Against All Odds by Dusty273

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: Buffy Summers is a vibrant, passionate young girl in love for the first time in her life with Angel O’Connor, to whom she’s secretly engaged. When he has to go back to his native Ireland to take care of his business, fate intervenes and she meets the very daring and impulsive Duke of Aurelius, Spike. From the moment he lays eyes upon her, he decides he wants her for himself and sets upon making it happen. Will Spike get what he wants, and if so, at what price? Written for the Spuffy_fantasy (LJ) Art-A-Thon. For the gorgeous banner made by drkdevin (Number 9).

Text + | -


Chapter 7. Tender Loving Care

The prudence of the best heads is often defeated by the tenderness of the best of hearts. ~ Henry Fielding

Chapter 7. Tender Loving Care

The pain Buffy was going through was excruciating; the lashes on her back burned even several hours after her father had made them. She even had foregone her nightdress the night before and slept on her stomach because the mere thought of anything touching the very tender skin of her back had been hell.

Bathing hadn’t been all that great for her, either. Willow tried to be as careful as she could, but the simplest contact was agonizing for Buffy and that made dressing for the day quite the challenge too, even the lighter and silkier of her morning dresses and the flimsiest of her shifts felt like sandpaper rubbing against her flesh. Never mind that having to wear a corset, even tied as loosely as it was, would make it very difficult for her to make it through the day without fainting from the intolerable ache.

This wasn’t the first time this had happened. Oh no, far from it, but it’d never been this bad. And it all was the damned Duke of Aurelius’ fault. If only he had stayed out of her life, if only he hadn’t seen her that first day and if only he weren’t so intent on marrying her she wouldn’t be in this position right now.

She knew that wasn’t exactly true or fair, her father didn’t need much of an excuse to use his riding crop on her, but she wasn’t feeling particularly inclined to be fair at the moment.

Willow had been horrified by the lashes and tended to them as best she could, which wasn’t much with the limited resources at her disposal. She was completely baffled that Buffy’s father could do something like that to his daughter, which was one of the reasons she was so glad her friend would be marrying the Duke of Aurelius as soon as she would.

From the other maids at the house, she’d learned of the man’s generosity and good heart and from what little she’d seen of him last night, he was very handsome as well. Add to that, that her friend wouldn’t have to suffer at her father’s hands ever again and it was a dream come true.

Not that Buffy seemed all too happy with the match. But in the redhead’s opinion, she could do a whole lot worse.

*************

Fred and Spike hadn’t gone to bed until the wee hours of the morning, planning and plotting, plotting and planning until they were happy and confident they would win Buffy’s affection and in Wes’ case, convince him that Fred and he belonged together.

Going to the theatre, the opera, picnics and parties were all perfect opportunities to spend time with each other. Fred and Wes would play chaperone so the vile tongues wouldn’t start talking while Spike wooed his bride-to-be in a much friendlier environment. Of course, that didn’t mean the four of them would spend all their time together, which was the whole point anyway.

And that wasn’t all, Spike had revealed to Fred he’d been thinking of asking Wes to be his partner in a new horse breeding business he wanted to start. It was only fair, in his opinion, the man had been working with him for years and while he was paid handsomely, it wasn’t nearly as much as he could earn in this new venture. They made a formidable team and he had no doubt the business would flourish in no time. He was convinced it wouldn’t be too long until Wes was asking him for his sister’s hand and he would more than delighted to leave her in his very capable hands.

So now, as per his sister’s instructions, here he was again at the Summers’ household, waiting to be received by Lady Joyce and her lovely daughter in the drawing room. What he hadn’t counted on was the presence of the man of the house as well. The last thing he wanted was to spend any more time with Hank Summers than he absolutely had to.

He tried to pay attention to the conversation, even though his eyes kept straying towards his betrothed. She looked as beautiful as ever, but there were dark shadows under her eyes and she was very quiet today, her eyes lowered to the floor as she sat meekly at her mother’s side, only participating when directly asked about something or other.

Odd, very odd. He was determined to find out what could have brought about this change in her, so he asked Lady Joyce completely out of the blue, “Will you allow me a few moments in private with Miss Elizabeth?”

“B-but that’s hardly prop—” she began, before her husband interrupted her.

“Of course, Duke. You could go to the garden again. No one would dare disturb you there.” He gave the younger man a winsome smile that was met with a frown.

The manner in which Hank kept treating Lady Joyce in Spike’s presence, and of course, the fact that the man kept addressing him as ‘Duke’ irked him to no end. He wished the three weeks that still had to go by until the wedding went by quickly; otherwise he wouldn’t be held accountable for his actions against the despicable man.

And perhaps after the wedding he could somehow convince the older man of the convenience of allowing Lady Joyce to visit with them for an indefinite amount of time. God knew she deserved better than the good for nothing of a husband and with any luck, she would eventually decide to remain with them. He didn’t think Hank Summers would complain about that as long as he gained something from the deal. It’s the least he could do for the woman who would be his mother-in-law.

Buffy kept her eyes on the floor so her father wouldn’t see the hate burning deeply in them before taking her betrothed’s proffered arm. Her back was still very tender after last night’s whipping and the last thing she wanted was a repeat performance after the Duke left. So for now she would behave as was expected of her, at least while in the presence of others. When they were alone though, all bets were off.

As soon as they were out of sight, she retrieved her hand from the Spike’s arm and walked away from him and he treaded after her, unable to stay away for too long. It was sort of pathetic the way he kept trying to find excuses to see her. But he couldn’t bring himself to care. Oh, how the mighty have fallen, Fred would probably say while laughing heartily at him. However, if his sister’s plan worked, it would all be worth it. And he just knew it would work, he would make sure it did.

They walked in silence for a little while until he saw the bench at the side of the fountain and placed a hand on the small of her back to lead her there. She winced and recoiled from his touch and for a second, he thought it was just a matter of her being difficult, so he did it again and it was then that he noticed the grimace of pain that crossed her features. What the hell?

“Wha’s the matter, love?” he asked, solicitously helping her sit on the bench. “Are you hurt?”

“N-no, of course not. It’s nothing.” She moved as far away from him as she could while still remaining on the bench.

He didn’t believe her for an instant and resolutely turned her back to him and began unbuttoning the row of tiny pearls that held her dress together.

“What on Earth do you think you’re doing?” Outraged by his actions, but hardly in the position to do anything about it, she grasped the top of her dress so it wouldn’t fall off her chest.

“You don’ want to tell me wha’s wron’, love. So I need to see for myself then.”

“You don’t have any right to do this!”

“Oh, but I do and you know it.”

“We’re still not married…”

“That hardly matters now.” Spike couldn’t stop the growl that tore at this throat when his eyes settled on the angry red welts marring the golden expanse of her back, visible over her chemise and corset. He just knew Hank Summers was responsible for this and his ire against him escalated with each new—and old—mark he uncovered.

What the man had done to his betrothed was unforgivable and he hardly could wait for the moment in which he would confront him. He would make sure this would never happen again… ever. Now wasn’t the time for that, though. Now was the time to tend to Miss Buffy’s wounds, make sure she didn’t hurt as much as he imagined she was hurting at the moment.

His hands shook slightly as he tried to peel her chemise away from her flesh as carefully as he possibly could, trying not to cause her unnecessary pain. Not an easy task considering some of the welts were very deep and oozed a sticky clear liquid that had glued them to the cloth. This wouldn’t do. There had to be an easier way to cure her and he would find it.

“I’ll be right back, love. Don’t move an inch.”

Spike practically ran the length of the garden to go to the front of the house where his curricle was waiting for him.

His tiger, Oz, was chatting with a pretty redhead when he reached them and both of them leaped apart when they noticed him there. Oz straightened on his post and bowed while the girl blushed under Spike’s amused stare and curtsied.

“G-good m-morning, milord.”

“Do you work here?” Spike asked.

“Y-yes, mi-milord,” she stammered. “I-I’m M-miss Summers personal maid.”

“Just the person I need then.” He grinned at her, bypassing Oz to pull a small box—which contained a medical kit—from under the tiger’s seat and rummaged through its contents before deciding to just take the whole thing with him. It wasn’t unusual that he hurt himself every once in a while with the type of sports he liked to practice, so he always kept several things at the ready.

He took the maid by the arm and guided them towards the garden without sparing a second glance to Oz, who by now was more than used to his Master’s mercurial moods. “Do you think you could get me some warm water, linens and a place where I won’t be bothered while I tend to your lady?”

Tend to her lady? Uh-oh, that meant he must have somehow discovered Buffy’s injuries. Did he know who inflicted them, too? And if he did, what was he going to do about it? Oh, how she wished she could ask him all these questions. “Cer-certainly, milord, you could use the morning room if you want. It should be empty at the moment and it has an entrance from the garden, so you don’t have to enter through the house.”

“Sounds perfect. Does Miss Summers know the way to it?”

“Y-yes, milord.”

“Alright then, get me the things I asked for and we’ll meet you there shortly.” The redhead nodded and curtsied once again, ready to leave when he asked, “What’s your name?”

“Willow, Sir. Willow Rosenberg.”

“Miss Rosenberg, I don’ think I have to tell you to be careful no one notices what all of this is for, do I?”

“Of course not, milord,” she said.

He threw her a grateful smile then disappeared into the garden.

Willow watched him for a while before shaking her head and running off to the kitchen to do his bidding.

***************

Buffy hadn’t moved an inch from the moment he’d left. Not because he’d ordered it, but because she couldn’t seem to reconcile the man who had turned her life into a living hell to this stranger she’d spend the last few minutes with. He’d been so… caring, so tender when he inspected her back it brought tears to her eyes and stirred something in her chest she didn’t care to analyze.

Of course that didn’t change the fact he was forcing her to marry him or how she felt about him. No, it didn’t change a thing, she resolved. It never would. And yet, no one had ever treated her like that before and it felt… good.

No, not good, she shook her head to dispel the silly notion. It was highly improper; he had her half undressed in the garden waiting for him. If anyone were to see her, them… oh God, she dreaded to think of the consequences and it would all be his fault. Then again, it would be sort of her fault too if she stayed, wouldn’t it? She was just thinking it might be for the best to brave her father’s wrath and flee when she saw him come back carrying a small box with him. Just her luck, wasn’t it? She sighed dejectedly; it seemed that ever since she met the odious man, her luck had disappeared altogether.

He approached her and without uttering a single word, he sat by her side, carefully buttoned her dress, helped her up and finally pulled her towards the house.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Buffy asked, digging her heels into the ground, for all the good it did her. She rolled her eyes when the motion actually aided him in moving her forward instead of detaining them. Damn slippers!

“’M takin’ care of my betrothed, what do you think ‘m doin’?” He smirked and raised an eyebrow at her inquisitively. “Now hurry and lead us to the mornin’ room through the garden so I can do just that, or do you want everyone seein’ us?”

“I-wait a minute, why would I take you there?”

He stopped, looking upwards as if begging patience from the heavens before addressing her, “Because ‘m takin’ care of you. Didn’ you hear me the first time I told you?”

“But… why?”

“Because I take care of those who are mine.”

“I’m not yours.”

“Not yet, but you’ll be… soon. Now lead me to the bloody room or do you want me to go into the house and ask your father where it is?” He knew it was unfair to threaten her with talking to Hank Summers, especially when he saw the shudder that wracked her tiny frame at the mention of the man, but if it got her to move, well, what else could he do?

The man was truly insufferable! Half-afraid he’d actually do that, she threw him a scathing look and started walking towards the room.

When they entered through the French doors, Buffy was more than relieved to find Willow inside, although her relief was short lived because the abhorrent man asked her maid to help her out of her clothes, only leaving her shift on.

“Oh no! That’s where I draw the line. I came here under protest, but you can’t expect me to be dressed only in my chemise in front of you!”

“’M not expectin’ anythin’, love. `M tellin’ you how it’s goin’ to be and you’ll do well in doin’ exactly that. Now I’ll wait outside while Miss Rosenberg helps you undress.”

“The nerve of the man! Can you believe him, Willow?” Buffy exploded as soon as he left the room, crossing her arms under her breasts. “Who does he think he is?”

Your fiancé? Willow could have responded, but decided not to at her friend’s obvious distress. “Well, I guess he can’t tend to the lashes if you keep your dress on, Buffy. It does make sense. And I’ll be here with you, so it’s not completely improper.”

“Not completely is not enough.” She exhaled a heavy sigh. “I imagine I don’t have any other choice, but you have to promise to stay with me at all times.”

“I promise, Buffy. Now let me help you out of that dress.”

********

Spike entered the room a little while after, smirking when he noticed little Miss Buffy Summers had taken precautions so she wouldn’t be too exposed to him, or so she thought. She was lying on her stomach over the settee—which was covered by a thick blanket—to prevent him from getting even the tiniest glimpse of her lovely breasts. But he was pretty sure she never imagined that by doing that, she unwittingly gave him an impressive view of the curve of her delectable arse through the thin material of her chemise.

A rustling noise to the side brought his attention to her maid who was settling a basin and the linen cloths on a nearby table as he neared her. “Thank you, Miss Rosenberg, that’d be all,” he dismissed her with a curt wave.

“What?” Buffy almost rose from the sofa before remembering she was wearing nothing more than a very flimsy shift. “You can’t do that.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, my dear, I can and I will. Miss Rosenberg can stay outside by the door and alert us of any possible interruptions.”

Willow looked from one blond to the other before lowering her head and curtsying, leaving a very unhappy Buffy behind.

“You-you… Neanderthal! How dare you? Isn’t it enough you’re forcing me to marry you, do you need to ruin my reputation as well?”

“Have I told you how beautiful you look when you’re angry? Your eyes shine like the brightest emeralds and your cheeks flush like ripe apples. So full of fire and passion,” he said almost dreamily.

She blinked, confused by the compliments before remembering she was supposed to be furious with him. “Argh! You’re just, just impossible. Can’t you respond to an insult as you should?”

“What? You would prefer me to continue with what your father obviously began?” he asked, his voice soft but serious. “Because it was him, wasn’t it?”

“I… yes, it was him.” There was no point in denying it, who else would it be after all? And well, perhaps knowing what kind of man her father was would dissuade him from marrying her? One could only hope.

Spike’s rage threatened to spiral out of control once more at the thought of Hank Summers hurting this lovely creature in any way and vowed once again he would put an end to that as soon as possible.

Now wasn’t the time, however. He took a deep, cleansing breath and searched through the box he’d brought until he found the items he needed, placing them neatly on the table before washing his hands in the basin.

Kneeling by her side, he caressed her cheek, looking deeply into her eyes. “I know I haven’ made things too easy for you, and I accept you have motives to distrust me since we don’ really know each other. But right now my only intention is to lessen your pain, not to ruin your reputation. Can you find it in your heart to place just a little bit of trust in me?”

She was surprised by the sincerity she heard in his voice, saw in his eyes and she wasn’t ready to completely trust him or knew if she ever would be, however he wasn’t asking for that now, was he? A little bit of trust he said. Could she? And more importantly, should she?

“I… all right.” She sighed heavily, hoping she wouldn’t regret this.

“Thank you, pet.” He kissed her brow and sat on his haunches to pick up a linen cloth, wetting it in the warm water before passing it very softly over her shift to make it easier for him to take it off without her hurting too much. Once damp enough, he began peeling it away slowly, carefully until he was done. He couldn’t apply the liniment while she stayed in her chemise though.

“Uhmm, love, would you mind… uhmm, lowerin’ the upper part of your shift? I swear I won’t peek; I’ll even go out of the room if you want while you do so. I just need some room to cure the lashes that are lower in your back.”

She froze for an instant, turning her head to look at him. He seemed almost bashful as he met her stare and that made her decision easier. “It’s alright, you can stay, just… turn around so I can do it, uhm, please?” she added, after all he was doing her a favor, wasn’t he?

She let him know when he could turn and his breath hitched in his throat when he saw the full extent of the damage Hank had exacted. He’d gotten glimpses of it in the garden, but to be faced with the reality of what she must have endured through the years made him feel guilty. While he wasn’t responsible for the man’s actions before meeting Miss Buffy, he had the feeling this last time had been in great measure his fault.

With utmost care, he applied the ointment to each of the welts, wincing when she winced and hissing whenever she hissed in pain. “Easy, love, it would hurt but a second and afterwards you’ll feel the difference. I promise you.” He deposited a soft, reassuring kiss on her shoulder and continued applying the medicine.

He had to be a magician, Buffy decided. A wizard. How else could it be possible that the unbearable pain was already attenuating under his expert touch and the liquid ointment? It stung when the liniment first touched her skin, but after a little while it started soothing the burn until the pain became bearable.

Spike sighed as he finished curing the last of her injuries, regretting that he had to put an end to this tentative truce they’d made but knowing they couldn’t very well stay in this room for much longer.

“Alright, love, all done.” He smiled warmly into her eyes. “I’ll call Miss Rosenberg in so she can bandage them for you and help you dress, okay?”

He stood up and was surprised when Buffy grabbed his hand in hers. “Thank you, your Grace. I feel better already.”

“William,” he said. “Call me William?”

“Thank you… William.”

She smiled sweetly at him and he felt his chest constrict. He’d thought her beautiful when she was angry, but now… now that she was giving him a glimpse into what he could have if he won her heart, she was a goddess. His goddess.

tbc

Hope you enjoyed reading, I wanted to show you (and Buffy) a different side of Spike. He can’t be all bad, can he? *giggles* Next chapter will feature Spike confronting Hank and Spike and Fred’s plan is set in motion.

Like, dislike? I’d love to know if you’re inclined to tell me. *bats eyelashes*

Hope you have a great week!

Hugs,

Mari

PreviousNext


Submit a Review!

:

:

: