I Like to Win

By Sweetprincipale

Set in season five, after Intervention. Joyce is gone, Glory's in town, and the Buffy Bot is in Willow's custody, Dawn's in capable hands at night while Buffy patrols. Imagine there's a weeknight where nothing major is happening- other than the usual horrors...

Author's note: My first ever attempt at writing T-rated fiction. Please be kind.

Author's Second note: It's all gonna be okay, folks.

Dedicated to Alexiarrose, Mike13z50, Dlillith21, NausicA, Illusera, teddybear-514, McPastey, cavemenftw, and Ginar369

Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.

Part IV

It took both of them several minutes to come back to the present, stop traveling inside their own heads. The solid weight in Buffy's arms seemed to ground her eventually. She blinked groggily.

"Oh. Hey. I won. Go me."

He smiled slightly. "That you did."

She stared at her prize. Much, much bigger than the little glasses of potent stuff, this was half a bottle. "I really can't take this. I- I don't want to." I don't want the booze. I don't want the prize. I'm a fighter, but I think- now that it's said and I can't take it back- that I never wanted to win this one little battle of words.

Spike stood, listing to the side a bit as he adjusted his footing to accommodate for his injuries. Now that the adrenaline was wearing off a bit he could feel the pain again. Matched set. Body and heart. What was worse, knowing she might be open to his affection but would never give it a chance, or knowing there was no chance to get? Both were torturous, but one pain was fresher. "Ah no, Luv. You win the whole shebang." Spike gestured to the bottle she was holding awkwardly in front of her. "You won it fair an' square. What you said- there's nothin' worse. That's not just one drink's worth of sorrow, it's a bar full. But that's what I've got." He gently pushed it back to her chest, barely touching her, afraid of her reaction, of his own. "You win."

It wasn't just about the alcohol. It was about the game. The life. "But I don't want to. For once, I don't want to." She admitted in a choked voice.

He wanted to comfort her in the worst way. But unlike a lot of the blokes she'd been dealing with in her life, he listened. He heard all the grief in all she said, and made sense of what things she'd left out, as well. She was alone. She was scared. She could only see the bad in her life right now, and like a trained warrior, she was hardening herself more and more. She wanted to be loved and she wanted to be happy- and she was afraid of being both those things. Understandable to be scared, really, knowing all she'd lost and had stolen, afraid to love and feel joy when it seemed to bring harm eventually.

But she was never afraid of a challenge. And I'm dead clever, if you'll pardon the pun.

Buffy watched Spike's face change. First there was the soft, sympathetic look that both annoyed her and made her feel her heartstrings pull, even though she thought she'd cut them off or bound them up too tightly to ever be moved again. Then a faint trace of his smirk was there, modified to a lopsided grin, barely twitching the corners of his lips.

"Alright then." He reached for the bottle with one hand and and took it from her. He put it gently back on the ground, but not between them this time. He didn't want anything between them,and if he had to do it symbolically for now- well, he'd take what he could get. His remaining hand hovered over her empty ones. "How about this? You come back around for another game some time." He let his hand fall, just letting his fingers ghost over her skin, barely making contact. Like them. Only a dream touch.

Buffy stared at the fingers she could see on her skin, but honestly had trouble feeling. The perfect summation of her life. Trouble feeling.

"W-what kind of game?" She asked uncertainly. She didn't know what else to say. Spike's ever-present attitude of smart-ass wisdom was like catnip to the roving cat inside her, that primal hunting side always looking for something to chase. If he offered a challenge- she never walked away from it. Maybe because secretly she liked being challenged by someone who respected her as both an adversary and a- sort of friend. What am I doing? What's he going to get me into now?

"It's a new game. An' no one's ever played it with you before."

Buffy considered pushing herself a little farther away. No matter what Spike said, she couldn't help equating it with innuendo. Didn't help when she'd seen first hand what he wanted her for. "You didn't by any chance play this with your little robo-bunny, did you?"

"No." He exhaled patiently, despite not needing to breathe. "I'm sorry about that, an' yeah, you made it clear you hate that I did it. Let's drop it back on the unlucky in love pile of woe, shall we? Knew I'd never have you. Tried to make something to dull the pain. You were never s'posed to find out about her, okay?"

"Not exactly okay. But not getting you staked." Buffy conceded.

His hand tightened slightly on hers. "You oughta know what it's like, Luv."

She scoffed as best she could given the fact that she wasn't really up to it after riding an emotional roller coaster without a break for weeks, months, maybe years. "Me? Why? I have never, ever built myself a mechanical playmate."

"Angelus." Spike locked his hand down on hers because he knew she'd get up in arms. She did. Head whipped up and her eyes all but flayed him.

"I hated him." Her lips quivered with rage.

"I know that. But he looked like Angel, didn't he? Had some little part inside that you wanted to believe was still your version? You knew it was wrong, but you couldn't hurt him until it was the very last second of the eleventh hour."

Buffy swallowed the angry denial she had he said was true, and any denial she made would be nothing but a lie. "So?"

"I knew she was plastic, I knew she was copied, not the genuine article. I knew whenever she said she loved me that it was just a bloody program. But she looked like you. There was somethin' about her that was close enough to the real thing to keep me from puttin' her away. An', as you mentioned regardin' my lovely visit with the bitch goddess, my cheap imitation got me hurt. Lesson learned."

"Yeah. Well. At least she only hurt you. Angelus hurt everyone." She whispered, closing her eyes to block out a flood of memories.

"Sadistic bastard."

"Tell me about it."

"Rather not. Except to say he'd have given her high an' mightiness some competition."

They shared a shiver, and the rueful smile that came after it. "So tell me. About this new game that I've never played."

"You'll love it. It's called 'How Can I Make it Better?'." Spike explained. "Same rules, almost. One drink, two fierce competitors," their smiles broadened, "except whoever makes the other player happiest wins the shot."

Buffy blushed and pulled away a little. Spike and happy didn't go together. And Spike and "happy", as in the giving of, definitely didn't belong anywhere, not in dreams, not in real life. "I'm not very good at that game and I-"

Spike's grip caught her escaping fingers once more. "You don't have to be good at this one. You can let me be the champ. I know it'll about do you in." His eyes locked with hers. Let someone try to save you, Luv. Let someone try before there's nothin' left to save. You can have the worst life ever, if that's how you wanna look at it. But let someone try to give you a few happy moments before it all ends.

"Try to make you happy? Spike, I would suck at that game." She chuckled nervously, eyes trying to dodge from his.

He didn't let them. "Then that means I'll just have to make you the happier one. On every single round." Her eyes flickered back up to his, tiny grains of hope still left inside jaded prisons. "After all, Buffy, I like to win, too."

Game Over.

Thank you for playing.