Title : Later (April 2009)

Author: Slaymesoftly

Rating: PG

Banner: by Alwaysjbj

Summary: Just a little BTL, could’ve happened, set in Season II and written for Good__Evil’s artathon.

 

 

LATER

 

Buffy crept into the courtyard of the old mansion, freezing when she spotted the dejected figure slumped in the wheelchair.

 

“Spike?”

 

“Come to gloat, Slayer?”  He glanced at her, then turned his head away.

 

Buffy blinked several times. 

 

“I thought you were…I mean the church, with the flames and the organ…”

 

“You thought wrong.  Dru pulled me out.”

 

“Then why are you--?”

 

“Why am I sittin’ here?” He gazed at her, his eyes more sad than angry.  “’cause turns out even a vampire can get his back broken if something heavy enough lands on it.”

 

She flinched in spite of herself. “So, you’re…”

 

“Crippled.  Trapped in this bloody chair – except when your big ape of a boyfriend decides it would be funny to dump me out of it so I can’t get out of earshot while he shags my woman. Not ‘less I crawl, anyway.”  His bitter smile as her face fell at the reminder that Angelus was no longer interested in her did nothing to improve her mood or his.  “Looks like we’ve both been thrown out with the rubbish, eh, pet?”

 

Instead of answering him, Buffy approached his chair –careful to remain out of reach of what she assumed were still very powerful arms.  She pulled a stake from the small of her back and held it loosely, frowning at the once again morose vampire.

 

“I did this to you,” she whispered, more to herself than him. “I should fix it.”

 

“Don’t know how you’re going to do that, luv.  Unless you want to donate some of that magical elixir that flows through your veins…” He looked up hopefully, to see her recoiling in disgust.  “Guess not, then.”  His gaze went to the stake in her hand and his eyes widened.

 

“Gonna put me out of my misery, are you?”

 

“I didn’t know… But, yes. Now that I see what I… That’s what I should do.  I should put you out of your misery.”

 

“Put me down like an old dog, eh?”

 

“Are you telling me you want to be like this? You want to stay in that chair?”

 

“I’m not plannin’ on staying like this, Slayer. It’s just taking me longer to heal than it could…or should.”

 

“Why?”  Stake forgotten, Buffy’s brow wrinkled in confusion.  “Why aren’t you healing?”

 

“It’s not like I can go out and hunt down my food now, is it?” he snarled. “Or like Angelus and Dru can be bothered to remember I need to eat. I…” He stopped, took a deep breath and turned his head away.  “Jus’ do what you came to do, Slayer.”

 

“I came to see if they were holding any captives here,” she said slowly.  “I didn’t know you were here. I thought you were…gone.”

 

“Thought you’d done me in, did you?  Little inexperienced chit like you?  Takes more than you’ve got to kill William the Bloody.”

 

“I’ve got a stake. I’m pretty sure that’s all it takes, Spike.  You’re not invulnerable – just a better fighter than most.”

 

“You think I’m a good fighter?”  He sat up a bit straighter in the chair.

 

“You know you are.  Save the false modesty. It isn’t you.”

 

“You don’t have any bloody idea what is and isn’t ‘me’, Slayer.”  He slumped down again, letting his head fall back against he back of the chair and shutting his eyes.

 

Buffy cocked her head, walking closer and sitting down on a cement bench.

 

“So tell me,” she said conversationally, twirling her stake.  “What is ‘Spike’? What makes William the Bloody tick?”

 

He turned his head without raising it, and opened one skeptical eye at her.

 

“Now why would you need to know that, pet?  Just another vamp, aren’t I?”

 

“I don’t know,” she said slowly, studying him with a small furrow between her brows.  “I don’t think I’ve ever met another vamp like you.”

 

“Aside from me…and the bogtrotter… how many have lasted long enough for you to get to know them?”

 

“Point.” Buffy nodded her head, dropping her gaze to the pebbled ground.

 

There was silence while she thought about what he’d said.  Her frown deepened as she asked, “So, are you saying that other vampires can have feelings for each other.  Like…like you and Dru?”

 

He shrugged, then raised his head to study her confused expression.

 

“If you’re wonderin’ why Angelus isn’t still following you around like a puppy, it’s got nothing to do with him being a vampire. It’s because he’s always been a worthless wanker.  Don’t know whose soul those gypsies put into him, but I doubt it was Liam’s.”

 

“I didn’t say I was wondering…” She trailed off, embarrassed at having been caught out by the perceptive vampire.

 

“But you were, weren’t you?  Wondering why your boyfriend left when the soul did.”

 

“Well, you don’t have a soul – and you love that crazy ho-bag that you--”

 

“Watch your mouth, bitch!”  Spike’s snarl startled her into almost falling off the bench and she clutched her stake tighter.

 

“Spike! She’s …doing… with Angelus, right in front of you. What do you care what I call her?”

 

“Have you ever been in love, Slayer?  No, of course you haven’t.  You’re too young and--”

 

“I love Angel!”

 

“Talk to me when you’ve been in love for a hundred years.” He waved one arm dismissively.  “Real love.  Not little girl kisses in a graveyard.  Real, grown-up, can’t live with you, can’t live without you love.  Fighting and leaving and comin’ back and fighting again.  And then spending days shagging and apologizing to each other…” 

 

His eyes closed again, his attention obviously elsewhere.  Eventually he raised his head to meet her wide eyes.

 

“You’ve got no idea, Slayer.  No idea at all.  You don’t just quit loving someone because they hurt you.”

 

“I…I have to,” she whispered, staring down at her feet.  “I can’t love a…a monster.  I have to kill him.”

 

When she looked up again, she was surprised to find sympathy in the blue eyes staring at her from one of the other “monsters” in Angel’s extended family.

 

“You’re right, luv.” Spike’s voice was soft and weary.  “Lovin’ a monster isn’t in the cards for Heaven’s Chosen One.  Fortunately for you, my grandsire’s likely to chip away at that love with every kill he makes. The longer he stays undusted, the easier you’re going to find it.”  He gave her a brief smile, continuing to talk almost to himself.  “Drove Dru insane with it, he did; but I’m thinkin’ you’re made of sterner stuff.  The big git’s gonna find out hurting a Slayer just makes her stronger.”

 

When he didn’t say any more – just stared into space, his mind once again somewhere else – Buffy stood up.  She shifted her feet, indecision plain on her face, the stake still clenched in her hand. Suddenly, the idea of staking this vampire while he was helpless felt very different from the casual dusting she did every night.  She bit her lip.

 

Spike abruptly swung his attention back to her, causing her to twitch in surprise.

 

“Better make up your mind, luv.  They’ll be back soon.  Good as you are, I don’t know if you could take ‘em both now that Dru’s healthy.”

 

“What…what do you want, Spike?  Do you want me to leave you here to hope they’ll feed you enough to get you better?  ‘Cause you know, it’s not like I’m not going to be out there trying to stop them from killing. You could starve. Or…I could just…” She waved the stake in the air.

 

“You want to do that, luv?  Do you really want to stake a crippled man who’s too weak to fight you?”

 

“You’re a vampire, Spike. I stake vampires all the time.”

 

“Didn’t ask you if you could do it, Slayer. Asked if you wanted to stake me like this.”

 

He pulled his shirt open and bared his chest.  Buffy flinched as she saw the unhealed burns and easily visible ribs.  With a start, she realized that he’d been telling the truth about not getting fed regularly.  She was shaking her head before she’d even formed the words that left her mouth.

 

“No. I don’t want to stake you like this - when you can’t fight back. But…”

 

“Wouldn’t be as much fun, would it, pet?” He gave her a bitter smile.  “You and me – we’re good together.  Like we were made for the dance.  Can’t dance with you now, can I? Probably not strong enough to even stop you from driving that stake through my heart.  I’m at your mercy, Slayer.”

 

“Slayers don’t do ‘mercy’, Spike.  Not for vampires.”

 

“Most slayers wouldn’t,” he agreed with a nod. “They’re all about the mission. All business, they are.  But not you. You’re different.  Got family, friends…had yourself a vamp boyfriend for a while.  You’ve got more mercy in you than you know.”

 

“If you don’t want me to stake you, just say so.  Don’t try to charm me out of it.”

 

“Wasn’t trying to be charming, luv. Just calling it like I see it.  You’re something special, Buffy.  If I’m going down to a slayer, I’d want it to be you.  But I’d want it to be in fair fight.  Just you and me.”

 

“You lost the last time we tried that…”

 

“Did. But I’m still here.  Losin’ just means you have to come back and try again.” He gave her another smile - this one sad but genuine - tilting his head to one side and letting his hands fall to his sides.

 

Buffy smiled for the first time since she’d found him slumped in his chair.

 

“So, you’re saying I should let you go – knowing you’re going to be coming after me again as soon as you can.  Not seeing the upside to this, Spike.”

 

“Sure you are.  First place, who knows how long it’s going to be before I’m strong enough to think about taking you on?  Could be months. Lots of time for you to get even better at your job.”

 

“And second place?”

 

“You know you want to fight me again. You got off on it as much as I did.  You think I don’t remember that? ‘I’d rather be fightin’ you, anyway.’ ‘Mutual’.  Admit it, luv. You want to dance with me again.”

 

“I think ‘want’ might be a pretty strong word for it,” she said with a shake of her head.  “But I’m willing to give you a chance to fight me again.  I guess whether or not you get strong enough to do it is up to your cheating girlfriend and my…ex.”

 

“I’ll get better. Count on it.”  For just a second she caught a glimpse of the dangerously cocky vampire who had almost killed her the first time they fought. Then he was gone again, as Spike raised his head, listening intently.  His eyes flew to hers.

 

“They’re back, luv. Best get out of here while you can.”

 

Buffy fell into a fighting stance, staring around wildly.

 

“Where? Where are they?”

 

“Where they spend most of their time when they’re not…never mind.  They won’t be noticing much of anything for a while.”  His eyes fell shut; his voice was thick with sorrow.  Buffy bit her lip, blinking back tears as she realized what he meant.  She unconsciously glanced toward the mansion, wondering briefly which of the rooms Angelus and Dru were using for their lovemaking.

 

“Go, Slayer,” Spike said gruffly. “He’s not worth cryin’ over and definitely not worth hanging around here to get killed.”

 

“But…I…” She took a deep breath.  “Will you be all right?”

 

“Don’t worry about me, luv.  Next time you see me, I’ll be after your blood.”

 

“Right,” she said dubiously, watching him shrink into the chair, clutching his coat around his thin body.  His eyes were squeezed shut and she realized that he could probably hear every one of the things she was imagining from the bedroom behind them.  “I’ll…um…I’ll just see you later, then…”

 

When there was no reply, she sighed and turned away.  As she left the garden, moving as silently as she could, she thought she heard a barely audible, “Later, Slayer,” behind her.

 

The End

 

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