DUET
by Avalon (avalon99@telusplanet.net)
http://members.dencity.com/avalon_online
S/B, PG, Part 1/1

**********************************************************

Well, I here's my contribution to the post-"Crush" fanfic
feeding frenzy. I'm actually one of those who didn't have
a problem with most of it (well, Dru was way too sane and
coherent, and David Fury obviously can't write her worth
beans, but other than that...)

I actually found the infamous David Fury interview much
more upsetting. So I wrote this in an effort to counter
all of Fury's so-called arguments as to why Buffy and Spike
could never be together. Imagine my surprise when I
actually came up with one I couldn't counter...

Oh, and it's heavy on the dialogue, light on the action.
Just so you know.

SUMMARY: Buffy and Spike have a conversation in the
cemetery.

SPOILERS: Season 5, up to and including "Crush".

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: To my beta reader Linda, who, between
bouts of "Crush"-induced manically-depressed spoiler highs,
even managed to get a little Beta reading in.

DISCLAIMER: They're not mine. I treat my toys much better
than that.

**********************************************************

DUET

She was dancing again, weaving a trail of destruction and
dust across the cemetery. But not with him. Never with
him.

Spike lit another cigarette and leaned back against the
tombstone, watching. Three vamps. One Slayer. No
contest. And then it was over, all too soon. Buffy came
to a halt, her chest heaving, pivoting rapidly as she
looked around for more vampires to kill. But there was
nothing. Only him. And he wasn't worth killing,
apparently.

He knew the exact moment she spotted him, saw the way her
eyes narrowed and her body stiffened.

"What are you doing here?" Her voice was frosty.

"I live here."

Buffy folded her arms. "Well, go away."

Spike smiled bitterly then knocked some ash off the end of
his cigarette against the tombstone.

"I was here first. You go away."

A pause while she glared at him then she abruptly spun on
her heel and began to stalk away. Spike debated for a long
moment, then sighed. In for a penny, in for a pound,
right?

"Buffy," he said clearly, knowing she was still within
earshot. "You can't keep running away from this."

"I'm not running away. And there is no 'this'."

"I love you."

She froze, not turning. "You don't know what love is."

"Don't I? You're wrong on that one, Slayer. I know
passion and lust, and I know love. And I know the
difference between them. Do you?"

This time she did turn back. "Spike--" she began.

He ignored her, taking in a long draught of smoke before
looking up and speaking to the night sky, almost as if she
wasn't there.

"Passion is fire and heat and now," he said calmly. "But
love, real love -- it's forever. It doesn't die, and it
doesn't stop. Not ever. It's knowing that you'd give your
life in an instant, in a heartbeat, for the one you love.
You wouldn't even have to think about it, wouldn't have to
weigh the decision, you'd just do it. Love is making
sacrifices and not even minding. Love is hurting when they
hurt, and feeling good just because they smile. Believe
me, I do know what love is."

"You don't love me that way."

"Maybe not. But I think I might be getting there."

He could almost sense the waves of disbelief and outrage
coming from the Slayer. Her fists clenched and she took a
step toward him.

"You chained me up because you 'loved' me!" she snarled.
"That's not love, Spike. It's twisted and perverted
and..."

"I never said you don't hurt the one you love. You -- god,
now I sound like a bloody country song now. Someone just
kill me now."

"Sure. No problem."

"Very Funny. Where was I? Oh yeah - the Buffy bondage.
Gotta admit, that was a mistake. But cut me some slack,
Slayer. 120 years with Drusilla didn't exactly prepare me
for a relationship that *didn't* involve chains. And
torture. Besides..."

She shook her head. "Really, really don't want to hear
this..."

He blew a gust of smoke into the night air. "Tough.
'Cause you're condemning me without even hearing my side of
things. Which is why I did it, by the way. Think you'd
ever have listened to me if I hadn't chained you up?"

"No!"

"You see my point then."

Buffy folded her arms. "No. You don't have a point.
You're pointless, Spike -- pun definitely not intended.
You're a vampire, I'm the Slayer. You can't be in love
with me."

His smile returned, briefly. "Can't use that argument,
Slayer. You've been there, done him."

"Angel was different. He has a soul. He's good."

"And I don't so I'm automatically bad, is that it?"

"Yes."

The vampire laughed, short and sharp.

"Hate to break this to you, pet, but there's a log of
humans out there with souls who are a hell of a lot more
evil than I ever managed to be. Do you even read the
newspapers? But hey, let's just keep the serial killers
and rapists out of the argument and focus on lover boy for
a minute, shall we?"

"No, let's not." She turned again, as if to go, but his
next words stopped her.

"Do you know what your boy is up to in L.A. these days?
Setting people on fire, walking away while Darla and Dru
killed a roomful of lawyers. People that begged him for
their lives. And he just walked away."

Buffy stared back at him, shock written on her face.

"I don't believe you."

"It's true. Dru told me."

"Yeah, like I'd believe anything Fruitloop, Queen of the
Lunatics, has to say."

Spike met her gaze steadily. "Doesn't matter if you
believe it or not. It's true."

The Slayer swallowed, once. Hard. "Even...even if it was
true...then he must have had a good reason..."

"So it's all right if bad things happen, so long as there's
a good reason? God, the Spanish Inquisition would have
loved you, Slayer."

She shook her head fiercely. "Stop it! You're confusing
things..."

"Well, let's make it all crystal clear then. Yes, I killed
people. For a long time. I bloody enjoyed it and I was
good at it. But not as good as Angelus. Yeah, I did a bit
of torture in my day but for the most part, I just killed
them. Angelus, though, he played with them first. You saw
what he did to Dru. Hell, you've been on the receiving end
of a little Angelus torment yourself. You know what he was
capable of."

"Angelus. Not Angel. Angel has a soul, a conscience."
Buffy's voice was stronger now, the momentary doubt he had
sensed in it before gone now. "Angel knows the difference
between good and evil. You don't."

"I know. I just never cared. 'Til now. 'Til you."

"That's not true! Everything you're doing, everything you
think is good, you're just doing because you want to get
into my pants!"

"Well, yeah!" He shot her a look. "But does it really
matter why I'm doing it? Why I'm changing? So long as I
change?"

"Yes it matters! You're...you're like Quasimodo. You have
no moral compass, you're just..."

Spike frowned. Where the hell did that come from?

"Quasimodo? OK, one -- I look nothing like him, and two
-- what's your problem with him anyway? He gave his life
to save the woman he loved. And you object to this
because...?"

"Because everything he did, he did expecting to get
something in return."

"Right. So the dying to save her was completely selfish
and he expected...uh, what exactly? Look, did you even
read the book, Summers?"

The Slayer shifted, looking away briefly. "Of course
I...that doesn't matter! What matters is that...that Angel
felt remorse when he got his soul back and he's been trying
to make up for what he did ever since."

"Right. So the fire-setting, lawyer-killing thing just
means he's taking the scenic route along the road to
redemption? You're such a hypocrite, Summers. You're
willing to give him the benefit of the doubt but you won't
give me even the smallest crumb. Even though I'm the one
who's saved you how many times, who's helped you out
and..."

"For money," she said accusingly.

"Sure," Spike said agreeably. "To start with."

"And to impress me. And because that chip doesn't give you
any choice."

Another drag on the cigarette. "Fair enough. Call it an
artificial soul then, if you like. Same result. If the
end is good, why quibble about the means?"

"Because if you ever got the chip out, you'd go right back
to your old ways. Same old evil Spike."

"Maybe. Maybe not. You don't know that. Hell, *I* don't
even know what I'd do. And we're not gonna find out until
I get this bleeding thing out of my head. But you know
what, Slayer? If it was anyone else you'd be open to the
possibility that this change just might be real.
Permanent, even."

Buffy's fists tightened again. "It isn't real. You're a
demon. It's not in your nature."

"So Anyanka is what...just biding her time?"

"Huh?"

"Anya. Vengeance demon. Remember her? You lot don't seem
to have a problem with her, even though she's got about 900
years on me when it comes to the wreaking havoc category.
And she doesn't show a hell of a lot of remorse, does she?
What, did you think her thousand years of vengeance
involved nothing worse than a few boils on blokes'
naughtier bits? Hey, I've met some vengeance demons.
Believe me, baby, they leave us vampires in the shade.
We're small potatoes, compared to them."

"I..."

He took advantage of her momentary confusion. "What's the
matter? Cat got your tongue, Slayer? So, let's just
recap, shall we? Angel, the same Angel who's currently
having fun playing with matches and taking Shakespeare way
too seriously..."

"Shakespeare?"

"'Kill all the lawyers'. Anyway, Angel has a 'Get Out of
Buffy's Bad Books Free' card because he's got a soul and
feels all sad and droopy -- at least some of the time --
about the nasty things he's done. Meanwhile, Anya gets to
be one of the Scoobies because...why? Because she's all
cute and harmless now? Well, in case you haven't been
paying attention, I'm pretty harmless too. Maybe I'm just
being thick, but I really don't see the difference."

Buffy glared at him. "Anya is mortal now. She has a
soul."

"Back to that, are we? OK. We've already agreed that
having a soul doesn't necessarily make you good..."

"Yes, but not having a soul definitely makes you bad!"

"And I can't try to be more than I am? I get no shot at
redemption, no second chance...?" Spike carefully kept his
voice flat, calm. Reasonable.

Buffy sighed, some of her anger seeming to melt away.

"But you don't want redemption," she said softly. "Not
really. You're not sorry for anything you've done, are you
Spike? You're only behaving differently because you think
you're in love with me, and because of that chip. But deep
down, you don't feel any remorse, no real interest in
redemption. Come on. Admit it."

Spike paused, a flicker of annoyance going through him.
This conversation wasn't going the way he had planned. He
had thought he would be countering all her arguments.
Instead, it was the other way round. And this one...there
wasn't a lot he could say in response, was there? Except
maybe the truth. Even though it wasn't going to help him.
Sod it. The vampire sighed then dropped the cigarette,
grinding it to ash beneath his foot.

"You're right," he said at last, meeting her gaze. "I
don't stay up days thinking about all the people I've
killed, wishing things were different. I'm not sorry and I
don't care."

Was that sadness in her eyes? A faint current of...what?
Regret?...in her voice?

"And that's why I could never love you," the Slayer replied
quietly. That's why I can't even give you the crumb you
asked for. Because there can never be anything between us.
Not ever."

Spike shifted uncomfortably. "What if I did care?
Hypothetically speaking, that is?"

She bit her lip. "I...I don't know. Maybe. Who knows?
But it's never going to happen so what's the point in even
thinking about it?"

"But what if I keep on the way I am? What if I hang around
you lot long enough and all your bloody morals and ethics
start rubbing off on me? Or this chip finally drives me
round the bleeding bend and I really do start to care?"

There was a long silence, as if she were weighing her
response. If he had needed to breathe, Spike would have
been holding his breath.

Finally, Buffy spoke. "Then...then maybe that day we'll
talk. Maybe that day I would even think about it. But
face it, Spike, it's just not going to happen. Because I
think...I think I just figured out what a soul is for."

He laughed again, the bitterness back in his voice. "To
make you feel guilty. Nice."

"No. To make you care. To feel for other people. Not
just the people you love or know. But the nameless people
you pass on the street, the people you've never seen before
and will never see again. It's knowing that they have
lives, hopes, dreams, sorrows, and that they're just as
important as you are. Maybe more. To know that they're
not just lunch and that killing them is wrong. Not because
that chip won't let you, or because you know I wouldn't
like it. But because it's wrong."

Spike's hands went to his pocket, curling around another
cigarette, but he didn't bother to light it. Instead, he
stared back at her through the darkness, frustration and
unhappiness warring within him.

"So that's it then? Lesson over?"

Buffy nodded. "Yeah. You ever start feeling sorry, Spike,
maybe then...then we'll talk. Until then..."

"I know. 'Stay out of my life, get off the planet, blah-
bloody-blah.'"

She gave him a long, slow look then turned and began to
walk away, not looking back. "Goodbye."

"Slayer...?"

She paused briefly. "What?"

"I...I don't know if that's ever going to happen. Right
now, I'd say there's not a chance in hell. But what were
the odds I'd fall in love with the Slayer in the first
place? Who'd have thought I'd be helping people rather
than eating them. Me. Spike. William the Bloody. All I
know is...things change."

"Yeah," she said emotionlessly to the empty air in front of
her. "But do you?"

"I don't know. Maybe."

"Goodbye, Spike."

"See you around, Slayer."

THE END