A/N: Sorry this has taken forever, I had the block of writerness.
Buffy sat at the long table, hands folded, legs crossed and eyes barely propped open. She hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep last night and she was sure it showed. She’d stayed awake mostly out of self-preservation. Whoever had written the graffiti on Faith’s door knew where she was and what she had done. She’d be damned if they came back to catch her napping.
Of course Spike had wanted her to move somewhere else, until she pointed out she had nowhere to go. It was either Faith’s place or jail. It was a tough choice but she eventually settled on the vampire’s lair. She doubted the vandal had enough muscle to take on two Slayers. Especially since one was already dead. Spike had wanted to stay too but after a lengthy debate – some might say argument – he reluctantly left.
Now she was paying for the lack of rest. Sitting in possibly the dourest room in the world with her freedom hanging in the balance, Buffy Summers kept dozing off. It was not a good impression to make.
Norman nudged her sharply with his bony elbow when her eyelids began to droop again. She grunted and pulled herself into an upright sitting position. He gave her a look of grave disappointment but she was too tired to be ashamed.
She’d tried to dress well for the occasion but her mind had been a little addled when putting together her outfit, so she could only hope she looked respectable. Spike sat in the row of seats behind her looking the epitome of respectable. Dressed in a sharp grey suit and shiny shoes he was like a Ralph Lauren model. She tried not to look at him as it just made her feel worse about herself. Xander and Willow were sitting alongside Spike trying not to look nervous and failing greatly. In turn, they made Buffy feel even worse, so she kept her eyes to the front.
In her line of view now was a solitary man sitting across the table, dressed in a suit, dark hair parted to the side and slicked down with gel. Buffy estimated he was in his mid to late thirties and the lines around his mouth indicated he liked to smile and to laugh. Today he was doing neither. Instead he sat before her and Norman and the prosecution looking slightly annoyed.
“I won’t be kept waiting forever, Mr. Wagner,” he said firmly.
Norman nodded rapidly. “Yes, sir. I do apologise for –”
Cain Travers – the reason they were all waiting – swept open the door and marched through the room. He was dressed in a suit also, an expensive one at that, but the effect was rather ruined by the large sunglasses sitting on his face. He slumped down next to Buffy smelling of smoke.
“Sorry I’m late,” he removed the glasses and set them down on the table. “Had to avert a mystical war and all that.”
The man did not look impressed. “Evading another ex-lover then, Mr. Travers, I presume.”
Cain just smiled.
Buffy wished they would just get on with it. All this prolonging was making her more and more nervous. And tired. The small gathering of people in the room seemed to agree with her because they began to make small sounds of irritation.
The man at the table stood. “Thomas Heaton, Chief of Human and Humanoid Justice.” Then he sat.
Suddenly the woman on the other side of Norman stood. “Lucy Porter, Representative of Humanoids United.” And then she sat.
“Erm,” Norman practically jumped up. “Uh, Norman Wagner, Defence Lawyer.”
As Norman sat Buffy realised with a panic that everyone was waiting for her to do the stand up/sit down routine. She looked at her lawyer wide-eyed and he gestured for her to get up. Awkwardly she stood, her chair squealing across the floor way too loudly.
“Buffy Summers…” she looked directly at the judge, looked him right in the eye as she continued. “Vampire Slayer.”
Thomas Heaton barely blinked but there was a hushed murmur that ran right through the room and Norman practically slapped his head and yelled “D’oh!” She paused for a moment and then sat down. Cain stood up next and did his bit and then they all settled in silence for a few moments.
“The main body of the trial shall take place tomorrow,” Thomas said, eyes scanning those on the other side of the table. “Today is merely for formalities. We’ve addressed who we are and why we are here. Now, the incident that took place.”
His voice rose a level. “Let it be known that Ms. Summers is charged with murder in the first degree. She is charged with taking Mr. Joseph Edward Dawson’s life on February the 18th 2033 in an unlawful killing.” He turned to look at her. “How do you plead?”
Buffy was wide awake now. “His life had been taken long before I got there.”
Another murmur through the room.
“Not guilty will suffice for now, Ms. Summers,” his tone was warning. “Now. Both the defence and the prosecution will have the chance to call witnesses to speak. There will be no limit on the amount but I do ask you to keep them relevant. This trial and in turn, this room, is magick-proof. No manipulation of the forces of nature may take place here.”
Buffy guessed that that meant the opening of the portal plan had gone out the window.
Norman cleared his throat. “May we put in a request to indulge in the use of one supervised manipulation of the laws of physics?”
Lucy Porter looked at him with a confused glare.
Thomas just blinked again. “Hand in a formal application at the end of this meeting and I will review your request.”
“Yes sir,” Norman nodded.
“Are there any further questions?” He asked.
Lucy Porter held up her hand. “H.U would like to request that Ms. Summers be kept in proper confinement until she is sentenced, as she poses a real threat to society.”
Buffy wanted to turn and scowl at the woman but managed to keep a blank face, she could however hear Spike muttering a string of words about his former colleague.
Norman spoke up. “That is not necessary. She is already under watch by an operative of The Council, as is accepted in the guidelines of a private trial.”
“We believe that Ms. Summers was previously acquainted with The Council’s operative and therefore we do not believe she is being monitored as well as should be,” the woman countered. “Her guardian is biased.”
Thomas held up a hand. “Due to the nature of this trial, Ms. Summers’ appointed guardian is qualified for the task at hand. Unless you can prove to me that she has neglected her duties, I will let the defendant remain where she is.”
Lucy paused but then shook her head and Buffy had never been so relieved to be stuck with Faith as in that moment.
“This meeting is adjourned,” Thomas stood up. “We will begin the trial tomorrow at nine. Do not be late, Mr. Travers.”
And with that the scary judge man left and the hushed court suddenly got a whole lot louder.
+ + +
The four of them stood outside the “courthouse”, which was really just a plain looking building in the middle of the town. Buffy was feeling incredibly depressed and the expressions on Willow and Xander’s faces were not helping. Spike was trying for calmly neutral and mostly succeeding. Xander cleared his throat. It was the third time he’d done it in the past five minutes and yet they still all stood in uncomfortable silence.
As they had been leaving the meeting the only words exchanged had been stiff “that went okay” and “you’ll be fine” kind of remarks. That and a scowl or two thrown between Lucy Porter and Spike.
“So what’d you want to do now?” Xander asked finally.
Buffy knew he was addressing her. “You mean on my last day of freedom? I’m drawing a blank.”
“It’s not your last day of freedom!” Willow’s brow creased as she protested and shifted from foot to foot. “But we could keep our spirits up with booze and hookers, if you want.”
Spike shook his head. “Booze not a good idea.”
“Oh, but hookers are?” Buffy folded her arms and looked at him.
“Always.” He replied easily.
She slugged him daintily – by her standards – on the arm. “I think I just want to sleep. A lot.”
Xander nodded slowly. “That makes sense. I know I’d totally spend my last hours on earth sleeping.”
Willow shoved him quite hard. “It’s not her last hours on earth, jerk!”
“Hey! Joking, here!”
Buffy smiled softly. “Joking is good, as is sleep. I think I just need to rest.”
Xander and Willow seemed to accept that and after a little while they left, although Xander did want to escort her home. No doubt to keep her out of Spike’s clutches. If Spike even had clutches any more. She still wasn’t sure about that. Since he was the only one with a car he had the great honour of driving her home.
“I think we’ll be alright,” Spike said suddenly, eyes on road.
She wondered what he meant for a moment.
“Heaton seems neutral enough,” he added, glancing at her. “So we’ve got as good a chance as any.”
Buffy looked out of her window and closed her eyes, tired. “We?”
She said nothing and Spike sighed loudly. Buffy kept her eyes closed and let the steady lull of the car calm her. She didn’t know how long they’d been travelling when she heard Spike turn the radio off. The car was plunged into silence and she felt herself slipping into sleep.
The next sensation she felt was one of being carried. Still half asleep she tightened her arms around what must have been Spike’s neck and turned her face into his chest, smelling the scent of his fabric softener. Spike was a peach blossom man. Go figure.
When she next drifted into some kind of consciousness she was laying on something soft. Slowly she opened her eyes and her eye line was almost level with the ground. She recognised the raggedy floor boards as Faith’s and rolled onto her back. The movement made her catch sight of a figure to her side and she turned sharply. It was just Spike.
He was leaning on the window sill and had managed to pry one of the windows open. I t took her a moment to realise what he was doing. He was smoking. Head sticking out into the open air, arm casually resting on the handle of the window, smoke escaping his lips. He’d removed his suit jacket and undone the top button of his shirt but the tie remained. His hair blew in the wind a little, longer than it had been back in her day.
Still, she was so surprised to see him smoking that she couldn’t help but think how much like her Spike he looked. Almost as soon as she thought it she knew that wasn’t right. He was always her Spike, always and never.
“I thought you’d given up,” she said.
He didn’t seem startled that she was awake and answered casually. “Could say the same about you.”
“Don’t start.” Buffy rolled onto her back again, looking at the ceiling.
She didn’t know how long she’d been asleep or how long Spike had been watching over her but the sky was beginning to show the first signs of dusk. He finished his cigarette and remained leaning partially out of the window. Maybe he didn’t want to be anywhere nearer to her. It wasn’t like she could blame him. She wasn’t very nice to be around any more, hadn’t been for a long time if she was honest with herself.
“You can go now,” she said quietly. “I won’t sleep again.”
“I don’t want to.”
Something about the way he said it made her turn her head to look at him. He was looking outside, the thousand yard stare. She watched as he blinked, threw the butt of the cigarette out of the window and closed it. Spike turned and caught her eye and stood up straight.
“Not till Faith’s back I mean,” He said almost like an afterthought.
Buffy propped herself up on her elbows. “Right.”
Spike wandered off and away from the window and didn’t seem to know what to do with himself now that she was actually awake. If it had been anyone other than him she might have made small talk but Spike was not someone she just chatted with. It was just not something they did. But then maybe that was something she should change.
“So why did you stop? Smoking, I mean.”
Spike shrugged. “Mya, mostly. She has asthma.”
Buffy nodded. “Oh. Speaking of Mya, won’t she be wondering where you are?”
“Called her, she’s with a friend of mine,” Spike replied, walking over to the fridge and looking inside. “You hungry?”
She watched him. “No. Are you?”
It was a loaded question to ask a vampire. He looked over his shoulder at her, eyebrow arched. She just smiled back. He rolled his blue eyes and laughed a little as he shut the fridge.
“I don’t get hungry anymore,” he turned back to her.
Buffy nodded. “’Cos that’d be wrong.”
“Best things always are,” Spike gave her a look she hadn’t seen in a while and then walked back to the window, where he seemed to feel safest.
She looked down at her feet, not because they interested her particularly but because sometimes it was hard to look at him. When she looked at Spike she saw all the bad things he had done, all the bad things they had done, all the good things, she saw a vampire, saw just a really hot guy. It led to all sorts of confusion.
“How are you?” He asked.
Buffy smiled at her feet, which was an odd thing to do in itself, the question was such a simple one. Or it was supposed to be. There was nothing simple about what was going on with her at the moment. She didn’t know how she was. She knew she should have felt some strong emotion – fear, worry, defiance. And she did. She felt all of those things in small ways, leading to a jumble.
She glanced at him. “Ask me in thirty years.”
“I just did,” he returned, smiling.
Buffy smiled too and shrugged. “Honest answer? Hella confused.”
“That’s not surprising.”
“No, but it is very, very annoying.”
He arched an eyebrow. “Suits you then.”
Buffy looked up at him then and arched her own eyebrow. “My, bitchy this afternoon aren’t we?”
He shrugged and said nothing.
“If I’m so annoying why did you love me?”
“’Cos I’m a masochist?” He offered.
Buffy looked back down. “Well, I’ll be out of your hair soon enough. So that should be a relief.”
“Maybe I want you in my hair,” Spike replied. He frowned. “Not literally. Well, maybe a little bit. Only in the fingers running through hair sense though.”
He grunted and pushed away from the window walking over to the mattress, he crouched down in front of her. “Buffy, of course I want you in my hair – life, I mean. Damn you and your sodding hair mentioning.”
Buffy laughed a little and looked into his eyes. “In what way do you want me in your life, Spike? I need to know.”
“In what way do you want to be in my life?” He countered.
She shook her head. “Uh uh. Not fair. I asked first.”
He smiled and reached across to touch her face, cold hand against her warm skin. The touch was very gentle, very soft, like he was doing it as a comforting thing rather than anything sexual. A friendly touch. She guessed that answered her question.
“You said ‘did’,” Spike said softly.
Buffy frowned. “What?”
“You said ‘why did you love me?’” He searched her face with his eyes. “Instead of ‘why do you love me?’”
She reached up and took his hand away from her face. “It’s been a long time. I don’t know how you feel.”
Spike smiled, looked like he wanted to laugh.
Buffy let go of his hand and gave him hard eyes. “Don’t laugh at me.”
“I’m not. I just love that you didn’t just take it for granted that I’d love you to the end of time. That you actually thought I might be over you,” He looked way too happy.
She folded her arms. “So?”
“So, that’s one reason in a list of many of why I could never get over you,” He chuckled and stood up. “You don’t realise how bloody terrific you are.”
Buffy was a little stunned. She didn’t know if it was possible to be a little stunned but she was. It was the most she’d ever heard Spike say about his feelings towards her since she’d dropped back out of the portal and he said it like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
She noticed suddenly that he was retreating, picking up his jacket and making his way to the door.
“Hey! Where are you going?”
Spike turned to her, hand on the door handle. “Got to go get Mya.”
“You can’t just leave after saying something like that!” Buffy protested scrambling up to stand. “And you said you’d wait till Faith got back.”
Spike smiled, eyes sparkling as he pulled the door open. Faith appeared in the doorway, keys in hand. She blinked, looked at Spike, shrugged and stepped in.
“Hey fang-boy,” she greeted him.
Spike nodded. “Fang-girl. See you tomorrow, Buffy.”
Without giving her a chance to say anything else Spike was gone and Buffy was left standing there in day-old makeup and messy bed hair. Something must have shown on her face because Faith’s eyebrows rose and she promptly made her way to the fridge.
Buffy sighed and tried to smooth her hair down; walking to the window she caught sight of Spike making his way to his car. He sure was a sneaky bastard.
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