Chapter 4, in which logic attempts to prevail.
So heavy is the chain of wedlock that it needs two to carry it, and sometimes three.
“So,” Wesley asked. “You want to tell me why we’re here?”
“You know bloody well why we’re here!” Spike snapped.
Buffy was a little confused herself. She’d had to drag Spike here to Wesley’s rented office/apartment, and it had been a physical strain. Spike would agree to go, then change his mind, then agree again. She’d have to threaten or coax, and then he’d soften, and follow her like a puppy, and then he’d say something awful, or she would, and then he’d retaliate, and then they’d be at odds as usual, and she’d have to persuade him all over again. Even the walk over had been like the marriage in a nutshell; both of them trying to get somewhere, but not really knowing how, or even whether or not they should even try. “Uh... didn’t Giles... tell you?”
“Mr. Giles has informed me of the current circumstances,” Wesley said, “but I want to hear your view of the situation. So, Buffy. Would you like to go first?”
Buffy shrugged. “Hi, Wes,” she said. “You’re playing marriage counselor for us.”
“Yes. And why am I doing that?”
“Because we asked you to. We need some. Counsel.”
“And why is that?”
“We fight all the bloody time,” Spike said. “I mean all the bloody time.”
“And we’re stuck together,” Buffy said. “So we might as well figure out how to get along.”
“Interesting phrase, stuck together,” Wesley said. “What exactly does that mean?”
“Well, we’re under a bloody spell, aren’t we,” Spike said.
“So you are now aware that you’ve been under the influence of a spell,” Wesley said. “I understand that at first you denied that possibility?”
“Yeah,” Buffy said, looking down.
“What made you realize the truth?”
“Well, it became pretty bloody obvious,” Spike said.
Wesley frowned at him. “You seem to think the whole situation fairly bloody, Mr. Spike.”
“Well, you’ve used that word bloody every time you’ve opened your mouth. Is there something about this that makes you uncomfortable?”
Spike stood up and headed for the door with a swirl of his coat. “Sod this. Buffy, I’ve got enough rubbish mucking about through my brain. I don’t need to help this ponce earn his psychobabble merit badge.”
“Spike, you sit down, or so help me, I will keep you on nothing but plasma for a month!” Buffy shouted at him. Spike growled, seething, but he came back. He stood behind the chair and gripped the upholstered backrest. “You see what I have to deal with?” she asked Wesley. “He’s a monster!”
“Well, yes,” Wesley said. “But I believe that you both knew that when you started. Spike, if it would make you feel more comfortable, you could just listen for this first session, unless you feel a real need to add your input.”
“Fine by me,” Spike muttered. He pulled out a cigarette and leaned against the wall to smoke it. “Bloody head hunter.”
“I would prefer you didn’t smoke in here,” Wesley said.
“Oh.” Spike took a deep drag.
Buffy grunted her annoyance and rolled her eyes.
“Do you have something to say?” Wes asked.
“Well, yeah,” Buffy said. “Look at him! He has no consideration for anyone, at all, ever. He’s such a jerk!”
“He does appear to behave in self centered manner, at least at the moment,” Wes said. “But are you sure he has no consideration at all?”
“Yes,” Buffy said. “Never cares about anyone but himself.”
“He seemed willing to come here when you asked.”
“Well, yeah, but...” Buffy stopped, realizing that was true. “It’s only because I can put the cork on his blood supply.”
“Ah. Is that true?” Wesley asked.
“Thought I wasn’t participatin’ in this here head game,” Spike said darkly.
Wesley nodded. “Very well.” He turned back to Buffy. “So you feel you need to threaten him, in various ways, deprivation of food or bodily harm. Would he never do what you wanted him to, otherwise?”
“Well, yeah,” Buffy said. “Well. No. I don’t know.” She felt torn. “I never know,” she admitted. “That’s actually my biggest problem. I never know what he’s gonna do. Sometimes he’s an absolute angel, and then he’s so... callous. And it’s not even the murder-torture-cruelty, thing – I mean, he can’t do that stuff anymore, anyway. It’s just little stuff. Like this cigarette thing, and how mean he is to Xander, and how he’ll just... steal things. And he cheats at cards. And he litters. And he’s rude to people. And he does all these things, and it’s like... god, it’s like being slapped, every time!”
“You take all these things as affronts against yourself?”
“Just...” Buffy sighed and looked down. “He just does this stuff, and I can’t....”
Buffy’s voice was very small. “I can’t help but see the demon inside.”
Spike’s head tilted as he watched Buffy.
“Is he this callous towards you?”
“Well... no,” Buffy said. “And that kind of makes it even worse. Because I know he can be such a sweetheart, and I know that he can care, but he just... won’t.”
“I don’t see why,” Spike said.
Wes turned to him. “Why what?”
“I don’t see why I should care about any of you.”
Buffy turned to him. “But don’t you see how messed up that is?” she asked. “It’s like, you think I’m the only person in the entire world. And I’m not, there’s a whole world out there, full of human beings, who think and feel and hurt just like I do, and it’s like you can’t see them.”
“I see them just fine,” Spike said. “They’re cattle.”
“Yeah, but they’re not!” Buffy shouted, raising her hands in exasperation.
“Let’s put that aside for a moment,” Wesley said. “The world is a very big place, and Spike has... shall we say cultural reasons... for feeling the way he does about humanity. So let’s stay on topic. Why do you care about Buffy?”
“Spell, in’t it,” Spike said.
“Well, the spell is certainly a factor,” Wesley said. “What exactly does this spell mean, to you?”
“Like the bird said,” Spike said, sitting down. He’d put his cigarette in Wes’s potted plant. “We’re stuck with each other.”
“How do you mean, stuck?”
Buffy took a deep breath. “We can’t stop.”
Buffy blushed. “L-loving each other.”
“Ah.” Wes sat back. “How do you know you love each other?”
Both the slayer and the vampire sat still for a long moment. Then, as if drawn by a magnet, their heads turned to each other. Buffy winced, and began to breathe a little harder. Spike’s lips twitched, and he unconsciously licked his teeth. The electricity between them was undeniable, even to Wesley. “Can’t miss it,” Spike finally said.
Buffy’s head bowed as if she were being caressed, and her blush deepened. “So you see,” Buffy said. “We’re stuck.”
“Well, obviously, there is an undeniable attraction,” Wes said. “Clearly you both feel that. But that wasn’t what I asked. Buffy. How do you know he loves you?”
Buffy blinked. “Um.”
“Do you know he loves you?”
Buffy hesitated. “Yes,” she said finally.
“What makes you think that?”
She sighed and looked down. “He really can be really sweet,” she said shyly. “I mean, the way he came to me... when I was unhappy, after our wedding night. I’ve never seen anything so helpless, and when he knew that I loved him... when I agreed to stop trying to fight the spell, he just... god, he just melted. It was like a snowman, it was just...” she smiled fondly. She still wouldn’t look up. “He tells me he loves me,” she said. “He says it, you know, right out, and he...” she looked up at Wes. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but he’s really... um... well... generous. Um. In... well... like our wedding night. But... e-even more... after. And...”
“He is a considerate lover,” Wesley said frankly, without evident embarrassment. He'd realized he was just going to have to get over certain subjects if he was going to help them.
“I try,” Spike said softly. “She’s, uh... a challenge.”
Buffy looked up at him then, and he smirked. “Yeah. Well. There’s that,” she said, unable to keep from smiling in embarrassment at the memories. She turned back to Wes. “And it... it’s hard to explain. He’ll... he’ll help my friends, because I care about them. And I know it’s for me, not them, really, but sometimes... he’s really kinda nice to Giles, kinda... helping him ‘cause he’s blind now, and he’s put himself in actual danger saving Xander a few times. Like last night.”
“Hey, I was saving you.”
“Xander was the one being attacked,” Buffy said.
“And you were the one in danger, trying to save his pansy ass.”
“Now, I find this interesting,” Wesley said. “Why don’t you want to admit that you were saving Xander?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, to be frank, Buffy is a slayer,” Wesley said. “While your assistance was no doubt welcomed, the chances of Buffy herself being hurt were not high, while the possibility of her friend’s death was considerably higher. If you were to enter into a fray, the one in real danger was unarguably the human male.”
“So I’m trying to understand why you would deny saving a human.”
“I wasn’t saving a human!” Spike snarled.
“Yeah, you were!” Buffy said. “I was fine, you know was fine. I just couldn’t deal with both demons at once before Xander got hurt. You saved him.”
“I did not!”
“He did,” Buffy said, kind of proud. “Nearly had his arm ripped off, too. And he just kept fighting, even though I told him to stop. He was really brave.”
“I was just savoring a spot of violence.”
“He told Xander to run,” Buffy said, with a mischievous smirk. “Told the rest of the demons to step on up before they dared take on the little boy.”
“It wasn’t for him!”
“This troubles you,” Wesley said to Spike.
“No,” Wesley said, “I feel we are touching on an important issue. Does the idea of doing good disturb you?”
“I’m not doing good.”
“Well, demonstrably, you are. You’ve been protecting innocents and slaughtering demons, so I think we need to know why you’re denying it.”
Spike stood up. “I’m getting out of this.”
“Does it feel unnatural in some way?”
“Does it feel as though it lessens you somehow? As if it would somehow taint you?”
“Shut the hell up!” Spike roared in Wesley’s face. Wesley blanched.
Buffy stood up with him and took hold of him, turning him to her. “Hey, calm down,” she said.
“I’m not gonna calm down! He insulted me!”
“He called you a hero,” Buffy said firmly. She reached up and took hold of his neck, caressing his jaw with her thumb. “It’s not an insult. I’m a hero.”
Spike stared down at her, his face troubled. “You’re the slayer,” he said softly. “It’s different.”
“You’re different,” Buffy said. She reached up and kissed him on the side of the mouth, a chaste, tender little peck. He melted anyway. His eyes still closed he opened his mouth and leaned after her, hungry for a deeper kiss. “Not now, honey,” she said. He sighed, but let her put him away.
Wesley swallowed, gone from terrified to fascinated, a slight furrow between his eyes. Whatever this spell had done, it had worked deeply into the psyches of both of them. They already had a strong partnership, and a deep affection, even if it was instigated by an outside force. It was painfully sweet to see, and he found that disturbing. “I see what you mean by its being obvious,” he said to Spike. “But I feel its your turn. How do you know she loves you?”
Spike shrugged. “Don’t matter. She does, that’s all.”
“No, it’s important to articulate it. She’s told you the things you’ve done for her that let her know you love her. So. What has she done that lets you know she loves you?”
Spike turned his head away with a dismissive groan. “Nah, no one wants to hear that bollocks.”
“I’d like to,” Buffy said.
“You see?” Wes said. “Tell her.”
Now it was Spike’s turn to look embarrassed. “It’s... ah... nah. It doesn’t matter.”
“Come on, honey,” Buffy said. She pulled him as she stepped backward and sat back down in her chair.
Spike sat down, but still looked too embarrassed to say. He looked toward the door.
“It must be something very specific,” Wesley said, “because you don’t look like you’re searching. You just don’t seem to want to say.”
He shook his head and looked over at Buffy. “Buffy, I don’t–”
“Please?” she asked.
Spike’s look softened at the tenderness in her plea. “You cry,” he said softly.
Spike looked back at Wes. “She cries. She lets herself cry. I mean she’s...” he shook his head, “all powerful chosen one, mighty slayer, defender of humanity and all that rot, and she comes home to me and... she lets herself cry. The first time it was over me, and it was like... god. Way to tear me apart, but... since then she’s come to me, and... she’s cried over Willow and she cried when Xander and Anya broke up for that one day, and she cried when Giles nearly got hit ‘cause he couldn’t see the road, and she cried when her dad canceled the day trip he’d been planning, and... she’s cried when the two of us have been fighting. Or, after we’ve been fighting, really. And she’ll be hurting, and she won’t shield away like she does for Xander and everyone. I mean, she’ll even hide it from Giles sometimes, ‘cause he doesn’t know how to handle it. She hides it from her mum, ‘cause she doesn’t want to worry her. But she doesn’t hide it from me, ever. I could tell if she was. She’ll let me in, let me hold her. Let me take some of that weight away for her.” Spike shrugged. “She wouldn’t let herself do that, if she didn’t love me.”
There was a long moment of silence after that little speech. A moment later, Spike got his chance again, as Buffy started to sniffle. “Oh, hey, don’t...” He sank to his knees by her chair and reached for her hands.
She let him take them. “You see?” Buffy said to Wes, her voice a bit of a whimper through her tears, as she cried, touched by his completely selfless confession. “He can be such a sweetie.” She reached up with one hand and caressed his cheek. “And then he can be such a monster.”
“I’m okay with that,” Spike said with a soft smile.
“Yeah, but I’m not,” Buffy said helplessly. She looked back up at Wes. “I don’t know how I can be with someone who doesn’t care about people. But I can’t – stop – loving him!” She caressed his hair, her face desperate and vulnerable. “How could I not love him?” she whispered in despair.
Spike gazed up at her, adoration in his eyes. He squeezed her thigh, his nails scratching a bit at her flesh, both a reassurance and a promise. “We’ll sort this out,” he said.
“How?” she asked.
Spike shrugged. “Well, I guess this wanker’s got a couple ideas.” He heaved himself up and sank back into his chair, slouching, with his legs spread, contempt still in every line of him. “All right, head hunter. How do we deal?”
Wesley smiled. “This isn’t going to be a quick fix, Mr... Do you prefer Spike, or William the Bloody?”
“Spike. No mister.”
“Wes,” Wesley said.
“Buffy,” Buffy said. “Do you really think this relationship is salvageable?”
Wes looked at her. “Well. Is there an alternative?”
The slayer and the vampire gazed at one another. “It’s either sort this out, or stay miserable,” Buffy said to Spike, in a questioning tone.Spike sighed. “Okay,” he finally said. “I guess I’m in.”
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