Ooh man. I really don't know about this chapter. I'm not sure that it's gonna come across the same way I imagine it... I'm probably just being paranoid and insecure but nevertheless, I hope this has been worth the wait :)
Some dialogue from Season 1, 'Out of Mind, Out of Sight'
Twirling her stake in one hand, Buffy blew out a puff of air as she stared down at the tombstone in front of her. “Listen, Mister Gaviller. I’ve got a trig test in the morning that I still haven’t studied for, so could ya do me a big favour and get rising already?”
No answer, of course. The vamp-to-be in question was still six feet under, which left a couple tons of dirt between her and his vocal cords. Plus, being evil and all, after hearing that plea of hers he’d probably make a point of taking his time crawling out of his grave.
When sparks started dancing down her spine a few minutes later, she thought maybe he was finally making his way to the surface. Except these tinglies had a specific feel to them. Like the back of her neck was a painter’s canvas, and it was being splattered with red, black, and blue. And somewhere off to the side, tucked in a corner where it would avoid being pelted by the colourful splotches, an old stereo was playing punk music off a cassette tape.
She recognized the combination of colours. Had heard the tune many times before. There was really only one vampire who could be approaching her at that moment. Only one vampire whose presence could melt the tension in her muscles, like a bag of candy left out in the hot summer sun.
Spike lowered himself onto the headstone two down from the one she was resting on. She turned to say hello, but the words got stuck in her throat when she found his gaze focused on the sky. Jumping from the moon to the buckshot blast of stars surrounding it and back again. He looked… absorbed. Lost in thought. As though, even if she did say something, he wouldn’t hear her anyway.
After a good minute of silence though, she decided to try again with a hello. He wouldn’t be here if he didn’t expect at least some semblance of a conversation to transpire between them, right?
But he beat her to it.
“I didn’t kill her.”
She was halfway through her greeting by the time her brain caught up with what he’d actually said. Her face crumpled into a frown. “Huh?”
“The Slayer. In New York. I didn’t kill her. I mean… I did… but I didn’t.”
Buffy didn’t ask for clarification. That statement made her feel like she was sitting behind the wheel of a car, stopped at a railroad crossing as a freight train rumbled towards her. Carrying a full cargo of information. And it would pass her by in its entirety if she just waited. No sense easing herself out onto the tracks- she might miss something. Or worse, get demolished when it hit her. Best to just stay here where it was safe. To stay silent. Let him do all the talking.
“Her name was Nikki. Gorgeous girl, inside and out. We fought a few times, her and I. She was a real scrapper.” He turned a fond gaze on Buffy, an invisible string pulling one corner of his mouth upwards. “You’ve got a bit of her style, actually. Met her on the roof of some corporate headquarters building. We were chasing the same vamp, caught up to it in the same place… but naturally she thought I was on her team.”
“The vamp’s. It was a ‘she’,” he clarified. “She dusted it, and I took a runner. Eventually sought her out again though; figured it for a good time, hanging ‘round with a Slayer. Took a few tries to finally convince her I was on her side, of course. Once I did though… that’s when the fun started.”
Buffy wasn’t sure how much she was enjoying this story so far. The fact that his encounter with this Nikki girl seemed pretty similar to theirs had her wondering if this was just part of Spike’s thing with Slayers. If he hadn’t had some short-lived love affair with her, too.
“We’d go out hunting together. Bet on who could take out the most baddies in one night.” He looked down at himself, grabbed one flap of his leather coat. “Won this from her in a wager.” A short laugh. “Didn’t think she’d actually give it up, but she wasn’t the type to welch on a bet.”
Well. Sounds like they had a lot of fun together. Him and his other Slayer.
Buffy knew it was petty and just plain awful to be jealous of a dead girl, but… she was starting to wonder if Spike’s desire for her might have a whole lot less to do with who she was and more with what she was.
The frown that prickled his eyebrows when he looked over at her meant her inner grumblings must’ve been more apparent than she’d intended. He gave her a small grin. “Stop fretting, Slayer. Wasn’t like that between us. Never was, never would’ve been. She was a bit of all right, is all. We made a good team.”
“Yeah you were. Not that I mind,” he added, his expression convincing her that she didn’t need to be ashamed of the little twangs of jealousy spicing her bloodstream. Not in his presence, anyway.
Spike cast his gaze skyward again. Fished a cigarette out of his coat pocket and lit it, blowing out a cool grey stream of smoke before continuing. “One night I got wind of a beastie that was making a nuisance of itself in the subway tunnels. Killed a few homeless fellas. Even got a tourist and a college kid. Anyway, Nik and I caught up to it, and… well… let’s just say that three of us started that fight, and only one walked away from it.”
Sure that she was misunderstanding something, Buffy frowned, letting his story tumble around in her head for a moment. Eventually she straightened up and walked over to stand in front of him. He wouldn’t meet her gaze. “So… you didn’t kill her?”
“Not with my own hands, no,” he said, head ducked. “But I might as well have. Led her right to it, didn’t I? She didn’t have to be in that subway car.”
Buffy could understand why he blamed himself. Even though they both knew this Nikki girl would’ve died eventually… perhaps even later that same night. It was why she didn’t try to console him. Didn’t assure him that he’d played no part in the other Slayer’s death. He would never accept it, and she wouldn’t completely mean it, either. “So, the stuff in the Watcher’s diaries- I mean, the part about it actually being you who… it’s just a mistake?”
“In a manner of speaking,” he muttered, obviously unwilling to relinquish his point of view on the matter. “Nikki probably told her Watcher about me at some point. Not sure what she said, but… he saw me leaving the underground that night. She’d called to check in before we shoved off. Must’ve figured I turned on her, hired some extra muscle to help finish the job.” He shrugged, flicking some ash to the ground. “Didn’t bother setting the record straight. Figured one more Slayer to my name would keep the Big Bads from coming at me, thinking I was a traitor… and keep the White Hats thinking they still had something to be afraid of.”
“Spike…” Buffy wasn’t sure if she wanted to hug him or slap him. Kiss him or stake him. This… the fact that he’d supposedly killed the Slayer in New York… it was the biggest reason she’d kept her distance from him since finding out what he was. Yeah, the being-a-vampire bit weighed heavy in her mind as well, but… she had found that easier to deal with than the idea that even with a soul, he’d apparently still had enough carnage within him to take a human life.
She couldn’t stand this. The lying, the constant confusion… one minute it seemed like he still wanted her, the next it seemed as though he was reluctant to help bulldoze through the barriers that separated them.
“Haven’t killed a human in nearly a hundred years, Slayer. Not since the curse. Fed on a couple, in some of my weaker moments, but even the last one of those was…” He let the sentence hang, choosing instead to take a drag of his cigarette.
Buffy wanted to reach out and comb her fingers through his hair. Grab onto the lapels of his jacket and…
“Anyway,” he said, suddenly alert, looking her in the eye for the first time since he’d started telling his story. He stood up, flicking his cigarette butt over her shoulder. “You wanted to know the story, so… there it is. Good luck with, uh… Mister Gavilller there,” he said, waving a hand at the headstone.
He was walking away. He was walking away after that? Buffy stepped forward to follow him. “Spike!”
Except a voice behind her halted her pursuit.
“Holy crap! Was the heck was I doing underground?”
Dammit. Of course this guy had to rise now. She’d only been waiting for the past two hours. “Spike!” she yelled as she turned to the erupted gravesite. Bending down, she grabbed the guy by the wrist and did what she could to help him expedite his escape from his earthen tomb. “I swear, if you disappear I am never talking to you again!”
“Uh… who are you talking to?”
Buffy rolled her eyes at the fledgling. “Not you…” A glance at his tombstone. “Mark.”
Giving a final yank, she exposed enough of his chest to strike her heart-shaped target. The soil at her feet began to sink inwards, filling the gap where the now very dusty Mark Gaviller had just been.
Hopping clear of the mini avalanche, she spun around, searching the darkness for her other quarry. “Spike? Spike!” Finding nothing, she muttered to herself. “Stupid dumb English-”
“Over here, Summers.”
Spinning the rest of the way around, she found him sitting against the same gravestone he’d been at a moment ago.
“Yeah.” A flick of his eyebrows. “So.”
“So.” Buffy said, staring at him with her arms crossed. Trying to recapture the thoughts and emotions that had been roaring through her like a squadron of fighter jets just a moment ago. As she did, her eyes narrowed, her muscles clenched, and she felt her blood reaching that point where it was simmering. Those last few degrees to go before it reached a full boil.
Then someone turned up the heat just a notch, and…
“What the hell is wrong with you?!”
“I said, what the hell is wrong with you?”
“Uh… should I start with the part about being a vampire, or… were you hoping to work a different angle here?”
“I’ve got an idea.” She marched towards him, stabbing the ground with every step she took. Spike looked concerned, no doubt because she was still clutching her stake. “How about we start with the part where you’re the biggest idiot there ever was? Like… if there was an entire country… no, an entire planet called Idiotonia, you’d be its president. President of the whole planet. Forever!”
“All right, well, sure. We could start there.”
“Spike,” she barked. “You just told me that you didn’t kill that Slayer in New York.”
Eyes going wide, she couldn’t believe he was forcing her to explain further. “You just told me that you haven’t killed anyone since you got your soul!”
“I did at that…”
“Okay, do you like seeing me angry, or are you just purposely being slow right now?”
“Bit of both, probably.”
“Spike!” Her mood changed just a fraction then. Shifting from a thunderous storm to a simple down-pouring of rain. “Why would you keep something like that from me? Why wouldn’t you tell me that you’re not… y’know… whatever it makes someone who can kill people even if they have a soul?
“A murderer?” he offered. “Ted Bundy?”
Buffy sighed. “Don’t you think this is something I might’ve wanted to know back when I had a crossbow pointed at your chest? Or any time between then and now?”
“Told you. I have my reasons for keeping quiet.”
Don’t hit him, don’t hit him. “Then explain them to me! You keep saying that but…” Don’thit him. “It’s not good enough anymore, Spike. Not if we’re ever going to…” she stopped at that. Reluctant to suggest anything about a relationship between the two of them when it was now so unclear whether he wanted such a thing. “It’s just not enough.”
He was quiet for a while after that. His eyes roaming over every cubic inch of the space that surrounded them. Except for the small pocket where they would meet her gaze. He looked up at the sky, then down to the earth. Let out a breath. “Tell me. If I’d come out with this, given you the scoop any sooner… that night in your kitchen, for instance. Would you have believed me?”
Buffy opened her mouth to answer. Of course I would have.
But that wasn’t exactly true.
“I… would’ve wanted to.”
A half-smile. “Yeah, well, that’s not exactly the same thing, is it?”
She looked away, a twinge of guilt echoing through her core.
“It’s all right, love. You’d have been right not to. Can’t go trusting every vamp who feeds you some rot about being reformed. Unless you’re looking for an easy way to get yourself killed.”
“Yeah. I guess.” She shrugged, rubbing her upper arm. “So is that it then? You kept this from me all this time because you didn’t think I’d believe you?”
“Might be more to it.”
Why is it that when she wanted him to shut up, Spike wouldn’t stop talking… and yet when she really needed to hear what he had to say, he was all Mr. Tight Lips?
The conversation-having part of him must still be evil.
“Such as… I didn’t want to lose you.”
“I thought… that if you knew what happened between me and Nikki… if you knew how she died… then maybe you’d think the same thing might happen to you. That maybe I’d get you killed, too. That maybe, aside from the whole vampire bit, I’m not so safe to be around after all.”
…That’s what he thought?
“Again, it’s all right, Slayer. Couldn’t expect you to-”
“You’re the only person that does make me feel safe.”
He looked up at her, having been stopped mid-rant. Clenching his jaw, apparently stunned by such a statement, he shook his head. “Not a person at all.”
“Shut up,” she said, her tone halfway between light-hearted and annoyed. “You don’t get it, do you? Spike, you’re the only person in my life who makes me feel… protected.”
A snort of laughter. “Don’t need protecting, Summers. You’re-”
“The Slayer. I know. Which means that I’m doomed to spend every night of what is sure to be my very short life fighting vampires and demons and whatever else this Hellmouth decides to throw at me. It’s my job to protect the world from all of it.” Feeling brave, she took a step forward. Reached out to run her fingers down the inner edges of his lapels. “And… you’re the only one who can do the same for me.”
“Your knight in shining armour, am I?”
She rolled her eyes. “Please. Super-human strength here? Like I have any use for knights in shiny armour. Or dull armour, for that matter.” The smile he offered her said he agreed with her assessment. “I just mean… It’s nice. Having you around when the Slayage happens. Knowing that while I’m looking out for the world, you’re looking out for me. That you’re watching my back.”
He laughed, and it was accompanied by a cocked eyebrow. “Of course I am. It’s quite nice to look at, you know. Although I am also rather fond of your front…”
Buffy slapped him on the shoulder. “Geez, will you quit it? We’re kind of having a moment here.”
Slowly, he rose from his seat on the headstone. His grin grew larger by the millisecond. “Are we?”
“Yes! With the sharing and the feelings and the…”
“…The what?” he prodded after she failed to complete her short list.
“I don’t know. I thought I had a third thing, but… I guess not.”
Still smiling, he reached down to enclose her hands in his. His hold was soft and gentle, like he was cradling a baby bird. He lifted them to his lips and kissed the knuckles on her right hand. “So…” He did the same to her left. “Where does that leave us then?”
Buffy felt her eyebrows knitting together as she glanced up to those two cool, calm sapphires of his. Boring into her. Unearthing the deeper surfaces of her soul. Ones she managed to keep hidden from everyone in the world. Everyone except him, that is.
“You really didn’t…?” she whispered.
He shook his head. “Gave you the truth, love. Nothing but.”
“Yeah. You’ve kind of got a habit of doing that, don’t you?” Although, not without some serious convincing, she added in her mind.
He responded with a one-shouldered shrug. “What can I say? I’m deeply flawed.”
She smiled back, even though inside her mind, a flood of distress was causing cymbals to crash and drums to beat between her ears. Creating background noise that wouldn’t let her just think. Noise that forced her to say something along the lines of “What if I don’t know yet?”
Eventually he was going to get tired of this. Of waiting. Of her not knowing. All she could do was hope that tonight wouldn’t be the night. “What if this is something I want, but… it’s not something I’m sure I can let myself have yet?”
“Well… If that’s the case…” He released her hands and cupped her cheeks instead. Tipped her face up so he could kiss her forehead.
Buffy leaned into him for those few fleeting seconds. Delighting in the feel of his lips against whatever square inches of her flesh they could find.
“Then we leave it at that,” he continued, running his thumbs along her jaw before letting them dribble down the sides of her neck. Leaving a trail of goosebumps in their wake. “And I walk you home. If you’ll let me.”
Before he allowed his hands to fall away from her though, she reached up and threaded her fingers through his.
Screw it. She might not be ready for making with the kissage, or a relationship, or any of that other stuff, but… she wanted to at least hold his hand on the walk home. She could let herself have that much, couldn’t she?
Buffy gave him a nod. “Yeah. I think I’m okay with that.”
Spike didn’t take any joy in sneaking up on the old man. Or, well… yeah, he did. It was, after all, one of the few sources of semi-evil fun his demon could have these days that didn’t leave his soul sulking in a corner.
“A vampire casts no reflection,” the Watcher said under his breath once he’d recovered, turning to re-examine the window before them.
“Please tell me that bit of information doesn’t come as a surprise to you.”
“No. No, of course not,” Giles said with a sheepish smile. “It’s simply the first time I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”
“Right.” Suppose that made sense. Any other vampire, and he probably wouldn’t have lived through the experience.
Resting his hands on his belt, Spike took a moment to assess the librarian. The man responsible for keeping his Slayer alive. From what little she’d told him of the older man, he sounded capable enough.
Sounded like he actually wanted to keep her alive, too. Like he didn’t just treat her as a girl-shaped tool for fighting the forces of darkness- a philosophy that some Watchers were all too eager to live by.
Of course, Spike would wait a little while before passing his own judgment, but so far the man had scored a few points with that arsenal he had locked up at the front of the library.
Wonder the school didn’t say anything about it.
“Can untwist your knickers, mate. Not here to eat,” Spike assured him, noticing the anxiety causing the other man’s face to pinch at the corners.
Giles laughed out the breath he’d been holding. “Yes… Yes, Buffy mentioned that you don’t- well, as a general rule you don’t-”
“Been a while, yeah.”
“She- she also told me about your innocence in the death of-”
“Yeah, let’s keep that one between us, shall we?” Much as he didn’t mind the Slayer passing on that bit of info to her Watcher, given that otherwise he’d probably have a stake at his heart right now, Spike didn’t want it to get much further than them. His reputation had helped him to survive this long. Kept him from a dusty ending on more than one occasion. “Don’t go blabbing it to the higher ups.”
“I… Of course,” he agreed, though his crinkled forehead said he didn’t quite understand why such a request was being made.
Spike didn’t see a reason to enlighten him.
“Is that why you’re here?” Giles prompted. “To see her?”
“No. Here to talk shop, actually.”
Frankly, Spike didn’t want to have any sort of touchy-feely conversation with Watcher-boy here. Especially not about the Slayer. Didn’t want to be telling him how he felt about his charge.
How he yearned to be near her every second of every bloody day. How he had to call upon every last second of his long-buried Victorian upbringing to resist pinning her to the nearest vertical surface and attacking her lips with his. How, despite that, a small corner of his soul was still happy when she walked away from him at the end of every night. It told him that it was how things should be. That he should leave the Slayer in peace.
She deserved better than him. Spent too much time in the dark to be bringing any of it into her heart as well.
“Ah, yes. Of course. What can I… uh, what can I do for you?”
“You’ve been digging around for info on the Master, yeah?”
“Yes, the Vampire King.”
Spike snorted. “Bet he’d love to hear you call him that.”
This made Giles pause. “I…” he cocked his head. “Are you… acquainted with him?”
“Not exactly. Heard bits and pieces about him when I was turned, is all. Doubt it’s anything that’d be of use. Nothing you don’t already know. Older than dirt. Wrinkly in the forehead region. Sagittarius who enjoys a good massacre followed by a round of torture on a moonlit beach.”
“Oh,” Giles said, ducking his head with a smile. Though Spike could tell that his little grin was more out of discomfort than amusement. “Well, that’s rather unfortunate. I’ve tried to learn as much as I can about him in preparation for the day when Buffy must face him.”
“Which is why I’m here. Something’s already in motion- something big. Can feel it… rattling my bones,” he said through clenched teeth. “Haven’t got a clue what it is though. That’s where you come in, Watcher. I’d wager you’ve read all the Slayer lore there is. Might know something about what’s coming.”
“I-I’ve studied all the extant volumes, of course. But the, uh, most salient books of Slayer prophecy have been lost. The Tiberius Manifesto, the Pergamum Codex-”
“The Codex?” Spike asked, a flashbulb going off in his mind.
Giles nodded. “It’s reputed to have contained the most complete prophecies about the Slayer’s role in the end years. Unfortunately, the book was lost in the fifteenth century.”
Spike grinned at the other man then, clapping a hand down on his shoulder. “Not lost. Misplaced. I can get it.”
He gasped, and Spike guessed that his hand was doing some of the work to keep the librarian on his feet in that moment. “That would be most helpful! Uh, my own volumes have… been rather useless of late,” he said, the last part coming out quietly, as though he didn’t want his dear books to hear him make such a hurtful comment.
Tilting his head, he took a look at the tome he was holding. Legends of Vishnu? “Yeah. Looks like you’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel there.”
Giles looked down at his book. “Oh… this is… there’s an… invisible girl terrorizing the school.”
“Invisible?” Spike asked, genuinely interested. As far as he knew, cooking up a case of the can’t-see-‘ems took some serious magical mojo. Couldn’t imagine a teenage girl being capable of such a thing…
“Yes. In spite of the happenings around here, it’s… actually quite fascinating.” He lifted the book. “By all accounts it’s a… a wonderful power to possess.”
Spike just perked his eyebrows at that one. More than a few times in the last century and a quarter, he’d found himself briefly questioning his own existence when he was unable to locate his reflection in a mirror or window. Imagine the sort of things it’d do to a person’s mind if they couldn’t even see their own hand in front of their face. He made no comment on the matter though. Seemed like another situation where he’d be encroaching upon the territory of the touchy and feely.
“I’ll get your Codex, Watcher. Two days, three at the most. Just do me a favour, and try not to get yourself killed in the meantime.”