A Spark of Love
Drusilla never comes back to Sunnydale, having been completely immolated in Los Angeles. The bogus stakeout goes a little differently, then, but the same basic events ensue. Spike tells Buffy he loves her; she seems disgusted and leaves. Spike returns to his crypt, teary-eyed; Buffy has a heart-to-heart with Joyce and Willow and eventually decides to find Spike to make sure he understands she could never love him. Without Dru's interference, though, things don't go quite the same way…
There was nothing Spike hated more than crying. Emotions were weakness – that had been beaten into him very quickly after he'd been turned. As a human, he'd been nothing but a puddle of sentiment. Bloody pathetic, really. William Pratt had been a right fop, not like Spike at all. Spike was…hard, tough, ready for anything. He didn't like to think of himself as completely emotionless and psychotic like Angelus, but he wasn't a pushover anymore. No one's sissy boy.
He didn't feel very much like Spike right now. Standing in his cold, lonely crypt, crying his eyes out over some bint (he struggled to curse her name, because even now she seemed beautiful to him) – that was William, through and through. He despised it, but the more he thought about it, about her, about the look on her face when he told her – tried to tell her – oh, God. God God God God, and he thought it so much that he felt even more like William, earnestly praying for mercy from the Almighty. Pathetic.
But Spike was a demon, and he knew there was no mercy to be found for him – from God or from Buffy. Right now, he had the worst of both worlds, all the pitiful human emotion and all the hopelessness of the lost creature. He wiped at his eyes furiously, as if that would force his emotions from him.
What was he gonna do? It was far from the first time that he'd brassed off the Slayer, of course, but this time seemed different. She had been almost afraid, wary of him like his love was some sort of dangerous contagion. If only, he thought wistfully. Still, he'd been mostly content with being by her side as a companion and ally. Hadn't been planning on pushing the issue not for a while yet. It hadn't been that long since Soldier Boy had skipped town, and even though Spike couldn't understand why anybody would be hung up on that bland wafer, he knew Buffy wouldn't see it that way. But she just had to accuse him, ask him questions he wasn't ready to answer.
God, he thought again, angrily, pushing over one of the statues that had dared to stand near him. It made a satisfying clatter, but didn't break. He sniffled again, feeling overwhelmingly pitiful. This could not possibly get any worse.
He lifted his eyes to the heavens. How wrong he'd been.
Squinting to conceal his tears, Spike turned around to face the other vampire. "Not much in the mood for company, Harm, so if you could just sod-"
"Are you crying?" she asked, interrupting him and looking very much aghast. He glared, which she must have taken as an affirmative – before he could blink an eye, she had wrapped herself around him in an unappealing way, cooing in his ear and making little sighs that he supposed she considered sexy. "Who hurt my little blondie bear's feelings, huh? Do I need to smack 'em around?"
He growled, breaking her embrace and pushing her off of him. She stumbled, not quite falling to the ground. Harmony scrambled to her feet, now a perfect picture of outrage. "You can't keep shutting me down like this, Spikey, it's not healthy-"
"Yeah, well, it's not gonna be too healthy for you to lay around this crypt any longer, Harm. I've bollixed things up enough as it is. Your yammering's the last thing I need, probably drive me round the bloody bend." He made a dismissive hand gesture that was probably a lot less threatening than he intended.
Harmony simply looked at him blankly. Spike rolled his eyes. "I'm kickin' you out, yeah? Just sod off. Good-looking girl like you'll find a place to sleep. I'm through with this."
Her lower lip trembled. "You're just saying this because you're damaged, boo-boo. If you would just open up – "
"Well, I'm never gonna do that, Harm!" he said hotly, gritting his teeth. She wasn't going to give in without a fight. If Buffy was gonna treat him like the Big Bad, he might as well act like a villain.
Spike ripped the lid off the nearest coffin and lobbed it at Harmony, narrowly missing her (though even he wasn't sure if that was due to his emotional state or deliberate mercy). She stood there resolutely as he hurled curses at her, hands planted on her hips like she was his mum or whatnot. "Spikey, I know you love me –"
"No, I don't."
It was so simple he could have smacked himself. Right in bloody front of him. The only thing that would hurt Harmony was the truth.
"You're just saying that – "
"I'm in love with the Slayer."
It was all Spike could do to keep from laughing at the look on her face. Now it was his turn to endure the insults she threw at him, but he kept a straight, earnest expression until she finally huffed out, taking the broken statue with her.
"And don't think you're ever gonna see this again!" she said pointedly, re-entering the crypt just enough to gesture to her backside. "You're sick, Spike!"
He chuckled to himself as her scent faded. "Bloody right, I am."
It seemed less funny now that Harm was gone, though. Spike was suddenly confronted again with the reality of Buffy's anger. It had been over an hour and she hadn't even shown up to threaten him.
He could take her being pissed off at him, could take her beating the hell out of him, even. But being bloody ignored, like he was some problem that would just go away? It boiled his blood.
What could he do? Couldn't exactly show up at her house, now could he? Didn't want to cause a scene, not with the Bit and Joyce. What if they hated him, too? It'd be more than he could bear, and he already felt like being dust would be a blessing. No, he'd have to wait for her to seek him out. Be the sane thing to do, which was what she claimed she wanted in a partner. Not bloody likely, seeing her taste in men thus far, but he knew that going after Buffy when she was this level of angry was about as smart as sticking your head in the oven.
So he had a couple of options. He could lounge about his crypt, moping and getting as plastered as possible. He could hit up the demon bars, see if he could win a little money or score some information that might put him back in the Slayer's good graces. Or…he could do the graveyards and hustle up a little bit of violence.
Spike felt himself almost smile at the thought. And maybe, just maybe, he'd run into the Slayer while he was out. Wouldn't that be interesting…
Not even bothering to knock or call his name, Buffy broke down the door to Spike's crypt and let herself in. She strode confidently, like a woman on a mission. Which she was. The mission: make Spike realize you'll never love him and this is all a mistake, resume business as usual. And then, maybe go home and watch a movie. After all, it was still early by Slayer standards.
"Spike?" she said, feeling a little more hesitant now. It was awfully quiet, but she didn't feel any vampy tingles on her neck. She'd been around Spike so much in the past few months that he barely registered on her vamp radar anymore, though, so she descended into the underground part of the crypt. So maybe she was breathing a little more quickly. It wasn't a big deal, it was just…stuff like this made her nervous. She wasn't really good with rejection. Mostly, she was the one getting rejected, at least by guys that she already, you know, loved. It was one thing to turn down some sleazy stranger, and quite another to try to convince a really weird vampire (who, she had to admit, knew her like the back of his hand) that you would never consider being in a relationship with him. She felt…a little gross.
It would have been so much easier if they could have just stuck with the whole trying-to-kill-each-other thing. These weird alliances just made everything…weird.
She kept walking, not bothering to call for him now. It was obvious that he wasn't here, but some mysterious sense of curiosity had seized her. She came in here a lot, of course, but it wasn't like she hung out with Spike for kicks. Unlike her little sister, apparently, which – ew. Still.
Buffy moved closer to an area covered by a curtain, her fingers almost tingling with a dreadful sort of anticipation. She didn't want to – but she did – but she shouldn't –
The decision was taken out of her hands. Something was going on upstairs, and it was definitely not of the good. By the time she had really registered the strangled screams and moans, she was halfway back upstairs. Her heart pounded unpleasantly.
After first ascending, she saw nothing, although her vamp senses were still blaring all the danger signals. Then –
A flash of movement outside the crypt. She leaped after it, tackling the whatever-it-was. It snarled loudly, and Buffy vaguely heard a few muffled yells and loud British swear words from behind her.
The demon she'd pinned was some sort of hideous, slimy dog-like creature. Its tongue lolled out of its mouth as it growled at her, struggling to get free, and that exposed a view of its mouth. She nearly gagged; it was swarming with maggots.
Buffy fumbled for a weapon, but it was kind of difficult to retrieve the stake from her back pocket without allowing the thing to get loose. She swore under her breath.
"What the bleeding hell are you doing, Slayer?" said the non-person she least wanted to hear. She froze up, and the dog-thing took its opportunity to break free of her grasp. To her surprise, it didn't attack, just ran off into the bushes. Now doubly exasperated, she turned to Spike.
"What am I doing here?" she repeated incredulously. "Excuse me, mister, but you're the one playing on my turf! I mean…figuratively speaking. You're in my space...and it's a private, uh, thing…"
It was like she had suddenly lost the ability to say anything resembling English to Spike. She was sure that he would have been making that annoying face and raising an eyebrow at her if he hadn't been so…well, angry.
"Piss off, Slayer. You don't own any of this, least of all me. 'sides, I was doing you a bleedin' favor, believe it or not. That demon that you so helpfully let get away lives up in the caves, I think. Might belong to some vamps. From what I can tell, someone has domesticated it for some reason, which doesn't exactly smell good for the human population of this godforsaken town. A lot of bloody help you've been, fighting the good fight an' getting in my way, but – "
Buffy had stopped listening. "Spike, what if it's got some connection to Glory?" she said, momentarily forgetting her anger and disgust with him. "Can you track it?"
She felt him looking at her, and she finally forced her eyes up to his. He was breathing heavily, odd for someone who didn't need oxygen in the first place, and he looked like a wreck. Part of it seemed to be from fighting – somehow, Buffy doubted that the demon dog-thing was the first baddie Spike had found that night. The other part – she avoided his eyes again, not wanting to see the expression in their depths.
She wasn't ready to see that yet.
"Yeah," he said after a minute, no longer sounding angry. "I can."
"Okay." To her own surprise, her fury had faded as well. This is what she'd wanted, after all. For things to go back to…as normal as they got, for her, which in this case was working with her ex-enemy to possibly save her sister.
They walked in an oppressive silence. Every once in a while, Spike would stop and take a good whiff of the air, then nod authoritatively and continue off, taking strides and forcing her to walk quickly to keep up.
She felt an overwhelming need to say something, so after about ten minutes she remarked, "You were right about one thing."
Spike slowed down, turning his eyes on hers. Buffy swallowed when she saw the vulnerability there. For once, his face was completely open and unguarded, his eyes clearly expressing his emotions so painfully that she almost felt them too. Curiosity, desire, hurt, and that…that she was so afraid of. She blinked rapidly.
Couldn't be. Without a soul…it couldn't be.
Softly, she said, "We do need to talk."
She expected him to reply, "Not really the best time for that, love", or perhaps to snarkily say that "Of course, now you want to talk, after I lay my bleedin' heart on the line", or maybe even just try to confess his love again. He didn't do any of that. Spike just stared at her expectantly, with those eyes.
Her body was tingling in a not entirely unpleasant way. She shivered, and drew her arms around herself even though she knew that wasn't the reason for her sudden chills. Spike seemed too close now, like he was all around her, already touching her even though they were feet apart.
"Not now," she managed finally, looking at the ground. "After. This is more important."
"Yeah," he agreed quietly. There was something in his voice she couldn't quite… "It is. And we're nearly there, pet." He drew aside a branch, revealing the caves
"Great." She tried to make her tone sound all-business. "So let's go."
He couldn't suss out how the Slayer was feeling. It shouldn't have bothered him, but it did. Normally, he had some idea of what was going on in that pretty little head of hers but honestly, right now, Spike had no clue.
Didn't matter. Shouldn't matter, couldn't matter, because here they were stalking through a cave, after some bloody beastie that might be trained to kill the Niblet. That was more important, he'd meant what he said. Didn't mean he wasn't still thinking about what it was that Buffy wanted to say to him exactly.
"It's close," he said in an undertone, letting his face smoothly morph until it was ready for battle. "Reckon we should split up?"
Buffy shook her head. "As I've learned from Scooby Doo, not a great strategy. Divided we fall. Just…watch my back, in case anything else shows up. Okay?"
She finally looked at him, and he was relieved to see that there was still trust in her eyes. "Don't have to ask, love. You know I'm here for you."
Spike could see her tense, but she didn't reply, just rushed forth into the battle. He tried not to grin. Yeah, that's my girl, he thought with satisfaction, even though he suspected it'd never be true.
Way back when, he'd thought nothing could top fighting this Slayer. She was all poetry and painful sunshine, whipping around your body like a bee around nectar and twice as ready to sting. That was before he'd fought with her, at her side.
Fighting alongside Buffy was like having a whole set of extra limbs, only you never quite knew what they were gonna do. Yeah, she had a mind of her own, and she surprised him more often than not, but the innate sense of what she was never left him. She was a Slayer, probably the best one the world had ever seen, but she was also wild. Like him. More like him than anyone he'd ever known, and God, what a rush. To see that look of passion on her face, even though it was bloodlust and not, well, the other kind. Made a bloke feel good.
They danced around the ugly thing, swapping weapons and tangling its legs. Buffy pounced on it; Spike stabbed it. When it reared and scratched his face, she spared him a look (of concern, he hoped), but kept on fighting. The thing had nasty claws, for sure. He tasted the blood running down his cheek. Not poisoned. Buffy was safe – relatively, anyway. He stood and rejoined the fray.
Both of them were in pretty rough shape by the time the slimy demon died. Buffy wiped the sweat from her brow as Spike quickly inspected the cave. "I only smell vampire, lo-Slayer," he corrected quickly, not wanting to push his luck. Not now.
"Yeah, it doesn't look like this salty dog was Glory's pet, after all. Unless she was hiring vampires to take care of it." Buffy sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. She'd been spending too much time with the old Watcher, Spike observed. "It's too hard to understand a crazy person, you know?"
"I do," he agreed readily.
To his surprise, she nearly cracked a smile. "I, uh, didn't really think that one through, huh?"
Spike wanted to say something sarcastic and cutting, but he could feel his mouth spreading into a genuine smile. Buffy's expression brightened, and they were both laughing in seconds, mostly with relief from the battle.
After a minute, she looked down at herself, obviously uncomfortable. He cleared his throat. "Reckon we should get you cleaned up. Can stop by the house if you'd like…or call it a night, I dunno if you – "
"No," she said, sighing. "I – we need to – but getting cleaned up sounds good."
"To Revello Drive it is then," he said stoutly, pushing off from the wall. Buffy moved reluctantly.
"Uh, how about no on that count, too? I don't want to worry Mom and Dawn. We can go back to your crypt. If, uh, that's okay."
He had never heard the Slayer so unsure of herself when talking to him – well, except in the aftermath of Red's little will-be-done spell. She was hiding something, and if he'd been less pathetic, he would have found out what it was. As it was, he just offered a "'Course, love," and they headed off, leaving the already-rotting corpse behind.
This was pretty much the worst idea she'd ever had.
Quick thinking was maybe not Buffy's strong suit, okay? She'd had to come up with some way to throw Spike off the trail of the house. It would be major ickiness if he came over just to find out that he'd been uninvited, and really, it was just a precaution, anyway. He'd been almost normal tonight, and she found that she didn't really want to exile him from her life, but she also didn't want to put her mom and sister in danger. Part of her felt that Spike would never do them harm, but another part was reminded of how he'd been when they first met and then she wasn't sure.
Anyway, she hadn't had time to think it through and realize that going back to his place to get cleaned up meant taking a shower. With Spike in the next room. And, to make matters worse, she didn't exactly have a change of clothes on her that weren't completely covered in blood and demon goo, so she was going to have to borrow a shirt from him. The award for best planning goes to…
She sighed and scrubbed more vigorously. At least he had rigged up a shower in here, even if the situation left a lot to be desired. The stench of rotten flesh still clung to her skin – she'd gotten the brunt of the goo spew when the slime thing had kicked the bucket. Of course. Absolutely nothing could go right tonight.
Emerging from the shower, she realized that he didn't exactly have any towels. She peeked around the corner, where the bed was, but saw only sheets and discarded clothes. Buffy tugged on her pants anyway, and slid Spike's shirt over her head. It was soft, and black (of course), and it smelled surprisingly wonderful. Once again, her heart rate was pounding, and she didn't want to consider why.
She balled up her discarded shirt and relocated to the other room. It felt too small, somehow, to hold her and Spike in it, so she looked away from him as if that would give her more air.
"I'll take that," he said, referring to the smelly blouse. He had changed, too, into a navy tee-shirt, and she almost blushed when she realized she was admiring the way it clung to his upper arms. Embarrassed, she handed him the item of clothing, which he threw into an obscure corner with his own articles.
Brilliant wordsmithing, she thought angrily. What was wrong with her? Why couldn't she just…be normal?
Because nothing was normal, and she had a feeling that it really wouldn't be again.
Buffy toyed with her hands. Spike was slouched into an armchair, and he gestured for her to take the other seat. She moved a little too hurriedly, and almost fell into the sofa. Righting herself, she tried to act casual.
"So, about earlier…"
He looked at her expectantly. She noticed that, despite the cool air he was obviously trying for, one of his fingers was tapping very quickly against his thigh. Buffy felt the strange need to swallow.
"Yeah?" he prodded, catching her eye. She struggled not to look away.
"I might have…overreacted. I mean, maybe I'm blowing this out of proportion, right?" Her toes had picked up the same rhythm as Spike's moving digit. "I probably wouldn't have freaked so much if Dawn hadn't…"
"Dawn?" he said, sounding surprised and impressed. "Well, well. The Niblet figured me out, did she? A regular little Harriet the Spy."
"Yeah, well…I didn't want to believe her."
She wasn't looking at him, but she could almost feel his disappointment. "That so?"
"Yeah," she said, suddenly full of righteous fury. Buffy sat up a little straighter. "It is so. I mean, how would you feel? Say you're the Slayer, right? Just doing your duties, trying not to get your sister killed by a crazed hellgod, when all of a sudden this vampire – who tried to kill you like, two months ago – decides to up and declare his love for you? Oh, and let's not forget to mention that the last time you got involved with a vampire it nearly ended the world. So how would you feel, Spike? Hmm?"
His blue eyes were completely taken aback, but he leaned toward her as he began to speak. "Well, I imagine I'd be pretty shaken up a bit, like you were. Completely reasonable under the circumstances, I see that now. But…I'd get away from the situation, think about it a little bit, and realize that not all vampires are the bloody same, yeah? Sometimes people just need a second chance."
"You're not a people," she said automatically.
"What does that mean? I've got a heart – may not be beating, but it's there and it's sure as hell capable of breaking…and of loving. Your soldier boy was human, and we both know he had his flaws. Buffy…"
She couldn't look away now, too mesmerized by the look he was giving her. Buffy couldn't sort out her feelings, but she knew that something was stirring in her. If she hadn't already been under a vampire's thrall, she probably would have wondered if this was it.
This is it, William, he thought, not feeling nearly as brave as he wanted to. No turning back.
"Buffy," he said, pouring every last bit of sentiment he had into those syllables. No telling if he'd have another chance to show her how he felt. "Love, if you don't want to be with me…if it really disgusts you, I won't be some hanger-on in your life. If you want me to be your fighter, I'll do that. Doesn't mean I'm giving up on you. I want you too much to do that. So if you really don't want me, and never will, okay. But…Buffy, if there's some part of you that could see…maybe, someday…if you're thinking about what's right, or wrong, or bloody Angel, or what your friends think, then I want you to see that we could be good together."
She looked at him, and for the first time in a very long time, he felt as if he was really being looked at, not through. Like he mattered; like she could see him. Her eyes were pained, but not angry, like it hurt her just to be around him.
"Spike," she said. "I…I can't. It would be…wrong, so, so, wrong, and I can't even believe I'm thinking about this and – and listening to you say that –"
She stopped. He had a feeling that her saying it would really make her realize it was real. "That I love you," he finished for her. Buffy nodded shyly.
Spike understood, he really did. "I know it's wrong. But, at the same time…it feels right, yeah? Tell me that when we were fighting earlier, you didn't feel like we do it perfectly together." He couldn't help but let his voice dip a little lower on the last few words. A little seduction never hurt anybody, and he could already tell she was being affected by his presence.
She glared at him for the innuendo, but her look lacked her earlier fire. "That's different, Spike."
"Why?" he countered.
"I don't know, it just is. Just because you're willing to fight with me doesn't mean you're willing to be good for me. With me. I can't take that risk."
Her lips were almost trembling with some sort of emotion, although her expression was almost stoic. She had curled over the couch, draping her legs over the arm comfortably. She was so close to him now…but to touch her would break the spell. She'd realize who she was talking to, where she was. He'd lose her.
She didn't look at him.
"I love you," he said again, gently. Almost singing it. The first time, she'd needed to hear it. Now, he needed to say it. "You know that now, love. There's no ignoring it."
Buffy crossed her arms, still glaring at a space three feet away from him. "I can just ignore you."
"How well do you reckon that'll work out, hmm? Especially with this nasty hellgod on the loose. You need me, pet. I just need you to tell me as what. What am I to you?"
She shifted her glare to his face, and if he'd still been William Pratt he certainly would have shrunk back from that stare. "As of now, you're a pain in my ass. I can't be with you. Stop feeling this way."
Buffy brought her legs back to her body, rocketing with shock. Spike grinned rogueishly. "No!" she said feverishly. "There will be no kissing or any other body part touching here, thank you very much!"
"Just one kiss," Spike repeated. "After that, you can have as long as you like to think on it. Or you can tell me now that there's no part of you that wants this, and really make me believe it. One or the other, Buffy."
"I've already kissed you."
Was that really her only objection? He searched her eyes as he waved his hand dismissively. "That was a spell. Doesn't count, love."
"Fine. You're nothing to me," she said fiercely, looking into his eyes. "I hate you."
It stung, admittedly, but it wasn't anything new. Besides, and he chuckled, "You're gripping that chair arm awfully hard there, sweetheart, and I can feel your heart rate going up. You're considering it, aren't you?"
He raised an eyebrow.
Before he knew it, she was out of the couch and standing over him. "I should stake you right now, Spike," Buffy muttered, eyes sliding over his body in a way he understood.
"You should," he agreed.
"I'm just doing this to shut you up."
Her voice was rougher and gentler at the same time. He loved it. He'd never heard her make such a sound. "Of course, love," Spike said.
She kissed him.
He had been dead for over a hundred years, but the second they kissed it was like he'd rediscovered his need for oxygen in her. He gasped her in like a dying man, and all of her hesitation seemed to disappear as soon as their lips touched. She was everywhere, blonde hair tickling his neck and legs lightly wrapped around him, fingers on his arms barely touching him like she could disappear any –
"I can't love you," Buffy whispered into his mouth, breaking his train of thought.
He leaned further in and replied, "Love, I think you've already started."
She flew off of him, pressing a finger to her lips, which were swollen from kissing. Buffy stood for a moment like a statue, looking like the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. Then she was gone.
Getting back to the house was fine. Sneaking in her window was fine. But when she went to strip off her clothes, she hesitated.
Maybe he was right. Maybe she was starting to feel something for him. Or maybe her life was just crazy right now, and his shirt was soft, and she needed some comfort.
She fell asleep and tried not to dream of blue eyes.