Chapter Fourteen-Bed Therapy
Chapter Fourteen: Bed Therapy
Spike rubbed his tired eyes as he stared out into the dark hallway. He had abandoned his futile attempts at catching some shuteye before the house broke into its usual morning routine. So there he remained, sitting on the floor, back pressed against the wall, the blanket he had been given tangled around his legs.
Good thing everyone was still asleep. He had an image to keep up with the girls. Would’ve ruined his Big Bad credibility if one of the Potentials caught sight of him camping it out on Buffy’s doorstep like some house trained pet.
So why was he still there, skulking about like some pathetic lovesick fool? The faint sounds of Buffy’s sniffles and whimpers provided him his answer. He was love’s bitch after all.
Spike couldn’t bring himself to leave. It would be as though he were walking away from Buffy. And that was the one thing he had promised himself he would never do. He refused to be like all the others. Spike figured Buffy just needed some time to cool off. She wasn’t being the least bit reasonable and he sure as hell wasn’t known for his endless supply of patience. Had he busted down the door and demanded that she talk to him, it would‘ve only ended with one of them getting a stake through the heart, and odds were that it wouldn’t have been Buffy. So needless to say, he wasn’t about to go venturing into her room any time soon.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to storm in there and give her a piece of his mind. She might not have accused him of infidelity, but from the way she’d been acting she might as well have painted a big red ‘A’ on his chest. Normally, he would have taken it like a slap to the face. How could she ever doubt his loyalty to her? Now that he finally had her trust, why would he ever risk losing it?
Those questions had gotten him thinking and the only conclusion he could come to which would explain Buffy’s behavior was that she wasn’t giving him the full story. There was more to her history with Faith than she was letting on. And it was with that knowledge that his temper had waned. Besides the need for self-preservation, it was also the reason why he had allowed her the time to calm down. He wanted Buffy to be a lot more levelheaded when he confronted her about the omissions of her past.
Spike opened his ears again to the noises coming from Buffy’s room. He could hear her steady breathing through her closed bedroom door, which told him she had finally gotten to sleep. He considered going back on his no-more-sleep-until-morning-plan. If he was going to go head to head with Buffy, a few hours of sleep wouldn’t hurt. As Spike was about to lay his head back down on his pillow he sensed someone coming his way.
“What’re you still doin’ up, Nibblet?” he asked gruffly as the teen softly padded across the hallway from her bedroom.
Taking a seat next to him on the floor, she tiredly replied, “Couldn’t sleep. Would shoving a sock down Anya’s throat be going a little too far to stop her from snoring?” she asked with all seriousness.
Spike chuckled. “I don’t think you’re the type to take a life with hosiery.”
“I heard you guys, ya know,” Dawn grimly stated out of the blue.
“Guess that saves me from giving you my piss poor excuse for bein’ out here,” he replied despondently.
“It was Faith wasn’t it?” she asked with unashamed ire in her voice.
Spike tapped his index finger to his nose. “She didn’t like that I played nice with the jailbird.” “
So what’re you doing out here?” Spike gave her a confused look. “Thought I already explained my stint in the doghouse, Bit.”
“I get that Buffy’s mad at you, but how come you’re not in there trying to figure out the real reason why she’s mad at you?” she wondered, her tone deprecating.
Spike looked at Dawn with a more scrutinizing eye. He wasn’t sure when it had happened but his Lil’ Bit had grown into a woman. One who was wise well beyond her years. With dealing with his regained soul and all the commotion the First was causing, he’d never noticed just how much Dawn had matured. Made him feel worse for not sustaining the friendship they’d developed when Buffy had been in the grave. Spike quickly pushed the guilt aside. Much like her Big Sis, Dawn had given him a second chance. Maybe now with the soul, he wouldn’t fuck things up. Or maybe all it would do is just make him notice when he finally ruined things for good between him and his Nibblet.
“I’m just giving Buffy time,” he explained with a tired sigh.
“You sure you’re not just letting her walk all over you again?” she asked knowingly.
Spike stared at her skeptically though her words had a ring of truth to them. “What’re you goin’ on about?”
“Thanks to a lot of sisterly bonding over the summer, I know about some of the stuff that went on last year between you and Buffy,” she clarified.
Spike became worried and slightly uncomfortable at the news. He was aware of the fact that Dawn knew of the time he had almost raped Buffy. Her ‘you’re gonna wake up on fire’ threat had told him as much. However the other depraved and hurtful things he and Buffy had done to one another weren’t exactly meant for Dawn’s ears, no matter how mature she now seemed. His Lil’ Bit had been forced to grow up so much in the past few years, he didn’t want to his past misdeeds contributing to her loss of innocence. “Just how much exactly did Buffy divulge?”
Dawn picked up on the vampire’s sudden apprehension. “Relax, Spike. I got the PG-13 rated version,” she reassured him. “As much as Buffy and I were about the truth telling, we felt that details weren’t necessary ‘cause well, you know, ewww.”
Spike eased a bit. “Must’ve been a short talk,” he mumbled.
Dawn quickly picked up on the context of his remark and cringed. “You know the fact that all you guys did was have wild monkey sex wasn’t something completely lost on me, but thanks for the reminder.”
The vampire winced slightly. “I meant that there wasn’t much to me and the Slayer the first time around.”
Dawn nodded. “Buffy said it wasn’t healthy. She also mentioned how she used you,” she mentioned, treading lightly on the subject. “And how you were more or less her emotional punching bag for the better part of a year.”
“Making me sound right pathetic, pet,” he mumbled. “I did have a backbone you know.”
“Except when it comes to Buffy,” Dawn countered stubbornly.
Spike scoffed indignantly. “What’s with the use of the present tense there, luv? We’ve been through this already. Big Sis and I are past all that.”
“Are you?” Dawn asked warily. “I mean, look at you. You’re literally her doormat.”
The vampire scowled as he glanced over his shoulder at the wooden door. “I see your point,” he grumbled. “But what was I supposed to do? Just barge in there and instigate a shouting match?”
“Did you ever consider that maybe that’s what Buffy needed?” she argued.
Spike’s brow quirked immediately at the teenager’s statement. “You can’t seriously be suggesting that Buffy’d rather holler at me than keepin’ her moral high ground with the silent treatment.”
Dawn nodded slowly. “I know it sounds dumb but when things get intense and the whole world needs to be saved, Buffy goes on emotional shut down. As the Slayer, she’s gotta be calm and collected which equals ixnay on the feelings,” she stated grimly. “As cliché as this is going to sound, Buffy’s spaz attack was a cry for help.”
“So she wants me to… what? Save her from herself?” Spike asked in confusion.
He used to be able to read Buffy so well. Why hadn’t he seen any of what Dawn was bringing to light? He wanted to blame the soul. It was harder to look into the souls of others when yours refused to let up for even a nanosecond.
Spike, however, knew better than to use his newfound guilt as an excuse. He’d gotten too comfortable in the few weeks they’d been together. Routine was an easy trap to fall into. In his attempt to be Buffy’s beau and her second in command, he’d managed to lose sight of what had made his connection to the Slayer so special. He was the only one who was supposed to know her. The vampire had always elevated himself above her friends and Watcher in that respect. Even to the point of bragging about it to the new kid in town. Turns out he needed to reassess just how perceptive he really was of his girl. And it would have to start by getting his sorry ass off the floor and into her room.
Dawn gave him unimpressed stare. “If you wanna put it that way, yeah she does.”
It was Spike’s turn to nod in understanding. “Right, well, enough with the Oprah talk then. Got myself a girl to save and a relationship to salvage,” he said solemnly as he picked himself off the floor. “Oh, and Dawn?”
“You might want to consider a profession in psychology,” Spike said with an amused smile on his face. “And I owe you one.”
Dawn jumped to her feet. “Well duh,” she replied. “Good luck,” she whispered as she headed toward the stairs.
“Where you going?” Spike asked curiously.
“Midnight snack,” Dawn explained as she trotted down the steps.
Spike let out a heavy breath as he turned around to face Buffy’s closed bedroom door. Turning the knob slowly, he gently pushed the door open, trying to keep the hinges from creaking. If Buffy was asleep, he didn’t want to wake her. He knew he needed to have a few words with her but he couldn’t bring himself to disrupt her sleep. His girl barely got enough rest as it was.
His eyes instantly landed on her sleeping form. Buffy was curled up on her side, her hands tucked beneath the pillow that cradled her head. She looked so peaceful.
Gently kicking off his boots, Spike quietly made his to way to his side of the bed. Slowly, he slipped beneath the sheets, trying as best as he could not to disturb Buffy. Unfortunately, her instinctive slayer sense kicked in (period) and As soon as he was lying by her side, Spike picked up on her accelerated breathing and knew she was awake.
“Spike?” she lightly moaned in confusion.
“Go back to sleep, luv,” he reassured, tensely waiting for her to kick him out again.
Buffy rolled over to look at him, their faces a few inches from each other. As soon as their gazes locked, Buffy averted her eyes. Understandably, Spike interpreted her actions as an indication that she was still upset with him.
The truth was, however, that Buffy couldn’t look Spike in the eye because she was so ashamed of her behavior. After she had closed the door on him, she’d immediately regretted it. The look in his eyes when she had shut him out had been like someone had doused her with ice cold water. In that instant the infuriated rage that had been clouding her judgment had vanished, leaving her with a deeply rooted sense of dread.
She had taken her hatred of Faith out on Spike and made him the scapegoat of all her insecurities. It wasn’t until she was alone in her room that she realized her temporary bout of psychosis might have undone what had taken months for her and Spike to build. Just that afternoon, when Spike had finally freed himself from the First’s control, they had experienced such a monumental cornerstone in their relationship. And by acting the way she did, Buffy might’ve as well kicked dirt in the face of what she and Spike had shared. The first real instance that she’d been tested in this revived relationship of theirs, she had reverted back to her old ways.
Though Buffy had not thrown a single punch, she had still turned on him and in doing so she had failed. By projecting all her hostility and mistrust in Spike’s direction, she had managed to break the one promise their relationship had been built on. That no matter what happened neither of them would fall back into past habits. Spike had lived up to that commitment. Buffy, on the other hand, was definitely coming up short on her side of the deal.
After finally becoming aware of the fact that she had yet again taken out all her problems on Spike, an uneasy sense of panic filled her. The old Spike would have put up with her mood swings and sharp tongue, but she wasn’t so sure if the vampire would be as forgiving this time around. She wasn’t naïve enough to think that he would suddenly fall out of love with her but she knew everyone had a breaking point and Spike had reached his the night he’d left Sunnydale in search of his soul. Buffy didn’t know if this new soul having, and at times emotionally volatile Spike, could endure her unintentional relapses into prior psychologically destructive patterns.
Buffy’s fear lay in the fact that he might put an end to their fledgling relationship. Even if he was strong enough to put up with her bullshit, there was still a chance that Spike would break things off. He might see this revival of spite in her as a sign that their past was one obstacle they could never overcome. There was the possibility that he would see himself as the root of the problem and leave her just to save her from herself. Buffy knew he’d stick around for the final fight but it was the “after” aspect of saving the world that concerned her. She worried that she’d drive him away, even if he thought he was doing it for her own good.
It was that concept that frightened her the most. It was too reminiscent of what she had gone through with Angel and she hadn’t felt nearly a tenth of what she felt for Spike as she had for his Sire. Buffy wasn’t sure if she could survive a break up, let alone him leaving her for good.
For those reasons and those reasons alone she had cried herself to sleep; her sobs had been those of self loathing. If this one stint of insecurity completely ruined her relationship with Spike, Buffy didn’t know how she would live with herself. It was why she had been so relieved when she had felt him get into bed next to her.
A few moments passed between them until neither could bear the silence anymore.
Their eyes met again and a smile tugged at both their lips. “Go ahead, pet,” Spike encouraged.
Buffy worried her bottom lip between her teeth as her eyes stung with the tears she was trying to hold back. “I’m sorry,” she rasped.
Spike’s brow wrinkled in puzzlement. Here he was thinking he was about to get booted from the room and instead he had Buffy asking for his forgiveness. It was too much of a one-eighty for his mind to grasp.
His silence made her all the more concerned. “You were right. I was being completely irrational,” she whispered.
Spike exhaled slightly as he pulled Buffy into his arms. “What happened tonight, luv?” he asked tiredly. “I thought with all the connecting we did over my John Nash impersonation that you…” he paused uncomfortably. “I thought it meant something, what we went through.”
“It did,” Buffy insisted with a wide and troubled gaze.
“Then mind explaining to me why the sudden throwback to your once favorite pastime of ‘Kick the Spike’?” the vampire asked somewhat bitterly.
Buffy flinched. Though she had expected this kind of response, it was still hard to hear it come from Spike’s own mouth. “I wasn’t…I mean…I didn’t…,” she struggled with her response as she fiddled with the cotton material of his black shirt. “I just kinda reacted but I never meant to take anything out on you,” Buffy finally explained.
Spike detected the hint of regret in her voice. He decided to ease up on the tongue lashing. “At first, when you shut me out, I just took it,” he began to enlighten her, not really certain where he was going with it. “It wasn’t until I realized how downright humiliatin’ it was to be sittin’ outside your room like some tamed pet that I got this unwanted sense of nostalgia, you know.” He decided not to bring up the fact that Dawn had helped him arrive at this realization. It was a bit embarrassing to admit that his Nibblet had better insight into his relationship with the Slayer than he did at the moment. “Opened my eyes is what it did. Was like I was back at the crypt, watchin’ you take off after things started to get a lil’ too real.”
“I didn’t intend to push you away,” Buffy continued to defend in her self-deprecating tone. “It just happened.”
Spike gave her a suspicious look. “Things like that don’t ‘just happen’, luv,” he argued softly. “You wanna tell me the real reason you went Jekyl and Hyde on me the second Miss Reformed showed up.”
Buffy released a haggard breath. “The last time I had a run in with Faith, I had to deal with some major damage control,” she began slowly. “She deliberately set out to mess up my life and thanks to her, I got hurt real bad.”
Spike noticed that she didn’t mention what exactly it was that Faith had done to hurt her. He’d be sure to bring it up once they’d resolved their own issues. “I gathered as much, pet, but it still doesn’t explain why I got the proverbial shaft just for makin’ nice with the ex-con. Wasn’t even like we had a chance for a real fight. You cast me out before I could even make my case.”
“Irrational, thy name is Buffy. I get it,” the Slayer half heartedly grumbled. “It’s just…It’s just that…”
Spike concernedly gazed down at Buffy as she struggled to put to words how she felt. “It’s what, luv?” he asked gently, hating how frightened and fragile she seemed all of a sudden.
Buffy sighed for what felt like the hundredth time in the last ten minutes. “After Faith was locked away and out of the picture, the pain was still there. Everyone got to go home, move on,” she paused, a melancholy expression spreading across her face. “Everyone, that is, except me.”
Spike continued to focus his attention on the tiny woman in his arms but he couldn’t help but fall into contemplation. He never realized the extent of the causes for Buffy’s behavior. He had initially assumed that the incident this evening had simply been about bad blood and unresolved vendettas. The vampire never knew that Buffy’s issues regarding Faith only skimmed the surface of what was truly bothering her. With that being seen, Spike had to admit that Dawn had been absolutely right. In a frightening, ESP sort of way.
“I think that’s when it started. Slowly, I was becoming guarded when it came to the touchy feelies in my life. Everyone I cared about, even if they stayed a part of my life, I still kept them at a distance. I never let anyone in on what I was going through. I still loved them but I couldn’t let them too close because if they hurt me, I didn’t think I could survive it. It was just easier being numb, so it became my defense mechanism.”
Buffy let out an unexpected chuckled. “It’s why Riley left. I just kept shutting him out, especially when my mom was dying. And when I finally noticed what I was doing, Giles took me on some vision quest that really didn’t do me any good other than showing me the easy way out. Then Glory found out Dawn was the Key and I was back to being stone cold Buffy. I even went catatonic when the Hell Bitch kidnapped my sister.”
The events being described by the distraught Slayer were nothing Spike didn’t already know. What caught him off guard, however, was Buffy’s perspective on those unfortunate moments in her life. He understood the burden of being a slayer and the subconscious wish for release from it, yet he never considered how Buffy might cope with it all. He had always thought it was her friendships, her ties to the world that had made her different from all the others, the reason why she survived for as long as she had. Turns out her friends and kid sis had only taken her so far. He had always wondered, with all the love and support she had around her, how Buffy had still managed to succumb to the inevitable deathwish that resided in every slayer. Now he knew.
Unaware of Spike’s internal revelation, Buffy continued with her cathartic tirade. “What is even more ironic is that I’d never felt as numb and alone as I did when I was so desperately trying to feel after I was brought back. And it wasn’t just with you, Spike. Everyone was on a need to know basis where I was concerned. Because I was so involved on numbing away the pain, on blocking everyone out, I never spotted Willow’s magic habit, or Xander’s doomed engagement, or Dawn’s stint into juvenile delinquency, until it was too late.
“It took my best friend to almost destroy the world for me to have one of those life altering epiphanies. I finally understood that I had to let people in or I was going to lose everything.”
A single tear rolled down her cheek, which was like a rusted dagger in Spike’s unbeating heart. “And I’ve been trying. I really have,” she said in desperation, as though she needed Spike to believe her. “But then with the First rearing its ugly head and my getting pumped with that demon mist and everything happening with…us, it’s been one hell of a struggle not to go on permanent mental hiatus.
“Then when I saw you with Faith, it was like the straw that broke the camel’s back. The camel being my sanity,” Buffy joked lightly between sobs. “It just became too much. So naturally I regressed back to pushing you away when I should have let you in on what I was going through. God, you must be getting sick and tired of this same old pathetic routine,” she finished, unabashed with self-loathing.
The vampire gazed intently into her hazel eyes, catching every trace of shame visible in those green pools. He could sense her uneasiness and even sniff out a minute scent of fear. Spike wasn’t sure what she was afraid of but he could tell simply from her body language that Buffy needed some kind of reassurance. He started by rubbing small circles into her tense back.
“How’s ‘bout this?” he began softly. “From now on, whenever you start buildin’ those walls of yours to keep us all out, you and me will just have ourselves a lil’ chat; ‘probly much like this one. That way you can’t hide behind that tough Slayer exterior and I won’t be feelin’ completely inadequate for not havin’ the least bit idea as to what’s botherin’ you. That sound alright to you?”
Buffy nodded quickly as a faint smile spread across her lips. “Okay,” she quietly agreed.
“Alright. It’s a deal then,” Spike contently replied. “Since we’re on the topic of openness, mind lettin’ a bloke in on what exactly it was that Faith did to make you fly off the frickin’ handle?”
Buffy naturally hesitated at first but then inhaled deeply to prepare herself. Though Spike deserved to know about the sordid details of her past regarding Faith, she feared that rehashing all those memories would bring back the pain associated with them. Allowing herself to feel Spike’s strong arms around her and to place faith in the love that was so clearly evident in his cerulean eyes Buffy began to tell the story of her senior year at Sunnydale High.
As Spike listened on to the stories of Faith’s attempted seduction of Angel and Riley’s inability to tell who he was actually sleeping with, he began to understand Buffy’s unenthusiastic reaction to his pleasantries with the dark Slayer. Made him regret ever having privied the bitch to one of his few beers.
A/N: Thanx Darkezza for the awesome beta job.
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