Author’s Notes: Set shortly after Get it Done, season seven. This is a little one-shot fic that kept running around my head until I typed it up.
Spike barely glanced up from his book. “What’s that?”
Buffy sighed and crossed her arms in front of her. “It’s been at least three days since you’ve eaten.”
His head came up at that point and he scowled at her. “What the hell are you on about?” Tipping his head to the side, he squinted. “Thought we were done with that whole spy on Spike bit.”
“Why aren’t you eating?”
Spike smirked. “Never said I wasn’t.”
“Spike. I don’t have time to…”
“Good then, I’ll just get back to my book.” He gave her a dismissive nod and looked back down at the pages in his hand.
“Spike.” Her frustration was evident in her tone. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Exhaling slowly, she tried a new approach. “Spike,” her voice softened, “why aren’t you eating?”
Keeping his gaze squarely downward, he clenched his jaw.
“The blood in the freezer’s barely been touched and you look like shit.”
He scoffed. “Wasn’t aware that keeping up my looks was one of your requirements. I’ll be sure to…”
“Spike,” she walked over and sat beside him on the cot. “What I said before…the other day, about wanting you to be…different, it wasn’t fair.”
He snorted. “Dangerous, pet, the word was dangerous.”
She paled slightly and avoided meeting his eyes. “I just needed you to…”
“Stop whining, yes. Don’t you worry, I won’t be letting this pesky soul taint the pleasure of all those kills anymore. In fact, I was just thinking ‘bout some of my finer moments, pretty little things that knew how to scream.”
“Spike, stop!” She scowled back at him. “I said that it wasn’t fair. I know that, you…you should have time to deal with the past or think about what it means to have a soul or whatever the hell you need to do. The point is: you don’t have that time. Right now, I can’t give it to you.”
He was propelled off the bed. “And it’s always about you, right? What you can give me?” It wasn’t that he didn’t understand. He knew that she was the general in this war and he was a soldier. Understanding though, it didn’t really make him any less pissed. He was a fucking master vampire, his name made other vampires cower. Maybe not so much lately, he acknowledged, but it didn’t change things. He wasn’t that little boy, Andrew; she should know better. Hell, he thought, I survived the demon trials and got the bloody soul for her, for her, and she can’t even bitch slap me in private. No, both man and demon seethed, she just loves bringing me down another bloody notch, and in front of the whole crew too. Let’s just show all the little slaybabies that Spike’s been fucking neutered.
“That’s not…” She sighed again. “I didn’t come down here to fight. You need to eat.”
“So why aren’t you?”
“I said that I would, now get off it.” He turned pointedly away from her.
Buffy stood up grudgingly. She even started towards the stairs before turning suddenly to stalk towards him again. “Are you still in love with me?” The question was out before she’d even realized she was asking it. When he spun
around to glare at her incredulously, her face mirrored his surprise.
Spike’s eyes flickered amber. He clenched his fists and turned away. “Don’t,” he warned gruffly.
“That’s my business, not yours.” Why, he thought angrily, can’t I just say no? How pathetic am I that I can’t say no and keep, at least, the illusion of pride?
Buffy knew that she should stop, that she wasn’t ready to hear the answer. She pushed on anyway, seemingly unable to stop herself. He riled her. Always, his very presence riled her and she needed to rile back. She stepped closer and arched her eyebrows. “Isn’t it?”
She was only a little surprised to see his demon face when he turned back to her.
He moved quickly, thrusting his face close to hers, and spoke in a voice that was barely above a whisper. “You’d do best to remember what I am, Slayer. You can keep me chained in your basement, but it doesn’t mean I’m your bloody poodle. You don’t own me.”
Buffy lifted her chin defiantly. “I know exactly what you are. It doesn’t answer either question.” When he opened his mouth to respond, she cut him off, quickly fisting the bottom of his tee-shirt in her hand and raising it several inches. She gestured to his ancient black leather belt. “Two holes smaller, Spike. You’re starving yourself.”
He smirked down at her. “Maybe I’m just holding out for a more appealing meal. You offering, luv?”
He expected her to leave at that point. Maybe she’d slap him first and call him a pig or possibly she’d just turn heel and walk away. One thing for sure though, he certainly didn’t expect her to reach up and caress the side of his face. She’d rarely done that even when they’d been together. If, he thought angrily, their fucking could even be called together. She definitely didn’t cuddle him while he was in demon face.
The touch nearly broke him. He leaned in to it tentatively; a puppy who’d been beaten but still craved a pat. Amber eyes turned blue. Reluctantly, he pulled away and turned slightly to avoid the unusually soft look on Buffy’s face. It was worse when she looked at him with pity. At least anger was passionate. Pity…pity just looked like good bye.
Buffy tried again, gently. “Spike?”
He sighed. “Relax pet. I’m not gonna dust. Don’t need to eat every day and…just figured…you’ve got enough mouths to feed around here. You don’t need to be worrying about fixing me up with blood too.”
Buffy shook her head. “Everyone eats, Spike. I’ve got girls up there who apparently live on Poptarts…” She shrugged and gave him a little smile, “…which, despite their complete lack of nutritional value, cost loads more than pig’s blood.”
He frowned. “’S not the same.”
She placed her hand on his arm. “It is. To me, it is. I need you strong, Spike, not just alive…or…undead, whatever.”
He chuckled. “I’ll be ready to fight.”
“That’s not…not just because I need you to fight.”
He wanted to ask her why else she needed him, why she had told him that she wasn’t ready for him to leave that night after her date with the principal. Mostly though, he was just afraid that is he asked, she’d tell him. And he was sure that the answer would kill him. Of course, not asking let him hope for things that he knew he had no right to even hope for.
His unfailing hope, the hope that had let him court his enemy despite all obstacles, was harder to defend these days. He’d gotten the soul so that she could love him, but it didn’t work that way. In a twist of irony that even Shakespeare would appreciate, the soul simply meant that now he didn’t even like himself.
Buffy could see the question he was trying so hard not to ask, in his eyes. She had some questions for herself. Why the hell do I have to be so vague? Why am I doing this to him? Maybe, because I don’t even understand myself most of the time. She moved her hand down his arm and grasped his hand.
Spike stared at the hand holding his with glistening eyes. He listened to her heart beat faster and cursed himself for shaking. He looked up at her slowly, almost shyly. “You were right anyway. I was over-thinking it all…since the soul. Should have just done what I do best. Only thing I’m really good at, right?”
“I remember some other impressive…” Her eyes widened as she realized what she was saying. She could see the surprise on his face.
She pulled her hand away awkwardly and focused her eyes on the floor. “So, um…you’ll eat? I’m not gonna have to feed you myself?” Her head shot up. Stupid Buffy! “That came out… I mean like with the choo choo sounds and…I’ll just be going now.”
His hand shot out to grip her arm. As soon as she stopped, he loosened his grip. “You could…” He chuckled suddenly. “Choo choo sounds?”
Buffy nodded. “That used to work with Dawn.” She frowned, “Of course that never really happened.” She shrugged and gave him a little grin. “I wonder sometimes though, in the world with no Dawn and thus no cash for babysitting Dawn, how did I get the New Kids on the Block posters? Do you think I would have had an allowance?”
He realized what she was doing, that she was trying to put them back in a comfortable place, and he was mostly grateful for the gesture. He smirked. “I’ll bet you nicked ‘em.”
Her jaw dropped in surprise. “I would not!”
“Oh come on then, pet. You’re tellin’ me that, before you went and got all chosen, you weren’t a little bit bad?” He waggled his eyebrows playfully.
She scoffed, “I was delightful, I…I…” She giggled suddenly. “I was a brat.”
“Bet you were adorable.”
He grinned at her then, warmly and without any pressure. She was reminded then of a night that felt much longer in the past than it was. “Try on my world”, he’d tempted and she had been, genuinely, tempted. Things had been almost easy between them then. It wasn’t so easy now. She looked down, embarrassed by the affection he couldn’t hide. Even now, she thought, after everything that’s happened he still looks at me like I could save him. She pushed down the little voice inside her that said she wished she could and grinned back. “Yeah, I was real adorable.” She rolled her eyes and glanced toward the stairs.
Nodding, Spike followed her gaze. “I guess you have a lot of stuff to do tonight.”
“No big strategy meeting with the Scoobies or some such?”
She shook her head and gave a soft laugh. “That would require an actual strategy to discuss. No, I was actually just really hoping for some sleep tonight, but the girls seem especially sugar-hyped. I don’t think that the giggling is likely to stop anytime soon.”
He nodded and gestured towards his cot. “You could…I mean I could leave for a bit. You could get some kip.”
“I don’t want to kick you out of your room.”
Spike shrugged. “Your house.”
She laughed softly and rolled her eyes. “It’s only my house when the bills come in.”
Frowning, he shook his head for a moment before giving her a serious look. “Is it bad again?”
“No, not really…Giles helps…Xander does most of the repair work himself, which is good cause new walls equals not cheap…and the school really does pay better than the Doublemeat Palace.”
He nodded. “Is there…is there anything I can do.”
“You’re doing it. Having you here to help fight, train…”
Spike sighed. “I could do more. If you let me, I could help more. You know that I’d…” He shrugged and looked away. This is too hard, I can’t do this again.
Sighing, Buffy nodded. Tell him, tell him…something. “You…” Her hand went up to ghost along his cheek again. “Spike, you…I, I don’t know what this is, with us.” She gestured back and forth between them. “I don’t what it is, what it is for me or for you, but…I know that it’s important. To me, it’s…you’re important.”
She felt him tremble beneath her fingers and watched his eyes blink rapidly before he turned his head away. She knew that she’d been vague once more, but felt that at least she’d been honest. She hoped that it was enough for now, that, at least for right now, he’d be happy enough with what she could offer.
Swallowing hard and struggling to hold back the tears that always seemed to be ready to flood lately, Spike nodded slowly. When he finally spoke, his voice was low. “You know what this…you…are to me, pet. You must know that.”
He used to say it, she thought, he used to stand there in front of me with his heart in his hands and hope in his eyes and say that he loved me. Even while I looked at him in horror and disgust, he kept saying it. Now, he can’t even look at me while he grudgingly admits to it. Unsure of whether or not she even wanted him to say it, she still felt sad that she’d made it so hard for him to do. “You love me.”
He nodded, but still didn’t meet her eyes.
She slid her hand down to cup his chin and, rising up on her toes, leaned in to place a chaste kiss on his lips. “Thank you.”
The surprise in his eyes brought forth from the kiss melted into incredulity. “What?” He shook his head. “What does that even mean?”
Buffy shrugged. “I don’t know exactly. I just…I’ve never said thank you and I thought…”
“Does that mean you want…are you happy?”
She could see the hope sliding into his eyes again. Behind the confusion, hope shined, a bright silver light. “I’m…grateful.” She watched the light go out. “That’s not…I don’t know if I love you, or if I can.”
He gave her a curt nod and started to turn away. The hand on his face tightened its grip.
“Wait! Please, I’m trying. Can I…What I do know is…I’m glad to be alive now. What I felt before, that’s done. I’m not the same girl I was last year, but I still, sometimes…it’s still easier to be with you than anyone else. It shouldn’t be. I mean sometimes it’s hard and awkward and…” She shrugged, “But it’s still easy to be with you.”
She could see that he didn’t know what to think about that and that he was leaning towards dismay. “Aside from the obvious sexual tension.”
His jaw dropped. “The obvious….” He arched a brow and leaned in slightly in question.
Buffy held her ground, simply raising her chin to challenge a denial.
His eyes widened and his head came up. “Right then, obvious.” He nodded, “If you’re trying to tell me that you want something here, pet. You’re going to have to…”
“I’m not. I mean, I’m not saying that I do or that I don’t. I’m not ready to…I’m just saying that, I want you here.”
“Not going anywhere. As long as you…I’m not going anywhere.”
She smiled then, tension lifting noticeably from her small frame. She glanced longingly at the cot. “Are you sure you don’t mind if I crash down here for a bit?”
“’Course not, I’ll just…” He gestured towards the stairs.
“You don’t have to. You can stay, read if you want. It won’t bother me.” She walked slowly over to the cot and sat down. Looking up at him, she gave the mattress a pat. “Really, Spike.”
He walked over and sat down stiffly on the edge of the mattress. “I could go. I don’t mind.”
“Don’t be silly. There’s plenty of room.” She waited for him to shift into a comfortable position, back against the wall; legs stretched out in front of him and then curled up beside him.
He watched her back for a couple of moments before opening his book. He was just starting to lose himself again when she spoke.
“Hmm ?” His eyes remained on the book.
“Maybe…maybe there could be kissing. You know, sometimes, if you wanted to.”
Slowly, he smiled. “I’ll keep that in mind, pet.”
The End (or maybe a beginning)