full 3/4 1/2   skin light dark       
Chapter 5, in which Buffy does not like a truth she is discovering.
<<     >>

What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.
Leo Tolstoy


    “All right,” Wesley said. “So in this session, I think we should start by going into a little relationship history.”

    Spike laughed.

    Buffy glared at him. “What’s so funny?”

    “Nothing. Tell the wonderful counselor about Angelus. This’ll be good.”

    “Actually, I was thinking we’d start with you,” Wes said.

    Spike shrugged. “Nothing to tell.”

    “You’ve had no relationships at all. In two hundred years.”

    “One hundred and twenty-six!” Spike snapped.

    “Hm...” Wesley said.

    “What’s ‘hm’ mean?”

    “Nothing. I’m just trying to figure out how you arrive at that figure. Are you including your years as a human man?”

    “No. Next subject.”

    “Wes, I... my relationship history is a little troubled,” Buffy said, “and Spike just went through a bad break up. Can we do something else?”

    “A bad break up? Tell me about it.”

    “That’s not doing something else, watcher boy!” Spike snapped.

    “All right,” Wesley said. “I still think we should discuss this, but we’ll try again in a later session. In that case... perhaps we should try to identify what our goals are here.”

    “What do you mean?” Buffy asked.

    “Well, what would you like to be the ultimate outcome of these sessions? Spike?”

    Spike frowned. “I’d like her to lighten up,” he said after a bit. “Quit with the stuck-up routine, and go fun again.”

    “Again?” Wes glanced at Buffy. “What do you mean, again?”

    “I mean again,” Spike said. “She didn’t always have a stake up her ass. She was fun, she liked to play, none of this everything’s life and death bollocks.”

    “When the hell are you talking about?” Buffy asked. “Do you mean during our wedding? Because I hadn’t realized we were cursed, yet!”

    “Cursed?” Spike asked.

    “Bespelled, whatever,” Buffy said.

    “You think loving me’s a curse.” Spike looked away with wounded scorn. “Right. Right.”

    “I think...,” Wes said, “I think it’s quite clear that Spike finds that terminology insulting, Buffy. Is that what you meant to do?”

    “What? No!”

    Wes raised his eyebrows. “How would you feel, if he used that terminology about you?”

    “Well... yeah, but... it is a curse, isn’t it?”

    “A curse,” Spike spat. “A punishment, an attack, nothing but evil, that’s really what you think about this?”

    Buffy blinked. “Oh. Well, no. I... I don’t think of curses as evil.”

    “Don’t you?” Wes asked.

    “No,” Buffy said. “Curses...” She blushed. “Curses can do very good things.” She looked down.

    Spike stared at her for a long moment, and then tossed his head. “Oh, right. She’s thinking about nancy boy down in LA, and his old soulfulness. He got hexed when he ate up a gyp.”

    Wes nodded. “And you considered that curse nothing but an evil, is that right?”

    “Didn’t make him a nicer guy or nothin’. It just tangled him up and made him miserable.”

    “It did so make him–!” Buffy stopped, realizing they were getting into dangerous territory with Angel even in the conversation.

    “No it didn’t. Hell, I’m a nicer guy than Angelus, even without a damn soul.”

    “Oh, now, that’s rich!” Buffy snapped.

    “I can’t hurt a sodding fly, ‘cause it’s alive. Let alone eat a human being.” Spike snapped right back. “Angelus was eating people just fine for a bunch of years even after the damn curse. He just felt really bad about it,” he mocked.

    Buffy actually hadn’t known that. She was startled when Wesley laughed. “I don’t see anything funny about this.”

    “Oh, no, it is only that we have touched on the traditional ethical dilemma of the Walrus and the Carpenter,” Wesley said. “It tickled me.”

    “Oh, yeah.” Spike grinned. “I weep for you,’ the Walrus said. ‘I deeply sympathize.’ With sobs and tears he sorted out–

    “Those of the largest size!” Wesley joined in. “Holding a pocket handkerchief before his streaming eyes,” they both finished in unison. The two grinned at each other, a shared moment of understanding.

    Buffy realized she had just witnessed something incredibly British, and it had gone right over her head. “‘Scuse me? Hello?” She waved. “American over here.”

    “Ah, it’s from Through The Looking Glass,” Wesley said. He looked a little embarrassed to have shared a moment with a vampire. “No doubt Spike here grew up with it.”

    “Was in my teens when it came out,” Spike said.

    “Ah,” said Wesley. “Well, in any case, Alice was presented with a moral dilemma when presented with the poem, in having to choose between the Walrus, who had eaten more of the innocent oysters but felt badly about it, and the Carpenter, who had eaten fewer, but considered the whole thing a matter of course.”

    Buffy had never read the book. She’d barely watched the Disney cartoon as a kid. “Who won?”

    “It wasn’t a battle,” Wesley said.

    “It was the oysters who lost,” Spike said with a dark grin.

    “The battle was between regret and intention,” Wes told her. “Both had intended to do harm, but the question remained, which was better – the one who had done the most harm, but felt sympathy, or the one who had done the least harm, but felt nothing.”

    Buffy thought about this. “You should feel sorry,” Buffy said.

    “I doubt the oysters felt that way,” Spike said. “Or shall I say, the remaining oysters.”

    “Yeah, you wouldn’t know,” Buffy snapped. “You don’t care about the people you’ve eaten.”

    “Yeah,” Spike said. “But I never slaughtered an entire convent full of nuns, either, or tortured a beautiful woman into madness.”

    “Let’s get back to you, and the subject at hand,” Wesley said, diverting the argument off Angel. But not before Spike heard Buffy mutter, “That was before the soul.”

     “You don’t feel like the love spell you’re under is a curse,” Wesley went on.

    “Just a spell, in’t it,” Spike said.

    “And you liked it better when Buffy didn’t realize it.”

    “Well... yeah, who wouldn’t? She was sweet, and... and happy,” Spike said. “She wasn’t on guard all the time. But that wasn’t when I meant, anyhow.”

    “When were you talking about?” Wes asked.

    “When I first met her.”

    “You mean when you were trying to kill me?”

    “Yeah!” Spike snapped at her. “You were fun, you were laughing and dancing, and you used to play games while you were slaying. You were a joy to watch. Now I’m lucky to even hear a stupid pun.”

    Buffy ignored the stupid. “You like my puns?”

    Spike looked at her. “Yeah, I like your puns. You thought I didn’t?”

    “You were always so scornful of them, and... sarcastic.”

    Spike glared. “And I’m not allowed to play, too?”

    Buffy gaped. She hadn’t realized they were playing word games. Almost half their arguments fell from furious fire to warm glowing coals almost instantly. “But you... you noticed? Like, way back then?”

    Spike glared at her. “You were my prey, Buffy. Not just my prey, the slayer. I know I was just another vamp to you, but this was a big deal.” He looked away. “It was to me, anyway. But then you got all broody and serious, and the whole thing stopped being any fun.”

    Wes nodded. “And when did this happen?”

    Spike opened his mouth, and then shut it again. “Don’t matter,” he said instead of whatever he’d been thinking. “She just needs to lighten up, is all.”

    “All right,” Wesley said. “So, you’d like Buffy to... try and enjoy herself more. To not take things so seriously. Am I hearing you right?”

    “Yeah, pretty much.”

    “All right. And Buffy, what are you hoping for from this experience?”

    Buffy sighed heavily. “What I want... god, it doesn’t even matter. I’m never gonna get it. Mostly, I just want him to be... less evil.”

    “Hello! Vampire!” Spike snapped.

    “Well,” Wesley said. “What’s your definition of evil?”

    No one had ever asked Buffy that before. “He still wants to kill people.”

    “Yes, but he can’t. Lacking that, he’s chosen to help you instead. Is that evil?”


    “Then what is evil, exactly?”

    Buffy thought about this. “Selfish,” she said.

    “Well, I distinctly remember Cordelia,” Wesley said. “And I recall her being very selfish indeed at times. Was she evil?”

    “No. No, she was just nasty.”


    Buffy was flummoxed. “I guess I don’t know.”

    Wes nodded. “Rather than wishing that the other would change, what do you want in the relationship?” he asked. “What is it about the... lightening up and the lack of evil that would make you two feel better about each other?”

    “Well, we wouldn’t fight as much,” Buffy said.

    “Things would be lots easier,” Spike said.

    “So, you’re both hoping for less conflict in the relationship.”

    The slayer of slayers and the slayer of vampires looked at each other. “Yeah,” they both said. Then they both looked down. It was very clear this was going to be a Sisyphean task.

    “So, we established earlier that you both feel you have no choice about maintaining the relationship,” Wesley said. “The spell stated you must be married, and you must live as husband and wife. Yes?”

    Both nodded.

    “So, you feel you need to work things out because there is no alternative.”

    “None,” Buffy said firmly.

    “All right.” Wes looked through some notes. “Before we try to move forward in this relationship, I think it’s important to try and sort out any past conflicts you might have had.”

    Buffy and Spike both looked blankly at Wes. Then both started talking at once.

    “We’re mortal enemies –”

    “– conflicts we may have had? –”

    “– when someone’s trying to kill you it’s really hard to–”

    “– couldn’t possibly have my best interests at heart–”

    “– you just don’t get it–”

    “– there’s no free pass for–”

    “– and you’d think what with all the hitting and the yelling and the broken–”

    “ – some nightmare!”

    “Enough!” Wesley yelled over them. Then, without missing a beat, he continued in perfect British smoothness, “So, you feel there have been many conflicts between you that remain unresolved. Buffy, what are your thoughts on this?”

    “Well, he’s a vampire. He kept showing up and trying to kill me!”

    Wesley nodded. “And the memory of this bothers you now.”

    “Well, no,” Buffy said. “I mean, it was just Spike.”

    “Don’t do me any favors, slayer.”

    Ignoring him, Wesley kept focused on Buffy. “Which particular incident were you thinking of?”

    “Well... all of them!”

    “Try to narrow in,” Wesley said. “Which one of your encounters bothered you the most?”

    Buffy thought about this. “When he kidnapped Angel.”

    “I am not, under any circumstances, apologizing for that one.”

    “Hold on a moment, Buffy isn’t through yet,” Wes said. “Buffy, what was it about that incident that bothered you?”

    “Well, he kidnapped my boyfriend, and tried to murder him. And he didn’t even do it himself, he hired a bunch of thugs and bribed Willy from the bar. And then he tortured Angel–” Spike scoffed, but Buffy ignored him “–and used him in this creepy ritual. It nearly killed him. I mean, attack me if you want to, hell, even cower behind a bunch of mercenaries like a big chicken, but no one lays a hand on my boyfriend!”

    Wesley turned to Spike, who was seething in his chair. “So, you stated earlier that you don’t regret this. Why not?”

    Spike’s teeth were clenched. “Because it saved Dru’s life,” he said with a snarl in his voice.

    “And I’m supposed to care that you saved that murderous ho?”

    Spike surged up from his chair. “Don’t you dare! Don’t you ever!”

    “Spike, sit down!” Wesley tried to control the situation.

    Spike didn’t even hear him. He planted both hands firmly on either side of Buffy’s chair and roared into her face. “You expect me to feel sorry for Angel, when it’s for Dru? You don’t even understand! You have no idea what he did her, none! Ever! I wish he had gone into the bloody ground that day, she deserved every damn drop of his cursed blood, and there is nothing you can say that will make me regret it!”

    Buffy hit him. He went backward, colliding with Wesley, fell to the ground, jumped back up and charged, completely vamped. A half second later he was rolling on the floor, screaming in agony, clutching his head. Wesley dragged himself back from the floor. Spike finally relaxed, panting, as the chip ceased its punishing attack.

    “Does this happen often?” Wes asked. He couldn’t maintain his clinical tone – he was terrified.

    Buffy shook her head, wondering, for the first time, if maybe she’d gone too far in her taunts. Spike looked almost in tears. When he finally dragged himself up, his face was stone. “I’m done,” he said. He stood up and headed for the door.

    “Nothing will be resolved if you go,” Wesley called after him.

    “Like she’s even gonna listen,” Spike snarled. His voice was so dark he did not sound remotely human.

    Buffy stood up from her chair. “Try me,” she said softly.

    Spike’s eyes flicked to her.

    “I do know what he did to her,” Buffy added. “He told me.”

    Spike shook his head. “No way. There’s no way he told you.”

    “He killed her family, and tortured her, like he did me,” Buffy said.

    “You got off easy, sweetheart. He hadn’t even begun torturing you yet. You think he just killed her family? You don’t even want to know how.”

    “You want to tell me?” Buffy asked.

    Spike actually laughed. “No. No, I don’t. Because I’m the one who’d have to deal with the aftermath if I did.”

    “It wouldn’t bother me.”

    Spike was baffled by that. How could her boyfriend being that perverted not bother her? “Buffy, some of the stuff Angel did to Drusilla makes me sick, and I’m a sodding vampire. I think beating a guy to death with his own arm is hilarious. Trust me, kitten. It would bother you.”

    “Let’s focus on you two,” Wesley said, trying to guide the conversation back. “Why don’t you regret hiring mercenaries and kidnapping Angel?”

    “I hired the Order of Taraka because things were getting crucial,” Spike said. “I had one chance – just one – to make Dru better, and I couldn’t have the damn slayer mucking up the works. You were better than me. Does that make you feel better, slayer? I didn’t feel up to it. Not with what I had to do to protect Dru.”

    “So you hid behind them so you could torture and kill my boyfriend?”

    “I wasn’t killing him for fun!” Spike snapped. “He was my sire, you stupid bint, it mattered. Yeah, he’d gone all Uncle Tom on me, but it still mattered. Drusilla was dying,” Spike said. “Do you get that? She was weaker than a human, she had poisons in her system, I lost more of her every day. I couldn’t bear watching her fade away like that, it was...” he stopped and turned to the door, but he didn’t try to leave. He was trying to hide that he was crying. He didn’t know how to explain – or even why it was – that he could have withstood Drusilla being dusted more than watching her slowly fade away, growing weaker and weaker. There was something about watching her sink under her growing illness that burned in his core. “Angel was family. I didn’t really want to kill him – or at least, it wasn’t my top priority anyway. Dru needed his blood. And I wasn’t the one who tortured him,” he said to the wall. “Dru was. And if she’d skinned him alive, she still wouldn’t have hurt him even a tenth as much as he hurt her.”

    “But that wasn’t Angel,” Buffy said. “That was Angelus, when he didn’t have a soul.”

    Spike rounded on her. “Why does that make such a big difference for you!” he yelled. “It was the same damn person!”

    “But he wasn’t even a person then!”

    Spike grunted as if he’d been struck. He stared at her, incredulous. “Which means I’m not either, am I.”

    Buffy’s lips pursed, as if she was about to say something, and then she stopped. She looked down.

    “You don’t think I’m a man, do you,” he said. He took a step toward her his brow furrowed. “Angel was, but I’m not. Angel was both a vampire and man. And I’m not.” He swallowed. “Answer me this, pet? If I’m not a man... how can we be man and wife?” Buffy still didn’t answer. Spike turned to Wesley. “Your job’s done, oh wonderful counselor,” Spike said. “She’s not even married.” He turned and headed out the door.

    The slayer and the watcher stared at the door Spike had left open. That had gotten out of hand fast.

    “All right, Buffy,” Wesley asked finally. He had only just realized how woefully unprepared he was for this whole endeavor. How was he supposed to act the mediator when there was only one half of the couple to mediate? He looked to Buffy. “How do you feel about what just happened?”

    Buffy stared at Wesley for a long moment, white faced. Then she crumpled into tears.

    Buffy only had to follow to pieces of ripped and torn demons to find Spike. She counted at least five. He hadn’t only killed them. He had eviscerated them. He’d torn them apart and ripped out their hearts while they were still alive. It was actually rather disgusting.

    “Is it true you don’t think of him as a man?

    Wesley’s question had made her consider the entire thing over again. It had taken half an hour for her to stop crying this time. Wesley had seemed entirely helpless until she calmed down a bit. Ironically, she kept wishing Spike was there. He was good with tears.

    She didn’t think Spike was a man. But if he wasn’t a man, what was it that she was loving? He was a vampire, that was clear enough. But Angel had been a vampire, and she’d always thought of him as a man. A kind of vampire-man, and that soul had made all the difference. But Spike... what was he if he wasn’t a man? Was he a thing, then, nothing more impressive than some kind of sex-toy? Was he a kind of an animal, she was perversely getting off on? Was that was she was loving? Even under a spell, it seemed cheap and sordid when put that way.

    No, Spike wasn’t an animal. And he wasn’t a toy. He was a demon. He was...

    What she was supposed to kill. And it was okay to kill demons, because they weren’t people. And she had to kill demons, it was what she was built for, what she was called to. Demons weren’t people, they were just things. Things fate had called on her to kill.

    If Spike was a person... then it wasn’t okay to kill him. And since there wasn’t any soul making a difference between him and other demons, it wasn’t okay to kill any of them. And if it wasn’t okay to kill demons because they were people, and Spike was a monster because he killed people... then Buffy was a monster, too.

    The thought had already seeded itself in her mind, but she couldn’t accept it yet. She just kept shunting it away. She knew there was one thing that could block all the thinky thoughts out of her brain. Unfortunately, it required Spike....

    Spike was in the graveyard, in the middle of a pile of demon parts. That was another three he’d taken out tonight. He didn’t look good. They’d roughed him up something bad, he was bleeding from the nose, he had a goose-egg on his forehead, and his right hand looked like a bunch of sausages, fat and blotchy. Buffy stood in the darkened cemetery, stake in hand, and stared at him, white-faced and still.

    “I am married,” she said quietly. “I just don’t know what I’m married to.”

    Spike gazed at her. “I’m just a vampire, slayer. You should have a pretty good idea by now.”

    Buffy came up and lifted his injured hand. “You lost your temper,” she said, regarding his swollen fingers.

    “Don’t have a good rein on it at the best of times,” Spike pointed out. He lifted his good hand and gently touched her hair. “Are we wasting our time?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “We’re vampire and vampire slayer. I’m supposed to kill you. You’re supposed to kill me. How do we have less conflict in our relationship? It’s already a miracle we’re both still moving around.”

    Buffy shook her head. “I don’t know,” she said. She looked up. “I wished you hadn’t gone. I missed you.”

    Spike winced. He gazed at her for a heartbeat, and then kissed her, desperately, as he used to kiss Dru when she was ill; as if she was about to be taken away from him. Which, within a year, she was... though he’d had no way of knowing that. Hale and strong and healthier than he’d ever seen her, Drusilla had gone away. She’d needed Spike to take care of her for a full century. She grew better in body, and had had to get past her madness to take care of Spike in his infirmity. And then Angelus had returned, and the wild ocean of her madness had sunk down to a sea of tranquility – still just as deep and unfathomable, but navigable. Once she could navigate it, she hadn’t needed Spike anymore.

    And Spike had already been poisoned by Buffy. Drusilla had cast off, sailed away, and left Spike here... with the slayer. “I love you, slayer, do you get that? I do love you.”

    “I know,” she whispered.

    “Do you love me at all?”

    “I do,” Buffy said. “I just don’t... it’s not natural.”

    “But it’s good. Why won’t you let it be good?”

    “How would I do that?”

    Spike gazed at her. “Stop fighting me.”

    Buffy looked up at him. “Stop hurting me!” she begged.

    “How the hell am I hurting you?”

    Buffy started to cry again. Dammit, this was getting out of hand. Spike kissed her again, kissed her eyes, kissed her cheeks, kissed the tears away, kissed her mouth with hunger and desperation. “How am I hurting you?” he asked again.

    “By being you,” she whispered.

    “I can’t do anything about that,” he whispered. Buffy sobbed. He felt like he’d just been punched. “I’m sorry,” he heard himself saying.

    She sobbed even louder, as if his saying it just made it worse. She ran away, disappearing into the darkness, as if she were the one who was the creature of the night.  

    Spike went back home, showered the demon ichor off, curled into bed. Buffy arrived after sunrise, stripped and curled in beside him. She wouldn’t stop kissing him. They made love gently, deliberately, their voices silent, their eyes tightly closed. The fact that they were slayer and vampire completely subsumed by sensation.

    They still hadn’t solved anything.

<<     >>