Run, Spike, Run!
When Spike tried to make a hasty retreat from the courthouse, it was not to be. Buffy was a Slayer and, therefore, could run quite fast. Even in heels. And on marble flooring.
The sound of said heels clacking against said flooring was quite ominous and gave the impression something important was about to happen. The vampire made it to the courthouse steps before she caught hold of the back of his jacket and pulled him off balance.
Buffy kept hold of him as he struggled. “I think not, coward guy.”
“I wasn’t running away. I have to get back to Mya,” he huffed and tried to swat at her grasp. “And do you really think running out of the courtroom looks good on you? It gives an impression of reckless –”
“We need to talk.” Buffy started down the stairs pulling him with her.
Being hauled backwards down steps was not a pleasant experience and Spike let her know so with a string of swear words and continued swatting attempts. The Slayer did not relinquish her grip as they reached flat ground and started across the square.
“Oh, Buffy, for sod’s sake let me go!” Spike sighed embarrassedly. “I’ve got nowhere to run, have I?”
They Slayer stopped and seemed to think about this for a moment before she released his very expensive jacket from her very resilient grip. Spike took only one step away but settled for that as she started for him again. He straightened his jacket and adjusted the cuffs of his shirt, very aware of the people pouring out of the courthouse and looking in their direction with interest.
After composing himself he turned to face Buffy. She still didn’t look like she entirely trusted him not to bolt. Spike didn’t blame her. Were it not for the crowds he would probably be running across the square like a little girl at that very moment.
Buffy also looked very tired. He’d never tell her that, of course, but she did. She had good reason to. Even though she’d slept long – too long – the burden of the trial and the pressure was taking its toll and it hurt to see it. She’d pulled it together and done well against Porter, though, and Spike had never been prouder of her.
She folded her arms and was about to say something when Willow and Xander appeared beside them talking animatedly about how well she had done and how she was on the right track and all of that.
Spike watched her face transform as she spoke with her friends. She smiled softly at them, spoke lowly and with kindness. She loved them. He could see it, he could hear it. Even if she didn’t say it.
“I’m gonna get a ride with Spike,” Buffy said, the mention of his name making him snap back to reality. “We need to have a nice chat.”
Xander pushed his hair behind his ear. “As long as that’s all you’re doing.”
“Xander,” Willow shot him a look.
Spike rolled his eyes and made to leave. “Yep, that’s all we’ll be doing. ‘A nice chat’ is just a euphemism for a good old-fashioned rogering, didn’t you know?”
“Spike!” Buffy threw her arms up in the air.
Xander started towards him and the vampire welcomed it.
“Xander!” the Slayer stepped between them and placed a hand on his chest, effectively stopping him. “Will you two just grow the hell up?”
The man looked down at her briefly and then pointed at the vampire. “He doesn’t get to talk that way about you.”
“I don’t just talk that way,” Spike arched an eyebrow. “I act that way too.”
Xander struggled to get at him again and Buffy shoved him back, keeping him at bay easily.
Willow shook her head and turned to leave. “I’m going home. I’ve got things to do.”
“Me too,” Buffy looked at Xander. “Take her home.”
He nodded. “What about you? How are you getting back?”
She frowned. “Are you forgetting the conversation that started this shameful imitation of a smack down?”
Xander gestured behind her. She turned to find…absolutely no one. Spike had done a disappearing act. Buffy’s eyes narrowed, one fist balled.
“Oh, I don’t think so!”
+ + +
Spike wasn’t at all surprised when he rounded the corner and found Buffy leaning against his car looking as pissed off as he’d ever seen her. He’d known his chances of evading the Slayer were slim but when the opportunity had arisen to flee unnoticed he had taken it.
He sighed deeply and resigned himself to the fact that there was to be no escape. It was time to face the consequences of his actions – namely Buffy Summers – who at that very moment looked like she might be gearing up to punch him in the nose, just like she had been so fond of doing thirty years ago.
He slowed his pace so he could at least take in the sight of her before she ripped his head off and shoved it where the sun did not shine. She was gorgeous. She was tired, she was pissed off to no end, but she was still bloody gorgeous.
What she said was not so pleasing.
“You’re an idiot.” Buffy stood up straight as he approached.
Spike nodded. “This is true.”
“I’m glad you can admit it,” she folded her arms. “If you don’t want to talk to me, Spike, then say so. Don’t run away.”
“Okay, I don’t want to talk to you.”
“Too bad!” She grabbed his tie and pulled him in a step. “Because you don’t get to say something like that to me and then disappear.”
He knew at that moment he was supposed to reply, either with some witty remark or a profound statement of eternal love, but he didn’t. He just looked into her eyes, the colour of which seemed to change from time to time, and let himself adjust to being so close to her.
Buffy frowned and let go of him. “Are you listening to me?”
“Not really, no.”
“Well, that’s great.” She huffed stepping away from the car and around him. “So sorry I’m boring you.”
Spike sighed and rolled his eyes. “You never bore me. You do a lot of things to me, but not one of them is boring.”
Buffy just shook her head and looked at him for a long moment. Clearly, that had not been the right thing to say. Spike made a move towards her but she held a hand up to stop him. He stopped. She stood still. So did he.
“When did this get weird?”
“Us. Talking.” She tilted her head, regarding him. “When did you start running away from me? When did I start having to chase you? Why do I even want to chase you? And why do you want to get away?”
Spike cleared his throat. “That’s a lot of questions.”
“I got tons more.”
“Buffy…I think this…all of this should probably wait until after the trial.”
She folded her arms again. “Well, you should have thought about that before you told me you loved me.”
Spike did not disagree – the opposite in fact. She was completely right. He should not have said it, he shouldn’t really have felt it, but he did. He said. He felt it. He was in love with her and it needed to be voiced. Even if she never returned the favour.
Buffy’s shoulders dropped. “That’s all I get?”
“I know I shouldn’t have said it –”
“Don’t! If you love me, then why are you apologising for it?”
Spike’s brow furrowed. “You seem angry about it.”
“I’m not angry, dammit!” Buffy punctuated the statement by kicking the wheel of his car rather hard.
Spike gave the tyre a cursory glance. “Right.”
“I’m not,” she said, simmering down. “I just don’t understand.”
“How you could. Love me. Still.”
He smiled softly, shaking his head, and turning away from her. “She still doesn’t get it.”
Buffy scraped her foot against the gravel. “Get what?”
“There’s no logic in love, Buffy. You stepped out of my life thirty years ago. I changed and my life did too. You step back into it as if you were never gone and I go right back to feeling how I’ve always felt about you. Simple as.”
She frowned. “So, you’re saying you don’t have a choice?”
“There’s always a choice,” Spike turned back to her. “And I always choose you.”
He watched her as a confusing rush of emotions crossed her face. Buffy’s main problem – murder trail notwithstanding – was she never knew how she was supposed to feel about things. She didn’t get that there was no ‘supposed to feel’, that there was only feeling – whether right or wrong. She spent too long processing and dissecting everything nowadays. Spike wondered what she might have been like before she’d become so emotionally jaded, shut-off, and cautious to everyone and everything.
Thank you, Angelus.
“You know, back in Sunnydale…I mean before I…left…” Buffy brushed a strand of hair from her eyes. “We were starting to be…good. I mean, we’d reached this point where I actually trusted you and it felt like we were one step away from…something.”
Spike placed his hands in his pockets and waited for her to continue.
“I trusted you, Spike. Something I never thought would happen. I have a real hard time trusting men. Or anyone, really. And I never thought it would be you. I never thought I’d feel this way about you,” Buffy sighed and leaned back against his car.
“You know how to flatter a bloke.” Spike joked, feeling not in the least jovial.
“You know what I mean.” She ducked her head, took a breath. “And I know I asked you to tell me what you want and…you have. And it’s me that’s holding back, again.”
“Its fine, Buffy.”
“No, it really isn’t.” She looked up. “I want to say it.”
Spike knew that this was probably the closest he would get to Buffy telling him that she loved him. He also knew he should feel angry at her, bitter, that she couldn’t just say it. But he wasn’t angry. He wasn’t bitter. He just really wanted to kiss her.
He didn’t, though.
“Say something,” Buffy implored.
“Nice weather we’re having.”
Her smile was slight, but it was there, and Spike welcomed it. She stood up straight and held herself as if she was cold.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I never get this right.”
“Well, that makes two of us then.” He stepped up to her and placed his hand on her shoulder. “Doomed to never get it right.”
Buffy looked at him sadly and Spike was sorry for it, he had not intended to upset her – the opposite in fact. His only goal most days was to make her smile. Sometimes he succeeded, sometimes he made it worse. This seemed to be one of those times.
“I’m not right for you.” Buffy said suddenly.
Spike blinked. “What?”
“I make things hard for you,” her gaze was anywhere but him. “You got married. You had the real deal. She loved you back.”
“Buffy –” He didn’t like where this was going.
“I can’t compete with her!” She stepped back from him.
Spike looked at her a moment and then laughed. The sound surprised her and her features melted from utter defeat to raging anger. Spike’s laugh trailed off but the relief on his face remained and it made her mad.
“This is a joke to you?” She stepped back up to him, their chests almost touching, her eyes focused on his.
“Not remotely,” he said easily, taking her hand in his.
Buffy looked down, confused, and tried to shake her hand free.
Spike held tight. “I’m laughing because that’s exactly what she used to say.”
The Slayer frowned in confusion. “You’re going to have to start making sense soon, Spike, ’cos your face is in danger of connecting with my fist.”
“Claire.” He said softly.
Buffy frowned. “No – Buff-y. I’m Buffy.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “You said you can’t compete with her. She used to say the same bloody thing about you. In that same high-pitched tone, too.”
“Oh.” Buffy went silent.
“What she didn’t understand and what you don’t understand is that I don’t expect you to compete. I don’t compare. I couldn’t compare,” he explained. “I love you and I love her. There’s nothing else to it.”
She opened her mouth to say something but seemed to think better of it and kept quiet. Her hand was warm in his and he could feel her pulse as his fingers rested on her wrist.
They both turned, startled at the interruption. It was Norman who had spoken. He stood several feet away, looking uneasy and apologetic. Buffy took a quick step away from Spike, breaking his hold on her. The vampire felt like he’d been kicked in the gut.
“Yes?” was all she managed.
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Norman scratched the back of his head. “But I had to let you know. Miss Porter and I have been speaking with Mr. Heaton. He has told me that if we cannot open the portal tomorrow…we don’t get another chance. He’ll disregard it as evidence.”
Spike’s eyebrows rose. “What? Willow’s not ready. He can’t just do that!”
“He can. He has.” The lawyer sighed heavily. “I don’t have to tell you that a great deal of our argument is based upon being able to substantiate that you were in another dimension. If we can’t prove that, I…”
Nobody spoke for several moments.
Finally it was Buffy who said simply, “I’m going to lose.”
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