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Happy Ending by Sigyn
Happy Ending

    Buffy was walking back from the Magic Box, Anya and Xander having assured her that it was far too late to try and clean up the mess left by the troll. Buffy wasn’t going to argue with them. Among other things, that troll had been really strong, and she was bruised. For another, he stank, and she could still smell his rankness on her clothes. She wanted to get home, strip down, get into a hot shower, and have Riley rub her shoulders.

    But of course, Riley wasn’t there to do that, and likely wasn’t ever going to be there again. The tears she’d managed to quell before she left the Magic Box welled up again, and she whimpered indulgently to herself. She was almost home. There was no reason to be strong now. She was allowed to be sad. She’d just lost her boyfriend. It was normal. It was... she actually sobbed.

    “You doing all right, slayer?” came a voice she did not want to hear.

    “Go away, Spike,” she said, brushing the tears off with her wrists.

    “You don’t....” he paused behind her. “You’re not hurt, are you?”

    Buffy turned and glared at him. “Like you care,” she said.

    “Well, I...” He seemed at a loss. “Pretty big troll. The Bronze is closing down for repairs. They got the wounded out.”

    “And you still want credit for not snacking on them, is that it?”

    “No!” Spike snapped, though at some level he sort of hoped for it. “I just... wanted to give you the information.”

    Buffy looked at him quizzically. Spike had been acting very strange, lately. “Given,” Buffy said. “Now go.” She kept walking.

    Spike almost let her, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to. He found himself hustling after her like a sodding puppy. “I just wanted to check that you were okay,” he said. “I heard about the nest you burned out. And the sucker gang.... I mean, after Captain Cardboard and all–”

    Buffy hit him.

    “Ow!” Spike clutched his nose. “Was that fair? Can’t a bloke just inquire after your state?”

    “My state is California,” Buffy said. “And it’s known for sunshine. Why don’t you go find some?” She walked on, leaving him behind.

    “You were crying,” Spike said stiffly from behind her. “I wanted to check.”

    Buffy rounded on him. “What makes you think I was crying?”

    Spike raised an eyebrow. “Blood and tears don’t smell so different, pet,” he said. “The difference between iron and salt. Just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

    “Since when do you care?”

    Spike shrugged. “I do, that’s all,” he said. “I mean, wasn’t that obvious on your porch, when your mum was all ill?”

    “You came that night to kill me.”

    “And I stayed,” Spike pointed out, sounding annoyed. “Not–  trying to kill you.” He couldn’t quite bring himself to say he’d been trying to comfort her.

    “Well, you can not try to kill me somewhere else,” Buffy said, catching the hidden meaning anyway. “I don’t need you to not try to kill me tonight.”

    “Good!” Spike said, flippant, awkward. “It’s good you don’t need it! He’s not worth it.”

    “Shut up,” Buffy said. “You never really knew him.”

    “I knew him just fine. You can get to know someone who hates you very well indeed.”

    “I guess that means you think you know me, right?”

    “Catching on, pet,” Spike said. “And trust me. He’s not worth your tears.”

    “You know, the fact that he hated you, just tells me he sort of was.”

    “He was beneath you,” Spike said earnestly.

    “Like you’re one to talk,” Buffy said. “Great judgement from the sewer dweller.”

    “I’m right,” Spike said.

    “You don’t know anything.”

    “It’s obvious he was beneath you, pet. He’s beneath me,” Spike said, “no matter how low you think I am.”

    “Oh, give me a break,” Buffy said. “I know what you are. You know, I’ll bet you’re only talking to me right now ‘cause you’re ticked off I slaughtered your little blood gang.”

    “Hey,” Spike snapped, insulted. “They were not my gang.”

    “Weren’t they? How else did you know Riley was there, huh? Came by to lick off some little goth chick who likes to self harm, and ran into him in the corridor?”

    Spike came up to her. “If you say that again, I’ll break your neck, chip or no chip,” he snarled into her face.

    “Oh, come on!” Buffy snapped. “If I’d known this was going on here, I’d have known that was exactly where you’d be. Poor Spiky, can’t bite, but he can still get his rocks off. Get them to cut themselves, or borrow someone else’s first bite, and you’re home free. Get to lick the blood off the emotionally twisted, and bag a little cash into the bargain? You really think for one moment I’d believe you’re not a part of it?”

    “I’m not!” Spike grabbed her by the arms.

    “You’re disgusting.”

    “Maybe, but I wasn’t one of them,” Spike said. “I’d never degrade myself so far.”

    “You are degradation itself,” Buffy spat at him. “Expecting credit for not licking off accident victims–”

    “Excuse me for trying to help!” Spike barked, letting go of her. “I thought being helpful would make you happy, but nooo, not Buffy, nothing makes her happy but some round-the-clock Spike bashing.”

    “If I wanted to bash you, Spike, I’d be doing it right now.”

    “Do it!” he snapped. “Bloody just do it! Turn right around and knock my block off. I don’t care. But I’m not one of those skanks, and I’d never take money to suck off some blood junkie.”

    “What, like you never want human blood again?”

    “Not like that!” Spike snapped. “That’s like putting the choice on you to never get laid again or become a whore. I’d rather be the neutered pup, thank you very much. Just as I’m assuming that even without Mr. Soldier Boy, you’re not about to put out a shingle and spread your legs for the next john that comes around.”

    Buffy hit him hard, only belatedly realizing that that wasn’t actually an insult. He flew back anyway, landing against the curb with a grunt of pain. He was struggling to sit up again when she came to glare down at him, fists clenched. “You think I believe you?”

    “Believe what you want!” Spike said, glaring back up at her. “Who do you think I want inside me, bitch? It’s the same bloody thing. I’ll kill for fun, but blood is sacred. Blood is life.”

    “And you’d take in four lives a night in your heyday, was every one a sacred gift?”

    “Yes!” Spike snapped. He jumped up artfully and landed on his feet, staring into Buffy’s face. “Every one became part of me, and on my terms.”

    “Don’t tell me you’ve never left a victim alive.”

    “Not for long,” Spike said, “and not for money. And if you want to know the intimate details of blood games, honey, you’re going to have to play it very different than just calling me a whore and asking for my credentials. I told you about Riley because I saw him go in, and I thought you needed to know. Not because I had anything to do with that suck house you torched, or those suckers you dusted.”

    Buffy realized he was using vampire vernacular, such as “crack heads,” and that the words were full of contempt. “You mean other vampires look down on them?”

    Spike glared at her. “You’re a slayer, and you know nothing about us. Yes. As much as you’d look down on a street walker.”

    “Well, I’ve met some street walkers who weren’t bad,” she said, remembering her time in L.A.

    “Yeah, but it wasn’t a lifestyle choice you approved of, was it. And it’s not one I’m ever going to lower myself to. I’m on the cold blood of the butcher, baby, and I’ll do it forever before I sell myself like that.” He took a step back. “And thank you so much for rubbing my face in it, by the way.”

    “You expect me to feel sorry for you, Spike?”

    “If I ever lowered myself to the level of those bloodwhores, then yes. Everyone should. In my opinion, you did them a bloody favor, slayer. I’d rather be dust than live like that. In fact, if it hadn’t occurred to you, I’d rather come crawling to you for help than live like that. Which, if you remember correctly, I did.”

    Buffy finally believed him. “Fine,” she said. She turned and headed back toward home.

    She was nearly at the house when she stopped and glared at him. “Did I tell you to follow me?” Buffy asked.

    “I just wanted to tell you, I...” Spike stopped. All his practiced speeches died, and he wished to god he could just hit her. It would make the whole thing so much easier.

    “You what?” Buffy demanded.

    “I’m sorry it went down that way,” he said. “You and soldier boy.”

    Buffy blinked at him. “You’re sorry?” she asked. “You?”

    “What was I supposed to do?” Spike asked. “Not tell you?”

    Buffy looked away.

    “Come on, slayer, I didn’t make him go there, and I didn’t make him leave here. You can’t blame me any more than you can blame yourself.”

    Xander’s words about taking Riley for granted and shutting down, pushing him away, all of them burned inside her. “Who said I was blaming you?” she yelled at Spike, her tone not matching her words. “Who said anything about it being your fault? What in the hell makes any of this about you?” She shoved him in the chest in time to her words. The violence was cathartic, and she wanted her hands – or at least her fists – on Spike again. “This isn’t about you!” she shouted. She started hitting him in the face, and was relieved when he deflected her blows. Part of her didn’t really think it was fair to use him as an actual punching bag, not when he couldn’t hit back. “This is about him and about me and about making – it – work!

    Spike made a move at her last blow that twisted her arm and dragged her close to him. “And sometimes it just doesn’t work,” Spike said, “and there’s no bloody reason for it.”

    But Buffy’s blood was up, and she couldn’t listen. The rage poured out of her, and onto Spike. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way!” she shouted at him, not a hand’s length from his face. “This time it was supposed to work. He was the guy, he was human, he was supposed to be real. And Xander's like it was all my own fault, because I’ve been treating him as the rebound guy, when he was one in a million –”

    “Soldier boy was one in twenty, tops,” Spike said. “And what has that wanker been saying? All whose fault?”

    “I was supposed to stop him!” Buffy yelled. “I chased after him! I can’t believe he made me chase him! It was degrading! I ran to the god damn helicopter, like one of those romantic movies we used to watch. I was supposed to catch him at the last minute, or find that he was really waiting for me at home the whole time, and we get our make up kiss, and our happy... our happy....” She lost control and started to cry.

    Spike reached out for her. In pain and sorrow she fell into his arms, searching for solace. “Hey, it’s not you, love,” he said gently. “You’re perfect. You don’t need him to be happy.” Buffy only sobbed louder, and Spike gently pulled her hair back from her face, reaching forward to hug her more closely, only to find her hot flesh nuzzling at him, her tear stained cheeks against his mouth. He kissed the tears automatically, and gently, gingerly, her lips found his. She kissed him, her mouth tasting of salt and sorrow, and pulled herself closer. His arms held her, her warm body pressed against him, the kiss becoming more and more heated until her breath came like a furnace against his cold flesh, and her need became palpable. She lost all ability to think, or speak, as he left her mouth and went for her throat, his teeth nibbling on the soft white flesh. He tasted the salt of her skin, felt the hot blood pulse beneath it, heard her groan and shift against him, her body aching for more. “I love you, Buffy,” he breathed desperately in her ear. “I love you so much.”

    In reality Buffy knocked his arm aside the moment his hand had touched her shoulder, and the two second fantasy that had momentarily taken him over was shattered. He pushed her instead, not quite hard enough to hurt her, and she was shoved back a good few steps. “You expect a happy ending?” Spike snapped at her. “There’s only one I’ve ever heard of, and it involves a lot of blood, followed by eternal silence.”

    “You’re disgusting.”

    “I’m telling the truth.” Spike said “That’s an ending. That’s the only ending there is. If you expect a romantic movie, all you get is your passionate kiss and your rising music, and then life goes on after the curtain goes down. And life is pain and boredom and too much liquor and boring Sunday afternoon television and fights over whose turn it is to take out the sodding garbage. Say you’d caught him, then what? You’ve got a dissatisfied liar with a suck problem on his hands, jonesing for the next trull who’ll give him a rush, and puts the blame on you for his addiction. Sounds like a real happy ending there!”

    “You don’t know him.”

    “I don’t have to know him, I know what he was doing,” Spike said. “And you deserve better than that, sweetheart. Lots better.” The tone was bitter, even accusatory, but the words were what he’d been wanting to say since before the prick left.

    “Well, better is not what I’m getting, is it,” Buffy said. “I’m standing here, covered in bruises, stinking of troll sweat, and talking to you.”

    “And even that’s better than being lied to by a self-deluded blood junkie who thinks its all your fault he’s got issues,” Spike said.

    Part of Buffy agreed with him. Spike was absolutely right – all of their problems would still have been looming even if she had caught Riley at the helicopter. She’d still be stronger than he was. He still wouldn’t be willing to step back when she needed him to. She’d still be angry at him. He’d still feel he wasn’t needed. There would still be the lies and the pain and the rift and the ultimatum. She would have resented him making her chase him down. He would have been angry that she hadn’t gotten on her knees and begged him to stay the moment he threatened to go. All of it would still have been there, and the happy dream of things being perfect between them still would have died. In some ways, it was better that it had simply ended. But... “I miss him.”

    Spike gazed at her, and his blue eyes caught the light, glittering. A moment later he lifted one hand and caught the tear trembling on her cheek. “I know.”

    Spike wanted to keep talking. He wanted to impart advice, tell her that she’d given what she had to give – that any part of her wondrous self should be enough for anyone, and that Riley was a wanker who should have been more than content with his lot, and Xander was a bloody idiot for making her feel bad about it. Spike wanted to say how incredible she was, how beautiful, how seductive, and how she deserved better – how he himself could show her better.

    What actually happened was that Buffy knocked his hand away again and knuckled him in the sternum, hard enough that he staggered. He grunted in pain and looked up at her. “Way to say thanks, bitch.”

    She brushed the rest of her tears away and glared at him. “Thanks for not trying to kill me,” she said reluctantly. “Now go home.”

    She stalked up the stairs and into her house. Spike looked after her for a long moment, annoyed, disappointed, confused, feeling wildly alone, and hating her with a passion as fervent as his incredibly inconvenient feelings of love. He sighed, frustrated, his eyes narrowed at her closed door, his hand clenched in a fist of fury.

    Then, almost reverently, he closed his eyes and sucked the dried tear from the side of his finger.