Buffy gripped her hands tightly together as she stood at the head of the table opposite Heaton. She could feel all attention on her and it made a tremor run through her. She hoped her apprehension wasn’t as evident as she felt it was. She’d spoken to the courtroom before but that was during questioning and this was entirely different. This was just her. Uninterrupted. She had no one to bounce off of, no one to spar with.
One girl in all the world.
“When you’re ready, Miss. Summers.” Heaton fixed his eyes on her, his voice gentle but unyielding.
She nodded once and cleared her throat. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Willow and Xander sitting in the front row of courthouse seats. Xander shot her a warm smile and Buffy looked away. This was hard. Getting started was hard but there was really no going back now. This was it.
“I am a Slayer. Not that long ago I was the Slayer,” Buffy said voice gaining clarity with each word. “Rupert Giles was my Watcher. He was a good man. If it wasn’t for him, and my friends, I wouldn’t be here today. I’m sure some people would see that as a good thing. But he saved my life. They all did. Countless times. I grew up with Giles as my teacher, my guardian…but I also outgrew him. By the time I stepped into that portal Giles was still in my life but I didn’t need to go to him for guidance anymore. I’m only telling you this because I want this to be clear – I make my own decisions. I’m not ruled over, not persuaded into anything by anyone. My mistakes are all my own. When I stepped back into the world and killed that vampire, it wasn’t Giles’ hand guiding mine. It was all me. It was my kill.”
She saw Xander’s smile quaver just a little out of the corner of her eye.
“I’m sorry, I know these terms make you all uncomfortable – vampire, slay, kill. I apologise but these are the terms of my trade, I guess you could say. The world that I stepped out of thirty years ago was a world on the brink of an apocalypse, there wasn’t time for niceties or tiptoeing round each other. Either I slayed or we lost. Losing is really not an option when you’re facing the end of the world. You can believe me in this or not that’s your choice. Hey, if you need a little more gravitas with your anecdotes then I’m sure the battles are well documented by the Watchers Council. Point being? Back then I did what I had to do. So, maybe you’ll gain some sort of understanding of my frame of mind when I stepped out of that portal. For me, only a few hours had passed. For me, there was still a battle to be won. And if Joseph Dawson was truly a good man, if he really was, then I’m sorry.”
Buffy walked around the edge of the table to come slightly closer to Heaton but turned to face the audience. “And I mean that. I’m more than aware that vampires have the capacity to be good men; I’m happy to say I’ve had firsthand experience of that. I consider my past…and my present relationships with these men as an asset. Invaluable. I don’t hate vampires. I loved one in the past.” She took a breath, “I love one right now.”
She resisted the urge to fold her arms across herself knowing that it gave the wrong impression. “I know that things have changed. I’ve seen it. I welcome it because if I’m honest with you; I got a little bit tired of saving the world. It hurts. I lose people I love. Sometimes I even die. So, if you tell me that vampires – or Humanoids – are no longer a threat? If you tell me this and it’s true? Then I’m grateful. I’m not a killer for killings sake. I don’t take pleasure in death.”
Buffy paused a moment. “Having said that, I did kill Joseph Dawson. I don’t deny that. I did what I thought was right. Maybe…maybe I was incorrect. Maybe I acted too rashly but that’s who I am. Everything I’ve done was my choice. I’m a Slayer but I’m also human. I make mistakes.”
Buffy turned back to Heaton. “I’m done.”
He regarded her carefully, reclined in his chair. “Thank you, Miss. Summers. We are adjourned.”
She remained standing as people stood and filed out talking loudly and breaking the horrible silence that had enveloped the room for most of the time since she had entered. Buffy turned her back to the audience seats as they made their way out. Lucy Porter strutted around in front of her to make her way to the exit but Buffy didn’t pay her much attention. She didn’t know if she’d done enough. Heaton certainly hadn’t given her the thumbs up she was desperately hoping for.
Norman appeared in front of her, he was smiling. “You did well, Buffy.”
“You think?” Her voice wavered.
“Yes. Well, yes…uh, as much as I could tell,” Norman fiddled with the arm of his glasses, “Mr. Heaton is certainly not an easy man to read.”
Norman hesitated awkwardly for a few moments as though he wanted to say more but instead he excused himself and made his way out. Buffy sighed and turned back to the table and the mostly empty audience seats. Mostly empty apart from Willow and Xander in the front row and Spike sitting a few rows back.
Buffy smiled apprehensively, “So, how’d I score?”
“Perfect ten.” Xander beamed.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Oh, Xander you beautiful liar.”
“You did good, Buffy,” Willow smiled. “I’d give you an eight at least.”
“Thanks, Will. Couldn’t have done any of this without you.” Buffy turned her attention to the vampire. “Spike?”
“I liked it.” He said gently.
Buffy bit her lip. “I sucked, didn’t I?”
“No,” he sat up straight, shook his head. “It’s just…if I’m honest I sort of stopped paying attention half way through.”
Buffy felt her cheeks colour.
Xander swivelled in his seat to glare at the other man. “Oh, nice. Got somewhere more interesting to be?”
Spike paid him no attention, eyes all for her. “Did you mean it?”
“You know I did,” she said softly.
Xander turned back. “Mean what?”
“Xander,” Willow elbowed him. “Let’s go.”
“Go.” She stood up and tried to usher him out. “Expelliarmus!”
Xander got to his feet and frowned at her. “Harry Potter spells? That’s low, Willow. Low and outdated.”
“Would you prefer the real deal?”
“Okay, jeez,” Xander made his way to the exit with Willow behind him.
When the two had gone Spike shook his head and laughed at the pair of them and Buffy managed a nervous smile. She certainly hadn’t meant to make a declaration of love in the middle of her closing statement. It had just sort of happened. Which she guessed was what she got for not preparing handy flashcards.
Spike stood and weaved his way down the rows towards her, “So, why now? Just last night you couldn’t say it.”
“I think it was because of this morning,” Buffy looked away, self-conscious. “I see how far we’ve come. We’re not…we’re not the snarky out-for-each-other’s-blood couple anymore. You wouldn’t hurt me and I don’t want to hurt you. I trust you with my life.”
He came to a stop as he reached the last row of chairs separating them.
“And I throw myself at you and you turn me down,” she said, eyebrows rising slightly. “A year ago – for me, at least – that wouldn’t have happened. You wouldn’t have hesitated. Now, you’re all about the responsibilities. You think about Mya first. I saw a…fraction of that back in Sunnydale, with the Potentials and Dawn. I saw back then that you were capable of being that man. And now you are that man.”
Spike leaned on the chair in front of him. “And what man would that be?”
Well, that was a hell of question, wasn’t it? Buffy wasn’t any better prepared to make this kind of statement than she was to plead her innocence to a court full of sceptics. But she owed this to Spike. She more than owed it to him. He’d earned it a hundred times over. And, if she was being really honest, she owed it to herself too. She had to see if she could do this, see if she could do this right.
Buffy looked up to meet his eyes.
Her voice way steadier than she had thought it would be under the circumstances, and told him; “The man I want to be with.”
Spike returned her gaze.
Buffy shifted awkwardly on her feet. “Spike, I…do. I do love you.”
She could feel a tremble in her hands and so she balled them into loose fists at her sides to disguise the weakness. The vampire in front of her sighed as though disappointed. She felt herself seize up.
“Oh, Buffy,” he said sadly, shaking his head. “You really shouldn’t have said that.”
She opened her mouth and no sound came out. She felt something inside her threaten to break.
“Now I’m going to have to throw you down on that desk and have you right here,” Spike continued, a teasing smile lighting up his face.
Buffy blinked, felt the heat in her face as blood rushed to her cheeks. She scowled at his teasing and he laughed in response. He liked that he could still get to her. She sort of liked it to. Not that she would ever tell him that. Some things had to remain a mystery.
To her surprise Spike stepped up onto the seat he had just been using to prop himself up and remained crouched there for a moment, looking every inch the gothic gargoyle. A sexy gargoyle, sure, but still. It was then she realised that his joking comment may not have been entirely a joke.
“Spike!” Buffy protested as he leaned towards her. “We’re in court.”
He shrugged, his eyes on her mouth. “Your fault.”
She started to say something more when he darted off the chair and pinned her between the desk and himself. Despite the setting she didn’t resist one iota when he leaned in and kissed her in a cool crush of lips. Buffy barely had time to react before he moved his mouth to her neck, kissing softly and slowly down her throat. She tried to adjust to the change taking the opportunity to take a few deep breaths and try and calm her hammering heart.
“I thought you wanted to slow down, till after the trial?” She reminded him softly, even as he pressed a gentle kiss to the space just underneath her ear.
Spike’s lips brushed against her pulse. “You can’t expect me not to kiss you after you just said what you said.”
His teeth scraped lightly across her pulse point and Buffy shuddered, her body tensing in response to his touch. Spike was a vampire and she was willingly exposing her neck to him, but it wasn’t that which provoked the reaction in her. It wasn’t that he was a vampire and that she was a Slayer. It was because he was a man and she was, underneath it all, just a girl. Just Buffy Summers.
Spike bit down on her neck carefully – not with fangs, not with violence, not with the intent to even break her skin. He applied just enough pressure to trigger something within her and Buffy’s legs almost buckled. She sat down on the edge of the desk, trying to breathe.
He laid a gentle kiss upon her neck and then lifted his head to meet her eyes with his. Spike’s eyes were blown; his pupils huge and dark and Buffy wondered if she looked the same. He’d taken a risk biting her - the risk of reminding her that he was a vampire and thus potentially scaring her away. Now, he was trying to gauge her reaction; to see if she was going to run.
But Buffy was under no illusions. She knew Spike was a vampire. And she didn’t care. It was all part of him and now that she’d said it aloud she could certainly admit to herself that she loved him – every part of him. Even the fangy part. It was just typical that it had taken a murder trial to show that to her. She really didn’t make things easy on herself, that was for sure.
Buffy smiled to appease the look of apprehension he wore and took his face in her hands. The kiss she pressed to his lips was so light that it almost wasn’t there but it felt like the beginning of something. Something scary but, in the same instance, something she wanted to explore.
“I feel like I’ve just walked onto the set of ‘Legally Boned’,” a voice quipped from the doorway.
Buffy turned quickly to the source. Xander and Willow stood in the doorway, amused smiles stretching their faces.
Willow nodded in agreement, “Jeez, get a room lust-havers.”
Buffy felt herself flush but she smiled as she slid off the desk to stand on her slightly wobbly feet. Spike moved back a step but she caught his hand before he got too far and kept hold of it.
She shook the hair from her face and regarded her friends. “You remember what it was like to be young, right? Or, maybe not, that was a while ago.”
Xander grinned, shaking his head. “Says the girl with the 150 year old boyfriend.”
Buffy looked at Spike and he laughed, shrugging. “Boy has me there.”
“If you ever need a supplier for any of those helpful blue pills,” Xander opened the door wider and gestured them through, “let me know and I’ll get you a good deal.”
Spike’s eyebrows rose, a wry smile on his face. “Mates rates?”
Xander’s smile sobered a little but he nodded. “Something like that.”
Buffy started towards the door, entwining her hand with Spike’s. Xander disappeared out of the doorway first and Willow offered her an encouraging smile and a very distinct look that said ‘details must follow later’ and went after him.
The Slayer was half way out of the court room when she turned to Spike, very earnestly and said, “You don’t really need pills for that now, right?”
Spike laughed and squeezed her hand.
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