RATING:Hard R for sex and a bad word
SPOILERS: Up to Gone for sure, and the passage of time across the story will encompass future S6 eps as well. I’m basically making this up as I go along, so probably AU.
DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Don’t sue.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Continues on from Hungry, where we found Buffy compensating mightily and Spike up to something.
DISTRIBUTION: Please ask my permission first, just so I know where it's headed.
FEEDBACK: Pretty please? With chocolate Spikes on top? firstname.lastname@example.org
Part Two: Caught
"Over this way," Tara said quietly, heading in past the treed area onto the sandy rocks. "There's an entire maze of caverns down here.”
Is she so far gone she won't even ask why I was here with Spike?
"What, exactly, were you guys doing down here, Tara?"
Weird. This is where all the Greek geeks bring their dates to make out. OH!
Doing her best blush, Tara stammered, "Well, umm, you know...just investigating some rumors of demonic activity. You looked so tired when you left the Bronze. W-we wanted to save you the effort."
Yeah. You can save it, alright, honey.
"Oh riiiight," Buffy snapped. "Saved me a lot of time and effort. He's still on the Big Bad saves the world routine?"
And now I have to save his undead hide *again*. Jerk.
"You know, I really think he means to help, Buffy," defended Tara.
Now I know why they call it a green-eyed monster. But the cliché leaves out the blond hair... Now if she’ll just stand still for a minute…
Approaching the entrance to a cave a good distance away from where Tara stood, Buffy said, "It looks like there was some kind of a demon-y struggle here." There were globs of brownish sludge, and boot prints in the sand around the entrance to one of the openings. "But no dusty piles -- just your ordinary sandy stuff."
Got it. What a mess! I see the gold in there, but, Goddess. It’s worse than Willow. This is going to take some time to clean up…
The boot prints and trail of sludge led into the cavern a short way, but about ten yards in, just short of a 6-foot hole in the rock, the sludge disappeared. The boot prints, however, continued on into the passageway.
"Looks like Spike got away," said Buffy, heading for the hole.
"Wait, Buffy. Look at this," Tara called from the other side of the cavern, holding up what looked like a tattered piece of paper.
Buffy turned around and walked to where Tara was standing. It was a note, scrawled in a spidery script that would have made a doctor blush in shame:
No worries, luv. Everything's handled here. S.
Feeling her heart return to a normal beat, Buffy complained aloud, "Dragged my ass all the way down to the beach, and he leaves this cryptic note..."
"Look, Buffy," Tara said wearily; "I really think we'd better see what we can find out about these Plegaramon demons. There really were a... a...lot of them."
"Alright," Buffy sighed, heading back for the car. "To the Magic Box, then. And you'd better scare up the others. I don't suppose we want packs of these things terrorizing make-out queens with their Friday night dates at the beach, but I don't want to be the only one wasting my beauty sleep on the creature feature."
Last chance, Buffy. Talk to me. Things would be so much easier if you'd just open up. If not to me, maybe…
"Let's get going then. Unless y-you want to go by Spike's crypt first," Tara suggested hopefully.
"And why exactly would I want to do that?" asked Buffy defensively. "I could live an entire lifetime and still think it was too soon to go back there."
At least with you in tow, witch.
Walking into the Magic Box behind Tara, Buffy was surprised to find it occupied.
"Whoa -- what's with the long face-ness?" she asked upon seeing Anya, Willow, and Xander gathered around the table, staring at her solemnly. “You guys already working on this Plegawhatever demon thing?”
Tara walked toward the others, but stopped short of the table, looking from Buffy to the group and back again. "Buffy," she began hesitantly, "there's something else we need to talk about. There weren’t any demons tonight."
"You're giving me the willies, Tara. Some kind of crazy wild goose chase for demons? Come on. What are you up to?” Turning in confusion to look at Xander, Buffy asked, “What's the scoop?"
Xander turned his head down and examined his hands. "Is there anything you want to tell us, Buffy? Anything bothering your conscience lately?" He looked up at her with an unaccustomed hardness in his dark eyes.
Oh man. What kind of twisty twenty questions is this?
Reacting in a defensive mode without knowing exactly why, Buffy answered sarcastically, "You mean other than my life falling apart around my ears? Or maybe you mean that my friends seem to have plenty of time for anything but me? Oh! I know...you mean that my sister, you know -- the one I died for -- has turned intto some raging hormone monster?
"Or maybe you think I should be happy that I'm practically destitute and have to flip burgers for a living? Look at me, Responsible Buffy -- all grown up and nothing to show forr it. Of course something’s . . .”
Wrong. All wrong.
"No, Buffy," interrupted Anya cheerfully. "None of that. Xander means we know you’re having sneaky intercourse with Spike! Is he good in bed?"
Buffy's eyes widened, giving the appearance of a deer caught in the headlights. Speechless, at least for the moment, she turned pleading eyes on Willow.
"Well, that's not it, exactly," Willow interjected, rolling her eyes at Anya's typical bluntness. "Or at least, that's not all of it. You see, we thought you were getting better. You know: feeling and stuff. And I know I haven't exactly been best bud of the year, Buffy. But couldn't you have at least told me?"
You can’t go on this way, trying to control the world and hide from it at the same time. I wish I’d been able to stop. Maybe I wouldn’t have lost Tara.
Finding her voice, Buffy denied vehemently, "You're crazy. All of you. Where would you get the idea I'd do something like that?"
"Besides, you'd do better to talk to Tara about her social life with the evil undead than me," she huffed. "I saw them tonight at the Bronze! They were, were *cozy*!"
No. Wait. I didn’t just do that – Tara’s my friend, isn’t she?
Standing up now, and crossing the room to put his hand on Buffy’s shoulder, Xander said, "Calm down, Buffy. That's exactly what we did do. We talked to Tara."
And you’re farther gone than I’d thought. Insinuating that *Tara* and Spike…ewww.
Heart sinking, Buffy realized she was trapped.
They know. I’ve lost them all…
"And the thing is, Spike's been talking to Tara for weeks now. She seems to have thought she was doing you a favor, keeping your dirty little secret from us. But that's over now," said Xander.
"Buffy,” soothed Willow, “we're both starting with a clean slate now. We can do it together..."
"A clean slate?" Buffy breathed. Pushing away Xander's hand and falling into a chair, Buffy's eyes began to take on that glazed look they'd all become so familiar with over the past months. She was checking out. There is no clean slate for me. You can’t fix what’s not here…
"And that, that checking out thing you're doing right now, Buffy. That's part of the problem, too. You can't just run and hide whenever things aren't going the way you'd like. You're not a child anymore – though you couldn’t prove it by your behavior since Giles left," said Xander.
"We've been trying to be patient with you," he continued. "Understanding. You've had a tough time, but this Spike thing -- it's beneath you. And it’s dangerous to all of us. We can't let it go on. We can't let Dawn take Miss Calendar's place in the annals of Bad Buffy Love Decisions."
Losing the last thread of her composure, Buffy began to wail, "But you don't understand. You did this to me. You. All of you. With your spells and good intentioned interference, you brought me back. And you Did. It. Wrong. Spike knows. His *chip* knows."
"We know, Buffy. That's why we had to do it," said Xander heavily. Do it? DO WHAT?
“What have you done?!?” Buffy shouted, eyes wild with fear.
Ah. Good. A reaction. Will she see it? Is my best friend still there?
"Buffy," pacified Willow, "I know it's hard for you. But you've got to give up the crutches and learn how to stand on your own two feet again. All of your crutches. Spike's been semi-helpful this year, with patrol and all, so we haven't gone all stake-y with him, but Xander helped him move out of the crypt today. We've told him to leave Sunnydale and never come back. That'll give you the time and space you need to recover. And it'll give us time to find a way to fix whatever's wrong with you so you're not in constant danger from him. You'll see. It's for the best."
It really is for your own good…even if it’s not what you think it is.
"Do you think I *want* to do this -- with him? I fight it every minute of every day. He gives me something none of you can, even Dawn. He makes me feel. Needed. Wanted... ashamed..." Buffy's voice died out, head hanging low over the table. "He's my punishment. I'm in hell, and he's my punishment. I'm missing the part of me that feels emotions -- it's only when I'm with Spike that I can see the colors, feel the warmth. And it's wrong, but I can't stop it."
"Now you'll have to," Xander stated flatly. "This is the end of the line for Deadboy Jr. in Sunnydale. And it's the end of the line for your self-involved moping through life. You'll have to wake up and pay attention, or you'll lose us all, Buffy. We're not going to help you get around child protective services if you don't at least make an honest effort at really living your life. Dawn deserves better than what she’s getting from you right now." They can’t take Dawn away. No no no no no no
Unable to face her demons, her friends, any longer, Buffy stormed out of the room.
-- -- -- -- --
“Well, that went well,” commented Anya. “You wanted to make her feel. She’s feeling alright – I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her that angry. Is angry what we wanted?”
“It’ll do. For now,” said Tara quietly. “It’s a step in the right direction anyway.”
“I don’t know, Tara. I really *have* had it with this woe-is-me crap from her,” said Xander. “I’m not sure I see how Royally Pissed Off Slayer is better than Sneaking Around Slayer. It’s weird. Spike is acting more mature than Buffy. Howzat happen?
“You know, I almost felt sorry for him tonight,” Xander continued. “I thought he’d give me a harder time about doing the big Vamoose. But he just kinda quietly packed his stuff up in some little boxes and told me to keep the TV.”
Willow looked over at Tara, catching her eyes as she answered Xander, “Well, Xan. Maybe he’s tired of being used and abused and just ready to move on.”
Or maybe he’s finally realized that it is going to take more than just being her doormat to break through that mondo denial thing she’s got going on. It sounds like Tara’s done her job well… she’s had practice, after all.
Almost shyly, Tara commented, “Yes. Maybe he’s learned that being a crutch to bad behavior isn’t helpful. And he really does seem to want to help.”
We’ll have to be careful that Xander doesn’t find out what’s really up – doesn’t sound like he’d take too well to the idea of Spike and Buffy together…Maybe Anya can handle that part; if she doesn’t let the cat out of the bag too soon.
“I like Spike,” said Anya. “He deserves better than this. We demons have to stick together.”
“You’re an ex-demon, An,” corrected Xander. “An EX-demon. Fang face isn’t an EX of any kind. That chip is still there, but if it isn’t working on Buffy, who knows when it’ll stop working altogether. And then buh-bye semi-useful undead citizenship, hello Big Bad all over again.”
“So you don’t think Buffy’s a demon?” asked Anya. “What about her soul? Is there something wrong with that?”
“We don’t think so, Anya,” said Willow. “And there’s nothing wrong with the chip, you know, Xander. We verified that as soon as Spike told Tara about the malfunction. Tara and I researched the spell I used to bring her back. It really doesn’t seem possible that she’s a demon. And she *definitely* still has a soul. It’s just a little out of whack right now. Tara checked her out on that count tonight before bringing her here. The chip isn’t recognizing whatever it’s looking for, but it’s still working the same way it always has.”
“Yes, her aura is in a horrible mess,” agreed Tara. “All this spidery red and black webbing over her usual bright gold aura. But her soul is still there. It’s in a funny place, but still there. Maybe the chip homes in on a soul’s location. You know, I really think we ought to tell her that – I’m afraid she’s using it as an excuse to dive deeper and deeper into denial.”
-- -- -- -- --
Buffy slammed through the door to the training room, nearly taking the door off its hinges.
"Damn you, Spike," she threatened as she punched the bag in fury. "What did you think you were doing? Did you think it would be all sweetness and light from them?"
But I went to him... I always went to him. Damn it all to hell, this is not my fault. Not my fault I came back wrong . . .
Buffy was immersed in the violence, venting her rage and shame into the plastic dummy when she found herself abruptly slammed up against the wall. He held her hands above her head with his right hand, while his left hand held her chin up, blue eyes staring down at her.
"Well, now. That's hardly a proper goodbye, pet", came the sibilant whisper in her ear.
"What do you want from me, Spike?" she screamed in pure frustration. "Haven't you done enough for one day?"
"See, luv, there's the rub. It's just not about what I want, now is it? Never has been. The sixty-four million dollar question is 'What does Buffy want? What does the Slayer need?' And until you can answer that question, bloody honestly, you haven't really got anything to give me. Except for this..."
A second later, she felt his mouth, invading, harsh, demanding. And, when he felt her begin to give, seductive. Tongue teasing, lips molding to hers, he released her wrists, one hand cradling her head, the other moving sinuously along her spine, holding her closer, crushing her against him, then slipping lower to her buttocks. Feeling her limbs begin to succumb to his assault, he lowered her to the floor.
A desperate moan escaped from her lips as she protested the moment of separation. The fire, the heat – she needed him to touch her, needed to touch him. To feel the soothing coolness, the hard, long muscles of his slender frame. But he held himself apart – brushing her pleading hands away from his chest, holding his chin up to escape the onslaught of her lips, her fire.
“Ah-uh-uh. Don’t touch lover. This is my game tonight,” he insisted.
Taking her wrists in his hand again, he pulled her shirt over her head. Tossing it away, he found the clasp of her bra and released it, her naked breasts straining forward, moving up and down with her heavy breath. He lay his face in the valley of her breasts, feeling the warmth of her with his cheek, listening to the beating of her heart, feeling her softness brush against his cheek. Watching her eyes slide into the vacant state that he’d come to know so well.
I’m losing her. Again. Come back to me, Slayer. Buffy.
Coming to his knees, he pulled the rest of her clothing from her, piece by piece. And when it was gone, underwear here, boots there, socks hanging from equipment, he paused, staring at her almost harshly in the moon's glow. God, she was so beautiful. Perfect. His. Losing all sense of control, he fell on her. Taking her mouth, spreading her legs, loosening his jeans to sweep and thrust into her with a raw passion that brought her to the very edge of her existence.
Ohhh God. How can this be wrong? How can it be so necessary, feel so right. To give up. To give in.
She closed her eyes against the silvery glow of the moon streaming in through the high windows, and simply felt. She felt the night, the fire, and the knowledge of her world crashing down around her. Deeply, slowly, he thrust into her heated center, filling the void, stroking the edges of battered emotions, hammering a rhythm into her being – a rhythm more ancient than time: the rhythm of life. Buffy let herself merge wholly into the rhythm, sweet release washing over her, soothing the pain.
Tears in her eyes, Buffy rolled to her side, hiding her vulnerability from the source of her torment.
What will I do without this?
Silently, Spike arose and fastened his pants.
Will she ask? Can she admit she has enough feeling for me to want to know where I'm going?
"Don't come back, Spike", Buffy said quietly. "I can't do this. It's nearly cost me everything I have. It's wrong, and I just can't do this any more."
"You don't seem to understand, luv," he growled, hurt lurking in his eyes behind smoldering anger. "This isn't your show any more. Can't be, since you've no idea where you're going or what you need."
"But I will help you out this one last time, Slayer. I'm going where you won't be able to find me when you want to scratch that bloody itch. You’ll be able to follow your gang’s instructions to stay away whether you want to or not. Just never forget: I've got an itch to scratch as well.”
Heading for the back door, he made one last promise, "I'll be there when you least expect it. And I won't need an invitation. I'm no bleeding love-starved puppy to wait around for you to come a calling -- and I won't disappear. I'm in this for good."
Only two ways for this game to end, Slayer. And whichever way it goes, all of you will be there for it, not this self-centered shadow of yourself you've become...
Rising from the mat, Buffy shook herself, trying to regain her equilibrium. It was nearly 3 a.m. and exhaustion had overtaken her. Wondering briefly if the gang were still waiting for her, she pulled on her clothes and slipped out the back door, heading for home.
Half-surprised at not finding Spike lurking outside her house, Buffy closed the door behind her and headed straight up the stairs to fall into an exhausted heap on her bed.
Tired as she was, she fell into a sleep so deep she didn’t wake a few minutes later when Willow opened the door to peer into the room. She could see that dreams tormented Buffy, as they had every night but once since her return. Tossing and turning, she spoke in her sleep as Willow watched over her. “Oooh, yes. There. Wait. NO. NO. Spike…wrong…. All wrong. Not again. Wrong…wrong…wrong.”
Eyes dark with sadness, Willow smoothed the blond hair, murmuring words of comfort: “It’s okay. It’s going to be okay, Buffy. We’ll help you. We’ll all help you. I’m so sorry we did this to you, but we’ll make it right. Thank god there’s a way. It won’t be easy, but we can do it: all of us, together. You need him the way I need Tara. And just as she pulled me back from the darkness, he’ll help us put things back where they belong. Someday soon you’ll sleep peacefully again, I swear it.”
Continued in Part Three: Imprinted