A Rose's Thorn

Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or Dr. Who.

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When Buffy leaves, Spike stays sprawled out across the dirt of the alley. The glow of the moon shines in his eyes, but he's too tired to move—settles for wishing it were sunlight instead. It'd be better for everyone, he thinks, if I were dust.

It would also hurt less.

He's used to physical pain. Angelus was a master at torture, and Glory had been rather creative as well. The first weeks with the chip were their own form of painful, as was Dru leaving and Buffy dying.

This is different. Spike supposes he'd been holding out hope that Buffy really did care for him, that she loved him but couldn't admit it. But no one would do something like this to someone they loved.

She hadn't been lying when she called him a disgusting, soulless thing. A thing that couldn't feel.

What is this, if it's not feeling?

Spike shudders. It's as though his heart has been ripped out of his chest, and the empty space where it had been aches with hollowness. He feels useless—lonely and revolting and heartbroken.

But it's not real.

Tears well in his eyes. It's real enough to make him go impossibly cold. As though the human in him can't stay warm inside a corpse's skin.

Spike squeezes his eyes shut and lets consciousness float away.

He hopes that when morning comes, the sunlight will warm him.

ooo

His melodrama does not get him far. It's not the morning sun that wakes him, but a woman near Buffy's age. He jerks awake when warm fingers search his neck for a pulse, eyes flying open and instinctive panic taking over. Vulnerable humans get hospitals.

Vulnerable vampires get staked.

The girl does not hurt him. She leans back on her heels and stares at him for a long second, as though debating something internally. Spike watches her carefully. He's too weak to flee, doesn't have the energy to scare her off. He's torn between hoping she'll stake him and praying she'll leave him alone. He enjoys being undead, but his existence has become unpleasant enough that he won't mind if she ends him then and there.

He's shocked when the girl neither runs nor kills him.

"My home is nearby," she says, resting a gentle hand over a battered cheekbone. "D'you think you can walk a couple blocks?"

Spike merely nods. The girl smiles. It's a bright smile, the sort that makes him wonder if he won't dust from looking at it too long. He tries to remember the last time he's seen a smile so sweet. Can't recall any particular instance.

The expression sets him at ease, and when she tries to help him to his feet, he lets her. Standing is painful, but he manages. Has a more difficult time when forward movement is expected, but the girl is stronger than she looks. Without reservation, she throws one of his arms around her shoulder and tucks herself into his side like a crutch. It takes a few steps, but before long they're limping along at a decent pace.

"You're lucky you've got such bright hair," she says. Her grin goes bigger, and her tongue curls in her teeth. He likes curling his tongue in a similar manner, but he means the effect to be erotic. When she does it, there's nothing but playfulness and sunlight. "Wouldn't have seen you lyin' there otherwise."

"Good to know my hair doubles as a distress signal," Spike grunts.

As though taking his reply as an invitation, the girl looks at him with big hazel eyes and says, "I'm Rose Tyler."

She's friendly and helping him and she must know he isn't human, so he figures he can give her a name if nothing else. "Spike."

"Spike," she repeats, turning the word over in her mouth. "Suits you. You look like a Spike."

They continue forward in silence. Her heartbeat is strong and steady, her body warm against his side. She's got a soft feel about her too. Is wearing a fleece jacket and comfy-looking jeans and looks welcoming as can be. It's even in her eyes, the softness. The kindness.

Her capacity for goodness is tangible, which is a bit jarring seeing how he'd almost forgotten what goodness looks like. Buffy doesn't have it anymore, not soul-deep like she used to. The rest of the Scoobies are just as bad. Maybe even worse. But Rose Tyler is untainted by the Hellmouth. She's golden and beautiful and the William in him is tempted to ask if she's an angel.

Mercifully, before William can say anything of the sort, Rose slows and says, "Here we are." Spike starts to feel relief—relief that she'll help him now, that he'll get to pass out and stop feeling this awful pain in his heart, relief at all sorts of things—except then he sees where Rose has led him, and all he can be is confused.

She's stopped in front of a police box.

He hasn't seen one of those in a while, and certainly not in Sunnyhell. Isn't sure whether he should be more thrown off by its presence or by Rose's belief that it's her home. He settles on the latter—the fact that it's there isn't immediately concerning, but Rose thinking she's going to shove him inside is a bit worrisome.

"Pretty a thing as you are, I'm not interested in gettin' quite that personal with you at the mo'," says Spike slowly.

Rose laughs.

"Don't worry," she says. She uses a key on her neck to open the door—which is concerning too, because why would anyone be carrying a key to a police box?—and leads him through the door.

Spike has seen a lot of things in his life. Things that his human self never would have thought possible. Men on the moon and people flying in airplanes and all sorts of demons and monsters—scores of 'impossible' things.

He's still utterly certain he's hallucinating when his eyes adjust to the sudden brightness and he takes in the room around him.

"I… I think I hit my head too hard," he says.

"Probably, but that doesn't mean you're not seeing straight," says Rose as she urges him further into the magnificent space. It's filled with coral struts and lights and wires and a lot of other things that don't belong in a police box. That can't fit in a police box. He's either dreaming or crazy, and it's probably honestly the latter because he doesn't think a sane person would come up with something like this, not even in his dreams.

"It's bigger on the inside," Spike says.

"That it is," Rose blithely replies.

"But…"

"C'mon, Spike. The infirmary is this way."

He's dazed enough that he doesn't think to question the unlikelihood of an infirmary in a police box. Rather, he obediently follows Rose as she pulls him forward, too shocked and confused to manage any words at all. Before long, Rose has him lying on a soft bed and is poking and prodding at him, bandaging scrapes and resetting bones.

He's tired enough that he falls asleep before she's even halfway finished.

ooo

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