*Disclaimers, the usual. Playing with Whedon's toys. Such pretty lovely toys.
Written before Life Serial as you'll see.
She was slumped in one of the swings, fingers wrapped around the chain, her cheek pressed against it. In her other hand was a mayonnaise jar with the dregs of alcohol and some frozen orange juice concentrate. He could smell that as well, but had it confirmed when he stepped on the cardboard tube, saw the little disks of tin on the ground and the sticky ooze of orange juice already covered with ants. He saw no trace of the liquor bottle. She didn't start or flinch as he approached, though he was aware she knew who approached. Instead, she continued to push herself idly in the swing, knee flexing and straightening. She didn't bother to look at him either, just said, "Well, if it isn't William the Bloody."
"So, Buffy the Brain Cell Slayer, we meet again." He was rewarded with a sodden chuckle. "You pilfered my stash. That was my last bottle of vodka, bitch."
She thrust the jar out to him. "'Ave at it, mate."
"Don't do the accent. I hate that." He took the jar and sniffed. "It's all fruity. You've ruined it."
"I hate the taste of liquor," she said.
He tossed the jar onto the grass. "Vodka doesn't have a taste."
"Why do people say that? It tastes like alcohol."
"If you don't like the taste, you shouldn't drink it."
"Like I need a lecture from you on the hazards of demon drink."
"Oh, well, if it's demon drink you're after you should have gone to Willy's-"
"I want to escape my life not wallow in it."
"You're wallowing right now-"
"Fuck off, Spike." He didn't realize he'd reacted to that until she shot him a bleary look and then giggled. "You've got a big V for Victorian on your forehead."
"Doesn't sound proper coming out of your mouth, that's all."
She blew out a noisy sigh and attempted to roll her eyes. "Proper? Hello? 21st Century."
"I know what century it is, Slayer-"
She threw back her head and let out a scream, raw and growling at the edges, and he took a step back, surprised and thrilled by the fury in it. Ooh, there's my girl!
"Don't call me that!" Her voice was hoarse from the scream. "You! Never, ever call me that again!"
He held up his hands, a mock show of appeasing a tiny little god. "Fine. What d'you want me to call you?"
"I dunno. Call me pet or love or...I just don't want to be the slayer around you, all right. I want...I want somebody I don't have to be something for."
He sighed and took a seat in the swing next to her. "You've put me in an awful position, pet. Not fair, really."
"If you can't handle it-"
"I can handle it," he said quickly. "Don't like it, is all."
"Neither do I. But here we are."
"Yeah. Here we are."
The silence was long and heavy, punctuated by the creaking chains, the wind through the trees, the sound of the gravel scuffed beneath their feet-
He needed a smoke. Give his hands something to do. Give his mind something mindless to focus on. He pulled the pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket and then started digging around for his lighter, irritated that he might have lost his lighter again, starting to get anxious and pat all his pockets like a genuine addict. A panicked plunge into the depths of a coat pocket found the lighter hiding beneath the notes, the bills, the big whopping load of cash. Not that he'd forgotten it was there, all that money, but the feel of it against his fingers was comforting and strange. His money. The money he got for her. He pulled it out, a crushed, crumpled wad of twenties and thrust it at her. "Here," he said.
She cocked an eye at it. "Here what?"
"You need money."
She made a noise that might have been a scoff or snort of disbelief or just plain shock, and stared at his hand interminably. He pushed it closer, practically under her nose. She pulled back a little then leaned in, like she was sniffing for its authenticity.
"You're giving me money?"
"I...I can't take money from you."
"Why the hell not? Will you just take the money so I can light my fag?"
Her hand reached out tentative, hopeful. She pulled it back again and gave him a suspicious, sanctimonious look. He almost rolled his eyes. She was too drunk to pull off the holier than thou business. "All money is dirty money, pet," he said.
"I can't take it if it's-if you did something wrong to get it."
"You might change your tune when they shut off the lights next week for failure to pay."
She tensed and then looked away from him. All right, that was a low blow, he admitted.
"Buffy, come on. Nothing illegal. I acquired it fair and square."
Another snort from her, "Oh, please."
Okay. Here goes. "If you must know I...I got myself a job."
She rattled her head and made a noise like a cartoon character - dweeng or dohee or whah. "Okay. Did the mouth to hell just close? Undead everywhere now find themselves in need of gainful employment?"
"Naw. Hellmouth's still gaping."
"So what do you do? Ambulance chaser? Plasma delivery guy? Night janitor at the mortuary?"
"Something like that," he muttered. No need to go into details. He was having enough trouble dealing with the idea of a job let alone having one, even if he did end up with fistfuls of twenties at closing time. He much preferred the intimacy of the Slayer's fists punching him in the face to the groping familiarity of the fists that shoved the twenties down his pants. Still, it was only two shows a night, three nights a week. And he had to admit it was a bit of a thrill, women wetting their matronly knickers in erotic terror.
Her sudden sharp intake of breath brought his focus back. "Holy shit," she muttered, hands clumsy as she endeavoured to smooth out the bills and assess the sum - apparently she was too drunk to count as well. "There must be...this is a butt load of cash, Spike."
"Put it in your pocket, love," he said. But she just kept looking at it, then him, then at the money, then him again.
"No, seriously. Where did you get it?"
He sighed. "Like I said. Got a job."
He grabbed the bills from her hand, shoved them into her jacket pocket and zipped the zip. "You make it bloody hard for a fellow to do you a favour, Summers."
"I can't take- how much?"
"Four hundred and some."
She let out a breath. She needed it badly, and was clearly labouring for reasons why she shouldn't take it. "Don't you need money?"
"I kept fifty for expenses. Anyway, I can get more."
She glanced at him from under her lashes and he saw he was in. The sum had decided it for her. "I'll pay you back when I...whenever I figure out how."
"S'alright. I'm not in dire."
"Thanks," she whispered. Aw hell, the tears were coming. He hated that. He hated when she cried. It made him feel crazy and helpless. He reached out, not knowing what he would do this time since everything he was allowed to do had been done. He could hear the slow pounding of her blood, feel the heat of it, smell it close, rich and salty like the tears. He twisted in the swing, knees brushing her thigh and opened his mouth to say something, he didn't know what-
Suddenly she planted both feet in the gravel and pushed back, swung forward again, and then pushed off with reckless, violent energy. He moved his swing out of her path then leapt from the seat, watching as she gained momentum until she was swinging high and fast, her bottom lifting from the seat and thumping down hard as she swung forward again. Her head was flung back and her hair brushed the dirt as she whipped past him. Something about it made him anxious. He wasn't sure why. She was drunk, but in no real danger. She was simply swinging, giving into her wild child. That was good. That should be good.
"I can hear the stars burning!" she cried. Her legs shot out when she reached the apogee, and she came down like terror with her arms stiff and her hands slippery on the chains.
She was going to let go soon, he was sure of it - come crashing to earth like a meteor. Or let go and fly off into the night, a bright pinpoint of light moving farther and farther away from him until he couldn't see anything left of her at all.
"Stop," he said. She laughed. "Stop! You're going to slip and-"
She flew. He watched her body leave the swing and sail through the air, suspended in some forever moment just as he'd seen her before in nightmares, with her arms spread out, hair whipped back, face wide open in ecstatic, hopeful bliss. A dive into a familiar abyss. And he opened his mouth, but nothing came out. And he watched her fall. Again.
An unbelievably slow arc through the air ended in two seconds when she came down with a thud on the park grass and went rolling into some rhododendrons twenty yards away. For a moment he couldn't move, but a groan from her moved his body for him. She was lying face down in the damp grass and when he rolled her over he saw that her eyes were squeezed shut. Not from pain, at least not physical, he could tell that much. But her lips were moving in a muttered prayer, or curses perhaps. And she didn't want to open her eyes because she knew nothing had changed.
His fingers brushed across her cheek. "You're still here, my love."
"I know." She blinked a couple of times, eyes slow to focus before staring up at the stars. "I want to feel something that isn't numb and isn't obligation. And now I can't even feel that with you."
"You don't owe me anything."
"I owe you four hundred dollars."
"I was giving it to you! You're the one put the loan angle on it. Here, give it back if it's causing you grief."
"Can't. Electric bill. Gas bill. Plumbing. Dawn needs new shoes-"
"I'm sure she can get along with the forty pair she already has."
To his relief she laughed. He plopped beside her, boot soles planted flat and solid on the ground, knees up, feeling as drained as he'd once drained his prey. "What are you doing out here anyway, drinking yourself slow and stupid in the park. A fledging crawling out the grave could have had you tonight. You're gonna give it away for free if you're not careful."
"Why does everything you say sound like a metaphor for sex?"
"'Cos everything is. Sex and death go together like..." he struggled for a simile.
"Like a horse and carriage," she sang. Badly. And kept singing. "Love and marriage. Love and marriage. Go together like... birds of a feather."
"You are well and truly pissed, Summers."
Her brows drew together and she looked, what? Hurt? "I'm not mad at you."
"Drunk, pet. You're very, very drunk."
"Feels kinda nice."
"Spike?" She sat up, swaying and woozy. "Can we pretend you're a guy and I'm a girl and we met at a bar and we liked each other and I thought you were hot and you thought I was hot and we're like, normal?" She leaned towards him, an attempt to be coquettish and sexy. "You man. Me like."
"What?" she demanded. She was wearing that look, the one he used to love seeing. Thatyou-hurt-my-feelings-and-my-pride-but-I-don't-want-you-to-know-it-so-I'm-going-to-kick-your-teeth-in look.
"Well," he began, "One: We're not normal. And B: You're not the kind of girl who picks up blokes in bars... well, for the most part."
"I am tonight."
"You're drunk tonight."
"Drunk enough not to care," she murmured. Her fingers were hot on the back of his neck as she drew his head down. Their lips met awkwardly, her need to prove something and his tense restraint combining into a strangely tender sort of kiss. It made him tremble. Which also pissed him off. Drunk enough not to care. Sod that.
He drew back, put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her away so he could look her in the eye and she'd see she was doing wrong by him.
His expression just made her giggle. "One and Bee...that's funny." And then she was on him again pinning him to the soggy grass, all lips and tongue and - fuck all help - teeth. And even as he kept moving his face away, dodging her hands, trying not to use too much force, getting angrier and hotter by the minute, part of him kept asking, now what about this don't you like, mate? There's her neck and ambrosia and an open invitation between her thighs. Do it. Do it. Do it-
No. It was the drunken part of the equation that riled. He could be any fellow right now. She'd as much as acknowledged that. But her hand was moving over him and he was painfully, painfully ready for a go. Goddamn manipulative cunning little bitch.
"No!" he growled. The rage and conviction behind the word caused her body to tense, caught between that surge of adrenalin forced to fight its way through the alcohol in her bloodstream, and the painful paralysis of rejection. He rolled her off and got up. Stood up and stared down at her.
"I'm not 'any man will do' Slayer. You got that?"
Her eyes grazed over him and then looked away. After a moment she threw herself back on the grass, one arm flung across her face. "Then go away," she said hoarsely.
"I can't go away. I can't fucking go away! I've tried, believe me. And now you're drunk and I have to get you home before the stupid little bastards you call friends come looking for you. And that'll be hard for the little Miss won't it? All those questions: 'Wot's wrong, Buffy? Why you doing this, Buffy? Why aren't you happy to fucking be alive, Buffy?' So old Spike here'll handle everything for you, right? That's what I'm good for. Keeping your secrets. Buffy's buffer between her truth and their delusions. So give me some goddamned respect. If you can't love me, at least respect that I'm not actually made of stone, no matter how much of a wall I am between you and the harsh, hard world you find yourself in again!"
She laid there, eyes covered, twitching as his words sliced into her, but didn't answer. And he waited long enough to see she wasn't going to answer before he reached down, grabbed the arm that covered her eyes and used it to jerk her to her feet. She gave a little squeak of pain, but he felt only a twinge in response, and she made no move to fight him. Subdued, and shame-faced like a naughty child who'd run into the road after being told not to a dozen times. Still wilful though, petulant and wanting to strike back she said, "Thanks, Spike. Thanks for saving my sorry ass from my sorry ass self. Muchas gracias, all right. How, oh how, can I ever repay your kindness?"
"Well, shuttin' your gob would be appreciated," he said, jerking her after him so that she stumbled, swept along in the wake of his fury as much as the force of his fingers digging into her arm.
"Ow. You're hurting me."
Goddamn vodka making her whine like that. Wish I had me some. "Yeah and it's giving me a headache, sweetheart, so best shut it."
"Don't take me home."
"Please. I'm too tired to fight you and too drunk to fight how I feel. I'll say things-"
"Good. 'Bout time they heard the truth if you ask me."
"You're place is closer."
"Since I'm fairly certain the evening's going to end with you puking your guts out, I'd rather you did it in your own home, thank you very much."
On cue, she moaned, "Oh, God..."
He stopped and let go of her arm so she could heave the contents of her stomach onto the grass and her shoes. He waited until he was sure she was done and then caught her before she dropped to her knees in the puddle of vomit.
"That was embarrassing," she muttered, swaying in his grasp and swiping the sleeve of her jacket across her mouth. "Yuck. You have any gum, or tic tacs or something?"
"Sod it," he said wearily. "All right Slayer, you win. My place it is." He picked her up, flung her over his shoulder and gave her denim-covered bottom a pat. "I'll take advantage of your drunkenness like a normal fellow."
She squirmed. "Really?"
"No. You wouldn't remember it. If - no, when it happens I'll make damned sure you remember it for the rest of your life."
A soggy laugh turned into a grunt as the force of his stride caused another flutter in her gut.
"If you spew on my leather I'm going to be very angry."
"Oof," she replied.
"All right. Okay," he said as he pulled back. "Stop now. You don't know what you're getting yourself into here."
Her breath was hot against his throat. "I'm getting you into me," she whispered.
"You might not get another chance."
"Chance I'll have to take, I'm afraid. Don't want to wake up tomorrow with a stake buried in my chest."
"If I haven't done it by now-"
"Shut up for Christ's sake! Please, Buffy, just shut up and let me get you home before they all come looking for you."
"You know what I'm saying. William. I'm not that drunk." And then she kissed him again, with all her need behind it, just like he was real man.