Before Buffy could even really begin to realise that Spike was kissing her he wasn’t anymore. In fact he was halfway towards the front door trying to make his getaway. She frowned and ran after him.
When he didn’t stop she sped up and slammed the door closed just as he was starting to open it. He turned to her and the look on his face stopped her. She didn’t think she’d ever seen him looking quite so confused and so…sad. He looked utterly devastated and she didn’t understand why.
“Where are you going?” She asked carefully.
Spike shrugged. “I have to work this out.”
“Work what out? Us?”
He shook his head. “No. How to get them to drop the charges against you. It’s the only thing I can think about right now.”
With that he pulled the door open again and practically ran through it. Buffy looked out at the dark night sky and at his back getting further and further away. She hesitated for a moment and then went out after him, walking fast on bare feet and with a slight warm breeze blowing around her.
“So, that’s it? You kiss me and then you run,” Buffy called out after him. “Don’t you think we need to talk about this? About all of this?”
Spike didn’t turn back to look at her, just continued towards his car. “I need to find that useless lawyer of yours and form some sort of contingency plan, Buffy. Everything else doesn’t matter.”
“It matters to me!” She yelled, coming to a stop.
Spike too came to a stop, back to her. He sighed heavily, car keys jangling in his hand. Buffy hated this, hated that she was apparently such a burden on him. She didn’t mean to come back and make his life complicated again. She didn’t mean to come back to this at all because she had never wanted to leave in the first place.
He did turn and face her then, shoulders dipped. “I’m sorry I kissed you.”
“You are?” Buffy asked, voice low.
“It…just makes things harder than they need to be,” Spike said then pulled a face. “I don’t mean harder as in literally harder, what with –”
“Spike, don’t.” She folded her arms around herself, eyes facing the ground. “Let’s just…go back and –”
He shook his head. “Can’t. Gotta go see a man about a murder charge.”
“Will you just forget about that for one second?” Buffy threw her hands up.
Spike’s jaw tensed. “Will you just remember that for one second? It is a life changing event you know.”
She shrugged. “It’s not important to me.”
“Well, it is to me!”
“If I go down then I go down,” Buffy replied easily. “Ain’t nothin’ gonna change that.”
Spike glared at her. “With an attitude like that we’re not goin’ to get anywhere.”
“We? This is me, Spike. You won’t be put in jail, I will,” she pointed out. “I don’t know why you care so much.”
His glare deepened. “That’s a stupid thing to say.”
“From a stupid girl. A girl who is stupid enough to believe that vampires are evil and that they’re not human. A girl who thinks they need to be slayed. A stupid little Slayer. That’s what I am. What I’ll always be,” Buffy said. “And it’s what I’ll say in court.”
Buffy lifted her in chin in defiance.
“Only maybe not the stupid part,” she added.
Spike looked at her, face blank. “All of us evil. Need a good kicking. A good staking.”
“Spike,” Buffy scowled. “I don’t mean you.”
He frowned. “Well, what’s the difference? I’m still a vampire, Buffy. A suit and a tie doesn’t change that.”
She sighed. “You’re different. You always have been.”
“I’ve killed. I’ve enjoyed killing, I’ve bloody revelled in it, in fact.” Spike reminded her. “So how am I different at all?”
She didn’t know what to say, didn’t know how to justify what she felt. She just knew that when it came to vampires she had to slay them. Spike was different, he just was. There wasn’t any particular reason for it. She knew he was different and in some ways he always had been. He’d loved Drusilla, actually loved her. Something she had thought vampires were incapable of. But she had been wrong. Believing that of all vampires was a pretty big step though and one that she couldn’t easily take. Didn’t think she ever would take. She’d seen too much of the evil and the hurt their kind had spread.
You couldn’t change a whole species. Not in thirty years.
Spike smiled bitterly. “I guess the silence says it all.”
“Anything I say you won’t believe,” Buffy shrugged. “You’re so intent on running away from me.”
“I don’t want to make things any more –”
“Complicated. You said. You seem to be forgetting it was you who kissed me, not the other way around.”
“That was a mistake.”
Buffy paused, then looked away. “Thanks.”
And there it was. This was a mistake. All of it a mistake. She shouldn’t have even been here, at least not like this. She should have been older, living on a farm with a dog named Yorkie and a modest herd of sheep. That or dead. She shouldn’t have been here intruding on Spike’s life, messing up the calm he’d worked so hard to achieve. It was against the natural order of things. She had stepped out of his world for thirty years; she couldn’t just step back in.
That much was now very clear.
“Buffy,” he said softly. “I didn’t mean it like that. I just mean…there’ll be time for all this after.”
She looked back at him. “Maybe I should just go back into that portal, save you the trouble.”
Spike stared at her for a long moment before he threw his head back and let out a short burst of laughter. It wasn’t happy laughter. He shook his head and clenched his fists. Buffy watched him as he seemed to be fighting an internal struggle but she didn’t know what for. Maybe he wanted to hit her, maybe he wanted to just leave. In the end he settled for kicking the shit out of his car. His foot lashed out viper-quick and slammed into the passenger door of the vehicle, causing the metal to screech and tent inwards.
Buffy jumped and the car alarm screeched into life.
“I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that.” Spike growled through clenched teeth.
It was her turn to be angry. “Well, I did. Face it, Spike. If I wasn’t here things would be so much easier for you.”
“Yeah, great!” He snarled. “It would be so easy. So easy to be stuck here wondering what happened to you for the rest of my life, wouldn’t it?”
She scowled and turned her back on him. She didn’t know what to say to him, she never knew what to say. He was always the guy with the right words. She was inadequate when it came to conveying how she felt.
Buffy heard his feet crunching on the gravel and turned around to see him stalking off into the night. “Hey! Where are you going? We’re fighting here!”
“I’ve got things to do.”
She ran after him and around in front of him, halting his steps. “Hello, we’re in the middle of something. You can’t just run away.”
“Like you always did, you mean?”
“Oh. I see.” She folded her arms. “So this is about the past.”
Spike shrugged. “All we have is the past.”
Buffy blanched. “Right.”
And there it was again. She was past, they were past. He’d moved on. He’d married and had a child and here she was – the same insecure bitch-monster Buffy. How she could have expected him to want to be around her for anything – even friendship – was beyond her. It was presumptuous and foolish. Knowing Spike he’d probably concocted some ideal image of her he’d had in his mind and she’d come back and sullied that. After all, she’d never been near perfect.
“I’m…I’m going to go back home. To Faith’s, I mean,” she said evenly, turning on her heel.
Spike let out a grunt. “Buffy, please. I’m saying everything wrong.”
“I think I understand you well enough,” the Slayer trudged back to his house to retrieve her shoes, car alarm still wailing loudly.
She stepped into the empty house and proceeded to search for the missing footwear. Spike didn’t follow her in, for all she knew he’d gone. She knelt on the floor by the couch and just closed her eyes for a moment. Had to gather herself up, keep it all in. A kiss between them meant nothing anymore, obviously. He had changed and she had not.
Buffy left the house and found that he hadn’t gone. He stood leaning against his car, which he had managed to silence.
“Let me give you a lift.”
She shook her head. “I feel like walking.”
“Buffy,” he said wearily. “I just…”
She continued on past him.
Spike grabbed her wrist and pulled her towards him. “Listen to me. I just don’t want to fall into old habits.”
Buffy looked him in the eyes as she shook her arm free. “I get it. I gotta go.”
“Obviously you don’t get it,” he snorted, darting around in front of her as she tried to leave. “I…still feel…things for you, Buffy. Things I cannot begin to deal with. Not until all this is sorted.”
She tilted her head and studied him for a long while. He felt ‘things’ for her. What in the hell did that mean? That sounded more like something she’d say than the ever-poetic Spike. It was very clear what he didn’t mean though – he didn’t mean love. She shouldn’t have expected it after all this time. She’d never really wanted it from him in the first place.
“I gotta go,” the Slayer moved around and past him, feeling his eyes watching her the whole time.
+ + +
Buffy was still mid-way through decided exactly how big of an idiot she was as she walked home, not paying much attention to her surroundings, when she heard footfalls behind her. She tensed up slightly but continued on guardedly.
“Buffy Summers,” a voice sing-songed.
Sing-song voices usually weren’t a good sign.
She turned around slowly and carefully, raising her fists in a defensive gesture. Ready for even the slightest inkling of attack.
The man stood in plain sight, in plain clothes and was overall fairly…plain. Tall, broad chest, greying blonde hair, with a familiar look about him. And a nice smile, for an old guy.
“Who’re you and what do you want?”
He shook his head but the smile remained. “Don’t recognise me? Can’t blame you. Not all of us have aged as gracefully as you, Buffy.” The man took a step forward. “The name is Riley.”
He held his hand out.
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