Disclaimer: If I owned Buffy, I would have given her and Spike this moment. Well... Maybe I do own Buffy and the scene was merely cut...

Rating: T

Setting: Season 7, sometime after 'Help'.

Summary: Buffy brings Spike his duster.

A/N: Did you ever wonder how Spike's beloved duster journeyed from the stairs in Buffy's house to the high school basement? I sure did. So here it is.

This is a ONESHOT, as I would like to point out, seeing as people keep asking me to continue things I clearly marked as done. I'm flattered, but trust me, if I felt the need to continue my stories, I would. If you want to read more along the same lines, check out my other Spuffy stories. Most of them are little moments or 'deleted scenes' like this one. I was originally going to label them as a series, but I can't post in the right order, so I dropped that.

And yes, the reason for this title is mostly the fact that I'm really close to having written at least one story for each letter of the alphabet. :P

Please read and review, if you so choose! I'm certainly going to be grateful. :)


Quixotic

It felt strange, holding it in her hands. It wasn't like it was the first time she had felt the soft leather underneath her palm. She had traced its rough patches, the scars from numberless fights with her fingertips more than once. She knew what the lapels felt like when she was pulling him in with them; she could feel its sides flowing over naked skin.

She knew this coat, and a lot better than she would have admitted to herself before picking it up again.

When he had left, after-… after the bathroom, it had been draped over the stairs. A testament to how upset he must have been, to leave his favorite piece of clothing behind, something that had come to represent him over the course of two decades or so. He hadn't even bothered taking it with him to protect it from whatever Buffy was going to do to it.

Strangely, she had at no point had the desire to cause it any harm. She hadn't wanted to burn it, as Xander had suggested, nor cut it up into tiny pieces or simply throw it in the trash. It wouldn't have felt right, for some reason. She couldn't leave it there, though, either. In a daze, she had put it on a hanger und hung it in the back of her closet. It had almost felt ceremoniously and had held a strange kind of tenderness.

Like saying goodbye to an old friend.

Which didn't make any sense.

In hindsight, she could see that the way she had treated the duster was very much the same as how she'd been planning on treating Spike himself. She wouldn't have hunted him down, wouldn't have staked him or killed or hurt him in any other way. She had even still trusted him enough to give Dawn into his keeping when she had suggested it. Because while she was done with him now, finally completely done with him after that climax of mutual destruction, she did know he had at no point decided to rape her.

Yes, she had been hurt, and bruises she had to show were nothing against the ache inside her chest. She had been hurt so badly that it felt like she couldn't breathe, wouldn't breathe ever again.

It had taken this incident to show her that she had trusted him. Part of why she had refused to admit it to herself had been a means to protect herself, another merely to keep him from getting too close, to cause him misery and disappointment. But she had. If there was one thing she would have bet her life on, it was that Spike would never hurt her. He had told her so himself and she had believed it without the shadow of a doubt.

The thick material crumpled temporarily under the subconscious force she was submitting it to with her hands.

She had trusted him and he had tried to rape her. Except she knew he hadn't meant to and that made it even worse. Spike had tried to make love to her, had tried to make her understand, make her see him. Rape had never been his intention; he had simply been too blind to see past his own desperation. Ultimately, he had gotten a soul to refrain from ever hurting her again, when that had been the one moment he had been at his most human.

She vividly recalled the look on his face when he realized what he had been doing, how the situation had presented itself to her. She had pushed him against a bathroom wall and his eyes had widened in horror. He hadn't known what had gone on. He hadn't gotten it until she managed to get him off of her. And then he had run and run so hard that he hadn't even bothered to pick up his duster.

In a way, she had forgiven him even then. The vicious words she had spewed at him ringing in her head as loudly as his pleas to love him. She had understood that a lot of what happened there was her fault.

Didn't mean she could forget it.

But his duster, she had kept, until now.

Following a whim, she pressed it to her face to inhale deeply. It was exactly the same. She didn't know how much of it was actual scent and how much was memory, but the black coat smelled exactly like him. Leather, of course, and both fresh and old smoke. A hint of whiskey, a faint trace of blood and violence and a full doze of Spike.

She didn't know when that fragrance had become so soothing. Even when it shouldn't be.

That heavy coat was what made Spike who he was. It was the source of all his pride, his strength. She had dug it out of her closet to give it back to him, figuring it was the least she could do for him.

She couldn't deal with him, not yet, possibly not ever.

If not his soul, then at least his personality.

And suddenly, it was too personal for her, too big and she dropped it onto her bed.

Box. Get box. Need to get box. I'm bringing a vampire his mojo back, so I need a box.

~o~o~o~o~

Down in the school basement, Buffy was once more struck with how claustrophobic the place was. She didn't mind, usually. She was, after all, used to dark and scary places that held darker and scarier creatures than most people knew existed. But down here, she felt the quiet and her slightly labored breath and the echo of her steps and her own heartbeat. There was something about being here and maybe about being on her way to see Spike the way he was now that crept her out.

Maybe it was the fact that he lived here now. It didn't seem right for a vampire who had been human enough to make a quite cozy home out of a crypt to be living in this dank, rat infested place, muttering to himself behind cardboard boxes. But then again, where could he go? He wasn't exactly welcome in neither hers nor her friends' quarters and his own, she had thrown a grenade in. Though probably even the smoldering remains of a home were better than this.

She dreaded seeing him again, that mumbling, out of his mind crazy person who smelled bad and made her feel guilty. But he was Spike, underneath all the filth and he did deserve just a little bit better than being ignored completely. The reason for all of this madness, his soul was, after all, hers, or so he had intended.

Better get it over with.

"Buffy, always Buffy, pretty Buffy can't smile anymore… All around me, surround me, bound me and I can't get out, can't rest, let me rest-… no, don't let me rest, don't you hear what I'm saying?"

She didn't think she'd ever get used to the sight of him rocking back and forth holding himself only to turn around and yell at some invisible force.

"Spike! Stop that craziness of yours for a while and focus!"

She hadn't meant to snap at him, but as always, his mere presence brought out bitchy Buffy. Never mind the fact that he was seriously unsettling right now. And as always, when he was around, she couldn't bring herself to care about him enough to be nice. He looked up and cringed and somehow that small sign of fear was enough for her to at least attempt to take a little kinder approach, if only with her tone.

"It's that coat of yours. I figured you might want it."

Did he have to look at her so pleadingly?

"Not me, Buffy, not-… Pretty, pretty words and none for you…"

"Well, I'll just put the box over there and leave you to your-… thing."

And then his hand was on her arm, just a tiny, fleeting second of a halting grip until he had retracted it again. Looking in his eyes, she was astounded to see the clarity he was obviously fighting for restored for just for this moment, just long enough to try to make her understand…

"Buffy, it's not who I am anymore."

Resigned, humble, broken most of the time, that's what he was. And already the clouds came back and he sunk back down, face buried in his arms, hands respectively clinging to his knees and pulling at his hair.

"Did things I can't-… Never be Spike again… Never be William again, pathetic William, bloody awful poetry and beneath her, always beneath her…"

Buffy inwardly sighed. Obviously, he was too far gone to reach again. Not that she had any more to say.

"Keep it anyway. Maybe someday you'll remember what it meant to you."

And with that, she left. Maybe the duster would help. And if not… well, at least it wasn't littering up her closet anymore.