Title: STILL IN LOVE
Season: season VII – around Buffy’s date with Principal Wood
Word count – 1872
Disclaimer – not my characters – I’m just putting words in their mouths
Distribution – sure, take it if you want it. Just tell me who you are
Another beautiful use of screencaps that I snagged for a screen saver and that fits this fic so well. If it’s yours, please let me know.
STILL IN LOVE
“Why does everyone in this house think I’m still in love with Spike?”
Dozing on his cot in the basement, Spike was only half aware of the conversation going on upstairs between Buffy and Willow, even though his vamp hearing made it possible to hear them if he concentrated. He was vaguely aware that they were talking about Buffy’s boss, the new principal at Sunnydale High, and only gradually came to understand that Buffy was going out to dinner with him. He tried to ignore the sudden pain in his chest at the thought of her dating. “That’s not where we are now,” he reminded himself. “She has accepted me as her friend and fellow fighter and that has to be good enough.”
Then those shouted words reached his ears and he froze. If he’d had a beating heart, it would have been pounding off the charts. “In love with Spike? STILL in love?” Had he really heard those words? And to one of the Scoobies? Willow thought Buffy was in love with him? (Still in love; she’d said still). Who else thought so? What were they seeing that he didn’t?
Fighting the almost overwhelming urge to fly up the stairs and demand an explanation, he reviewed their relationship over the past few months. Granted, she hadn’t staked him when she found out he was killing again -- even when he’d asked her to. But that could be just her innate kindness – refusing to punish him for things that were out of his control. Rescuing him from the First – Okay, that was a biggy. She’d fought and killed the Turok-han to free him. But she had to do that anyway. It was trying to kill her and the potentials.
He remembered the look on her battered face as she cut him loose. Was there more there than sympathy and determination? Was there relief that he was still alive? She fit so perfectly under his arm as she helped him walk out of the cave; it felt so natural to have her arm around his waist while he leaned on her. It hadn’t even occurred to him that she could have brought the watcher or the whelp to carry him out. He remembered her concern at potential training when she thought she had re-injured his ribs; and how warm her hand felt when he squeezed it and moved it away from his stomach. Neither of them had made any attempt to let go until the sarcastic remarks from the potentials (and what did they think they were seeing?) made Buffy get off abruptly and resume the lesson.
While he was mentally reviewing every conversation, exchange of glances, or touch of her hands (had she been touching him more than necessary?), looking for clues to her feelings, the conversation upstairs ended and he lost his chance to ask for an explanation. Sighing, he relaxed back onto the cot and tried to smother the small ball of warmth that was trying to grow in his chest.
That small spark of hope was efficiently quelled when he accidentally ran into her in the upstairs hall as she readied for what was so obviously a date with Robin Wood. He couldn’t stop himself from telling her how beautiful she looked – and he couldn’t help seeing how happy she seemed to have something to look forward to besides an apocalypse. Her stammered explanation for going out and her attempt to make it seem less like a date –obviously to spare his feelings – made his heart turn over and he did his best to assure her that he was fine with it. He thought he’d brought it off pretty well. She seemed convinced that he was all right with her dating. She even suggested he should think about it himself, before rushing off to continue dressing.
(Yeah, mate, that’s just how a girl in love would act. Stop kidding yourself. All she feels for you is a sense of responsibility – another Scooby for her to worry about. )
When he entered the restaurant he paused for a moment and watched the two of them laughing, smiling, obviously having a good time. The look of admiration and awe on the principal’s face as he leaned toward her to give her something from his plate was too much. With vampire speed Spike was beside the table just in time to watch Buffy take a bite of pear off Wood’s fork. Her startled glance at him and her “What are you doing here?” didn’t contain anywhere near the amount of irritation he would have expected. If anything, she looked almost guilty as she swallowed the pear and sat up straight.
“It’s Xander,” he said, no other explanation being necessary. He filled them in on the way to Wood’s car. There seemed no doubt that the hellmouth was the most likely place to look, and Wood drove them there quickly. Spike could see the man throwing glances in the rear view mirror – speculation and something that looked almost like recognition clearly visible on his face. Spike did his best to sit where Wood would not expect to see a reflection of his rear seat passenger, but couldn’t be sure that he hadn’t already been found out.
“Sod him,” Spike thought grimly, “I might try to make Buffy believe I’m alright with this, but I’m damned if I’ll give him any reason to be comfortable.” Spike met each glance Woods threw over his shoulder with his iciest stare.
Xander’s demon girl turned out to be quite a handful, and even with Spike vamped out it took both he and Buffy to subdue her. While Spike was on the ground trying to recover from a particularly violent blow, Buffy managed to whack the demon’s head off. It wasn’t lost on any of the men in the room that Buffy ran to Spike before she even looked to see if either Xander or Robin had been injured. As soon as he squeezed her hand to let her know he was okay and appreciated her concern, she ran to Xander to help bandage his wound.
When Xander made a joke about having his usual luck with demon-women, he asked Buffy how her date was going. She looked guiltily back and forth between the dark man and the very pale man glaring at each other over her head and just rolled her eyes. Spike held the principal’s gaze until he turned away to help Buffy with Xander. He knew everything about his posture was screaming, “My girl – keep away or you’re dead,” but he didn’t care. There was something about the guy and the way he was looking at him that made Spike’s vampire senses tingle. He knew the man had seen him vamp out, but he looked more thoughtful than scared.
Later that evening, after Buffy had explained to everyone who Robin was and why he was in Sunnydale, and after Andrew had repeated the First’s comments about it not being time for Spike yet, they found themselves alone finally. They sat on the couch, close but not touching while Spike suggested he should leave town. Buffy’s response, that she wasn’t ready for him to not be there, sent the little spark of hope burning again. “And what about the principal?” he asked. “Where does he fit in?”
She met his gaze for a few seconds, then shrugged and reached out to take his hand. “ I…I need you here, in my life, by my side, watching my back,” she said carefully. “I know that’s not fair, and I know…”
Spike took her hand in both of his and kissed it gently, interrupting her. “I’m here for you. You know that. As long as you need me, or, or want me….in any capacity; I’m yours, Buffy. I think I have been since I first saw you dancin’ in the Bronze. Will be till I’m dust – or beyond if that’s what having a soul means.”
“Spike, I don’t want to hurt you any more than I already have.” To his surprise, she had tears in her eyes. “Everyone thinks we’re together anyway. Maybe we should just….”
“Maybe everyone should just mind their own business,” he said roughly. “We are what we are – and they can just sod off.”
But, what are we?” she asked. “ Giles said we’re together whether we’re being physical or not. That we rely on each other too much.”
Spike snorted, “Wanker!”
“We’re not lovers anymore.” That brought a quick look from under his eyebrows. “And we’re certainly not enemies – haven’t been for years. Are we friends?” As she said it, she remembered Spike’s admonition to her and Angel years ago, “You’ll never be friends. You’ll fight and shag and love, but….” When he looked at her and smiled, she knew he was remembering the same speech.
“We can try to be friends,” he said softly, putting one hand up to her face, “but you know me, Love’s bitch. Always have been. Always will be. It’s your call, Buffy.”
“I have friends,” she said carefully, “I need something else. I need someone who will let me be tired or hurt or scared and just hold me till it’s better. I need someone to love me just for me – not for what I am or what I can do.”
“Are you taking applications for the position?” he asked hopefully. “ ‘Cause I think I know just the person. He’s got years of experience, won’t want much in return, and he already loves you very much.”
“Then I guess he’s got the job. I don’t think anybody else could do it anyway. Not the way he can.” Buffy blushed as she realized how easily that statement could be interpreted to mean more than she had intended. She peeked at Spike from under her eyelashes, but instead of the smirk she expected to see, he was staring at her intently, raw desire reflected in his eyes. For a second she could have sworn those eyes were flecked with gold, but they quickly dissolved back to their normal blue and his look softened.
She felt her heart rate increasing as the heat from her face spread throughout her body. She knew from experience that he would know how she was reacting, but she forestalled any move on his part by putting her hand to his face. “Spike, I didn’t mean…I mean, you know it’s true, but I wasn’t thinking about…I’m not ready to…”
He stopped her by gently touching her mouth with his fingertips. “Shush, love, I know that’s not what you meant. I’m not ready for that either – I’m not sure I even could without a flashback to….” His face crumpled for a second and the guilt and shame he felt for his attempt to force her last year was clearly visible. “Just let me love you. It’s enough for me that you want me here.”
Buffy’s lips were acting independently of her brain as they planted gentle kisses on his fingers. “I will always want you here,” she said softly.
“And I will always be here,” he answered. “Always”
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