Chapter Rating: PG13
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
The words came in time with the shattering of glass and splintering of wood.
Always the weak one, but he could still destroy her store as soon as he touched it, pounding the door open with kicks and bewildered terror. As soon as he realized she'd tried to lock him out while she hurt him, plunged a knife into his back with her open-mouthed screams that didn't touch his ears, the door came down. There hadn't been audio. On the screen or in his mind.
She'd never screamed like that for him.
How could she not notice him when he stormed in? The smell of sex hung low and thick, like weed chosen by true connoisseurs. Was that... thing she was with as addictive? Alcohol sitting on the counter. Did writhing in the undead's grasp buzz her mind like Absolut? Had all the good chemicals flooded into her brain, so that it took her ten seconds and an hour before glazed brown eyes finally realized he was standing there?
"Xander?" she finally asked uncertainly. A blonde head panted against her shoulder. Stop the act, you don't need to breathe. You're not real.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Quiet now, and with more anger.
Anger and disgust.
Steps ran in behind him, cutting off with a strangled moan. That finally made the thing look around through its own daze.
Buffy teetered on the edge. Tears grew, then were blinked away. Anger, pain, bewilderment, but those were expected. Why did they look directed inward?
He deserved an explanation, dammit. He hadn't given permission for his fiancee to roll in the mud like this. How were they supposed to talk things out if she wasn't going to be as good as the woman he'd proposed to? "Well?" Harris anger was strong anger, building in a slow burn or a quick rage. Either way lead to the same end. Put one on top of the other, see what you get.
She just looked at him. Shifted a bit so she was between the man she thought she loved and her lover who didn't crush her heart. Where the hell had that come from? Her chest bared to Xander and his silent companion, but she didn't look to care. Forgo modesty with her chest and keep away stakes from his.
Finally she said, "You left."
"I put things off. I said I was sorry. You didn't listen, or you would've known I wasn't calling things off." God, he wished he had a stake. Why wasn't it saying anything? It just kept staring at Buffy. "Guess it's easier to go find a convenient screw than listen to what I have to say. Real nice."
The glaze began to fall away from her eyes, replaced by an eerie calm. She listened as he ranted, as he raved, and then levelly said, "You broke my door."
"Is that all you care about, you... drunken whore?" Immature words, hateful words, but they came so easily. He'd heard them road tested at home over and over, the rough edges polished away as he moved through grades K-12. "I loved you, and this is how you treat me?"
"This is private property," she said in that same too-calm voice. "Why are you trespassing?"
"Answer me, dammit! You think I deserve this? After everything?"
"This is my store. This is my life. This is not about you. My body is no longer for you to look at, Xander. Leave."
He almost did as told. Trained well, the loyal slobbering puppy of the gang, he was. But training was only so strong against the ingrained instincts that told him to demolish the thing still touching what was his, corrupting her into this warped creature that said she didn't love him and that he wasn't supposed to be here. He could hurt it. He could make it scream for mercy and show it none while it hung there helpless. Only Buffy's hand on his arm held him back.
"Don't," she said. The word came out like the last breath of air from a closing tomb.
Everyone against him, everything upended. Nothing made sense. He shook off her hand and turned to demand an explanation, but her eyes told him none would be given. They were dead, just waiting to be reburied along with the rest of her.
"I'm going home." He held his hands up, trying to push away reality. "This is a dream. This is all a..." A finger found its way free of the shield to point at the Mata Hari. "Glad I saw this now. Now I know everything, every fucking thing he showed me was true. I was right to leave you. Just should've done it sooner. Should've known this is all you are."
Glass and wood served as a substitute for a slamming door. He'd already left that wound on the store, a great gaping sore that invited in the night.
He'd call Willow, he decided as he walked in returning disbelief down the sidewalk. She'd tell him he was right. She'd been right all along. She never liked Anya. Smart, smart Willow. He should have listened to her before. They could sit on the couch and pull out yearbooks, and think back to simpler days when they weren't stupid enough to think you could love a werewolf or a demon and not be betrayed.
* * * * *
Buffy stared at him. He stared back. Anya slowly turned away from the Slayer enough to cut off the peepshow born of necessity and scrambled for her top.
"Why?" she finally asked. Little girls would practice that voice of betrayed innocence, so they could wrap softhearted fathers around manipulative fingers.
It always worked on men in love, no matter the form.
Spike looked away. "I didn't... this wasn't anything planned. Just happened." In a voice too low for anyone but the girl at his side to hear, he muttered, "Two people, boatload of hurt, convenient liquor... you do the math." No, he'd just thought it was too soft for her. She heard it. Heard the attempt to cover up real pain with barbs and the illusion of not caring. A master at the craft always recognized her trade being practiced.
"How could you?" was all she found it in her to say.
"How could I... I thought I was out of your life." She saw the tears clouding her eyes mirrored in his. Was now when they would finally start being honest? No, no. Would now be when she finally matched his honesty? "Made that pretty clear."
Why didn't he understand? He understood her as a single person, why didn't he get what she was trying to say about what she wanted from him? Prove she could trust him. Hell, prove he could trust her. Know that she wanted every molecule of him, but if she gave in now, she'd burn to a crisp. Watch her skin blacken and peel, but not feel anything as she crumbled to ash. How could the vampire stand in the fire and not turn to dust, but the strong and heroic Slayer would, like so many of her vanquished foes?
He was immortal. Why didn't he understand that she wanted him to wait? What else did he have but time, what else did he have to do but wait until she was ready? Who else was there?
Someone who'd shielded him with her own body before a threat even arose.
Someone who wasn't ashamed.
Someone who hadn't left him to die in an alley.
"You bastard." I love you. "You just did this to hurt me." You're mine, don't you see that? "I thought you said you loved me, but I guess I was right all along." The second I'm ready, I'll be yours. Just give me the time to heal.
He had the bloody Enigma codebook to her psyche. Why were these pages missing?
"You're nothing but a soulless thing." I'm nothing but a soulless thing.
Help me find the way back, please. Please Spike, please.
He just sat there and didn't say a word. She could watch his eyes dry and his back straighten. Muscles worked over muscles, and the thought that Anya had felt their play against her own skin made her want to vomit. That was hers alone to experience. "Buffy...." His eyes rose to meet hers. "I'm done with these games."
She started to protest, but he cut her off. Anya sat to the side, somehow knowing that the right thing to do was to be quiet, let them scream things out as she and Xander had. "No. You say it's over, then want me celibate. Be friendly with me, make me think we can still act civil, then toss me aside like yesterday's scrapings when your friends come by. Tell me I'm not a part of your life, then act like you were the one who, all things said and done, are the betrayed party here." Anger was starting to tinge his voice. "I am bloody well tired of your games, and for once, I'm not going to let you put it all on me."
"You have no right to get angry with me." Please be angry. Make me feel angry in return, that hot pumping glorious anger and passion and everything in between.
"No, I think I have every right. If you wanted me to be your one and only, and vice versa, then you bloody well should have told me. All I got was the opposite, and well..." He smiled tightly. "Guess you finally convinced me." Anya handed him his pants. He rose and slid into them, but not before turning away from Buffy.
No longer hers.
"Just..." Buffy turned away as well, determined not to let him see the sobs.
"Just go away." Come home with me and we'll talk through everything that's happened. I finally want to talk.
"Thinking I should've done that a while ago."
She didn't say goodbye, because this was just one of the moments between song changes in their eternal dance. No reason to think it wasn't. He knew her at least that well. Buffy just turned and crunched her way across glass and wood splinters that continued to clack between concrete and boot soles.
"I did tell you," she whispered as the tears finally fell.
* * * * *
Spike ran a hand through his hair. It was more mussed than after a go with Buffy. Buffy'd kept her hands off his head, as those touches would be too intimate. No need to feel the face of the man loving her when she could just focus on the body fucking her. But Anya had cooed and stroked and not held back. She didn't love him, she'd just done a better job of faking it. "Yeah.
Should've taken off years ago. Should've stayed in Brazil. Should've never come here after bloody fucking Prague." The last statement was punctuated by kicking away a chair.
Anya just stared hollowly at the chair. Spike looked down at it, then back to the splintered door. Then he quietly retrieved the chair and righted it.
"Where are you going to go?"
"New York. Thailand. The moon. Hell if I know. Just somewhere... not here."
She nodded and accepted him at his word. How long had it been since he'd had that?
"It's hard," she said after a minute. "This is their town, isn't it?"
"Yeah. Yeah pet, it is. We were just the tenants, and the landlords aren't happy with our behavior."
"When are you going?"
He snorted. Too bloody late, that was the real answer. "Soon as I can pack.
Not much left after they recreated Dresden, but I'll take what I can."
"Can I come?"
He looked at her, looking for any hint of mocking or the slightest hint he was being toyed with. "What? I know you just toppled into bed with the whelp and went from there, but my heart's puttin' up protective fencing. Not looking for a relationship for a good long while, I'd wager."
Anya winced at the reminder of her her second human love, one that had turned out worse than the first. But she gamely straightened and said, "I know. I'm not, either. I just want to be somewhere... not here. I'll help pack."
"You...." He shook his head. Why the hell not? She could carry on a conversation like a normal girl, not with fists and accusations and expectations of constant forgiveness. "You don't need to worry about that, Anya. Go gather your own stuff. We'll set out when you're ready."
"All of it's his." She sounded hollow. "It's all at his apartment, and it all feels like it's his. All I have is... when we get to the first phone, I'll call Giles. Tell him to put the place up for sale."
"No." She smiled in a painful mockery of cheer. "The only thing I know is that I want to get the hell out of Sunnydale."
Spike looked at her for a bit, then forced his own smile. "Then I'll welcome the help."
Had the door been standing on its hinges, they would have closed it symbolically behind them.
Continued in Chapter 2