Cross posted to sickchicks and my regular journal.
Hell Is In the Details – Chapter 12 – Bloody Minded
“What makes you think he doesn’t know, pet?”
Spike’s quiet words burned into her brain. They filled her mind, screaming accusations even as she tried to silence them.
Buffy’s eyes widened with disbelief. “No! There’s no way he could know about you, Spike. All this time – the whole freaking year that we’ve been in touch – he knew how heartbroken Dawnie and I were after Sunnydale. How we mourned our losses. You and Anya… all those Potentials… we even held a memorial service. He was all supporto-vamp.”
She looked to Lorne, pleading with him to refute Spike’s words. “We were… we were going to try and work things out between us. You know that! He wouldn’t – not to me!”
Lorne shook his head sadly. “Sorry, cupcake. It’s true – all of it. And more. Our little Spike’s been here with me for only the past four days – but he’s been back from the beyond since early last June.”
Buffy couldn’t begin to process the empath’s statement. “No, no, no,” she whispered, over and over, shaking her head.
Spike tried to get the hysterical girl’s attention, hoping a little humor would ease the way. “Look, just ‘cause the green bloke makes Tinkerbell look butch, doesn’t mean he’s lying, pet.”
“Buffy,” Lorne said, “I get that you don’t know me from Adam, and I know you’ve got to be in shock. You’ve been hit with a surprise that was guaranteed to knock your Manolo Blahnick’s off. Add the nasty reveal bit and I can understand it knocking you for a loop. But don’t you think you should talk to your guy – find out what he’s been through? We can talk about the other problemas later.”
“Oh God, Spike.” she whimpered, looking deep into the vampire’s pain filled eyes. Buffy knew that she’d hurt him, deeply – several times over.
“Luv, you don’t owe me anything,” he gentled. “No explanations for going back to the poof. S’your life, to live as you see fit.” Spike lifted her chin, gently forcing her to maintain eye contact. “S’what I died to give you – the life you wanted.”
The sobbing blonde wrapped her arms gently around the vampire’s neck, slowly so as not to hurt him; settling her head in the crook of his neck. This, ~this~ was what she’d been missing. Buffy knew she was being selfish – Spike was the one who needed her comfort, after all – but the sheer rightness she felt stilled her for just a moment longer.
“I think you lost track of what I really wanted, Spike,” she murmured into his neck. Buffy raised her head, releasing the vampire from her soggy embrace. “Those last days we spent together were so damned intense. You saved my life, saved my sanity and… and… allowed us all to survive.”
Buffy reached out, stroking a tear stained cheekbone, as Spike leaned into her touch. “When I told you that I loved you, I meant it. Every. Single. Word.”
Sensing a protest forming once again, Buffy leaned in, silencing him with a soft kiss to his mouth. Just a delicate pressing of lips, but oh, so rife with possibilities. Gathering her resolve, Buffy was determined to continue – getting this out in the open once and for all.
“I did love you then. With every fiber of my being. Loved you for who you were, and who you’d become. Loved the fact that it was for me.” She nodded, smiling up at him. “Yup! Selfish enough to finally admit that. I know you changed for me – in the beginning.
“The man I left to die was on his own path. How could I not love you?”
Lorne’s heart ached for them both. The opportunities they’d missed, the chances they had ahead of them… and the niggling feeling that he, himself had lost a very promising possibility. Unable to stand the intensity of the emotions pouring off the couple, he slipped out of the room, unnoticed.
Spike was completely and utterly gobsmacked. Who was this girl, and what had she done with Buffy? The sincerity shining from her beautiful hazel eyes could not be denied. But still, he knew there were things left unspoken. For a change, he would let her continue at her own pace – they had time.
Buffy gathered the stunned vampire’s hands in her own, placing small kisses on his fingertips. She struggled momentarily – the words were difficult to admit to herself, much less the man in front of her.
“The question hasn’t been if I love you for a long time; it’s how I love you. when you came back, Spike – when I’d found you in the basement… I was scared. I’d had to face some damned ugly truths about both of us over that summer, and could barely look at myself in the mirror.”
“Buffy, don’t,” Spike pleaded, unable to keep silent any longer. “Don’t go there again. It’s over – we’ve long made our peace.”
She nodded. “Yes, we did – by letting it go. I never told you how sorry I was over how badly I handled the whole soul revelation thingy. It was overwhelming, to say the least. But it moved me. It colored everything I did in one way or another. You finally became a priority to me, usually over everyone else’s objections.
“You believed in me, pet. You rescued me body and soul. S’not something to be forgotten.” He was wary, still unsure as to the direction of her revelations, unwilling to expose more of himself than he already had.
Buffy sighed. “We never had a chance, Spike. To make up for all the hurt we’d caused each other. The time just wasn’t there. I swear, apocalypses have a personal grudge against me and my love life. When you died… the last time, anyway – the only time it mattered to me – I knew I’d lost my chance to ever make things right with you.
“I threw myself into the social circuit with a vengeance. I dated, and had a rather active… um.. “
Spike smiled, taking pity on her. “You screwed around like a kitten in heat?”
Wham, bam, no thinking involved here. “You’re a pig, Spike! Say something else,” she begged.
“You fucked half of Europe and found nobody who could compare to yours truly?” Oh yeah, he was pushing his luck now.
“You have no idea how much I’ve missed you – missed this! More, Spike. Come on, give it to me good!” she laughed.
“Decided you’d spread your dimpled knees for one too many tossers, and came back to give the King of Celibacy another go?”
Okay, that one wasn’t quite so funny. Buffy sobered up quickly, looking a bit forlorn.
“Sorry, pet… you know I’m a bad, rude man.” Never had he wanted to take back words so badly.
She folded her arms round herself, shrinking into a small bundle of misery. “No, Spike… you were all too accurate, as usual. It’s exactly what I did. Gave myself away hoping to give away the misery and loneliness, too.
“I was grasping at straws with Angel. I loved him with all that I was – when I was sixteen years old. I held everyone to that standard and they all failed, miserably. I shoved him in your face more often than my fist.”
Spike sighed. “Not arguing with you there, luv. At least the pain from your pummeling went away quick enough.”
“You were gone, Spike. No way to make things better. No way to heal and explore possibilities. Normal and me? Still unmixy things, so I decided to try and rekindle things with Angel. Familiar territory, you know? He loved me. I knew it. How hard would it be to learn to love him back again?”
“Ah, the whole party thingie, right? All Queen for a Day presentation to the masses?”
“Oh yeah,” she confirmed. “And I ended up feeling like a prize show dog.”
“It’s what he knows, Buffy. Darla used to parade him up and down like a prize bull. Sort of a ‘see what I’ve got, and you don’t’ deal.”
She sniffled, rubbing the backs of her hands against her eyes. Spike thought she looked about eight years old, and he was enchanted.
“It was so clear in my mind, Spike. I even had conversations with you about it, in my head.”
Spike was amused at this revelation. “And what did I in my infinite wisdom tell you?”
Buffy snickered. “Actually, you called him a ‘git’ and told me not to let him push me around.” On a more sober note, she admitted, “And you also told me you loved me at my best and worst, and wouldn’t judge what I chose to do. Gods, I missed you so much. You know, those times we actually talked?”
He nodded. There really wasn’t anything to add. He’d missed all of her. Talking to her, screwing her, any way she’d let him into her life. It’s just that he’d always wished for more.
“This isn’t quite the time for it, I think,” Buffy said, “but when you’re feeling better I’d like to try and figure out where we stand with each other. If there is a we to talk about. You game for that?”
Spike smiled. “Yeah, pet. I think I’d like to talk about us. Sounds bloody wonderful, since you’re askin’.”
“Great. Now we really do need to talk about what’s happened to you, Spike. As much as you’re willing to tell me. I can’t go on until I know the truth. Do you want me to go get Lorne? It’s likely he knows more about what happened to you recently than you do.”
“Yeah, sounds like a good idea, pet. An’ if you could bring up a couple mugs of blood I’d really ‘preciate it. All this talk’s made me a might peckish, an’ my throat’s a bit sore.”
Before Buffy had a chance to get off the bed, Lorne appeared at the door with a large serving tray.
“Had a feeling it was time for my spotlight number. Also? Yummies for all.” He handed Buffy a mug of steaming hot coffee. “I assumed you were a caffeine addict, like me. Spike? First of several O Pos mugs for you. And for the storyteller in all of us?” He uncovered the treat in the middle of the tray.
Simultaneous cries of “Cheesecake!” rang out from the bed.
Forgive me for being so bold, kiddies, but I’m gonna be all mother-hen here and begin the tall tale. Spike’s throat was rather damaged, and I think he could use a rest. There’s only a small part he’ll be able to fill you in on, anyway.”
“Have at it, mate. I’d rather wrap my mouth around this cheesecake, anyway.” Spike’s eyes rolled back in his head at the delicious sensation of the cool, smooth cheesecake sliding down his aching throat, followed by a swallow or two of blood. “Best damn thing I’ve… never mind. Go ahead, Lorne.”
The empath settled into his chair. “Okay, boys and girls. The tale starts the third week in May, 2004. Angel had called a meeting of the department heads. That meant the CEO himself, Charles Gunn, Winifred Burkle, Wesley Windham-Pryce – and me. Harmony was in and out of the office – playing secretary; delivering the mail.
“Angel was going on about how much good we’d be able to do, even while working from within the evil law firm. He was toying with a small manila envelope, tossing it from hand to hand after ripping off a strip at the top, when a certain amulet dropped onto the floor. Before he could pick it up, it began to glow and spark, and before we knew it… Blondie over here popped out in the leather covered flesh.”
Buffy was stunned. “You’re telling me all of three weeks after I nearly watched you disintegrate, you show up in Angel’s office all undead and pretty? And nobody thought to tell me?”
“Now, luv,” Spike defended, “you have to understand. I asked – first thing. About you an’ Niblet and the rest of the Scoobies an’ bitty slayers. The plonker said you were all fine, traipsing about Europe and unreachable.”
“Fine,” she snapped, crossing her arms over her chest. “So he lied to you. I missed seeing you by one fucking week. And he continued lying to me ever since by omission. Please… do go on.”
Spike hesitated. “It was all so bloody stupid. Like a schoolyard bully, he was. All I wanted was a place in this world. I figured he owed me. Wouldn’t tell me where you were, wouldn’t give me a handout to leave. Yeah, I busted his balls about things. S’what we do, or did, anyway – family, you know?”
Lorne became concerned when the vampire hadn’t spoken for a couple of minutes. “Are you okay to continue, my friend? You’re lookin’ a mite pale, even for you.”
“Yeah, mate. S’rough, though. You got that framed piece of shite nearby? Girl’s not gonna believe me tellin’ it. I still don’t believe it.”
Buffy wrapped her arms around the shaking vampire and took in a deep breath. She had a feeling that the rest of this was going to be bad. So very, very bad.
Spike gathered up his nerve, and launched into the remainder of his story. “The second day was bad, luv. We were going at each other like a prize pair of idiots, punchin’ an’ pushin,’ callin’ each other names. Him tellin’ me I was a useless piece of crap, always was an’ always would be. That you’d told him you were right glad I was dust in the wind and out of your hair. I told him he was nothing but a jealous bugger. Real mature-like.
“Then it was all over. He just stood there, all calm an’ quiet. I twigged it was all over. We’d shouted out the shit again, until the next time. Next thing I knew, he’d shot me. Three times in the back with a tranq gun.”
A wave of greater horror rolled off the Slayer, enough to worry Lorne. “Buffy, honey? Are you all right?”
“The rest… tell me the rest before I throw up. I don’t want to do this more than once.” She shook with the impact of what she’d just heard.
Lorne handed her the framed Sire’s Rights document. She read it, then looked from Lorne to Spike, and back to the frame in her hands.
Quiet and deadly, and one hundred percent Slayer, she turned to Spike. “Are you telling me that bastard sold you like an unwanted pet?”
“More like an unwanted son. Into a demon slavery and prostitution ring,” he whispered, eyes dropped, unable to look her in the face.
Buffy nodded. Very, very calmly. Then: “I’ll kill him,” she growled, grabbed her purse and slammed out of the room.