build up until it threatened to consume her.

“I couldn’t deal with that. It hurt too much and I just shut down. I had to be strong and take care of Dawnie and I couldn’t do that as long as I was still grieving over my mom or Parker. And I was fine. I was fine until you came along. Then suddenly I started feeling things and I was so confused. I tried to fight it, but the more I was around you, the harder it became.

“And when you touched me, it felt like the world was burning down around us. I’ve never felt that way before and I got scared and I tried to push you away. I’ve been dead inside for so long, Spike, but when I’m with you everything comes to life.”



******




The temptation to pinch himself was overwhelming. Surely, this wasn’t real. Buffy wasn’t sitting in front of him and telling him her story. She couldn’t be because that would mean…

“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but I really want to be with you and if you’ll just give me another chance, I promise I’ll try to be better.”

It was her sweet voice telling him she wanted to try. Her hopeful smile that made his heart skip a beat or two. Her tears that promised truth and sincerity. It was her, but she looked like a dream.

“Why couldn’t you jus’ tell me that before?”

She blinked and that little crease between her eyebrows deepened. “I couldn’t even admit it to myself, how was I going to admit it to you?”

You’re such a bloody fool.

Spike wasn’t sure what the annoying voice inside his head was referring to. It could have been his dumb question. No. No, it was referring to the way his heart melted when she looked at him with such hope instead of icing over. If he had any self-preservation in him at all, he would have laughed in her face when she spoke of second chances.

But that wasn’t him. He was a fool for love and more importantly a fool for her.

He swallowed hard before taking a step toward her. “I’ll be right back.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “What? Where are you going?”

“Jus’ in the other room for a minute. Stay an’ I’ll be right back.”

Instead of arguing, like Spike had been expecting, she just sat back on the sofa and nodded. He stood there for a moment completely disoriented. It could have been fatigue or maybe lack of food that was making him light-headed, but Spike had another theory. She had cast some sort of spell on him, he was sure of that.

His tongue darted out to moisten his parched lips before he gave her one last look and turned on his heel.








A/N: Oh…did I leave that in a bad place again…? *grins with evil glee* Thanks for all of the wonderful reviews. I wish I had time to answer each and every one, but alas there are only so many hours in the day. Suffice it to say, you feed my motivation with each word. Thank you.

I am desperately trying to write a new chapter of Trouble but I’m finding that writing the morning after is quite the daunting task . *giggles* And I heard…someone wanted more Dreaming…? I’m working on it. Really. ~ Luv, Jae

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