Feedback is muchly appreciated.
But during these times, she often eyed him in a rather calculating manner, as if she couldn’t quite decide what to do with him. So they did all kinds of things, and it was like before, it was like she said it wouldn’t be, and one night he said, “Let’s go for a walk, yeah?”
Kennedy shot him a scandalized look, because she might have been a self-centered little thing, but she wasn’t stupid. Spike ignored her, and gave Buffy a little push in the right direction, which was probably the wrong direction, actually, but that was just how his luck went.
“A walk,” Buffy repeated, as if she were tasting the word.
He took her behind the bus and fucked her soundly, and when she was still just looking at him, swollen-mouthed, dark-eyed, what he really wanted to say was, We’ve got to stop this. But her mouth. Her eyes.
“Hmm,” Buffy said, and let her head fall back to bang lightly up against the side of the bus. She gave him that calculating look. “If I ran away, would you come with me?”
“What, if we just took to the highway?” She shrugged loosely. “Stop screwing around.”
“You like it.”
“I won’t be a part of this. Bloody escapism, is what it is.”
“Please,” Buffy said hotly, coming back to herself. “If anything, when I’m with you, I’m acutely aware of exactly what I am.” And even though it was what he wanted to hear, it was somehow worse than anything else she could have ever said to him. He just wanted to wrap her up in cotton batting, tuck her away somewhere safe. He wanted to kill her. Smother her, shut her up.
Fix her, was the thing. Like always, that was what he wanted to do, but he didn’t know how, so that was where the rest came in. He was an awful person, and a terrible excuse for a vampire.
“And what are you?” he asked her carefully.
She gave him a somewhat vacant look. “You tell me.”
“I won’t define you.”
“Oh yeah, because I don’t define you in any way, right?”
He could say nothing to that. There was the chirping of crickets, her breathing, night sounds. He’d always associated her with the night. He wondered if she knew. If she’d care. If she cared about anything anymore.
“I think I might be losing myself,” she said then, just like she was the starlet in some kind of stupendously idiotic B-movie. Despite that, it tugged at him. Her fingers bit at his chest anxiously.
“You’re just lost in general, love,” he said and when her hands roamed lower, he slipped from her hold. “Happens to the best of us.”
“I’m not exactly the best of us, though, am I?”
“Well, I’m sure as hell not the best of us, innit that the truth?” he shot back, and he’d got her to smile.
“Come here,” she said suddenly. “Come back here.”
“Not your dog,” he told her, then he came. “What?” She just looked at him. “Look,” he started. “We just took three steps backwards, here. I know you, Slayer. Know what you crave, know that you need your daily spot of violence, that you need someone to play along and to tell you the hard truths all at the same time. I know it all, so you just— you want to, you just let yourself get lost. Right? But you have to know, you have to recall what you said before, about this being it and all.”
“I wasn’t going to be afraid,” she said, as if searching for confirmation.
“I was going to be me.” She paused, and her lips turned down. “You see? The problem?”
“I see,” he said, and he did. He thought of when they’d pulled away from the river that day, from the amulet, the feeling that had seized him with crackling intensity and then slowly burned off the further away they drove, like fog. Until he could see again, but differently than he had before (perhaps less.) Now he just saw her, and it filled him with anticipatory trepidation. “Buffy,” he continued, with only a muddled sense of what it would mean to her, “You can be you with me. You know that.”
She said tightly, “Why do you think you scare me?”
And walked away, leaving him to stare at the ground, the side of the bus where her back had made a small indentation. Dawn found him like that.
“Um. What are you doing?”
“What’s big sis up to?”
“She’s sleeping. Well. She has her eyes closed, anyway. She’s a big faker, really.”
“Yeah. So.” She peered at him curiously. “Spike. I wanted to apologize for doing that thing the other night. I mean, I don’t know what I did, but it was a thing, right?”
“Don’t know what I was on about myself. Forget it, platelet.”
“Come on. You got really trashed. With Xander.”
“That I did.”
“So? What the sodding hell do I know?”
“I just thought—”
“Well, don’t do that. Don’t think. Wouldn’t it be lovely, if we could all just not think?”
Dawn was looking at him, just like she used to, but when she made to reach out for him she drew her hand back right away. “I think it would get pretty boring,” she said meekly.
“Bloody hell,” Spike said concisely, and sagged back against the bus.
Although he’d never hatched a successful plan, ever, not a once, he found himself packing up her things. Right quiet-like, vampire-quiet, so that Dawn kept right on sleeping, sighing out little snatches of words, no, and other things he didn’t recognize. Not quite a nightmare. She hadn’t started up screaming, anyway, not like she sometimes had that summer after the Slayer had taken that faultless swandive, but it brought him back to that. Buffy would never know what that time had been like for them, their own private hells. Didn’t care, most likely.
She was watching him carefully now, the way he moved, the way you’d watch an animal to see how it moved. Looking for weaknesses, or just noticing? Noticing him? That couldn’t be it, yet his whole damned plan drew on the idea that she’d fall back into her hero archetype before they got more than a few miles out.
This was a phenomenally bad idea, but he was at the end of his tether, really, and she was adrift. Adrift, but when he tipped his head towards the highway, she came right to him as if bound, and they started off into the figurative sunset. It wasn’t a good moment, though, and he worried at the flushness of her cheeks. The night was as black as tar.
“What changed your mind?” she asked him eventually.
“Bugger off,” Spike said, wandering down the middle of the road, as he seemed wont to do as of late. “Just walk.” Shockingly, she did. She seemed disturbingly content, and when she slid her hand into his he didn’t have the strength to shake her off.
They’d been walking for a good two hours when the first car caught them in its highbeams. It was a woman, her little girl. She pulled off to the side and opened her door instead of just rolling down the window. “Oh, God,” she said. “Hi. Hello.” She began to cry immediately then, her face crumpling as paper would. Her skin was ashen.
Buffy just looked at her. Spike went to her, with some notion that he should offer comfort, but he had none to give, and she composed herself fairly quickly besides, asking them where they were headed.
“Where are you off to, love?” he asked of her gently. The Slayer squeezed his hand at the endearment, not kindly. He squeezed back. Bones creaked.
But the woman didn’t know. She didn’t know anything anymore, she told them. “You can sit in the back,” she offered them.
“Kind of you,” he said. “Right kind. So, what’s the name of our savior, then?”
She very nearly smiled, warming to him. Silly bint. “Stephanie,” she said.
Like the song, Spike recalled vaguely from some past life. Stephanie Says. The Slayer was holding his hand, still, and he didn’t know how he’d arrived at this place, all of the sudden. What had he become? And who was—
“I’m Anne,” Buffy was saying, speaking for the first time. “This is—”
“Spike,” he said quickly, before she could make him into someone else yet again.
“Spike,” Stephanie repeated. “What an interesting name.”
“And he made it for himself, too,” Buffy said meanly, as the other woman looked on at them in confusion. “It’s very original, don't you think?"
She was like a flower, her head lolling against his shoulder, except for the fact that flowers weren’t quite so dark. It wasn’t a natural hue, he thought, and then he thought that he hated her and this darkness of hers despite the fact that it should have been what he loved the most about her, but he loved it all, he did, so he didn’t know what he was thinking.
He was barely awake when she plied him out of the car, confused, stumbling a bit. She told him they were near the outskirts of Albuquerque, and he thought she’d had enough but instead she plucked some money from her bra and shuffled him into a motel room. The carpets were an ugly maroon, and so were the bedsheets, but they weren’t the exact same colour. He was momentarily taken in by this inconsistency but then she threw him onto the bed and straddled his hips like good old times and he stopped thinking much of anything.
“How much dosh you have stuffed in there?” she asked her. Her pert little breasts swung lightly right in his line of vision, and he reached out and cupped one, just because. Her eyes glassed over at once. “Awful easy tonight, Slayer,” he noted.
“You finally have me right where you want me, and you still can’t leave well enough alone, can you?” she noted right back.
Spike hmmed noncommittally.
“And the answer is enough, for your information.”
“Enough what, now?”
“Dosh,” she said, pronouncing it all wrong.
“Try me,” she dared him.
But he didn’t. “This is Albuquerque, eh?” he asked her.
“Yeah, I guess so.” She looked down at him, put her hand over his which was still upon her. “So. Will you call me Anne?”
“Bloody hell, no.”
“Didn’t think so.”
“What will you call me?”
Raging bitch. He recalled the phrase and smiled. “How ‘bout your name?”
“No,” she told him firmly, but she was already in a passion and wet for him besides and he kept saying it as she was unable to resist him, Buffy, Buffy, Buffy, until she had come and come again. When she’d recovered, though, she did everything but kick him in the head before she stormed off. He lay there for a good twenty minutes, cock aching but untouched because he liked the pain in a certain kind of perverse way.
Eventually, though, even he’d had enough. He found her in the parking lot smoking a cigarette, his brand, smelling like sex. “Picked up a pack from the vending machine.”
“Yeah? How is it?”
She shrugged, coughed, handed it off to him. “Awful.”
He took a glorious drag while she licked a thumb, and rubbed away the blood that had dried at his temple with it.
“I know we have to go back, Spike,” she told him presently with a hitch of her shoulders. Ah, there she was, then. “I’ve known since we left. I just wanted— well—”
“Can stay the night, if you want,” he offered dumbly.
“I do. Want.”
This did not come as a surprise. Yet as soon as he kissed her, she began to cry and couldn’t seem to stop. When he pressed his lips to her bare back in the middle of the night she turned and he saw that her face was wet again, and tasted her salt of the earth on his tongue.
“I’m not so afraid anymore,” she told him then and in a way that he knew that she meant it.
Her face closed off a bit the way it did. He shouldn’t have pressed her. Then she looked at him, dead on. “Things do matter to me, Spike.”
“Oh, sweetheart, I know.”
“I just forgot myself, for awhile.”
“It happens,” he allowed softly.
Her body so near to his. “And— you matter to me. Do you understand what I’m saying to you? You do, don’t you?” Something unimaginable, he thought, and then her mouth closed in on his.
He woke up with his head pillowed on her thigh, and turned his head away from sunlight as it crept across that fucking ugly carpet, rubbing his cheek against her nakedness. Raging bitch, indeed.
He was underwater. Drusilla was the only one down there, with him. She swam around him, around and around. She gnashed her teeth at him and smiled.
When he awoke again, he lay there and worried about Dru, all alone, somewhere deep. He forgot that that was where she’d always been.
Spike supposed such thoughts meant it was time to head on out. He took his fags into the bathroom, had himself a smoke, avoided the mirror, stood under the shower for a good long while. So she wasn’t afraid anymore. Brave little girl.
When they went to return the room key they found the desk clerk dead. Torn throat, no face left to speak of, looked like something rabid had been at him.
He went behind the desk, found bottled water, an obscene quantity of canned food, a gas mask. All prepared, apocalyptically speaking, then. Look at how much good it had done him. And then there was a gun, untouched, resting on dust and paperwork. Poor bugger hadn’t had a chance. Spike started gathering up a few things.
“What are you doing?” the Slayer asked standoffishly.
“Might as well take some of this stuff with us, yeah? Not like he’s going to be needing it. You see any keys lying around here?”
“Keys?” she echoed.
“No. You know what, no. Let’s just go. Get out of here.”
“We have a bit more to worry about than grand theft auto, don’t you think?”
“Where? It’s the middle of the day. Follow me on this.” Something caught his attention right then, a kind of pawing. He looked to the side door and saw a dog just inside, with matted fur and a bloody maw. It fixed him with a starved, knowing gaze. Oh.
Spike opened a can of tuna, tossed it across the floor. The mongrel nosed it, then nosed the empty can. It came over and nudged his leg with canine solicitude.
“Let’s go,” Buffy kept saying. “Look, I found the keys, let’s go, please.”
“Someone must have abandoned him, yeah? Took up and left him all on his own?”
“Someone must have,” she agreed, in a voice gone surprisingly gentle.
“Should we— kill it?” He knew he couldn’t have done such a thing himself, even as he asked.
“Let’s just go,” the Slayer said with something like patience.
“All right,” he said slowly. “All right.”
Continued in Part 4