I left work early. Xander stood in the school
“You betcha.” I got into the car.
“I mean, tiles can be hard to find, Buffy,”
Xander had begun, “I can’t believe I found the same style.”
I nodded, only half-listening. Hardware-talk,
not one of my favorite kinds of talk. What is my favorite kind of talk? It’s
not pep talks. I hate those. I hate droning on for ten minutes… but someone
has to say that stuff. I’m the someone. The Slayer always has to hide behind
“…Pick up a putty knife while we’re there. And
maybe a chainsaw… have you ever thought about slaying with a chainsaw?”
“Uh, not really.”
“I mean we could all get’em… like a ‘Sunnydale
Chainsaw Massacre’ thing. For the… Ubervamps…” he turned us into the parking
He hadn’t finished the sentence before I gave
him the look. He nodded.
“Alright, maybe not the best idea…”
We walked down another aisle full of screws.
“Xander, do you really need all this to replace
a couple tiles?”
His hands were motioning with his words, “Well, no… but you know…
good to be prepared.”
I picked up a doorknob and began to twist it, “I
don’t like hardware stores… they’re… too manny.”
“C’mon now, Buff… you could beat up any man in
“Yeah… I guess…”
“Check-out time… sure you don’t want that
I nodded, tossing the doorknob into a basket. “Xander?”
He stopped at the end of the line, “What is it?”
We’ll never make it… “You talked to Giles?”
“Yeah, looks like more girls are on the way…
Looks like Dawnie loses our bet... knew I shoulda bet her some cash.”
A sigh. More girls… to protect, and then
lecture. “I’m… I don’t know what to do with them, Xander.”
“It’s alright, Buff… we’ll think of something.”
“Bloody hell! What’s a bloke gotta do to get
some sleep ar—oh, it’s you.” Spike stopped at the kitchen counter. “You’re home
“Yeah.” I muttered from my knees, tugging back on the crowbar.
“Hard time? Where’s the carpenter?”
“He couldn’t get it loose… we think the magic might’ve…”
“Lemme help you, then?” It was a question, and
he stood behind me, reaching around my shoulders.
I nodded, and I controlled it. For once I
controlled the shudder. I gripped the crowbar tighter instead, taking my
frustration out on its cold surface.
His arms were wrapped around me now, and he
brought his face up behind me. His low words whispered in my ear, “Ready?
Count of three… one… two…”
We both yanked back, and the tile gave. I tumbled
backwards, knocking Spike to the floor underneath me. His hands gripped tight
on my hips, then quickly loosened. “You alright?” his hands didn’t move.
I couldn’t control it again… too
familiar… too close. I stood. Everything was shaking. God, he’s shaking
too. He stayed on the floor until I offered my hand. He took it, steadying
himself to his feet. He was inches away from me, and I had to step back. Too
close… I couldn’t handle him that close.
He bent, picking up the crowbar and the tile and
holding them out.
“Thank you.” I took them.
He gave a little nod, “Glad to help…” A silent
stare, and then he blinked, cocking his head to the side.
“Um… listen, Spike, about last night—”
“Hey!” Xander made us both jump,
“Got it up?”
Spike sucked his lips in, “Uh… pretty beat… think I’ll go... down…
“Hey, yeah, great idea Spike.” Xander knelt before the tile.
“Could you hand me that adhesive off the counter, Buffy? Buffy?”
I closed the basement door behind me.
“Didn’t think you’d come down…”
Spike stood at the bottom of the stairs, eyes fixed on me.
Yes you did, Spike. I stepped down
in front of him.
He drew in a deep breath, and the
room fell silent. I fought myself not to take his hand and lead him to the
bed. Part of me came down here for that. The tumble upstairs was too much…
too overpowering… but too wrong.
We’re wrong, Spike. I’m wrong. I
walked past him, keeping my monologue to myself. I can’t give in to you,
because it won’t last… it won’t. It never does. Doesn’t matter what I do…
With Angel, I gave everything… with Riley, I gave some things… with you… I gave
nothing. I took… I took everything from you… and never gave.
He still hadn’t followed me, but I
felt his eyes watch me. I stopped in front of the punching bag.
And then you left… like the rest of
them… you left. But you came back… with something more to give… something else
for me to take. Like it’s why you’re here… for me to use. I don’t want it
like that. You make it so hard for me not to just use you…
I swung hard, knocking the bag to
Spike was fast behind me, “Slayer?”
You’ll never know that… because I
can’t say it. I glanced over at him. It’d only be more abuse if I told you it
hurts to think of you sometimes…
“Buffy, what is it?” his hand
snuggled against my shoulder, “You can tell me…”
No, Spike… I can’t. I shook my
fist, loosening my body. Spike’s hand dropped away. “We’ve got another
potential coming tonight. I’ll be down to get you when it’s time.”
I was halfway up the stairs before
he stopped me, “You called last night…”
I turned. What?
“You called me… in your sleep…” he
shook his head, looking away, “Do you remember it?”
Stupid useless words were gone, and
all I could do was nod slightly.
Just a tiny smile before he stepped
down again, “I heard you.”
I stared at my feet. God, my
feet. Yes. Feet. Move them. Go upstairs. Please, before I say something
dumb. Just move away from here…
“It was bad…” he spoke before I
managed to, “Wasn’t it? It was just a dream, though, right? Not a vision?”
“I, uh…” yeah, there’s a good start, “I don’t think it was a
He nodded, “Shook you up, still,
“Yeah.” I stared at him wide-eyed,
forcing my eyes open… if I close them, I’ll… I’ll see it again.
He backed away, across to his bed,
where he lifted his chains. “Better rest up if we’ve got fightin‘ tonight.
Didn’t wear’em last night… still awake when you…”
You don’t have to, Spike. My feet
betrayed me, stepping back down the stairs. No, no. Up. Please, up. Before
I could stop myself, my feet had led me right behind Spike. Okay, now stop him
from putting those chains on. It’s wrong for Spike to chain up.
“Spike, I…” I jumped as the metal
He turned fast, eyes to mine, “What
I looked at his hands so fast I
nearly fell from dizziness. I took the chain from him and began unraveling it
from the hook on the wall.
The cold metal scratched against
itself, clattering out anything I might’ve said. I pulled up the last link, “I
don’t want it like this anymore…”
“Well, what if I wan—” he paused,
“Doesn’t matter what I want, now, does it?”
I sighed, letting my shoulders drop
at the weight of the chains, “Spike, it matters, but…” I lifted my eyes with
the chains, “You don’t need them. You have enough strength insi—”
He shook his head, looking away.
No. No, listen to me Spike! I
grasped his chin with my free hand to make him look at me, “You are strong
enough to fight it. You don’t need a leash.”
His blue eyes blinked, then closed
as his skin warmed to mine. I let my knuckles slide across his cheek, but
stopped myself from tracing a finger around any lips. His eyes drifted open,
and his lips drifted down to the back of my hand, softly pressing against it.
His hand lifted, and his eyes watched intensely as he lifted my hand away.
“Get some rest…” I pulled my hand
away, shaking the chains, “We’ll leave at nine.”
Continued in Part 18