Fic: DUST (17/?)Posted on 2011.06.09 at 13:44
Era/Season: Season 4 (post “Harsh Light of Day” and “Fear, Itself” but before “Beer Bad”)
Rating: Mature/NC-17 (strong language, sexual situations, adult content)
Betaed by: goblin_dae , yakimama , and subtilior
Summary: She'd kicked his butt, taken the Gem and sent it off to Angel. Buffy thought she'd seen the last of Spike. Clearly, she’d been too optimistic. That he was in her house, in her room, waking her out of a sound sleep and asking for (okay, demanding) her help meant that something had to be majorly wrong. They weren't due for another apocalypse, but ... why else would a vampire make a truce with the Slayer?
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all recognizable characters, locations, and dialogue belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and the various writers. This is written purely for fun.
For a long moment, all Buffy could do was stare at him.
There was something disconcerting about knowing that a vampire—your mortal enemy—had faith in you, Buffy thought. It was different than knowing your friends trusted you, because deep down she always worried that their faith was misplaced. They knew her, and chose to believe she'd come through in spite of her flaws. Well, Willow did. Xander liked to lecture when he felt she was falling down on the job. They were like her own personal pep squad, ready to cheer her victory, or chant "Defense! Defense!" from the sidelines if it looked like she was getting trampled out there.
It was different than knowing that your Watcher had faith in you, because sometimes — not always, but sometimes — Buffy had the feeling that Giles watched her as if he thought that she'd be checking out at any moment. Oh, he never really came out and said it, but she knew somewhere in the back of his Giles brain he was wondering if her next impulsive move might not be the one that relieved him of his Watcherly duties. She knew he was proud of her and knew that he was more than aware of how strong she was and ... stuff. But sometimes she thought that he was getting tired of sending her out to fight, not knowing if she'd return.
And it was different from knowing that your family had faith in you—because she didn't always know that, really. Her mom was still coming to grips with the whole Slayer thing, though this last year she'd made some major strides. While Joyce still fervently supported her and said that Buffy would always be her special little girl, she knew that her mom wished that maybe she wasn't quite so special. It probably would have been nicer to find out that your daughter was destined to be an Olympic gold medalist or Miss America or the President of the United States ... rather than destined to die young and violently while saving the world..
Knowing that Spike had faith in her ability to beat this thing was … well, something straight out of the Twilight Zone.
He had no reason to cheer her on. Not one. He didn't even like her. He hated her guts and wanted her dead more than anything. She knew that the day she finally kicked it, if he was still around, he'd probably do a little jig on her corpse in celebration. Still, he believed she could break this spell. Hell, he'd sounded so certain, as if there could be no other outcome.
How wiggy was that?
There were days when she really didn't know what to make of Spike. Most of the time he was sneery, snarly, surly guy, only one step away from fanging out and attacking her. But every so often he acted almost human. With a little effort, she could sort of forget for a minute or two that he was the thing she was supposed to be killing and think of him as ... well, the supremely annoying guy who lived in her basement.
The one who looked really spectacularly good with his shirt off. And kissed like ...
"So, what should we do with wolf girl?" Buffy said, firmly steering her brain away from dangerous territory. There would be no remembering the thing that didn't happen, because, well, it didn't happen. What was the point in thinking about it?
"You're asking me?" Spike was still poking around Oz's room, picking things up at random, examining them, putting them back. She was trying to keep an eye on his hands, to make sure nothing slipped into his pockets. Of course, that meant actually looking at his hands, which generally led to remembering his hands on parts of her body that they had no business touching, which lead to remembering exactly how good ... that thing that hadn't happened hadn't felt at all.
"Yes, I'm asking you. We've got two werewolves that are going to be in full morph mode for the next three days. If we break the spell while they're still wolfy—"
"They eat everyone in sight, shag each other rotten, and possibly tear each other apart in the process?"
Did he really have to sound so cheerful about it?
"All of which are bad on an epic scale," Buffy said. "I know where we can lock up Oz, I'm not worried about him. But the other one—"
"Got some silver bullets? Can always shoot her." Spike shrugged and poked around in Oz's jar of guitar picks.
"I'm not shooting her," Buffy said. God, why was his response to every problem just: kill, kill, kill? Oh. Wait. Right. He was a vampire. "She might be a little hairy at the moment, but she's probably a perfectly nice human twenty-seven days out of the month."
"She's not human. Neither's your boy there. Not even when they look it."
"Yes, they are."
"Yeah, right. How's his sense of smell, Slayer? Hearing? He ever get a little hairy when he's freaked out?" Spike walked over to the door and straddled the threshold. "This right here is your proof. Just because he walks around in a human body most of the time doesn't mean he's fully human. If he was, I couldn't come in here."
"But he's not a bad person. He—he hates the thought of hurting other people."
"So, what, people never like to hurt each other? Kill each other? There are no bad people?" Spike leaned a shoulder against the doorjamb. "Fact is, Slayer, there's no way of tellin'. Good people have rotten things happen to them. So do the bad people. That girl back there could be a queen bitch when she's human, or a card-carrying member of PETA. You don't know. And it doesn't matter, because the minute the moon is full, she's a bloody animal with no other thought, no other instinct, than to feed and fuck. Now, you want to be a bleedin' heart and tramp round town till you find another cage strong enough to contain her, be my bloody guest. I'm just along for the ride. But when the spell breaks, tomorrow, or the next day, or whenever, you're going to have to suss out what to do. Might want to be prepared to put Lassie down if she's not a good doggy."
God, she hated it when he did this. He laid it all out as if the solution were really so simple. Only it wasn't—even when it was.
She stared at Oz, frustrated. She wished someone had told her, back when she'd first been called, that the "Vampire" part of her Slayer title covered so much more ground. When did everything supernatural start to fall into her lap?
"We'll find a cage," Buffy said. "And ... when we break the spell, then I'll deal with this. I'm not the people police, Spike. If she's a bad person when she's not hairy then—"
"You'll turn her over to the real police? Her and Ethan both? He can turn the fuzz into rabbits, and she can eat them. Lovely plan, Slayer." He applauded mockingly.
"Shut up and hold the door open," she said. She took one look at Oz's convulsing body and jaws, then her own vulnerable arms. "Uh, what happens if a vampire gets bitten by a werewolf?"
"The vampire kills the werewolf ."
"Well, I think you're going to have to do the carrying here, so try to restrain yourself. If you kill my friend, I'll dust you."
"Hey! I'm not your pack horse, Slayer."
Four hours, thirty-seven threats, and mucho swearing later, Buffy watched as Spike heaved the mostly transformed body of the female werewolf into her new kennel. He glared at her as he came out of the tiny room. "Happy now?" he asked.
She locked the door with the industrial strength padlock she'd picked up at the nearest hardware store, then stepped back to admire their handiwork. They'd searched several graveyards before finding the perfect crypt. It was reasonably deserted, it only had one easily-chained-shut entrance, and there were no windows. "Yep."
"I'm done. If you're wantin' to head over to the Watcher's and haul books back, you're on your own, Slayer. I need a shower." Spike glared down at his torn t-shirt. Buffy winced when she saw the bloody claw marks down both of his arms and across his chest and back. They'd had to gag Wolf Girl to keep her from biting. Really, Spike looked horrible, and she didn't blame him for wanting to cut and run. And he had helped and spared her from possibly getting infected. She sighed. Calling it quits for the night was the least she could do.
"We'll go home," she said. "Do you want your jacket back?" He'd handed her the duster to carry before he'd picked up Oz. It probably would have saved him from getting mauled, but when she'd suggested it he'd given her a look of utter horror and disbelief. Apparently, given the choice between saving his skin or his duster, Spike would rather be flayed.
He twisted his arms, showing off the slowly oozing and jagged wounds. "Better not. Takes forever to scrub blood out of it. I look like I went a few rounds with a boat propeller."
"It's not that bad," Buffy said. He gave her a long, steady look. "Okay, so, yes, it's pretty bad. But you'll heal."
"Have some interesting scars to show for it, too, I guess," Spike prodded at a long gash that ran the length of his forearm.
"Do you scar?" Buffy asked, leading the way out of the cemetery. Angel had a few scars, but she'd always assumed they were old, or leftover from when he was human.
"Yeah," Spike said. "They usually fade away in a year or so, though."
"Except that one," she said, glancing at his left eyebrow. He traced the scar there with one finger. She wondered when he'd repainted his nails.
"It'll go, eventually. Just taking longer than most."
"How'd you get it?" she asked, then wondered why she cared.
"Sword. Uh ... Blessed or something, back at the turn of the century."
"That's been there for a hundred years?"
He shrugged, as if it were no big, but there was a funny little smile playing at the corner of his lips. However he'd gotten it, he was proud of it.
Buffy couldn't say the same for most of her scars. Scars meant mistakes. Like being bitten by the Master, or that weird patch on her shoulder where she'd had Ethan's tattoo removed. Then there was the one Angel had left, which went even deeper than her skin. She still wasn't sure if that was a mistake or not, but she knew that she'd probably wear it forever.
She wondered what could make someone proud of their scars. Saving someone, she guessed, or doing something particularly brave. Then she realized that for Spike, the opposite was probably true. That scar most likely was some sick trophy from a kill. She wrapped her arms around the leather duster and balled her hands into fists. Just when she thought she could maybe find some common ground with Spike, she always remembered what he was, deep down: just a monster that happened to look like a man.
The sound of the shower stopped. Less than a minute later Spike was bellowing down the stairs: "Where's your first-aid kit, Slayer?"
For a second, she wondered if his yelling would wake up her mother.
"It's under the sink!" There, problem solved. He could find it himself. She turned back to her book.
"No, it's not!"
"Yes, it is! Look again!"
There was the sound of loud rummaging happening upstairs. "No, it bloody well isn't!"
"Oh my god, I'm going to stake him," she muttered, and hauled herself out of her chair. She stomped up the stairs to the bathroom. The door was open and steam was pouring out of the room into the hallway. Why he needed to parboil himself, she had no idea. She waved steam out of her face and marched over to the sink, then knelt and began hunting for the first-aid kit, which was right where she—
"Told you it wasn't there."
"I probably just left it in my—" Buffy looked up and froze.
Spike was naked.
Or. Not naked. Exactly. There was a towel. The skimpy one with the ratty holes in it that she'd given him weeks ago for keeps. It was sort of wrapped around his slim hips and held up by one fist. Only it was threadbare and thin and soaking wet and clinging to ...
"Bedroom!" she blurted. "In my bedroom! The first-aid kit. I remember now. I cut my arm on Halloween and I stayed here that night and it's probably there. In my bedroom. The bedroom that is ... not here. So, I should go there and get it. Right now."
Hellhounds couldn't have chased her out of that bathroom faster.
Except then she was suddenly faced with the reality of a mostly naked Spike following her into her bedroom while she hunted for the kit.
"Where are your clothes?" she asked, when her flaming cheeks were safely hidden behind the barrier of the bed.
"Got blood on them," Spike said. "Didn't want to put on clean stuff until I patched myself up."
Oh, god. She could hear him smirking. She'd never heard a smirk before, of course, but that's what he had to be doing, considering the way his voice had lowered to a sultry, dangerous purr.
The kit was under the bed beside her weapons bag. For a moment she was tempted to reach for the nearest stake. Dust Spike, and she wouldn't have to deal with his incredible perviness and that smug, creepy tongue thing he was going to do the minute she looked at him. Dust Spike, however, and wave goodbye to her research help.
She forced the blush from her face and tried to replace it with anger, then reached for the first-aid kit.
"Well, don't bleed on my carpet," she said, sitting up and looking at him.
Only he wasn't being smug and pervy at all. He was standing in the middle of her room, looking damp and sexy and mostly naked and rumpled, yes. But he also looked really tired and … really in pain. "That it, then?" he asked. "Pass it over, Slayer, and I'll get out of your hair."
Huge claw marks scored both of his arms and several more marked his chest. The shower had reopened most of them, and they were slowly oozing blood. Carrying the werewolves had been more problematic than she'd thought. In their spell-induced sleep they hadn't been aware of anything but their own pain, and the contortions the change wrought left them convulsing and grasping at anything nearby. Since Spike had been carrying them, he'd pretty much served as their scratching post.
It could have been her, she thought. She'd bullied him into carrying them, to keep herself from being accidentally bitten. She knew the werewolf virus wouldn't transmit to a vampire, so it had seemed like a logical conclusion.
Only ... Spike looked really bad.
"Here," she said, handing over the first-aid kit.
"Ta," he said, and shuffled out of her room. His back ...
She wasn't entirely sure why, but she started after him. And of course he shut the bathroom door in her face.
She shouldn't care. Really. He was evil, and a vampire, and he'd inflicted a hundred thousand times more pain than this on others during his long unlife. So why should it matter that he looked like he'd sumo wrestled a bear and lost?
Because he only did it because you bullied him into it.
She waited outside the door, listening to Spike swear and hiss as he put himself back together. When the swearing escalated, though, she knocked on the door. "Spike? Are you ... uh, okay?"
There was silence for a minute, then the door was wrenched open to reveal a furious and still mostly naked vampire. "No, I'm bloody well not 'okay'," he said. "Not that you give a fuck about me. If you'll give me one more goddamn minute, I'll just get out of the—"
"Whoa, wait a second," she said. She eyed his wounds. He'd bandaged his chest and his right arm, but his left was still a mess. "I was going to ... I mean, I wanted to ..."
"Wanted to what?" He snarled at her, which pissed her off.
"Go to my room," she said.
"My room, now. Sit on the bed. I'll be there in a second," she said, then shoved him in the direction of her bedroom. Better to just do it and not think about it too closely. She scooped up the first-aid kit and the loose bandages and things, then marched down the hall to her room. Spike was standing beside her bed, looking incredibly confused. Really, though, she could hardly blame him. She was confusing herself.
"Sit," she said. He sat. She laid out the gauze, tape, and scissors, then got to work. It was better if she didn't look at him or even think about him at all. If she treated him like a series of puzzles, it was easier to focus on what she was doing.
She arranged pieces of gauze, taped them in place, then moved onto the next wound. There was a deep gash down his left bicep. The skin had been laid open to the muscle.
"I should stitch this," she said, chewing her lip.
"Ever sewn someone up before?" His voice was tight, but she didn't know if it was from pain or nervousness.
"Myself, once or twice," she said and searched through the kit until she found the curved needle and dissolving thread she'd ... er ... borrowed from the hospital. It wasn't really stealing. It was just saving the ER people's time. She studied his arm, then scooted back further onto the mattress. "Here," she said, tugging him toward her. She arranged him without even really looking at him, then laid his hand in her lap and pulled his arm into a position where she could stitch it easier.
It was different, sewing up someone else. For one thing, she didn't have to grit her teeth against the pain, so the stitching went faster. She was a third of the way down the cut and into the worst of it before her patient finally hissed softly. Buffy glanced up at him, surprised because for a moment she'd almost forgotten he was there—which, kinda weird considering she was sewing up his arm .
Holy crap, he's pale, was her first thought. The lamplight did its best to turn the milky pallor of his skin to cream, but with his white hair, white skin, white bandages, and white towel he might as well have been a statue. Even the blue veins that traced beneath his skin made him look like marble. Only the red marks down his arm gave him away as something made of flesh, and his eyes ...
He had the strangest expression on his face. Pain, definitely, but also confusion and something else that was hard and intense. His pupils had dilated so that his eyes were nearly black. It reminded her of a cat staring at a string, crouched and waiting to pounce. It was eerie and inhuman, and at the same time it sent a rush of heat through her.
Quickly, she bent her head back to her task. Only now she was aware of who it was she was sewing up. It was Spike sitting on her bed in nothing but a towel and some bandages. Spike with his hand laying palm up in her lap. Since she was sitting with her legs crossed, that meant that the backs of his knuckles were only inches away from ... there. If he shifted, even the tiniest bit ...
He hissed again. "Wench," he growled. "Watch the grip, you're gonna leave bruises."
Buffy took a deep breath and relaxed her grip on his arm, then jabbed the needle in again. He swore softly and grabbed for the needle with his other hand. "If you're gonna be a bitch about it, I'll do it myself."
She batted him away. "I've got it. Just shut up and hold still," she said.
"I was holding still," he said under his breath. He had been, she realized. His fingers in her lap hadn't even twitched. He'd been as still as that statue she'd been comparing him to, or a corpse. For all that he was a dead man, Buffy had never really thought of Spike as the sort of guy who could hold still for long. He was forever fidgeting.
"You'd be a bloody awful nurse," he said, after a moment.
"That's cause I'm better with the inflicting of wounds than healing them," Buffy said. "Plus, sort of hate hospitals."
"Why?" he asked. She glanced up at him in surprise. That weird look was still on his face, but some of the intensity had gone. Not much of it, though.
"Why what?" she asked.
"Do you hate hospitals?"
She bent her head back and made another neat stitch. "Just not my favorite places in the world. Bad stuff always happens there."
"You were sick," he murmured. "That first year I came here, after Angel ... you were sick and in hospital—Ow!"
"We are not talking about Angel."
"No, I was talkin' about you having the soddin' flu!"
"Oh," she said. "Well ...don't be such a baby."
"It stings. Next time you get cut up, I'll—" His mouth shut with an audible snap. She risked a peek at his face. He looked angry at himself.
"Rub salt in my wounds?" she guessed, because his sentence needed an ending.
"Something like that," he said. "Surprised you didn't take that tack yourself."
"Unlike you, I don't take pleasure in other people's pain."
Amusement flashed in his eyes. "I'm people?"
"No," she said, stiffening. "But you were bleeding all over the place and doing a crappy job of fixing it. I didn't want to have to wash vampire blood off the furniture." She pulled the thread through his skin tightly, and he swore. They were both silent for a little while, then Spike spoke up again.
"He said you almost died."
"What?" She looked up.
Spike was staring at the ceiling. "That enormous git that we're not to talk about—he said you almost died. Came in gloating about how weak you were, that he'd put you in hospital with barely a fight. He was going to bring you flowers ..."
"Angel was going to bring me flowers?" she asked. "But he was ..."
"Evil? Well ... yeah. He thought of stuff like that as foreplay. The taunt before the kill. God, he was a moron."
"Angel is not—" Buffy caught Spike's arched brow and mocking glance. "Well, I mean at the time he was ... We're not talking about this."
"Fine," Spike said.
She stitched, trying to keep each one neat. Not that it really mattered. He'd heal up quick enough anyway, but it was something to do that kept her from looking at him. Kept her from asking questions she was sure she didn't want the answers to. Which was exactly why she shouldn't ask: "He couldn't do it, could he?"
"Kill me. That's why he kept leaving me pictures and stuff. He was trying to work his way up to—"
Spike laughed. "Oh, bloody hell. Is that what you thought? That he was having trouble working up the nerve to off you, same as you were with him?"
"I don't see what's so funny, Mr. You-Couldn't-Kill-Me-Either."
"Not for lack of trying, luv."
He had a point. But Spike had never cared about her, had never loved her. He'd wanted her dead from the moment he'd laid eyes on her—maybe even before that. Of course it had been easy for him to try to kill her. But she'd thought about it, a long time. All during that horrible summer in LA, and then last year. She'd never quite gotten around to asking Angel about it. Reminding him of the previous year ... they'd both worked so hard to forget. He'd been someone else then, hadn't he? Only ...
You're still all he thinks about, Willow had said. And it had seemed true. She'd wanted so badly to believe that there was still some part of Angel in him, that he had, deep down, loved her. Was it so much of a stretch to think that the reason he'd taken so long to try to kill her, the reason he'd dragged it all out so much, was because some part of him hadn't wanted to do it?
Spike was still laughing, which pissed her off. Good thing she had Mini Mr. Pointy.
"OW! Bloody hell! You're making it worse."
"It's not funny," she said.
He snorted. Then his other hand lashed out and gripped her chin, forcing her to look at him.
"He would have killed you without blinking," he said seriously. "He hated that he loved you. Hated that you'd managed to get so deep down inside of him. All he wanted was to destroy you for it. Now, a sane man would have just killed you and been done with it. But not Angel. No. That's not how he works. He twists everything he touches, manipulates everyone."
She tried to turn her face away, but his grip was like iron, and his eyes were intense. "You think he's being straight with you? It's a lie. He had your number from the first moment he laid eyes on you. He wanted to tear you apart. It's what he does. He plays games. He rips you apart bit by bloody bit. But if he'd felt the moment was ripe, if he thought he had you at his mercy and you were finally broken? He'd have killed you ."
She hit his hand away. "Angelus," she said. "Not Angel."
"One and the same," Spike said. "And what's more ... you know it."
Angel might have been the master manipulator, but Spike's tongue was a lethal weapon. He knew exactly how to cut her to the bone with nothing more than a few words.
Because he was right, she did know it. She'd seen, last year when they'd double-crossed Faith, how much of Angelus was in him. She couldn't think of him that way, though. If she did ...
"Shut up," she said. "What do you know? You don't have a soul. You make it sound like he's so much worse than you ..."
"Cause he is," Spike said, and she was surprised at the bitterness in his voice. "Ask your Watcher who's more infamous: me or Angelus. You know what he'll tell you. Angel was always more evil than me."
Buffy blinked at him. Then she started to laugh. "Oh, my god. You're jealous that Angel is more evil than you? That's ..."
"Laugh all you like, Slayer," Spike said. "The stupid git spent nearly a hundred years wallowing in a gutter—well, except for that time on the submarine—and he's still got a badder rep than I ever managed."
Spike waved his hand. "Oh, bunch of us powerful vamps got picked up by the Nazis for experimentation or something. We killed most of them, then Angel turned one of the crewmen so we could get back to the surface. Only he put me out of the bloody sub when it was still underwater and made me swim back." He frowned. "Wonder where his soul was then?"
Buffy was wondering the same thing. "He turned a crewman? You're sure?"
"Yeah," Spike said. "Why?"
"He said he hadn't killed anyone after the soul—"
"He lied," Spike said. "He does that. Vampire, remember. Doesn't matter if he's got a soul. He's still a vamp."
"How do I know you aren't lying?" she asked, suspicious.
Spike smiled at her, slowly. "Cause I don't lie that often. Truth hurts, baby. Weapon of choice." That she could believe. "Besides, not like I knew he'd told you some rot about being fangless. He killed a few more than that when he was all soulful. If it makes you feel better, though, I'm sure he felt really, really bad about it."
Buffy jabbed him viciously with the needle. "If he did, I'm sure he had a really, really good reason."
"Yeah," Spike said with a grin. "He got hungry."
That was it. Spike thought he could dig at her past wounds? Well, she wouldn't let him.
"You're such a creep, you know that? You've probably never felt bad about a single thing in your entire existence," Buffy said. "You think you're so clever, but you're just pathetic, Spike. The truth is, you'll never be even half the man Angel is, soul or no soul. Even Dru picked Angel over you. No one likes you. I bet no one liked you even when you were human."
Spike abruptly went still. Very still. Statue still.
When she glanced up at him, she expected him to be glaring daggers. Instead, something wounded peered out from his eyes. He blinked, and it was gone.
"Are you about finished?" He tipped his chin at his arm.
She was. Buffy tied the last stitch off tightly and slapped a bandage over it. "Done."
Spike stood, moving stiffly. He flexed his arms to test the stitches, then adjusted the towel Buffy had forgotten he was still wearing. She watched his jaw clench and his eyes slide in her direction.
"Not bad, Summers," he said. "But you should probably stick with hurting things. You're better at it."
He strode from the room, leaving Buffy feeling angry and unsettled, as though she'd just done something she ought to be ashamed of … but not quite sure of what.