Out in the alley, Buffy felt like she could breathe. Not so much inside the store, where the weight of everyone else’s emotions was smothering. They knew what she’d done. They all knew, now, and….
She took a slow, deep breath, trying to keep it all under control. It had been a few minutes since she’d walked out, and, so far, no one had followed her. She was pretty sure that wouldn’t last for much longer. Who would be first?
Would it be Willow, insisting it was all the fault of the magic? Or Giles, claiming she and Spike had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Not a chance. With her luck, it would be Riley or Xander. Sick anger flooded through her at the thought of her boyfriend. He’d been close to blaming her when he’d thought she’d been the one attacked. Acting like she’d wanted it to happen. Now that he knew the truth….
He probably thinks I’m the biggest ho in Hotown, she thought bitterly.
Part of her felt like she deserved it. Xander may have regretted what he’d said after finding out the truth, but he hadn’t been wrong. She should have stopped herself. She was the slayer. The goddamn Chosen One. She should have been strong enough to fight the magic. Instead, she’d held Spike down and….
She fought the urge to be sick. She’d done… that to him, then she’d bashed his head against a gravestone before dragging him away to her mom’s basement. And now she was just standing around feeling sorry for herself while he was injured and chained up. And pregnant. Couldn’t forget about that.
Oh, god. How the hell was she supposed to explain it to him? Sex Ed had seriously not prepared her for anything like this. What was she supposed to say? Hey, Spike, you remember how I sort of forcefully introduced our genitals to each other and then got really, super violently anti-smoking? Well, see, that second part is because I sorta put a bun in your oven, and I’m super protective of it. But kind of stupidly so, since I apparently think giving an unborn baby’s mother… er, father, whatever… possible brain damage is somehow safer than the effects of tobacco.
Yeah. That would certainly go over well. Buffy sighed and rubbed at her face. Spike was a vampire and a major pain in her ass, but he still deserved a serious explanation about what had happened to him.
What had happened…. She swallowed hard. She’d gotten him pregnant. There was going to be a baby, and she was going to be a parent. Oh, god. Don’t think about it, she told herself. Right now, she didn’t have to think about it. Just head over to the butcher shop and get some blood. Get Spike fed and healed up, then she could start thinking about other things.
She had a plan. She felt steadier. So, of course, someone finally came out after her. Her boyfriend. And he didn’t look happy.
She looked wary. Defensive. Riley wanted to just be able to comfort her, but as he stood there staring at her, he couldn’t help wondering. Had the spell really been that powerful, or had it just been a convenient excuse? Angel. Dracula. And now this. Was she really upset about the spell, or just feeling guilty that she’d used it as a chance to get intimate with another vampire?
Riley slowly shook his head, not even sure how he should feel right now. “I just don’t get you, Buffy. What is it that you want?”
“What do I want?” she repeated incredulously. “I want last night to have never happened, but I can’t have that. I want a supportive boyfriend, but apparently I can’t have that either!”
He hesitated a moment before doing anything. Xander had seemed so sure that Spike could have shaken off the spell. Shouldn’t Buffy have had an easier time of it? Of course, she’d also fought the vampire multiple times without ever managing to slay him. Was he just that much of a match for her without the chip, or had it been something else? Even with all that, she did look pretty upset. Like maybe she had been overwhelmed.
He sighed and closed the distance between them, wrapping his arms around her. She was tense at first, then finally leaned into him. Actually letting him support her for once, like she claimed she wanted.
Despite that, he couldn’t help asking, “You really wish last night hadn’t happened?”
Buffy pushed away from him hard enough to send him staggering. “I got mojo’ed into raping a vampire that I loathe,” she snapped, something dark and angry blazing in her eyes. “How the hell could you possibly think I’d be the least bit okay with that?”
Because you have a history of going for the monsters. He didn’t say that, though. Instead, he focused on what she seemed to be beating herself up over. It was stupid, and the sooner they got it out of the way, the sooner they could dig down into what had really happened.
“You can’t keep thinking about it that way. You didn’t rape anyone,” he told her bluntly. He was vaguely aware of someone else coming out into the alley, but kept his attention focused on his girlfriend. “Maybe you don’t see it, but you’re a beautiful woman. You can’t rape a man. Unless Spike is gay, he wanted it.”
She went completely white at that, almost looking like she was about to throw up.
“You know, Riley,” Xander’s voice snapped, “maybe you should just stick to talking about things you actually know something about. You’d sound a lot less like an asshole if you weren’t talking from it.”
What the hell? Before Riley could chew out the other man for butting in, Buffy took several steps back, catching his attention again.
“Okay, you know what?” she said. “I am so done with this bullshit. I need to get home before Dawn does so I can talk to Spike without her there. You guys just stay here and research the long term effects of this spell.”
Then she turned and walked away without a backward glance.
Buffy walked out of the alley, arms wrapped around herself. Unless Spike is gay, he wanted it…. Riley’s words echoed in her head. She wished she could believe them, but she knew better. Riley hadn’t been there. She had. She’d seen, through the haze of lust, the expression on Spike’s face as she held him down and forced herself on him. She’d watched him pull his jeans back up after, unable to even look at her. Seen how badly his hands had been shaking as he’d dug out a cigarette, probably as a way to distract himself from what he’d just been through.
She heard footsteps behind her and tensed, waiting for Riley to start in on her again. Instead, it was Xander, and he just walked along with her. A glance out of the corner her eye revealed that something was really bothering him. Probably the things he’d said back in the shop.
“Look, Buffy….” He trailed off, sighing and shaking his head. “My foot-in-mouth disease isn’t as bad as Riley’s, but I definitely talked before I knew what I was saying, and that would have been true even if things had been… different from how they were. And, um, if… if you need any help with Spike…. I kind of know what he’s going through right now.”
The last was said in a rush, and it took her a minute to realize just what it meant. When she did realize…. She froze, staring as he continued forward a few steps before stopping. He was hunched and sort of closed in on himself. Then he took a deep breath, straightening as he turned to face her.
“You remember back when Faith killed that guy, and I went to talk to her?” he asked, glancing at Buffy and then quickly away again after she nodded. “Angel probably told you about her trying to strangle me, but… before that, she… she forced…. She’s gorgeous, and what she was doing felt really, really good, but I…. She was stronger than me, and I couldn’t….”
Oh, god. “You couldn’t stop her,” Buffy whispered, feeling sick. She’d known about him losing his virginity to Faith and thinking it had meant something, but this? “Why… why didn’t you tell any of us about this?”
“Because of that attitude,” Xander said, gesturing back towards the alley with a look of utter disgust. “It’s not rape if a beautiful woman does it, right?” She didn’t think she’d ever heard him sound as bitter as he did then.
“If she had kept going instead of trying to kill me… well, just means that I’m a slutty manwhore, doesn’t it?”
Buffy just stared for a moment, trying to figure out how she was supposed to react. If it had been Willow telling her a painful secret, there would have been hugging. Hell, for most things, there would be hugging with Xander, too. But this? He’d been assaulted by a slayer, and here she was, a slayer who had just assaulted someone else. How could he even stand to be around her?
“So, uh,” he muttered, looking down at his feet. “If you need help with anything….”
Before she could figure out anything to say, a thought that had been lurking quietly in the back of her mind suddenly came to the forefront. “Oh, shit,” she blurted out. “It’s laundry day!”
Xander blinked at her. “You… need help doing laundry?”
“What? No.” Damn it. If Mom went down into the basement and found Spike before Buffy got home…. “I’m really sorry about this, but I need to get home as soon as possible. Can you pick up some blood for Spike and meet me there?”
“Um, yeah, no problem.”
He looked kind of lost and uncomfortable, like maybe he was regretting saying anything and possibly changing things between them.
“Thanks.” She forced a smile. “You’re a real lifesaver.”
Then she hugged him — too tight because that’s what she always did — before racing off to get home.
He wasn’t sure how long he’d been lying there, drifting in and out of consciousness on the waves of pain from his cracked skull. Things skittered and scrambled in the shadows, but they’d been reduced to smoke and mist. The horrible monstrosity — too many limbs and too many heads on a grotesque, twisted body — couldn’t touch him anymore. Couldn’t run its hands along his body and make him….
When the woman came down the stairs, he thought he must have jostled his head without realizing it. That he’d made the hallucinations more solid again. But she pulled away the duct tape covering his mouth, something no hallucination would have been able to do. She murmured softly at him and gently washed away as much of the blood from his face and hair as she could. Brought him an electric blanket when he managed to gasp out that he was cold.
So bloody cold, even though ambient temperature never really bothered vampires. Except… Dru had been cold when she’d been sick. What did that bloody spell do to me? Didn’t know, beyond the certainty that it had to have been more than just making him sensitive to the slayer’s touch.
Couldn’t think on it, now. Could only lie there and soak up the heat. Two minutes. Two hours. He wasn’t sure which, but his head was starting to feel a little better. He wasn’t healing as fast as he should have been, but the warmth from the electric blanket at least seemed to be helping things along a bit.
“Can you sit up a little?” Joyce — he’d finally realized the woman was the slayer’s mum — asked. “I don’t have any blood in the fridge, but I can at least get you something hot to drink.”
He gave it a try, only then realizing that his ankles had been chained together with no slack and his wrists with barely six inches. Huh. Seemed like the sort of thing he should have noticed before. Of course, his head had been bashed in hard enough it was a wonder he still knew his own bloody name. Made sense he might lose track of a detail or two.
Joyce ended up helping him up and getting him leaned more-or-less upright against an overstuffed beanbag chair. Then she tucked the blanket around him more securely before vanishing up the stairs.
He shivered and watched the multi-limbed and -headed thing caper in the corner, trying to ignore its whispers about being anybody’s meat. And told himself firmly that Joyce was real, and the three-headed monster in the corner naught but a phantom.
“Some kinda spell,” the man beside her mumbled, his words slurring a bit. The chains between his wrists jangled as he unsteadily lifted the mug of cocoa up for a sip. “She went all violent…. Well, more violent. Likes to talk with her fists, your girl does.”
“I think that’s mostly just with you,” Joyce said gently. “And with other vampires.”
“Likely true, that.” He tried a smile, but it wobbled and fell before it could even fully form.
Something about his expression and the look in his eyes…. Something a lot more had happened than Buffy “getting violent.” She’d hurt him badly, and then dumped him in the basement in chains. Buffy either slew vampires or she left them alone. Spike was a little different — had seemed to be ever since the night he’d been invited into their home — but her daughter wouldn’t normally do something like this. If she’d just gotten violent, she’d have taken him to his own home, or possibly to Rupert.
Before she could ask for more information, Spike spaced out again, nearly dropping his cocoa. When she caught it, her fingers brushed his hand. Ice cold where he hadn’t been touching the mug, and he was still shivering a little despite the electric blanket. She knew vampires didn’t produce body heat, but it wasn’t anywhere near that cold in the basement.
“Buffy wasn’t the only one affected by that spell, was she?”
He laughed at that. A nearly hysterical sound that cut off abruptly as he took in a deep, shuddering breath. “No. We both got caught up in it. Made her violent. Forced her to….” Another deep breath and a gulp of hot chocolate. “Haven’t a bloody clue what all it’s done to me.”
“I… uh, I can answer some of that,” Buffy said from the top of the stairs.
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