Chapter 11, in which Buffy does cry, and Spike is extremely drunk.
If men could be contented to be what they are, there were no fear in marriage.
Willow cradled her head in her lap and caressed her hair. She done this after Angel had broken up with Buffy. She hadn’t really known what to do then, either. “I’m sorry,” she said. She felt terribly guilty. “I’m so sorry, Buffy.”
“It wasn’t you.”
“Oh, but it was!” Willow said. “It was all me. I cast that spell, and then I just... went off. I didn’t care what I said, I just said the most hurtful things I could, and... and I hurt all of you.”
“Don’t,” Buffy sobbed. “I can’t...” She couldn’t face Willow’s guilt right now. Maybe one day she could, but she didn’t care at the moment. Right now, all she could do was try to hold on. When this marriage had started, she’d cried almost every day for two months. Then she’d felt wonderful. All her torment over Angel and their star-crossed love had melted away under the truth of how he felt, and what he was. The pain was still there, but the inner cries of It’s not fair! had died, and left her content with her scars. And the rest of her life had been steadied and soothed by a guy who knew how she felt, and understood her, always had her back, and was always right there. Now he was gone, because he had to be gone. Now she was crying again.
She’d held it back in Wes’s office. She knew how important it was not to show this to Spike. She wasn’t sure she’d have had the strength to go if he’d tried to stop her. He’d never have let her go if she’d cried.
She’d kept herself stone for nearly two days since the official breakup, but she couldn’t anymore. She’d gone to spill the whole miserable tale in Willow’s lap. Buffy was so glad to have her best friend back again. Even if Willow did occasionally go weird in the face and seemed to have moved in with Tara. Willow was still so new to the vengeance demon gig that she fell back into demon face much more easily than she did her human guise. Because of that she didn’t trust herself to do more than visit her parents, with heavy apologies about going off to find herself after Oz left.
Everything was different. Buffy was different. She wasn’t sure she liked herself, and she was so afraid. “I feel like I’ve murdered him,” she sobbed. The words were so hard to get out. “Spike’s been trying so hard to be good for me... and it was so hard for him! Sometimes he’d jones so badly, I almost wanted to go rob a blood bank or something. I even... oh, god, Willow, he’d try so hard for me. I used to think vampires couldn’t love, not without a soul.”
“And... were you wrong?” Willow asked.
“I don’t know,” Buffy said. “There is something... off... about him, that I didn’t notice in Angel. Angel had plenty of issues, but it always felt like there was more under there, and I don’t always see that in Spike. It makes him like some kind of cartoon character at times. But even without the depth, the love is there. I can’t deny it’s there. And it’s tearing him apart. You should have seen his face. I... I...” She crumpled again.
Willow had listened to Buffy’s reasoning for leaving Spike. It was painful and tortured and it clearly ripped the heart right out of her. The problem was, her argument really did make sense. It was just hurting her so badly. “But... it was all right when you thought that it was a spell?”
Buffy nodded her head. “Under the spell, it wasn’t me,” she said.
“Well... I... I could just cast another spell,” Willow said. “Or Tara could. Another love spell. Then, you two could be together, and it wouldn’t be your....” She stopped.
“My fault,” Buffy finished for her. “My fault, my weakness, the darkness that I am,” she said. “No. It can’t work that way. It wouldn’t work again. It’s too late. I know what I am now, and I can’t....” She sobbed. “I’m a monster.”
“No!” Willow was almost crying herself now. “No, no, Buffy! You’re wonderful! You’re so brave and so strong, and...”
“And I kill. I kill night after night after night, creatures who might be no more evil than you.” She looked up at Willow. “I should be killing you now, do you get that? You’re a demon. What have you done, these last six months? How many men have you cursed?”
“It doesn’t work like that,” Willow said. “And I don’t stick to just cursing men. Just anyone who’s wronged another. If it’s a true wrong, the vengeance is supposed to match the crime.”
“Yeah, but did they all live?”
Willow looked down. They hadn’t. “I... I didn’t know. I couldn’t care.”
“I know,” Buffy said. “He can’t care, either. Don’t you see? Good, bad, right and wrong, it’s so swirled around. I know you’re not evil. But you’ve killed. I know Spike is evil. But he’s sweet, and harmless, and... and helpful, and I don’t know what I am!”
Willow felt completely helpless. “But... but you’re the vampire slayer! You only take out those demons who kill others.”
“I know,” Buffy said. “But that means you and Spike – and you don’t want to hurt people, but do. And Spike wants to, but can’t. And Angel...”
“What about Angel?” Willow asked.
“Angel deserves his damn curse,” Buffy said quietly.
Willow was surprised. How did Angel get mixed up in this? “But... but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be happy.”
“Happy with a willful killer?”
“Um... well. No. But Anya was pretty icky in her day, and that doesn’t make Xander evil.”
“Xander can’t rip someone’s arm off, and doesn’t have the impulse to kill all the time,” Buffy said. “I’m just a step away from already being evil, Will.”
“Yeah, but... but you’re not,” Willow said.
“You weren’t evil either,” Buffy said. “Then just one little spell, and now how many have died under your curses?”
Willow looked down. “I... I didn’t really mean to.”
“But you did it. And someone had to pull you back.”
Willow frowned. “But, someone did...”
“But Spike wouldn’t. Don’t you see that? He’d let me be just as evil as he is. He’d be happier if I was.”
“But you’re not going to turn evil.”
“Faith did. Can you imagine what she would have been like with Spike as her backup?”
“But you won’t!”
“I did with my roommate.”
“There were circumstances.”
“There are always circumstances,” Buffy said.
“But....” Willow was stumped. “But you want to be with him.”
“I wanted to be with Angel,” Buffy said. “And he tortured me.”
“Only when he didn’t have a soul...” Willow stopped, realizing that wasn’t going to help with the problem with Spike.
“No,” Buffy said. “Not only.” She started crying again. “Why am I so drawn to evil?”
Willow was torn. “Buffy, how can I make this better?”
Buffy sobbed loudly. “Just make me human!” she cried out.
Willow knew she could bring someone back from the dead more easily. As a vengeance demon she could turn a man into a slug, or a woman into a tree. She could force someone to never get anywhere on time again, invoking car-crashes and derailed trains to ensure a painful delay. She could curse someone into madness, into illness, into willful starvation. She could, to an extent, reorder time itself. But the slayer was called by the realms of fate, and they were immutable. She could kill Buffy, but she couldn’t make her other than what she was. Even if she made Buffy into a rat, like Amy, she would be a rat called to kill demon rats. She would always be a vampire slayer, called to the darkness with a stake in her hand, hungry for dust, and the death of the demons, going slowly mad if there was only peace. “I can’t,” Willow whispered.
Buffy sank down again. “I know.”
Buffy cried herself out, and then just lay on Willow’s lap, feeling miserable. They tried to make small talk – Amy, Anya, the vagaries of Arashmaharr’s clothing boutiques – but it always lapsed into silence after a few sentences. Eventually there was a knock on Tara’s door.
Tara had gone to the library to give Willow time alone with Buffy, so it might have been her, not wanting to interrupt. But Willow never just said “Come in,” anymore, not after that incident where she’d accidentally invited Spike. She stood up and went to the door.
“Face!” Buffy called out, just in time. Willow looked startled, and then shook herself human. She opened the door.
“Hey, Willow,” said the easy mid-western voice of the guy Buffy used to date. “I’m sorry, I just wanted to tell you in person. Professor Walsh says she’s glad you’re back on campus, but she won’t accept you back in her class, not this semester. If you wanted to sign up early for next ye–” he stopped. “Hi, Buffy,” he said. He frowned at her tear-streaked face. “Are you okay? Is everything all right?”
“Buffy’s getting a divorce,” Willow said with a purse of her lips.
“Oh,” Riley said. Then, “Oh,” again. “Oh, well. Um. I’m sorry it didn’t work out with you and... and Spike.”
“It was kind of inevitable,” Buffy said dully.
“Well, I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“No, that’s okay,” Willow said. She’d just had a brilliant idea. “Buffy was just going.”
“You were,” Willow said. “She needs to get home. It’s five miles away,” she added, looking meaningfully at Riley.
“Oh,” Riley said. Then his face cleared, and he said, “Oh,” again. “You still don’t drive, do you.”
“Nope. Cars and Buffy are still kind of unmixy,” Buffy said wearily. She hadn’t caught up yet.
“Well, its kind of late,” Riley said. “And it’s dark out. Maybe I could drive you home. Would... that be okay?”
“Of course it would!” Willow said. She grabbed hold of Buffy’s arm and yanked her to her feet. “See? She’s all ready go.”
“Riley can drive you home,” Willow said. “It’ll be great. You can just go back home, in Riley’s car, and he can drive you.”
Buffy knew what Willow was doing. She wasn’t being very subtle about it. “Willow, I–”
But Willow had pushed Buffy out the door and hugged her. “Have a good drive home,” she said, and closed the door in Buffy’s face.
Buffy looked over at the nice guy who had taken her for a picnic and played the good Samaritan in a crisis. He still had nice arms. But he wasn’t Spike....
“Don’t worry,” Riley said. “I wasn’t expecting to get into your pants. I’m sure you’d need some time before you could move on, anyway. But I’d like to help... in any way I can.”
Buffy stared at him for a long moment. “Thanks,” she finally said. Riley took her arm in his. She let him.
Spike was extremely drunk. He was being held up by the tree drunk. He wasn’t entirely sure how he’d gotten to Buffy’s house. He didn’t know why he was lurking outside. She had left him. She had very sensible reasons. He didn’t think she was going to take him back.
He couldn’t stay away.
He lurked under the tree waiting for... what? He didn’t know. He didn’t even think Buffy was home.
The funny thing was, it wasn’t the memories of the shagging that tormented him the most. That was some great shagging, of course, some absolute primo shagging, raw and powerful and dangerous shagging, totally overwhelming warlike shagging. But that wasn’t the heart of Buffy.
He remembered just sitting beside her on the bed, her bare shoulder peeking out of the bed clothes, and how sweet it was just to caress it. To feel that smooth heat beneath his fingers as he woke her for her morning class. He remembered her voice in the shower, singing her own distracted and deeply distorted versions of music from the local club. He remembered how pissed off she’d get whenever he stressed her in the work out room, pushing her just a little further than she wanted to play, making her extend herself just a little bit more, give her that much more of an edge. And how the anger helped. He remembered teasing her, the just-at-the-edge-of-fighting antagonism when one or both of them were in a foul mood – and how they’d still hand off a peck just before going out the door or rolling over annoyed in the bed.
He’d been lurking outside for an hour, smoking fag after fag and nursing his bottle of bourbon, when Joyce peeked out the window and spied the glow from his cigarette in the darkness. She came out to the front porch. “Spike? Is that you?”
Spike made some kind of non-committal noise.
“Buffy isn’t here right now,” she said. She peered at him through the darkness. “Would you like some hot chocolate?”
Buffy! I want Buffy! screamed every fiber of his demonic body. “Thanks,” he muttered to Joyce. She was such a nice lady. Really, a great lady, Joyce. He should rob a jewelry store for her or something. Maybe kill her a bear. Dru liked bearskins, still dripping with hot blood, she liked to wrap herself in them. Oh, no, bears were alive. Can’t kill live things. That sucked. Did the butchers slaughter bears? They could... no. Farm animals. He could get Joyce a pig skin... no. Wait. Things. Head things, human. Not blood. Humans don’t like blood. Despite the way the world kept spinning, he made himself stagger forward. He only made it to the porch before he lost his grip on vertical and spilled himself all over the stairs. “Tha’s really, really nice of you,” he slurred to the steps. “You’re really nice. Nice and good and not evil lady, you.”
Joyce looked a little bit like she regretted interfering. “Um... maybe I should make you some coffee instead.”
Spike sputtered. He wanted a cup of Assam tea and a coal fire and someone to stroke his head and read him poetry. He wanted watercress sandwiches and some warm A-positive blood and a gentle hug. Sod all that. He wanted Buffy!
Spike rolled himself over and stared up at the sky, his head on the step. He’d dropped his bottle somewhere, and Joyce went down and picked it up, setting it far, far out of his reach on the porch. “Coffee,” he said. “She used to drink coffee, at breakfast. She likes it with cream, and a little chocolate syrup.” He started to cry. “And she... she doesn’t want it too hot....”
“Are you all right?” Joyce said, coming to sit down beside him. It was clear he was not going anywhere.
“No,” Spike said, watching the stars spinning around and around over his head. “I’m not good. I’m not good, not good.”
Joyce frowned at him. “I am sorry, Spike,” she said quietly. “I know how hard you were trying. But I really do think its for the best.”
“Best,” Spike said. “Best and good and... We were happy!” he announced. “We were happy, and good, I was being good dammit. Can’t be evil, no. No, no, William’s a bad bloody man, no matter how good he is.” He rubbed tears from his face. “Oough!” Vampires didn’t throw up. He stopped crying and made himself feel his body. It all seemed to be made of wet rope. He looked up to Joyce – there seemed to be at least two of her. “Is she all right?” he asked.
“She’s coping,” Joyce said. “She’s glad Willow’s back.”
“Willow. Damned witch, twist me inside out. Should have ripped her bloody throat out.” He stopped. “Guess that’s not really the good thing to say,” he realized.
“I think I said much the same about someone when my husband left,” Joyce said. “I didn’t mean it, but the thought was in me as much as it is in you.”
“The thought and the me and the you and the Buffy...” Oh, god, he shouldn’t have said her name. He bit back the desire to scream out into the night, Buffy! That would probably disturb Joyce. He bit his lower lip hard to keep the scream in. His lips were numb, so it was harder than it should have been. He didn’t actually draw blood, but when he let loose his lip there was a deep bite mark. He could feel it with his tongue. He sniffed. “So how’sit go’n at gallery?” he asked, a slurred attempt at casual conversation.
“Um... a little slow, lately,” she said. She kept talking. He wasn’t listening. She knew he wasn’t, but she talked for him anyway, giving him something to hold onto until he could sober up enough to stand.
“D’you still have that necklace?” he asked suddenly.
“Oh, the one you and Buffy gave me at Christmas?”
“Yes. I... tend not to wear it much. It – well, it kind of... burns whenever there’s a full moon.”
“I’s made out of ghora demon scales,” Spike said. “She helped me kill it.”
“I remember. You told me at the time.”
“It was pretty.”
“Yes. It was, the way the light makes the scales shimmer.”
“No. The way she lopped off its head,” Spike said fondly. “So I could lop off its head.”
Joyce frowned. “I thought you just said she had...?”
“’S got three heads,” Spike said with a soft smile. “She ‘as all covered in the blood, and she laughed. Shirt was ruined. We had to clean off in the shower. She ’as so warm....” Tears stabbed his eyes again. “God damn bitch!” he suddenly growled. “Look what she’s done to me!” He crawled forward and tried to get to his feet. “I’ll show her,” he said. “I’ll show her. I’ll tear apart half the bloody town. Not good, am I? I can be not good. I can do that.” He found the side of the porch and followed it up, finding vertical – or at least diagonal – somewhere along the way. “God damn bints. Why do these bitches torture me? Not demon enough for her, not human enough for her, where the hell do I get to be me? What’s it take to keep a woman, huh?” he asked Joyce. “You’re a woman. What’s it take to be real, when it’s real, to take to be me?”
Joyce wasn’t sure exactly what he was asking, but she was pretty sure he didn’t either. “Do you really need a woman?” she asked.
Spike laughed. “Not fair asking,” he said distinctly. “Means you’re not a man you say anything, Mother.” He looked down. “No. I wouldn’t presume.” His head hung low. He was so drunk his face felt like it was falling off. “Things is impossible, innit,” he said. “Slayer and vampire and husband and wife. Wrong, innit? Wrong and perfect and ‘mpossible.”
He’d been trying to logic out Buffy’s reasoning for not being together. He’d practiced speech after speech, talking to the chair he’d decided to pretend was Buffy. The chair was now broken, and he was no nearer coming up with an argument that negated hers. The one argument he kept coming back to was the very argument she had. So what if I wouldn’t care if you went bad? Why should you care about that? She did care about that, that was the point. And until she stopped caring about it, or he started caring about it, the word “impossible” was always going to be between them.
“Are you going to be all right, Spike?” Joyce asked.
Spike shrugged, and realized he was crying again. “Yeah,” he said. “You can go back in, Joyce,” he said, as if he were offering her a reprieve rather than begging her to leave him to his misery. “I’ll be fine.”
Joyce got the hint. “I’ll make up some coffee, in case you change your mind. You can just come on in, if you do,” she said.
“She didn’t tell me not to invite you in. It’s not as if we can’t all be friends.” She left him to cry in peace.
Friends. That bitch. Why didn’t these women realize how cruel that was? Well, he supposed, not Joyce. She could be friends, maybe, if no longer still his mother-in-law. He was still invited in, there. Buffy might not want to be married anymore, but he wasn’t being completely cut out of her life. Like it bloody mattered. They’d never be friends. They were already too close to ever be friends. He dragged his hands over his eyes again. He was sick of crying. He’d been doing it far too much. God dammit, he shouldn’t have let himself get this bloody drunk.
He was absolutely sure of that a second later, as a car pulled up in front of the house, and Buffy got out. Spike glanced at her, and then turned away, trying as hard as he could to sober up instantly. He was certain he had completely failed when Buffy asked, “Spike?” and his response was, “’m too drunk to see you.”
“’m s’posed to look suave and perfect with some foxy bint on my arm,” Spike heard himself saying. “Make you want me back.”
Buffy looked at him sadly. The truth was, all that would have done would have been to make her angry. Seeing him with his hair all which way and his face tear-streaked, so drunk he could barely speak, made her heart go out to him. He looked worse than when Dru had left him. Far worse. He had been pathetic at the time. Now he was at the level of tortured. She wanted to cuddle him. But, “It isn’t going to work like that,” she said quietly.
He still hadn’t looked at her. He did that now. No, god, no, she was beautiful. She was perfect. Her hair was mussed and she looked exhausted and she was wearing an old t-shirt and pair of sweat pants. She looked like Sunday morning, over the funny papers, with her feet on his lap. “Buffy,” he breathed. He threw his arms around her shoulders and pushed her against the side of the house. “Buffy, Buffy, don’t you remember? You said you loved me.”
“I know, Spike,” she said. She did not embrace him back.
“You ‘member when you cut your finger with the onions? You let me kiss it away, kiss the pain away, drink you deep, hold you. Hold you.” He pushed himself closer to her, breathing in the scent of her neck, her hair. Her skin was intoxicating. “You’re in me, Buffy. You’re inside me, you’re in my blood. I didn’t know how I needed you. Not me without you.”
Buffy took hold of his arms and gently tried to put him away. “Spike. You have to go home.”
“I am home,” he said, pressing against her skin. He couldn’t let her go, he couldn’t. This was the first time he’d stopped hurting in days. “I’m only home here. Let me come home.”
“Please, Buffy. Buffy, Buffy, let me. Let–”
“Get off her!” Spike was dragged violently off by a shape he couldn’t see properly. He tried to hit it, and his pain chip fired. He was so numb he only groaned with it and his balance was gone and he fell to the porch with a grunt. “Buffy, you okay?” Riley asked. “He attacked you, are you hurt?”
“No, he wasn’t attacking me.”
“It’s just my ex,” Buffy said softly. Spike had seemed so desperate, and his pitiful glom had seemed so completely helpless. If Riley hadn’t been there, she probably would have invited him in to sleep it off, set him up in the basement or something, and they could have talked more in the morning. But Riley was there, and Buffy felt weird bringing Spike in, even in a pity gesture.
Riley looked shocked. “That’s Spike?” he asked. “That’s Spike, that’s the guy you married?”
“Yeah. He wasn’t this drunk then,” Buffy said. “He usually doesn’t drink this much, honest.”
“Drink?” Riley said. “No. No, I guess he wouldn’t.” He stared at Buffy. “Buffy, do you know what he... do you know?”
“Yeah, he’ll be okay,” Buffy said. She didn’t know what to do. Spike was dragging himself to his feet now.
“Mr. Whitebread making a new sandwich already, huh?” Spike demanded of Buffy. “Cup of milk and a warm blankie? Is that what you need? Is he good enough for you, slayer? Huh?”
“What did he call you?” Riley asked.
“Um... slayer. It’s a pet name,” Buffy invented. “Like lady-killer.”
“Yeah, and I’m sure that’s his,” Riley said harshly. “How long were you married?”
“Riley, it’s a long story.”
“Right,” Spike said. “And you’re ready for a new chapter, to tuck into bed!” Spike turned around and tried to leave the porch. He missed the stairs, and found the bottle on the porch railing. “Hallo, friend,” he said to the bottle. “You’re not gonna leave me ‘cause you really love me, are you. Total bollocks.” He took another belt, staggered, and fell over the railing into the bushes. “Bugger!” Spike heard Riley murmuring to Buffy, as he tried to crawl his way back onto the grass, bringing the bottle with him. Riley said something about making sure Spike got somewhere safe.
“He’s staying at Willy’s Bar. Do you know where that is?” Buffy asked.
They murmured a bit more as Spike inched his way onto the lawn, breaking shrubbery. A second later Spike heard the front door close.
Riley came down the porch steps and looked down at Spike. “So. This is where you’ve been hiding. Hostile 17.”
Spike looked up. “Huh?”
Riley kicked Spike in the face until he fell to the grass, fetched a gun from his car, and shot him with a tranquilizer dart. It was overkill. Spike was already so drunk he was about to pass out anyway.
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