26. Messed Up
A/N: Betas: Mabel Marsters, Tanit and the ever patient Slaymesoftly. :)
This story is now complete in rough draft with thirty chapters and an epilogue. I'm hoping to be able to update twice a week until it's all up. Thanks for reading and to all who have taken the time to review.
In Harm's Way
Chapter Twenty-Six: Messed Up
They'd been in the basement for hours. Spike had kept up a grueling pace, making love to Buffy again and again, trying to commit it all to memory. She hadn’t said much. She’d made lots of little noises, letting him know when she was feeling pleasure, but after her declaration about wanting to be there with him, she hadn’t said a word.
When he’d exhausted them both, he gathered Buffy to his chest and curled up behind her, letting his body relax. He wanted her to think that he'd let his guard down, that he was falling asleep. After staying perfectly still for twenty minutes, with his hand over her waist, waiting for her to take the ring off his finger, he realized that she had been the one to fall asleep.
Spike rolled onto his back and stared at the brightly lit ceiling. It was a little anticlimactic for him. He'd planned to get indignant and make a fool out of her when she tried. He'd had visions of throwing her out of the house, half naked, and showering her with insults. With his eyes squeezed shut, he willed himself to calm down.
His plans always fell through.
Easing out of bed, he kept an eye on her, but she continued to breathe deeply in an exhausted sleep. He found all his clothes and once he was dressed, he stood by the bed, gazing at her. The sheet was bunched up and barely covered her waist; her shiny, tan legs wonderfully exposed. He wondered when she ever had time to get that much color into her skin. One hand hung over the edge of the bed, and he smiled when he saw the mood ring. He'd guessed wrong on her size and she had it on her index finger.
He wondered if she'd stood over him, watching him sleep, before she'd taken the Gem of Amara off his finger that first time. With a frown on his face, he crept closer to her. Probably not. The spell had worn off and she probably had felt nothing but hate for him, knowing that he'd taken advantage of her.
The parallel of this moment was not lost on him. Only, he couldn't bring himself to truly hate her.
Maybe she'd had second thoughts about taking the ring. It hadn't seemed like acting when she'd clung to him and kissed him passionately. He knew that she was attracted to him, and perhaps, just maybe, she was starting to fall for him, too.
He glanced away and ran a hand through his hair.
He stared at her again.
There was no way that she felt anything real for him. Not if she could plot to take the Gem from him, knowing that it would stop him from going out into the sun with her and cause him to have to feed again.
Her fingers twitched and his eye was drawn to the dark blue color of the mood ring. Kneeling down, he carefully worked the ring off and then shoved it on to his own pinkie.
Buffy began to stir.
“Spike?” She sat up and raised the sheet to cover her chest. “What are you doing?”
Anger welled up inside him because he knew that any second, she'd be scowling at him. Once she realized that she'd lost the opportunity to take the ring, she'd also know that she'd have to seduce him again.
Well, he was through.
She watched as he slowly pulled the Gem of Amara off his finger. She smoothed her hair back and stared at him with a shocked expression.
“Here.” He tossed the ring at her, but she hadn't been ready for it and it hit the sheet, landing on the edge of the bed beside her elbow.
“Spike!” She grabbed the ring and stood up, the sheet forgotten. “Put it--”
“Quiet.” He held up his hand.
The mood ring slowly turned to a dull grey color as his body lost heat.. That quick, he felt cold and detached and already, he was hungry. He glared at her, hating himself for being such a slave to love that he would give her everything.
“You've earned it,” he growled. “Shagged like a pro, you did. I'd tip you with a couple of twenties, but I left my wallet in my coat upstairs.”
She gazed at him with stunned, watery eyes. “I...I.”
“Save it.” He went to the door and without looking at her, he said, “I'm going out for a walk. You'd better be gone when I get back.”
Spike slammed the bedroom door. He ran up the stairs, ignoring her cries to come back. He passed Clem in the living room watching TV.
“Hey, Spike. I didn't even know you were still here.”
“Clem,” he said, barely acknowledging the demon as he took his coat from the closet.
Spike put his coat on then opened the front door. Taking a step onto the porch, he inhaled. It was just dark enough that he could go out without smoldering. This is what he deserved, this is where he belonged. In the dark. He could exist without the ring, and he was going to prove it to Buffy.
He loved her.
He needed time, but once he could pull himself together and no longer felt such overwhelming rage when she was near, he knew that he'd want her again. If he could do good without the ring, then maybe she would see that he wasn't all bad. Maybe she'd want to be with him.
Clem called out to him before he could shut the door. “Next time you see the Slayer, tell her that I think she's not a bad creature. I mean, she didn't slay me on first sight.”
“Yeah. I'll do that.”
Spike slammed the door and went on his way.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Willow was at her desk, typing furiously on her laptop when Buffy entered their room. Still in shock from Spike's strange behavior, Buffy slowly lowered herself to sit on her bed. Willow stopped typing and turned with exuberance, with a big smile on her face, which quickly changed to a concerned frown when she got a good look at Buffy
“What happened?” Willow asked, coming to sit beside her.
Buffy could only shake her head and look down. She closed her eyes and all she could see was the hurt yet angry look on Spike's face as he threw the ring at her. She covered her mouth as a sob escaped.
“Oh, God!” Willow said, placing her arm around the distraught Slayer. “Did he take it badly? About the baby? You told him, right?”
Buffy shook her head and wipes at her eyes. “No. I went there to tell him, but then--”
Buffy sobbed and let Willow hug her. When she calmed down a little, she said, “I should have listened to myself this time and not let another vampire in.” She looked at Willow, pleading with her eyes. “Tell me. What is wrong with me? Why do they hate me after?”
“There's nothing wrong with you. Tell me what happened.”
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Spike was on his fourth glass of warm, not-so-fresh blood. He sat in the booth and sipped it, glaring at the demons in Willy's Bar. When he'd entered, they'd all given him a wide berth, having heard or witnessed his awesome fighting skills over the past few days. No one wanted to challenge him. Maybe after he'd had a few more shots of whiskey, he'd stir up a bit of trouble.
Some idiot had started the jukebox up. Tammy Wynette crooned out “Stand By Your Man” and he felt sick to his stomach. He poured another shot and picked up his cigarette from the dirty ashtray. The smoke felt good, burning in his lungs.
He felt like such a ponce. A loser of the highest order, drowning his sorrows in whiskey and blood. The old Spike -- the Spike he’d been before the Slayer tainted him just like Dru had warned -- he would be in the midst of some crowd about now. Near the movie theater was always a great place just after a film let out. Tons of people milling about in the dark.
Spike shook his head. No. He wouldn't do it. He put the glass of blood to his mouth and downed the last of its contents. He was almost full and that would have to do. No snacking on humans if he wanted to prove to Buffy that he could change.
He was determined. He'd follow her on patrol and maybe even patrol on his own. He'd crossed over and he was going to do everything in his power to stay on Buffy's side. The thought occurred to him that he should go to see her. Apologize for his awful behavior. Tell her that he loved her anyway. Even if she did lie to him and use him.
Maybe she'd keep the ring and give it to him when they needed his help to kill another baddie like Adam. He'd do it, if that's what she wanted. Hell, all she'd had to do was ask and he'd have handed over the ring. It was her job to make sure that a vampire didn't run about with ultimate power. He couldn't fault her for doing her duty.
He slammed his hand down on the table. Yes, he could. He had told her that he loved her, dammit. She should trust him.
They needed to have it out. Talk about it.
Spike stood up, threw more bills on the table and stomped out of Willy's, going in the direction of the dorms.
He cut through town, but stopped when he saw that the cinema was letting out. Too much temptation. If he wanted to keep from doing evil, he'd have to steer clear of vulnerable, stupid humans who walked about Sunnydale at night.
Doubling back with the intent of going around the main street, he found an alley to cut through. He was familiar with the area. He was near the back entrance of the magic shop, where he'd had a great time fighting with Angel and Buffy. He remembered the hope and excitement he'd felt when he'd left that little place, certain that he would get Drusilla back.
He turned the corner and stopped short at the sight in front of him. A female vampire was feeding on a man in a business suit who was struggling frantically. Spike shrugged and kept going, but then he saw Buffy's stern face in his mind.
She would save the man.
Spike stopped a few feet away from them, hesitated, but then made up his mind. He pulled a stake from his coat and drove it into her back. As her ashes fell to the ground, the man slumped to the ground. Spike glanced around, feeling put out. He'd saved the man, but he didn't want to help him up.
Grudgingly, he held his hand out. The man sluggishly reached out, but fainted before he could grab Spike's hand.
“Bloody hell,” Spike muttered, getting his arms under the man’s armpits and hefting him up.
He felt for a pulse to confirm what he was hearing and cursed when he could barely feel a slow beat. The man would die if he didn't get to a hospital -- and soon. It wasn't that far. With a growl, he half carried and half dragged the man down the alley, slowing when he heard voices.
“Thank you, Mr. Bogardty,” Giles, of all people, was saying. “I'll get in touch with you after I consult with the bank about a loan.”
There was a solid thunk of a car door, and then Spike heard the car driving off. Spike breathed a sigh of relief and held the man recklessly, dragging him along. The man flopped forward, his bloody neck brushing against Spike's cheek. He was glad that the hospital was only just down the street. The smell of the blood was starting to get him.
Growling in frustration, he picked the guy up and ran towards the hospital.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Buffy had just curled up under the covers, her still damp hair after her shower, when the pounding started at the door. Willow jumped up from her desk and ran to open it. Giles stumbled into the room, barely keeping himself upright, panting and out of breath.
“Spike.” He took a deep breath and let it out, leaning heavily on his crutch. “He's feeding again.”
Her heart stopped. This wasn't happening. It was like Angel all over again. Only this time, there was no curse; no soul to be lost. And just like the last time, she agonized over the fact that she'd have to be the one to kill him. Only this time, the vampire wasn't just one that she'd fallen in love with, he was also the father of her unborn baby.
She squeezed her eyes shut and took a deep breath.
Willow pulled out her chair for Giles and asked, “What happened?”
As Giles spoke, Buffy sprang into action, getting dressed in a sweatshirt and a pair of jeans.
“You might recall that I have been thinking about taking over ownership of the Magic Box.”
The girls both nodded.
“I was just leaving the shop with the owner when I saw Spike dragging a man out of the nearby alley. I'm fairly certain that he was dead.” With a pained expression, he stared at Buffy and said softly, “There was blood on both the victim’s neck and Spike's face. There is no doubt as to what had happened.”
Buffy sat on her bed and put her hand between her breast, where the Gem of Amara lay hidden beneath her clothes, hanging from a chain around her neck. She exchanged a look of dread with Willow and then looked at Giles.
“I have the Gem of Amara.”
Giles took a deep breath and relaxed. “I'm so glad. I don't think he saw me, but I couldn't run after him and even if I could have, I despaired as to what to do to stop him with the ring in hand.”
“I know what I have to do.” Buffy pulled out her weapons bag and grabbed two stakes, stashing one in her back pocket and grasping the other. “I'll be back.”
She couldn't look at them, especially Willow with her large sympathetic eyes. She left the room, striding with purpose down the hall.
“Buffy!” Willow called out. “Wait.”
Willow pulled her into a hug, but Buffy gently pushed away. “It's all right,” she told Willow, even as her eyes began to water.
Willow whispered, “But the baby. It won't have a father.”
“If I hadn't come back here, having my own pity party—if I had gone after Spike right away—that man might be still alive.” She wiped a tear away. “How many more people will he hurt or kill before I can get to him?”
More determined than she had been when she first left her room, Buffy turned and walked away. Over her shoulder, she told Willow, “Stay here with Giles.”
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
“Go ahead and have a seat, Mr. Harris. We'll call you back when your father is ready to leave.” The E.R. Receptionist was firm yet polite.
Xander sat in the waiting room, picked up a magazine and sighed. He flipped through the pages, not really seeing the print or color photos before him. When his mother had called and asked him to go to hospital to get his dad, he'd been scared at first. And after she told him that he'd crashed the car, he knew that one of his worst fears had been realized. Xander's mom knew it, too, though she didn't say so over the phone.
It could be worse. His dad could have killed someone or even died himself. His mom had assured him that it was only a broken knee and a bruised head and that he'd crashed into a tree and not into another car.
He'd been touched when Anya had offered to go with him, but he was ashamed of his dad. One of the big reasons that Xander had agreed to move into the apartment, even though the rent was a little too steep for them, was to get away from his father's steadily worsening drinking problem.
A commotion at the entrance and the gasps of those around him got his attention. Xander dropped the magazine and rose to his feet.
“This man needs help, right now!” Spike yelled.
The vampire was carrying a man in a suit, and Xander resisted the urge to rub his eyes to make sure he wasn't seeing things.
“He's lost a lot of blood.”
Hospital personnel rushed into the lobby with a gurney and relieved Spike of his burden. A nurse came out with a clipboard.
“Do you know him?” she asked Spike.
“Uh, no. Saw him lying on the ground near Main Street. He was unconscious and when I saw the blood on his neck, I knew he was in serious trouble, so I brought him here.”
The man was already being wheeled into the back. She quickly scribbled something down and then looked up, shaking her head. “That's the second one like that tonight.”
“I imagine you see that pretty often,” Spike said dryly.
Xander had made his way closer and when Spike turned to leave, the vampire jumped in surprise.
“What happened, Spike?”
Spike glared, sidestepped him, and walked towards the exit.
“Wait, sir!” the nurse called out. “The police will want to get a statement from you.”
He waved her off. “Sod the police. I'm not waiting around for them.”
Xander stood where he was and watched Spike exit the building. When his brain could function, he rushed to the receptionist's desk and told them that he'd be right back. Then, he rushed out into the night and scanned the area. He spotted Spike striding down the road and ran to catch up with him.
He was out of breath from the short run and he made a mental note to himself to stop eating so much junk food and start working out. “Spike. Wait. What happened back there?”
The vampire stopped and faced him. “Saw the bloke being attacked by a vampire. I staked it and brought him in. End of story.”
“That is unbelievable, yet strangely, I believe it.”
“Don't much care what you think, Harris. You lot whored the Slayer out and got the Gem of Amara back; you can all go to hell for all I care. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a slayer to find.”
“You're in luck, 'cause here she is now.” He pointed behind Spike who then turned to face her.
“Xander!” Buffy said, her eyes wide with concern. “Quick. Get away from him.”
And before he knew what hit him, Buffy was there, shoving him away. He stumbled back and groaned when he ended up on his ass on the sidewalk.
“What's gotten into you, Slayer? Turning on all your friends now?” Spike asked venomously.
Xander struggled to get up and muttered under his breath, “Here we go again.” Those two were always at each other's throats, and yet it was obvious that there was chemistry between them. He hated the idea, but Buffy and Spike were awfully close to becoming a couple.
“Don't play dumb with me, Spike. Giles saw you kill that guy in the alley.” Buffy looked down, took a shuddering breath and then looked up again, casting Spike a steely glare.
“What?” Xander said, not believing that he was about to defend a vampire against accusations of murder.
Spike put his hand up. “Shut up. Let's hear what Miss High-n-Mighty has to say.”
“I can't let you kill people, Spike. I...I don't know why you gave me the Gem of Amara, but it doesn't matter. You...you--I have a duty to protect innocent people.”
Buffy shook the stake that she raised up, and Xander lifted his hands up in alarm. If she dusted Spike because of what she thought had happened, she'd never forgive herself when she later learned the truth. And as much as he disliked the vampire, he had saved the man and brought him in for medical treatment.
“Wait,” he said.
“Stay out of this,” Spike growled. “Come on, Slayer. Gonna stake me, are you?”
Xander watched in fascination as Spike held his hands out like some sort of Jesus statue, glaring at Buffy and holding his ground as she advanced. She hesitated, and Xander couldn't help but feel sorry for her as a tear rolled down her cheek.
She plunged the stake down towards Spike's heart, and Xander yelled, “No!”
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