Disclaimer: I don't own anything.

A/N: I imagine this being a slight AU where Spike really doesn't get better, but it can be read as canon-compliant and Spike just being upset. Take it as you will.

Your interpretation as to exactly when this is set, but it's sometime between 2.14 "Innocence" and 2.21 "Becoming, Part I".

The lone lamppost across the street casts only a pale yellow light that dissipates a few feet from them and Buffy mostly makes him out by the neon glow of the bar two stores down and the weak glimmer of the moon. At least his hair stands out from the night.

"'m old, Slayer. You know that?" Spike asks. He continues to circle around her, eyes dark. "Not as old as your honey, but I'm old." She watches the way his muscles tighten and extend in his shoulders with each movement, the motion taking him around and around her.

He isn't holding her here. He won't be able to stop her if she chooses to leave. She could walk away right now, actually. But she doesn't.

"Haven't seen myself in the mirror in almost a hundred and twenty years," he tells her. "No reflection." He eyes her, as if gauging how seriously she's taking this conversation. "Becoming a vampire, gotta start trusting the way you think you are. Nothing's gonna be there to tell you that your makeup's smudged or your hair's bloody ridiculous, standing straight up. Gotta learn about yourself, know who you are, trust your body. Get to know it better than you know anything else."

A part of her wants to laugh at how bizarre this whole thing is. Wants to point out the outlandishness of Spike, Spike, preaching to her about body image and self-awareness. But that part of her seems to be connected to the part of her that would probably tell her she ought to leave before he manages to kill her somehow or calls in backup.

Obviously, it isn't in charge at the moment.

Spike comes to a stop in front of her, his knuckles tighten on the push rims and his elbows lock to halt the motion of his chair. "And now that's gone." He stares up at her with a coldness that makes her shudder. "That's gone because you took it from me."

Buffy grips the stake that's been tucked into the waistband of her jeans, prepares herself to whip it out as quickly as she could need it.

"I'm not getting better." The coldness ebbs, becoming replaced instead with an expression that doesn't really express enough of anything to qualify as such. "I'm never getting better. I get to live for the rest of eternity, with this." The vampire makes a sweeping gesture toward his legs, which haven't so much as twitched since he came up from behind her ten minutes ago, and toward the wheelchair that creaks as he moves around like it might just decide to collapse out from under him at any given time, should it so feel the need.

He stares down at himself for a few moments before lifting his head again. "Thing is, Slayer? Thing is, I could deal. I was dealing. Deal with not walking, deal with nothing," he gives her a pointed look at the word, eyebrows raised to punctuate his meaning, "nothing working down there. I could deal. But you couldn't stop there, could you?"

She doesn't respond but that's okay because he answers for her. "No, you couldn't. Couldn't stop at taking away my body, so you took away my girl, too."

He growls at her.

She's not sure she's ever had a vampire growl at her without shifting faces but she doesn't care for the effect and she'll be grateful if none of them ever do again.

"You had him take her away." He stares at her for a long moment, stretched thin and filled with eerie quiet. And it isn't until the end of it, just before Spike opens his mouth again, that she realises that what's been dancing around in his eyes, hidden beneath the anger and coldness. "And that means I've lost him too."

She realises how near he is to tears.

"Guess that makes you the one, huh? You're it, cutie. The one beat ol' Spike. Congratulations." Buffy watches silently as he struggles his way out of his coat. "Let's have it, then," he commands.

He meets her eyes and there's pain.

So much pain.

She surprised he doesn't drown from it. She's surprised she doesn't.

Spike lifts his chin, throws a haughty look her way. "Do me in, Slayer. Get it done with."

He waits as her hand trembles slightly around the stake, lifting it up before lowering it back down. Her mouth opens for the first time since he'd approached her from the dark of the alley. "Spike," she says.

He looks to her and she sees panic first and malice second. "You have to," he growls. His face screws up in anger. "You—you're the bleeding white hats! Can't be that cruel. You do what's right, now. End me."

Buffy tucks her stake back into its rightful place and turns away.

Realising his words aren't getting through, Spike switches tactics. "Master must've been gettin' weak in his old age. No other way you'd have beaten him, or anything else, I reckon," he sneers. "Can't shove a stake in your boyfriend now that he's gone to the dark side, can't even kill me when I'm offering myself up. Weakest excuse for a Slayer I've seen, and I know my Slayers. No wonder Angelus didn't stick around with you."

Buffy's fingernails claw into the palm of her hand and she stares down the road, her back still to Spike.

"Ooh," he taunts. "Struck a nerve, Slayer? Hurts, doesn't it? Knowin' you couldn't keep him 'round. One go in the sack and he flees. Must not be very good, huh?"

She walks away. The heels of her boots thump against the sidewalk and she focuses on those instead. Thump, thump, thump.

"Hey!" Spike shouts after her. "Hey, I'm—'m talking to you!" She can hear him coming after her, wheelchair creaking like it shouldn't. "Don't just leave, you filthy little—come back! Slayer?" All the anger, the accusation, all the malice and bitterness and sarcasm, all of it melts away and all that's left is the pain and fear and misery. "Don't leave me."

She leaves him.