For over a hundred years, he’d been Spike the Killer. William the Bloody. Spent the first two decades cutting a swath through Europe, then heard the first whispers of her. A tiny chit down in China, with a penchant for swordsmanship and beheading vampires.
His first. She’d been so young, not that it mattered. Fighting with the skill of a seasoned warrior, she would’ve won, if not for a well timed explosion. Her life ended that night, while his had carried on.
The next came seventy odd years later. Nikki Wood. They sparred more than once, almost making a game of it. But he knew he’d be the one to kill her, and she did too. She’d begged for her son’s sake, but her heart hadn’t been in it.If it had, she would’ve kept fighting. Nikki gave up that night, choosing to accept her death and fade away into the darkness, so another girl could take the reins.
It was that same night he made a real name for himself. Slayer of Slayers. Without fear, he sought them out, studied them, obsessed over them. The ultimate prize. A victory to be hard won and bragged about. A fight that made him feel alive. He’d lived for those rare moments for a hundred years.
But through it all, he’d also been something else.
Spike the caretaker. William the Bloody awful poet. His heart bared on his sleeve for all to see, if they had eyes enough to look. A century was an unbelievable amount of long nights, and longer days, looking after his dark princess. Keeping her safe and happy. And lucid when he could manage it. Keeping her fed, even when she refused. Finding a way to restore her strength. So focused he’d been on her, those years ago, that he hadn’t heard the song coming from his own heart. The one pining for something unknown, calling out and never getting an answer.
Long dead it was, but it had always skipped a beat for this Slayer. This one girl. Buffy Summers. She should’ve been his third notch. She’d put a school full of happy meals ahead of her own best interests, and faced down against him with no weapons but her wit and skill. Stared death in the face, and overcame it to stop an apocalypse. The one who always managed to best him. She never gave up. Never stopped trying. And until that point… never let herself be weak.
Even when they’d been prisoners, she hadn’t shown a moment of true weakness. Everything in there had been out of necessity, for both of them. At least at the beginning. When she’d used him as a pillow, it was so she could be better rested for the next fight. So she’d have a better chance of survival. Something to cling to, a sense of familiarity and safety. Not a choice to lean on him for support.
This… this was a choice she’d made.
Can you stay with me?
Five words, loaded with a thousand more unspoken ones. The things she hadn’t been able or ready to say. But she didn’t need to. He’d been powerless to say no, not that the thought had even entered his mind. The woman he loved was asking him, pleading with her eyes, to stay with her. To comfort her. To keep her safe. She didn’t have to say any of it out loud. I need you was more than enough.
They’d slipped back into that familiar position. Propped against her pillows, with her cradled against his chest like the precious thing she was. He clung to her, and to the feelings that had made their home in his chest. Clung to the moment and all it meant.
She was letting him in, letting him see her vulnerable. Trusting him with that. She shivered against him, trembling as she let go of the mask she’d been holding in place with all her strength. She let herself cry. Let the stress of everything consume her like a tidal wave. She fell apart in his arms.
And all he could do was hold her, stroke her hair. Hope that somehow, just by being there, he’d be able to help her. Put her back together, piece by piece. He couldn’t tell her everything that sat on the tip of his tongue. Couldn’t say what she meant to him, or… what it meant that she allowed him to be the thing she found comfort in. He couldn’t say anything. Didn’t dare dry her tears, or lean down to kiss her.
He could only do exactly as she’d asked, and stay with her.
It took time for the well of tears to run dry. More time still for the dry sobs to finally cease, and for her to doze off. She finally looked at peace. Content, snuggled against him. The fitful dreams came and went, and he gently petted her hair and shushed her each time a frown appeared on her lips. Eventually, they stopped altogether, and she settled in to what was likely the best sleep she’d had in many months. God knew she needed it. Spike knew she needed it, too.
He studied her, for the umpteenth time. He remembered the first time he’d done it, taking note of each of her features. The way her hair fell just so when she slept, the tiny indent at the end of her nose, her bottom lip always looking ready to pout. He’d dismissed his fascination back then, but fully embraced it now. What else was there to do? Fight against it? Run from it? He knew he wasn’t capable of either.
She was… so much. Too much for him to ever put into words. Enigmatic. Ever changing, and yet somehow the same. Her drive, her convictions, her thirst for life. Nothing had broken those parts of who she was. He doubted anything ever really could. Something they had in common, that. It didn’t matter how much time passed, or how hard the world tried, there were just certain things that would never change.
She’d always be the hero. And he’d always be… well, a terrible poet, for one thing. Funny thing about heros and poets, though. One always found inspiration in the other. A spark that led to timeless tales of adventure and daring and love.
The poet in him still lived on, a century after it met Death, and politely declined to follow.
William. The proper gentleman. The bleeding heart. Pandering to society’s rules at every step. Desperate for acceptance. So soft and unsure of himself. Chasing love where none could be found. Falling for a woman entirely out of his league. Yeah, Spike thought ruefully. Some things really don’t change.
He didn’t love with half a heart. He loved with everything he had. First Cecily, then Drusilla. It was no different with Buffy, but still entirely new. He’d never betray her. Never leave her wanting for anything or cause her to shed a single tear. He’d do everything he could for her, to make her life just a tiny bit easier. Lay down his own if he had to, and he wouldn’t even think twice about it.
All he wanted, all he needed, was a crumb. Some tiny hint that maybe, one day, she’d give him a chance. Any chance. Just to be like this. To have a permanent spot by her side. To be close to her, more than just physically. To be close. He’d never wanted anything more in his entire existence. She had her friends, her family. Even them, she kept at arm’s length. Kept them distant, to keep herself safe. Because they were a bunch of bleeding morons, and not a single one could say they hadn’t caused her pain, or betrayed her.
He wanted to be the one she didn’t push away. The one… that she went to in her worst moments, at her weakest, her most vulnerable, and trusted not to hurt her. When the world was crumbling around her, and everything she knew was shaken, and she felt like she would fall apart, he wanted to be the man that held her together. Just like this.
It hurt, to long for something that much.
He wanted it, her, so much that it choked him. He knew he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, that she would ever feel the way about him that he did for her. He knew it. But he also knew that she could love just as fiercely as he did. She had so much love to give, if she’d let herself feel it. If he could earn that place by her side. If she’d let him in. If she could trust him.
The ache built in his chest until it was almost unbearable. A fire being stoked around his heart, searing his lungs and making it hard to breathe. His throat went dry as it crawled upwards, seeking an escape. The only one it had.
“God, I love you so much…” The whispered words came of their own accord, spoken aloud for the first time against his own will. “You’re all I think about, all I dream about.”
No. God, please no.
He couldn’t stop. They just kept coming, and he couldn’t stop. He pulled himself free of her, so careful not to wake her up. Not now. Not like this. This wasn’t how…
“You’re everything…” he swallowed hard, trying again to stop the flow of words, and failing. “Everything I’ve ever wanted. I know how wrong this is, but I don’t care. I can’t stop.”
He had to get out of there. Far away from her, until whatever was happening was over. He had some time. The sun wasn’t up yet. He could get to his crypt, get downstairs, block the entrance. Pray to whoever was listening that she wouldn’t come to find him. He pulled his arm free with as much care as he could, desperate for her to not wake up at that moment.
Duster. Boots. Door.
He wrenched it open and slipped out, not bothering to close it behind him, words still coming out. Adoration and praise, whispered to the night. His boots fell heavy on the stairs as he stumbled down them, half blinded by the sheer panic coursing through his entire body.
Landing. Outside. Go. Run.
He fled, unable to control himself any longer. His legs carried him swiftly, as far away from her as he could get. Through the dew covered grass, through yards, over fences, his chest heaving the entire way. The further away he got, the less he felt that undeniable need to speak. To say what was deepest in his heart. Through the cemetery gates, to the crypt marked Hawley.
He crashed through the door, barely pausing to slam it shut behind him before making a beeline to the trapdoor and dropping through it to the cavern below. Had to get it blocked. Something heavy enough that maybe she wouldn’t think to move it, or look under it. The stone sarcophagus lid would work. He’d barely shoved it off to the side himself, when he’d discovered the cave. Should’ve still been within reach. He climbed back up the ladder, stretching out and grasping the edges of the slab. Struggling to maintain his balance, he pulled it closer, stepping down to get it situated over the opening.
He let himself collapse on the floor, every inch of him trembling. His stomach churned, bile threatening to surge up at any moment. Whatever the hell had come over him, it was powerful. It had to be a spell. Had to be. But who, and why, would anybody want him to confess his love to her? Why now? Nobody knew about it. He hadn’t let it slip. He’d been good about that. Careful. He’d barely left his crypt. The only people who’d even seen them together, really together, were…
His jaw clenched as the realization dawned on him. He knew exactly who was responsible for it.
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