Title: Soul Fashion (1/1)

Author: Sandy S.

Email: ssoennin@juno.com

URL: http://darkprophecies.net/eternaldevotion

Rating: PG-13, for mild language

Disclaimer: All belongs to Joss and UPN. I own nothing.

Spoilers: through the first two episodes of season 7

Summary: Buffy takes Spike somewhere to help him out. Way AU and unlikely to happen on the show. . .

Author's Note: This story is an answer to a challenge set forth by Laura, webmistress of Yummy Sushi Pajamas, to write a story in which Spike and Buffy go shopping for clothes.

Soul Fashion

"I don't want to go here." Spike ducks his head and attempts to turn away like a small child afraid I might hit him if he displeases me.

In response to his protest, I grab his arm, intent on dragging him in. "Well, we're going in anyway. It must be done. Tonight's my only night off; I have to go to work for the next six days and then slaying stuff takes up the evenings. So, tonight's the night."

He tries to pull away from my hold, but he is helpless to stop me. The only victory he wins is that I'm not touching his bare skin. Instead, I'm tugging him by the sleeve of the hideously garish blue shirt he used for a costume yesterday.

"Nooooo," he whispers, his eyes wide and a look of terror painting his features. "Someone might see me with you."

"So?" We manage to enter the building at least. The cool air from the air conditioning swirls around us like a welcoming blanket and the familiar scent of new objects fills my nose.

Spike plants his feet like a cat being forced to walk on a leash, his face a stubborn mask. At least, one thing hasn't changed. "It would be bad."

"Why would it be bad, Spike?" I am getting a bit impatient, not that I have much patience anyway. Letting go of his sleeve, I cross my arms.

He shuffles his feet, and I notice his shoes. . . even worse than the shirt. "Because they might think. . . " He trails off.

I wait for more, but none comes. "They might think what?"

"Lots of things. That I'm with you. . ."

"I am with you."

"That I might hurt you. . . again." The last part is so soft that I almost cannot hear him. Still avoiding my gaze, he clears his throat awkwardly and adds, "There might be a fight. I might hurt someone else."

I roll my eyes. "Spike, we're in the *mall*. Who's gonna know us here? And why would they think you would hurt me if I'm willingly with you?"

His blue eyes meet mine for the first time, and I have difficulty reading what I see in their depths. "Do you think I would hurt you?"

The couple passing us to exit the mall cast Spike a strange look when they overhear his words. For the moment, Spike is oblivious to their stares. He's gazing at me, and I almost forget his insane behavior, forget he has a soul now.

I hesitate. "No. I don't think you would purposefully hurt me." Not after what you told me earlier. Instead of relief, his eyes go wide at something he sees over my shoulder. I peek back. "It's just Dawn, Spike. I asked her to meet us here."

He begins shaking his head and backing toward the exit. "She's mad at me. She wants to set me on fire."

"Only if you hurt me, and you're not going to do that, are you?"

He's so much like a child who has been abused. . . all edginess and hypersensitivity. At my words, he stops moving and seems to draw into himself. I'm surprised, but then, I realize that Dawn is right behind me, and he hasn't shown his wounded side to her even though I told her about the soul. I'm actually rather relieved that he's going to pull himself halfway together in front of Dawn.

"Hi!" Dawn greets us with a perky grin, and her ponytail still swishing. She's putting on a show, too, which I suppose Spike needs right now. "How are you guys doing?" She slips her hands in the back pockets of her jeans and rocks slightly back on her heels. She and I are dressed similarly in faded jeans, tiny T-shirts, and white tennis shoes.

"Fine," I say.

"Been better," Spike responds, his voice somewhat casual like the Spike of old.

"Ready for shopping fun?"

Spike replies, "No" at the same time I respond with "Yes."

Dawn raises an eyebrow. "You guys are decisive as usual."

"We're here to shop for Spike a new wardrobe," I insist, glancing at the blank-faced vampire.

Dawn's smile returns. "Love the shopping. Let's get going."

* * * After thirty minutes of pulling teeth to get Spike to go into a clothing store, he's finally relented and allowed us to take him by the arms. We enter one of the trendy but more affordable shops and are immediately pounced upon by a sales woman. Great, just what we need.

"Hello!" The young woman is a redhead with a nose ring. She's dressed in a cutoff red top that shows off her belly button and a short black skirt. Her eyes rove over Spike from his dirty shoes to the top of his bleached blond hair. If Spike were human, he would be blushing. Instead, he just squirms under her scrutiny. "Hmmm. What happened to you?"

Spike looks to me with panic on his features. If his feelings weren't so real, I'd have laughed at his expression. So, I speak for him, "Our friend here needs some new clothes."

"Ahhh. I think we can help you. I'm Miranda." She locks arms with him, and he stares at her arm around his, not quite certain what to make of her. I think that if Spike wasn't in the state he's in, I would probably be jealous of the way she was fawning over him. She continues chattering as they walk away. "Come with me, we'll see what we can find."

I immediately am relieved of my burden, so I begin to browse through the women's clothing. Dawn follows, a question brimming from her body. Holding up a cherry-colored peasant blouse, I wonder, "Think I could wear this to work at the school?"

Dawn skims over what I said, "Yeah, it's great. Buffy, is Spike like totally insane now? I mean, what's wrong with him?"

"I think he's going through a lot right now, what with all the people he killed running through his head, and he's having to deal with his human half again." I throw the blouse over my left arm and sweep through the remainder of the sale rack, trying to ignore my own feelings of guilt at what I said to him in the past. "Dawn, why don't you try a couple of things on?"

Dawn seems despondent at my news about Spike. Still, she picks out a soft burgundy sweater and faded denim skirt to try on. "So, does that mean we have to forgive him for what he's done? Like Angel with his soul?"

I pause to examine a hunter green polyester skirt and matching sheer lace blouse. Adding the outfit to my growing pile, I face my sister. "I honestly don't know how I feel about it, yet, Dawnie." We approach the jewelry section of the store, and I finger a few sets of earrings while Dawn studies a turquoise necklace.

"Me either. But I suppose we should try at least. He seems like he's in so much pain." Dawn shifts her stack of clothing from one arm to the other.

"Maybe, it'll just take some time," I speculate and then nod toward the dressing room. Adjusting to Spike the way he is now was going to take a lot of time. "Let's try these things on."

"Do you think this is how he was when he was human?"

I think back to what Spike had told me about his past in upper class England, and I realize I know very little about what Spike was like as a human. I just know he was not well accepted even then. My stomach jars again when I remember how deeply he internalized my barb about him being beneath me. "Maybe."

Ever observant, Dawn states, "He was probably pretty awkward and lacking in social skills. I mean, look at the way he was with us just coming into a shop."

"But the old Spike is still there, too," I say, wondering vaguely whom I'm trying to reassure, me or Dawn.

"Yeah. I guess so. How long do you think it'll take him to be normal again?" Dawn chooses a stall in the dressing room, and I take the one next to hers.

"Well, it took Angel one hundred years the first time he got his back." I slip my tank top over my head and slide the peasant blouse onto my torso.

A thump comes from Dawn's dressing room as she slips off her shoes. "One hundred years?! Somehow, I don't see Spike taking that long."

"I know." I can't picture Spike taking as long as Angel. Spike has something Angel didn't. . . "He has us to take care of him."

Dawn's scuffles cease at my words.

Alarmed, my senses go on alert, and I call, "Dawn, you okay?"

"Yeah," came the muffled response.

"You got real quiet."

"What you said just surprised me, I guess. I mean, about us taking care of Spike." Sounds of trying on clothing begin again.

Tension melts out of my shoulders, and I put on the hunter green flared skirt and lace, long-sleeved shirt. The green brings out the emerald in my hazel eyes, and I fluff my hair. I'm still me. "Yeah, I sorta surprised myself. It's just that, he's been there for me before. . . before. . ."

"When the rest of us weren't," Dawn says matter-of-factly. When I say nothing, she asks, "Buffy, could you come look at this and tell me what you think?"

"Sure, I need an opinion, too." I swing open my dressing cubicle's door and knock gently on Dawn's.

The door parts to reveal my little sister, seemingly quite grown up with her hair twisted up in a French twist so that her blue eyes are bright with life. Her slim form is wrapped up in the tight, low-cut denim skirt and deep burgundy sweater-shirt with flair sleeves and small ribbons on the cuffs, and her feet are cased in a pair of burgundy-strapped high-heeled pumps. She towers over me like a model.

I try not to seem too mom-ish with my next words, "My little Dawnie is all adult now."

She grins then, destroying the mirage of being a young professional. I feel relieved in a way. "And you, Buffy, look wonderful! Beautiful!"

I survey my outfit in the hall mirror. "You think?"

She bobs her head emphatically. "Oh, yes! Definitely a working outfit."

"Let's go see how Spike's doing."

* * *

Miranda is posing politely by the men's dressing room, and I smile at her perkiness. She returns the gesture, mentioning, "He's still in there. Won't let me come in. Said he didn't want me to see." She leans toward me and whispers, "Is there something wrong with him? He seems sort of slow."

Anger flashes through my muscles. "No. He's just not feeling well," I defend Spike. He simply didn't want her to notice he has no reflection. "Let me go see what he's doing. Dawn, wait here."

"Okay. I may go back over and browse some more."

I cautiously step into the men's dressing room. "Spike?" I call softly. "You doing okay in here?"

"Buffy?" His voice is tentative.

"Yeah, it's me. Where are you?" My ears perk, listening for his voice.

"Back here."

I follow the sounds to the room in the very back. I expect to find him seated on the tiny bench, but as always, he does the opposite of what I expect.

Lounging in the doorway to his cubicle, he is dressed in dark black jeans, a hunter green button up shirt without a collar, and a black denim jacket. His feet are covered with a pair of casual black shoes with laces. I hope the shock and desire doesn't show on my face. His blue eyes are watching me shyly and sweep from my face over the rest of my body.

"We match," he murmurs deeply without sarcasm and full of. . . love.

I shiver, but I'm not sure why. "We do," I agree. "Gonna get that?"

"How are you affording this, Buffy?" he asks gently.

"Ummm. Credit card?"

"Thought you weren't going there."

"Ah. Well, I sort of found out I needed to. Have to build a credit history to help Dawn in the future," I explain.

"Why are you doing this for me?"

"I'm doing it because. . ." Because I feel guilty. Because you took care of me. Because I want to make up for hurting you. Because I don't like to see you in so much pain, and I don't know what else to do. ". . . I want to."

He says nothing and then, bows his head, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Get dressed. And pass me what you want."


I notice the various-colored T-shirts strewn about the floor of the cubicle. I point at them. "Hand me the red one, the navy blue one, and the gray one."

Spike passes them to me wordlessly and shuts the cubicle door without argument.

* * *

I wake at two in the morning on instinct. Throwing the sheets back, I tug on my terrycloth robe and fluffy blue house slippers. Padding down the hall, I peer into Dawn's bedroom. She's curled on her side with her long blond-streaked hair splayed in fan-shape over her pillow. Her eyes are closed tightly, and her breathing is deep and even. After verifying that she's safe, I tiptoe down the stairs.

The living room is empty. The blanket Spike was using to sleep on the sofa is crumpled in a heap on the floor, and I spy the clothes I bought him tonight piled on the coffee table. I let Spike stay here for the night with the condition that he seek Clem tomorrow and find a new place to live besides the crypt and the high school basement.

"Spike," I whisper into the shadows, knowing somehow that he's not there.

Not sure what to expect, I cautiously make my way to the kitchen, finding that it, too, is empty. My leather jacket is slung over the top of a stool next to Dawn's denim coat. Used ice cream bowls line the counter, and a mug from which Spike drank fresh pig's blood tonight is balanced on the edge of the sink, looking every bit as if it might tumble to the ground and shatter.

Without thinking, I hurry to the sink to re-position the ceramic piece. That's when I see him. He's dragged our metal garbage can into the center of the yard. Yellow-orange flames lick the sides of the metal. What the hell is he doing? My temper flares bright as the fire he's lit. Oddly enough, the anger is accompanied by fear and compassion. Wearing a white undershirt and boxers, Spike is standing awfully close to whatever he's burning, and vampires are highly combustible.

My mind numb, I rush to the kitchen door, which is cracked open. In my haste, I stumble over Dawn's leather boots and my garden flip-flops that line the floor next to the door. Spike doesn't respond despite the racket I'm making. Picking myself up, I approach him slowly, alert for any move he might make.

His face is a mask of pain, and my feelings swirl, the anger fading. Worry takes the place of rage. "Spike? What are you doing out here?"

Still unmoving, he mumbles, "I'm burning it up."

"What? What are you burning up?" I attempt to catch a glimpse of what's in the garbage can.

"It isn't me anymore." His face is unchanging, the light playing across his skin.

"Spike, shouldn't you back away from the fire? You are sort of flammable." A breeze blows, and I wrap my arms around myself to shelter myself.

"It's no problem. Soon it will be finished. I promise. I won't hurt anything."

I lay a hand on his bare arm, and he jumps as if startled. "Spike." He allows me to guide him back from the heat and the danger. Then, I peer over at whatever's burning.

Shock registers on my face at what's there. . .

His leather duster. . . he's burning his leather duster. My heart skips a beat, and I realize he must have searched for it in the house after Dawn and I fell asleep.

Without turning to him, I ask, "Why are you burning your coat, Spike? I've never seen you without it until you forgot it here."

Silence fills the night air for a moment. The only sound is the crackle of the fire.

His tone is flat. "It doesn't fit anymore."

"You haven't gained any weight, Spike."

He sighs tiredly. "It's not me anymore. I'm not that person anymore."

I face him, brushing his arm with my fingertips. "Who are you, then? You certainly aren't the clothes in the house. Who are you?"

Spike stands before me emotionally naked, his eyes filled with familiar life but also something else altogether. "I don't know."

The End.