AN: Okay, so this is a little story that I've written over the course of this overcast Easter weekend lol. It's loosely based on/inspired by the book Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin (not the crappy movie, which I watched for the first time on Friday night and thought sucked monkey balls). It's quite angsty and fluffy but it's the first AH fic I've ever written and it kind of flew out of my head over the course of 3 days lol. I'm only about one chapter away from finishing it (it's not that long, I have 6 chapters written already, with probably only one more to write). But I have really enjoyed writing it and I hope you'll all enjoy reading it :)
Disclaimer: Same rules. I own nothing. Not the characters or the hot image you get in your head when I mention Spike's eyes (that belongs to James Marsters, I think lol) and the story is inspired by the book by Emily Griffin, which I also don't own. This is just a love letter to Spuffy and I'm not making money from it. But god, what a cool job it would be if I was, eh?
There are things about my childhood that still have the ability to hurt. Even now on this day, at this age.
People say that when you grow up, all your gripes and hurts and moans fade away and become the stuff of nostalgia. It's probably this kind of attitude that makes children think all adults are just a little bit insane. But then, don't all adults think all children are a little insane? I'm actually not quite sure which side of that argument I fall on, even now.
The world views me as an adult, sure. Anti-wrinkle cream can only go so far, it ain't magic after all. But the fact that I still go to bed and wake up with the same thoughts and fears makes me seriously question just how much I've grown. Or if I even have at all. What if everyone else in the world is actually growing up and facing their fears and getting on with buying their houses and cars and they really mean it? What if they're not faking like I am?
Fact is, my fears still wear the same face. My insecurities still speak with the same voice. Everything I want still falls into the lap of the same person. Drusilla Rhone. She keeps me down while she flies through life. And I let her.
After all, that's what BFFs are for, right?
"Happy 30th Birthday!" yell approximately forty people. Only two of whom I would actually call friends, of course. Just shoot me in the head.
Better paste on a smile and paste it on good, cause you'll be stuck here for a good few hours.
Dru, the undoubted ringleader of this little ambush, darts forward out of the crowd to embrace me, pulling me so tight against her body that I can barely draw breath. Even when she's loving me, she suffocates me. I can practically hear Xander's voice in my head telling me to suck it up and deal with my choices. You're the one that stays with her, he says. I tell him to shut it and he gives me the finger.
"Oh, look at you - 30 years old, Buff! Can you believe it?" Drusilla says, her arm around me. I wince a little, trying to think of the appropriate quirky response that'll get me out of this situation without her turning her pity eyes on me.
"I can believe it," I say. "I just don't want to accept it".
"Did you guess, huh?" she asks, practically bouncing in the air with excitement.
"Did I guess what, Dru?"
"The party of course, you beast!"
Oh great. Her nickname for me from when we were 12 is making a re-appearance.
Its first appearance coincided with the advent of my first period, which had the audacity to appear before Dru's did. She took it upon herself to throw a hissy fit in my bathroom when I was bleeding all over the place and struck with the sudden urge to cry out for my mother, who had died two years previously.
"You're welcome to it, Buffy. My mom said you're gonna get hair all over your body like a beast and be bent over in pain for a week every month. And the younger you are when you first get it, the worse it is. So, enjoy your first period, beast!"
Of course, Dru's period hadn't taken long to join the party and by then, well, it was a sign of how old and mature you were, of course. It had gone from the worst curse in the world to the happiest most fantabulous thing ever in the space of three months. But the beast nickname stuck around for a good few years after that, always said with that twinkle in Dru's eye, and I would be struck with the sudden urge to find a mirror to make sure I was no longer that 12 year-old bleeding girl crying out for a mother that would never come.
And apparently now it was back, in all its glory, for my 30th birthday. Happy Birthday to me.
"No, of course I didn't guess. You think I would've worn my crappy work clothes if I knew I was going straight to a party?"
"And those shoes, Buff. Seriously. One of these weekends, I'm gonna drag you out of that shitty apartment of yours and into the mall."
One of these days I'm gonna stab you in the eye, Dru.
"Well, you know me. Why waste money on shoes I'm hardly ever going to wear?"
"Maybe so you can get yourself a man for the first time in your life?"
Right in the eye, Dru.
"Oh never mind! You're impossible. Let's just get your party started!" she cries, turning around and blocking me from said party. But when the crowd cheers and swallows her up, I can honestly not even find it in myself to begrudge her this. Yeah, it's my birthday but she's right: she's the one that puts herself out there. Why shouldn't she get the attention and adoration?
I follow her into the crowd that is made up of people I don't even really recognise and see that Dru has herself a little stage and microphone set up. Huh. Amazing it took her 29 years to get one of those.
"Okay, okay, hush everyone! I want everyone's attention!"
"I am getting married in 81 days people!" she cries, and another piece of me breaks. My eyes dart to her massive engagement ring that has been blinding me for the last six months. I feel the familiar wave of misery overtaking me.
"Yes, yes, I'm getting married. But my darling future husband-to-be already knows that he has to share me. You see my true love, first and foremost, will always be you, Buffy."
My eyes tear up as she looks straight at me. For a moment, all the hurt fades away as she looks at me and I can almost feel us sliding back to when our friendship really was the best thing in our lives. Before it was poisoned by time, insecurity, jealousy and a thousand other things that chip away at your childhood to turn you into an adult. My heart beats a little quicker at the reminder of all that I've shared with Dru. All I've shared with her... and all I've given up to her.
"She is my one true love. She always has been and she always will be. Some friendships are meant to last. Buffy, I promise you, ours will last forever. This is for you, Buff," she says with a smile.
The lights dim. A screen has been set up to her left. All eyes focus on the images now appearing on the screen, accompanied by some cheesy music playing in the background.
Me and Dru at 5 years old - Dru dumping her sand bucket and its contents on my crying face. Me and Dru in our tutu's - hands held, toes pointed, smiles wide and happy. Me and Dru at camp in that smelly old log cabin - Dru's head laying in my lap, a goofy smile on both our faces. Me and Dru on prom-night - Dru clutching Angel's arm with her left hand and my arm with her right, Xander on my other side sporting one of his stupid grins. Dru and me in our graduation caps - Dru pressing a kiss into my face while I've been caught in the middle of a burst of laughter. Dru and me in her first real apartment after college - the two of us posing in Madonna outfits, ready to go out and party the night away. Me and Dru on the night of her engagement, a mere six months ago - the night my heart finally shattered into a million pieces, though you'd never guess from the photo of our smiling faces. The lights come back up as I turn my now blotchy face back towards Dru.
"Always and forever, Buff," she says, smiling at me. She mouths I love you to me as the crowd breaks into awws and cheers and the occasional Happy Birthday. I smile and mouth I love you back and she places down her microphone to make her way over to me.
Before she can, I feel breath on my neck and a hand lightly resting on my upper back. My body breaks out in goosebumps and I know exactly who it is behind me.
"Happy Birthday, luv," he whispers in my ear. I briefly shut my eyes to savour his closeness, before I can remind myself how wrong it is to enjoy the little stolen moments with him. Before I can get my fill of the savouring, I hear Dru's voice call out to the source of my happiness.
"Spike! Come help me get off the stage, my platforms are too high."
And he's gone. He's reaching out to help her down. She's laughing. Her arm is around his perfect shoulders. He's leaning into her and placing a kiss on her temple. And I'm dying all over again. Happy Birthday to me.
The first time me and Dru got drunk, she was sick all over my bedroom carpet. We'd sneaked into my dad's study and found a bottle of whiskey that was half-finished and secreted it away to my bedroom. Dru said that since we were now teenagers, it was time to act like grown-ups. We'll never be treated as adults if we don't do what adults do, Buffy. She'd brought over one of her mom's shot glasses - of which Mrs Edna Rhone had many - and we took it in turns to drink the foul liquid. I lasted three glasses before I felt the first wave of nausea. Dru only made it two. In the midst of my third glass, she turned the most hideous shade of green I'd ever seen.
That's the colour she is right now.
"Will you tell Spike that I'm fine, Buff! Come on, I don't wanna go home yet. It's your BIRTHDAY!"
The last word was yelled directly into my ear as she hung between Spike on her left and me on her right, her arms round both our shoulders.
"Spike's just looking out for you, Dru. You know what prolonged alcohol intake does to your complexion. And I'm sure he doesn't want to marry you when your face looks like a map of China."
Spike chokes on a laugh as he catches my eye and I relish the feeling of me and him having something from which Dru is excluded for a second.
"No, you're right, you're right. My lovely Spike. He loves me too much to want me to be ugly."
Spike doesn't care about that, I want to say... but that wouldn't really be my place. Instead, I plaster a smile on my face and help Spike half-drag Dru out of the bar onto the street. She hangs more on me as Spike sticks his hand out to hail a cab. I almost topple from the force when she pulls me to her to kiss me on the cheek.
"Happy Birthday, beast. Love you for always."
I am just about to reply when she continues.
"You really should use that cream I got you for your birthday, Buff. Your skin looks like a 90 year-old man's up close."
A cab pulls up and she disentangles herself from me and practically throws herself into Spike's arms, which immediately come around her. After he's deposited her in the cab he turns to me with a half-smile on his face.
"I'd have said it's more like a beautiful 30 year-old's."
He winks at me and I feel myself blush. I say thanks as he once again wishes me a happy birthday and then he's in the cab with Dru and they're driving away. I watch them go until they're out of sight and then turn to head back into the bar.
Happy b-day, B. Don't forget, life begins at 30. Or is it 40?
Fuck you, Harris.
Such language from such a sweet girl. What would Dru say?
Don't start. It's my birthday.
So I can start tomorrow then?
One more comment and I'm not texting you back.
Oh just keep your knickers on.
You've been in London for a year and already you're adopting the language?
Of course, gov'ner. Wot-wot.
Lol. I miss you.
So come visit me this summer.
Dru's getting married in 3 months. Can't.
Heaven forbid you not be there when she clicks her fingers, eh?
Strike 3. I'm out. I'll text you tomorrow. Love you xx
Yeah, yeah. Love you too, Buff. Happy B-day xx
I put my phone back in my bag - Prada clutch, thank you very much - and sigh. The party-goers have dispersed. If I ever needed a clue that they were actually here for Dru and not me, I'd have got it as soon as I came back in. Most murmured their well-wishes but broke off into little groups and then finally made their way out the door. No invitation to come with them was offered. I retreated to the little booth I'm now sitting in and set a standing order at the bar for a Glenfiddich and soda water. It's my drink for two reasons: to piss off the pretentious, serious whiskey drinkers of the world who think it's sacrilege to put soda-water in their precious beverage of choice; and because it annoys Dru to be reminded of one of the few times I beat her in our lives.
So, this is it. I'm now 30. Everyone my age is either married or getting married, in jobs that they love, having kids or living lives that are just bursting with possibilities. And I'm sitting in a bar on my own, the sole-survivor of my lacklustre birthday party that was attended by people I don't really know, who were all there to see my best friend. I'm alone, I hate my job and I've never had a long-term man in my life. Unless you count Stanley, the plumber who fixed the water pipe in my first post-college apartment and ended up stalking me for six months.
I still can't quite understand where I went so wrong. I did everything I was supposed to. I studied in school. I never took drugs. I didn't have sex 'til I thought it meant something (which it turns out it didn't - to him at least). I chose a sensible profession as an editor instead of seeking my dream job as an artist. And I always try to put other people's feelings first. Xander says that's my biggest problem. But then, Xander answers the phone saying "hell-ooooo", so his opinion doesn't count.
I really wish he was here right now. While Dru was the official Best Friend™, Xander was my closest friend. He moved to LA when he was 10 and me and Dru were 8. He moved in next to Dru and she immediately took a disliking to him. It never made sense to me, because even as an 8 year old, I could see that Xander was a good one, as my mom would say. He didn't pull my hair, like most boys did, he never made fun of my height, and when Stacy Wright dumped her cola on my head in school, Xander pushed her face into her mashed-potatoes. When I wasn't with Dru, I was with Xander. He was my prom-date in senior year and spent the night trying to make me feel better when Dru was pressed against Angel on the dance floor.
Angel. My high school crush. I had such a thing for him. Whenever he was near me, I felt like choking. I couldn't talk to him, a fact that Dru threw in my face repeatedly as evidence of my freakiness. She said if you wanted a guy, you had to make a good impression. And I guess I did in the end. Right in his crotch. He'd felt me up at the after-prom party when Dru was in the bathroom. Turns out the way to cure my crush was to actually talk to him. He was an ass. A gropey ass. But I hadn't known that when Dru had started flirting with him in the halls at the start of our senior year.
We weren't freaks in school but we weren't Queen Bees either. Dru sparkled of course. She was popular enough. I, of course, got by through my close association with Dru. It's one of the things that always sticks in my head when Xander goes on one of his rants about how Dru is poison to me: she could have dumped me on my ass in high school. There was an unspoken invitation from the popular elite that if she dumped me and made them her default friends, she'd be welcomed with open arms. But she never did. She gave up supreme popularity for her friendship with me and that's a damn big thing for a high-school girl.
Well, anyway. She got with Angel. I was upset but never said anything. Xander moaned on my behalf. And it all culminated on prom-night when he felt me up. I introduced myself to his crotch, though not the way he'd planned it, and Dru threw a hissy fit in Lisa Manson's living room. Xander still does impressions of her voice all high-pitched screaming, "YOU SON OF A BITCH!"
It makes me miss him more to think of old times. He moved to London about a year ago following his dream job (and dream girl) over the pond. I miss him more today than ever before. Mostly because he loves me and I love him. But also because he's my one outlet. He's the only one who knows my deepest secret. The only secret I have ever kept from Dru in my entire life. The one that keeps me up at night and makes me turn down every semi-normal man that tries to enter my life. The secret that breaks my heart about six times a week.
I'm in love with someone I can't have. I'm in love with someone I met first and then watched slide away from me. I'm in love with a man my best friend is going to marry in 82 days. I'm in love with Spike... William...
"What are you still doing here, pet?"
"Wh-what are you doing here?"
"Oh, I was sent back out," he smiles, ruefully. "Dru left her Chanel clutch."
Of course. I have a Prada clutch, so she's got to get a Chanel clutch.
"Oh, do you want me to help you find it?"
"Already have, luv." He waves the bag at me with an adorable little hand shake and I fight the urge to giggle. "But then I saw you sitting here all alone. Where is everyone?"
"Oh, well," I blush, not wanting to admit that actually everyone at my birthday party were Dru's friends, not mine. He's looking at me like he knows it already, so I abandon the sentence and just smile, releasing a huff of breath.
"Well, this just isn't right," he says, sliding into the booth opposite me. "The birthday girl can't be sitting on her own."
"It's not my birthday any more," I say, indicating the clock on the wall which reads 00:34am.
"Birthdays last 'til you go to bed and you know it, luv. It's the unspoken rule."
"Is that right?"
"Of course. The downside is that they also don't start 'til you wake up, as my mother told me on the night before my 9th birthday when I was trying to convince her to let me stay up 'til midnight so I could open my presents then."
Why, oh why is he so damn perfect?
I smile indulgently. "A lawyer from the cradle, weren't you?"
"No need to insult me, you little bitch."
I laugh, relaxing into it in a way I haven't allowed myself with him since the engagement party six months before. He's smiling at me, his eyes twinkling, and I feel myself warm from the tip of my toes to the top of my head.
"So, a birthday drink for the birthday girl. Glenfiddich and soda water?"
"You don't have to. Don't you have to get back to Dru?"
"Dru, at this very moment, is passed out cold on the couch and I am wide awake and sitting across from a girl in serious need of some birthday cheer. Besides, you're my friend too, aren't you? I don't always have to share you with Dru, do I?"
My heart starts going like one of those jungle drums as he looks right in my eyes. I fight the urge to just explode with the truth. I love you! I'm in love with you! I've loved you for years! You should have been with me! I loved you first! Why didn't you love me, want me, need me?
Instead, I down the rest of my drink and tip the glass to him.
"You know the drink. Don't make me wait for it on my birthday, Willie."
"Such a feisty bitch," he smirks, drifting over to the bar.
I thank whichever god is most fashionable these days for granting me this small amount of time in his company.
When I got into UCLA I just about hit the ceiling with joy. It was my first choice. Okay, so I could have gone to a few other, better colleges. But UCLA was my first choice for a reason: Dru wanted to get in. She wanted it more than anything. Her father and mother had met there and it was her Mecca. Well, I got in. She didn't. Yeah, I know it's petty and I know it's childish and I know it says something awful about me that I felt great about it, but I can't help it - I did feel great about it.
Dru, of course, wasn't best pleased but she quickly re-directed her ire into other areas; namely making sure to beat me in every other way she could. So, when I got an internship with a publishing house in my freshman year, which was almost impossible to do, she got her dad (Mr Ethan Thackery Rhone, thank you very much) to put in a call and get her an actual job, with no college education, with one of the biggest publishing houses in Los Angeles. It only lasted for three months because she ended up having an affair with one of the junior partners, but it didn't matter. That was a very firm win to Dru. She showed me. Whatever I could do, she could do better.
But still, I almost flourished at college away from Dru. Oh, we were still inseparable outside of school but for those few hours a day I was in class or at the library and away from the immediate presence of Dru, I could feel myself breathing freely. I was lighter, happier. And that only got better on 15th October of my sophomore year.
I was in the library juggling about a million books in my midget arms, as Dru always called them, when I felt someone bump into my back as I stood between the stacks. I catapulted forward dropping every one of my books, sprawling spread-eagled on the floor, face down, on top of my pile of books, with my ass sticking up in the air.
The first thing I became aware of was a sound like someone choking. I gingerly pushed myself up from the floor to twist round and see what was making that noise. And that's when I saw him.
He was standing before me bent at the waist, hands braced on his legs, tears of laughter leaking from his eyes. His beautiful blue eyes. He had shocking peroxide white hair; spiked up in some areas, curling in others. He was wearing what in LA is a big no-no - black jeans, black t-shirt (with Led Zeppelin written on it) and big combat boots. He was absolutely beautiful and my breath whooshed out of my mouth in a rush as I watched him raise his head to look into my eyes.
"I'm so sorry, really, I'm..." he said, still bent over and wheezing from laughter. "It's just you looked so funny. You looked like..." he started giggling again "... a starfish."
I could feel my face cracking into a grin, despite the fact he knocked me over, then started laughing at me. There was something about him that said he wasn't laughing at me, so much as the situation.
"You looked so..." he trailed off again, bending over to laugh. I found myself joining him - still sitting on the floor on top of my books. We laughed for what felt like forever, until I couldn't even remember what I'd found so funny in the first place, tears leaking out of our eyes and my cheeks hurting from smiling so much.
Eventually I looked back up at him and his laughter had died down to a half-embarrassed, half-fond smile. He reached out his hand to help me up. As I took it, I felt an almighty zing of electricity surge through my arm. When I came to be standing in front of him, he flashed a brilliant grin at me and didn't let go of my hand while he bent down to offer my fallen-books to me with his other hand. I opened my bag to him and he stuffed in as many as he could, grabbing the ones that didn't fit and walking me over to a nearby empty table. All while still holding my hand.
I was in a daze by the time he finally let me go, falling into a seat only to have him fall into the one beside me.
"I'm Spike," he said, his eyes dancing.
"Buffy," I replied breathlessly.
"Nice to meet you, Buffy."
I was a goner from the start.
His eyes did a twinkling thing when he got really into a story. They always had. His eyes are my first memory of him. Not his laughter or his hair or his clothes or his perfect face. His eyes. So blue. It always feels like they'll set me on fire if I look into them for too long.
"... couldn't tell her about it. I was desperately trying to signal her across the courtroom but she wouldn't look up at me. Probably thought I was trying to flip her the bird or something."
"Well, you did hate her and she knew it."
"Yeah, but not enough to let her walk around a court with her skirt tucked into her knickers. Not a complete bastard, am I?"
"No, you're not," I laugh. "Although you did assault me then laugh at me the first time we met."
"You looked like a starfish!" he yells, laughing, gaining us the attention of a few patrons still left in the bar.
One of them, a gorgeous brunette who looks very much like Drusilla, openly ogles Spike. In his suit with his jacket off, his hair still the same spiked white peroxide blonde as in college, he is without doubt the hottest guy in the bar - hell, in my opinion, in the whole damn city. The brunette has clearly zeroed in on the other hottest person in the bar, no doubt wanting to mate with him and make perfectly-featured spawn. Her eyes turn to me, the drab blonde in a drab work suit sitting with the Greek-God-like man. Her nose wrinkles as she clearly tries to work out what the hell I'm doing here being blessed with the company of this beautiful man.
Spike seems to notice my gaze and directs his across the bar to the brunette, who immediately perks up and flashes him her best flirty gaze.
"She's wondering what the hell you're doing sitting here with me," I tell him wryly.
"Why wouldn't I be sitting with you?"
"Stunning people should be with stunning people," I reply. I can tell my tongue has been loosened by the alcohol because there's no way I would tell Spike I think he's stunning in my everyday life. It's too close to I love you, marry me, love me, live with me forever.
He seems taken aback by my answer and looks almost shy as he asks me, "Since when did you find me stunning, pet?"
And once again my Glenfiddich and soda water takes over when I answer.
"Oh, come on. Since the second I met you. Why else would I want you all through college if I found you repulsive, Spike? I'm not that twisted."
His face goes slack, his eyes glued to mine, as he slowly sits up straighter in his seat. He doesn't say anything for what feels like forever and I can't drag my eyes away from his, despite the world's biggest blush breaking out on my face as my mind replays what I just said to him.
"You had a crush on me back then?" he finally asks in an oddly intent voice.
I try to laugh it off, figuring that's the best way out of this.
"Oh, come on, you knew."
He just looks at me. Doesn't say a word, doesn't twitch. His eyes become almost sad and I wonder what it is that's made him react this way. The forced laughter disappears from my face. I know I'll have to avoid him for a few weeks to get over the awkwardness of this moment - so close to just blurting out how much it hurts when I'm near him, knowing I'll never have him, never be able to show him how perfect we are for each other.
As this goes through my head, he just sits there looking at me. I can't bring myself to even get embarrassed as I gaze back at him.
"Two stops. Going to the West Village and then Tribeca."
He's sitting next to me stiff as a board. I can't bring myself to glance over at him. Oh god, what if he's figured it all out; why I act so strange around him when he's with Dru, why I never date anyone, why I disappeared from both his and Dru's life for a few months after they got together. I can only hope he won't tell Dru, if he has figured it out. She would never speak to me again and then not only would I not have Spike in my life, but Dru would be gone too.
The silence is starting to eat away at me, so I crack and begin to ramble.
"Look, I'm sorry, Spike. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. I don't even know why I said it. I mean, you're with Dru and I'm... I'm, you know, I'm fine. I'm great."
My head turns in his direction, expecting to see him embarrassed and facing away from me. I'm shocked to see he's staring right at me. His eyes are black and burning. He looks as if he might be shaking a little. I open my mouth to ask him if he's okay when it happens.
He surges forward, his lips landing on mine with a force I can't believe. He's wrapping my face in his hands as he devours my mouth. His tongue is tracing the seam of my lips and I'm half-convinced I'm asleep, so I open my mouth. Then he's in my mouth and I'm in his. His hands are twisting my head to and fro, trying to get as close to me as possible - as if he's trying to bury himself in me. He pulls away and my eyes snap open. He rests his forehead against mine, our breathing erratic and harsh, his eyes burning into mine.
"Buffy," he whispers against my lips. I can't help it, I'm not even thinking as I press myself into him, my hands wrapping around his head to pull him back to me. His hands slide down my back to hold me firmly against him. Our moans make it all the way to the front seat where the cab driver smiles a knowing smile.
"Guess it's just one stop then."
End Notes: Don't be afraid to review, even if it's just one word. Reviews make me happy :)