Title: As I Should be (7/8/06)
Season: VI (a slight twist on the break-up speech at the end of As You Were)
Disclaimer: Someone else’s words at the very beginning and very end, mine in between. Joss Whedon’s characters and his world, I’m just playing with them as he said we could.
Many thanks to my wonderful beta, Always__jbj who also (as she so often has to. lol) provided the title.
“I’m using you”
“Really not complaining, here.”
“Well you should be! What’s wrong with you? I’m using you, I’m taking advantage of your…your feelings for me. It’s wrong…and it’s…” Her voice lowered so that he could barely hear her. “It’s killing me,” she finished in a whisper. “Why isn’t it killing you?”
His shoulders slumped, all trace of cockiness vanquished with her words. She was serious. The shiver that went up his spine had nothing to do with his body temperature; her “It’s killing me” cutting deeper than any of the normal verbal and physical insults.
“I didn’t say it was makin’ me happy, pet,” he said carefully, moving closer. “I said I wasn’t complainin’.”
“No, love. It isn’t. Not really. I’m not complainin’ because as long as anything I do can make you feel a bit better about bein’ in this world, that’s a good thing in my book. Do I wish you WANTED to be with me, rather than just needed it to feel better for a while? Hell, yes, Slayer, I wish you could be happy about whatever this is between us. You know that. But I can live with what I’ve got. I’m in your life - whether your little Scooby pals know it or not. You’re in my life. And I’m having regular, bloody wonderful sex with an amazing woman. What’s not to like?”
He tried a cocky grin that didn’t reach his eyes, now staring at her anxiously. A deepening fear that he knew what she had come there do kept him talking, as if, by preventing her from saying the words, he could change her intent.
“It’s not killin’ me because I’m love’s bitch and always have been. Have had years of practice knowin’ I’m not bein’ loved back. Don’t really expect it anymore, do I? As long as I can love you—“
“You shouldn’t love me! I’m…I’m mean to you! I abuse you – dammit, Spike, I almost killed you a few weeks ago! Don’t you see?” Her voice held a pleading note. “I don’t deserve your love. I don’t deserve anyone’s love. Not even a soulless vampire’s. There’s something wrong with me – you said it yourself – I came back wrong. And you’re paying the price for it.”
The look in his eyes told her she’d managed to tear his heart out again, without even meaning to this time. He blinked rapidly as he accepted his part in creating the despair in which Buffy was clearly living.
“N…no, love. Don’t…I never meant to…” To her horror, he fell to his knees in front of her, clutching her legs and burying his face against her thighs. His voice was muffled and strained as he struggled to deny her words. “Never meant that, Buffy. Never. You’re not – you’re sunshine, goodness; all the things I’m not. I was just runnin’ my bloody mouth, tryin’ to pull you closer to me. Was a bloody stupid git, wasn’t I? Trying to make you want to be with me, in my world. Know you don’t belong here, Buffy. I know that. I just wanted so badly for you to need me. Thought if I…Bloody hell! I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking…Never meant that, pet. The only thing wrong with you is that you got ripped out of your well-earned reward and you’re understandably unhappy about it.
“Do you think I don’t know you wouldn’t be with me if you were feeling better? That you wouldn’t be finding solace with a soulless demon if you had any other choice? I know that, Slayer. I wake up knowing it and it’s all I’m bloody thinking about when I fall asleep. I know this can’t last, love. I tell myself that every day.”
He stopped to take a shaky breath, unaware that, in his distress, his accent had slipped into something that sounded more like the upper-middle class gentleman he’d originally been than it did like the crude thug into which he’d made himself over the years. Buffy cocked her head and stared at him with newly aware eyes. For the first time, she allowed herself to see the man beneath the demon that she had tried to tell herself was all that Spike could ever be. She began to tremble.
“I can’t do this,” she whispered, even as her hands involuntarily found their way to the top of his head. “I can’t keep hurting you. It’s not right.” Her tears fell unnoticed onto the hands that were stroking his head. For long minutes they remained frozen in a sorrowful tableau, the vampire kneeling at her feet, his face hidden by her skirt, the Slayer’s head bowed over him as her tears dripped onto his hair.
She jerked with surprise when his voice floated up to her, containing just a trace of his usual snark.
“Right then. Because kickin’ me to the curb isn’t going to hurt me at all.”
She grabbed a handful of the soft curls she’d been absently stroking and yanked his head back to glare at him.
“Did I say that’s what I was doing?” she snapped.
“”S what you came here to do, isn’t it?” His eyes challenged her to deny what he’d guessed the minute she’d begun talking.
With a sigh, she dropped her hands and gently pushed him away. He rocked back onto his heels, but didn’t rise from his position on the hard floor.
“Yes,” she admitted in a whisper. “It’s what I came here to do. But it…it’s for your own good!” she added quickly. He raised a skeptical eyebrow, and she had the grace to look away and flush.
“Buffy.” His voice was strained but firm. “If you really need to do this to…to help yourself feel better about…things. Then there’s nothing I can do to stop you. And I…I wouldn’t want to.” He got slowly to his feet and gave a shaky laugh. “God, that’s a bloody lie, innit?”
Shaking off his fear, he approached her again. “It’s a bloody lie, but I’d do it. For you. If that’s really what you need.” He tipped her chin up and forced her to look at him. “But don’t try to tell yourself you’re doing it for me. I’d let you beat me to a bloody pulp every week if it meant I didn’t have to give you up. Whatever pain you think you’re causing me by not loving me the way I love you—“ He paused when she started to object. “Yeah, yeah, alright. It hurts. I’ll not deny it. It does. But, bloody hell, love, you can’t possibly think that leavin’ me is the answer to makin’ me feel better!” His voice grew louder as fear took control of his emotions.
“D’you have any idea how hard it would be for me to go back to bein’ alone here?” He grabbed a dagger off a nearby table and held it out to her. “Jus’ cut my heart out, now, Buffy, if that’s what you’re planning to do. Or put a stake through it. I don’t really care which. Jus’ don’t…don’t tell me you’re never comin’ back, love. Don’t do that to me.”
He finished his speech with his forehead pressed against hers, his hands hanging loose at his sides. He waited patiently for her response, not daring to allow himself to hope that because she wasn’t pulling away from him, she might have changed her mind.
“Wha…” She cleared her throat and tried again, “What if I just told you I had to stay away for a while? For me. I have to see if Buffy is still in here.” She touched her chest lightly, not moving away from him but making no attempt to touch him except to leave their foreheads pressed together. “I have to see what I can handle when I don’t have you to…to run to for distraction or for ego-boosting when I need it.”
“Nothing wrong with wanting a little ego-stroking, pet,” he murmured, still afraid to put his arms around her. “Or distraction, for that matter. Slayer’s life is a hard one; a good enough distraction might be--”
Buffy shocked them both when she lifted her head and raised a hand to cup his cheek. She met his puzzled eyes bravely.
“The distraction was always good, William. You’ll never hear me complain about that part of it.” She smiled sadly as his expression turned hopeful. “But I can’t keep pretending that sex with you doesn’t mean anything – to you or to…to me. I just need to figure out what it means. And I can’t do that while we’re doing…things. I need some space. I need to find Buffy again and figure out what she wants in her life. I feel like I’ve been sleep-walking since I got back and today I got a wake-up call.”
“What do you want me to do, pet?” The vampire’s voice was resigned as he stepped away from her. “Do you want me to leave Sunnyhell?”
“No!” Her vehement response came as much of a surprise to her as it did to him, and she colored slightly as she tried to recover. “I…I mean, no. You shouldn’t have to leave. We’re going to be like…friends. That’s all. Just, not with the physical stuff…We can do that, can’t we, Spike?”
The uncertainty and fear in her voice made him bite back the denial trembling in his throat, but he couldn’t hide the emotions so visible on his expressive face. Buffy shivered as she remembered his speech so long ago in which he’d told her that she and Angel would never be friends. The same speech in which he’d called himself “Love’s bitch”.
With a supreme effort, he resisted the urge to fall at her feet again. Telling himself that begging a Slayer was just not in his nature, he shook his head and whispered, “If you need me, love, you’ll know where to find me. I don’t think I’ll be hangin’ around much, though. It’s been hard enough not touchin’ you all the time, even knowin’ I was going to be able to do it later; I don’t know how well I could handle bein’ around you all the time, knowin’ you weren’t comin’ back with me when patrol was over. You know I’ve got your back if you need it, pet, but don’t ask me to pretend I’m not feelin’ what I’m feelin’ around your little Scoobies. I don’t think I can do it.”
Afraid to trust her voice, Buffy just nodded silently and tuned to go. When she reached the door, she paused and spoke softly, head down, eyes on the floor. “I’m sorry, William,” she whispered as she pulled the door open and walked out into the suddenly cold night.
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