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Part Five


"Gone a bit of a funny colour there, pet. You okay?"

Buffy's hand wrapped automatically around the plastic bottle that Spike handed her, but she wasn't aware of doing it.

"You're completely insane!"

The words must have come out loud this time, because the vampire looked hurt. The same wounded surprise he'd adopted when she'd tried to stake him.

"Not that unusual," he grumbled. "Two people, in the work place, feelings develop... Can't say you haven't noticed, Slayer."

"No! No feelings! You're a vampire! You don't have feelings!"

Buffy was finding out Spike had a whole range of facial expressions she'd never known about. Clear blue eyes contradicting her as he glanced sideways. Even in the darkness of the car it was clear the feelings he didn't have were taking a bit of a battering.

"You know damn well that's not true, Buffy."

And she did, but Buffy was still caught in the same loop of comforting denial. It got harder with every time he used her name.

"You can't be in love with me."

"No? You wanna tell me why else I'm rescuing you? Because I'd like to know how I feel."

"To get your chip out."

"No. I got the chip out to come and rescue you. Not saying I wouldn't have done it anyway but... Well, that's the point. I could have done it anyway; only way I benefit from rescuing you is seeing you safe. And either way, it's bleeding well out now, isn't it? Do you see me being evil?"

In better spirits Buffy might have pointed out that insofar as it was possible to drive down an empty freeway evilly then he was; revving her mother's gas guzzling SUV with no regard for the laws of the road. But her head was still dealing with the idea of Spike thinking he was in love with her.

"You can't be in love with me," she repeated stubbornly, more because it sounded reassuring than any underlying belief. She'd seen Spike in love before, or whatever passed for it amongst vampires, seen how he handled rejection too. Could hardly have forgotten his declaration of torturing Dru until she loved him again, didn't like to picture what Spike might consider a first date. With a human she might have played along, humoured the crazy person until she was safely home or safely empowered, but with Spike... Well her mouth was probably still gaping open. It was quite shocking enough that he'd just saved her life; the whole business was doing something weird with her thought processes.

"So why don't I want to kill you?"
********


One day Spike was going to follow a plan that actually came out the way he intended. Today was obviously not going to be that day. Because damn it all if she wasn't going to argue with him. His stubborn little girl would rather talk him into killing her than accept that he didn't want to - could hurt a fellow's feelings.

Spike took a deep and unnecessary breath and fought hard for patience. Though the time when she hadn't possessed his every waking thought seemed like a lifetime ago, the vampire could just about remember his own first reaction had been panicked denial. And he remembered all too well, what with it being literally yesterday, what it felt like to be helpless and he could hardly blame her for her unease, though it pained him.

He'd thought just recently they'd been developing a certain camaraderie, obviously just the product of his oversexed imagination. But even back when he'd wanted her dead, there'd been a standard between them, a worthy opponent code of conduct, and it wasn't just laziness that had stopped him from ever using her little friends against her. It stung, how easily she'd assumed he was holding her sister hostage, and worse, it made the 'throwing herself into his arms' scenario seem a very distant dream indeed.

But the attraction was there, Spike was sure of it. Years before Spike had realised Buffy was the centre of his world, he knew they were connected, knew she'd known too. A pair, equals and opposites, perfectly matched. He'd been her destiny since the moment he'd laid eyes on her, only fool that he'd been, then Spike had imagined he'd be her death. There was an electricity between them that surpassed tiny details like 'vampire' and 'Slayer,' that drew them together and she couldn't be immune. Once she realised that he really was on her side then she'd see his daring rescue in its proper light.

"Doesn't matter," he conceded while the Slayer was still working her jaw silently, marshalling an apparently complicated argument. "Didn't mean to shock you-I thought you knew. Really. Bleeding hell, Slayer, Dawn knew. Couple hours and you'll be safe at home, I promise. Don't matter why, does it?"

Buffy nodded warily. Now more composed, it was harder to see what she was thinking.

"So you'll stop trying to kill me?" the vampire joked. Spike was getting fed up with tension that wasn't sexual and the car was full of it, the air thick with Buffy's misgivings. "We're good now?"

She frowned, almost the exact opposite of the response Spike had been going for. She gave the vampire a measuring look he didn't like one bit. "Can I answer that question when I have my Slayer powers back?"

"No! What does that mean? You are going to stake me?"

Her eyes jumped nervously to Dawn in the back seat. A quick look, hardly noticeable, but its meaning was clear.

"For the last fucking time Slayer, I am not going to hurt your sister. Why don't you just answer me straight?"

She bit her lip and looked away. The answer was a long time coming and when it did Spike didn't want to believe it. "I'm going to stake you," Buffy said quietly. "Or you're going to kill me. However it pans out."

Well that was a nasty shock. He'd excused her earlier staking, knew all too well the fear of being helpless and the rash actions that naturally followed, but even Spike's exhaustive self confidence couldn't put a positive spin on that sad statement.

"I'm not going to kill you. I don't want you dead. In case you didn't hear me the last time I'm in l-"

"I heard." Buffy cut him off sharply, as if he was about to mention something unpleasant like cancer. "And I say again, you're insane. I'm the Slayer, Spike, I have a sacred duty to protect people. They're not protected if you're running around slaughtering them, are they?"

"You let me walk before."

"You mean with Acathla? If we hadn't struck that deal the whole world would have been sucked into hell, that counts as protecting people. And I'd let you go again."

Spike snorted and Buffy managed a wry smile. "Theoretically," she added. "You know, in a theoretical situation where I had super powers and got to be in charge. But you stay in Sunnydale and I will stake you."

"So let me get this straight. I save your life, bare my heart to you, and I don't warrant so much as a chance with you?"

She blanched. Spike didn't think he could have drained the blood from her face so quickly if he'd opened an artery, worse even than the gaping horror he'd produced by telling her he loved her. "Please tell me you're not talking about... getting with me? You can't seriously think you have a chance with me."

The aghast expression said it all really. "Not anymore," answered the vampire, trying hard to keep the hurt from his voice but he knew he still sounded sulky. "There's no need to look like that, Slayer. I've been told I'm not such an ugly bloke."

"You kill people! For fun! And now you what? You wanna be my boyfriend?"

"For food!" That wasn't going to wash with anyone, least of all the Slayer. "Okay, for fun. But that was before. I haven't hurt anyone in more than a year."

"You had a chip in your head!"

It was looking like he'd found a brand new way of killing Slayers, because this one seemed to be having some kind of seizure. Her hands gripped the underneath of her seat, knuckles a whitish blue, every word forced out between gritted teeth and deserving of its own exclamation mark.

"And it changed me, you changed me."

"Did it stop you being a soulless vampire? Because I'm thinking not."

Spike hit the steering wheel in frustration and the car bounced into the inside lane. "So that's it? 'Thanks for rescuing me Spike, now I'm going to run you out of town'? Skipping on the actual thank yous."

"Thank you." Buffy gnawed on her lower lip some more as she looked at him, and Spike remembered why he'd given up on killing her. Every time he worked himself up into a decent rage she only had to turn those doe eyes on him and the mood evaporated. "I'm really very grateful that you rescued me and... drugged my sister."

"That was-"

"I know. Sorry. That bit of your plan was strangely sensible. And I'm so very grateful that you didn't kill her. But that doesn't mean I'm going to let you kill other people. I can't trade Dawn for all the people you're going to kill, just because you've got this crazy idea that... I'm grateful, okay? That's why I'm telling you to leave. You stay here and it's gonna go one of two ways, because news flash, buddy, we're mortal enemies. And if you meant that... y'know... about having feelings..."

"Being in love with you?" Spike interrupted challengingly.

"Yeah. That. Then you're not going to like either of them."

"It doesn't have to go down that way. I could be good."

"No, you couldn't."

"I could try! You can't just stake me, when I've not done anything evil."

"And can you hear the inevitable 'yet' at the end of that sentence?"

"I could only eat bad people."

"And it's because you don't know how wrong that is..."

Spike hit the steering wheel again. Wished he had something more solid to punch. His grand romance had descended into one of their more usual slanging matches and the vampire wasn't quite sure where he'd gone wrong. "It's not fair," he said petulantly, and even in his head he sounded cringingly like Dawn. "I'm being good. I rescued you."

"You beat up a bunch of soldiers. They might not see it the same."

"That's not fair," he repeated. "You'd've done the same, if it was someone you loved."

"Sorry," she muttered again. Girl wouldn't even look at him now. "I'm being... It was a good thing that you did. You were the dashing hero. But now that you have your chip out, you have to leave or we have to kill each other, because-"

"Mortal enemies, yeah. I got it. But I don't want to be mortal enemies."

"Well unless you know a cure for being a vampire, or you're going to turn me into a vam-" Buffy broke off suddenly as she realised what she was saying, eyes widening in horror. Spike waved a dismissive hand.

"Thought about it. Decided evil you might be too much of a bitch even for me."

She relaxed a little, if you could relax back into general panic mode, and Spike sighed. "Not my fault all this happened, y'know. I was going to leave the chip alone, think things through a bit. Maybe take you out some place nice and break it gently."

"It's probably best you didn't," said Buffy dryly, the wrinkle of her nose clearly displaying her opinion of a date with Spike. "I just don't... umm... feel that way about you."

"You could."

"I couldn't."

"What if I didn't eat people at all? Not even the brain-dead fuckwits that really asked for it?"

Her eyes flickered up to his and Spike could see some feeling there, much as she tried to deny it. Surprise, but something else as well. He was surprising himself - hadn’t realised he'd be willing to give up the last of his evil street-cred so easily, but the thought of no more Buffy in his life was unbearable. He'd been not killing people for a while now - how hard could it be?

"Spike..."

"I ain't asking for your hand in marriage, pet. I just want a chance. A crumb."

"You're evil, Spike. And you have the self restraint of a teenager. You can't stay in my town."

"You think I can't do it? I couldn't change for you?"

"No. I think you'll kill the very next person who pisses you off. Apart from me, hopefully."

"You're wrong. I love you; I can be the kind of man you want."

"You can't be a man at all. And you're being... stupid. You got your chip out, it's what you wanted since it got put in. You should be happy to leave. Go and be the scourge of Europe or whatever. You're free. Unleashed."

"But I'm not! You're all I bloody think about, Slayer. Got a heavier leash on me than technology could ever manage and I can't slip it, not ever. Never would take me seriously. Tell me I don't know what love is. Me. I stayed with Drusilla a bleeding century and you think I'm going to forget about you as soon as I can bite people again? You can't just write me off like that. I'm not only a vampire, same as you're not just a bitch."

Not one good at pretending a calm he didn't feel, Spike was shouting as he worked up the righteous indignation and the Slayer was visibly biting her tongue, darting nervous glances to her sister in the back. It irked Spike and sickened him too.

"And would you stop doing that? How is it I say 'I love you' and you hear 'I wanna kill your sister?' I'd stop killing people for you - do you understand what that means to me?"

She took a long second to think about it. Spike could see her reluctance to speak, but despite the hesitation her voice was certain. "You couldn't do it."

"Not if you won't even give me a chance!"

"I let you stay, I find you feeding, then I stake you. That's what would happen. And I don't really want to stake you anymore, what with the rescuing. But I want to be stumbling over the corpses you leave behind even less, so I'd get in first."

Though not insensible to the compliment, Spike was by now too angry and disappointed to care. "Well screw you, bitch!"

He slewed the car to a stop across the fortunately deserted road. "I'm gonna go some place that's not your town and I'm gonna not eat people and I'll bloody well show you!"

********


Buffy flinched as the door slammed behind the angry vampire - felt the need for a very deep breath indeed. And maybe some kind of wiring for her jaw.

Spike was a soulless vampire and Buffy couldn't believe he meant the word love in the way a human would, but the fact that he'd said it at all was enough to leave anyone's mouth hanging stupidly open. And a vampire storming off to not eat people was so ridiculous it could only be laughed at, but Buffy was afraid if she started laughing now then hysteria would soon take over.

Either Willow had been getting crazy with the spellcasting again, she'd somehow slipped into some wacky alternate word, or life had just got very disturbing indeed. Truly the most disturbing thing was that Buffy kinda felt sorry for him. Spike was hard to cast as an innocent victim of circumstance, but despite the limitations of his planning abilities and a laissez-faire attitude to details he'd certainly saved the day. When he'd complained about the unfairness Buffy was inclined to agree with him, but she'd known for a long time life wasn't fair to anyone, and generally the better you were, the more of a bitch life could be. When fate slapped her in the face she'd learnt to deal with it and move on, and Spike would have to learn to do the same. The Buffy that could chance her heart on a mysterious vampire had long since died and grown up.

The cars passing were few and far between, luckily as Spike had abandoned the car in the outside lane, and Buffy debated the wisdom of flagging one down. It was a huge step down to need to be wary of regular human psychopaths, but there it was, and you read such dreadful things about hitchhikers. But then, without a phone, Buffy was left with few options, and her car was sure to attract attention sooner or later. Better odds on picking out a non-psychopathic passer-by than hoping the new Initiative wouldn't manage to track her down again. Driving was out, her last attempt behind the wheel disastrous, and so long ago she could barely remember which pedal was which. She was still debating when the passenger door opened.

"You can't drive, can you?"

"Not so much."

"Right then." Not quite looking at her, Spike slid back into the driver's seat and closed the door with considerably less aggression than he had from the outside. He started the engine and put his foot down. "I'll drive you home. Then I'll bloody well show you."

The End


Do you all hate me now? I promise there's a happier ending coming up.
Epilogue

Date: 2006-12-27 04:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] petzipellepingo.livejournal.com
Years before Spike had realised Buffy was the centre of his world, he knew they were connected, knew she'd known too. A pair, equals and opposites, perfectly matched. He'd been her destiny since the moment he'd laid eyes on her, only fool that he'd been, then Spike had imagined he'd be her death. There was an electricity between them that surpassed tiny details like 'vampire' and 'Slayer,' that drew them together and she couldn't be immune.
Exactly!
you're going to turn me into a vam-" Buffy broke off suddenly as she realised what she was saying, eyes widening in horror. Spike waved a dismissive hand.
"Thought about it. Decided evil you might be too much of a bitch even for me."
Hee!
Do you all hate me now?
Heavens, no! These are perfect Season Five voices, we just haven't gotten to Season Seven yet. And a happy ending - bonus!

Date: 2007-02-24 07:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] basilio-the-cat.livejournal.com
I'm really feeling for Spike, right now. Buffy can be such a bitch sometimes. Even when she's not being intentionally bitchy, but just stubborn like in this case.

Well done.

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