full 3/4 1/2   skin light dark       
Title: BAD EGGS (March 19, 2004)
Author: Slaymesoftly
Rating: PG13
Season VI
Word count: 2500
Disclaimer - Joss’s characters, my words in their mouths
Comments: a twist on As You Were/ no happier an ending than the episode itself, but with maybe a touch more hope for a future.
          By Slaymesoftly
            “Was that what you wanted, love?”  Without releasing his grip on the exhausted girl lying on top of him, Spike murmured into her ear, his breath stirring tendrils of honey colored hair as he did so.
            The girl in his arms didn’t reply, she just snuggled closer and rested her head on his muscular chest.
            “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.” He smiled softly, sliding her off into the crook of his arm where he could see her face.  Her eyes were closed and he realized it was not going to be easy getting an explanation for her unusual behavior tonight.
            There was nothing unusual about her showing up at his crypt to finish a night of slaying with a bout of very physical sex.  But to show up and demand that he tell her he loved her, words that normally got him punched in the face; to insist that he tell her that he wanted her when she knew that he always did, always had and always would,that was out of the ordinary.  Something was going on in her life, and in spite of how pleasant the last couple of hours had been, he had the sinking feeling it was not going to make him happy.
            For now, he decided, he would just try to enjoy that she was still in his bed, relaxed and still touching him, not pulling on her clothes and rushing off without so much as a parting kiss.
            Emboldened by her unusual lack of eagerness to leave, he leaned over and ran his fingers down her cheek.  She didn’t flinch away from his caress, in fact she almost seemed to be leaning into it for a second.  But then she sighed and rolled over on her back, moving just far enough away that they were no longer touching. 
            Suppressing a resigned sigh of his own, Spike relaxed down onto his back and stared at the ceiling.
 Any minute now, she’s going to throw on her clothes and dash out of here.She’ll be in a hurry to get home and shower off any trace of me and what she’s lowered herself to do.
He felt an ache in his still chest and wondered again how getting what he thought he wanted could make him feel worse than he had before he got it.  But he knew why;  because before she started coming to him for what he now had to admit was a purely physical release, he had hoped – no, assumed – that if and when she did give him her body, her heart would come with it.  Now he realized they were further apart emotionally than they had been before she died, when she had at least accepted him as a friend and companion.  Now he was just a convenient body for her to use and discard when she was done.
            This isn’t doing either one of us any good, he realized with sudden clarity. I couldn’t be damaging her more if I was still trying to kill her.
            He turned his head and leaned over to plant a small kiss on her bare shoulder and to nuzzle her neck and breathe in her scent for what might be the last time.  She didn’t push him away, but she turned her head to the side and he took advantage of it to gaze down at her without masking his feelings as he usually did.  Suddenly, she turned her head back and met his eyes.  To the dismay of both of them, his usual cocky after-sex expression was gone and in those beautiful eyes she recognized fear, determination, pain, sadness, desire and most frightening to her, the unconditional love that she insisted he couldn’t feel without a soul.  She closed her own eyes quickly before she could get lost in that look.  The naked emotion she saw there sparked a realization that she had to do something about their relationship before it destroyed them both.
            When she closed her eyes rather than accept his gaze, Spike knew his decision had been made for him. Lying back down, he touched the hand that was closest to him, entwining their fingers and unconsciously moving his thumb in small circles against her wrist. When he felt her stiffen, he froze and stopped rubbing but he didn’t let go of her hand and she didn’t pull it away.  They stayed like that for several minutes - staring at the ceiling and touching all along the side of their two linked hands.  Simultaneously,  each turned and spoke,
            “Spike, we need—”
            “Buffy, I—”
            Both paused, then the vampire said gently, “You first, love.”
            Buffy took a deep breath and began the speech that she had been mentally rehearsing.
            “Spike, I can’t keep doing this – to you or to me.  I’m using you, and I know you know it and I know....” She took a ragged breath. “I know it’s hurting you.” She glanced quickly at him to see what his reaction would be, but his face was impassive and his eyes were shut.
            “I can’t love you. Not the way you want me to, or the way you...deserve to be loved.”
            That brought a surprised twitch from the otherwise immobile vampire, but she plunged ahead. “I don’t want to hurt you anymore.   I don’t want to be the kind of person who hurts her friends, or takes advantage of them.” 
            “Are we friends, pet?  Is that what we are?” he asked quietly, his heart already aching at where he feared she was going.
            “We were friends, and now I don’t know what we are, but it isn’t friends. Not any more.”  She paused and turned to look at his still-immobile face.   “I miss my friend and I... I want him back.  And I know that’s selfish and maybe not even possible, but if it is possible can we do that? Please? Can you just be my friend again?”
            He didn’t move for a minute, then brought her hand to his mouth and softly kissed her knuckles. “If that’s what you need, Slayer, then that’s what I’ll try to be.”
            They were both quiet for another minute; Buffy remembering his “You’ll never be friends” speech to her and Angel years ago and wondering if they really could go back from where they were now.  She turned her head to look at him.  She knew how important their physical relationship was to him, no matter how much she tried to pretend otherwise.
            “Would you really do that for me?” she asked softly.
            “I said I’d try, Buffy. That’s all I can do.” He smiled at her sadly.  “You know the drill – you,” he pointed,  love – me, bitch.  But I’ll give it  a go.”
            He squeezed her hand gently, then let it go and shifted slightly away from her.  Buffy quickly stifled the feeling of loss that surprised her with its intensity when she no longer felt him touching her.
            Eager to hide her discomfort, she leaned up on one elbow and asked him, “What were you about to say, Spike?”
            He turned to meet her eyes. “Good bye”.
            “Huh?” She frowned slightly at his seeming non-sequitor.
            “I was going to say, ‘good-bye’.  Take myself and my unwanted, but oh so irresistible, body away from here.   Give us some breathing room. Do you think I can’t see that this is destroying you?”  He used a hand to push some hair off her face, running his knuckles lightly down her cheek as he did so. 
            “I want my love to make you happy, Buffy.  Not more miserable.”  He squeezed his eyes shut for a second, then continued, “I miss my friend, too. I think we may have liked each other better when we were enemies than we do now.”
            She gave him a small smile at that and shook her head, “No, I pretty much hated you.  And you hated me, too.  Don’t try to deny it.”
            Well, maybe for a while I did,” he chuckled.  “But it didn’t last long.”
            Buffy sighed. “Things were simpler then, weren’t they?”
            “That they were. love. That they were.”
            “So,” she said after a surprisingly comfortable silence, “if you said ‘good-bye’, where would you go?”
            “Dunno pet.  Not too far away. Want to be able to get back easily if you need me. For an apocalypse or something,” he added quickly.  “Maybe I’d just go annoy Peaches for awhile. That could be fun.”
            Buffy rolled her eyes at that idea and sat up saying, “I guess I’d better get going.”  She looked around the room. “If I can find my clothes, that is”
            “They’re right here, pet.” He gestured beside the bed.  Another sign that tonight had been different from their usual violent encounters.  “All in one piece, too,” he added with a smirk.
            “How the hell did that happen?” As she said it, she remembered that for once she had welcomed his affection and allowed him to take the lead in their lovemaking, letting him undress her carefully and make slow, sensuous love to her. 
            Suddenly it became very important that he not know about Riley’s return or his new wife.  There was no question, as perceptive as Spike was, of his not realizing immediately why she’d needed to hear him tell her he loved her, and that it had nothing to do with him and everything to do with her insecurity and her jealousy of Sam.  She surprised herself at how very badly she wanted not to hurt him like that, even as a small part of her was astonished that she cared at all.  She could tell he was already suspicious of her behavior tonight, but with luck, he would blame it on her intention to end their sexual relationship and not connect it to anything else.
            Just as she finished dressing and was standing around awkwardly trying to decide how to leave  Do I kiss him goodbye? Is he really going to leave Sunnydale? Am I really giving this up forever? Should we hug? the decision was taken out of her hands when Riley burst into the crypt and made a beeline for Spike.  Behind him was a grim, but curious Sam.
            Well, so much for luck.
            “OK, Doctor. Where are the eggs?” Riley demanded, not even noticing Buffy at first; although Sam saw her and frowned in confusion.
            “Don’t know what you’re talkin’ about, Capt’n America.” His tone was insolent and snarky, but the look he shot in Buffy’s direction was one of suspicion, dawning realization and the pain that she’d hoped to avoid.
            She just stared back silently, her ashen face answering his unspoken question. Her unusual behavior tonight was because she had needed the ego boost of his adoration, not because she welcomed it any more than she ever had.  The vampire’s face closed down and his eyes became blue ice.
            “You’ll tell me where they are, or I’ll get Buffy to beat it out of you.”
            Spike smirked and gestured in Buffy’s direction with his chin. “She’s way ahead of you, soldier boy.”
            Riley stared at a blushing Buffy, then back at Spike who was quite obviously naked under the sheet.
            “Good... good thinking, Buffy,” he stammered. “You’re always one step ahead of me. Did he tell you where the eggs are?”
            “No – and I didn’t ask. Spike isn’t the Doctor, Riley. He wouldn’t do that.....” Her voice trailed off as she remembered his “I can get money” when he was trying to talk her into quiting the Doublemeat Palace.  She turned big eyes to him, silently pleading with him to prove Riley wrong.  When he just shrugged and turned away, she felt her heart sink.
            “Where are they?” she asked quietly.  He pointed to the entrance to the downstairs and stood up to pull on his pants.  Buffy caught Sam’s openly admiring stare as Spike’s taut, muscular body flowed off the sarcophagus when he reached for his clothes.  When Spike noticed Sam looking, he threw a wink in her direction, causing her to flush and look away – only to find both Buffy and Riley glaring at her.  Buffy, with what could only be called jealousy, and Riley with dismay and outrage.
            Spike smirked at Riley while wisely refraining from expressing the ‘How do you like that, Wanker? Both your women want me’  that he was thinking.  The memory of the time Riley had attacked him with the plastic stake kept his mouth uncharacteristically shut.
            The smirk faded quickly when he got to Buffy’s face and saw the disappointment and pain in her eyes. Ignoring the other two, he willed her to believe him when he said, “I’m sorry, love. I didn’t know what they were. A friend offered me really good money to keep them here for him.”
            “What do you need with money?” Riley snarled. He didn’t notice Buffy closing her eyes and wincing, but Spike did.
            “I just wanted....” He spoke only to Buffy, but she stopped him.
            “Don’t.  Just... don’t, Spike,” she whispered.
            “Fine,” he growled and pushed past Riley. “Jus’ let me get a few things out of here and you can do whatever you want to with them.” He dropped down into the lower level while Buffy, Riley and Sam stood in an uncomfortable silence for several minutes until Riley shouldered his flame thrower and started down the ladder.  As he reached the floor and looked around for the eggs, Spike finished shoving some clothes into a bag, grabbed a picture off the dresser and went back up the ladder. 

           “They’re over there,” he said, gesturing toward the tunnels.
            Sam joined Riley below the crypt, leaving Buffy and Spike staring at each other.
            “Where are you going?” she asked softly.
            “I don’t know.  Tell the Niblet I said ‘good bye’.  Please?”
            Buffy nodded, refusing to meet his eyes.  She could feel him, though, as he walked up to her and leaned in to touch their foreheads together.  “I’m really sorry, Buffy,” he said. She could hear the anguish in his voice, but was afraid to meet his gaze – afraid that the tears gathering in her eyes would fall out and down her cheeks if she allowed herself to see the feelings she wanted so badly to believe he couldn’t have.
            “I’m sorry, too, Spike,” she whispered. “I really am.”
            “I know.”  He tipped her chin up with a finger, forcing her to look at him. “I love you, Slayer,” he said, gently touching his lips to her mouth.  “Remember that I love you.”
            With that he turned and left, leaving just the swish of his leather duster behind him.
            “I know you do, William,” she said to the vacant room. “I know you do.”
The End?