A Sea Change by Djinn

As he tried to turn over, every nerve ending in Spike's body screamed. His moan of agony echoed through the crypt.

"Shhh," a soft voice soothed him.

"Buffy?" He tried to open his good eye but was too tired.

"No, it's Joyce."

"Haunting me."

Her voice was gentle. "Trying to help."

"Make it stop hurting."

"I would if I could, Spike. But I can't even touch you."

"Figures. Only one who wants to can't."

"I can stay with you though. Talk to you a while?"

"Yeah. That'd be nice."

"You're already healing. I know it may not feel like it but I can tell."

He grimaced as a wave of pain lanced through him.

"You were brave."

"Just knew your spawn would kill me if I told."

"That's not why you did it and you know it."

"Is so."

"Is not. And it more than makes up for helping Dawn with trying to bring me back."

"Would've been nice to see you again."

Her voice was grim. "That thing that rose was not me. Thank god Dawn reversed the spell. You can't imagine the damage it would have caused."

"It could have worked."

"That's not the point. She is an innocent. You may have compromised that."

"Oh come on. It was just a little spell."

"It was much more than that. You put her in touch with darkness. We'll just have to see what the repercussions will be."

"May not be any."

"Let's hope you're right." Her tone darkened even more.

"I thought you were here to make me feel better?"

"I am."

"Well, you're bloody lousy at it."


There was a long silence. He was just about asleep when Joyce's voice in his ear startled him. He jumped as much as his torn body would allow. "Ow! Bloody hell, woman!"

"Oh. Sorry." Her voice was contrite. "It's just...well, we really need to talk about that robot."

"I told you then and I'm telling you now, what I do with modern technology is my business."

"But the things you did...really, Spike."

"It's a machine."

"You didn't think so."

"Well, it is a machine. Who cares what I thought. Besides, it's more than willing."

"Because you programmed her to be that way."

"What's the good of having a robot if you can't program it the way you want it."

"What about free will?"

"It's a machine, Joyce. What about that don't you get?"

"It's a machine that looks like my daughter."

"Joyce. Go. Away."


"I need to rest. I feel like hell. And you're not helping."


He tried to shout, it came out as a large croak. "Bugger off, Joyce. Now!"


He sighed and closed his eye.

"I hope you feel better soon. You're very cranky when you're hurt."


"I'm gone."

He felt sleep calling to him. His thirst was also clamoring for attention. He knew that the blood would help him heal, but his stock was low and it was a cinch that no one was going to bring him any. In pain and feeling sorry for himself, Spike slipped into unconsciousness.

He didn't know how long he'd been asleep when he heard her voice.

"Spike, you're all covered with sexy wounds."

He struggled to sit up. It didn't hurt as much as thought it would. Joyce had been right. He was already healing. "Yeah, they feel real sexy." He moved his head so he could see her out of his right eye. "Where ya been?"

"I fell down and got confused but Willow fixed me. She's gay."

That didn't sound right. "Will fixed you? I thought they'd melt you into scrap?"

"They were confused too." She gave him a dazzling smile. "Do you want to ravage me?"

"Give us a minute. I've got some bones need mending."

She studied him, frowning at the damage she saw. "Why did you let that Glory hurt you?"

"She wanted to know who the Key was."

She perked up. "Oh, well I can tell her that and then you won't have..."

"No!" His outburst startled her. He began to cough severely. Every hacking breath caused his body to protest. Once his lungs settled down, he continued, passionate in his demands. "You can't ever. Glory never finds out."

Her look was pure confusion. "Why?"

He took pity, his tone gentling. "Because Buffy...the other, no so pleasant Buffy...anything happened to Dawn it'd destroy her. I couldn't live with her being in that much pain." He looked down. "I'd let Glory kill me first. Nearly bloody did."

She was quiet but he had the sense that she was studying him. Then she leaned into him, her lips meeting his in a kiss. A sweet, gentle kiss. Huh? His Buffy hadn't quite mastered such a subtle motion. He pulled away in suspicion. Buffy, the real Buffy, stood before him. A look he couldn't fathom on her face. She seemed harder and softer than he'd ever seen her look. He leaned in, trying to figure out what she was doing. Was this a game?

She pulled away slowly, walked away from him. His Buffy's skirt flirted with him as the Slayer moved.

"And my robot?"

She turned. The look of revulsion on her face was unmistakable. "The robot is gone. The robot was gross and obscene."

"It wasn't supposed..."

"Don't. That thing...it wasn't even real."

He let his head drop, felt an unaccustomed emotion fill him...shame.

She turned away, was almost to the door when she stopped again. "What you did for me and Dawn, that was real." She looked over her shoulder at him. Her look gave away nothing. "I won't forget it."

She stared at him for a moment then turned and walked out the door, closing it gently behind her.

He sat stunned. He was not completely sure what had just happened. She was mad at him, but she was grateful too. He could still feel her lips on his. The robot had never tasted so sweet.

He pushed himself off the slab, gingerly taking the first few steps. Walking was agony but he clenched his teeth and shuffled to his refrigerator. One small container was left. He ripped it open and drank it down, not even caring that it was cold. It made him feel better, but it wasn't enough.

He walked slowly to his chair and lowered his body into the cushions. It hurt but as he sat unmoving the pain began to subside. He saw Buffy's face again, right after she kissed him.

She had looked more like a goddess at that moment than that tart Glory ever could. The slayer had been so stern, yet there was such tenderness in her eyes. He had been in awe of her.

Why had she come? All dressed up as his fantasy and pretending to want him. He replayed the conversation in his mind. It had been about one thing really: what he had told Glory about Dawn. She had come to him to find out, not trusting that he hadn't betrayed her. But also not sure that he had either, or she would have simply walked in and staked him. She had not expected to hear that he had resisted. Or to hear his reasons. And that kiss. He could live another hundred years with just the memory of that moment to sustain him.

A shudder of bloodthirst reminded him that his continued survival would depend on more than just that. Maybe by tonight he would be healed enough to go out. He leaned back, struggling to find a comfortable position. He thought of his robot. Gone. He would regret losing her. She had been fun. But Buffy was right. She hadn't been real. Eventually he would have tired of her, after a few weeks of really great sex. Ok, maybe months. He grinned at the memory then yelped as his skin split. His tongue stole out to lick the blood off. He thought of her in his arms and as he did his eyes closed and he lost himself in a drowsy fantasy.

He jerked awake as his door opened again. He was surprised to see Buffy walk in carrying a large bag. "What?"

"You've lost blood. Too much," she said in a matter-of-fact tone as she dug into the bag and handed him a large container.

He could smell the blood through the plastic. His face changed against his will. She looked down at him. He expected to see disgust.

Her expression was only neutral. "I've seen a bumpy forehead or two in my day, Spike. Drink it."

He tore the lid off and gulped down the liquid. It was warm. He looked up from his feeding, confused.

She seemed to read his mind. "I stopped at the quick mart. Sort of missed dinner myself. Grabbed something for me, and warmed a couple of these up while I was at it."

He was surprised at her thoughtfulness. "Thanks." He finished the blood.

"It wasn't a big deal," she shrugged it off as she handed him another container.

He drank it more slowly as he watched her walk to the fridge and put several more cartons inside. She also pulled out a box of wheatabix and held it up to him.

"You like these, right?"

He nodded, again mystified at her kindness.

She let it drop into the bag and set it by his chair. There were several boxes inside the sack. "I thought I remembered you and Giles arguing about them."

"That was nice of you."

"Yes," she agreed, "it was."

He searched her face. Was there something different there?

"What?" she glared at him.

"Nothing." He snuck a look at her again.

"Stop it. You're creeping me out."

"Sorry." He looked down.

"Ok. Well I'm leaving now."


She looked at him uncertainly again. "You're going to be all right?"

He faked some bravado for her, met her eyes and said cockily. "Oh yeah. Be coming 'round pestering you in no time. You'll be wishing you'd staked me when you had the chance." Again he saw that look on her face.

"Ok. Great. Goodbye." She hurried to the door and escaped to the sunshine.

He sipped again at the blood and tried to decipher the emotion he had seen on her face. It wasn't loathing for once. Nor was it anything resembling affection. He didn't have a lot of recent experience with any other looks. He tried to picture when he had seen that look on her face, what she had been doing, who she had been with. Suddenly he got a picture of it, and another. He knew what the look meant. He sat stunned as he realized that Buffy had looked at him with...respect.