Chapter Five – Guh
The apartment was dark when Buffy unlocked the door and pushed it open and she stumbled and nearly went down as she tripped over something on the floor. She fumbled for the switch and her heart clenched as light flooded the entryway and she saw what it was she'd tripped over. Spike's duffel bag. Spike's fully packed duffel bag.
She squeezed her eyes shut and slumped against the wall, her keys and purse dropping to the floor from her suddenly nerveless fingers. "He's leaving. He figured it out and he doesn't want me so he's leaving." She slid to the floor beside her purse and buried her face in her hands, her tears flowing unchecked as she sobbed.
As she sat there on the entryway floor, she saw her future spin out in front of her – bleak and desolate and barren… and full of cats – and she sobbed harder, pulling her legs up and burying her face in her knees. She'd lost him, all because she couldn't keep her big, fat, stupid mouth shut and she'd blurted out all those secret thoughts about how sexy and lickable she thought he was. "Lickable! God! I told him I thought he was lickable!"
She mumbled miserably against her linen work slacks, "He must have been disgusted. I am so totally not his type… he probably threw up all over the floor at the thought of me being with him that way." She looked up at his duffel that was just sitting there mocking her, then pushed away from it with a loud sob and curled into a ball in the far corner of the entry way. She couldn't even bring herself to get to her feet so she could go cry on her bed. Her legs just wouldn't work; it was like her strings had been cut. She wrapped her arms over her head and whimpered into the carpet, "I don't even like cats," as the sobs took over, wracking her small frame.
"Oh hell, would you sods hurry up?" Spike railed at the traffic that was creeping along in front of him. "She'll be home in less than thirty minutes!" He poked his head out the window and shouted, "It's the bloody pedal on the right! Stomp on it, you wankers, I've got to get home!" The traffic ignored him, as traffic is wont to do, and he pulled his head back inside, pounding on the steering wheel in his frustration. "Never should have gone after the bloody wine! Bloody hell! Would you people move? Christ on a crutch, I'm only three bleedin' blocks from home!"
Finally, the traffic started moving and Spike drove as fast as he dared, practically crawling up the tailpipe of the car in front of him as he continued to shout, cursing the stupidity of the entire population. He was questioning the parentage of whoever was driving the minivan in front of him when it finally pulled into the parking lot of the building down the block from his. He stomped on the gas pedal, barking the tires against the pavement as the massive engine roared and the car jumped forward. "It's about bleedin' time! Where the bloody hell did you learn how to drive?"
He turned into his building's parking lot at speed, squealing the tires, and slid to a screeching halt in his assigned space. There wasn't time to bother with getting the car into the garage if he wanted to get everything set up before she got home. According to his phone, he still had ten minutes before she'd get off the bus on the corner and it took her about five minutes to get up to the apartment. Hopefully that would be enough time.
The elevator at the end of the hallway pinged as the car reached her floor and Buffy realized she'd left the front door hanging open. She looked up at the door with a red and blotchy tear-stained face but couldn't make herself move to close it. She lowered her head again, wrapping her arms over it as another sob wracked her body.
Spike stepped off the elevator, juggling a stuffed shopping bag, a bottle of wine, and a bundle of flowers as he dug in his duster pocket for his apartment keys. He found them and lifted the key toward the door without really looking then stopped and gasped when he noticed the door was already open. He saw Buffy's purse and keys on the floor next to his bag and pushed the door open wider, almost dropping his armload of stuff as his eyes fell on the huddled form crammed into the corner.
He set his purchases down on the entryway table and pushed the door closed with his foot then darted over to Buffy and knelt down beside her. "Buffy? Pet? You hurt? What happened?" She shuddered and pulled herself into a smaller ball, mumbling something into the carpet. "What? Can't hear you, luv. What's the matter?"
She raised her head and whispered, "Just go. Please. I know you don't want me and I know I screwed everything up, so please just go. I'm sorry, Spike." She dropped her head and Spike's eyes widened as her small frame shook with fresh sobs.
He sat back on his heels as he tried to figure out what to do. He'd never been any good with crying females; they made him feel like a useless git. True, this wasn't the first time he'd been confronted with a crying Buffy, but he'd always seen her as just a mate and had acted accordingly. The fact that she was female had been beside the point. This was altogether different. For the first time in their long relationship he saw the girl, not just the friend, and he wasn't at all sure she'd accept comfort from him now, but he couldn't just leave her sobbing miserably on the floor.
He steeled himself for resistance and leaned forward, hesitantly scooping her into his arms. She tensed for a few seconds then molded herself against him and wrapped her arms around his neck as he stood and walked into the living room. He sat down on the couch and settled her in his lap then just held her while she continued to sob.
It took a little while, but she finally calmed down. She hadn't moved at all except to remove her arms from around his neck and bury her face in his chest. He'd started rubbing soothing circles on her back as she'd cried and that had seemed to help calm her somewhat. He felt her fingers clutch at his t-shirt as she drew in a shuddering breath and he tightened his arms around her and whispered, "You wanna tell me what that was all about, luv? What's got you so upset?"
She whispered against his damp shirt. "You're leaving."
His eyes widened in surprise. "I am? Where'm I goin'?"
She shrugged miserably, "Away from me. You don't want me."
He placed his hand under her chin and lifted her face away from his chest. His eyes were dark and stormy and Buffy thought he looked guarded, like he was afraid of being hurt, but she couldn't be sure. "Buffy, I never said I didn't want you, I only said we needed to talk, yeah?" She nodded and his expression softened. "You said some things to me this mornin' that got me thinkin' and now I need to know something." He closed his eyes and took a deep, fortifying breath then opened them and asked quietly, "How do you feel about me, Buffy? Truthfully, in your heart, what do you feel for me?"
Buffy shivered at the earnest and hopeful expression he was wearing as she took a deep, shuddery breath. It was now or never. Whatever she said in the next few minutes would change her life forever. She closed her eyes, sure that the next words out of her mouth would send him screaming into the night, and courageously laid her heart on the line. "I love you, Spike. Not like a friend loves a friend, but like a woman loves a man. I'm in love with you."
She kept her eyes closed and held her breath as she waited for his response, startling a bit when she felt his lips brush against hers in a soft kiss. Her eyes flew open and met his and she saw the love there – buckets and buckets of love spilling out of his ocean blue eyes. He was looking at her like he'd looked at Dru, like he'd looked at Cecily, and she broke into sobs again, but this time they were from happiness, not misery.
'Oh balls, she's cryin' again.' He reached up and swiped his thumb across her cheekbone. "You all right, pet? What did I do? What can I do?"
She wrapped her arms tightly around his neck and pressed her lips to his then pulled back with a watery smile. "I love you, Spike."
He grinned, "I heard, pet. I love you, too." More tears spilled down her cheeks and he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her tight against his chest. "Why you still cryin', luv? Thought you'd be happy."
She murmured into a t-shirt that was getting wetter by the second. "I am happy, I just never thought you'd love me, Spike, I'm not your type."
He pushed her back far enough that he could look her in the eye. "Not my type? What're you on about?"
She blushed and shrugged slightly as she dragged her eyes away from his, focusing instead on his chin. "Dru and Cecily were both English and brunettes and you loved them, but Harmony was an American blonde like me and you couldn't stand her. See? Not your type."
Spike's loud burst of laughter startled her and she jumped slightly, her face burning into a deeper blush as his laughter tapered off into amused chuckles. "You're out of your tree, kitten, completely off your bird. That's what you thought? That I loved 'em 'cause of their hair color or where they were born?" He lifted a hand to her face, gently cupping her cheek as he leaned close for a light kiss. "I loved 'em 'cause of who they were, or who I thought they were; their hair color and nationality had sod all to do with it. And I love you 'cause of who you are, not the color of your hair or the fact that you're a yank." Buffy closed her eyes as she leaned her head into Spike's hand. He pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead and whispered, "Why'd you wait so long to tell me?"
She shrugged again and whispered, "You only saw me as a friend and I didn't want to lose you altogether. I was afraid that if I told you and you didn't feel the same way, you'd leave and then I wouldn't have you at all."
He cupped her face in both hands and pressed feather light kisses to her closed eyelids. "I'm sorry I'm so bloody thick, Buffy. You've felt this way for years, yeah?" She nodded against his lips and he sighed. "Wish I'd noticed long ago, wish I'd seen you, pet, could've saved us both a lot of heartache." He pulled back and waited until she'd opened her eyes then he smirked. "Next time I'm bein' bloody blind and not seein' what's right in front of my face, please thump me, all right? Hard. Right here." He tapped himself in the middle of the forehead.
Buffy giggled and leaned in for a light kiss. "I promise I'll thump you." She pulled back and reached up, gently tracing her fingers over his scarred and pierced eyebrow. "You really love me?"
His smile warmed her from the top of her head to the tips of her toes as his deep voice washed over her. "Yeah, kitten, I really love you. I know you've loved me for years and I only realized my own feelings this morning, but… once the thought surfaced everythin' just fell into place… clicked. It was there all along, I think, just boxed up nice and neat and all I had to do was lift the lid and it all came boundin' out." He drew her into another kiss, his tongue teasing the seam of her lips then sliding inside when she opened them with a gasp. He explored her slowly, teasing along the roof off her mouth and tracing her teeth then tangling his tongue with hers until she broke away, panting for breath. While she was recovering, he nodded toward the front door. "Why were you home so early? Was a bit disconcerting to walk in and find my girl crumpled up on the floor in the corner."
She buried her face in his neck, trying to hide another blush, but he could feel the heat burning her cheeks. "I got sent home because I was so nervous and scared about what you wanted to talk about that I kept knocking things over and I spilled my coffee all over my keyboard."
He chuckled and she lifted her head, nodding it toward the duffel bag. "What about you, Mister Man? What's with the bag if you weren't going anywhere?"
Now it was his turn to blush as he stammered, "Oh… uh… bit of a surprise, luv. You weren't supposed to be here when I got home and I'd planned to move that, but…"
She smiled and bounced in his lap, "A surprise? What kind of surprise?"
He smirked at her enthusiasm then nudged her off his lap and stood up, moving toward the door to retrieve the bottle of wine, the flowers, and the shopping bag. He turned around, his fingers nervously clutching his purchases as he glanced shyly at her then focused on his boots. "Well, I'd been thinkin' all mornin' about what you'd said and about us and I wasn't completely sure, but I had an inkling and I hoped it was right, but it might not have been, so I actually came up with two plans. A and B." He held up the wine, flowers, and bag. "This is the stuff I needed for plan A." He nudged the duffel bag with the toe of his boot. "And this was plan B in case I was totally and completely wrong and plan A was a bust."
Buffy looked from the items in his hand to the bag on the floor. "So, if whatever that stuff was for didn't work, you were just going to leave?"
He nodded and looked up at her wearing a serious expression. "Yeah, but not forever, pet. Just long enough for both of us to get our heads together. Figured if I tried plan A and it blew up in my face that you probably wouldn't want me around for a while anyway, but I'll always be your friend, Buffy. Always."
Tears pricked at her eyes and she hurriedly swiped at them, not wanting to dissolve into sobs again. "So… what's plan A? 'Cause I'm thinking I'm going to like it a whole lot better than any plan that involves you leaving."
He smiled in relief and started for the bedroom. "Back in a tick." He closed the bedroom door and she heard him moving around, the rustle of the shopping bag, the snick-flick of his Zippo, and the popping of the wine cork before it got quiet for a few minutes.
The bedroom door suddenly sweeping open startled her, but that's not what made her mouth fall open as all the air whooshed out of her lungs. Spike was framed in the doorway, soft light from the bedroom surrounding his lithe form as he held an open bottle of wine and two glasses in one hand and the bouquet of flowers in the other. He was bare-chested and his lower half was wrapped in a pair of midnight blue silk sleep pants that rode low on his hips. Buffy reeled in her jaw and managed to pull enough air into her lungs to breathe out, "Guh."