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Challenge #578 What If I Loved You? Part 1 by slaymesoftly
Challenger #578 at BSV
Spike saves Buffy at the beginning of Fool For Love instead of Riley....
Buffy was enjoying her first slay of the night, quipping about the vamp’s smell and his obvious age (based on his looking like a Van Halen reject) when the fight suddenly went very wrong. As she flipped over a headstone, stake raised, the faster-than-she-had expected vamp grabbed her arm as she landed, spun her around and impaled her on her own stake.
Her eyes widened in shock and pain. This was not how it was supposed to go. As she stared at the stake protruding from her body, she gasped, then pulled it out.
Oh, bad move, Buffy! Her sweater was immediately soaked with her own blood and she felt a frisson of fear for the first time in years.  As she tried to flee, she found herself moving too slowly, the pain of the wound as well as the steady loss of blood impeding her ability to out run the vamp.
When he suddenly appeared in front of her, grinning and mocking, she raised the stake but he easily brushed it away and threw her against a crypt.  Picking up the lost stake, he stalked her as she lay there, helpless and bleeding.
Oh my God. This is it. This is the day I die.  I’m sorry, Mom—
She had tears in her eyes, but didn’t flinch as the vamp raised the stake for a killing blow. She pulled her knees into her chest, hoping to get one good kick in to buy herself some time. To do what with, she wasn’t sure, but she wasn’t going down without a— She blinked in surprise when her attacker suddenly disappeared in a flash of black leather.
Snarls coming from the combatants now rolling around on the ground would have given away who her rescuer was, even if Buffy couldn’t see the shockingly blond hair.  
“Sp... Spike?” Buffy’s pain filled whisper put an end to the fight as Spike wrenched his opponents head off, whirling to go to Buffy before the dust had even drifted to the ground.
“Slayer? Buffy?  What happened?” His nostrils flared and he glanced to where she was holding a hand to her side.  “You’re bleeding!”
“Thanks for noticing,” she muttered as best she could while trying not to moan.  “Help me up. I have to get—”
She stopped as Spike handed her a large white handkerchief he had folded into quarters.
“Here,” he said. “Hold this against the wound.” He didn’t wait for her, but pulled her sweater up and placed the handkerchief pad against the hole in her side.  When she was holding it there with a trembling hand, he shrugged out of his coat and pulled off his tee-shirt, ripping in down the center. Without looking Buffy in the face, he put his arms around her back and turned the ripped shirt into a makeshift bandage. He wrapped it around her twice, tying it off when he was confident it would hold the blood soaked handkerchief in place.
As he put his coat back on, he finally met her gaze. “How the hell did—” Buffy stared at him and held up her bloody hands, then closed her eyes and slid to the ground. She never heard Spike’s anguished cry, or felt him pick her up and look around frantically, wondering what to do with her.
When Buffy awoke, she was lying on Giles’s couch, and he was unwrapping Spike’s handwork.  Behind him, looking worried, Spike was holding a tray with cotton, gauze, antiseptic, antibiotic cream, and everything else Giles had pulled from his emergency kit. He set the tray of supplies down next to Giles and moved to stand near Buffy’s head.
“You probably should have taken her to the emergency room,” Giles grumbled as he exposed the deep wound.
“Yeah, that would have gone well.” Spike snorted. “I’d be dust or in jail, and she’d be trying to explain to them what she was doing walking through a graveyard and getting poked with a sharp piece of wood.”
“Give me the antiseptic,” Giles said, dropping the bloody bandage on the floor. Spike silently handed him the cleaning solution, flinching in sympathy when Buffy gasped as Giles poured it into the wound.   Without thinking, she grabbed Spike’s hand and clutched it tightly until the tears stopped spurting from her eyes.
“Easy there, pet,” he said squeezing back, grateful for the vampire strength that protected his fingers. “aHHIt had to be done. Who knows how many corpses that bloody stake has been in.”
“No Emergency Room,” Buffy gritted out through clenched teeth.  “And ow!”
“Sorry,” Giles muttered as he smeared antibiotic cream on the wound and dribbled antibacterial powder down into it. “It’s very deep and I don’t want an infection to set in.”
“I don’t get infections,” Buffy said. “Slayer healing, remember?”
“Even slayers can use a little help sometimes,” Giles said as he packed the wound with gauze and wrapped an Ace bandage around her torso to hold it in place. “There. That should keep it from bleeding any more than it already has.”
“Was probably just as well that it bled so much,” Spike said. “Would help wash out any pieces of wood or dirt.”
“Thank you, Doctor Bloody.” Buffy glared at him, then her expression softened. “Did you just save me?”
Spike looked embarrassed, rubbing the hand she was no longer squeezing across the back of his neck. When there was no reply, Buffy tried to sit up, only to lose her balance and fall back on the sofa.
“What the hell?”
“You lost a lot of blood, Buffy. You need to lie still until your body has time to build it back up.”  Giles got to his feet, picking up the tray of first aid materials as he did so. “I will be right back with some replacement liquids.”  He took the first aid materials with him into the kitchen where he began to search for something suitable for someone suffering from blood loss.
Buffy gazed at Spike, who, now that Giles wasn’t kneeling beside her, had moved back to her side.  She frowned.
“You did save me, didn’t you? I’m remembering it now. You pulled that vamp off me and you bandaged me up.”  She peered at the pale skin showing under his open coat. “With your shirt and a... handkerchief?  What kind of vampire carries around a handkerchief?”
“One that was brought up properly,” he mumbled. “Just be glad I had it.”  He looked away from her as she tugged her sweater back down over the new bandage.
“And then you brought me here.”
“Well, yeah,” he blustered. “What else was I going to do with an unconscious Slayer bleeding like a stuck pig? Had to take you somewhere, didn’t I? Didn’t feature taking you to your mum in that condition.”
“You could have helped yourself to some of that blood,” she said, frowning as it occurred to her. “It’s not like I would have noticed – being unconscious and—”
His shocked expression changed before her eyes to one that combined pain and anger.
“You think I would do that to you? Take advantage like that?”
Buffy stared at him, trying to reconcile the evil demon she knew him to be with the obviously hurt man in front of her.
Before she could think of anything to say to make that expression go away, Giles was back with a large glass of orange juice.
“This was all I have in the way of fluids suitable for someone in your condition—” He glared at Spike’s coughed “Scotch is a good pain killer” before continuing. “But I have water on for tea, and a pitcher of it in the refrigerator. You may have your choice of warm or cool liquids once you have finished this.”
Buffy gave him a grateful smile and took the juice, wincing a little as she reached for it.
“I guess that’s it for tonight’s patrol,” she sighed. “Only one vamp accounted for... and Spike got him.”
“Speaking of whom...” Giles turned a suspicious stare toward the vampire.  “Why were you there when Buffy got hurt? Did you set this up?”
“Did I....?  Bloody hell, you miserable bastard!  I was walking home and heard them fighting.  Was just going to see if the Slayer would want company patrolling after she finished with that one. Took me a few seconds to figure out something was wrong, and a couple more to figure out exactly how wrong it was going. I just barely got there in time to keep that ugly bugger from having himself a really good day. How could you think I’d set her up for that?”
Spike finished his speech, glaring at Giles and taking short, angry and unnecessary breaths. They stared at each other for several seconds while Buffy frowned in confusion. Giles nodded and shrugged an apology. His years of watcher training had given him finely honed powers of observation, and he was more than aware of Spike’s growing feelings towards Buffy. And Spike wasn’t oblivious to Giles’s knowledge. Although they’d never discussed it, there was tacit agreement between them that Spike’s feelings for Buffy had long since gone from the bane of his existence, to the reason he remained in Sunnydale.
“Quite right,” Giles said with a sigh. “I apologize, Spike.”
“Giles, did you just apologize to Spike?” Buffy looked back and forth between them in bewilderment. “And for what?”
“For suggesting he may have had a hand in anything that—” Spike’s vigorously coughing and head shaking interrupted Giles and he hesitated.  “I think, in recent months, Spike has shown us a willingness to assist in our fight against evil, and it would not seem to be in character for him to have arranged a situation like that. I’m quite sure if he still desires your demise, he wants to be the one responsible for it directly.”
“Too bloody right,” Spike growled, throwing Giles a grateful look. “You’re my slayer... to kill, I mean... and I’ll be arsed if I’m letting some random vamp take that away from me.”
“Nice save,” Giles said dryly before turning his attention to Buffy and taking the empty juice glass.  “Would you prefer tea or ice water now?”
“Water, please. I could use some sleep and the tea might keep me awake.” She squirmed around on the couch, trying to find a comfortable position. “Do you mind if I crash here tonight? I don’t want Mom to know what a close call I had.”
“Of course you may. But would you not prefer the guest room?”
“Nah. I’d rather not go upstairs just now. I’ll be fine here. I just wish I’d finished patrolling, though. Seems like there are a lot of vamps out there now.”
“I’ve got it, Slayer,” Spike said abruptly. He’d been quiet during the conversation about Buffy’s need for rest and liquids, and she had almost forgotten his presence. She looked at him in surprise.
“You’re going to finish my patrol for me?”
“Could use another spot of violence or two before I turn in. The night’s young yet.”
“I guess it is... for you. You’re around us so much, sometimes I forget you’re a vampire.”
“Don’t ever forget that, Slayer.”  He shook his head.  “I don’t.” 
“Um, okay?  Anyway, if you finish my patrol, I’d appreciate it.  Maybe by tomorrow night I’ll be—”
“You’re not going back out there until you’re 100%!”
“Absolutely not. Not until you’ve healed completely.”
Buffy stared back and forth between the two men who had spoken simultaneously.
“Is this Giles and Spike are weird night?  Cause you’re both acting really funny. And not ha-ha funny. You’d think I’d never been hurt before.  In case you’ve forgotten, Giles, I’ve already died once.”
“I have not forgotten that,” he said stiffly. “Nor that I did nothing to prevent it until it was too late. Hence my concern.”
Buffy turned her attention to Spike. “And you! Do you really think I’m buying that ‘keeping you alive so I can kill you’ crap?”
He shuffled his feet and stared at the floor. “I’d really appreciate it if you did,” he mumbled, refused to look at her.
“Well I’m not going to. And as soon as I feel better, we’re going to get to the bottom of this Spike is being nice to Buffy thing you’ve got going.”
Without responding to that comment, Spike just walked to the door, saying over his shoulder, “Get your rest, Slayer. I’ll take care of tonight’s evil doers.”
When he’d pulled the door closed behind him, Buffy turned to Giles. “Do you know what’s going on with him?” She took the water glass he gave her.
“I’m afraid I might.”
He shook his head. “I could be wrong. In which case, it isn’t anything I want you to be concerned about. And if I’m correct, it isn’t my place to tell you.” He set down a pitcher of more water on the floor beside the couch.  “Please drink as much as you can, and then get some rest. I suspect you will feel much better by tomorrow.”
“I hope so,” she muttered and winced again when she set down the now-empty glass. “This isn’t any fun at all.”
“I will alert the media,” Giles said as he went upstairs.
“Very funny, Giles.”
“I try. Goodnight, Buffy.”
By late morning Buffy was sufficiently recovered to feel more like herself, although she agreed that her side was not healed enough for patrol to be a good idea yet.
“Do you have any idea what happened last night?” Giles inquired. “How a routine slay of one vampire became a life and death situation?”
“I think I’ve spoiled you,” Buffy said with a small smile. “You expect me to survive life and death situations all the time.”
Giles nodded and flushed with embarrassment. “Quite so,” he said. “You are an extraordinary slayer. Which is why I’m confused and would like to understand what happened last night.”
“I don’t really know,” Buffy said, almost to herself. “It was weird.  Maybe I just got too cocky. He wasn’t a fledgling, but he wasn’t exactly a master either, and Spike had no trouble with him. Maybe I’m just getting slow in my old age....”
She cocked her hear at Giles. “What do the Watchers Diaries say about slayers that die? How does it happen usually? Apocalypse or vamps? Do their watchers describe what happened to them?”
He visibly flinched.  “The watchers are not often privy to the exact circumstances. As you well know, slayers usually do their job by themselves. Their watchers can only surmise what happened when they find the... body.  Surmise and grieve...”
“Hmmm. I need to find somebody who knows what slayers do that gets them killed. So I can not make the same mistakes.  That’s important information. Your books should have it!”
“May I suggest that you consult someone who has some experience with slayers who’ve lost their lives?”
“Well yeah, but who.... Spike!  How could I forget that he’s killed two of us? I’ll get him to tell me what they did wrong, and—”
“It’s entirely possible that what they did wrong was pick a fight with the wrong vampire,” Giles said with a sigh. “You’ve fought Spike more than once. Would you say he was an easy slay?”
Buffy laughed. “Good point. But Spike is really old. He couldn’t have been that good when he fought his first slayer. I just need to get him to tell me about them.”
Giles smiled at her. “Just be prepared to find out it is not information he cares to share with you.”
“I’ll make him tell me.”
“I’m sure that will go well,” Giles muttered as he prepared to leave for the Magic Box. “Please try not to re-injure yourself in the process.”
“Well, if I can’t beat it out of him, I’ll have to find another way,” she said, unconsciously holding her side.
“You could try asking him.” Giles waved a hand as he picked up his keys on the way to the door. “I’m sure if you practice between now and this evening you will come up with the right words.”
“I heard that!”  Buffy glared at the now-empty doorway.  “I have words! Nice words!”