Author’s Notes: Hey, it’s the beginning of a new Spuffy saga! Yes, this one will be rated NC17 eventually. (Aren’t they all?) And, yes, I am doing the infamous ‘Buffy and Spike in a haunted house’ theme, but I’m hoping it will be quite different from all the others out there. However, I do want to warn people that some parts of this will be a bit darker than some of my other sagas. This story assumes that everything through the S6 episode ‘Dead Things’ occurred, and it deals heavily with the events of that episode – hence, the darkness. Just wait it out, don’t trust anything you see, and trust me that things will turn out all right in the end. ~_^
Laura Danvers blinked and shook her head as the man dashed through the entranceway of Cascade Mountain Lodge. For a second she would almost have sworn he was…smoking? in the morning sun.
He seemed fine now, though, as he approached the front desk, and Laura took the time to look him over. Bleached platinum hair, razor-sharp cheekbones, lean muscular body, black leather…and the most haunted look in his eyes… She had expected some sort of cocky swagger as he approached the desk, but instead he seemed meek, unsure…
“Can I help you?” she inquired politely.
There seemed to be a short delay between when she said the words and when he heard them. After the brief pause, he gave her a curt nod. “N-Need a room,” he stuttered in an awkward British accent, shifting from on foot to the other.
“It’s almost six am,” she pointed out, gesturing to the first rays of dawn that were just peeking over the horizon.
He seemed horribly flustered by this, as if he didn’t know what to do. “I-I’m sorry,” he murmured, eyes looking down.
Dammit, Laura cursed inwardly, why are the cute ones always nuts?
“It’s alright,” she quickly reassured him, afraid he was going to break out crying any moment. “You want a room for the day then?”
He nodded meekly, and she noticed for the first time that the hand that seemed to be running through his hair was lingering far too long. Almost like he was covering something up…
“You’re in luck,” she informed him in as friendly a manner as she could manage. “We had an old couple from Kansas check out bright and early this morning…or dark and early, as the case may be,” she joked lightly.
He managed a ghost of a smile, acknowledging her attempt. Under normal circumstances, he would’ve gone for the twenty-something blond in one of his nonexistent heartbeats. She was obviously attracted to him, and a good roll in the hay usually did him wonders. But not now, not after…
“You’re lucky the ski season just ended,” she continued to chatter about inane topics even though his mind had obviously drifted. “Because when the slopes are running, we’re booked solid for – oh my god!”
The concealing hand had fallen downwards as he became more absorbed in his own mental ghosts, revealing the nasty bruise around his eye for the first time.
A wave of nervousness rushed over her at that. He certainly looked the type to be involved in illegal pursuits… “You’re not…in trouble, are you?” she inquired nervously. “Because this is a respectable resort, and-“
“Tripped an’ fell is all,” he hastily reassured her, covering up his eye again, embarrassed.
I’ll take domestic abuse for a thousand, Alex, Laura grimaced inwardly. Must’ve been a big, strong guy to leave a bruise that nasty, too. Dammit, she lamented, why are the cute ones always gay?
“OK,” she gave him a reassuring smile. She reached up to the key rack and pulled down the only set of keys on them. “If you’ll just sign in…” She heard the sounds of pen on paper. “And, I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but if you could just wait here in the lobby while I call Maria and make sure the room’s clean?”
He nodded nervously in response and practically snatched the keys from her hand. His fingers, still cold from the spring Colorado air, brushed against her warmer ones.
She showed no outward reaction to the unnatural chill of his touch and picked up the desk phone while he sat himself down. She bit her lip as she watched his profile. From this angle his bruises weren’t visible, and he looked even handsome than she had first thought. Absentmindedly, she read his name from the guest book. William Summers… Dammit, she sighed as Maria picked up on the other end, why are the cute ones always vampires?
The sounds of the desk clerk’s phone conversation faded to nothing as Spike sat slumped in the lobby chair, staring at nothing. He still couldn’t believe it. He had actually left Buffy, packed his only bag, jumped on his motorcycle, and just…gone. Already, the voices in his head were whispering to him, telling him that she needed him, that she cared about him, loved him despite everything…
“You’ve an evil, disgusting thing!”
“You’re beneath me.”
“The only chance you ever had with me was when I was unconscious.”
“You were just…convenient.”
“There’s nothing good in you.”
“I could never be your girl!”
And then it was like everything hit him at once, and a soft sob escaped his throat. It was followed by a second and a third until he buried his head in his hands, wailing out his loss to the world. This was no different from when he’d lost Buffy after she’d leapt off that tower. If anything, she was even further from him now, even further than death…
Because he was nothing. Just a pitiable monster. Of course, she could never love him. What on earth had he been thinking? That a golden goddess like his Slayer could ever look upon an abomination like him with anything other than disgust and loathing…
“Whoa!” Laura’s eyes widened in surprise as her guest suddenly started bawling. “It’s OK, really,” she insisted. “Maria’s fixing up the room right now, honest!”
He didn’t hear her but clutched tighter at the object in his duster pocket, pulling it out so that he could feel its reassuring silk, remember the girl he loved so much…and that loved him, too…
“You have to go,” Dawn said, still stunned by the story he’d spilled to her in his pain and grief. She gulped at the momentous nature of what she was deciding, but realized that she couldn’t still be his friend and advise otherwise. “She’s killing you, Spike…”
“It doesn’t matter,” he insisted bitterly. “I promised ’til the end of the world and-“
“No,” Dawn whimpered, tears streaming from her eyes as she looked at the beaten and battered face of her best friend, “you need to leave. Now, before it’s too late.”
“She din’t mean it,” Spike insisted. “She was just mad, an’ I botched everythin’ up again, so-“
“Was all my fault,” he insisted. “‘m not good enough for her is all.”
“You mean she’s not good enough for you!” Dawn countered, enraged. “Why, when I get my hands on that heartless, arrogant bitch!”
“No, Bit,” Spike pleaded with her. “You can’t let her know that I told you. Wasn’t s’posed to tell…”
A cold fire burned in Dawn’s eyes at that, not at all unlike that which burned in the Slayer’s eyes right before a kill. “You need to leave town, Spike,” she said simply. “I need to know that you’re safe.”
“‘m not leavin’ you,” he insisted vehemently.
“Please, Spike,” her face softened as she begged him. “I can’t bear to see you like this…not after all we’ve been through together…”
A sad smile lit up his lips at that. “Can’t leave you all alone,” he protested slightly, “with her…”
“I’ll be strong,” she insisted. “I’ll deal. Now, go. Save yourself while you still can…”
A bitter laugh escaped him at that. This had to be the only thing that would ever allow him to leave his Slayer. Dawn begging him, still caring about him, absolving him of his responsibilities in Sunnydale…
“Thanks, Bit,” he whispered softly.
She smiled at him sadly as untied the ribbon from her hair. She wished she had something more, something better, but she hadn’t known when she snuck out to his crypt that this would be the last time she would see him.
“Here,” she pressed the silken fabric into his hand, “to remember me…”
He took it from her gently and then, in an uncharacteristic gesture of affection, caught her up in his arms. “I could never forget you, Dawn,” he whispered.
“I love you, Spike,” she uttered the magic words…
“Hey, are you all right?” Laura asked, noticing the guest calm down as he stroked a green ribbon, of all things. “Is there anything I can do?”
He looked up at her at that, fingering the lingering bruise over his eye. Dawn’s impromptu attempt at a healing spell hadn’t been entirely effective, true, but he still treasured it. One Summers broke his heart while the other picked up the pieces…
“‘m tired,” he said simply, a hint of the old fire in his eyes.
Laura was slightly breathless at the change in him. He suddenly seemed confident, strong…mesmerizing… “I’ll show you to your room,” she agreed shakily, helping him to his feet and guiding him down the hallway. “If there’s anything-” she began, blushing.
And his lips crashed down on hers. Her eyes widened for a moment before she wrapped her arms around him, staggering back with him into the room.
That morning Spike washed the Slayer’s scent from him with that of another woman for the first time.
But, what neither of them noticed was the mystical reddish glow that seemed to seep up through the carpet, glittering brighter until, suddenly, it vanished…
A/N: BTW, I changed the timeline so that ‘Dead Things’ occurred in the spring for the sole purpose of making it seem credible that Spike could drive a motorcycle to a ski lodge in Colorado. Deal with it. ~_^ So, confused? Intrigued? Read on…