Title: Baby, You Don't Fool Me

Setting: S2, S3, S5, S6, S7

Rating: Pg-13

Words: 1,000

Summary: Sooner or later, you'll be playing by her rules.

AN: Written for the prompt, Masquerade. And dedicated to all of you who came here for the Spuffy, and are still here. I know I've been writing less and less Buffyverse in the past year, and branched out into some fandoms that are complete opposite of Buffy. But thank you so much for sticking with me, and I hope you all have a fantastic new year!

x

Something about this new enemy, this Spike, bother's Buffy, but she hasn't been able to put her finger on it. Aside from the obvious—old vamp who hunts slayers for fun? No thanks doesn't even begin to cover it—she's had this feeling all night. Like there's some piece of the puzzle that's not slotting in the way it should. Until, sitting in the library surrounded by research, it finally occurs to her. Spike hadn't gone fangy, not once during their encounter in the alley. She's seen vamps in their human masks before, of course, but she's not sure if she's ever met one that way (except Angel, but Angel's special), or when it wasn't meant as a trick. It had been more than a little unsettling, searching that human face for clues, and coming up with nothing more than the chills rushing up her spine, the ones that practically screamed danger. Getting that feeling from something that could've been human—until the death threat, of course—was somehow much worse than pulling it from a demon. Spike hadn't been trying to fool her, or lure her. He'd been standing in a dark alley, calmly explaining his intent to kill her. If it acts like a vampire, and talks like a vampire… But it doesn't look like a vampire. There's something profoundly wrong about a monster that insists on looking like the man it killed, instead of wearing it's true face.

x

The thing about slayers is that they almost never look like they're strong enough to do any damage. Not that there were many humans that could pose any type of threat to a vampire, but there are some that look like they may be able to fight back for a at least a moment or two before realizing that the deck's been stacked. But slayers are usually built like easy victims. Like someone who wouldn't stand a chance against most humans and certainly not against anything stronger. Especially this slayer. Barely five feet tall, girly little outfits, valley girl speech, maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet. The perfect prey. Right up until she displays the strength of ten bodybuilders and drops a church organ on your back. A deadly enemy, disguised in little girl wrapping. Like that was fair.

x

She's pretty sure this dance Spike is leading her and Angel through is nothing but an act. She's pretty sure he's stashed her friends at the factory. But Angel thinks higher of him, for some reason, so she lets it go.

x

Silly girl isn't fooling anyone with this "friends" business. Well, actually she seems to be fooling everyone. Which is ridiculous, but decidedly not his problem.

x

It's not like she marched in there intending to kiss him. Spike kissage had been the farthest thing from her mind when she opened the crypt door; she'd been pretty sure she was going to have to stake him. The total opposite of kissing. But. The things he said, they way he said them. And he'd had no reason to lie, not to a robot. There'd been no posing. No swaggering vampire routine. No twisted agenda or games. Just Spike. Spike, who can hardly move from the cuts and bruises that he has because he'd rather die than see her in more pain. Spike, with his guard down. Spike, who—oh God—loves her. And the only thing she can think to do, the only thing she wants to do, is lean in and kiss him.

x

What he can't figure out is why no one else sees it. Her sister, her friends, her Watcher, are all much closer to her, and yet he's the one who sees. She's so strong on the outside. Determined, and ready to protect her loved ones. Ready to laugh with them. As ready to face normal problems as Hell gods. And that's all the others see. All she wants them to see. But he sees more, maybe more than even Buffy realizes is there. He sees her, strong and determined on the outside, but tired on the inside. Tired deep down into her soul and cracking along the edges. Not defeated, not yet, but getting closer. He can see it in the way she carries herself, in the way she fights, in the shadows lurking behind her eyes. He's seen this before, a hundred years ago in China and twenty-five years ago in New York, and he'd relished in it then. This time, he feels like maybe it's going to kill him too.

x

She doesn't know what he wants. She can't tell what's real and what's fake, what's truth and what's lies. Which of his faces is real and which is the mask. She can't tell if he loves her because she's Buffy, or if he loves her because she's broken. Or if he even loves her at all, anymore.

x

He can't read her. He can see her trying to be okay, trying so hard. Hard enough that he believes she wants to be, and hard enough that she'd fool him too, if he didn't see her in her worst moments, begging him to hurt her just a little bit more. Sometimes he can't tell if she's acting fine or she is fine. He can't tell if she wants to live or die, and it scares him more than it should.

x

It's quiet in the basement. In the morning, she'll be a general and he will be a lieutenant. She will give commands to her soldiers and march into battle without blinking. He'll be at her side, fighting just as hard as just as ready to die for the world. Tomorrow she will be a slayer and he will be a champion. Tomorrow they will be brave. But tonight, she's just Buffy and he's just Spike. Tonight they hold on to each other, because they might not get another chance. Tonight, they don't have to pretend, and they don't have to be brave. Tonight they just have to be.