Pretend I am Invincible

by: Isabelle

Disclaimers: Characters do not belong to me they belong to Joss.

Summary: Buffy's POV. S/B This is a post-Gift fiction. Probably set in S6

Rating: PG-13

Feedback: bih80reviews@yahoo.com

Special Thanks to: Tracy for doing this Beta for me!!

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He's staring at me again. I've tried to avoid his penetrating gaze but it follows me like the warm spring air. It's like an ever present feeling, a brush, a caress...which I really don't like or appreciate. The the moment I opened my eyes. First I saw Dawn then I saw him.

I was startled at first but now I just ignore it like I did in the past. He doesn't care, and that's what pisses me off. He's there, staring with his blue eyes. And since when did I notice his eyes were blue? Damn that vampire and his effect on me. Not that he has any effect on me other than loathing and disgust, it's that I just wish he would get a life.

I'm sorta in a frightening way, flattered, but this entire love-capade has to end, and soon.

Now he's gazing.

The problem is that it's not really an "I'm in love with you" gaze; it's more of an "I know you" gaze. Which, being anyone else, would be fine. But not me, not the Slayer, not Buffy. Knowing me means loathing me, the real me. He looks at me as if he knows me. As if he understands me.

Not even Angel understood me; he left. If he really understood me he would have stayed, he would have seen how much I needed him.

So what is Spike's problem? I ask him to leave; he stays. I tell him to drop dead; he reminds me he is dead. And he just looks as if he knows that any moment now I will break down and give in. He was right; he is a monster.

The only reason I treat him like a man is because he treats me like a woman.

He doesn't separate the frightened girl who needs her mother and the Slayer who needs the monsters. He sees the woman who needs both comfort and challenge.

I really don't know why I am analyzing what Spike sees in me. I don't know why he doesn't skip town and find a nice she-demon to have lots of little demons.

Just leave. Leave and don't come back.

I plead with him. Inside myself I beg him every time he gets too close, every time he looks, every time I smell his cigarettes the smoke burns my throat. I beg him: leave! Go. Run away, far away. You don't want me, you have no idea the pain behind loving me. I'm not worth it.

I keep hoping that my cold glares and my indifferent attitude will drive him away. I pray for him to show up on my door and say, "Slayer, nice knowing ya, be seeing ya."

But I wait by the door, and the only thing that he says once I open it is, "Ready for patrol?"

I fume.

How dare he? How dare he break the Buffy rules?

Buffy rule number one: Man loves Buffy, Buffy loves Man= Man leaves Buffy. Buffy rule number two: Buffy likes man = Man claims she doesn't care enough. Buffy rule number three: Man loves Buffy = Buffy pushes man away and he leaves.

So why can't he fall under one of those damn categories? Why can he just pick one, just one, and go with the historical flow? Why does he stand there staring at me as if he knows me, smirking and smoking, reading me inside out?

I leave for patrol; he's waiting for me. I need help with Dawn; he offers before I even ask. What is his problem?

He truly pisses me off. Standing all gallant with his chest puffed up and his lips twisting in that familiar smile. I hate him.

I know he loves me but I hate him. I hate him for loving me. I hate his smokes and his leather. I hate his sarcasm. I hate his politically incorrect jokes. I hate the way he tries to be good and succeeds. I hate his face and the way he looks under the moonlight. I hate all of him.

So I proposed myself a treaty. Every night I will point out to myself a flaw in Spike. The more flaws I find, the more I'll hate him. The worse I treat him, the faster he'll leave.

This all makes sense in my head.

So every night we go patrol and I start making my list.

Day one: He smokes. I hate guys who smoke. Therefore I distance myself from him. Day two: He's arrogant. Therefore I ignore him. I know it upsets him but I can see the growth in his pants and I curse the masochist vampire who enjoys the tension. Day three: The Nail polish. The problem? For some reason he's not wearing it anymore. Damn, scratch that. Day four: The bleach. It's ridiculous, I couldn't take him anywhere, not like I am going to, but damn that bleach. So I mention it. His response: Plan to take me out? I fume. Day five: The leather coat. It's a statement. A way of saying, "Watch out, I am the big bad." I mention it; he asks me if I want it. As he starts to take off I change my mind. Too much skin exposure means distraction. Besides, we wouldn't want a hormone-driven teen to jump on him and ruin our patrol. Day Six: The accent. It's fake, I am so sure. He told me he grew up in the upper society of England. I ask him why he fakes it; he replies he's faked it so long, it feels natural. Stupid vampire and his stupid reasoning. Day seven: He has scars. Lots of them. I take him anywhere and they'll think he's in a gang. I asked him were he got the scars, he told me he got them from Glory. That shut me up. It was an uncomfortable patrol after that.

After an entire week of studying Spike I have my analysis. He's a jerk. He just stands about waiting for me to give him a command and do it. Pity that the only one he doesn't obey is the one that says, "Leave me alone".

The next day I decide to go on a date with this guy named Mike. Mike is a normal guy with no bleach and no leather. He wears chinos and cotton. We go to eat ice cream. Well, that's inventive.

He's extremely nice, opens doors, orders for me--strawberry, which I loathe--but I eat it smiling. We talk. I notice he has grayish eyes. He would be really cute if his eyes were blue. His hair is wavy brown, and I can't keep myself from suggesting that he highlight it--with pale blond. I realize that I've said this outloud and he looks at me as if I've grown three heads. I quickly recover by saying it was a joke and laugh fakely to cover up my ramblings. Halfway through our date it starts getting late. I need to patrol. He doesn't want the night to end.

He needs a reason. Why can't I stay out later? Can he see me tomorrow for lunch? I can't, I have training. I turn him down twice and he walks away saying he'll call me. He won't. I know.

I liked Mike; he was a normal guy on a date with a not-so normal girl.

I walk home, defeated and feeling wretched and abused.

I feel him before I round the corner to my house. He's there, sitting on my porch with Dawn and laughing with her. I decide to stay back and watch them. I think he's telling her a joke because my sister-the-key is laughing it up, clutching her hands at her mid-section.

He's crying from laughter and I realize that he had dimples. Tiny ones. His front tooth is also a bit crooked so when he smiles it kinda stands out, giving him a little-boy appearance.

I suddenly realize that he's never laughed like that with me. He's always serious and controlled. I remember months ago, him sitting on my kitchen counter with Mom and Dawn, laughing at Mom's silly stories. Once I enter the room, he's serious again.

What is it about men and me? Why do I do this to them, push them away?

I realize I really push Spike away; he just fails to be pushed. He stays there. No matter how many times I beat him up, no matter how many insults, he stays there. Standing proud, not only to be a man, but to be our man. Dawn's and mine.

I hate him for it. Next time we talk I'll ask him to leave and never come back. I approach them quietly but he senses me. Damn those vampire senses. When they know I'm near they stop laughing and look at me. I force I smile, and under Spike's appreciate gaze I try not to blush but fail miserably.

"Hey Buffy! How was your date?" Dawn asks and Spike looks away, uncomfortable.

I force another smile, this time bigger. Gotta fool them, gotta tell them I had the time of my life. I need to hurt Spike; maybe he'll go away.

"It was great! I really like him."

He says nothing but takes out a cigarette and lights it up. Reason number one not to like him, I remind myself.

"Yeah? Did you guys have things in common?" she asks.

"Um, yeah. Of course we did. He's just a nice normal guys for normal Buffy," I say. I know it's cruel but I need him to know what I need.

"Um, ok." Dawn says uncomfortable. She looks at Spike.

He's trying to ignore our conversation but there's hurt in his face. I can see it.

I pretend to be indifferent. Indifference will keep me from getting hurt. It'll make him go away. Swat him away like a fly. Don't flies keep returning time after time when you swat them? Drawn to the warmth of your skin? I ignore my own mental analogy.

"So, Spike." I ask, "What are you doing here?" Indifference swims in my own words.

He blows out the smoke from his cigarette. "Patrol, Slayer. Why are you 'ere?" he contradicts.

"You don't have to," I start but he interrupts.

"I want to, he states firmly.

Super upset. I hate him.

"Fine. Wait here. I need to change." I barge upstairs.

Rummaging through my clothes, I find nothing to wear. I just did laundry yesterday but nothing seems proper. Sweats will be too trashy, a skirt will be too dressy. That shirt is too tight. With this coat I look bigger.

Who the hell am I trying to impress, Demon USA?

I decide on jeans and a tank. Safe on both sides.

My security blanket gets thrown out the door when Spike sees me and I see the glimmering lust in his blue eyes.

Ok, so what am I supposed to wear now, a toga?

I walk fast so he has to catch up. From the corner of my eye I see he's very amused by my attitude.

"Bad date?" he asks.

I stop and turn to glare at him. "None of your business," I retort. I realize then it's the wrong answer. It answered the question I was trying to avoid.

"What was he lacking? Character? Balls? Personality?.....Style?" he rambles.

I ignore him but think about his words.

"Shut up, Spike," I demand.

"Damn, Slayer. Run out of snappy retorts? And I thought it was going to be a fun night." He lights another cigarette.

"Spike..." I warn.

"What's wrong? Normal chap # 302 turn out to be a dork after all? Could've just asked me. I could've told ya, he said happily.

I glare at him. I really don't know why I let him get to me like this. It's like he hits the right nerve and it bounces out Buffy-bitch.

"He happens to be perfectly perfect."

He looks amused. I didn't know there were different stages of amusement but he must be in the top levels.

"Yeah, until you had to pull out an excuse from Buffy's bag-oh-tricks and go off to patrol." He says as he blows out his cigarette smoke.

"Why do you torment me? Why don't you just leave me alone? Go away, far away, never come back," I said very icily.

He stares at me and for a brief second I think he might take me up on the offer.

He doesn't. He half smiles, half pouts. "Why? So I can be all heroic like Angel? Or act abused and mistreated like Finn-boy? Or better yet, shag you raw and bounce off the bed the next morning like Casanova. Is that what you want?"

He gets closer and I almost start to pant. "Tell me, Buffy. Is that what you really want me to do? Do you want to go off to patrol one day and realize Spike's not there? Spike left. Spike's not coming back." I am sure I am sweating now. "Do you want that? Do you really want that?"

His almost non-existent breath tickles my skin.

"Say it and I'm gone." He pauses and looks into my eyes. "Say it. I dare you to say it. Tell sweet bit that Spike's gone because you wanted him to. Say it."

I say nothing, I'm afraid of what either answer would mean.

"No...you won't say it. Not meaning it anyways. Cause you expect me to be there. You expect me to stand there and stare at you. You expect me to bounce back with every throw you take, with every poison word you vent on me. That's what you expect. That's what you really want. And that's what you're going to get."

He turns to leave.

At the moment I am incoherent of thought. I don't know why I don't push him away; I don't know why I let him talk to me that way. Angel would have never...

He's leaving and fear creeps up my belly.

"Spike!" I call out. I didn't know I was going to call out. Why doesn't my mouth consult with me before speaking?

He turns and looks at me. Those same blue eyes burn me, talk to me as if they know me. Stand by me while I push away.

He stares. He waits. If I would keep him waiting for years--he'll stay.

I swallow my pride. It was a rough swallow.

"Same time tomorrow?" I ask, barely audible.

He waits. I wait.

He smiles. He's never smiled like that at me.

He nods and leaves.

*Damn that vampire.*

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