Semi-series of short post-ep musings, from Spike's POV
During/after First Date.
She freed him; she has faith in him. She believes, but what does it mean? She is dating again. He tries to tell her that he's okay with it, that he's given up the dream, but what he really means is, I've given up hoping that it might come true.
She's beautiful when she's happy, he thinks wistfully, drinking in the sight of her, dressed in what technically qualifies as underwear, glowing in the reflected light of the afternoon sun. He is pointedly ignoring the invisible knife twising in his stomach. It's amazing that something can still hurt this much, after so long.
When she leaves, the house is full of noise but empty of her, and he retreats to the basement. Stretches out on his back on the cot, staring at the ceiling, and studiously avoids thinking about what she might be doing right at this moment. It occurs to him that it would be safer - especially in his current state of mind - to chain himself up like he'd promised, but he can't summon the energy.
At some point, activity from upstairs penetrates his awareness. He has been intensely studying the concrete ceiling, tracing watermarks and seams and pipes, and carefully not thinking about what she might be doing, right this very minute, with someone other than him. There's a junction here, and here, and new pipe through this section. Impact marks on the ceiling there, and they're serving the main course, and she's smiling and making conversation. Watermarks on the far side of the room, from the pipe she broke. She's standing in the dark with water around her ankles and despair in her eyes that somehow, only he can see. She is tucking her hair behind her ear with her little finger, dropping her eyes as she offers a small, self-deprecating joke over dessert. He goes upstairs.
It's possible that there is a God, after all, because Xander is in trouble. Spike has nothing against Xander, exactly, except for a sincere and long-standing mutual distrust and dislike, but right now he hopes that something incredibly nasty is trying to take a bite out of the boy.
True, he could check it out himself if he wanted to, with Willow or Giles, but surely it's better to get the professional on the job. Miracles do happen, because she also forgot her cellphone.
I'll go get Buffy, he tells them for the fourth or fifth time, and leaves before they can form a more cogent protest.
He follows her scent to a small, hidden restaurant tucked away in an alley that smells like butter and garlic and vampire dust. Sweat lingers; he'd recognize her fighting style anywhere. Not just hers, though - there's a male scent here too, mixed in with the action, and not at all afraid. He suppresses the entirely uncivilized urge to growl. He can bear the idea of her having dinner with someone else, but the mental image of the two of them fighting back to back makes him want to hurt things.
He slips inside. She's easy to spot. Always is. He watches a moment - they're on to dessert now, and she does indeed look genuinely happy. Part of him wants to stay right where he is, not go any closer, but he knows it's only a matter of moments before she senses him. Instead he opts for the direct approach, appearing noiselessly beside the table just in time to watch her accept a bite offered from the other guy's fork. How nice for them, he thinks ironically.
There is a beat, and then she turns around. Her reaction falls into the broad category of Buffy behavior that he no longer feels qualified to analyse.
Xander's in trouble, he tells her, and they leave right away.
It's obvious that something other than a simple date is going on between Buffy and the tall black guy, but he's not certain what. Not attraction - although there is that, too - so much as some confidence shared. He doesn't ask. He sits in the back seat, watching the other man trying to watch him in the blank rear-view mirror, watching him assessing the link between the beautiful blonde Slayer and the stranger who has presumed to interrupt her date.
He'd find it somewhat satifying to be so distinct an intrusion, if it didn't hurt so bloody much.
Afterward, when they have fought off the demon - a beautiful black girl with golden eyes, which would have been a coup for Xander if she hadn't turned out to be evil - and freed the boy, she runs immediately to his side. He can see the question in her eyes - are you hurt? and understands that it contains several meanings. Meeting her gaze, he takes her hand for a moment, and squeezes reassuringly.
In his peripheral vision he can see her date, the Principal, watching them. As she leaves him to check Xander, he sees an understanding in the other man's eyes, and a tangible disappointment that is deeply familiar to him. You love the girl, of course, because everyone does. And she is as beautiful and unassailable as the sunrise.
Later still, when he meets her in a darkened living room in a rare moment of quiet, he offers to leave town. He does mean it, sort of, but what he really means is that there are limits to endurance, even for him. Being useful is not the same as being loved, but it's something, and there has to be something.
Got another demon fighter now, he tells her.
Her response takes him entirely by surprise.
That's not why I need you.
Something red and sharp and too hot to touch prickles through him, so big that he can't put a name to it at first.
This is hope, he thinks dimly, and understands that hope is the most dangerous thing of all.
Continued in Get It Done