TITLE: Frozen

AUTHOR: Shadowlass

RATING: PG

SUMMARY: Buffy examines her life, and wonders why Spike just can't shut up in bed. Set between "As You Were" and "Entropy."

EMAIL: shadowlass2000@yahoo.com

DISTRIBUTION: Go ahead, but let me know.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own BtVS. If I did, the summer hiatus would only be six weeks long.

Sometimes he just won't shut up. I mean every time he can't stop talking—it's like he's got a battery going. We'll be in bed and he won't shut up. I don't mean the dirty stuff; that I kind of like. I mean, I never thought I would, but with Spike it just seems normal. I can't imagine it with Riley or anyone else. But with Spike it seems right.

Ugh. I can't believe I just used the words "Spike" and "normal" in the same sentence.

That's not what I'm talking about, anyway—the rough stuff. He doesn't talk like that all the time. The rest of the time—

I don't know why he has to say it. I love you, I worship you. I live for you. You complete me.

Yes, he actually told me I make him complete. What kind of person would think something like that, much less say it? It's ridiculous. It's too much, too intense. It doesn't even seem sincere, no one can mean something like that. How can you trust someone who says something that kind of thing?

We'll be there, and we'll have this rhythm going, and it'll be great, and then he'll just start saying those things. It's like he's forcing me to listen to it if I want the other. He'll give me the sex if I let him give me the words too. It doesn't seem fair.

The way he is about it, pushing his feelings on me—it kind of pummels me. It's overwhelming, it's almost like the words batter at me. I've never felt that way before, except for Mom—

Jesus. I can't believe I said that. What kind of person have I become? Mom was amazing, she held this family together and—god, without her it's gone to pieces. I didn't realize how much I needed her until she was gone. Even when she didn't know what was wrong, because I wouldn't talk to her, she made things better. It was just that sometimes—sometimes I don't think she cared how I felt about some things. She just wanted to get her say in, and didn't care how it made me feel.

God. They should have just left me in the ground.

She always liked Spike. I mean, until I announced he was in love with me. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. Neither of them had a lot of friends. I guess they never saw each other again.

It's strange to think of him being older than her. I mean, he looks young, but he acts young too. Enjoys everything, likes to do everything people our age—my age—do. Not like—

Not like Angel. Why not say his name? It's been years. We're friends now, kind of. But he never seemed young. Even when Mom thought he was human, she thought he was too old for me. With Spike she sat there and told him about her day and gave him advice and cocoa, like he was Xander. And he took it.

He's good at taking things. Good at waiting. At banking his emotions, at least some of the time. He has patience, I guess, although I never thought of him as the patient type. But he seems to think that if he waits long enough he'll get whatever he wants.

That's optimism, I guess. I've never been that way, at least not for years. I don't even remember what it feels like anymore.

Dawn hasn't seen him for awhile, and has asked about him a few times. It's almost like he's enlisted her as a little foot soldier in his campaign. His "Get Buffy" campaign. Even when I haven't seen him, I know he's still working on it. Why would he give up? A year ago he had no chance with me. In January we had sex against every surface in his crypt. Like I said, waiting works for him.

I don't know what's going to happen with my life; I don't even know what I want to happen. I'm alive, and Mom is gone. My job is crap and my sister is like this weight around my neck. I love her, I do. I would have let every horror from Glory's hell dimension visit this world before I let anything happen to Dawn. But I feel her around me all the time, dragging me down until I almost can't walk. She needs so much, all the time, and I haven't got anything to give her. I just haven't got anything.

The job is not getting better. It's like this pressure against my temples while I'm in there. It saps my energy, and I get headaches even when I'm not there, just thinking that in 18 hours, 12 hours, three hours I'm going to be there. The only time I forget it is when I'm with—

Well. There he is again.

He was wrong—I don't crave him. Crave. That sounds like something Faith would say, and I'm nothing like her. Slaying was all we ever had in common. She was just this mass of impulses with no center. I—well, I used to have a center. God knows where it is. Maybe Faith's got it. She always did like to take my things.

I'm sure Spike could tell me where it is, or at least why I don't need one. I've wondered if that's what the soul is—a center—but that can't be right. Spike knows exactly who he is and what he wants. And since I'm not sure, he tells me how I should be. Like him.

The others tell me, too. Will and Xander. They think I should still patrol in cute little skirts and be the same girl I was when we first met. They're completely different, but I'm supposed to be unchanged. They're my own private Watchers' Council, wanting me to stay in the narrow little slot they decided was right for me. The Buffy who swooped in and rescued them from ostracism and sitting alone in the cafeteria.

I can't be her any more, and I don't want to try any longer. I'm having to try for too many things. I have to think about everything, I have no instinct left. Life was easier when I was dead. I just was.

Sometimes it's like that with him. When he's not making me listen to him. When he doesn't try to take me over, I can just be. It's what I like most about him. I miss that. I miss him. His talking was nice, when it wasn't about who I am. He shut up sometimes too, and that was nice.

There hasn't been a lot of nice since Riley's visit. A lot of silence, and a lot of everybody suddenly chattering very cheerfully, so I wouldn't see that they felt sorry for me, the girl who got the big surprise when her old boyfriend came back to town with his perfect new android wife, and they both get paid to do what I do every night for nothing except the chance to die, again. Third time's a charm, right?

You know, I was never in love with Riley. I don't even know why I wanted him back. But when we were together, I knew who I was, or at least it felt like it.

Spike is outside the house now. He hides when he's there, the way he did last year. He hasn't let me see him, and he's been careful with the cigarette butts, but I know he's there. I think of the look on his face when I told him it was over, and I wonder how I could have made it easier for him without making it harder for me. I don't know. When I left he was quiet. He didn't say a word. I finally found a way to shut him up.

I wish it felt better.

I miss him. I miss them. They made things easier, and I can't have that, for some reason. She left and I couldn't help her and I left and he couldn't stop me. His words failed him. But that's what life's about, right? Wanting and not having. Loving and losing.

God, I sound like a bad romance novel.

I think Tara was wrong, I didn't come back right. This wouldn't be happening if I had. I wouldn't need Spike if I did. I'd be a student, and not a drone. I'd love to be with my sister, and my friends would make me happy. Not fleeting moments in a crypt with a creature I'm supposed to hate, whose flesh is chill against mine and who strokes my hair when I start crying for no reason. I wouldn't think of him when I'm pretending to be Buffy for my friends, because the only time I've felt like me since I came back was when I was in bed with him.

Is there another girl there now? Would he do that?

Why wouldn't he? I broke it off, he can do what he wants. Sleep with who he wants, tell her what he wants.

I wonder where he stays. There wasn't enough left of the crypt for a large family of squirrels to live in. He has to have a place, because he's still around. He's not going anywhere. He's still hopeful.

Waiting. It's his gift. He's sure that if he waits long enough, he'll get what he wants. He wants it so badly, even if he can never have it. It's been a long time since I wanted something.

I envy him.

Finis