Liliaeth (liliaeth) wrote,
Liliaeth
liliaeth

Fic: Collared (1/3)

This is the first third of the fic I was writing for Seasonal Spuffy, I was of course incredibly late with it*g*.

This is my attempt at dark spuffy, with Buffy in all her messed up confused glory of s6. This isn't fluffy, but I'm hoping you guys'll like it anyway.



Title: Collared
Author:Lore
Rating: R
Summary: AU, Spike’s chip stopped working in Smashed and Buffy has to find a way to keep him in check
Notes: AU s6 (from Smashed)






Book 1: Buffy





1.




He was standing in the back of an alley when she found him. Hidden in the shadows behind the dumpster, the first she saw of him was his hair. It stood out in the shadows, like a match in a dark room. She came closer to ask him what he was doing, noticing almost too late that he was holding someone, a young girl, all dressed in red. Like little Red Riding Hood out for a trip to grandma’s place.

At first she thought he’d moved on, gotten over his obsession with her. She stood there, holding on to the wall. As if her heart wanted to escape through her throat. She hadn’t expected for it to sting this badly.

He was looking at the girl, she didn’t think he’d even seen her standing here, he was looking at the girl’s throat, at the blood dripping away from a tender young neck. His hand moved almost unconsciously to his lips, his tongue searching for it.

He seemed surprised, as if he couldn’t quite believe what he’d just done. His eyes never fell away from his victim, his nostrils flared. She wondered what it was that his senses told him. Did they tell him who the girl was, who she could have been. Did they tell him she was here. Spike held the girl for a few more seconds before carefully laying her down on the ground. He knelt beside her, not long, just a few seconds, as if laying her to sleep. He caressed the girl’s hair, like he’d touched hers after their kiss. And then he saw her standing there.

Their eyes met. Look away, she told him silently. Two predators, waiting for the other to give in first. He looked away. She had to fight a smile at her victory, precious seconds he used to escape. She didn’t run after him. She should but she didn’t. She let him get away, possibly to kill more innocent people, as she knelt down next to his victim. She tried to justify it in her head. What if he’d turned the girl, she had a duty to check for that. She knew it for the nonsense it was. Her breath froze as she could feel the girl’s heart beating, barely.

Buffy knew what she had to do. She had no choice about the matter. All the same, her hand was shaking as she found her cell phone and dialled Giles' phone number. By the time he answered, her voice was firm no matter how hard it was to tell him: "Spike's chip stopped working."

As simple as ordering a pack of fries. Giles didn’t miss a beat, though she could imagine he was probably wiping his glasses. He promised to come right back to Sunnydale. He told her he could do ‘it’ for her. She almost cried at that, “No.” A mere whisper of a word, but he understood. “I can handle it,” she said. She owed Spike at least that much.

Buffy opened the door and went up to her room. There were a few pieces of wood in her bag. These days she didn’t carve many of her own stakes. Xander tended to take care of most of them. He’d drop them off every week or so. His little way of helping her out, quiet, like most of the things he did.

The wood didn’t even seem to realize how serious this was. The knife slid through it like butter and woodcurls formed as the stake slowly took form. She cut in one added part, Spike’s name. It was the only thing she’d ever use this stake for. The knife went too far, cutting off too much. She threw away the wood and started anew.

She knew what she had to do. She couldn’t trust him. Not with the chip out. Oh sure he’d still protect her and Dawn. He loved Dawn, the thought of him hurting her was too silly to even think about. He wouldn’t even kill her friends, not even Xander. Because he knew she cared about them. The people they met on a day-to-day basis were probably safe as well. Spike wouldn’t want to piss her off by killing people she knew. But what about others, strangers, people he met when she wasn’t around.

What if one night he went to a grocery store for a pack of cigarettes and some harmless idiot cut in front of him in the line? What if he got drunk and forgot about her for just a second? Not even that long… how much time did it take to kill someone that bumped into him? What if he got hungry?

She’d gotten complacent lately, seeing him as tame, kissing him. But he wasn’t, he never would be. His own stake, another wood curl flittered to the floor, one more, she passed it along her palm and it cut into her skin. She hadn’t pushed hard enough for it to be more than a papercut. But it stung. Sharp, it would slice right through him. In and out, clean and painless, over and over again, like she did to a thousand other vampires. It was supposed to be her calling.




2.






She wondered if he was trying to make it easier for her. Instead of making her come inside to look for him, he stood waiting for her in front of the door. Shirt, jeans, red dress shirt. His leather coat. Almost as if he’d wanted to find the spirit of the big bad, the Spike that he’d been when he first came to Sunnydale. So long ago, she’d practically forgotten how dangerous he’d been. Who could possibly take Spike serious these days?

He pretended not to care. Lighting a cigarette as he leaned up against the crypt wall. She stopped only a few feet in front of him, her fingers cradling the stake under her jacket. She didn’t take it out, it’s weight felt uncomfortable under her touch.

He was breathing again, so alive, so there in the shadows. She knew he did it to smoke, to talk, but it made him look less dead than the average vampire she staked on a night to night basis. She could almost believe he was alive, but they both knew he wasn’t. He was just like them. Crawled out of his grave like them, had the dust under his nails like them, sank his nails into his victims and didn’t let go, like her. Only she was letting go now. Yes, letting go, staking him, any moment now. She hadn’t even noticed that she’d gotten closer. Mere inches away from him. If he’d been any other vampire, she’d be dead. If he’d been any other vampire. He would be.

”Buffy.” He whispered her name in her ear, cold air made her shiver, a quiet apology containing an endless amount of feelings that she knew he couldn’t possibly have. But no excuses, no reasons, he didn’t say a word to try and convince her that she hadn’t seen what she thought she’d seen. No attempt at getting her sympathy. He didn’t move, didn’t even try to defend himself, he didn’t say a word about his actions. He wouldn’t beg, she’d never expect him to, he knew better than that.

She couldn’t tell him that the girl was still alive. It wouldn’t matter to him; it couldn’t matter to her either. Alison had lost a lot of blood and she didn’t have the constitution of a slayer to get most of it back. Buffy wondered if he’d even care if she told him. Alison was a mere seventeen-year-old girl, with parents who loved her, a big brother that adored the ground she walked on. She had high hopes of getting into Stanford next year. If she survived that is. Alison might never get out of the hospital. Her fight wasn’t over yet, the girl wasn’t safe, in her mind she might never be.

Spike tried to look dangerous, the big bad evil vampire. Not a care in the world. She didn’t dare to tell him how harmless he looked, how cute he was with his hair all rumpled up. Same old Spike. Like the sweet Jack Russell that bit into your pants trying to show how tough it was. Barking on and on with threats that only the worst dog haters would fear. But then, that was the illusion. Spike really was the big bad vampire. When he bit, more than a pair of pants suffered the consequences. She couldn’t let herself fall into the trap; she was the slayer; one girl in the world. He was a vampire, one of many.

She had a stake with his name practically carved in it, a few nicks aside. All right a lot of nicks. Woodcarving really wasn’t as easy as Xander made it look. She licked her lips for a second, her lips dry. She had the time, the opportunity. He was right in front of her and she knew he wouldn’t defend himself, not against her.
He was dangerous, a monster and he loved her.

Giles had sent her dozens of files. He said they might help her deal with what she had to do. She wasn’t the first Slayer that had a vampire obsessed with them. Not even remotely.




She couldn’t even remember all of them, tidbits, things that had stood out to her. But not all of it. Russia 1478, three towns dead because the slayer couldn’t kill her own brother. Japan 489, a slayer’s mother gutted because she let her lover live. Germany 1765… This was just a trick, something he used to make her trust him. But his lips on hers felt like a balm in an ocean of ice and his hands both rough and oh so soft. It shouldn’t be possible for him to be like this.

“Tomorrow”, she choked out before she ran off. Her stake dropped on the grass.

He yelled her name. Buffy! But he didn’t follow. She froze, looking back one last time, his hair reflected in the moonlight. The unleashed predator waiting for her, the predator that should be dust. If she weren’t lacking the strength.

She ran. Ran from him, ran from herself, ran from the girl in intensive care, ran from millennia of history, far away from the memory of Theresa in a funeral home, rising there because Angelus had seen fit to use her as a message, ran from the memory of Angelus killing her classmates just to let her know he was out there. God why couldn’t Spike make this easy for her and just do something threatening, if he did this wouldn’t feel like killing a friend.

She finally sank down against the wall, far enough away from him, not close enough to home to be noticed by any of her friends.
”Take him out.” They’d said. “He’s a threat.” They’d said. “Think about Dawn.”
And she did, she couldn’t not.

“There’s another answer.” A voice said behind her. She turned her eyes to the alley behind her, the one that had been empty only moments before.
She cringed as he explained his proposition, she said no, he continued and finally she nodded.
Tomorrow.






3.






She didn’t find anyone outside when she arrived. Well unless she counted the fledgling she took out as soon as she entered the cemetery. There was a spot filled with cigarette butts, but no vampire. Why had she even expected to see him standing outside? Stupid, so stupid. She both feared and hoped that he’d left. But she knew he hadn’t. His presence virtually rang through the air surrounding the crypt, battering her skin like a wave rushing up to her. Screaming in her blood: “Spike is here”

The door was jammed; she pushed it, finally able to force it open. The angel statue that Spike had dragged down from the cemetery had been blocking the way. She wondered if she’d broken it, but knew she couldn’t have. There was wreckage all around the room. Something, no someone had trashed every single item in the room. Where was Spike? Had someone attacked him? But no, there was only one presence here, Spike’s. Her heart broke, as she understood. He’d shattered everything he owned. Every little thing he’d dragged in to seem more human, every possession, dozens, no, hundreds of little things that had been his. As if he was trying to destroy whatever she thought he’d been becoming.

He’d somehow managed to pick up his weapons chest, only to dash it to the floor, shattering the wood and pouring its contents in the dust. She’d seen enough of his weapons to think they were all there. Not that she was likely to know every weapon he owned, yet.
She jumped down the chute and landed next to the ladder. Only one torch was burning, but she could see his anger hadn’t stopped upstairs. His bed was broken, the mattress a mess of feathers. He sat in the middle of them and didn’t even bother to look up at her as she arrived. He was holding on to a whiskey bottle. It was still full.

Under the weight of her eyes, he put down the bottle. He’d taken off his duster, leaving it crumpled up on the floor next to him. One of the only undamaged items in the room.

He unbuttoned his shirt, leaving nothing but a thin black shirt between her stake and his skin. She didn’t take a step away from the ladder, the torch was starting to fade as he got tired of sitting there. The bottle was still in his hand as he grabbed a glass and filled it. He was uncharacteristically silent. Waiting for her judgement.

He didn't even look surprised when she handed him the plain cardboard box she held. He opened it and looked inside, resigned to whatever she wanted of him. After looking at the contents for a moment, he glanced up, his eyes full of hurt, and said, "Nice. Does it come with a bell on it?"

“It’s not like that.” He came up to her, open shirt, jeans riding low on his hips
“I’m serious Spike.” He was hiding his hurt behind innuendo, trying to look threatening rather than scared.

“Course it is.” He caressed her face, fingers gently playing with her hair, ready to grab her if he felt like it.

She pushed him away.
”Your chip stopped working.”
He bowed his head; she could see that he’d stopped breathing. This was a dead man in front of her.
“You’re a threat. The others; they all offered to stake you for me.”

“Course they did,” Did she hear another hint of hurt? “So what? Planning to give me one last seeing too before you dust me? Get your kinks out of your system before…” He turned away from her, dropping the box. The collar fell out on the ground and Buffy knelt down next to it, picking it up.

“It’s a magical collar Spike.”
Oh right, as if that made it sound so much better.

“Oh God, not more of Willow’s sodding codswallop. You know that never goes well.”

Both of them shivered at the thought. “Not Willow’s, it’s… I found it.” He was still giving her the eye. “Look, it doesn’t matter where I got it. What matters is what it does. It makes it so… so you can’t do anything I don’t want you to do.”
She’d be his conscience. The moment she thought of something she didn’t want him to do, he wouldn’t be able to do it. Whether it was killing someone, or picking Xander’s pockets.

“So that’s what you want?” He finally turned away from her, his shoulders hunched down. “A trained lapdog that you can use whenever you want, and kick out of the room when you’re done? Bad Spike, gonna swat you with a rolled up newspaper instead of my fist?”

She started crying. She hated it. She didn’t want to cry, she wouldn’t cry. She was supposed to be the strong one - she couldn’t cry and yet she was. Why did she have to do this to him, just to keep him alive?
”I don’t want to stake you. Please Spike, it’s the only…”

“I could leave,” he offered. And he could, she’d done it before, let him go. She’d been stupid then, so young, her focus on Sunnydale, desperate to ignore the rest of the world. Yes he’d be out there, still alive, free to do what he wanted; free to kill whomever he wanted.

Her resolve tightened.
“I can’t let you. Please don’t make me stake you.” More tears welled up in her eyes.
”I still need you.” Her voice broke entirely.

He took the collar from her hands and stared at it. His eyes were sad, like she’d just kicked a puppy. She fought the urge to start crying again. She was sure her eyes were rid, she grabbed a handkerchief, patting it around her eyes.
”You know you don’t need this.”

“No I don’t.”
He seemed broken, devastated by her words. He opened the latch of the collar, holding it for another second. It seemed to take forever, but finally he put the collar on his neck. She helped him with the hasp, closing it for him. As soon as it was locked a flare of light passed around the collar, she could see him cringe as the fire burned along the metal clasp, sealing it once and for all. He wouldn’t be able to take it off, only she could do that for him.

It was done.

She kissed him then. He hesitated for a second before returning her kiss. Did he hate her now? Had she made him hate her? Was it worth that to keep him alive? She took a step away; he took a step forward. His arms wrapped around her. She kissed him again. This time he didn’t hesitate. But she saw his eyes as he did so. She had to let go of him. Did it hurt him when she pulled away from him? She couldn’t be sure. But he didn’t come closer until she did. And all the time during Buffy couldn’t help but wonder what the others would think of this.







4.





Willow smiled when Buffy explained what she’d done; her perfect solution. It was all so easy wasn’t it? They wouldn’t have to dust a vampire they had come to know and he wouldn’t be able to dine on the people. Tara seemed hesitant, but didn’t speak up. She sat away from Willow, refusing to look her way, but she’d come regardless. She missed Willow, but wasn’t ready to come back. Buffy wished she had Tara’s strength.

Xander didn’t take it as well. She noticed the leash he’d put on the table only seconds before Spike did. Spike’s rage burned like fire, the vampire visibly restrained himself from giving Xander a tongue lashing. She wanted to tell him he could. Xander deserved it. She’d almost be willing to let him hit Xander. Almost, and the more jibes Xander made, the more she felt like just giving Spike the go ahead.

Giles was grouchy when she told him. He’d arrived earlier in the evening. Her watcher hadn’t stopped wiping his glasses since he saw Spike sitting on the stairs. He was the first one to voice any doubts about the collar, asking her where she’d gotten it. If it had been tested. The fact that she couldn’t give him any real answers didn’t help her case.

Giles’ expression hardened every time he looked at Spike. Buffy had tried to explain it to him. He’d asked Spike to come closer. Spike grunted but did. The vampire even stood there quietly for a few moments while Giles examined the plain black collar. Apparently there was some kind of runes etched into the leather. Buffy hadn’t noticed them before, but she took Giles word for it.

Spike huffed, tapping his foot the longer it took; but since Buffy didn’t want him to speak, he couldn’t. Not even to growl as Giles stretched the collar a bit further away from his neck, slipping his fingers in between the collar and Spike’s skin to check for more runes. There were a few, and those too were noted down. She tried to sit next to Spike after that. He, however, stood up and moved to the other side of the room.

Giles took a glass of scotch while his eyes stayed locked on Spike. His glass was half full before he relented and poured a second glass. Spike still couldn’t talk when Giles gave it to the vampire. Buffy mentally gave him permission to speak, but he stayed silent. She missed his voice. She wanted to beg him to say something. Anything. But he refused.

Giles was the typical quiet patriarch. He didn’t say a word to either Spike or her. Spike put his feet on the table. Mud slid down, puddling on the furniture and she couldn’t help her quick thought of. “Oh god no, he can’t do that.” He was immediately forced to set his feet down. He patently ignored the mud Giles noticed and it was yet another thing for him to write down. Things quieted down after that, but she couldn’t seem to escape Giles careful consideration.

They settled into the new routine all too easily. Spike wasn’t being a pain - he couldn’t get a wrong word out of his lips and when he tried to light a smoke, something stopped him before he could even get it on. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that. She didn’t mean to take away his stress relieve, she just didn’t like the stench of smoke hanging in the room whenever he lit one of his cancer sticks. Sure he was already dead, so he couldn’t get cancer, but what about the people around him? Not that he cared.

He didn’t have to follow orders, the thing didn’t go that far, but whenever Buffy disapproved of something, he’d stop doing it, almost immediately. It was like a conscience, yelling in his ear when he was misbehaving and correcting his attitude when she thought it was necessary.

Buffy wanted to kiss him before he left, to let Spike know that this wasn’t hell. This wasn’t punishment. He couldn’t help being what he was. So yes, she could give him some compensation, even in the company of her friends. Spike, however, was having none of it. He didn’t even bother to speak, just shrugged her off and made to leave. She didn’t want him to go and he stopped. “Please Buffy, let me go.”
She watched his back as he stormed out the door.

A hand touched her shoulder, hesitantly, as if unsure if it belonged there.
“Buffy?”

“I just want to help him Tara, what am I doing wrong?” She couldn’t even look the quiet woman in the face.

“I … I… think he’s… he doesn’t like being restrained.” Tara faded as if back in the shadows as soon as Willow and Xander came near.

“Don’t worry Buffy. Just give him some time. Let him get used to it. He’ll be back to his annoying self as soon as he’s dealt with it. Like he did with the chip.”

Xander was trying to be comforting, much as she could see that he’d hated watching her kiss Spike. But he just wanted to be her friend. Right?
“It’s like with a dog, at first they scratch at their collars a lot, till they get used to them and before you know it, they come carrying you their leash to get taken out for a walk. Just wait, he’ll adapt. He always does.”

“It has to be a bummer.” Willow said. “Being free for one day and then picked up and put back in a stronger cage. I know Amy sure doesn’t like it when she tried another daring escape. But he’ll deal, it’s for his own good after all. Not like you can let him walk around without something to keep him from going on a killing spree. Right?”

Outwardly Buffy nodded. Inwardly she cringed. He wasn’t an animal. Maybe Spike could smoke when he was outside? Or when he was at his crypt and nobody else was around. She didn’t want him all pissed off, coming down from a century old addiction.







*****






She wasn’t even surprised to find Spike at her place. He was sitting at her kitchen table talking to Dawn; his coat covered his chair and his hair was all rumpled. From the mess it looked like Dawn had tried to make some of their mom’s hot cocoa. Spike saw Buffy come in and stood up.
”Please stay,” she asked. He complied. She hoped it was because he wanted to.
She hoped it was because he wanted to.

Dawn glared at her like she was the monster from the black lagoon, but Buffy pretended that she was too busy with the dishes to notice. Spike drank his cocoa while Dawn kept chattering on and on to him about school. There was some kind of casting going on for the new school play, and Dawn was hoping to get a chance at the lead, or at least a part in it.

If she pretended not to notice that Dawn refused to even say a word to her, Buffy could almost ignore Spike’s collar and think of them as friends. Friends who occasionally kissed, but still friends. Spike wasn’t Angel, but he was a friend, the kind of friend that kept your kid sister busy and then waited for you to take them to your room so they could… She blushed when she looked up at him. She tried to nudge him with her eyes. He got it. Nobody ever said Spike was slow on the uptake. Buffy wanted him, badly. So much so that she couldn’t bear to hear him say no.

Dawn seemed broken when he rose to follow Buffy upstairs. He patted Dawn’s shoulder before he left. What was wrong here? Hadn’t Dawn been the one to support her hooking up with Spike? Then why did Dawn seem upset about it now that Buffy did?

Buffy restrained herself from punching a hole through the wall. She wouldn’t let herself be led around by her little sister’s moods. Especially when Dawn didn’t even know what she wanted. Buffy grabbed Spike’s hand and drew him to her bed, riding him for hours. It was their first time. And, the first time in months that she was able to forget about her friends, her life, about heaven…

He seemed strangely quiet as she tried to make him happy, make herself happy. Wasn’t this what he’d wanted from her? Plenty of sex, enough to make even a vampire happy. He got into it of course, pushing her over, landing on top of her and kissing her nipples, tasting each in turn before he moved down, licking a trail down her stomach.

“Oh god.”
She’d done this with Riley of course. If anything, Riley had been an attentive lover; but this with Spike, it felt like he worshipped her, every part of her skin. It felt right, so right.
”More! Please more. Don’t stop.”
And he didn’t.

When they finally fell down, the both of them exhausted, she kissed him and he kissed her back. “I love you,” he whispered.

And she accepted the lie, because she knew he believed it. It was what he needed to believe in, right? She wished he’d just drain her, instead. Send her back to the heaven she’d been dragged out of.

“Hurt me.” She whispered.

“No.”
He kissed her again and took her hand, placing it on his chest.
”I don’t want to.”





*******






She didn’t get up until late; it was almost ten by the time her eyes opened. She noticed the closed curtains. Spike had to have closed them some time while she slept. Thank God for that. It wouldn’t do for her to have kept him from being staked, only to find out he’d dusted due to her carelessness. He was there, breathing in the bed next to her, her very own unloving dead man.

He’d gotten his coat from downstairs at some point. His prized possession currently clutched between his fingers. The very sign of what he was, the last true part of the killer.

“I don’t want you wearing that coat, Spike. It was a slayer’s, and it deserves better than to be draped over the shoulders of her killer. It shouldn’t be a trophy.”

“Buffy please.”

She understood he wasn’t happy with it, but that didn’t mean she’d let him keep on wearing it.

“I don’t want you to wear it,” she insisted, putting her foot down.

He grumbled and nagged and whined, but when he followed her down to the kitchen, fully dressed, the coat was left in her room.






5.





They could hear Anya screaming from out on the sidewalk. Several other potential clients heard it as well. It kept them from entering the shop. Buffy forced herself to move on, able to hear some of Xander’s halted attempts at explaining himself. She at the threshold; there wasn’t too much damage, yet, probably because Anya didn’t want to lose any of her merchandise. Buffy sent a prayer up that this was just some typical soon-to-be-married spat; one of those things that tended to happen when tension got just a wee bit too high.

Something crackled underneath her foot and Buffy looked down. She seemed to have stepped on a shard of pottery, embedding the smaller splinters into the sole of her boot. She knelt down and picked up two of the largest remaining pieces. When she held them side-by-side Buffy recognized it for the remnants of a clay dog bowl. She could just make out Spike’s name on the front.

What was left of the bowl fell out of her hands and crashed down to the floor. At least it caught Anya and Xander’s attention and got them to stop shouting.

Anya saw her standing there, and clearly showed her disgust. “There’s the slave master herself.” She spat out. Buffy wanted to tell her she was wrong, that Spike wasn’t a slave. The collar didn’t work that way. But Anya never even gave her the chance. Not even Spike expected Anya to pull out a chair for Spike and for her to sit next to him and offer to talk about it. Spike flinched and looked at her and Xander. Anya nodded: “I understand. You don’t want to complain in front of your master. In case she forbids you to speak up against her.”

I wouldn’t do that, Buffy thought, but Anya clearly wasn’t receiving the thought waves that she was oh so diligently sending. Buffy tried to look at Xander for support, but Xander was too busy trying to stay out of sight. He grabbed a broom and started to clean up the mess. Buffy hoped that he was as ashamed as he looked. The only good thing in the whole mess was that the bowl had broken before Spike had gotten a good look at it.

Anya patted Spike’s head, something he clearly tried to avoid. Then she grabbed him in a hug before he could get away.
”I swear Spike, I never sold her that thing.”

“Thanks.” And why was he so pleased about that? The collar was the only thing that allowed him to roam free. Didn’t he want to live? Did he think she wanted to stake him?

Anya seemed to be under some kind of spell, giving Spike a free bag of burbaweed, packing it for him like a gift. She even added a gothic black ribbon.
“Don’t expect me to do this again. Inter-demon empathy only stretches that far and I still want to see you at the wedding.”

“I’ll be there,” he responded at her glare. “With a proper present,” another glare, “that I will have paid for like a lawful consumer and that won’t be taken away from you as soon as the cops see it.”

Just how often had Anya asked him that question, ‘cause his statement seemed long rehearsed.

“Long as Buffy doesn’t forbid me to go,” he grumbled, not looking directly at either woman.

“She won’t.” Anya added. The look in her eyes made it quite clear how serious she was about that. And considering how many vengeance demons Anya still had on her personal calling list, there was no way that Buffy would have risked angering her like that, even if she had intended to keep Spike away from it. She needed someone to keep the wrath of Anya away from her after all.

When Anya did turn to Buffy, her eyes were cold, filled with her true age and it hit the slayer inside of her. Anya was a demon, not physically. Physically she was as human as Xander. But mentally, Anya was a demon. It scared her.

“That collar is not a quick fix Buffy. It’s a monstrosity. What you’re doing to him, it’s worse than if you’d just staked him.”

Buffy could feel her fists forming; she didn’t understand how Anya could say that. What was it with people? Was it so wrong to try and keep Spike on the straight and narrow?

At least this way, Spike was still here. Sitting at the table, snickering at her discomfort and tapping his fingers in annoyance since he wanted to go do something. Fight some demon, have a smoke, anything. She couldn’t blame him, she was as eager for a fight as he was. Anything had to be better than sitting here to be judged by Anya.

She just wished he wasn’t all dressed in black. She really didn’t like it. Couldn’t he wear some colours? She knew he had some non-black shirts at the least. But no, he had to wear black, black and for variation, some more black. She really didn’t want him to wear black. Spike jumped almost as if stung by a fashion bee. He pulled his shirt off, shock in his eyes, his arms moving in front of his chest for a second before he dropped them.

Oh yum! Naked chest. Chest of Spike!

“Buffy!”

What?

She turned back at the sound of his voice. Spike was fumbling with his pants. He seemed somewhat embarrassed. He didn’t blush, but he seemed younger, almost innocent and almost ashamed; if vampires were even capable of shame.

Buffy couldn’t help liking what she saw. The Buffybot had been right about that at least. You really should see him naked, indeed.

“What do you have against my clothes?” he asked, desperately trying to ignore the fact that he was standing there bare-assed at Buffy’s desire. Willow quickly placed her hands before her eyes while Tara looked away, blushing.

Giles looked about ready to start tutting; Buffy didn’t care. For once she had the power and she liked it. “The black?” she answered. She was gonna get what she wanted

“Can I please put my clothes back on?” Spike sounded more annoyed now than embarrassed. Well, other than the surprise of suddenly feeling compelled to start stripping.

It was starting to build some doubt in her mind. The power she had, to make him stop doing things. She wasn’t sure how she felt about it. She’d only wanted him to get rid of the black. But god did he look good naked.

“Of course.” She finally said. ‘No I don’t want you too’ her mind kept protesting, and he stayed undressed. Giles grabbed an old Halloween outfit that he’d never managed to get rid of and threw it to Spike.


It was the long blue sorcerer’s robe that Giles had worn once or twice; bought for the opening of the shop and used at Halloween. When Spike pulled it on, Buffy couldn’t understand why he didn’t wear blue more often. It was a good colour for him.


“Now how the hell am I supposed to get home like this?” Spike finally said. “Not like I don’t already have a target painted on my back from hanging out with the likes of you. Any of the demons see me like this, I’m a dead man.”

“More so than usual?” Xander’s snark seemed to pep the vampire up a bit, almost as if he needed it.

“Just put your clothes back on,” Buffy caved in to his request. “But only until you can get some coloured ones.” ’Cause he really ought to wear more blue.






******






She didn’t run into Spike again that day, or the next, or the one after that. Buffy was biting her nails, expecting him to show up any second. Buffy took her frustration out on the punching bag as if it was his face, for daring to stay away from her for that long. God, what if something happened to him and she didn’t know because she was trying to give him some space. What if she went looking for him, and he stepped into the Magic Box just as she was gone? She eyed the door, expecting him to step through with his usual swagger. Only he didn’t.

Buffy held her breath until she finally found him again; in her home, talking to Dawn like nothing had happened and he hadn’t been missing for days.

“No Spike, you can’t put jeans in the dryer on that high for that long.”

“But it worked for the shirt?”

“Yeah, but it’ll shrink the jeans, and I don’t think you can take another size down. Even if you don’t have to breathe.”
Spike sighed. He seemed to smell Buffy’s approach and turned around, apparently about ready to bolt. He should know that she didn’t want him to take his clothes off around Dawn.

Spike didn’t seem to want to look at her and Dawn was too busy with the washer to even notice she’d entered the room.

”Look I tell you Spike, she’s just being a bitch,” Dawn groaned as she loaded the dryer properly.

Spike tried to shush the girl, but no luck buster.

“And I don’t understand why you didn’t just let me take that shirt over on …”Dawn stopped, finally catching a clue and freezing. “She’s right behind us, isn’t she?”

Buffy didn’t have an answer for Dawn’s attitude, but pretended she hadn’t heard. She was getting good at that. Was this how her mom had gotten so good at denial?

Leaving the two of them in the basement, Buffy went back up the stairs and sank down at the kitchen table, her head resting on her arms. A bag of Doublemeat burgers was put down and forgotten about. She wouldn’t cry. She could get angry and pissed off, but she wouldn’t cry. Dawn didn’t need for her to start crying now.

She looked up as she felt Spike behind her.

“She didn’t mean it, you know,” he murmured.

Buffy grunted. She didn’t need him trying to comfort her. She needed him to kiss her now. So she did. He seemed shocked but went along for it.

”Buffy what is this?” he asked when she finally came up for air. She grabbed his mouth again, anything to get him to stop talking. She didn’t want words, she just needed him.

He pushed her away. “I’m not a doll Buffy.”
She didn’t understand. Wasn’t this what he wanted? For her to kiss him, to get between her legs, which would have to wait till they were upstairs, because….
“We need to talk.”

They so didn’t.

She didn’t need him to talk; she had her friends for that. And him, on the rare occasion when she wasn’t angry and pissed and oh, so needy…

She let go. Oh god what was she doing?
“Get out!”

Spike tried to say something. But she wouldn’t let him.

”Just get out,” she demanded, stamping her foot down.

“What about my clothes?”

“I’ll bring them later. Just leave.”
Spike stood there, hurt. He didn’t seem to understand.

Well join the club, bucko. Answers not given, questions not asked, ‘cause all they brought was pain.
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