“If one more bug asks me if I want him to recycle my arm....”
“Can’t blame them, love. You’re clearly not bleeding to death and the arm isn’t flesh. Just looks like molting exoskeleton to them. Let me see that,” he pointed toward the stump protruding from her shoulder.
“You’re the robot expert,” she muttered, moving closer to him. “How can I think I’m me, if I’m not me? And if I am me, what am I doing in a f****ing robot? Where’s the real me? Am I dead? Like, is my body dead, and Andrew or somebody put me into a Buffybot so no one would know... including me?” She squirmed when Spike poked at the wires and broken metallic “bones” that were all that was left of her right arm.
“Did that hurt?”
“No, it just feels weird, watching somebody poking at what should be a pretty excruciating wound.”
Spike nodded. “Might be a good time to be glad you’re not flesh and blood right now,” he said. “I’m not sure if we... not that I wouldn’t have tried, but a wound like that would have needed immediate first aid, far beyond my abilities.”
“Am I just a BuffyBot, Spike?” Buffy’s voice was soft and unsure. “Is that all I am? Do I just think I’m real?” She raised her eyes to his. “I remember talking to BuffyBot — she thought she was real.”
“She did, sometimes... but she also knew when she was running a program of some sort. “S why she couldn’t fight quite like you can – no ability to think past what had been programmed in to her. No creativity.”
“Not even when you were....”
“Especially not then,” he said shortly, moving away from her. “All she knew to do was keep repeatin’ the same bloody program.” He sighed and gave her a small smile. “Trust me, love. It was nothing like the real thing.”
“Is that why you haven’t touched me except to look at my arm? I’m not the real thing anymore, am I?”
He shook his head. “Don’t be daft, I just— You sound like you, you act like you, you have to be you... but....”
“But I’m just another Bot. BuffyBot 3.0. The new, improved version that can be snarky and mean, and say things that hurt you....but isn’t worth touching.” She slumped against the back of the bed. “You won’t love me if I’m a bot, will you? If you can’t touch me, or—”
“Get over yourself, Slayer. I’ve loved you for most of the past ten years, and only got to touch you for a few months of that. It’s got nothing to do with you being a Bot. It’s not you, it’s me.”
“The classic break-up line.” Her shoulders slumped even more. “Okay, I’ll just pack everything up and beg my roommates to take me back.” She raised her chin and met his eyes. “Just for the record, I’m sorry for whatever I said that made you go stomping out of the room earlier.”
He looked at her hard. “You said what you felt. I’m your dark place, your not-normal...and it’s not what you want.”
“I said IF I wanted normal, you’d be what I was running from. I didn’t do that, did I? I ran TO you. I wasn’t saying I wanted normal, you moron. I was saying IF I did, you wouldn’t be it. Cause you’re not—normal. And neither am I. Hell, we’re not even normal for slayers and vampires. We keep dying and then we’re alive again... You run around in a spaceship... I’m a pregnant robot— How does that even happen? Did I get drunk and have sex with a... a... sewing machine?”
Her voice had climbed higher and higher as she shouted at him, then it dropped to a whisper. “Right now, you are the normal one. I’m the freak - a one armed, pregnant robot, who nobody w...wa...wants.” She was suddenly speaking through big, gulping sobs, her whole body shaking.
“Oh Buffy...” Spike was beside her quickly, his hands suspended in the air as he tried to comfort her without actually touching. When she raised tear-filled eyes that could only have belonged to one person, he gasped and pulled her into his chest, letting her cry it out while he held her, murmuring heartfelt platitudes about making it all right. When her sobs had tapered off to hiccups, he pushed her away and took her face in both hands. Holding her gaze, he said, “I’ve got no bloody idea what’s happened to you, or how or why you’re suddenly mechanical, but I know it’s you in there. You’re my Buffy, and we’ll figure this out. You and me, we’ll figure it out.”