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Shared Hearts and Minds

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Stomach rumbling, Oz padded into Buffy and Spike’s kitchen in search of food. He could overhear an argument between the couple in the next room.

“I just can’t believe you didn’t tell me,” Spike was saying.

“Is it really that big of a deal?” asked Buffy, exasperation in her voice.

An emphatic yes was the answer, apparently.

“You’re being ridiculous,” Buffy said finally.

“Am not!” Spike shot back, before realizing they weren’t alone. Walking to the doorway between the living room and kitchen, the Vampire then demanded of Oz why he hadn’t said anything.

“Uh…” said the wolf, a piece of toast half way to his mouth.

“I mean, we’re mates, right?”

“I guess.”

“So why am I the last to know my bird was a soddin’ cheerleader?”

Oz frowned and Spike threw up his hands before turning back round to his lover.

She was shaking her head and smiling. “Ignore him,” she told Oz. “How are you?”

“Fine,” he answered, his eyes focused on Spike’s mug.

The Vampire gave him a knowing glance. “Want some?”

“Of course he doesn’t,” said Buffy.

“Uh, no. Thanks,” Oz said for himself, though he couldn’t stop taking little lungfuls of air in through his nose. Ignoring his Mate, Spike informed him that it was fine – pig’s blood, not human – but again Oz declined.

“Bloody hell, why does everyone have to be so damn difficult?” Spike exclaimed, his tone with an absence of mirth. “Here!” he took a pork chop that had been defrosting in the fridge and thrust it at the boy. “That socially acceptable enough for you?”

Oz gave a small, appreciative smile but before he could devour the meat, Buffy stepped in his way and snagged it from him.

“Spike, that’s raw!” she pointed out. When her Mate rolled his eyes, she tried to put her point another way. “It still has blood in it!”

Not able to take temptation a moment longer, Oz took his plate back and uttered a small “Thanks,” before tearing into it using only his hands and teeth.

Buffy’s mouth was agape.

“Was kinda the point, luv,” Spike said to her, a satisfied look on his face.

“Oh.”

 

Later, Spike and Oz sat down to talk about it. The boy seemed troubled.

“I don’t get why I became the wolf,” he admitted. “Why I have these cravings. Without the moon, I mean.”

Spike shook his head. “You didn’t become anything. The wolf is what you are. Soon as you understand that your life is gonna get a whole lot easier.”

Oz frowned but didn’t disagree with him.

“I’m a Vampire, right?” Spike continued. “A man with a demon. The Slayer’s a, well, Slayer. But she’s still a girl. I don’t know what everyone’s bloody fascination is with only being one thing or the other. Way I see it, we’re better this way.”

“Does Buffy agree with you?” Oz asked.

Spike gave a shrug. “She’s startin’ to.”

“You’re training her?”

“Yeah. Can sort you, too, if you want.”

“Don’t think I need battle skills.”

Spike shook his head again. “It ain’t about that. Not mostly. It’s about–”

“Embracing your true nature,” Buffy finished for him, having just walked into the room and caught their conversation. “In my case that works,” she continued. “Because, hello! Warrior of light. I’m really not sure that’s best for either of you.”

“Damnit!” Spike exclaimed, getting up and punching a wall.

Buffy took a step back, genuinely shocked at his sudden rage. “What–” she began to ask.

“I thought you were smarter than that!” Spike snapped.

Buffy’s hands went to her hips. “What the hell does that mean?”

Oz was about to have a ringside seat to an argument completely unlike the one earlier in the day. “Guys…” he said, but they were glaring at each other so intensely he may as well have vanished.

“Spike, why are you pissed? And taking it out on the furniture? And me!”

“Because apparently you’ve learnt nothing in the time we’ve been together. You think my nature – a fundamental part of me is irrevocably wrong.”

“Well…” said Buffy, suddenly unable to meet his eyes. “No.”

“Yeah, you do. It’s what you said. Sweetheart, I’m only as evil as I wanna be.”

“You, yeah. But not your demon. Or any other vamps.”

“I am my demon, Buffy!” Spike yelled.

“Uh, guys,” Oz tried again.

Spike pointed to him saying, “He is too.”

“No,” Buffy replied, her face hard. Feeling how hurt Spike was really cut at her. “You’re not evil. Either of you. I wasn’t saying–”

“You were saying that all demons are evil.”

“But you don’t count!” she argued.

“Why?” Spike countered.

“Because you’re not evil, duh!”

Utterly at the end of his tether, Spike stomped from the room. Buffy’s instinct told her to go after him, but as soon as she went to move he sent her a forceful mental message to give him some space. She flounced down on the couch next to Oz and rubbed her temples instead.