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 28: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Chapter Notes: I've been nominated at Cradle of Humanity Awards for the Handsome Musician Award. Thanks for the nom! You guys are the best! Enjoy...luv, Jae


Night had turned into day so quickly it made Spike's head spin. Where had the hours gone? It was as if they had just been cut away from his life by some unseeable force and he felt cheated.

Because this was the most brilliant moment of his life.

Buffy snuggled against his side, her head resting on his chest as she breathed softly, sleeping away as he held her in his arms. The cool Arizona air flowed through the open doors leading to a sunny patio and washed over his body like an epiphany. This was heaven, it had to be.

Of course, there was that nagging voice somewhere in the hidden corners of his mind that kept repeating itself over and over and over again. It said not to get too comfortable, not to expect miracles because she would most likely wake up and burst his bubble just as she had the dozen or so times before. It said not to trust her, to steel against the urge to believe anything that came out of that beautiful, delectable mouth that tempted him so.

Even as he tried to make excuses for why things were different now, he knew that there was a possibility that everything would crumble the second they had to face the real world again. He knew and yet, at this moment, he couldn't give a damn. It was too perfect, too quiet, too serene to believe that things would explode into chaos. Right now, all was right in his world and the longer he could hold onto that, the happier he would be, at least for the meantime.

No matter what happened, though, things had changed between them. Spike had finally gotten a glimpse at the real girl behind the tough exterior, the girl that was scared and just as screwed up as he was. If anything, it made him love her even more.

Not that it mattered a lick. In the end, it was all up to her. She would do what she felt she needed to despite his feelings for her. He was just a puppet in her stage act and she would continue to pull his strings, making him dance and spin to suit her. And he would gladly pretend to be whatever or whoever she needed him to be.

It wasn't Buffy waking up but the sound of the telephone that finally brought him out of his thoughts. Careful not to move too much so he wouldn't wake her up, he reached over and grabbed the cordless phone.

"'lo?" he said softly.

"Spike? It's Anya."

He was amazed at how calm she sounded. She normally spoke at a screeching decibel level, one that made everyone around her know exactly who the boss of their not-so-little operation was.

"Yeah, pet, what's up?"

There was a moment of silence on the other end before she finally replied. "How is she?"

His eyebrows rose. If he didn't know better, Spike could almost say he heard a bit of concern in his manager's voice. "She's fine. Still sleepin' though."

"Good. That's good. We were all...you know, worried," Anya told him.

"Oh, that's-"

"I'm sorry about last night."

"Last night?"

He could hear her swallow hard and fidget with the telephone cord on the other end. "Yeah, when I gave you a hard time about the show. I wasn't thinking. Buffy's health is much more important than some silly show even if we did sell out in seventeen minutes...oh, shoot, I mean... never mind."

Spike chuckled. "There's nothin' t' apologize for, Anya. You're jus' lookin' out for us, is all. It's why we hired you in the first place."

"We're okay, then?"

"We were never not okay, pet," Spike said with a smile.

"Good," she replied before sucking in a breath. "So...about the show..."

Yeah, about the show... At this point, he wasn't sure what he should do about tonight's concert. Last night he had been ready to cancel the whole thing, fans be damned, but this morning, he wasn't so convinced he should risk it. People were already pissed off about the multiple dates he'd already had to cancel and if he did it again, there would be some serious backlash.

Then again, he was so tired he could hardly think straight. He hadn't gotten in a decent sleep since that first night Vegas and he was running on fumes. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to go on with the concert when he was so exhausted that he couldn't even keep his eyes open. It'd be pretty hard to perform if he was falling asleep at the mic.

"I'm not sure yet," he finally told her. "What do you think?"

"People aren't going to be happy if we cancel on them again. But," she began with a sigh, "if you need the time off, then I guess we'll think of something."

"What about the rest o' them? Olie, Xander...Oz, what do they think?"

"The same thing. It's your call, Spike."

"No pressure, then, huh?" he replied with a rumble of laughter.

"Just call me when you figure it out. I've got a plane on standby, so if you decide to do the show, let me know and I'll get you and Buffy over here."

"Right, then. I'll give you a call." He ran a hand through his messy curls and exhaled a heavy breath.

The phone went dead on Anya's side and Spike hit the end button before setting the receiver on the night stand.

Damn it, he hated having these responsibilities. The whole business aspect of music really turned him off and there were days he almost wished he were a no-name nothing still playing in seedy London bars. He was just a bloody musician. He wasn't David-sodding-Geffen. All he wanted was to write music and play it for anyone who wanted to listen. He didn't give a damn about the rest of it.

"What's wrong?"

Spike started at the sound of her voice. "Jesus!"

"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," Buffy said as she sat up.

"It's okay." His heart was beating a mile a minute and not only because she had scared the crap out of him. "Did I wake you?"

She shrugged before lifting her arms to stretch, his shirt riding high along her thighs and making him shudder. "You were laughing. Kinda hard to stay asleep when your pillow is moving."

"It's still early. You wanna go back t' sleep?"

"No," she replied, shaking her head. "And quit changing the subject. What's wrong?"

He folded his arms over his chest and arched an eyebrow at her. "What makes you think somethin' is wrong?"

"That." She pointed a long slender finger at his face. "You're all with the frowny face."

"Well, it looks like you've got me there, luv."

"Spike..." Buffy gave him an exasperated glare. "What's wrong? I thought we were going to try this whole...sharing...uh, thing and that pretty much requires you to, you know, share."

At that, some of the heaviness that was crushing his chest let up and his heart started to slow down. "I just... That was Anya on the phone an' she wanted t' know what I wanted t' do about the concert tonight. Still not sure what I'm gonna do."

"Not to sound egotistical, but it's not because of me, is it? 'Cause I told you last night that I don't want you stopping your whole life just because I can't deal with my problems," Buffy said with a worried expression.

"Luv, you had a rough night an' I don't want you travellin' if-"

She put a hand on his arm and gave him one of her sparkling smiles. "I'm fine, Spike. I'm more than fine. I'm super fine!"

Spike couldn't help but to laugh. There she was, his girl. She had that spark back in her fiery green eyes, the one that had been observably missing for a few days now, the one he was so afraid she would never have again. It was that same spark that brought out her sharp tongue and snarky personality, the same one he had fallen in love with at the very start of it all.

"Actually, kitten, it's really got nothin' t' do with you," he told her with a smirk.

"Hey!" she exclaimed, smacking him lightly in the shoulder.

They laughed together for several minutes before Spike finally sobered up. "I'm jus' so bloody tired, Buffy."

Frowning, Buffy scooted closer to him and brushed her thumb under his left eye, where he had a big, dark circle, no doubt. "You didn't get any sleep last night, did you? God, I am so sorry, Spike. I screwed everything up."

He grabbed her hand and brought it to his lips, giving her fingers a quick kiss before moving to hold them against his chest. "It's not your fault. I've been tired for a while an' last night jus' added t' it."

"I'm not going to let you make me feel better about what happened," she said with a stubborn resolve.

He chuckled, shaking his head at her. "You should jus' let it go an' then you won't have t' worry about anyone makin' anyone feel better."

"Ugh!" She threw her hands up. "You and your crazy...Spike-logic! You make it sound so easy."

"It is easy. You're the one makin' it tougher on yourself than it needs t' be."

"Yeah? Well! You...you...you have bed head!" she shouted lamely, giving him a sheepish quirk of her eyebrows.

Spike glanced up at the wacky curls that hung over his forehead and brought his hand up to brush them back. "Suppose I do need a shower, huh?"

"Oh, I don't know." Rearranging herself so that she was sitting on her knees, Buffy swept her fingers through his hair, playing with the two-toned curls and combing out the tangles. "You look kinda cute with bed head."

His eyes popped open. "Really?"

With a saucy grin, she nodded. "You're hot stuff, Mr. Rock Star."

His heart skipped a beat. Where was she going with this? And why the hell wasn't she telling him to get away from her? Maybe he was delirious from exhaustion, but it really sounded like she was coming onto him.

"Oh, yeah?" he asked with a hint of caution.

Normally, this would be the point where she'd start backtracking and making excuses for why it was so wrong for them to be together. So when she didn't do that and kissed him gently on the lips instead, Spike felt like the whole world was spinning off-kilter.

He moaned into her mouth as her tongue slipped passed his lips and tasted him. His hand dove into her soft blonde mane of hair, keeping her from bolting away if she had any second thoughts. It probably wasn't the most gentlemanly thing to do, but damnit, he didn't want to end.

And then she shocked him again. This time by climbing onto him and straddling his hips. Apparently, there were no second thoughts to be had.

"Fuck, kitten!" he rumbled against her. She wasn't wearing any panties and her wet heat was burning him alive even through the barrier of his jeans. He groaned and fisted the hem of the t-shirt, his muscles twitching to rip the soft fabric off of her all together. "You better not be teasin' me, baby."

Suddenly, Buffy pulled her head away and blinked at him. Her chest was heaving and her lips were slightly parted and swollen from their kissing and she just stared at him blankly.

He wanted to scream. Hell, he wanted to break down and start crying like the sodding ponce he was. She was driving him insane with this game.

"Oh sod it all t'-"

Her index finger cut him off as it pressed against his mouth. "Shhh."

For whatever reason, he was compelled to do exactly as she said or rather implied with her shushing and gentle gesture. He felt frozen, caught up in the spell she had worked around him, and he couldn't even bring himself to be upset any more. All he could do was lay there and watch her.

Her hand fell away from his lips and she openly stared at him, something she hadn't ever done without being caught in a blush. She slowly lifted her hands up and cupped her breasts.

Spike squeezed his eyes shut as his hips bucked beneath her. God, this woman was going to kill him!

"Open your eyes, Spike," she whispered huskily.

He swallowed hard before letting his eyes flutter open. Her gaze was still locked to his, making him shiver from its intensity.

Soon her fingers were trailing over her breasts, lingering only slightly at her hard nipples before drifting down her flat stomach and sliding between her silken thighs. She bit her lower lip and moaned as she rubbed against her sodden folds, her eyes never leaving his. Then without warning, her hands moved away and ran along the juncture of her legs until they clasped over his and began to gently pry his fingers off of the t-shirt.

"Are you leavin'?" He couldn't help how desperate he sounded and he silently cringed.

Tears welled up in her eyes and she inhaled a shaky breath. "Why would I leave?" she asked, her voice thick with emotion.

"I-" He let his hands drop away from her. "Jus' don't, okay? Don't leave."

"I'm not going anywhere."

She gripped the t-shirt and quickly pulled it over her head, throwing it on the floor. "And I'm not teasing you."

His breath caught in his throat as he stared at her. "You're not? 'Cause, luv, I gotta say if you're screwin' with me, I'm gonna lose it."

"Like last night," she said softly, her arms coming up to cover her breasts. "I know saying I'm sorry doesn't make it better. I know nothing will ever make it okay and you have every right not to trust me. I get that, I do. And if you want me to leave right now, I will, but that doesn't mean I want to go."

With a heavy sigh, he moved his hands up her thighs to rest on her hips. "I don't want you t' leave, Buffy. I jus' want you t' be straight with me. Straight with yourself."

She nodded, her eyes dropping to where their bodies rested together, but her gaze was frustratingly absent of the lust that had been there only a minute ago. Fuck, him and his big mouth. After all of this and he was still allowing that shadow of a doubt to linger in her mind, letting her mull it over until she'd gone and talked herself out of being with him.

"You don't know how hard this has been for me, luv. Seeing you, holding you..." Slowly, he let his fingers drift inward and down, brushing against the soft curls at the apex of her thighs. "Touching you, tasting you. I've loved this body an' I love you. Then you slap my hand away an' tell me it's all been some huge mistake, that it's wrong. Don't know how much more o' this I can take."

"Does nothing I said last night matter, Spike?"

"Yeah, it matters. It matters until you shove me down an' make me feel worthless again," he rumbled. He could feel the tears begin to gather in his eyes, but he was too tired to care about how unmanly they'd make him look. Not that it had ever mattered in the past. She was good at making him cry despite how the act disgusted him.

Her eyes widened, horrified. "Worthless? I don't think you're worthless, Spike."

"No? Doesn't seem like that from where I'm sittin'." His jaw tensed when he saw the hurt rush over her features. "Look, kitten, I'm not tryin' t' make you feel bad, but you need t' understand what you're doin' t' me. I've never asked anythin' more than what you're willin' t' give me, but there are jus' some gifts you can't take back. You can't let me love you an' then ask me t' pretend it didn't happen."

"I'm not asking you to do that."

Spike shook his head. "I know you don't love me an' that's okay. I'll take what I can get. But I need t' know somethin', Buffy. Do you even like me? Do you even want t' try an' be with me? Or is this all jus' a part o' your need t' have control?"

"Oh, G- No!" Suddenly, she was off of him and standing next to the bed. She grabbed the gold and red throw blanket from the foot of the mattress and quickly wrapped it around her body. "You keep talking about how this is so hard for you, but you seem to forget that this hasn't exactly been a walk in the park for me either. Of course I like you, Spike! More than like, I..."

His blue eyes narrowed as he sat up and swung his legs over the bed. "More than like?"

"I want to be with you. I've wanted it for a long time, but I couldn't because I wouldn't be in control anymore. Don't you see? Being with you makes me crazy. It makes me feel like there might actually be a happy ending. But the last time I felt like that, my world fell apart and I promised myself I wouldn't ever let anyone have that much power over me." She took a few steps forward until she was standing between his legs. "I want to be with you, Spike. I don't care how out of control I feel. This could work. You and me, and I'm willing to swallow my fear to see where it leads us."

"An' you jus' came to this conclusion last night?" He couldn't help the skepticism that was entangled in his tone. It had been months, months of her denying her feelings for him and shooting him down and suddenly, it was all okay? Suddenly, she was serious about making their relationship work? Hell, serious about them actually having a relationship? It seemed too good to be true.

"Yes. I did. The moment I heard you tell the world you were in love with me."

He blinked in shock. She was talking about the interview, but he'd had no idea that she'd seen it. There was no mention of it last night even though he knew that would have been the only time she could have watched it. Not that her seeing it was a bad thing, he had just pictured her watching it under different circumstances. With him, so he could see her reaction.

"Not like it's a big secret, luv. I tell you all the time," he told her with a thick voice.

Buffy smiled warmly and his frozen insides melted in an instant. "You said you didn't care what anyone thought, that if you loved someone nothing would stop you from being with them. And you love me. You told every one in the English-speaking world that you don't care who knows that you love me."

"Give it a day. They'll have that prattlin' dubbed in every language by Friday."

She giggled. "So everyone in Japan will know how much you love me, huh?"

"Mmm, the Japanese are big Dingoes fans," he muttered.

Her hands slid up to his shoulders and a tremble rocked through his body at her touch. It was too much. Reaching up, he covered her hands with his own and pulled them away. When he glanced up, he could see her confusion and the pain of rejection in her eyes.

"I've been waiting for so long t' hear that from you an' I believe every word o' it. Things are different now, yeah? After last night, you finally letting me in..." He blushed furiously when he realized the double meaning of his words then shook it off, letting a somber expression set in. "It's different. It's real this time. So, I don't want you t' misunderstand me when I say I want t' take this slow."

"Slow?"

Bloody hell, I can't believe I'm actually saying this. "Yeah, slow. Last night, with you, was brilliant, but I don't want t' have t' worry that you'll run from the room next time we have sex. So, maybe we should jus' take our time, get t' know one another again before we go rushin' into anythin' physical."

"Spike, I'm not going to run from-"

He held up his hand to stop her protest. "Can you jus' humor me, luv? Maybe when I've gotten some sleep I'll realize that this was a dumb idea, but right now, I jus' can't take another beating."

"I'm sor-"

"Oh, an' you'll be stoppin' that nonsense as well. So, slow an' no more bloody apologizin'. We're gonna wipe the slate clean, start fresh," he said with resolve.

Spike was amazed when she didn't argue with him.

With a big smile, she nodded. "Okay."

"Good," he replied with a yawn as he scratched his head. "Now, I'm gonna go take a shower an' wash the grime off. Why don't you go order some breakie for us an' then I'll call Anya an' let her know what we're gonna do about the concert tonight."

"Okay."

He frowned. She was saying 'okay', but she didn't look at all okay. Standing up, he cupped her cheek and tilted her face up so he could see into those gorgeous eyes of hers. "I love you, Buffy. That hasn't changed an' it's not goin' t' change. I jus' need t' get my head together. Can you give me some time?"

"I don't want to lose you," she said so softly he almost didn't hear her.

"Not happenin'. You're it. You're the one, Buffy."





******








Buffy poked at her scrambled eggs as she watched some stupid entertainment show out of the corner of her eye.

This morning hadn't gone as planned at all and she wasn't even sure why it hadn't. Of course, she deserved it. She had done this to herself with all of her wishy-washy actions and empty promises. It was no wonder now that she actually meant it that he wouldn't believe her or that he wanted to go slow to make sure she wasn't going to break his heart again.

Suddenly, she felt like the girl who cried wolf.

And the funny part was that she hadn't seen it coming at all. When she'd woken up this morning, she had really believed that they could just move forward. Boy, was she ever dumb.

Even thinking about what had happened last night after their little chat about how loved he made her feel, she should have seen this coming. He wasn't exactly jumping for joy at her admission; in fact, he really hadn't said anything at all. She had taken his lack of response as a sign that he was just really tired, which, now she knew was only partly true. One of them, probably him, had mentioned getting some rest and she had followed him to the bedroom, crawling into bed and cuddling up to him like she didn't have a care in the world.

Looking back, she wondered if he'd even wanted her to sleep with him.

She scooped up a fork-full of eggs and slid it into her mouth, wincing immediately when she realized how cold her food had gotten.

A part of her wanted to throw in the towel. He deserved so much better than her and it was pretty obvious that she was causing a lot more pain than happiness at this point. Maybe it would be better if she just left. Spike could find someone else and...

Swallowing hard, she almost choked on her food. No! She didn't want him to find someone else. The thought of him with another woman made her sick to her stomach. It was selfish, she knew that, but she wanted him all to herself. She wanted him to love only her.

But that didn't diminish the fact that she wasn't good enough for him.

"Please tell me you ordered coffee."

Her head shot up so quickly that she practically knocked her plate of food off of the table. Silently and not for the first time that morning, she cursed herself. She supposed she could add 'spaz' to the long list of names she was mentally compiling that would be a little more fitting than Buffy. Yep, it would fit nicely between 'screw-up' and 'stupid bitch'.

"Yeah, coffee. Let me get that for you," she all-but-squealed as she stood up and reached for the carafe.

Before she could wrap her hand around it, he picked the pot up and grabbed for a coffee cup. "I've got it. You don't need t' wait on me, pet," he told her with a smile.

"That's my job, Spike," she said, plopping back down in the chair.

When she saw his jaw tense, she knew she had made a mistake in bringing that up, no matter how innocent she had meant it. "Do you really want t' have this conversation with me now?" He glared at her, warning her to tread lightly.

Not since the day she'd found him at his house, halfway to dead and hurting, had she seen this side of Spike. It was just shy of his breaking point and considering what had happened the last time he had gotten to this place, she really didn't want to push him over the edge.

That didn't mean she agreed with him about not being his personal assistant anymore, but this wasn't the time to argue.

"No, I don't." Her gaze dropped to her barely-touched plate of food.

He squeezed his eyes shut and let out a frustrated groan. "Sorry. I don't know what the soddin' hell is wrong with me. Didn't mean t' snap at you, luv."

"You're tired and you don't want to fight anymore, that's what is wrong with you," she replied, sighing. "And I know you didn't mean to snap at me. I just tend to bring that out in you, I guess."

"Doesn't make it okay." He sat down across the table from her and dumped some sugar in his coffee.

She grinned at him. "Sometimes I deserve it. I'm surprised you don't do it more."

"What can I say? I'm the bloody king of patience."

"No, you're not. You suck at patience, Spike," she told him, chuckling when he gave her a fierce frown. "But you're really good at forgiveness."

His brilliant blue eyes softened at that and he gave her a lopsided smile. "Can't help myself. I'm a sucker for a pretty girl an' a pouty lip."

"Okay, I so do not pout."

"Yes you do," he replied, taking a long drink of his coffee.

They sat in comfortable silence for almost thirty minutes before a blurb about the Dingoes' latest concert on the television jump started their conversation again.

"Hey, they loved last night's show! Woo-hoo!"

Spike didn't respond to her cheering, instead he set his mug on the table and folded his arms over his chest before asking, "What do you think about Albuquerque?"

"I think if you want to perform tonight, we should go," she replied. "And if you don't, we should stay here."

"You're a big help."

Buffy threw her hands up. "What do you want me to say? You're exhausted, Spike. I can't make you go on stage this time, not when I know you might not be up to it. I know you don't want to let your fans down, but you can't kill yourself trying to run on empty. Do you want to go and just play it by ear? Maybe you'll feel up to it once you get to the arena or what ever you call it."

"The lot o' you is tryin' t' make my head explode with all o' these damn decisions, you know that right?"

"Are you telling me you want someone to tell you what to do?" she asked, her eyebrow arched high.

He rolled his eyes. "You make it sound like I can't make a decision for myself."

"Well, you're the one saying you-"

"Oh, shut your pretty lil' mouth," he said with a grin. "I like your idea. Let's go an' we'll see how I feel. We've got plenty o' time before the show's supposed t' start jus' in case."

"Do you want me to call Anya?"

His smile faded. "Buffy, you don't have to-"

"Hey! Girlfriends can call to make travel plans, especially girlfriends that have control issues and have to know what's going on all the time," she told him, waging her finger.

"All right, luv. If you don't mind, could you call Anya an' get us a flight to New Mexico?"

Standing up, she walked over to him and gave him a chaste kiss on the cheek. "See, that wasn't so hard, was it?"

 

A/N: Feedback is always greatly appreciated. Have a great holiday weekend to my American readers and here's to hoping I can pop out another update...perhaps finish that little Christmas fic...hmmm?

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