'We ... we kissed, you an' me. All 'Gone With The Wind,' with the rising music, an' the rising ... music, an' what was that, Buffy? '
There really was no other way. She had to face him again, eventually. He wouldn't forget, what she had done. She was sure of that. She just didn't -want- to deal with it.
She groaned and started forward again, trudging toward the crypt as if heading for her own execution. Though, at this moment, she might have happily marched up the gallows if only to be spared what was likely going to be an awkward and painful scene.
Taking a deep breath, she marched up the steps and opened the door. No need to break old habits by doing such a thing as knocking, right?
She felt him, of course, before she saw him. Shutting the door behind her as quietly as she could, she took in the scene. Three candles were lit, casting very little light around the room. Spike was leaning against a wall, near the door. He appeared to be sleeping, but one could never tell with vampires. Though Spike wasn't a good example -- always wanting to move, pace, kill, whatever -- vampires could stay still as a corpse for hours. Because that's what they were. Corpses.
She just stood there for a moment, watching him. This living corpse before her. It made her shudder to think of him that way. Wouldn't that make her a necrophiliac? It wasn't like she hadn't loved...she quickly derailed -that- train of thought...been with a vampire before. Angel, he was different from the creature before her, as night is to day. He had a soul. He was ashamed of his vampiric nature. He hid it from her. He felt remorse, guilt, for his crimes. Spike didn't. He didn't -have- a soul. He didn't know what it was like to feel remorse.
'Why don't you explain it to me?' he had said, when she stated the same to him. -That- had thrown her. She didn't expect him to understand. Hell, she didn't expect him to -want- to understand. But Spike was nothing if not unpredictable.
So what exactly was he? Sure, he was a vampire, by definition. But how could a vampire act as he does? Being a vampire slayer, she knew vampires. They lived only for the kill, for chaos and destruction. They didn't watch soap operas. They didn't take pleasure in eating human food. They didn't enjoy human company. They were at best animals, at worst, deadly sociopaths. Hunt. Kill. Feed.
But Spike wasn't like that. Sure, he reveled in violence. It was his nature. And the chip -had- changed him. He couldn't kill anymore; couldn't hunt. But most of his personality she simply couldn't pass off as the chip. He -always- loved to eat, watch tv. Even Angel, basically a human trapped in a vampire-shaped wrapper, didn't eat human food. Ever. And Spike had helped her save the world, before the chip. His explanation? He -liked- the world. And, he wanted to kick Angel's ass for stealing Dru. But his first answer was he liked the world.
She shook these thoughts out of her mind. Every time she tried to rationalize him, she got a headache. And if she thought about it too long....
She took a step forward, looking at the carefully laid out first aid supplies at his feet. Tara had been there. She smiled a little, wondering what they had talked about.
He stirred, finally, and jerked violently on coming awake, startled by her presence.
"Slayer..." he said, his voice slurred around bloodied lips.
"Spike." she nodded, hugging herself. What now?
"How are you?" It came tumbling out of her mouth before she could stop it. She almost laughed.
He lowered his eyes....eye, since he couldn't very well look out of the one that was swollen shut, and chuckled softly, also finding the humor in the statement.
"Fine, luv. Aside from the apparently colourful new complexion..." he made a vague gesture toward his face. He looked up again, a flicker of concern shining in his gaze.
" 'ow're you, pet?"
She shook her head, and moved closer, bending to take up a square of gauze. She crouched next to him, avoiding looking directly into his eyes, and opened the bottle of water Tara had left. Her hands shaking, (the same hands that had pounded him senseless without a second thought, she forced herself to remember) she began to gently clean the blood from his face.
He kept silent, knowing she didn't want to talk. Just like he always knew, exactly what she was feeling.
'And I can fool Giles, and I can fool my friends, but I can't fool myself. Or Spike, for some reason....'
He flinched when she wiped off the blood near his eye, the muscles in his cheek twitching violently. She frowned in sympathy, but kept at it, until the only discolouration on his face was from bruising.
She really couldn't do much for the swelling. She didn't think ice or Advil would have any effect on a vampire. He would just have to rest, let his natural vampire healing abilities take over. God, she had used her full strength. Looking at him now, there was no way she hadn't. He hardly ever bruised, even with all the fights he got himself into. Hell, the last fight -they- had been in, he hadn't even been marked up that badly. A few claw marks. Light bruising. Nothing really noticeable.
She realized that he was just watching her, blinking every so often. He had started breathing, as he always did when she was around. He didn't seem to notice. It was interesting, how human he could be without even trying.
She rocked back on her heels, and looked over her handiwork, still avoiding eye contact. Nodding to herself, she grabbed his arm and pulled him gently to his feet. Contact with his cold skin always sent shivers through her, shivers that had nothing to do with temperature or fear.
"Wha..?" he asked gently, still dazed. She didn't blame him. The only time she had ever seen him in worse shape was after a round of torture with a hell god.
"You need to sleep. I'm putting you to bed," she replied softly, and began to lead him toward the lower level of his crypt. "Can you get down there alright?"
He stared at her, tilting his head slightly, before pulling his arm away from her.
He walked ahead of her, unsteady on his feet. She absently hoped he didn't tumble down the ladder. But he made it alright, and she followed quickly. He sank down on the edge of his bed, bending to pull off his boots.
"I've got it." she said quickly, and knelt before him, unlacing them and pulling them gently from his feet. He laid back, putting his arm over his eyes for a moment, before pulling himself fully onto the bed. She pulled the sheet over him, knowing full well he slept naked, but not trusting herself to remove his clothing.
"Feel better then, luv?" he mumbled, his eyes closed.
She frowned, confused.
"Feel better? This relieve all that nasty guilt? 'elpin' the battered vampire ta bed?"
She blinked at him.
"Spike, this isn't about..."
He opened his eye, and stared at her.
"What -is- it about pet? S'not like ya care or anythin'. So why the hell bother, eh, Slayer?"
Of course, she got angry. He had a way of doing that didn't he? Pissing her off to no end with just a few words. But she took a deep, calming breath, and bit back the bitter retort that hovered on her tongue. 'Of course I don't care, you're just convenient....'
"Spike..." she said, her tone sounding a little more exasperated than she had intended. "I do care. That's why I came. I am sorry I did this to you. I really am." she crossed her arms. "But I really don't feel like talking about it right now, alright? I'm sorry, I'm tired, just go to sleep."
"'s okay...," he mumbled, already half asleep, despite his anger. How in the hell had he gotten back here, after what she did? "Night then, Slayer."
She swallowed. He'd forgiven her. Of course he had. He had forgiven her the moment it was over. She was reasonably sure he would let her do it every day, if he thought it would make her smile.
She forced back the tears that threatened to spill from her eyes, and moved back towards the ladder. She turned back, to look at him.
Despite herself, and the sudden, intense feeling that she was leaping from a cliff, she crossed the room, and pulled back the sheet on the other side of the bed. She curled up on her side next to him, not touching him, just watching him. He would have looked peaceful if not for the fact his face looked as if he'd been in a prison riot.
Tomorrow. Questions could come tomorrow. Just a little nap, she told herself as her eyes slowly drifted shut. Just a little while, then I'll go home....
Continued in Chapter 3