One week later…
Smoke ran around Spike’s face, curling along his cheeks. Dropping his cigarette and crushing it underfoot, he gave a savage grin and quickly threw a left hook. He followed it quickly with a punch to the gut and a stake to the heart. Who said chipped vampires couldn’t still have fun?
“So, Slayer, how’ve you been?”
“Peachy,” Buffy grunted as she spun-kicked her opponent. “You?”
“Bloody wonderful,” Spike joined her battle. He sent a swing at the vampire before being jostled out of the way by the Slayer. He grinned lasciviously, running his thumb over his bleeding bottom lip.
“Good for you,” Buffy’s foot came around in a wide arc, over the vamp’s head and snapping down on his shoulder. Throwing a backhanded punch at its face, she let it block her, using the opening to drive her stake into its heart. Stepping back to avoid the resulting dust cloud, she tucked her stake into her back pocket and folded her arms. “Why are you here?”
“Got bored,” Spike shrugged, faking nonchalance. Truth was, he had been going mad from not seeing her. He had been scoping out the Bronze, her home, even the Watcher’s, trying to catch a glimpse of her, but he hadn’t had any luck. His guess was she’d been spending a lot of time with the tin soldier wanker at his place, and as much as he wanted to see her, he didn’t want to risk seeing them in an intimate moment. He couldn’t handle it.
“So you decided to follow me around?” Buffy sighed, heading off towards the cemetery gates. She usually tried to hit at least four of the six cemeteries of Sunnydale each patrol, but she’d been slacking off lately, spending more time with Riley. So tonight she was trying to hit all six. She probably should have left Restfield until last, but she hadn’t, and now Spike had decided to tag along.
It didn’t really… annoy her, but she didn’t feel like company. Truth was, she was exhausted. Spending quality time proving to Riley and herself that she was a good girlfriend and that the secret admirer meant nothing to her was really tiring her out. She knew that, in that regard, that having Spike around was a good thing, having him there to watch her back. But what annoyed her was the fact that she wasn’t annoyed by Spike’s presence.
So she did what any other Vampire Slayer would do.
She took it out on him through lofty disdain and general sarcasm.
“You’re a mite more entertaining than a half-empty poker table, love.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Well, how about, you sweep the rest of the cemeteries for me, and I’ll go home and get some sleep?” Her tone was perky, contradicting her body language.
“Sleep, huh?” Spike’s eyes turned concerned. “You not gettin’ enough rest, Slayer?”
Buffy waved him off, “It’s nothing. Riley’s just been all Paranoid-Joe since he found out I have a secret admirer. Or stalker, depending on who you ask. I mean, I don’t really see it as a stalker, but he is breaking into my house to give me these…” She stopped, turning to face the vampire following her. “And I haven’t actually told you about this, have I?”
Spike shook his head, awestruck into silence. She was actually opening up to him. Confiding in him… trusting him.
“Oh… well then just forget about it. I’ll just… go home, stick my head under a pillow, and…” Her voice dropped to a mutter, “…hope to god you just forget I told you this.”
She didn’t want him in her life, knowing these things. He could twist things, use them against her, and she didn’t want Spike knowing that she—
“Slayer.” He cut through her thoughts, leaning on a large granite tombstone. “You wanna talk?”
“No I don’t want to—“ Buffy scoffed, cutting herself off as he raised a brow. “I… you’re not exactly someone I’d consider a confidant, Spike.”
“Wouldn’t expect you to,” he admitted, lighting up. “Doesn’t mean I can’t be. Promise, Slayer. Lips are sealed and all that rot. Won’t tell a soul or otherwise. Secrets are safe with me.”
Buffy watched him for a long moment, studying his face. He looked so earnest. Sighing, she closed the distance between them and sat on the ground next to his legs, back against the head stone.
“Okay, so… a couple of weeks ago I found a rose. On my bed. And since then I’ve been finding… you know, romantic things. Roses, poetry. I have a whole pile now. Willow’s tested them for curses, and their clean. Still, she wants me to talk the rest of the Scoobies about them tomorrow. But it’s been… kind of nice, I guess, knowing someone likes me like that. It’s just… I don’t know. I keep expecting it to turn out like a horror movie.”
“And your boy Riley…” Spike hesitated, exhaling smoke. He saw her wrinkle her nose, and he quickly pinched the butt between his fingers and tossed it away. Carefully, he slid down to sit next to her, careful not to touch. “He’s not thrilled?”
“He thinks I’m being stalked, that he needs to keep me safe from some serial psycho. It’s…” Buffy hesitated again, glancing at the vampire next to her. He was staring at the ground in front of him, and she found that slightly comforting. He was there to listen, and if he didn’t look… he didn’t judge. “It’s… like I’m being smothered. I mean, I love Riley,” Buffy failed to notice Spike’s hands balling into fists, “But, I need my space, you know? So what if I’m getting a little attention from someone else? It’s not like it means anything.”
Spike flinched at that, but reached out and awkwardly patted her knee. She stiffened slightly under his touch. “Maybe you need to make yourself some space, pet. Don’t leave it up to him. Make your own rules, your own boundaries.”
Buffy nodded. “I know. It’s just hard. He’s part of everything in my life. The slaying, school, my friends… how do I break away from that?”
“That’s just it, love.” Spike muttered, biting his lip. He didn’t want to push her. “You break away. Find something you want to do without him, and tell him he can’t be part of it. I don’t want to sound like some bloody awful motivational speaker, but take charge. You’re a bossy little chit. Make sure he knows it.”
Buffy giggled, punching his arm. “Thanks, I think.” Spike chuckled, and she gave him a sidelong glance. “No, seriously, thanks Spike. Sometimes you need somewhere to vent, other than at a seriously overused diary.”
“Well, I wouldn’t know much about the journalism there, pet, but if you ever need to talk, I’ve always got an ear.”
Buffy smiled, standing. He quickly followed. “Thanks, Spike.” She glanced over her shoulder. “Look, I really need to get these cemeteries done before dawn, so…”
“I’ll do the patrol, Slayer. You go home and sleep.”
“Really?” Buffy paused. Since when does Spike dole out the charity patrols? She shrugged. Gift horse. Mouth. “Thanks.” With another smile, she turned and headed home, leaving the vampire unknowingly much happier behind.
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