Chapter 36 - Insights
Spike looked satisfied, Buffy thought. Though it seemed more than having just had some really tasty blood. He looked almost…content.
He shifted her suddenly and pulled her legs the rest of the way up on the couch so that she was lying down completely. Then his hand returned to her hair.
Buffy relaxed and closed her eyes. It was silent for several minutes, and she almost drifted off, until Spike suddenly stopped his ministrations. She opened her eyes to find him staring at her intently, his head tilted to one side.
“What?” she asked.
After a few seconds of silence, he said:
“You got a death wish?”
“What?” She stared back at him, now fully alert.
“It happens. To Slayers.”
“What do you mean?”
“Slayers, they get death wishes. The fight, the pressure, the aloneness, it gets to them. They don’t want to do it anymore. They’re around death so much, it becomes a part of them.”
“And you know this…?”
“I know how they fight, how they think.”
“You know how to kill them,” she said.
“They wanted death. I gave it to ’em.”
“Way to make yourself sound like Dr. Kevorkian.”
Spike frowned at her. “I’m not sayin’ I wouldn’t have killed them anyway. I’m just sayin’ they wanted it.” He paused. “Do you?”
“Good, cause you’re a bit young, Slayer-wise, to be crackin’ already.”
“I said I didn’t mean it.” She started to sit up, but a firm hand to her shoulder held her down.
“What did you mean?”
“I don’t want to die. But if I had to—and I will have to—it just didn’t seem like such a bad way to go.”
Spike shook his head, exasperated. “Bloody hell, I can’t win. You complain cause it hurts, and when I try and be nice, you start sayin’ you wouldn’t mind kickin’ it.”
“It was purely ‘just saying,’” Buffy argued. “You know, like when you’re drunk and start fighting about whether you’d rather be stabbed, drowned, or hit by a car. Besides, if, you know—if I was okay with it…well, not okay, but not un-okay—then if you, you know, then you shouldn’t feel too bad.”
“I won’t take too much.”
“Someone’s going to kill me, sometime, but it wouldn’t be so bad if it was you.”
“Well, it’s not gonna be,” he snapped.
“I know. Got it.” She paused, and then raised an eyebrow, directing a challenging stare up at him. “If there was a choice between me killing you and someone else killing you, which would you take?”
He didn’t have an answer for that.
See? her look said. Then her face fell again.
“What the hell’s got into you?”
“It’s like you said, I guess. The pressure.” Buffy paused for a long moment. “It just all came crashing down today. I’m here. I’m supposed to be in charge. You should have seen the way they were already asking me about what we were going to do. Even Giles—my new Watcher—was sort of deferring to me. I’m supposed to take the lead, take down the vampires, and fight the fight. I know I’m the Slayer, and I know they’ve been here and that it’s been rough, but there’s just this whole ‘save us!’ vibe screaming away.”
“Don’t you like them?”
“No, I do. Willow and I clicked, which never happens. It’s just—it’s already starting. God, Giles even said as much. They’ll be there to back me up, to help. But they’re waiting for me, and me alone, to take down the big bad.”
“I’d think you’d like havin’ a Watcher who’s not a slave driver. Not always the case.”
“I like Giles.”
There was another silence.
“You’re not alone, yeah? You got me.”
She didn’t say anything.
Spike studied her for a moment. “C’mon, pet, what else? It’s not just these new mates of yours.”
Buffy looked away, focusing on a cushion at the other end of the couch. “When I found out who the vampires were, I thought you wouldn’t help me. I would have to face them alone, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to. I’d fight them, and they’d kill me. And that would be it.”
Spike remained silent, processing her words. Something between the lines occurred to him.
He ran his hand down her jaw line, tilting her face. “Buffy, even if I didn’t fight with you, I wouldn’t have fought against you,” he said softly. “You know that, right?”
Buffy looked at him. She nodded. Barely.
“Bloody hell, you thought I would have.”
“No!” she exclaimed. “Not really. I thought it for like a split second, but that’s all, I swear.”
“Again, did you remember the part where I hate them?”
“Yeah, well, I hate my dad, but I’m not going to stand by and watch someone else kill him, much less help them do it.”
She stared at him.
“It’s a vampire thing.” He shrugged. Then, “Enough with all this. Bloody snap out of it. You’re not gonna have to do it alone, all right?”
“Even—but after everything today, I realized I will. Even if I am the best, someday I’ll still fight alone, die alone. Even if it’s not this time.”
He paused. “Someday is a long way away, pet.”
“Even you won’t be around forever. Our deal will end, and you’ll go…wherever you go.”
“I’m pretty hard to get rid of.”
“Believe me, I know. But—”
He leaned down, putting a finger to her lips. “You’re not gonna die. Whether you want me around or not.”
It should have creeped her out, getting back into the stalking and obsession territory—or something else, her mind whispered—but it didn’t.
“And what sort of Slayer just lets a vampire follow her around? If they knew—”
“Look, Slaying is killing. There’s no high guide to it. It doesn’t matter how you do it or how you live to get it done. All right?”
“All right,” she finally said.
“Right. Now, are we done?”
“I suppose.” She didn’t sound convinced.
“You’re gonna win, and you’re gonna live. It’s what you’re payin’ me for.”
“My own vampire bodyguard. Again.”
He grinned. “Y’know, love, you’re askin’ the wrong set of questions. You should be askin’ what sort of awful vampire I am for followin’ your every order, Slayer blood be damned.”
Buffy smiled slightly. “I guess so. God, you suck at being a vampire.” She put her hand to her neck. “Well, I suppose you just suck.”
“That I do,” he said, running his tongue over his teeth. Suddenly he stood, scooping her up into his arms and heading toward the kitchen. “Speakin’ of which, it’s time to get some food you.”
“I’m not hungry,” she complained as he set her down on the counter.
“You at least need to drink something.”
“Fine. There’s some apple juice in the fridge. Glasses over there.” She pointed to a cabinet.
Spike poured the juice and handed it to her, leaning against the fridge and watching as she drank, as if he suspected she was going to try and pour it down the sink when he wasn’t looking. Sort of cute, really, the vampire fussing over her.
After she was done, she set the glass down and started to hop off the counter. He was in front of her in an instant, hands settling on her waist to hold her in place. “Don’t even think about it.”
“Spike, I’m not made of glass.”
“Right now your mum could probably take you.”
“You’ll feel fine tomorrow.”
“I feel fine now.”
“Whatever you say, love.” He stepped back slightly, though still stood within easy reaching distance, presumably to stop her if she tried to get down. “Speakin’ of your mum, I take it she doesn’t know?”
“Absolutely not. I thought about telling her, but how do you open up that conversation? ‘Guess what, Mom? I have a new career path. What? No, vampires are completely real, I swear.’ Ugh, no thank you. Which brings me to another point. If we happen to run into her, nothing about Slayers or vampires or deals. If you see her alone, you’re just passing through. If we see her together, we have a thing.”
“Are we dating?” He grinned.
“No, we have a thing,” she repeated. “And you’re not sure how long you’re going to be in town.”
“Good enough. And the rest of our arrangement?”
“You’ll follow me on patrol. If I’m alone, come along; if Giles or someone else is with me, stay behind and only jump in if you have to. Trail me around town anytime after dark, at least until I get a few more things down. For training, I’m actually thinking in the backyard in broad daylight. Mom will be gone until after work, and I’ll get out of class early enough. No one will be around, and what sort of vampire would be out in the sun? Or maybe sometimes in the basement, though I’d have to get some mats or something, and then there’s the whole finding something to tell Mom. So I’m thinking the backyard. It’s private enough, and if anyone sees, as long as we keep the Slayer talk to a minimum, who’s to say I don’t just have a healthy interest in martial arts?”
“Well. You got it all planned out, I’ll give you that. What about Angelus?”
“It’ll happen when it happens. No plans for storming the fortress, wherever that is. Giles says they’re holed up in some old mansion on the edge of town.”
“Sounds about right.”
Buffy took the moment to quickly hop down before he could stop her, ignoring the dizziness that hit her at the sudden movement. She stood still for a moment, and then took a step forward. “See? Fine. Let me show you the house.”
She led him through the rooms, feeling an odd sense of déjà vu as she did so.
“And here’s my room. The window’s got a sort of ledge thing and the tree right next to it, which is why I chose it. Easy access for getting out at night.”
Buffy stumbled as she turned suddenly.
She caught his look. “Fine. I’ll rest. But you should go ahead and go. Mom will be home soon. Do you even have a place to stay tonight?”
“Not yet. I’ll find something.”
“Well, if you don’t, there’s the window and there’s the floor.”
“Be still my non-beating heart. Besides, creature of the night here.”
“Well, if you need somewhere to sleep tomorrow, then.” She sat down on the bed.
“Get some rest, pet.”
And he was gone.
Buffy fell asleep shortly afterward, and only woke up when her mother came in from work. Wrapping her robe securely around herself, she went down to dinner. After an hour or two of TV, Buffy claimed moving fatigue and went to bed again.
When she woke up at 9:30 the next morning, it was automatic. She didn’t feel drowsy or weak, or have the desire to go back to bed. Touching her neck, she felt that the skin was smooth and only slightly tender. It was already a bruise, and by afternoon it would be gone.
It wasn’t until she got out of bed that she noticed Spike asleep on the floor.
Smiling and closing the door behind her, Buffy went downstairs.
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