Posted: November 23, 2001
Please archive wherever appropriate. Any feedback is much appreciated.
I'm sure I'm not the only person who noticed Giles' line in "All the Way" about Buffy patrolling every night for the past week. And of course, there's the implication that she's been patrolling with Spike. From there, the little plot bunnies just started hopping! (sorry, Anya!) And then there's the lovely little question of just what got her thinking in a certain way when Spike mentions having a rough and tumble... <vbeg>
SUMMARY: What did Buffy and Spike find to talk about during the seven nights before Halloween when they were patrolling together?
SPOILERS: Up to "All the Way" (season 6)
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: To (guess who!) my Beta reader Linda, who helped get my Spike fanfic Muse back from the dead. To Joss and the gang for giving us some GREAT episodes so far! Oh, and the title comes from the catchy little Beatles tune.
DISCLAIMER: They're not mine. I'm just borrowing them for a quick spin through the cemetery. I promise to have them back in time for supper.
Giles: Buffy, you've been patrolling every night this week.
-- "All the Way"
Wednesday, Oct. 24th
"So -- how you really doing, Slayer?"
Buffy shot the bleach-blonde vampire a sidelong look, the automatic response dying on her lips as she regarded him. 'Fine,' she had been going to say, but that wasn't true. And somewhere along the way Buffy had fallen into the habit of telling Spike the truth. Even when she didn't want to. Especially when she didn't want to.
"Not too bad," she said softly. "I guess."
Spike shifted the crossbow to his other hand as they walked around a larger than usual tombstone. The night was quiet and cool, only the wind moving through the trees and the faint rustle of the grass under their feet breaking the silence.
Buffy shrugged. "Better than yesterday. Not as good as tomorrow. I don't know. What do you want me to say, Spike?"
He caught her eye. "Nothing," he said quietly. "You don't have to say anything. Not if you don't want to. I just...I was..." The vampire's voice trailed away.
Buffy's lips curled into a faint smile. He was worried. About her. "Thanks," she said, meaning it. "That's..." She paused.
The Slayer hesitated, as if trying to decide whether she should go on or not. In the end though, she fell back on the simple truth. Again.
"That's what I like about you, Spike," Buffy said, biting her lip a little. "You...you're the only one who doesn't want anything from me."
The vampire laughed once, sharply. "Fat lot you know, Slayer," she thought she heard him mutter under his breath, but he had moved a few paces away so perhaps she was mistaken. When he did speak again his voice was even.
Buffy sighed once more and came to a stop near another grave marker, leaning against it and taking a deep breath.
"They all want something from me," she said slowly, trying to put her thoughts into words. "Giles, Xander, Dawn, Willow...all of them. They want me to be strong. Be the Slayer. Look after them. But you...you're the only one who will just let me be me."
Spike turned then took a few paces back towards her, stopping a few steps away. His face was hidden in shadow but she thought she caught a glimpse of understanding in his eyes.
"They care about you."
Buffy's lips twisted. "I know. I know they do. And I love them too. But sometimes... I just get so tired sometimes, trying to be everything they want. It's like there's nothing left for me.
"So why don't you tell them to bugger off? Better yet, break a bone or two. That'd get the point across real well."
Buffy smiled. Spike seemed to be doing that more and more -- making her smile. And it was disorienting. Disconcerting. Distracting. Disturbing. And probably lots of other words that started with 'dis'.
"No," she said, still smiling. "Can't do that. I think there's a rule somewhere. Besides, I'm the Slayer. Terrorizing my friends is definitely of the bad." She shook her head, straightening and moving forward again.
"I'll be fine. Really I will. I just need..."
"Actually, no. I need to kill this demon. Duck, Spike!"
* * *
Thursday, Oct 25
"Spike, where did you get all that furniture anyway? 'Cause I'm having a real problem picturing you hanging out at yard sales."
The vampire grinned, lengthening his stride to catch up to her.
"Where d'you think I got it?"
"Lessee...at a guess -- you stole it."
"Bloody right I did. Except the mini-bar. No, wait. Stole that too. 'Course, the hardest bit was getting the bed down there..."
"I so don't want to know."
"Then why'd you ask?"
Buffy frowned. "It's called making polite conversation. Maybe you should try it sometime."
This time the vampire laughed out loud. "You and me - we're not meant for polite conversation, Slayer. We're for fighting and violence and sha--"
Abruptly his voice broke off as if he had been choked, and he increased his pace, hurrying away from her. Buffy's frown deepened as she moved after him.
"And what? What were you going to say?"
"Just forget it."
"Spike, I swear I'm going to..."
His pace didn't slacken. "You don't want to know."
"Yes, I do."
"No you don't."
This was getting ridiculous. Buffy stopped. She was NOT going to do this with him. "OK. Fine," she said to his retreating back. "You're right. I don't want to know."
Aware that she was being childish but not really caring, Buffy turned and stomped away, not looking back. Unfortunately she wasn't looking down either, which was why she suddenly found herself toppling headfirst into an open grave.
Instantly the memories came surging back like floodwaters, the same memories that had her waking up each night in a cold sweat, her heart racing and her body trembling. The remembrance of waking up in a tiny box, no light and only a few breaths of stale air left, of clawing her way desperately back to the surface, of trying to ignore the pain in her hands as her nails ripped and tore, the warmth of the blood as it trickled down the back of her wrists...
And then she was out again, and safe. There was air and moonlight, a cool breeze curling through her hair. Someone's arms were wrapped tightly around her, the scent of cigarettes and leather replacing the remembered stench of death and terror.
"Breathe, Buffy. You're safe. I've got you."
For a moment Buffy remained motionless, her heart pounding and a rushing noise in her ears. And then it hit her. Spike. She was with Spike. It was over and she was safe. Alive. Oh god. Abruptly her muscles relaxed and she sagged in his embrace.
One hand was stroking her hair. "Don't think about it, love. It's over."
Buffy shook her head slightly. "No it's not. It will never be over." To her horror, her voice was shaking and something that felt suspiciously like tears were beginning to form in her eyes. She bit her lip, her fingers curling tightly into the leather of his coat.
"It's never going to end. I'll be having nightmares about this until I'm ninety!"
"Probably." The vampire's voice was dispassionate.
Shock rippled through Buffy, enough that she managed to forget her terror, at least for a moment.
Spike met her gaze. "Yeah, you will. It's no use sugar-coating this, Slayer. Clawing your way out of your own grave isn't something you just get over. Believe me. It's something that's going to stay with you until your dying day."
Stunned, Buffy took a step back, pulling out of his arms. "That..." It took her a moment to get her voice working properly. "That's not very sympathetic."
He smiled, a shadow of his usual mocking grin. "You want sympathy then you go back to the Scoobies and tell them what they did. Tell them the mistake they made. I'm sure you'll get all the sympathy you want then."
Buffy shook her head, a measure of equilibrium returning to her. "No. I told you. They can never know."
Spike looked away and dug in his pocket for a cigarette. "Yeah, well don't worry. I'm not going to tell them either. Told you I wouldn't. Still think you should though. They need to know. You're not doing them any favours, Summers."
Buffy turned away, staring pensively out across the cemetery. "What would be the point? All it would do is hurt them. And I don't want to do that. They...they did what they thought was right. They couldn't know..."
"What they were doing to you."
"Yeah," Buffy agreed softly, hugging her arms to her chest, and shivering slightly. She sensed rather than heard Spike move up behind her, one hand going up to touch her lightly on the shoulder.
"Is it really so bad? Living?"
The Slayer took a deep breath then exhaled it. "Maybe not," she said slowly. "It doesn't hurt as much as it did at first. Or maybe I'm just getting used to the pain. I can even forget sometimes, for a minute or two. But I can't stop wondering..."
"What?" The word was like a whisper against her skin.
Buffy closed her eyes. "What will happen the next time. When I...when I die again. Will they do it again? Bring me back? And if they do, when will..." Buffy's voice broke and she swallowed. A long moment passed.
"When will I get to rest?" she said at last, despair lacing her voice.
Spike's fingers tightened around her shoulder but he said nothing. Instead they stood there silently together while the wind whistled softly between the tombstones and clouds scudded across the sky, obscuring the starlight.
* * *
Friday, October 26th
Near Buffy's house
"I hate demons." Buffy tried ineffectively to rub away some of the green blood streaking her shirt and pants, with the back of one hand. "'Cause ick!"
She caught the sideways glance Spike sent her and smiled to herself. "Present company excluded of course," she added.
"Thanks so much. Gonna sleep better days, knowing that."
"And colour me so relieved." Buffy looked downward again, a grimace crossing her face. "Or kind of a puce-y green. And I say again -- ick!"
"And whose fault was that?"
Spike snorted. "Yeah, right. You could have done it the easy way, taken the demon out with the crossbow, not gotten your lily whites dirty. But no, you had to go all Lizzie Borden with that axe."
"Only to save your pathetic unlife. If you hadn't been so busy showing off..."
"Showing off? I was not showing off."
"You so were. Face it Spike, you were preening. Ooh, look at me. I'm the Big Bad, I can kill demons, I'm all bleached and blond and with the testosterone. And look what happened..."
"Yeah, you nearly neutered me for real this time."
Buffy shook her head, her hair swinging. "I told you to hold still. If you had just..."
"Stayed put while you tried to geld me with a battle axe? No way, Summers. There's bits of me I'm very attached to. Some more than others."
"Um. Changing the subject now..."
* * *
Saturday, October 27th
Outside the Cemetery
"You again? Spike, are you following me?"
"I live here Summers, remember? 'Sides, you're the one who's always showing up. What, the other eleven graveyards in Sunnydale aren't good enough for you?"
Buffy grinned. "Maybe I just like making sure you miss 'Passions'."
Spike shrugged, tossing away the remains of his cigarette and sliding down off the tombstone. "Reruns. And KCET's having a sodding pledge drive again."
The Slayer's eyebrows shot up. "KCET? Never took you for a PBS kinda guy, Spike."
"Yeah, well, there's a lot you don't know about me, Slayer." His gaze met hers and an uncomfortable silence fell. Finally, Spike looked away. "Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go kill something."
Buffy shivered slightly. "In a second. Spike..."
"What is it?"
"Um...Dawn was asking about you."
Spike turned back to her, a brief expression of concern crossing his face. "She okay?"
Buffy nodded. "She's fine. She just wondered...why you don't come around anymore. I told her I'd ask. I think she misses you."
A soft smile appeared fleetingly on the vampire's face, but it vanished quickly, so quickly that Buffy wasn't sure she had really seen it.
"I miss the niblet too," the vampire was saying.
"So -- why don't you come and see her? You...you'd be welcome, Spike."
There it was again -- that smile, appearing and disappearing like mist in the sunlight. "Thanks. But it's better if I stay away."
"Why? You were with her all summer from what I can gather. You even babysat -- which I still find strange on pretty much every level."
He didn't respond to that, saying instead: "You lot are coddling her, you know."
"You're all trying to wrap her in cotton wool, keep her out of harm's way. But it won't work. All you're doing is wrapping her up so tight she'll do anything to escape being suffocated."
Buffy folded her arms. "What do you know about it, Spike?"
"A fair bit. More than you, probably. You said it yourself -- I was with her all summer. You weren't."
A faint shaft of pain shot through her. "No, I wasn't. But I'm back now. And I know that she needs to be protected."
"Yeah," the vampire said agreeably, "but you can do that and still give the platelet some space. Trust her. Let her off the leash a bit."
Buffy shook her head. "I...I can't. What if something happens to her? She's only fifteen..."
He took a step closer. "So? Think back, Slayer. What was life like when you were fifteen?"
The Slayer moved back a pace, a hard expression coming over her face. When she spoke her voice was flat.
"When I was fifteen my parents broke up. I had to spend all my time either training with Merrick or lying to my parents and sneaking out at night to kill vampires. On the day before my sixteenth birthday I burned down the gym and got kicked out of school." She took a deep breath.
"Or maybe you'd like to talk about when I was sixteen instead? That was the year I discovered my boyfriend was a vampire. My best friends were nearly killed, not just once but so often I lost count. I went to my first frat party at sixteen and was almost sacrificed to a giant reptile demon. When I was sixteen you came to town and tried to kill me, and it's only the fact that my mom hit you over the head with an axe that you didn't succeed."
Spike looked away. Buffy paused, then added quietly. "When I was sixteen I died."
There was a long silence. "Buffy..."
She closed her eyes. "No, Spike. At fifteen, my life was hell. And then it got worse. No. I'm going to do everything I can to keep Dawn safe, and if that means being overprotective and the big bad sister then fine, that's what I'll do. Because she's the most important thing in the world to me. And I will do whatever it takes to keep her from harm."
"It might not be enough."
Buffy turned and walked away. "I know," she said tiredly.
* * *
Sunday, October 28th
"Do you really eat kittens?" Buffy leaned a little further back on the tombstone, swinging her feet idly.
Spike turned to look at her. "I suppose if I say yes you'll get all self-righteous and go on about how cute and innocent they are."
The Slayer shook her head. "Well, they are. But I'm pretty much out of self-righteousness these days. I'm just curious."
"Well then. Yeah. I do. When I win, that is."
The vampire scowled. "If you didn't want to hear the answer why'd you ask?"
Buffy sighed. "I don't know. Something to talk about while we wait for Mr Tardy here to rise." She indicated the soft earth beneath the tombstone she was sitting on with the toe of one shoe.
"Yeah, and what I'm doing here I don't know. Bad enough you've got me killing my own kind. Now we're doing it before they're barely even out of the grave. It's bloody morbid."
"Yeah, well you don't have to stay. Go home and watch something. I think 'Interview With a Vampire' is on. That should be just up your street."
Spike laughed shortly. "Brad sodding Pitt as Louis? And Tom Cruise with the nancy boy hair? Please. Besides, Anne Rice has got a lot to answer for. I know a lot of blokes, would like to see something nasty happen to her."
Buffy tilted her head. "Why?"
Spike looked at her in disbelief. "You ever read the sodding books?"
"Gee, let's think. What shall I read in the few spare hours I've got when I'm not out killing vampires or saving the world from yet another apocalypse? Oh, I know -- I think I'll read a book about vampires. Not."
Spike ground out his cigarette with one heel. "Well, you're not missing much, Summers. I made it halfway through the first one." His voice took on a falsetto note. "Ooh, I'm Louis. I'm such a big bad vampire. Think I'll kill someone. But, oh no...I feel all guilty. I'll never ever do it again. 'Cause it's wrong! Oops. Hungry. Better kill someone. Oh, the guilt, whatever shall I do..?" He paused. "Make up your bloody mind, I kept thinking."
Buffy laughed softly. And Spike felt something go through him, warming his cold body. He had made her laugh. True, it was only for a moment, her smile already fading and the familiar haunted look returning to her face...but she had laughed. And just for this moment, it was enough.
* * *
Monday, October 29th
Near Buffy's House
"Spike..." Buffy's voice trailed off, as if she had forgotten what she was going to say. Or was so lost in memories she would never find her way back.
Spike swallowed, shooting her a quick worried glance. She wasn't getting any better. The Slayer was still distant and detached, despite the jokes and occasional smiles, still prone to drifting off. Away from him. As if she were barely in this world with one foot still lodged firmly in the next. And trapped between both.
It would be so easy. Spike had thought it a hundred times, and each time it filled him with a feeling of sick dread. All it would take would be one false move on her part, one small slip during a fight, whether by accident -- or not -- and she'd be dead. Again. And this time it would be for good. Because Spike had sworn that he would kill anyone who tried to bring her back this time. No matter what it took, even if he died trying, he would see to it. He would protect her in death, if he couldn't do it in life.
It was the least he could do.
But that didn't mean he wouldn't fight like the demon he was to keep her alive and in this world...
"What what?" She gave him a startled glance.
"You said 'Spike'. Spike what?"
"Oh. Yeah. Spike..."
The vampire sighed. "Going to be one of those conversations, I can tell. Spit it out, Slayer."
She swallowed. A long moment went by then Buffy finally said, her voice almost a whisper: "I went by my...my grave earlier."
A pang shot through him. "Why?"
"I...I don't know. I just...I..."
"Why are you doing this to yourself, Buffy? Why can't you just let it rest?"
"Because they couldn't let me rest!" she shot back, rubbing her arms, as if to ward off the cold. For a moment Spike debated offering her his coat but decided against it. It wasn't like she would actually accept it anyway.
"And besides," she was saying, "I wanted to see...to see... Spike, what happened to the headstone? It wasn't there.
There were only little bits left."
He shoved his hands deeper into his pockets, hiding the way his fists had clenched. "I destroyed it," he said simply.
"Because you didn't need to see it again. Because it isn't true anymore. And because I didn't need another sodding reminder."
There was another pause. "Oh."
"You're welcome, Slayer."
* * *
Tuesday, October 30th
The Woods near the Cemetery
"You'd think someone with your experience with stakes would be used to this. Hold bloody still!"
Buffy flinched slightly as the vampire moved closer and took her hand in his own, tilting it up towards the moonlight. But she didn't pull away, even though her heart was still racing uncomfortably fast.
"From the fight," she told herself breathlessly. It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Spike was essentially holding her hand.
"Hold still, I said," he growled up at her before returning his attention to the palm of her hand. Frowning Buffy leaned closer, trying to see for herself. There. A piece of wood, almost an inch long, disappearing under her skin.
"All this fuss over a little splinter. Thought you were the big brave Slayer..."
"Excuse me, it's not a little splinter, it's half a tree. And I am so -- Ouch!" Buffy let out a startled yelp as black fingernails closed around the end of the sliver...and pulled.
"Spike..." she said, trying to retrieve her hand, but he held on grimly, working the splinter out. Finally, after several seconds he managed to pull it free. Immediately Buffy snatched her hand back and glared at him. "You enjoyed that, didn't you?"
The vampire gave her a quick grin that was pure, undiluted Spike. "Yeah, so?"
She gritted her teeth, staring blindly down at the blood which was beginning to well up in the palm of her hand. "You're a sadist, Spike!"
"And I say again -- yeah, so? Here, let me see that." Without waiting for permission he reached forward and took hold of her hand again, peering at the wound. "Yeah, it's all out. Guess you'll live after all, Slayer."
And then, automatically, without even thinking about what he was doing, the vampire raised her hand to his mouth and ran his tongue across her palm, licking the blood away in a soft sensuous motion, his eyes half-closed.
And the world stopped.
At his touch, Buffy's legs weakened and a jolt went through her midsection. It was like being struck by lighting. Oh god. The sensations were... Oh god. Lust and need and fear and hate and pain and desire and despair and hope and death and life, all swirling around together inside her. Too much. She couldn't cope with this much emotion, couldn't...she...
Spike must have felt her sudden tension, because he stilled, the tip of his tongue still lingering on her skin. He looked up, his eyes meeting hers -- and Buffy found herself drowning in them, falling forward into a place that was somehow dark and frightening...yet safe.
She must have made a faint sound because Spike abruptly dropped her hand like a hot coal, backing away several steps, no longer meeting her gaze.
"Damn. I...ah... Sorry."
Tension was written in every line of his body, as if he were holding himself together only by sheer force of will. 'I know the feeling,' Buffy thought desperately, trying to will away the maelstrom swirling inside her. She opened her mouth to say something, then closed it again. After all, what was there to say? Mechanically she bent and retrieved her stake.
"Hey, no big. Thanks for getting the splinter out. And helping me kill the bad guys. See you tomorrow." There was a note of false brightness in her voice and she looked away, unable to meet his eyes.
"Will I?" There was a note in Spike's voice that made Buffy tense.
"Sure," she said. "Well, no, not tomorrow. Halloween, remember? And I promised Giles I'd help out at the store."
Abruptly the Slayer turned and walked away, moving blindly through the trees. "Bye, Spike."
And then she was running, running from him, from the memories, from herself. Running away.
Spike stood motionless, watching her disappear into the night. Then he took a deep breath, fighting down the seething emotions, the tang of her blood still lingering on his tongue.
"Fine," he said bitterly. "Go on, run." It didn't matter. It didn't.
Oh, who was he trying to kid? Of course it mattered and he was a bloody idiot for even trying to think differently. With a sigh that was part groan, the vampire abruptly turned and walked away in the other direction, bending his head a little against the cold October wind.
And so he didn't see the Slayer pause in her headlong flight, didn't see her look back at him for just an instant.
And then she too was gone.