All About Spike - Print Version
The Price for Flight
[Back to Main Site] [Back to Story Page]
By Gwyneth Rhys
After all of these years will you look at me here
With a love song stuck in my throat...
Can I lay down the weight of the world by the side of the road?
Lay down the weight of the world and call myself home?
-- Kris Delmhorst, Damn Love Song
So there they were, sitting at the bar of a seedy demon dive way on the
outskirts of town, while Buffy laid out the big picture of what was wrong
with Spike again and where he needed to go and what he needed to do. He
watched her in the mirror (mirrors being a crucial part of the management's
keeping tabs on the clientele -- important to know your vamps from your
wannabe humans slumming it -- and they could also be sure to offer the priciest
O pos or B neg once they'd pegged their audience), sitting next to him,
drinking her beer and wrinkling her nose in between the long unbroken sentences.
Spike was trying not to offend Buffy's precious sensibilities and stuck
with bourbon and a beer back, but it gave him no leverage and still she
banged on about "living conditions" and "normality"
and of course a place to pee like he hadn't heard it five hundred times
He'd tried the odd word in edgewise but she rolled right over him like
a goods train. Tried to remind her that much as he was enjoying his shiny
new soul and the five tons of guilt and the itching desire to Do Good, he
was still -- yoo hoo -- a vampire and there were, after all, certain biological
and psychological imperatives and surely she would understand that with
the incredible insight gleaned from her intro level psych courses now she
was back at university not to mention three years of Angel. To which she
had replied by narrowing her eyes and throwing daggers with them, straight
for his forehead, then resuming the litany of his failures in that brittle-as-eggshells
voice he'd grown increasingly less fond of.
Bitch. Cunt. Love of my life.
She'd followed him here tonight because... because why? Because she just
couldn't bear to let go of a good rant, apparently. One would think she
might have chosen to focus her hectoring on the really truly evil stuff
that had passed between them, from the attack to bonking Anya, but apparently
that wasn't first and foremost on her list now that things were settled
and they could move on to the really fun stuff post-besoulling such as moving
out of the crypt and how he was going to be respectable and so on and so
It was interesting watching her in the mirror. Thin arms waving in the
air to punctuate her sentences, the seat next to her showing empty so it
looked like she was maniacally arguing with herself or performing some kind
of lunatic semaphore. Spike worked hard to stifle the bubble of laughter
growing inside. When he finally tuned in to what Buffy was saying (taking
his eyes away from the gentle sway of her tits under the clingy nylon fabric
of her halter top, perky nipples poking forward to say hello and she couldn't
even see him looking, nicely enough) she was telling him again about why
vampires were like children, which she was studying in class (children,
not vampires), all self-absorption and impulses and whatnot.
"Which course would that be, luv?" Spike asked, finishing off
his beer. "Condescending bitchery 102?"
That glare would scrape paint off walls, he was sure. You could strike
matches against it and they would light. It could make the EPA issue warnings
for at least three counties. God, he loved her. Love love loved her with
a passion so hot it was like swallowing napalm. His soul throbbed with it.
He still wasn't certain what she was doing here. All he really wanted
was to get away somewhere, listen to music, not yet another round of What's
Wrong with Spike from at least one member of the Scooby gang. Especially
not the one he loved. Reckoning that a naff demon bar on the outskirts of
town would be the safest because no one was going to follow him here talking
nineteen to the dozen, not even Anya with her newly replenished demon-hood.
Instead he managed to bring in the Slayer, like gum stuck to his shoe. Which
was not something he was going to broadcast here.
Slowly he turned to Buffy, squinting hard, noticing the flush of red
in her cheeks from the alcohol -- the girl simply should not drink -- and
fell hopelessly in love with her all over again. The soft ache of resignation
in her eyes, the tight hunch of muscles in neck and shoulders as she stocked
all her tension there... all because of him.
"Buffy," he said quietly. "Mon coeur. Mi corazon."
Ceaselessly nattering twat. "Why are you here?"
That shut her gob right fast. He could see the wheels turning in her
painfully blonde head, looking to him, then to the mirror on the wall, then
back to him.
"Because you are."
Splendid. Kill him with words. Couldn't drive a pointy stick through
him, so might as well try the verbal weapons. Maybe it was the shiny new
soul, maybe the tarnished old love he had for her, whichever, there was
a tightness in his throat that signaled tears. So he motioned for another
shot of Jack Daniel's and beer as well as a black and tan for the lady.
The barkeep should have carded her, but naturally he didn't -- no questions
asked around here. He tipped his glass in her direction. "Cheers."
Sipped, and then sadly looked at her in the mirror, but of course she couldn't
see him. "I can't tell whether I'm coming or going with you anymore."
"What do you want, a written invitation?"
"Might help." He downed his drink and turned to watch the band,
which was ostensibly what he'd come here for, before he'd decided he was
running away. They weren't great -- admittedly it would be hard for demons
to play decent tunes when extra appendages got in the way, although the
diplocephalous drummer seemed to have an advantage -- but they tried. He
wanted to tell them that grunge was dead, as dead as Kurt Cobain, really
most sincerely dead, but looking at the seven-foot-plus height and four-inch
fangs of the lead singer caused him to reconsider. Eventually Spike sauntered
off to a table closer to the speakers. If she followed, it would be hard
for her to yammer at him.
He closed his eyes and tranced on the music and the smoke and the faint
wisp of blood in the air, crisp like ozone. Months now since he'd come home,
even more months since he'd gone to see the demon, and still he couldn't
get used to it, the guilt and the pain and the constant underlying remorse
that buzzed in his head like radio static.
After some traveling he'd made a stop in Merrie Olde to reminisce, get
some dosh and decent blood, and catch up on the music scene. Hadn't realized
how much he missed it nearly forty years on until he prowled the late-night
streets slick with rain and fog, watching for signs of his kind who weren't
his kind anymore. Missed the dark pubs and the black cabs and the newsagents,
the silly, peculiarly English names along the Tube lines like Tooting and
Barkingside (the trains from Heathrow snickering Welcome to London by telling
you you're going to bloody *Cock*fosters, for God's sake, which he'd forgotten
entirely). Only his enjoyment was polluted by the memories of what he'd
done here, no park or street or train station empty of the whiff of his
He'd found the spot where he met Drusilla, the street in Knightsbridge
now mews for posh types, and wondered what the landscape of his life would
have looked like had he not stumbled into that place. Had he not thought
her offer, the dark universe he saw in her eyes, was desirable.
Eventually he'd found his way back to the reliably mundane and characterless
Sunnydale and to his crypt, which Clem had kindly taken care of. And it
felt like that: a crypt, a hall of the undead, something dank and foul and
there it was -- bam! The reminder of what he had been. How he needed to
work on the creepy lifestyle no human girl would want and ditch the Lovecraft
He'd stayed because he knew nowhere else to go. So this is what made
Angel such a dull, tedious, and lumpen loser. Knowing that you didn't fit
in any world, that you were stuck with it, the weight of everything you
used to be bending you over double till you couldn't carry it anymore. He'd
wanted to close his eyes and sleep, awaken in a world where none of this
was real. A world where he was empty again.
When he'd first returned he knew better than to see Buffy. The whole
sordid story would have leaked out to all of them about the attack, and
he didn't relish being staked just as he'd got all ensouled for her. He'd
lie awake, desperately trying to concoct a plan for how he could tell her,
of asking for a second chance, but nothing he could come up with made sense.
All he saw was his failures, the pain he'd caused, and he knew no way of
assuaging any of it. Isolation more profound than he'd known before, and
back then he'd thought his was pretty fucking profound.
So he concentrated on killing demons, rebuilding his networks for blood
and money, but the ugly part now was that stealing made him feel like crap.
Spike did it anyway, but it was like a hammer tap on the back of his brain
smacking his new conscience around rudely. He stayed that way for a few
weeks, watching Buffy from afar, his heart shattering in small glittering
slivers every time he saw her. Barriers at every turn, he knew, if he tried
to make contact. And knowing with hopeless certainty she wouldn't want him
past those barriers except to see him die.
In his absence the watcher had returned, and that was Not Good in Spike's
opinion. The one person who still wielded influence over Buffy. It was as
if Giles knew somehow to make his presence known, as if there might be a
recipient to send the message to. But he didn't appear to be round her house
all the time, just occasionally, and Spike hadn't been completely sure what
that meant. Over time the story of what had brought Giles back got pieced
together for him, Clem's loopy, jumpy prattling making it more confusing
and frightening, leaving Spike frozen with sorrow and the sour taste of
shame in his mouth.
If nothing else could have made him feel like sending up the white flag,
the whole thing with Willow would have done. That by virtue of having grief
sex with Anya, attacking Buffy, and leaving town in desperation he'd nearly
let the Niblet get offed by a power-mad witch. And Tara was dead, Buffy
nearly so. His beautiful girl shot, almost taken away from them again. Just
when she'd needed him most, he'd gone off on his vampire's version of a
vision quest. It was just a little too much to add to the mix. The guilt-o-meter
tipped wildly into the red zone.
One night, after months of solo nightly demon hunting, he heard the crypt
door open and there she stood, light of his universe, reason for his soul.
A stake in her hand and the righteous halo of Chosen Oneness surrounding
her sublime face. Spike had looked down at the floor waiting for her to
come at him, and in the space of her heartbeat she was there clutching his
arms, shaking him violently.
"Where have you been!" she'd hollered at him.
"I..." he responded stupidly and finally looked into her eyes,
their colors of amber and grass and sea like a holy light. Then wondered
how she'd known he was back, except of course he'd left his calling card
all over town. "Africa. Cairo? Vienna, Paris, London." Answering
earned him a palm heel-strike to the nose.
Her rage was like an invocation calling up everything he'd tried to push
behind him, everything he was now whether he wanted it or not. Spike opened
his mouth to say something but words failed him for the first time in his
sorry undead existence. Throat moving up and down, tongue behind teeth,
and nothing to show for it but a few puffing breaths. And why was she touching
him? he'd wondered obtusely.
"I needed you and you weren't here." Oh God oh Christ. Needed
him not hated him. Spike had no idea where to put that statement in the
dark unused spaces of his new soul.
"Buffy, I... " and then he'd seen it in her, like a veil lifted
from in front of the eyes. Her realization that something was different
She let go her bruising hold on his arms and stepped back, reaching inside
him with her gaze, pulling loose the stopper. It spilled out of him in a
torrent, everything he'd done felt seen since that moment in her bathroom.
That fulcrum on which their lives would pivot in horrifying new directions.
The entire time he'd poured it out she'd stood ramrod straight before him
until he finished, then sat down with her head in her hands, sobbing. Not
the reaction he'd expected. Briefly envisioned there-thereing her with a
few pats on the shoulder, but had been too terrified to touch her. He was
completely helpless against the tears of someone he loved, they freaked
him out whether from Dru or Dawn or Buffy, and he felt a rising panic and
desire to make high-pitched whining noises and wave his arms about. Which
was pretty close to how he'd reacted to tears when he was human, so that
only added to the humiliation factor.
"So, um... the crying. Is that because of the soul, or... what I
did to you? Or something else?" He wanted to at least know what he'd
end up taking his punches for later. Stupid stupid why did he always say
the stupidest things?
She looked up at him through the curtain of hair -- which had grown out
again after all this time -- with tears streaking her face, and wiped the
snot from her nose. So much like the last time she'd looked at him through
tears, on the back porch of her house. His Achilles heel found at last:
the track of salt and mucus on Buffy's skin.
"I wanted to blame myself. That I should never have led you on,
that I shouldn't have let it happen, any of it. That I was being unfair.
And then I was furious because no one is ever to blame for something like
that except the person who does it. Who tries to rape someone. And then
there was the demon inside you, and... everything you've done for me and
the terrible things I did to you, and I didn't know what I thought anymore.
I hurt you and made you feel... wretched and humiliated. I caused you pain
and I should never have done that. But it was nothing, *nothing* like what
you did to me and there is no justification for it. None."
She'd stood up then, gathering her strength, twisting the stake round
and round in her hands while she breathed in big wet gulps of air. "And
I missed you. I wanted you back so you could help me. And I hated myself
for wanting you back. I'm supposed to be full of love. The first slayer,
she told me that I was full of love and forged love from pain. I cared about
you, for you. Then you hurt me and you showed me what you really are, what
I'd forgotten. It hurt. Only your leaving made me hate you more. Coward."
Any other time he'd snap the neck of someone stupid enough to make that
accusation, but the truth of it rang clear and bell-like in his head.
"Only you weren't, were you? Instead you were... Doing the single
thing you'd hate most, just for me. What the hell, Spike? What the *hell*
am I supposed to do with this? For like the five thousandth time everyone
wants you dead, and now... I'm supposed to forgive you because you have
a soul? Tell them to forgive you? Because you went and got a soul for me
to prove your point?"
"Wasn't expecting that, no. Can't forgive myself now, can I?"
"Why do you keep coming back here? Why? Is it just to torture me?"
She was crying even harder then.
"Never knew. Not until I realized how I felt about you. Now... I
didn't really know where else to go. Kept thinking I could give you what
you wanted, I'd be almost human. But maybe it doesn't matter, even if I
could be... it doesn't change the past."
Her chest had heaved up and down with deep hitching breaths, eyes red-rimmed
and tired. "There were three vamps tonight. I know the third one didn't
run away; they were traveling in a pack, had been for quite some time. But
he was gone when I got back to him. You killed him, didn't you?"
Spike nodded. "He was... he had your crossbow."
"Aiming for me."
"You've been following me."
"I wondered. I thought someone was watching my back. How long have
you been here?"
She sniffled loudly, wiping the snot and tears away with the heel of
her hand and wrist. "I hate you. You betrayed me. How dare you... I
hate that you could make me care enough to miss you."
Spike had watched in silence as she'd walked out the door, understanding
that there was no forgiveness in her words. But there was mercy.
And they'd left it like that. Then one night on his chair Spike found
the coat he'd left at Buffy's that horrible night. Folded neatly in a square
bundle, cleaned. Another night he came back to fresh packets of human blood,
probably lifted off the cretinous vampires he'd watched her take out near
the hospital. Later a carton of cigs, a bottle of Maker's Mark. Mysterious
magi bringing him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And then the greatest gift
of all when she turned and looked over her shoulder one night in the darkness,
face shining like a diamond on velvet, and told him to join her instead
Over the next few months they'd slowly, tentatively, begun a delicate
friendship again, although he was never sure how it happened other than
that Buffy was lonely and afraid and desperate for someone to talk to. So
why not talk to Spike about what's wrong with him and how things have changed
and where do they go now. Before Buffy had found out about him being back,
Giles had taken Willow off to England, presumably to face the music for
her rampage. There was no Tara anymore (which struck Spike hard, his first
test of personal loss with a soul and wasn't it just the absolute pitch-blackest
it could be?), and Dawn was busy with her social life.
That left Xander, but he was cautiously, slowly trying to win back Anya,
and somehow Spike found himself slipped inside Buffy's life again, but carefully
and with suspicion. They would talk at night sometimes on patrol, hashing
out their past and looking for ways to change the future; other nights the
silence grew between them like a swarm of flies, all black and foul and
unclean. The first time he'd come back to her house had been gruesome and
painful, Dawn's fury at his betrayal of all of them, of Buffy most especially,
pouring over him in great ugly waves. Take it like a man was his new mantra
for everything and everyone. He invited their blows but they were humans
and they were kinder than he deserved.
Gradually everything had changed until it was this. He spent more time
with them, Buffy smoothed over the rough spots with Xander (although it
was not anything resembling smooth sailing in that department, more like
a force five hurricane), and Anya... well, she'd long since forgotten what
happened and granted reprieve to herself and him both, practical demon that
she was. Spike didn't fit, he knew that, but he took each step as it came,
his old impatience and intolerance transformed into the calm that comes
with despair and longing.
One night he and Buffy took Dawn to dinner and a movie, and while they
ate he told her about the trials with the demon and how it had all happened.
As they'd left to go to the theatre Dawn had suddenly lunged at him and
hugged him hard. He'd entered a place then that he'd thought, upon returning
to Sunnydale, he might never see. A place of second chances.
Later, after the burgers and popcorn and an entire box of Raisinettes
and half a box of Red Vines, Dawn had been (unsurprisingly) violently sick.
They'd stayed up nursing the poor kid through the night as she yakked it
all back up. Spike and Buffy had hung out watching TV until Buffy could
feel certain Dawn was really out of the woods. Spike was tired then, as
he always was since the soul thing. Sleep was difficult to find and unrestful
even when he found it. After a while drowsiness closed his eyes. Buffy pulled
his head into her lap, her gentle fingers stroking through his hair. Weaving
absolution and forgiveness in that gesture, and he'd almost wanted to cry,
knowing she could forgive him after all of it when he couldn't forgive himself.
He'd fallen asleep then and didn't awaken until he felt the soft press
of her lips on his cheek, and she said, rather breaking the mood, "I
have to pee." When she came back he knew it was time to go. As he slid
his jacket on she'd stared up at him with those eyes of sea and earth. Said
softly, "You can kiss me if you want to."
Of course he had. All those months alone and it had been thoughts of
her lush lips, her soft breasts in his hands, her glistening pussy open
before his eager mouth, the feel of burying himself inside her so deep he
was part of her, that had sustained him. But when faced with seeing her
at last, he'd known it could never be like that again. Too much had happened
between them and they were caught in it like the detritus of a flood, carried
along on a current much too strong for them to swim against.
When they'd kissed he thought he was back in that cave in Africa, up
against something so powerful it could tear his heart out. Afterwards there
had been a few snogging sessions but nothing more. Spike was tentative and
timid about approaching her, afraid of scaring her off. Knowing that if
he moved abruptly or said the wrong thing she would run and he would never
ever see that light again. He kept his distance unless she told him to close
it. But for all intents and purposes others saw them as being a team again,
a curious, sparkly little thought that twinkled in his brain like diamond-lights
of sun reflecting on waves. He had no idea how he'd got here, and no idea
what to do to keep the forward momentum.
There was never the slightest impression that she was happy about him,
yet she was with him constantly, like tonight. Talking at him, making plans
that included him, and he was so caught in her dazzle that he had to hide
from it, afraid of being blinded. Buffy never spared him her criticism or
reminders that he was still a vampire, but it came with small gestures of
tenderness and affection. Spike wanted her to hit him hit him hit him hit
him until he was close to death, because he was sure that her anger would
never really be spent until she had done. And it was what he deserved --
the least of what he deserved. Buffy might have forgiveness in her, but
she -- they -- could never forget. Forgetting was a different thing entirely.
But tonight... her desire to see him move into that haunted house, to
make him be like Angel... it was all too much and he'd had to get away,
only she was still here, talking and talking.
After some time she came and sat next to him at the small table, making
faces at the ineptitude of the music. Spike shrugged at her, half-smiling.
Buffy leaned over and yelled in his ear, "I'm going to the restroom."
He grabbed at her arms (big mistake, he'd meant it as don't go in there
but clearly there was a mistranslation) but she glared at him and smacked
him away. Holding off, he sat back, saying "Suit yourself." It
was a horrible place, this bar, and the ladies' room was bound to be squalid
if the nightmarish men's room was any indication. He worried about her alone,
as well, here in the place where she'd be outnumbered if anyone twigged
to who she was. But obviously she could take care of herself.
His cranky, sweet, bitching, loving slayer. Love me, love my stake.
This whole soul thing was such a mystery to him. It made no sense that
he had all the feelings of being human (conscience, guilt, empathy; the
trifecta of souledness) again stirred into the soup of still thinking like
a vampire. His general demeanor wasn't changed, but the things he'd taken
glee in before held less or no appeal, and he was at sixes and sevens. Constantly
wondering what to do with himself, how to be.
Spike thought of Icarus then as he watched Buffy wind her way back to
the table, her grim look and sharply drawn mouth letting him know there
was a big evening of unhappiness ahead. Old Icarus was told not to fly too
low because the water would weight his wings; too high and the sun would
melt them. But dizzy with the ability to fly he'd soared ever higher, too
close to the territory of the gods, and look what price he paid. You always
paid when you flew near the sun.
When Willow had returned she accepted Spike's place there as if she'd
requested it. They recognized truths in each other separate from anyone
else's, and she reached out to him as if he knew what to do. Spike spent
almost as much time with Willow as with Buffy, talking or not talking. Resting
from the weariness of remorse. Occasionally she would touch him, always
lightly with her fingertips, as if by touching they could transfer all their
knowledge and pain to each other. Share their aching souls through pores
in their skin. Both of them wondering which was worse: knowing you could
never be with the one you loved again because they were dead, or because
you had hurt them so badly while they were still here? They had both reached
the territory of the gods and known that power over human life, then fallen
hard to earth when their wings melted. Now they clung to each other, broken
and grieving. And Buffy, clever girl that she was, saw it all, saw their
struggle with their new and old selves and had picked them both up off the
For a few more songs they sat listening and drinking until the continued
sideways glances from Buffy unnerved Spike so much he left. She followed
right behind him. There was a convenience store the next block over so he
went straight in that direction for a packet of fags and some beer. They
were standing in front of the cooler when she said to him, "And that's
the other thing about the mansion. It wouldn't be hard to get electricity
hooked up there and you could have a real fridge, besides running water
and a toilet."
"Buffy." My dearest, my only one. Stupid cow. "That place
is nothing but pain and misery for us both. Yes, it's a nice home going
to the dogs, but think about the memories every time you'd come over."
His voice was harsher and higher than he wanted it to be, but Christ, the
girl could be so stupid sometimes, so narrowly focused she couldn't see
He took a six-pack of porter out and strolled up to the counter, dropped
a tenner down and said, "Marlboros" to the clerk, who was called
Anil or something like it. Should know the fellow's name by now, he'd come
here often enough back in the bad old days. Buffy grabbed a soda pop (one
of the girly ones with lemon in it) and he threw that in with his stuff.
An idle glance around the counter took in the strange Asian sweets and gums
made with strange ingredients that probably came from endangered species,
far too much chocolate, even more racks of intensely flavored breath mints
(which Spike thought he might try for Buffy's sake but he was too annoyed
by the packaging to buy them), and lots and lots of lottery information.
Anil rang it up and nodded. He'd kindly never said anything about the
fact that Spike didn't show up in the security mirror, and they had a pleasant
understanding since Spike had dispatched a couple of vampires who'd tried
to eat Anil one night, no questions asked about why a vampire was killing
vampires. Now he looked the other way once in a while if Spike palmed some
extra smokes or pocketed the cheap booze in the back. It didn't do for humans
to keep shops so close to demon bars, as far as Spike was concerned.
Buffy smiled at Anil as they left, and Spike felt that familiar twinge
of pride and hopelessness that had become his constant companion. This was
his girl, she was with him because she wanted to be, and he was so far beneath
her they might as well have been in different hemispheres. There was no
way, soul or not, he could ever deserve this sweet child who smiled at shop
clerks and went to demon bars with him but didn't slay a single creature.
A wave of guilt swept over Spike for his uncharitable thoughts all through
After they left she said, "No, you're right. It would be hard. It
wasn't a good idea. I just... I guess I wanted someplace... "
"Someplace that isn't the old me. I know. Slayer, I sussed that
out long ago. I'll find a place, a better place, I promise. Soon. Really."
They walked for awhile before spying the coffee shop. "Oi. Coffee.
Let's get a coffee," Spike said, drinking in the rich aroma from the
street. The smell of roasting coffee was one of his favorite odors, after
A positive blood and really good peaty single-malt scotch. And Buffy's quim.
Throughout his travels with Dru, he'd always sniffed out the coffee. Asia
was too tea-oriented for his tastes. War years were insufferable for everyone,
but especially so for him when coffee wasn't easy to find.
Buffy was incredulous. "The only thing I've seen you drink besides
blood is booze."
"No, I like espresso. Straight, none of that toff crap with whipped
cream and sprinklies."
Shrugging, Buffy followed him in and they got their drinks, then sat
at a table. A couple of college kids sniggered in Spike's direction. He
studied Buffy's face, trying to discern her reaction. Saw pain there, embarrassment
at his appearance. Note to self: work on new look to go with new soul, thus
calling less attention to one's incapacitated person. Then she put her hand
on his and he didn't know what to think.
She started in again on him, talking about responsibilities and duty
"Look, pet." Light of my life, nagging shrew. "I love
you. More than anything in the world. And I plan to do whatever you want
if you'll put up with me. But you're forgetting that I'm under the double
whammy here." Nodded towards the students who'd so disdainfully welcomed
them. "And it's a corker on both ends. I can't hurt humans and even
if I could, now I wouldn't want to. If those shits decided to thump me,
what could I do? Absolutely nothing."
He finished off his espresso and fixed her with a hard stare. "Have
you any idea what it felt like to find out you'd been shot and Tara was
dead? Even if I'd been here, even if what happened... with us... hadn't
happened, I wouldn't have been able to do anything about it because they're
humans. Take a bullet, maybe, but I couldn't even have chased down Warren
and nabbed him without having my head explode. I'm useless except for slaying
demons in the dark. I'm nothing, and now I have the conscience to make my
nothingness even worse."
He felt a tickle under his sleeve and looked down to see her hand sliding
up under the leather. Each time she touched him his brain did a spastic
little dance of joy and confusion and pain.
"There's lots of ways of being strong, Spike." Aauugh. Twist
his guts. "You could take those guys on. Stop their punches without
punching them back, push them away without triggering the chip. You're a
great fighter -- it's just changing from offensive to defensive. And you're
strong enough to take on a soul and come back here to try to change things.
It's not just about killing or hurting someone." Then her voice a conspiratorial
whisper, sliding under his skin like a needle. "Lots of ways to be
It was tempting to argue with her, to tell her that he really was the
coward weakling lowlife scum she'd always thought he was, but he just let
it ride. Bask in the joy of illusions that she thought more of him than
"Have you... um... ever thought about maybe contacting Angel? For,
like, advice? About the soul thing."
Fuckity fuck fuck. "No! For fuck's sake! No!" She recoiled
from his shouting. Control. That was the thing he needed. "If I wanted
advice on how to brood and what kind of poncey hair gel to use, maybe I'd
ring him. But what am I supposed to say? Hey, old chum, got a soul now and
just wanted to chat about it? Thought I'd pop round your place and swap
stories of regret and misery? I tortured the bastard nearly to death not
so long ago, not to mention the unending cruelties he inflicted on me the
first twenty years I knew him and when I was in that wheelchair. I hardly
think there's a matey reunion or a convening of the Vampires with Souls
Club in our future."
Her face crumpled in on itself and he felt hideous for barking at her.
"No, no, I'm sorry, pet. Really, I am. I just... it's never going to
get better. With soul or without, Angel and I... there's nothing good there."
Stop it you bleeding moron stop shut up.
"I know." She looked away and he thought he'd lost her for
good -- too much like old unsoulled Spike -- but she tugged at his sleeve
and downed the rest of her coffee. "Let's go."
There was nothing to say, so they walked on in silence. She would keep
wanting to make him into some reasonable facsimile of Angel and he would
keep reminding her, painfully and probably unnecessarily, that he was definitely
positively nothing like Angel and would never want to be. It must be such
a disappointment to Buffy to have feelings for him. And yet he was selfish
enough to keep trying to wring more feelings out. Her forgiveness of Angel
(once he'd come back from whatever hell dimension she'd sent him to that
awful day) was a beacon of hope to Spike. Maybe, someday, she'd forgive
him too. But he had no notion of how he could ever give himself that same
When they got to the crypt he put the beer in the fridge. Said to her,
"I'm sorry. I'm just... that's all I feel like lately is sorry. There's
still too much of me that's the same, and the part that isn't just feels
like shit most of the time. I don't mean to hurt you. I never meant to hurt
you. But I will move out of here, really. And then maybe... I dunno. Maybe
that'll help." He took his jacket off. Spike hardly ever wore the old
coat; his beloved trophy of his second slayer, dirty now with the memory.
"I'll see if old Rupert is up to some location scouting now he's back
for a time. Bet he'd help me find some decent digs."
"That sounds good." Tilting her head to one side, she looked
at him peculiarly for a moment and gave a tortured little smile.
"And... I don't have the powers that be on my side. Angel got help
in that direction. What happened to me happened because I made it, because
of my hubris. So now I'm on my own again. No one to help me out. It might
"I get that." Buffy looked down at the floor and sighed.
Spike said "good-bye" as he threw the jacket on the bench in
the corner. Lately he always turned away when she left or he left her, because
he just couldn't bear the whole farewell scenario. But when he turned around
she was right there in front of him, her body so close he could feel her
Buffy slid her hands along his arms, cupping his elbows in her palms
to pull him near. "Spike." Her voice was thick and soft. "I
think I'm ready."
"Ready for wh--" Oh God! Oh Jesus. "Oh? Oh."
Brain lighting up like a pinball machine, zinging sounds and flashing
lights paralyzing him. What if *he* wasn't ready? He had no idea how to
touch her without causing her pain or fear. What if he couldn't please her?
What if this stupid soul and all the guilt gave him performance anxiety?
What if it felt too much like that night? What if... what if everything?
Oh God oh God oh Jesus. Spike had no idea what to do or how to respond to
A sound like "bglurg" came out of his mouth instead of anything
resembling sensible language. She stepped back and laughed at him, stopped,
then continued to laugh and laugh.
"Glurg?" It must have been the tension because he'd never seen
her laugh like this before. "That's all you can say? So articulate."
More laughter, girlish and hiccuppy.
"You can stop now," Spike said defensively. "Really, won't
mind a bit."
"No, it's just..." She tried to compose herself, with difficulty.
More giggling ensued. "I understand. I'm nervous, too." Biting
her lip, she managed to stop laughing at last, and looked up at him with
eyes that pierced his soul.
He reached out and touched the side of her face tenderly, then swept
his hand through her hair. Surely she could feel his trembling. Must think
he was a cack-handed idiot. When she kissed him he held back, but her arms
sliding around his ribs, the urgency with which her tongue slipped inside
his mouth, brought back the desire for her that he'd held in check all this
time. The way her body pressed against his was like a long-forgotten song,
the melody coming back to him soft as a lullaby.
He was still able to kiss well enough to make her moan. Check. Still
knew what to do with his hands because her skin goose-bumped as he slid
them under her top. Check. And she urged on his slow, tentative movements
with moans. His cock throbbed and twitched against his jeans. Houston, we
are go for liftoff. Then panic set in.
"I don't... I never fixed up the... Look, it's a mess down there.
Never fixed it after the grenade bullshit. Couldn't bear it." Spike
pressed his forehead to hers, taking a gulping breath, regardless of whether
he needed it or not. Scared mindless that she would run away from him now,
the reminder of everything bad between them like a punch on a bruise. He
wanted to say something but was afraid he'd only babble more of his idioglossia
of alarm. Didn't want her to think he blamed her.
"It's all right," Buffy whispered to him, tracing his mouth
with her fingertips. "Here's fine."
Spike spread the bedding out that he'd put on the tomb and lifted her
onto it, her legs curling around his waist. It put her breasts at exactly
mouth level and he stared at them, considering his options. How many times
had he dreamt this: being able to touch her again in these private places,
to worship her body? And now he'd made such a cock-up of it that he had
no idea what was required. She pressed her open, wet mouth against his,
fingers digging into his hair, breasts pushed against his chest. He kissed
her as if she held life in her mouth, as if he could drink it from her.
Drink her soul.
Spike unbuttoned her blouse, slipping it across her shoulders, then the
bra straps. As her breasts came loose she let go of the kiss, and he traced
his tongue over the nipples budding underneath. Then he took one soft breast
in his mouth, the other in his palm. Buffy arched her back, arms circling
his neck, pulling him forward. He stopped, pressing his face to her chest,
listening: heart beating lungs swelling and contracting short sharp breaths.
"I adore you," he said against her pounding heart. That she would
welcome his body to hers left him staggered, and he squeezed his fingers
hard against her hips, attempting to control his runaway emotions. Might
fall if he didn't hold on to something.
"Spike," she whispered against his ear, causing him to shudder.
Her strong arms pulled him forward and up on top of the marble slab. Hands
under his shirt, in his hair, along his arse, beautiful soft hands he'd
never expected to know the touch of again. Fingertips soft against his lips
as she whispered his name and kissed him. Pressing her pelvis to his, moving
her hips in lazy circles.
Buffy slipped Spike's shirt over his head, then ran her hands along his
shoulders, the rib cage, to slip under the waistband of his jeans. She drew
back and looked at him as her fingers traced the tip of his cock. Not the
touch that made him feel as if he was being cleaved down the middle but
the look on her face, desire and tenderness and need.
Whatever she wanted, he would do it. Bark like a dog, crawl on all fours
and howl like a wolf. He'd do it if she asked. She could say anything and
it would be true. If she lied to him, told him she forgot everything and
loved him, he would believe it.
He stripped away her clothing, covering her skin in kisses, tongue dipping
into tender places like the hollow of her throat, her navel, her soaking
pussy. Like drinking sugar-water, eating honey from the comb. Better than
Her thigh muscles twitched, a signal that she would come soon. He pulled
away, letting her take his jeans off, fondle his aching cock and swollen
balls. Buffy drew him forward, slid him inside her hotwet skin engulfing
Can't move gonna come too fast his brain screamed stop slow down. Here,
he was here inside her arms around him like a blessing grace consecration.
She was kissing him crying, hips moving hard against him crying real tears
and her mouth turned down.
But instead of no stop and get off me it was yes and yes and Spike and
more tears. Her strong arms and legs held him fast. She was stronger than
he was always stronger inside and out. Eyes like a sacrament looking into
his undiscovered soul, all the way to the bottom.
Spike pressed his mouth to her neck, feeling the blood pound there as
she came, breath urgent and weak. Oh repeating over and over as her body
jerked beneath, her mouth round and soft. Kissing it as he came inside her.
Whose tears? he thought and didn't know but they were both wet with tears
and come and sweat.
She held him tight against her, not letting him go when before she would
have pushed him away. He pulled the sheet up around them and they lay on
their sides, entwined.
Her voice thick with crying against his neck asked, "Was it the
With his fingertips he wiped away her tears, then his own. "No."
How did he tell her? There might be words in another language but he didn't
know them. Spike wanted to crush Buffy's body against his, into his, as
if he could merge them both into one body never separated again. Dive inside
her and never come out.
"It wasn't the same for me, either."
Lie to me you bitch, lie to me my beloved. Tell me you love me you hate
me. Tell me anything but that.
It was as if her voice came to him through a deep, dark cavern, echoing
off walls he couldn't see. Like the cave in Africa. The warmth of her hand
as it pressed against his cool chest above his heart sent minute sparks
fanning out along his skin. Tracers lighting her words.
"It's always different when you love someone."
She carried him up on her wings towards the sun, higher than he'd ever
There was a price for everything. Buffy had already learned that long
ago; now Spike understood at last. This was what he had paid for.