Title: Training Potentials (2003)
Season VII - takes it’s own direction after Spike begins helping with the Potentials
Word count: 2918
Disclaimer: They all belong to ME and Joss. I own nothing but my imagination.
Distribution: Ask and take
Feedback: yes, please
Notes: It could have gone this way.......
After she had knocked Spike into a tombstone while demonstrating how to take out an attacking vampire, Buffy saw with dismay that he was wincing and rubbing his chest. She immediately dropped her stake and fell to her knees beside him.
“Let me see,” she demanded, pushing up his shirt and running her hand along his barely-healed ribs. He gently covered her hand with his. “I’m all right, pet,” he said softly as he moved her hand off his rib cage.
Their eyes met and suddenly Buffy was very conscious of their hands touching, and the way his body felt. Except when she had helped him walk out of the First’s cave, this was the first time they had touched since he came back with his soul. Her body filled with warmth, and she could see from the way his eyes darkened that he could feel it. For just a second, they were the only ones in the universe.
“So, after we knock them down, we’re supposed to what? Make out with them?”
Rhoda’s snide remark reminded Buffy of the purpose of tonight’s cemetery visit, as well as the audience of teenage girls watching her every move. She jumped to her feet and launched into another lesson on staking vampires as they emerge from the grave. She was greatly relieved to see one climbing out a short distance away and pointed to him quickly.
“There you are, girls. There’s something to practice on.”
“I almost feel sorry for him,” she said as the group of potential slayers rushed in the fledgling’s direction. They were elbowing each other in their eagerness to be the first one there.
The fledgling’s initial joy at seeing so much fresh blood coming in his direction quickly turned to panic when he saw the stakes in their hands.
While the girls vied to be the first one to dust her own vampire, Buffy and Spike stood side-by-side, shoulders barely touching. It felt so good to have him working beside her again, to be able to brush against him as if by accident, that it took her a while to notice that every muscle in his body was rigid. Even as she noticed, and turned to him, he moved away from her.
“Nothing, Slayer. Just think we need to be a little closer to the action in case one of them makes a mistake.”
“If one does, she’s got ten more girls watching her back,” she snapped. “What’s wrong with you?” She reached out her hand to touch his arm and was surprised both by the way he flinched away and by how much it hurt that he did.
“If you don’t want me touching you, just say so,” she said angrily, pulling her hand back.
“I don’t want you touching me,” he whispered; the lie burned his throat even as he spoke.
“Fine, I won’t!” she huffed.
They stared in opposite directions until a shout from the girls made them both whirl around to see the new vampire’s dust drifting away.
“Amanda did it,” they all cheered. “She got her first vamp.”
“Ok, girls, I guess that’s enough for tonight. Good job everyone. Let’s head home and......”
Suddenly, Buffy went flying through the air, propelled by the large arm of an enormous and extremely ugly demon. Her headfirst landing on a large monument made a sickening sound and her body slid down to the ground and was still. The potentials stood, frozen with shock for a second before rushing toward her. Faster than any human could move, Spike was there – checking first to see if she was breathing. Blood trickled down onto the ground from a large cut on her head where it had hit the granite tombstone.
Spike could hear her steady heartbeat, and heaved a sigh of relief. Then his face changed and he threw himself at the demon. He was in full vampire mode for the first time since he came back from being tortured by the First, and the girls watched in awe and horror as he systematically beat the demon to death. He inflicted the maximum pain in the process, breaking bones deliberately as he went about reducing it to a mewling pile of flesh on the ground. When he was sure he had hurt it as much as he could, he ripped its head off and tossed it away.
The girls had never seen Spike as anything except a quiet presence in the house or a semi-passive demonstration dummy for Buffy. They all knew he was a vampire, but hadn’t really understood the reality of that until now.
Ignoring the fearful looks they cast his way, he ran back to Buffy who was now leaning against the tombstone, barely conscious and still bleeding from her head. By the time he got to her, his face had settled back into its startlingly beautiful human form and there was no sign of the raging monster the girls had just seen destroy a creature twice his size. In its place was a human face full of anguish and concern.
With infinite tenderness, he picked up his Slayer and started to carry her out of the cemetery. He paid no attention to the suddenly quiet group of potentials accompanying them. Several of the girls ran ahead to alert everyone that the Slayer was injured and to hold the door for Spike as he carried her in.
“Put her down here,” Willow said, gesturing to the couch. “What happened?”
“Demon. Caught us - caught me - by surprise,” Spike stated flatly. Giles raised an eyebrow at him questioningly. “And the demon....?” Spike just looked back at him with cold eyes. Giles nodded. “Right, dead then.” He cleared his throat and went to help Willow with Buffy. She had cleaned up the wound and put an ice pack on the sizable lump forming on the side of Buffy’s head.
“Is she going to be all right?” Dawn asked anxiously.
“I think she will, Dawn. She’s going to have to rest for a couple of days. I’m sure she has a concussion. But you know Slayers, their heads are pretty hard.” Willow smiled at Dawn, who giggled back.
“Hey, right here, witchy-woman,” Buffy said indignantly as she struggled to sit up. “Oooh, ow! Room in motion.” She quickly put her head back down. “Maybe I’ll just stay her for a while.”
“Good plan. Just stay there and try to get some rest. The girls can sleep in your room tonight.”
As the house got quieter with the subdued, but chattering girls going upstairs, Giles became aware of a pounding sound coming from the basement. He and Willow exchanged glances and Giles rose to his feet. “I’ll go,” he said with a sigh. “I think I know what this is about.”
The Watcher opened the basement door and walked carefully down the dark steps until he could see the source of the noise. Spike was hitting the training bag as hard as he could, pounding over and over and growling incoherently.
“Spike! Spike!” Giles raised his voice to be heard over the thudding punches. “Stop it”.
The vampire slowed and eventually stood still, his exhausted arms and bleeding knuckles hanging at his sides. With astonishment, the watcher realized that those normally piercing blue eyes were clouded with unshed tears. Spike glanced up quickly at the other man, then, just as quickly, looked away.
“I’m sorry, Watcher,” he said, so softly Giles could barely hear him. “It’s my fault. I let myself be distracted.”
“Spike....” Giles began haltingly.
“She could have been killed! I’m supposed to protect her!” He turned and hit the bag again, sending it rocking back on its chain.
“You’re supposed to help her fight Spike. You’re not her guardian angel.” Giles found himself trying to soothe the obviously tormented being in front of him. When did I start to care about how Spike feels? he wondered as he polished his glasses. Replacing them on his nose, he moved to get between Spike and the bag.
“You need to save your strength for the demons you haven’t already killed,” Giles said softly. He paused, and for a minute, the Ripper was visibly present in the usually gentle Watcher’s demeanor.
“The one who did this, he regretted it before he died?”
“Oh yeah, he did.” The two exchanged looks that required no additional words.
Giles nodded and started back up the stairs.
Giles turned his head.
“The girls - the ones that were with us. I s’pect they’re not going to be too comfortable around me for a while.”
“They don’t have to be comfortable; they have to be strong. Don’t worry about it,” he replied tersely as he continued up the stairs. Willow glanced up anxiously from her place beside a sleeping Buffy.
“Is everything OK?”
“As OK as it can be with a vampire who holds himself responsible for every unpleasant thing that happens to her.” Giles sighed. “When did Spike become so complicated?”
“When he got his soul - no, that’s not fair. Actually, when he started falling in love with Buffy. He just has a whopping load of guilt on top of it now. That can be a real day-ruiner, let me tell you.” Willow smiled ruefully at the Watcher.
“Yes, well, I suppose we should be grateful he’s on our side.”
“I suppose....The girls were talking about what he did to the demon. I don’t think any of them are going to be wanting to spend quality time with him anytime soon.”
Giles shook his head. “Nor should they - but we need him. And Buffy trusts him, so.....”
“Giles, why don’t you go to bed? I’ll stay with Buffy in case she wakes up and needs something.”
“All right. Thank you, Willow. Good night. Call me if you need me.”
“I’ll be fine. Good night, Giles.”
Willow sat up with a start, realizing she had drifted off while reading in the low light of the only lamp. She quickly glanced at Buffy to see if that’s what had awakened her, but the Slayer was still sleeping, breathing easily with her mouth slightly open. A barely perceptible sound from the hallway made her look up and she saw Spike standing at the entrance to the room.
“Why don’t you get some sleep, Red? Let me take the night shift.”
“Aren’t you tired. With the demon-killing and all?”
Spike smiled slightly, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Creature of the night, remember? This is my daytime.”
“Oh, yeah, right. Well, okay then. You’ll call me if......”
“We’ll be fine, Red. Go to bed.”
For a long time after Willow left the room he sat as still as only a vampire can, just watching the slight figure on the couch as she breathed in and out. She is so thin, he thought, So small to be taking so much on her shoulders. As he watched, she rolled on to her back and soon began to frown and move around in her sleep. She pushed her blanket to the floor as she tossed and turned, clearly having a bad dream of some sort. Spike watched her restless squirming for as long as he could, but when she started to cry out in her sleep, “No, no!” he moved quickly to her side.
Putting the blanket back around her trembling body, he turned her on her side and began to rub her back and arms repeating, “It’s alright, love. I’m here. It’s alright.”
As she gradually relaxed and her breathing became more regular, he shifted his hand to her head and began to gently stroke her hair and face. He became so caught up in the feel of her silky hair, the unique smell of her, the softness of the skin on her cheek, that he didn’t realize her eyes were open until she spoke.
“No fair.” she whispered. “If I can’t touch you, you can’t touch me.”
As she turned her head to look over her shoulder, he snatched his hand away as if it was on fire.
“I’m... I’m sorry. You were dreaming. I just wanted to....” He started to move away back to his chair, but she turned over and grabbed his wrist in a grip that belied the frail-looking arm attached to the hand.
“That was meant to be funny and you know it,” she growled at him. Then her expression softened. “ I...I like it when you touch me. I miss it, Spike.”
He pulled away from her roughly. “You miss what? What do you miss the most, Buffy? My hitting you to prove there was something wrong with you? Or when I tried to rape you?” His face was a mask of pain as he shook off her hand and moved across the room to stand trembling, with his back to her.
Buffy pulled herself up on the couch and tried to stand. “Spike, please, stop -” She gasped as dizziness overtook her and she started to pitch forward. With supernatural speed, he was in front of her, catching her in his arms as she collapsed.
“Bloody hell, you stupid bint. What are you trying to do to yourself?”
“I’m trying to get you to look at me. To talk to me,” she mumbled into his chest.
He lowered her gently to the couch and covered her back up with the blanket.
“Please stay put, pet. If that had been anyone but me, they wouldn’t have reached you in time.”
She looked at him with pleading eyes. “I wouldn’t have tried to do that for anyone else. I wouldn’t have needed to. Why can’t you just sit here and hold me?”
“Buffy, I.... I don’t want to be that close to you, touching you. It’s too hard.”
“You had to touch me to carry me here. You touched me just now. You were touching me when you thought I was asleep...”
“That’s different. You needed me then. I had to touch you to help you.”
“I need you now. I need the security of knowing you still love me. I need the comfort of ....”
“It’s too dangerous, love.” he interrupted. “I’m too dangerous. I don’t want to risk hurting you... ever... again.”
“You’re NOT dangerous. Not to me. I’ve never felt as safe as I did while you were carrying me home tonight. I could have happily stayed there, in your arms, all night.”
He spoke softly with his body and face turned away from her, “You know, pet, time was, having you in my arms all night would've.....” He shook himself. “But you were right. You didn’t belong there - and you still don’t.”
“I was WRONG!” she cried, then quickly lowered her voice again. “I was wrong and I’m sorry for the way I rejected you and what you wanted to give me.” She stopped what she was saying to demand, “Will you look at me please? I was a bitch. I hurt you - you hurt me - can’t we just call it even?”
“We’ll never be even,” he ground out between his teeth as he turned to look at her. “There is no forgetting what I tried to do to you.”
“There’s forgiving,” she said quietly. “I forgave you a long time ago - long before you came back with your soul. I forgave you. Why can’t you forgive me?” Her eyes were brimming with unshed tears as she asked plaintively, “Does having a soul mean you can’t love the person who pushed you so far over the edge you had to get it? Don’t you want me anymore, Spike? “
She could see the tension in his body from her place on the couch. He was holding himself so tightly in check that his entire body was trembling.
“I never stopped loving you, Buffy. You know that. I never will. I will love you until I’m dust - and beyond if having a soul means that’s possible.”
“Then be with me,” she pleaded. “Let me feel that love again. I never knew how much it meant to me until it wasn’t there anymore. I miss you, Spike,” she added softly.
Exhausted, she slumped back onto the pillows and shut her eyes briefly. When they fluttered open again, she found herself gazing into adoring blue just inches from her face.
“How do you do that?” she complained, half seriously. “Vampires should wear bells.”
Even as she complained about not knowing he was there, she knew it wasn’t true. She could feel her whole body responding to his nearness. She could feel his presence with every fiber of her being. And she could tell he could feel her blood racing and the heat from her body. Could feel and hear the rapid pounding of her heart.
She stared at his mouth and remembered how it felt to kiss it; the things he could do with it.....glancing up into his amused eyes, she knew he was aware of exactly what she was thinking. Suddenly, she felt herself blushing. As though, after all the things they had done with and to each other, they were about to kiss for the first time. As he gently put his lips on hers and applied soft, tentative pressure, it occurred to her that, in a way, they were.
When Willow came down in the morning, she found them there on the couch. The small blond Slayer folded up in the arms of the former Big Bad; both looking much too happy and peaceful than anyone had a right to with an apocalypse looming.
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