Chapter 1: Old Conversations
There she was, kissing him. Kissing him like he was the one who had held Buffy all night, like he was the one who’d been there all throughout the death threats and Ubervamps and Potential girl-age.
“Stupid!” Beat. “Broody!” Another beat. “Git!” Spike growled. He was pissed, and he was taking it all out on the punching bag. The punching bag with a drawing of Angel that conveyed about as much emotion as the real thing did taped up to it. Can’t hit the Poof himself, might as well hit that, he thought bitterly to himself.
He’d followed after Buffy earlier that night. Told her he would, when they talked earlier. Made plans to meet up, to help her. He gets there, familiar tingling in his spine telling him that family was near. Not just any family – Angel. He watched from the corner of the tomb as him and Buffy kissed. Killed the bloody preacher, and then kissed. Like it was the most natural thing for them to do. Like she was welcoming him back into her life. Like she’d never have it better. And he just watched, that bloody double of hers by his side, whispering his own thoughts into his ear — Buffy wants Angel. Buffy chooses Angel. Buffy loves Angel.
He took off before they’d noticed he was there. Too busy shoving each others tongues down their throats to feel his presence in the same bloody room as them. When he got back to Buffy’s house, he slammed the door – vaguely remembered hearing someone, a Scoobie or Potential or something, asking him what was wrong. He rightly ignored whoever it was as he made his way down to the basement. His basement. The fact that he ran back to her house, to this basement, only pissed him off more. On a fucking leash, was what he was. Rip out his heart, destroy any hope he had for them in the blink of a second – in the time it took for her to submit to that Ponce – and he still came back here.
He was pissed, the image of them two together kept re-playing in his mind, fueling the demon inside. He’d paced back and forth a bit – hit the punching bag a few times to release some of the anger built up inside of him. Kicked things, paced some more, all the while throwing glances up the staircase. Still out with her sodding hero, taking her time as the Forever Love righted itself on the path of Forever. Then he noticed some paper and markers lying on a table. Probably something one of the Slayerettes left around, or maybe the little boy. He went over, smirking, and drew the Poof. Made sure to get the hair just right – stuck it straight up, like all the water in the world couldn’t rinse out the gel. Drew the fangs and the little “x”‘s for eyes, because he, unlike certain Slayers, remembered that Angel was a vampire. Was a bloody brilliant drawing, dead-on, lacking all the personality the real thing had. Taped it up on the punching bag, amused, and began to hit the bag a little bit harder. Ponce.
He heard the basement door open, punches still being tossed, and knew that it was Buffy. Knew it was Buffy before she opened the door and made her way down the steps – knew it was her when she first walked in the front door of her house on Revello Drive. He wondered if she had brought Angel back with her, if upstairs she was showing him off to Giles and the Potentials like he was the solution to all of their problems – “Look, it’s Angel! With pretty, pretty jewelry – huzzah for our side!” Well, if she had brought him back with her, she didn’t bring him down into the basement.
“So, where’s tall, dark, and forehead?” he asked, stepping away from his makeshift dummy, sparing no time for forced hellos.
“Let me guess, you smell him?” she asked. Rolling her eyes, she stepped off the bottom stair and onto the hard basement ground, walking towards him and stopping just in fron of him.
Fine, he could do sarcasm, too.
“Yeah. That, and I also used my enhanced vampire eyeballs to watch you kissing him.”
Her eyes widened at that, a short look of being surprised before her features hardened once again, closing him off.
“It was…a hello,” she offered.
“Most people don’t use their tongues to say hello.” He paused, reconsidering. “Or, I guess they do but -”
“There were no tongues. Besides, he’s gone.”
“Oh, just popped by for a quickie then?”
He did that. Always said something like that in the heat of the moment, something that he’d end up regretting when his soul’d kick in.
“Oh good, good – I haven’t had quite enough jealous vampire crap for one night!”
Jealous? Hah! Who’s jealous?!
“He wears lifts you know,” Spike informed her matter-of-factly as he made his way over to his cot, searching for his smokes.
He had stepped away from the punching bag, enough for Buffy to notice his Angel drawing. He saw her notice it, but was still too pissed to care. Pissed because she kissed him in the first few minutes she saw him, but he still wasn’t good enough for her, sodding soul or not.
“You know, one of these days I’m just going to put you two in a room and let you wrastle it out.”
“No problem on this end,” he muttered. He fished out his cigarettes, fumbling around with the package a bit to get one out and then threw it down in frustration at finding it empty. Bloody figures. Out of his mind and needing something to occupy his thoughts, ease his anger in the way that only slow drags on a cigarette could – and he had none.
“…There could be oil of some kind…”
“Where’s the trinket?” he interrupted, walking towards her.
Buffy blinked. “The who-ket?”
“The pretty necklace your sweetie-bear gave you. The one with all the power. I do believe it’s mine now.”
Buffy looked down at the amulet she was holding. “How do you figure?”
“Someone with a soul, but more than human?” He repeated overheard words back to her. “Angel meant to wear it. That means I’m the qualified party.” He held up his hand to take it from her. Didn’t care if it came from Angel, if the brooding one’s not there, like hell it was meant for anyone else but him.
She paused, looking down again at the amulet, meeting his eyes. “It’s volatile. We don’t know–”
“You’ll be needing someone strong to wear it, then,” he cut her off, staring at her matter-of-factly. “You plan on giving it to Andrew?” His hand still there, waiting, assuming.
Another pause, another glimpse at the amulet. “Angel said the amulet was meant to be worn by a Champion,” she told him gently.
Oh. That. Of course it was. Of course you had to be worthy to wear something like that, to have that kind of responsibilty. And Angel, Angel was the Champion. The Hero coming in to save the day, worthy of putting the thing on. Spike was… well, wasn’t. Nothing in him worth being worthy of that role, nothing in him worth being given that trust. He put his hand down, embarrassed and dejected. Knew he wasn’t good enough, knew she knew he wasn’t good enough – but this? This hurt. Having it out there, all in the open, stretching between them in a forced confession sort of way. He cast his eyes downward to hide the disappointment, not wanting her to pick up on it. What right did he have to be disappointed? Still… he thought that with the soul maybe she’d see him in a different light, but apparently the soul didn’t provide false illusions of being worthy, of anything — tacky fancy wear, or validation the least of it.
She walked over to him, and he didn’t know what to expect. Her saying in so many words that she didn’t view him that way hurt, more than he wanted her to know – but if she was going to go on and give him the big ol’ “It’s not you, it’s me” speech…well, he didn’t know how he’d handle that. He looked away, not wanting to make eye contact, but when he saw her raise her hand up, he allowed himself to watch as she walked closer to him. Without a word, she lifted her hand towards him, and he hesitantly did the same for her. She dropped the amulet in his palm, the lightest of touch as her fingers grazed his skin before she pulled away.
He looked up at her, shocked. His blue eyes met her warm hazel eyes, searching for the truth in her actions, and he was rewarded with a rare, genuine smile from her. She was looking at him so intensely and with so much feeling that he momentarily believed her, believed what her giving the amulet meant.
“Been called a lot of stuff in my time…” he trailed, at a loss for words.
“Faith still has my room…” Buffy interjected, heavy on the implications. She looked up at him, nervously. Taking the big step with the first move.
“Well, you’re not staying here!” Spike looked up at her, eyes wide. “You can’t buy me off with shiny beads and sweet talk. You’ve got Angel-breath. I’m not just going to let you whack me back and forth like a ping pong, I got my pride you know.”
Buffy looked at him, “I understand…” She turned, heading back towards the stairs.
“Clearly you don’t,” Spike interrupted, running around her to cut her off. “Cause the whole ‘having my pride’ thing was just a smokescreen.” he finished, looking down at her. The fact that he was a complete ponce wasn’t lost on him, but hell if he was gonna lose her after this. This was an opening, and he was taking it.
“Oh, thank god,” she laughed.
Spike looked down at her, his face etched with raw vulnerability, completely open, and quietly told her, “I don’t know what I would’ve done if you’d gone up them steps.” She looked up at him, smiling, and drew her hand to cup his face. He returned her smile, leaning into her caress, enjoying the warmth of her hand.
For a few moments they stood there just like that. Each mesmerized by the other’s gaze, each transfixed by the other’s eyes. A crash from upstairs jolted them back into reality, and a “Sorry!” yelled from Andrew solidified the breaking of the moment. Pulling her hand away, Buffy slipt past him. Pointing up the dark stairway, she noted awkwardly. “Things. I have to do…”
Spike grinned. “S’ok, Buffy. I know: Rouse the troops, make with the inspirational speeches. It’s okay.” He held the amulet up. “Got a lot of thinking to do, anyways.”
“You and thinking? Never a good combination,” she joked.
“Hey now, I thought we were making with the nice? Teasing the Big Bad isn’t a good way in conving him to wear your pretty McPendant, yea?”
Buffy smiled, making her way up the stairs. “Ok, ok. No teasing the Big Bad. Check. And by the way, the Angel drawing? Much with the likeness. Though I would’ve added a little more vertical to the hair,” she grinned, meeting his amused gaze before closing the basement door behind her.