What I really, really, REALLY wanted (but, alas, didn't get) to see after the first airing of "Beneath You." Standard disclaimers apply.
Buffy couldn't move. She couldn't speak, because she had no idea what to say. She could only stare at the fractured creature on the altar as the full meaning of what he'd just told her sunk in. The acrid smell of burning hair and skin penetrated her senses, snapping her out of it and spurring her to action.
"God. Spike, stop it!"
"Just want to rest," he mumbled.
"Not there. Spike, you're hurting yourself." When he didn't move, Buffy rushed forward and grabbed his shoulders, yanking him off the cross. He stumbled into her and they both fell backwards onto the floor. Buffy managed to sit up. She cradled him in her lap. "Oh, God," she whispered when she saw the burns.
Spike looked down at them, and broke into hysterical laughter that ended in a choked sob. A tear landed on his burned cheek, causing him to flinch. Buffy realized it had come from her. "Sorry," she said. "I'm so sorry." It dawned on her that she'd begun to rock him. She raised a hand to stroke his hair.
When she did, he pushed it away. "Don't." He struggled to get up. She tried to help him, but he swatted her hand away. "Don't!" He got to his feet, but remained crouching, his arms wrapped around himself.
Buffy just sat, stunned. He was afraid of her touch. And why shouldn't he be? She bit back her own sob and got to her feet. Her breakdown would have to wait until she'd dealt with his. Time to be Action Buffy. Wiping her eyes, she looked around for his shirt. She found it lying in the spot where he'd thrown it after she'd first come in. Then she returned and knelt in front of Spike.
"Spike," she said, trying to make her voice sound commanding, "you can't stay here."
"No." He held out his forearm and fingered the burnt flesh. "Not hardly wanted here."
"Let me take you home."
He raised his eyes to meet hers. "Home?"
"My house," she clarified.
He closed his eyes and shook his head. "Just want to rest."
"And you will. That's all, I promise." She stood and held a hand out to him. "Let me help you, Spike."
He gazed at her outstretched hand for a moment, then his gaze shifted to her other hand, still clutching his shirt. He snatched it from her and held it up in front of his chest. Then he took her hand and let her pull him to his feet.
"It's gonna be okay," she told him, and led him out of the church.
They walked home in silence. Spike seemed to retreat into himself, though he clung to Buffy's hand like a lifeline. As for Buffy, what could she say? What could she possibly say to this ... this man, who'd brought hell on himself because of her? She couldn't tell him that she never wanted this, that she never would have wished for him to suffer like this. What good would that do him now?
When they reached the house, Dawn met them at the door, dressed in her pajamas. "So, what's the what? Did you slay giant dog-eating worm boo-- Oh, my God." She stared at Spike, standing in the doorway. Her eyes traced his burns. "What ... what happened?"
Spike met her eyes and let out a laugh. "Woke up on fire."
"But, I didn't ... I was only ..." She shook her head and looked at her sister. "Buffy, what happened?"
"Let me get him squared away and then I'll tell you." Buffy started to guide Spike up the stairs.
"But what are you --"
"Dawn, there should be some Solarcaine in my beach bag down in the basement. Will you go get it and bring it up?"
Dawn nodded, and after another worried glance at Spike, went to get the medicine.
"Come on," Buffy prodded Spike. "Let's go upstairs."
He didn't move, but he didn't let go of her hand. "I don't ..." He swallowed. "Can't go up there."
"You can." She tugged his hand, but he didn't move. Buffy sighed and stepped back down to his level. "Just to sleep, okay? I'd put you on the couch, but it'll be easier to keep the sunlight out upstairs. Okay?"
With a little sigh, he nodded, and followed her up. She led him into her bedroom and seated him on the bed. Finally, she pulled her hand out of his. "Just ... hold tight. I'll be right back." She went in the bathroom and rummaged through the cabinets until she found what she wanted: an amber bottle labeled "Codeine" with her mother's name on it. She shook the bottle and heard a few pills rattle inside. Satisfied, Buffy filled a cup with water and went back into the bedroom.
Dawn stood in the doorway, looking uncertain.
"Did you find the Solarcaine?" Buffy asked her, setting the water and pills on the nightstand.
Nodding, she stepped in the room and held it up. "I brought my aloe vera, too."
"Thanks." Buffy took the can of medication from her and shook it as she moved back in front of Spike.
His gaze drifted around the room. "Your mum's room," he said.
Buffy nodded. "It used to be."
He reached out and ran a hand over the iron headboard. "Your bed, though."
"Yeah. I'm sleeping in here now. Okay, hold still. This might sting a little." She began to spray his burns, but he didn't even seem to notice.
"Never let me in your bed before," he said. There was no suggestion in his words, just a statement of fact.
"Well, you said it." She offered him a weak smile. "First time for everything." Buffy exchanged glances with Dawn. "Um, I'm gonna sleep in Dawn's room tonight. If that's okay?"
"Sure," Dawn said from the foot of the bed. "Of course."
"Here, look at me." Buffy gently tilted Spike's face so she could get better coverage on his cheek. "There," she said, capping the can and setting it down. "Better?"
Spike looked at her and lifted an eyebrow.
"Right. Um ... here." She opened the pills, grabbed his hand and spilled two of them into his palm. After some consideration, she poured out a third. Not like these things could kill him.
"It'll help the pain. From the burns, anyway. It'll also help you sleep." She pressed the water into his other hand and watched as he downed the pills. Then she set the cup aside and turned down the bed. "Get in," she told him. "Get some sleep. Then maybe we can talk some more."
Spike nodded and crawled under the covers. Buffy motioned Dawn into the hall before she made sure the curtains were tightly closed. She grabbed some sleep clothes for herself, then went back to the nightstand and reached for the lamp.
His voice stabbed her heart. So lost and afraid, like a scared little boy. "Yeah, Spike?"
"Did it ... did I ... get it right this time?"
"I don't--" Buffy sighed. She couldn't tell him she didn't know. He got back his soul for her. It didn't matter that she didn't ask him to. Not in so many words, at least; but she saw him now. Saw him, who he'd been all along, and saw herself. Saw how he'd tried so hard to love her, and how she'd refused to accept that love. Refused to accept him. She'd accepted his body, sure. And she took all the help he was willing to give. But every time he'd tried to give her himself, she'd thrown it back in his face. You can't love. You're not real. You don't have a soul. Nope, she didn't ask him to. But it's not like she'd left him any other choice. "Shame on me," she whispered.
"Yeah, Spike. You got it right." She swallowed and swiped at a tear that escaped down her cheek. "But I had it so wrong."
"Couldn't be helped, Love."
She reached down and stroked his hair, loosening the gel and coaxing it into soft curls. She stood there until she heard his breathing stop.
"Buffy?" Dawn poked her head into the room. "You coming?"
"Be right there, Dawnie."
"You're gonna tell me what's going on, right?"
"Yeah. I'll tell you everything, I promise. Just let me get ready for bed first."
"Okay. But don't take too long." Dawn slipped back into the hall.
Buffy looked back down at the broken man in her bed. She leaned over him and brushed her lips across his forehead. "Rest," she told him as she turned off the light.