Disclaimer: I'm not sure where this is going, or even if it's going. Reviews appreciated, etc.
I don't own any of these characters.
After she got home, Buffy found she just couldn’t move. She kept seeing the look on his face, feeling the twist in her chest as she told him.It kept unreeling itself in her mind.She knew she wouldn’t be able to erase that look from her memory; it would stay there, a reproach to add to all her others, till she’d fixed it. “I can’t love you.”Now she knew why her Dad had always said, “This is gonna hurt me more than it’s gonna hurt you.”Once, centuries ago, she’d kept going with the hope of Spike’s humiliation; now, she flinched at the thought of having administered it. When had that happened? Some subtle sea change had occurred in her, and she wanted to pinpoint it, so she could have a perimeter. When had she started to flinch at his pain? When he’d first told her he loved her? When he almost died at Glory’s hands, and still didn’t tell?She looked around at the same old living room, and struggled to make a mental list of all the things that had happened here, to fix in her mind some framework of events, but it didn’t work because too much had gone on here, too many things had defied reason.It wasn’t a house where she could reminisce about happy graduations, or simple days. Her mother had died here; Giles had slept here, she and Spike had sat at opposite sides of the table with her mother in between, glaring, while they forged an alliance. Years later, they had forged a different alliance on that couch, one of desire and emotion, a conspiracy against loneliness. No. Nothing normal there. No comfort.
She thought of their house in LA, and knew that that was the last true refuge she’d had, really, till Spike, and she suddenly wanted to see it so badly she ached. There, at least, she had been an innocent girl, completely unaware of future and fate, unless it involved feverish yearnings about Christian Slater and Jon Bon Jovi. How long had it been?
She was twenty-one; it had been six years. She’d killed and killed and killed, slaying God only knows how many vampires, demons, and various creatures. Even a god. Her existence had been shaped by killing, and she had fled that reality into Spike’s bed. That had worked only as long as she could keep herself from looking at what she’d been doing to him. She’d looked at her feelings through someone else’s eyes, and what she had seen had been Parker.She was rattled all the way around. Who’d have thought it would be Riley to administer the wake up call?
That was the worst part. She had finally seen herself, and it made her feel dirty. She’d worried about what her friends would think of her for sleeping with him; now nothing they had done together could bother her half so much as what others would think of her for using him like that, for taking his love, and not giving anything back.
There was a soft knock on the door, but Bufy didn’t even bother getting up. She knew who it was. After a moment, Tara stepped inside. She looked at Buffy slouching on the sofa and shook her head sympathetically. “Buffy---what’s wrong?”
Buffy collected herself. “Riley walked in on Spike and me.”
“Oh. Oh.” She sat down on the couch next to Buffy.”Were you…?”
“No.” Buffy said quietly. “We were asleep.And Spike was…Well. That doesn’t matter.” She said. It somehow didn’t seem right to criticize him when he hadn’t been doing anything that was against his morals, and she had.She didn’t have a lot of wiggle room there. “I just…” She gulped. “I---I---saw what I was doing to him all of a sudden. Just like that. It was like I could see both of us, and---and---He sure looked a lot better than me.”
“Oh, Buffy…” Tara wrapped her arm around Buffy’s shoulder. “You’re going through a lot…”
“That’s not the point.I might be going through a lot, but I’m pulling him with me…He loves me, and this is what I’ve been doing to him, and I’m supposed to be good, I’m supposed to be….” She hunched over her lap, shoulders slumping in defeat.“He loves me.” She whispered. “I went back and I told him, I told him, I couldn’t keep doing that to him, that I couldn’t love him…”
“I have to do something.” She whispered. “I have to fix it.”
“Buffy…” Tara simply couldn’t think of anything to say.
“I’m not bad, am I? Even though I act bad?”
“Buffy,” Tara said carefully.“Even good people sometimes do bad things. You didn’t intend to hurt him, did you?”
“No,” Buffy whispered. “But I didn’t try not to hurt him. I didn’t even think about him. And now he’s all I can think about, because what I was doing to him…”
“Buffy…” Tara said helplessly.On the one hand, Buffy was tearing her up inside about using Spike; but on the other hand she herself had seen Spike’s face.She’d seen what Glory had done to him, and had noticed how abruptly Buffy had brought him into things.Because he was useful, she had thought.But maybe more than that, and a lot sooner than Buffy herself thought. This had started a long time ago.
Buffy hugged her arms around herself, and frantically ran through scenarios in her head. Apologize again. What good would that do? She suddenly saw the crypt, as it had been when she left him, and felt the bottom drop out of her stomach.She had done that to him; he literally had no place left.
A memory came back to her, of her stomping into his crypt yet again, to find him perched cross-legged on the tomb, a newspaper in his hands. One look at her face, and he’d tossed the magazine aside. “What is it? What---“
“Glory found us. Can you get us a vehicle, can you…?” Knowing, she thought, that he would steal a vehicle, knowing somewhere in the back of her mind what she was asking him to do, but just not admitting it. Always, always, silencing that little voice.
And he’d gotten a vehicle and taken them away. But it wasn’t her fault the vehicle had been stolen. Not at all. She was blameless; all she’d done was make the request; it had nothing to do with her if he chose the usual Spike method to fulfill it. Nope. Not her problem at all.
I’m so scared. I’m so scared. Don’t leave me.Bodies slamming up against plaster, through plaster, frantic kisses….She closed her eyes and closed off the memory.Quick review time: Angel, giving her a cross and a claddagh ring; Parker, giving her a complex; and Riley giving something with one hand while he took something else away with the other. And then Spike; no presents there, unless you counted saving her life, her sister’s, her friends’, and enduring torture on top of it.Beyond telling her he loved her, plus some embroidery upon the basic phrase, no torrents of words from Spike, no pickup lines, no pretense.
“Buffy…” Tara looked down at her hands. “How do you think he’ll take it?”
“Well….” Buffy said, staring off into the distance. “He could turn evil and try to destroy the world, except oh, that was Angel, and oh, yeah, Spike was the one trying to save the world. Of course at the time he did think of the world as being like a big buffet, but still, vampire, right? No chip then.Or, if he was Riley, he could always hire some vamp ho to suck him off and then blame it all on me.Not to mention bitch at me because I’m the Slayer and Mom’s dying kinda killed all the desire to shag.” She sniffled loudly.“I should’ve felt this bad ages ago, you know? I can’t believe…”
“Buffy, your Mom died, and then you.”
“Doesn’t count.” Buffy insisted stubbornly. There’s nothing wrong with me, remember? You said so yourself.Nothing. Would it have been better if I’d been robbing banks? You wouldn’t make excuses for me then, because there wouldn’t be.”
“Buffy…” Tara quietly gathered her strength. “You got pulled back from heaven, Buffy. And you had to go right back to work. Your mom’s dead, your sister’s a delinquent, and your boyfriend took off blaming you because he went to vamp hos. Hey, I know. Stop me when I get to the fun part.”
“That’s why it doesn’t work for me, Tara. All that happened, and it’s all true. But I had the choice not to hurt someone else, or hurt them, and I picked the second one. It stopped being okay, the minute we…” The minute I kissed him, knowing how he felt. She took a deep breath. “How am I supposed to know if it was just the circumstances, or him? People under stress do strange things. But what if it was him, just him?” She stopped and looked over at Tara. “Oh. My. God.”
She got as far as the edge of the cemetery before her nerves quailed.Demons? No problem.Vampires? Child’s play. Save the world? How many times?
Apologize to guy who happens to be vampire, whom you impulsively shagged numerous times, knowing full well he loved you---Oh, God. Funnily enough, now that she’d actually admitted it, she could think about the sex. Thinking about it made her feel a little light-headed, a little shaky, and a few other things she wasn’t used to acknowledging.
Rather than entering the cemetery, she hesitated at the boundary, then idly began walking along it. She was halfway around when she came to the funeral home---huge, castle-like house, because funeral directors in Sunnydale made more money than rock stars----when she noticed the dumpster discreetly located at the rear. The lid had been flipped open, and she went to investigate.
What she saw made her bite her lip. It was full of bits and pieces, almost all of them burnt or partially melted. It made her sick to her stomach. Once again, she tried to summon the anger she’d felt at Spike during their relationship, but it just wouldn’t come.You knew what he was.
Taking a deep breath for resolve, she jumped lightly over the fence and headed in the direction of his crypt.She was hoping he wasn’t going to be there. That would be nice. For me, she thought. Not for him.
She was almost out of the trees near his crypt when the door opened, and Spike, his arms full of blackened and burnt shapes, came out and headed in her direction.She stepped out of the shadows, and he saw her. Stopped still in his tracks, the cigarette dropping from his lips onto his hand. With a curse, he dropped the armload of stuff and rubbed the red mark on his hand.He kept his head down so long, supposedly looking at the mark, that she realized he didn’t want to look at her. Her face burned.
“Want me to….?” She really didn’t know how to finish that. Want me to kiss it and make it all better?
“Look, Buff,” he said finally, gently, as she hadn’t spoken. “Not tonight, okay? I’m about done in.”
“That’s kind of why I came.” She said quietly. “To see if I could help.”
“Help with what?” He coked his head at her, puzzled, then drew back, hurt. “I’m not leaving, Slayer, no matter what happens! I’m staying.”
“I’m not asking you to,” Buffy said quietly.“I’m just here to help. You. Do. Something.”
“What is this?”
Buffy stepped past him, into the tomb, to look around. Something else she needed to do, so she could more accurately blame herself.The crypt looked terrible; nothing in it appeared to unscorched, and when she descended halfway down the ladder, it was even worse.Everything there was black; the rugs burnt like tissue paper, and burnt books scattered everywhere. Abashed, she turned around and went back upstairs.
“What’s your plan?”
Spike blinked at her, startled. “Why are you here?”
So help her God, she couldn’t say it.Two simple little words. I’m sorry.“I wanted to help. Clean. Up.”
“Why? Feeling guilty?”
She looked down, bracing herself, then whispered. “Yes.”
Spike looked at her, hard, then laughed. He couldn’t help himself. From mortal enemy to whipping boy to shag bunny to pity project. What a trajectory. Everything but love.Well, he had his limits. “No thanks, pet. No pity, please.”
“I don’t –what?” She flushed. “I don’t feel sorry for you or anything.”She had the grace to squirm, just a bit. “But I do feel bad about your crypt.”
“Oh, do you? Gonna help me clean up the mess?”
This really startled him; he had to look at her to confirm it. She did feel bad. “Tell you what, pet, raincheck, okay? Not in the mood right now.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I’m just not ready for the let’s be friends stage. Matter of fact,” he said thoughtfully, “I’m not sure it wouldn’t be a bad idea for us to just go back to hating each other.”
“I don’t hate you.”
“You sure?” He asked hopefully.“Maybe I could go to law school or something.”
“Why do you want me to hate you?”
“Because at least it would be something.” He looked away. “Something real. I knew you didn’t love me, but I hoped, I thought, after all the things we did… Stupid. But at least I know how to be hated; I know the rules there.”
“I can’t.” Buffy said truthfully. Not after everything. “I don’t think I could hate you again. Ever.”
“Covers a lot of territory, luv.”
“Can’t do it.” She insisted. “And don’t try and make me.”Wait. Wait. Too soon to be the friendly ex-whats, she thought. Too soon to even try that; it seemed flippant to dismiss his feelings so soon, even dishonorable. “I’m sorry, Spike. I just can’t. Because I’d have to hate myself then, too, and I’ve done enough of that for the rest of my life, however long that’s going to be. But I don’t think I can hate you. Now.” She looked around. “Where should we start?”
“Got any bricks?” He asked wryly. “Because it’s like the world’s largest omelet back there. Need a hell of a big spatula back there.”
“Ew.”Buffy said.She looked away, then, uncomfortable, then grew still more nervous as the silence drew on and filled with the memories of kisses and embraces and more. Spike, running his hands through her hair as she undulated on top of him, sweaty and abandoned.Curling up together, fitting perfectly, as long as there were no words to make her think. Not looking at him now, not daring, she stared off to one side, and blurted out the thing on her mind: “What were you doing, Spike? What were you going to do with them?”
“Huh? Oh. Oh.” He lit another cigarette and perched on a broken pillar. “Holding them for a friend, that’s all.” For a lot of money. So you wouldn’t have to work in that awful place for a while.
“You didn’t know what they were?”
He snorted disgustedly at his own carelessness, shaking his head. “When I think of all the stupid things I did that I didn’t get caught, and now there’s this…”
She was looking away again, and he could practically feel the blood beating in her face. Her face must be as red as an apple by now. “Would it feel better---Would it make you feel better if you hit me?”
Flummoxed twice in one conversation, he just had to laugh. He tried to remember the self he’d been five years earlier, and shook his head at the distance between that Spike and this one. “Can’t do it, luv.”
“Only if I don’t let you.” She said quietly. “I think I’d let you.”
“Because I hit you. I shouldn’t have.”
“Don’t want revenge, pet.” I want you.
“I would.” Buffy said softly. “I’d want revenge.” She didn’t finish the thought. Because you couldn’t do that to someone you loved. If he hit her, she could convince herself that he didn’t love her anymore.
“Well, okay, then.” Spike said thoughtfully. “Want to make it up to me?”
“Yes.” No qualifiers there, he noted. She trusted him.
She glanced down at her lap. He got up and scanned the crypt, searching for something.
Aha! He seized it with a triumphant cry.
It was a shovel. She looked from it to him, and back again.
“For starters,” Spike said quietly. “You get to clean up the omelet.”
Continued in Part Two: Beginning of Summer