The Ring Talks
Part 1: Taking Initiative
Chapter 5: Doomed Humans
There’s a vamp coming up behind me. Make that two. I hear a growl, and then the tell-tale crunch of a fist slamming into a cheek bone. I find a large, flat-topped gravestone nearby and sit to watch the beat down.
It takes about two minutes for Spike to start to get bored and feel around in his coat pockets while he kicks at his prone victim. “Bloody hell.”
I roll my eyes and reach for my weapon. “Catch.”
He catches the stake in the air and brings it down on the other vamp in one fluid movement. When he looks up at me, he’s got a silly grin on his face, like he’s proud of himself.
I can’t help but laugh. “You’re actually enjoying being a traitor to your entire species, aren’t you?”
“Just like to fight, is all.” Spike shrugs as he walks over to me. “I’ll take what I can get.”
I dig my keychain out of my pocket and open the new carabiner I’ve attached to it. “There’s no one else around, Spike.” The skull ring slides off the carabiner and into my hand. I slip it onto my left ring finger and hold my hand up to show him. “You want to try that again, with a little more honesty?”
He sits down beside me and hands back my stake. “Eh, don’t really want to be marked as a traitor, but getting in a bit of violence? I’m starting to feel more like me again.”
“So why are you crowding in on my patrol? Couldn’t you have picked any other cemetery in town?”
I wiggle the fingers of my left hand. “That’s kind of the arrangement, right?”
“Was wondering what’s got you so clammed up with your watcher and your mates lately. It’s about your soldier boy, isn’t it?”
I slide off the gravestone to sit on the ground in front of it, leaning against it. “Everything’s all weird and complicated. For starters, he had no idea what a slayer even was until I told him. What kind of top secret, demon-hunting super squad doesn’t know a slayer on sight?”
“A bloody stupid one, if you ask me.” Spike turns to lie across the top of the gravestone with his knees up, the heels of his boots hooked over the edge.
I expect him to say more, but he gets quiet. After a few minutes, I tilt my head to look up at him. His head is near mine, just a few inches away. He’s staring up at the stars, lost in thought. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed how good-looking Spike really is until this moment. I mean, I guess I noticed it when we were under Willow’s spell, and I’d have to be blind not to have given those sharp cheekbones and blue eyes a second glance once or twice. But now? Now I’m looking at the overall picture, up close, and I think I like what I see.
No, no, no. Bad thoughts. Bad Buffy. The last thing I need is to get all gushy about another vamp, especially one with no soul and a history of killing slayers.
But then, at least he can spot a slayer when she’s in front of him. Spike knows what I am, who I am, and isn’t going to ever give me the confused look Riley gave me when I identified myself. Spike’s never going to question why I think I’ll die young, or why my calling isn’t a job I can just clock out of at the end of a shift. He knows, better than just about anyone.
And I know he still wants me to agree to a new truce, to promise to sit back and watch him leave Sunnydale for good once he gets back to normal. I’m putting it off. I don’t want to make that promise.
I don’t want to lose the one person in my life who totally gets it, who gets all the weird that is me, and isn’t afraid to stand up to my stubbornness about it. Spike knows what makes me tick. It’s probably from a century of studying slayers, and should really skeeve me out, but I don’t really care about the reasons right now. My secret friend, the evil vampire, gets me better than my boyfriend. Even better than my friends and watcher, in some ways. I don’t want to lose that.
My friend. God, when did that happen? When did one of my all-time favorite enemies become my friend? A few minutes ago, I threw a stake into his hand, when I could have just as easily thrown it into his heart. I didn’t even think about it. In fact, I was kind of hoping he’d give me an excuse to put his ring on after, so we could have another private chat. I look forward to these meetings, these chances to be alone together, to not be enemies for a little while.
And I think he does, too. Why else would he be here, right now, staring up at the stars from the gravestone above me, letting his guard down with the one girl in all the world he shouldn’t?
I start talking. Slowly, at first. I spill out the details of the argument I had with Riley, unloading on Spike again, even after I promised myself I wouldn’t. By the time I’m finished, he’s laughing so hard, he’s shaking the gravestone.
“Fry cook?” he sputters again. “Tell me the big block of wood at least thought that was funny!”
And I can’t help but laugh with him. In retrospect, the entire conversation was ridiculous. Why didn’t I notice that before Spike started laughing at the story? “No, but to be fair, neither did I… until just now.” My smile fades away. “Spike, I’m not sure he’s ever going to get it.”
He carefully rolls onto his side on the gravestone, propping himself up on one elbow to look down at me. “So what are you gonna do about it, Slayer? Kick him to the curb?”
I shake my head. “No, I’m going to keep trying. Maybe you’re right, maybe I can’t change him much. But I can at least try to show him what it is he’s messing around in, teach him what it’s like out here in the real demon-hunting world.”
“You think you can get me some answers in the meantime? Help me get this thing undone?”
“Spike, I can’t. Not if you’ll be hunting again. And not if…”
I hesitate. If I finish this sentence, there’s no going back. I steel myself for relentless teasing, that will probably be punctuated with some impossible-to-ignore sexual innuendos.
“Not if it means you’re going to leave.”
He stares at me for a long time, and I have no idea what he’s thinking. I’m afraid to ask. I can feel heat gathering in my cheeks as he looks at me, and I look away, pretending to find the grass interesting.
Eventually, I hear him moving around, and I look up to find him on his back, studying the sky again.
“We’ll take this deal a step at a time, then. Alright?”
We sit in silence for a few more minutes before he starts spilling what he’s been thinking about up there.
“She used to stare at the stars for hours, you know. Sometimes she was talking to them, sometimes they were talking to her. Sometimes, I didn’t understand what she was on about, but I usually did. You spend that much time with someone, you learn to speak their language, even if it’s all garbled up and confused.”
“You seem to be pretty good at translating confused women.”
“No practice in the world like life with Dru. …I’ve always wondered what she was like, before. Before Angelus drove her mad. Before he turned all that intelligence, passion, and second sight into soup, and then made it immortal. The way the story goes -and this is coming from Angelus, mind you- she was as sweet and pure and righteous as they come. But that girl had been dead twenty years by the time I crossed her path. Not much of the human left, by then.”
There it is again. Another hint of the possibility of lingering humanity in an evil vamp. I frown, pretending I’m not thinking of the night he mentioned his parents. “Isn’t that sort of how it usually goes, even without the ‘Angelus made her crazy’ factor?”
“Not unless you want it to.”
He slips into silence again. I want to reach up and shake him by the shoulder, to beg him to continue. For the second time, he’s gotten right up to the edge of answering one of the biggest questions I’ve ever had about vamps, and now he gets quiet? I take back every nice thought I have ever had about him. He’s still infuriating.
He takes his time responding. “I was pure and righteous, too, in a simpering sort of way. Shook off as much of it as I could. …You?”
“What about me?”
“What were you like? Back when you were just a human?”
The question makes my eyes bug out. He’s comparing me being called as a slayer to him being turned into a vamp? Is he as crazy as Drusilla? That’s not even remotely close to the same thing. For him, it was the death of one life and the beginning of another, triggered by a big infusion of supernatural power and a brutal introduction to a world most people don’t even know about. For me–
“Do you remember that Valley Girl smile that made you cringe?”
“Hard to forget it.”
“More of that. If you think I’m shallow and stupid now, you should’ve known me then.”
“I don’t think you’re stupid.” He shrugs against the stone. “Wouldn’t have survived this long if you were.”
“Thanks, I think.”
“Shallow, on the other hand…”
I reach up to slap him on the shoulder. It makes him laugh, breaking the tension, pulling us out of the serious conversation and oddly not-awkward silences we’ve been sharing. He sits up on the gravestone and holds down a hand beside me, offering to pull me to my feet.
I take it before I even realize what I’m doing. When did little things like this become automatic?
When I’m standing before him, brushing off my clothes, he says, “Swing through Shady Hill before we call it a night?”
“You want to patrol with me?”
“Really feel like hitting something just now. You?”
He likes to wash away heavy thoughts with violence, too? Huh. It’s odd, the things we have in common.
We walk off toward the cemetery gate together, sharing another not-uncomfortable silence.
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Reviews ( 2 )
February 4, 2022 06:28
February 1, 2022 05:39
So many people writing Spuffy stuff have Dru as some idiot crazy person that Spike just put up with. No. He loved her, and he had a lot of sweet moments with her. And even though she could be confusing and nonsensical to most, he usually understood exactly what she meant.
I'm reminded of the time in canon when Dru was talking about Acathla, and Angelus was all excitedly asking if she'd had a vision. Spike points out that, no, she just read the damn newspaper. He knows she's smart and that she can interact just fine with the "real" world. And she amused that he had to point that out to Angel.
The relationship you're building between Spike and Buffy has the feel of the best parts of the Sprusilla relationship. They get each other. They can laugh with each other and be silent with each other. And they can dance together in the living room.