Buffy was in the living room with Anne and Spike when her mother called for her down the stairs.
“Buffy, your father’s on the phone!”
“Oh!” she exclaimed, scrambling out of her chair and hightailing it up the stairs. The other occupants of the room shared an amused look.
A couple of minutes later, Buffy came back down the stairs, face lit up.
“How is your father, child?” Anne asked politely.
“He’s good. He was calling to tell me he got me tickets to the ice show on my birthday. We used to go every year, and he’d buy me a program and cotton candy and I would dream about one day when I’d be one of the professional skaters.”
“You wanted to skate when you were younger?” Spike asked.
She nodded, but didn’t smile like he’d expected her to. Instead she looked almost sad.
“I did skate when I was younger. I was good at it, too.”
He still didn’t understand her change in expression, but then she added one last sentence, quietly. “I stopped when I was called.”
He gave her a sympathetic look and then grinned largely, trying to shift her mood back into her earlier excitement.
“Well, you’ll have lots of fun going to the show with your pops then, won’t you.”
Buffy realized what he was doing and appreciated it. She tried to keep her dissatisfaction with being the slayer away from anyone else, and he seemed to instinctively get that.
Anne, taking a page out of her son’s book in proclivity to social cues, picked then to speak up.
“So, Buffy, would you tell me more about these ice shows?”
As she made her way home for lunch the next day, she mentally recoiled from the fact that she was looking forward to spending time with Spike. That she was going home for lunch specifically so she could be with Spike, instead of her friends. It was all she could do to keep a mantra running through her head that she hoped would keep her from doing something stupid.
“If he really cared, he’d be helping me.”
It was never going to be enough to keep her away.
Spike heard a noise in the usually silent house around lunch time. He went up the stairs to investigate and found Buffy standing in the hallway, looking lost.
“Hey, pet, what’s going on?”
“Came home for lunch. All my friends are trying to convince me to have a party for my birthday and I don’t want to argue with them about it.”
He eyed her knowingly.
“It’s more than that. Tell me what’s going on.”
“I got hurt fighting a vamp this morning. He almost had me. Something’s wrong with me and I can’t fight anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“Spike, I’m weak, I have no aim. Somehow I’m not the slayer anymore.”
She stared up at him through watery eyes, and he used his thumb to brush away a tear that escaped, putting the other hand on her shoulder comfortingly.
“I’m sure it’s temporary.”
“That’s what Giles thinks. He says I must be sick. But what if it’s not?!”
“Then you pick up and keep moving. You train, you do the best you can. Maybe you’ve lost your super powers, but you’re still Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. No one can take that away from you, because it’s just who you are.”
She shook her head.
“No, I don’t think so, though. I think the slayer is its own separate thing, and Buffy the Girl is just a weak, brainless, waste of space.”
“Don’ say that, pet,” he said, bringing a hand up to cup her cheek. “Buffy the Girl is beautiful, and intelligent, and worth more than just how many vampires she can slay. But I still say that fire’s a part of you. Just might take you a little while to adjust and find it.”
She sighed and moved her gaze away from his.
“You don’t understand, Spike. Before I was called I was completely worthless. You’ve met Cordelia— I was like her clone, only worse. And for all the times I’ve been sad about having my choice taken from me in becoming the slayer, I never thought something like this could happen. I might have missed dreaming of being a skater, but I don’t regret that I’m not that shallow person anymore.”
“Buffy, you grew up. Lots of people aren’t fond of who they used to be. Regardless of what changed you, you still changed. You can’t go back to that person just because you don’t have superpowers anymore.”
Buffy looked at him challengingly.
“But you’ve done it. You still have your super powers and you go back to being William all the time.”
Spike laughed. To his credit, though, he stopped quickly when he realized she was glaring at him, thinking he was laughing at her.
“No, pet, you just have no idea. I pretend to be who I was. But that’s what it is, pretend. Because a lot of it is still inside me, has always been, but it’s all been tempered and changed by my experiences. I’ll never be the same as I was, and neither will you. Slayer powers or not.”
When she looked up, she realized he’d moved even closer to her as he spoke, so that they were nearly touching. She kept her eyes glued to his.
When he finally stepped away, her head was spinning. She’d wanted to kiss him! What the hell was happening to her?
Spike noticed her distress, but mis-attributed the cause.
“Go get some rest, Slayer. On the off chance the watcher’s right and you’re sick. I’ll call the school and fake you a doctor’s excuse.”
She was still too far in shock at her reaction to fight with him. “R-right. I’ll go take a nap. Later, Spike.”
As she walked away, Spike couldn’t help but be more worried than he’d been willing to let on.
That evening she literally ran into Spike as he was coming out of the basement. She’d managed to sleep for a couple of hours, waking in the late hours of the afternoon. Joyce and Anne would be home from the gallery soon.
“Oh, sorry!” she exclaimed, slightly mortified.
Some Chosen One, she who walks straight into vampires.
“Slayer! Was just gonna look for you.”
She kept her voice upbeat, willing him to ignore the blush on her face. “Well, here I am. What’s up?”
“For you. Happy birthday, Buffy,” he said softly, pushing a box into her hands.
Her head snapped up and she looked him in the eyes.
“You didn’t have to…” she replied, trailing off as she opened the box to reveal a beautifully engraved dagger. “Oh my god, Spike!”
“Figured you could use it to help defend yourself. What with the slaying issues an’ all.”
She set the dagger on the counter and moved closer to him.
“Thank you, Spike, I love it.”
“I’m glad,” he replied, eyes soft as they looked into hers.
Before either of them realized what was happening, they were leaning forward slowly, as if drawn by each other’s presence. Their lips drew closer…
She could feel his cool breath against her face as she continued leaning in, entranced by the moment.
Then a sharp knock on the door interrupted them.
She sighed and pulled back, “that’s probably Giles checking up on me.”
Spike looked away awkwardly, hand reaching up to cradle the back of his neck in that cute way he had when he’s uncomfortable.
She was halfway to the door before the reality of the situation caught up with her.
She thought Spike was cute.
And she didn’t just THINK about kissing Spike this time, she ALMOST kissed Spike.
She signed for the flowers and card and took them into the kitchen in the haze of that realization. She made sure to keep her eyes away from Spike where he still stood across the counter, up until the moment she was positive she wouldn’t act on her newfound desires.
Mostly because any lusty Spike thoughts were derailed when she opened the card from her father and saw that he was canceling.
He rushed around the counter and had his arms wrapped around her the second he recognized her tears for what they were.
“Shh, Princess, tell me what’s wrong?”
She sniffed and shook her head, attempting to pull away as if everything was fine.
“It’s nothing. Just my dad canceling our birthday plans.”
He allowed her to step away without holding her back, turning to pick up the card.
“At least he was decent enough to leave the tickets. Should ask your watcher, pet.”
She smiled a little at that. She had no clue how he did it; how he knew almost instinctively what she needed. She couldn’t have handled him pushing whatever the hell was going on with them right then, and he backed right off.
“Maybe I will, actually.”
When she turned her gaze to him, she was taken aback with the intensity of his stare, as if she were the most important thing in his universe.
Did he have feelings for her? And if so, how long had he had them? Did she have feelings for him? And did he call her princess a minute ago?!
She excused herself to lay back down. She didn’t quite trust herself around him at the moment.
When Anne and Joyce came home and had finished dinner, Buffy went downstairs to eat with the fear it might be awkward.
Fortunately, Spike also seemed content to pretend nothing had happened between them, which was just fine by her. It wasn’t like she had any idea what was going on between them.
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January 21, 2022 02:20