Taste of Juliet

Author: Megan/Peta (megpfbigpond.com)

Rating: Strong R

Timeline: BtVS Season 4, post Harsh Light of Day

Summary: Buffy's evening takes a drastic turn when she discovers an extremely ill Spike, collapsed and half-starved on a stormy Sunnydale night.  It isn't until she promises to help him that she realizes that her life will never be the same.

Disclaimer: The characters herein are the property of Joss Whedon. They are being used for entertainment purposes and not for the sake of profit. No copyright infringement is intended. Chapter one

Buffy found him.  Soaked through with rain; miserable and half starved to death and for some reason, it didn't even occur to her to stake him.  He lay unconscious under a tree on the university grounds and would no doubt dust at first light.  Buffy's feet changed direction and she took two steps, three, five before turning back to him in an almost desperate panic.  She knelt over him and rolled him over.

His haunting blue eyes stood stark against his pasty wet face, reminding her that the steady pelt of rain had not come to an abrupt end in the last two minutes since she had discovered him.  His open eyes were unexpectedly focused and she sucked in a breath in surprise that he seemed aware enough of her being there. But if he did, he closed them without further acknowledgment. He was soaked through to the skin and his body periodically shook in reaction, making Buffy jump in gut wrenching agony.  Why, she couldn't tell.  This once frightening and evil warrior had helped her save the world, and as evil as he remained, at that one time she fancied she had recognised something worthy in him.  It was vague, and she didn't consciously understand it, nor at this moment did she seek too.  Something of him called to her, something almost mystical, deep and primal, otherwise she would never have found him under the tree.

With a shaking hand she pushed back some sopping curls from his forehead, marvelling at this new information.  'Holy shit, Spike has curls,' ran through her mind, as confusing to her as the steady thump of her heart caused merely by her fingertips barely whispering against his skin.  If she had ever thought about him much she might have noticed that the gel that created a hard helmet of his bleached hair was for a reason. As it was, the knowledge now came to her in an almost affectionate shock.

Something of her strangely gentle touch must have reached his awareness again as he cracked open an exhausted and ailing eyelid.

"Slayer," his hoarse voice rasped.  No surprise, no fear, almost like he was used to seeing her beside him.  "Help me."  His hand reached for her awkwardly but dropped from the air in weakness and fatigue halfway along its path.  Again he closed his eyes and lost consciousness.

Buffy reached for his hand, no hesitation about her movements at all, and stroked the skin of his palm.  In a completely spontaneous gesture she curled the hand and placed the knuckles against her lips.  A single tear slid from her watery eyes and dripped from her cheek to his lazy fist.  Her mind was suspended in fear, 'What could have done this to someone so strong?'

"Hold on Spike," she whispered.  "I'll help you."

With that she slung him over her shoulder like an enormous bag of potatoes and ran for Giles's, knowing that there would be confrontation and refusal, but determined that he would help them.  Besides, for something so horrible to happen, there must be something bad about.  They would need him for information.

For all Spike's attempts to kill her, Buffy almost cried at the relief she always felt when she laid eyes on him during his various returns to Sunnydale, and she could go to bed knowing that he still existed somewhere in the world. That he was not yet dust.  But tonight, she knew, sleep would be a little more evasive.  Giles would just have to suck it up and help, and that was that.  Spike was her vampire.  The death he seemed to be courting right now?  Not bloody acceptable!  She giggled humourlessly at her Spikism, but groaned in relief when Giles's door came into view. She stopped for a moment, and lowered her head, trying to summon courage with her steady view of the pavement.  Then she heard the whispered " Buffy," from the mouth against her back and knew an almost delirious happiness that she had no explanation for.  She straightened her spine and marched determinedly for the door and almost certain disappointment from the face of the man she could call dad. Chills suddenly prickled under her skin as she remembered that horrible day in the library when her friends had invited her to her own intervention.  Angel's return: what a doozy of a day that was, and now she was bringing another vampire stray to her watchers door.  'Will history please stop repeating itself', she called out to whatever interfering little powers out there continued to muddy up her path. 

 For once she didn't care.  Spike would die from no other cause than one that she could inflict, and she would not kill him from neglect.  This was not like Angel, she wouldn't hide from the Scoobies condemnation.  There was something personal about this, something they could not understand as normal humans, how could they understand when she didn't herself?  All she knew, all she felt, was that her survival somehow depended on his.  Why else would she be relieved that he walked away almost unscathed and undead from their battles?  There was almost pride that she hurt him but never destroyed him.  She was proud of him that he gave as good as he got, that he never backed down, that he liked to keep fighting her.  It thrilled her to know someone like that, someone not intimidated by her strength, someone who in fact revelled in it.

Somewhere down deep she suspected that if it came right down to it, and it had been Spike she had had to send to hell through Acathla, she may have flipped out anyway in the very same way.  Angel and Spike were linked, and no matter how much they hated each other- abhorred each other- she could never see either of them as the disgusting, murdering animals that haunted her nights.  Vampires on the whole disgusted her -and Spike frightened her, though she would never admit it- but she could never put Spike or Angel up against her eternal measure of vampire badness.  Even Drusilla jumped into her weird 'save that vampire logic'.  It must all be about family then.  It was almost like, as much as she belonged with the Scoobies, Angel's introduction to his family had also made her one of them.  Oh, she could probably kill them all if she had too, but way down deep, she didn't want to.  They were linked alright, and now she was starting to see that there was something almost special about that family, atleast the men of the family, though something dark bordered on her almost acceptance of Dru.  Something like maybe her heart and soul belonged to them.  Spike was not a normal vampire, as Giles himself admitted begrudgingly once she told him of Spike's role in helping save the Watcher and defeating Angelus, but that would still gain him little favour once they stepped across the threshold. 

There was the door, and with a heavy dread, but a renewed sense of right, she pounded on it with her closed fist.