“Spike!” she shouted as she jumped to her feet and ran to him. She stopped just a few feet away and put her hands up, all non-threatening. “This is going to sound crazy, but hear me out, okay?”
“Oh, thank god. Thought it’d take days to find you. Good timing, Slayer. Some bint’s in your body…Though I guess you already knew that.”
She cocked her head, brow furrowing in confusion.
“You knew it wasn’t me?”
“Buffy, we spent three months in a cell together. Yes, I bloody well know you when I see you. Know when it’s not you, too.”
“So you saw me? Her?” she asked with wide eyes.
“Yeah, I saw her. Lucky she didn’t see me. Who is she? Another Slayer?”
Buffy nodded and shuffled her feet. “Yeah. Faith. We, uh… Well, we didn’t part on the best of terms. I kind of stabbed her and she fell off the building and she’s been in a coma for most of the last year.”
“Well, that explains part of it. Wants revenge, I suppose? Can’t just have a cat fight and call it good?”
“Oh, we fought alright. She had this thing, on her hand? I don’t know how but… It switched us. I was so shocked, I- she knocked me out cold. And when I woke up…”
She hugged herself as her eyes drifted to the floor. He couldn’t help but reach out a hand and rub her shoulder gently. She’d fill him in on it when she felt ready, and he wasn’t going to make her relive something she’d just as soon forget.
“Don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to, pet. Doesn’t matter now anyway, right? You’re here. You’re safe. I’m gonna make this right. Want you to go to Giles’s flat and tell him what happened. Tell him everything you can remember. I’m gonna go get your body and bring it to you.”
He shuddered at the idea. It wasn’t just some random person in there. It was another Slayer. Somebody who was used to that power, knew how to use it, and had pissed Buffy off enough to get herself stabbed. Not exactly the kind of person he wanted to be cozying up to for any amount of time. But he didn’t see much of a choice in it. He could go in, act like he was going to get a meal and hope she attacked him in the alley, or… He could get her to go with him all nice like.
“No, Spike. She’s too dangerous. I can’t risk-”
Should’ve known she’d argue about it. He clenched his jaw and let out a sigh before guiding her toward the door. He wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Not this time. He’d let her down enough as it was, when he’d promised himself he wouldn’t. He couldn’t hover over her like an overprotective parent. He knew that. It wasn’t in her nature to let others help her. But damn it, just once, she needed to. This one time, she needed to just do as she was told and let him do what he could to make this right.
“Buffy. I’ve bested two Slayers in their prime. I can handle one that just woke up from a coma who’s in a body she’s not used to. Right? Go to Giles. I’ll be there in a bit.”
He wasn’t above begging. He dropped to his knees in front of her, ready to supplicate, and a look of shock flashed across her face. He supposed the last time he’d been on his knees in front of her was when he’d asked for her hand. Tempting, but not now.
“Buffy. I need to do this. I should’ve walked you home, after what we…” he broke eye contact, unsure if she was willing to hear him say that bit out loud, so he left it. “shouldn’t have left you vulnerable like that. It’s my fault she got the jump on you. Now let me fix this. Please. I need to make this right.”
His chest ached from the pleading, the guilt. God, all he wanted to do was take care of her and keep her safe. Hold her, and make sure she felt secure and loved. Even if she had no idea how he felt about her, he wanted to give her that comfort. He could feel the words right there, on the tip of his tongue, begging to be uttered into the world, to become real. I love you, Buffy. Let me help you. Let me make it better. All of it. Forever. Just say yes.
She let out a sigh, and he dared to look back up at her. Her eyes were soft, something he wasn’t exactly used to seeing even after all the time they’d spent together. They drew him in, his legs flexing of their own accord to bring him back up to her level.
“Buffy. I can do some magic, but this is out of my league. Now, choice is yours. We go to some seedy guy in the wrong part of town that we can’t exactly trust, or we can go to your friends. But we need somebody a lot stronger than me to put you back in your own body.”
“Fine. But as soon as it’s done, I don’t want to stay there answering their questions.”
“Done deal. They want to get snippy with you, I’ll flash fang and we’ll be gone.”
She bit her lip, looking up at him. God, he wanted to kiss her. She wanted to kiss him, he could see it. But it wasn’t her body, and as much as he would love to feel her heat against him again… He’d rather it be in her own, nicely shaped Buffy body. A moment passed between them, and she seemed to come to the same decision about it.
“Be careful, okay? She’s dangerous, Spike.”
He gave her a quick nod and headed for the Bronze, his feet carrying him as quickly as they could. There was precious little time to waste. Even if he could track her down on scent alone, he wanted this done as easily as possible. No fight, as little struggle as possible. Buffy’s body had enough healing to do without an all-out fight.
Buffy stood outside Giles’s apartment, wondering how she was supposed to just knock on his door and tell him what happened. She knew exactly how this was going to go. Threats and accusations, and fear, and probably him trying to escape or overpower her somehow. She really hated that she even needed him for a stupid spell in the first place. But like Spike had said- it was her friends or somebody who probably wanted her dead. There weren’t that many viable options.
At least he believed her, no questions asked. He knew her. He hadn’t pushed her for anything. He’d done the opposite. He’d denied something that could have destroyed her. Spontaneous sex, with him, was not what she’d needed. She needed a release, a distraction, and thought that was the only way to get it. He’d stopped that self-destructive spiral from starting and saved her from herself. All he’d asked for in return was a bit of trust.
It was a scary word now. A notion that made her heart sink in her chest and her palms clam up. And she’d trusted Spike, with barely a second thought. He’d… earned that much, hadn’t he? At least when it came to her life. She never expected he had a side like he’d been showing her. For months now. She certainly didn’t expect it to continue outside, in the real world, but it was. He’d saved her life when he could have taken it to sustain his own. He was a vampire. That’s what they did. She didn’t want to think about that cliche. He’s not like other vampires. But he kept proving it, again and again. As much as she wanted him to be a two-dimensional thing, he kept showing her new depths of himself. New layers.
She almost wished he wasn’t. It would make everything simpler. Spike the Killer was something that fit into her world. Vampire, Slayer. One kills the other, and another rises. Like clockwork. Easy, predictable. What had happened between them – and what was continuing – was anything but that. It was confusing, and impossible to fight, and she didn’t know where it would lead or what the outcome would be. It terrified her.
She couldn’t keep denying the budding feelings she had for him. Not to herself. He gave her something that nobody else had before. A freedom to just be herself, completely. She didn’t have to be up on a pedestal, perfect and incapable of doing wrong. She didn’t have to pretend to be normal. She didn’t have to hide anything. He knew what she was, and he… What a stupid thought, Buffy.
She wanted to tell herself that vampires didn’t have emotions. That Spike didn’t. But she knew better. He wore them on his sleeve, for everybody to see. He always had. The notion that he might have the same kind of feelings starting for her made her stomach flip. The kindness he’d been showing her, the care, the everything else. Everything they’d been through together, and what they’d done during that time… They had a bond.
What the hell was she supposed to do with that? What were they supposed to do with that? They’d almost broached that subject, what felt like forever ago. A man can change. I’m not going anywhere. I’ve grown fond… She shook her head. Deal with it later, he’d said. Much, much later. Her stomach turned at the thought of what exactly it was they’d be dealing with. Nope. Push it down. You have enough going on right now, you don’t need to add this to the plate.
Faith, for starters.
She didn’t even know what to say to her now. I’m sorry? I didn’t understand before? She couldn’t condemn her to a life of imprisonment at the hands of the Council. Not after what… They were no better than Walsh. And she couldn’t give her a death sentence for a mistake. An accident. God, she’d been so self-righteous about it. You have to turn yourself in. Consequences. She didn’t know, back then. That Faith had been just as affected by what had happened, and was trying so hard to push it down.
And they’d all pushed, and pushed, and pushed, until they’d pushed her right off a ledge they couldn’t even see. Maybe if they’d just let it be, let her deal with it however she had to… Maybe she wouldn’t have gone down that road. She wouldn’t have gone to the Mayor. She’d needed compassion and understanding, and all she’d gotten was more harsh judgement. She’d been suffering, and…
And I let her drown in that pain.
Just as she herself was, now. Except she wasn’t… Because she had Spike there, pulling her up for breaths of fresh air. She had his support. His acceptance. He didn’t care if she slipped up, or made a mistake. He was there to pick her back up, and comfort her. Help calm her. And Faith needed that. She needed somebody who would do that for her, no matter how many times she made a step back.
Buff couldn’t be that person. She knew that. Not yet, at least. But she could give a chance, and try to steer her in the right direction. At least let her know that… Mistakes don’t define who you are as a person. The past didn’t have to determine the present, or the future. She could heal from it…
Buffy choked down a sob. She didn’t know who needed to hear those words more; Faith, or herself?
She was back to dancing again, and he supposed he should have been happy about that. She hadn’t left and ruined his plan and made it so he’d have to track her down. Still, seeing her grinding Buffy’s body against anything on two legs that was hooked by that come hither hand gesture pissed him off. It wasn’t seeing the woman he loved flirt with every person in her radius so much as the fact that it wasn’t her. The total disregard she had for something that was not hers.
Well, not for long. He’d see to it that she was ripped from her stolen body and shoved back into her own. There was a rage building in him, the more he watched her and thought about the anguish she’d caused Buffy. All his Slayer had to do was say the word, and Faith would be nothing but a footnote in the history books. They’d be finding her body for weeks. The things he’d like to do to her… He’d never been so drunk on the bloodlust. He took a deep breath, trying to force it back down. He refused to mar Buffy’s body with more wounds.
Faith was moving out of her little groupie circle of dance partners, making her way in his direction while still bobbing to the music. He calmed himself with a deep breath, and took those few steps forward as she twirled free of the crowd, putting himself directly in her way. She knocked into him with an oof, nearly falling over from how drunk she was. One hand shot up, grabbing onto his shoulder as she tried to steady herself. When she looked up to see who she’d bumped into, recognition flashed in her eyes before a coy smile spread on her lips.
She flicked her hair back out of her face, eyelids dropping low. “Hey, baby. You miss me?”
She brought her other hand up and guided him backward, sauntering with each step until his back connected with the support under the stairs. He had to keep his cool. Stick to his plan.
He scoffed. “Baby? What, we use pet names for each other now, Slayer? Look, last night was fun, but that’s all it is.”
Faith looked a bit taken aback by his response. “Fun? That’s what that was to you?” She stood up on her toes, bringing her mouth closer to his. “I could ride you at a gallop til your legs buckled and your eyes rolled up. I’ve got muscles you’ve never even dreamed of. I could squeeze” she emphasized the word by doing exactly that, almost painfully, “-you until you popped like warm champagne. And you know why I don’t?”
As much as he wanted to smack her down for abusing his bits like she had, this was exactly what he’d been hoping for. A way to proposition her. To get her to follow him somewhere less public. He gave a little smirk as he leaned down, close enough for her to feel his breath against her skin when he spoke.
“Because we got interrupted.” he purrs into her ear. “What do you say you and I pick up where we left off? Have some real fun? How do you think Slayer stamina stands up to a real vampire? Not that wanker ex of yours.” He let his teeth nip at her throat lightly, teasingly, insistently. “What do you say?”
No words. Just Buffy’s tongue flicked out to caress her bottom lip. Then she was leading him by the hand, casting glances back at him as she led him through the crowd, out the back door, and into the dead of night. He didn’t want to waste much more time with her. Get it done, get Buffy back in her own body.
The second the door slammed shut behind them he was on her, shoving her roughly against the brick wall and pinning her there with her arm pressed firmly against her back.
“Hey!” she shouted, but he didn’t give her a chance to really try to struggle.
“Thought this was how you wanted it, Slayer.”
He pressed himself against her ass, grinding suggestively, and she let out a breathy moan. Her guard was falling down again. Good. It felt so wrong, doing these things. The less he had to push boundaries, the better. He snaked an arm in front of her, pulling her back flush against his chest. She didn’t make a move to stop him or change the power dynamic, thankfully. He mentally readied himself for it, whatever fight she was going to put up, then slid his arm up around her throat in a vice grip, cutting off her air supply.
Her free hand shot up, grasping at his hair and pulling viciously as she tried to wobble him off balance and get free. Futile waste of precious energy. Between Buffy’s weakened body, the amount of alcohol in it, and his leverage… there wasn’t anything she could do. He waited it out, feeling her flailing grow weaker by the second, until she finally went limp in his arms.
Sighing his relief that he hadn’t had to actually fight her, he gathered her up like a new bride going over the threshold, and carried her out of the alley. Hopefully Giles still had those chains handy. They were probably going to need them.
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