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Little by Little

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When Spike awoke from his dream about kissing Buffy – holding her and finally confessing his feelings – he felt relieved. No longer could he live in denial and he was glad, for it had begun to take considerable time and effort. Still wasn’t easy, though. Rolling over to be faced with Harmony – sleeping, though she was – a sick feeling fell in his gut and he made his way quickly to the other end of the crypt to avoid it. Not for the first time he asked himself why they were together, but he knew the answer deep down. Better have the wrong person than be alone, he’d figured at the time. Bloody idiot.

Having paced the top level of his home twice, he decided to dress and go for a real walk. It wasn’t that late. Absentmindedly, his feet lead him to the base of the tree in Buffy’s yard, as they’d been in the habit of doing for several weeks. His mind was clouded. Though he knew it was illogical, he felt like he’d been unfaithful somehow and – more illogical than that – he felt like he’d been betraying the Slayer rather than his actual lover.

“Fucked in the head,” he muttered, “That’s what I am.”

“Huh?” said Buffy, raising her head from where she’d been cradling it between her knees. She was sat on the front step, alone.

Spike swore to himself then took a step forward. “Buffy, I… didn’t know you were there.”

“Oh, right.” She wiped away the last of her tears and went to get up. “I’ll leave you to it.”

Maybe because she was so upset or maybe because she’d been gradually softening in her attitude towards him, she didn’t question his presence or his need for privacy, even outside her own home.

“Sorry,” they both said in unison, once Buffy was standing in front of him. Then, again, at the same time: “Are you okay?” Both of them cracked a grin at the jinx, but her eyes remained sad. Troubled.

“Promise to be good if I invite you in for hot cocoa?” asked Buffy, feeling strangely charitable. She could use some company, after all.

“Promise to try,” said Spike, softly, before making his way to the door and holding it for her.

Her heart felt a little lighter at the gesture.

Once inside, Spike asked if she wanted to talk about what was bothering her.

“No,” she assured him. “I’m fine.”

He nodded and took over making the drinks.

“Thanks,” she whispered, pulling a stool up to the kitchen island. Once more, her head found its way into her hands.

They sat in silence for a while after the coco was done. It was oddly comfortable. Eventually Buffy yawned, though, which broke the spell. Spike got up to wash the mugs and gave her shoulder the briefest reassuring squeeze before departing.

‘If only my boyfriend was so comforting,’ she thought to herself on her way to bed. With a sigh, she wrapped herself in the covers and gave in to dreams she was becoming less and less guilty about having.

---

A week after spending some quality time at the Slayer’s house, Spike finally cracked. Supplementing one blonde for another had run its course. He could no longer pretend.

Harmony didn’t take it well but, then, he never expected her to. As she ranted and raved – and, most importantly, packed – Spike once again made himself scarce. In fleeing his home he almost fell over Buffy, who was lost in a tussle with another vamp.

Spike cursed and Buffy snapped at him, so he carried on his way. Only when the smell of the Slayer’s blood hit the air did he turn around.

“Bloody fuck!” he yelled, tearing the head clean off the vamp that had just impaled her on her own weapon. “Buffy, I’m sorry. Let me help.”

“Sorry?” she repeated, clearly confused.

“Should’ve never distracted you. Here, lean on me. That’s it. I’ve got you.”

“No. Oww!” Her eyes closed briefly, until the desire to throw up left her. “Not your fault.”

Spike shook his head and took the rest of her small weight. “Bastard.”

“I– yes,” agreed Buffy, before passing out in his arms.

He took her home; slipped her in the backdoor and up the stairs without disturbing Joyce in the living room. Dawn came in as he laid her down. She was about to start hollering, but Spike got to her just in time, putting a hand across her mouth. “It’s gonna be okay, Bit. Just a battle wound. Don’t want your mum gettin’ all upset, right?”

She nodded, her eyes still transfixed on her sister’s bloody stomach. Spike removed his hand and asked her for bandages.

“What happened?” Dawn whispered, returning with the kit.

“Standard fight went wrong. It happens.”

“And the bad guy’s gone?” Dawn asked, a slight quiver in her voice.

“Dust,” Spike assured her, before quirking an eyebrow. “You never usually see this stuff?”

“I’m not stupid, I know she gets hurt a lot, I’ve just never seen….” She shook her head. “Buffy always hides it.”

“Tryin’ to protect you, I expect.”

“Yeah,” said Dawn, rolling her eyes.

Spike managed a small smile, despite himself. “You and I know it’s pointless, livin’ on the Hellmouth and all, but she’s gotta try.”

“I know,” said Dawn, more earnestly. “She’s really gonna be okay?”

“All patched up, no more blood loss,” said Spike, admiring his handiwork. “Heart rate’s nice and steady. Be awake soon. Should probably call the oversized hall monitor to come be with her.”

Dawn made a face that warmed his unbeating heart. “You don’t like him either, eh?”

“I’m not even sure Buffy likes him,” said Dawn, biting her lip.

Well, he hadn’t expected to hear that. He knew he shouldn’t, but he couldn’t help but pry a little more. “They been having problems?”

“No more than usual. Just his macho ‘I have to help you, but you’re not allowed to take care of me’ attitude.”

“Wasn’t there tonight to protect her,” Spike noted. “Not that she needs a minder. I just mean–”

“I know, Spike. I get it. Riley doesn’t.”

“Riley?” Buffy whispered, as she began to come round.

Spike stood up even as his heart sank. Nodding at Dawn on his way out, he said he’d go find the idiot – in those exact words.

He did find him. With some vamp’s teeth willingly in him, Spike found him.

“You pillock!” he spat, barely unable to contain his rage.

Riley shoved the girl out of his lap and off his flesh, ready to start on Spike for interrupting him. Chipped or not, the Master Vampire wasn’t having it. With his heart not fully recovered from surgery and being low on blood, the larger guy was able to be pulled from the place by the shirt collar without too much resistance.

Spike didn’t slow down his pace or let up on his grip until he was back in Buffy’s bedroom. She was fully with it by then; sat talking to Dawn when he walked in and pushed her boyfriend to the ground at her feet.

Buffy stood up and demanded to know what was going on.

“Ask him,” said Spike, nudging the solider with his foot; too angry to say anything else.

Buffy pulled her confused eyes off him and looked closer at Riley.

“You’re bleeding!” she exclaimed, about to bend down and assist him.

Spike gently pushed her back down on the bed. “You’ll be bleeding again yourself if you go into a crouch anytime soon.”

Buffy scowled at him for a long moment, then Dawn gave a dramatic sigh and said she would patch up Riley.

“No,” Spike told her, flatly.

“Just what in the hell do you think–” began Buffy.

“Tell her,” said Spike again.

“Are you hurt?” Riley asked instead.

“She could have died!” Spike yelled – fully portraying his feelings on the matter. It made Buffy reassess the scene before her.

“Riley?” she asked. “What did you do?”

“I–” he began, then faltered. “Nothing.”

“Bollocks!” said Spike, who was tempted to kick him right through the window. Pointing an accusatory finger at him instead, he said, “This one’s been getting bite jobs from two-bit vamps.”

Buffy gasped and looked between the two men standing in her bedroom. Without either of them saying another word, she deduced it was true.

“Get out,” she said, screwing her eyes shut.

“Yeah,” Riley piped up. “We need to talk about this without you here.”

The Slayer’s eyes flew open again at that. There was a fury in them that made Spike’s cock twitch and made the soldier wish he’d never been born.

“Get out!” she said again, fixing her boyfriend with her stare. There was no room for argument. As he got up to leave, Dawn delivered a sharp slap across his cheek.

Joyce was at the top of the staircase then, demanding to know what the raised voices were about. Taking a brief glance back at Spike and Buffy, Dawn took her mother’s arm and led her to her bedroom to dredge up some kind of explanation.

Riley was still stood in the doorway. He looked at Spike and Buffy, too.

“This is it?” he asked the latter. “You’re gonna end things because of this?”

Spike was really gonna lay into him – verbally, that is. He’d built up quite a lot of angry words to throw around, but Buffy put a hand on his arm to indicate it was her battle.

He backed down.

As calmly as she could, Buffy said to Riley, “If you don’t think what you’ve done gives me the right to end things, you’re more deranged than I thought you were.”

“Deranged? You’re the one that likes to hang out with an impotent vampire!”

Spike narrowed his eyes. Feeling the anger radiate off him, Buffy gave his arm another squeeze where her hand still rested on it. Instantly, the rage diffused.

“Spike is my friend,” said Buffy, without hesitation – amazed with herself for remaining rational. “Even as my enemy he had more respect for me and what I do than you ever have. I want you to leave us alone now.”

“And him? You’re okay with him being in your bedroom?!”

“Yes!” Buffy snapped. Being calm and rational could only go so far. “Right now, I trust him more than you.”

“You’re a fool, Buffy. You two deserve each other.”

“I’m fairly sure my daughter just asked you to leave,” said Joyce, who had reappeared in the hallway. There was venom in her voice that made Spike proud.

“Fine!” Riley huffed, making his exit.

“Too bad you can’t disinvite humans,” Dawn commented as he passed her.

Hearing the front door slam, Buffy slumped down again. Joyce and Dawn went to fuss over her, but she shook her head. “I need a little time,” she told them. “Alone.”

“Yes, of course,” said Joyce. “Just let me know if you need anything.”

Buffy thanked her and Dawn as they left. When Spike went for the door, though, she told him to wait.

“Want me to skin him?” he asked. “Can’t do it myself, of course, but I know people. Demons.”

“He’s not worth it,” said Buffy, her voice breaking with the emotion she’d held back from the others.

Spike was at her side instantly. Comforting her instinctively. “He was never worthy of you.”

Buffy shuddered and leaned into his touch, pulling him down onto the bed beside her, literally crying onto his shoulder. He continued to mumble assurances until her breathing evened out and she fell asleep.

Waking up, later, the Slayer found that Spike hadn’t moved an inch. “I’m sorry,” she said – arms still locked around him.

“Me too,” he agreed.

“You saved my life, earlier. That vamp-”

“Hush now, pet. It’s done.”

There was silence for a moment. Then: “Spike?”

“Yeah?”

“You’re in love with me, aren’t you?”

“Bloody hell!” he exclaimed. His gut instinct was to deny it, but they were beyond that. With a sigh, he admitted, “Yeah, I am.”

“Good,” she said, before falling back asleep.