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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. 

Chapter Text

When Buffy awoke a second time, a lot later, Spike was gone. She was sad for the loss of him – of his comfort – but knew rationally that he had to get back to his place before sunrise, not to mention that it’d be majorly awkward if he were still there.

Her mother brought her coffee, not long after she’d sat up.

“I don’t know everything that went on last night,” said Joyce, curling in beside her eldest and stroking her hair, “But Dawn tells me Spike saved the day.”

“Yeah,” said Buffy in a yawn.

“You want to talk about it?”

She blushed. “Not really.”

“Well, you know where I am.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

---

Spike was pacing his crypt again. To his great relief, Harmony had cleared out. Just so happened she took half of his belongings along with her own, though. Any other day, he’d be furious and consider taking revenge, but he was too caught up in his thoughts for that.

Buffy was glad he was in love with her? What was that about? He couldn’t get his head ‘round it. The way she’d talked about him to Riley – calling him a friend. The way she’d held him. Spike felt amazing just thinking about it. Amazing and ridiculously like a love-struck teen, he figured, shaking his head.

“What that girl does to me,” he muttered.

“What girl?” Buffy asked in mock innocence, sneaking up behind him.

“Bloody hell, Slayer! Don’t you knock?”

“Nope!” she answered with a pop, before jumping up on a tombstone and wincing in pain.

Rolling his eyes – that had developed a slight twinkle, since she walked in the door – Spike told her she should be more careful about aggravating her wound.

“I’ll be fine,” she insisted, dismissing his concern.

“Certainly look better than yesterday,” he noted.

“Yeah,” her smile dulled, just slightly. “About that…”

“No need, Slayer,” said Spike.

Buffy pouted. “But you don’t know what I was gonna say.”

Damn her and that lip. She comes in here like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Like we’re friends – well, I guess we are. It’s what she said. But smiling, and pouting, and being all energetic. Damn it all!

“I’m guessin’ you were wanting to thank me again,” he said with a shrug. “Just killed a vamp and stuck a bandage on. Nothin’ big.”

Buffy gave him a look, letting him know she knew it was more than that. “And the stuff with Riley…” she began.

“Really no need to talk about that,” he insisted, with a scowl, though it clearly wasn’t directed at her.

“Okay,” she said. Boy, this is awkward. Better not bring up the even bigger topic.

“Well, I should go. Mom’s cooking dinner, and I have a paper to work on.”

Spike nodded. “Night, Slayer.”

“Night,” she repeated, giving him a quick nod before heading for the door.

“Slayer?”

She turned back around. “Please, just call me Buffy.”

“Right, Buffy…. You want me to patrol? Give you the night off? Not that you need it, I mean. You just deserve it, I reckon.”

Buffy gave him a big, warm smile. “We’ll both patrol. There’s something I wanna work on, anyway.”

“Oh?” he quirked his eyebrow.

“Tell you tonight. Around seven?”

“Sure thing, Slay– er, um, Buffy.”

With a small laugh at his nervousness and her own giddy emotions, she left. I should not be having this much fun just after a break-up.

When the Slayer returned to the crypt ready for patrol, she was in better control of her wayward emotions. Having had a firm word with herself in the mirror as she changed into a practical yet attractive outfit, she had decided not to lead Spike on. He may be kind, and in love with her, and totally hot; and he may have saved her life, but he was also a soulless vampire, and they– she groaned at her train of thought. That old chestnut was beginning to wear thin, or whatever the expression was. She wasn’t sure if it was just Angel who couldn’t love without a soul, or if it was just Spike who could, but either way it didn’t matter. It was only Spike in the equation, and she had no doubt of his feelings or his loyalty to her. Not after the previous night.

The previous night. A shudder went through her as she thought about it. The betrayal. The comfort – which somehow seemed to make it all okay. She had almost died. Again! Buffy shook her head and made a decision in opposition to her previous one: with life as short as it was, she needed to just get on with it. But also take things slow.

“Are you comin’ in or what?” Spike asked from inside.

“Uh, yeah,” she answered, finally pushing the door open. “I was just stood there… thinking.”

“Sounds dangerous.”

“Hey!”

Spike grinned. “So what’s the plan, Buffy?”

She beamed at his use of her real name, then told him he was gonna show her how he killed the other two slayers.

His face fell. “Oh.”

---

“I don’t wanna be doin’ this,” said Spike, for the sixth time in as many minutes.

“But it’s important,” she insisted, leaping out at him from behind a tree. “I need to know these things so I don’t make the same mistakes.”

“You’re goin’ at it all wrong. It’s not about the moves.”

She stopped trying to spar and considered him. “It’s not?”

“No. It’s all about the head game. Look, if you’re feeling sad, or anxious, are distracted by something you’re thinkin’ about, it’s gonna have an effect, right? You can land the same kicks, but they won’t be quick enough. Works the other way, too.”

“If I’m feeling determined to win, then I’m gonna?”

“Well, it’s not an exact science. But it helps. Clear your mind of everything that doesn’t drive you forward. Rage, passion, instinct to protect, keep those. Use them as fuel.”

“And that’s where the other two went wrong?”

“It ain’t about being wrong, it’s about having weaknesses. It just takes one at the wrong time and that’s it, game over. So, you gotta minimize them.”

“How?”

“Bloody hell, I gotta spell everything out?”

“Well, you don’t need to get all snappy.”

“Sorry, Slayer, I–”

“Buffy!” she corrected.

Buffy, I don’t wanna be thinking about….” He took a deep breath. “About you and your death.”

She stilled. “I’m sorry. I didn’t really think about it that way. Just, um…. Just tell the most important stuff. We’ll move on.”

“Strengths,” he said, suddenly. “Your family. Your mates. Keeping them alive is what’s kept you alive so long. It’s a strength a lot of other slayers lack. That and….”

“What?” she pressed.

Spike groaned, as uncomfortable as he could possibly be, but carried on regardless. “So, you’ve got a death wish, right?”

“What? No!”

“Yeah, you do. All Slayers do. Just, with some, it’s bigger than others. It’s the main weakness.”

“I do not have a death wish, Spike.”

“You’re telling me it’s never crossed your mind, not even once, that this war you’re in doesn’t end? That the only time it’ll be over is when you’re taken out of it, and when something big an’ nasty is at your throat you wonder for a second what it’d be like; not to have the weight of the world on your shoulders. That’s it. That’s the moment the big nasty slips in and grants your wish, even if you don’t truly mean it.”

Buffy gasped in horror. He was right and she’d never seen it.

He lit a cigarette. “Here endeth the lesson.”

“It’s a sucky lesson,” Buffy complained, toeing the ground.

Spike shrugged. “Like you said, sweets, gotta be learned.”

She nodded, still grim. “Thanks.”

He shrugged again but she could tell he was not as nonchalant as he made out. Far from it. Clearly, he didn’t want to put his true feelings out there. Buffy got that, she really did.

“See you around then?” she asked.

Spike nodded and headed back towards his crypt. The night after that, he found himself wandering past her house again. Not lurking, he reassured himself. Slayer’s house just so happens to be between parts and other parts of town. Nothin’ in it.

He inhaled, trying to get a lungful of her scent, and he did, but it was tainted with tears again. Going around the back of the house, he found her on the porch in a pose similar to how she’d been the first time he caught her crying.

“Buffy?” he asked, tentatively.

“Spike,” she replied, resignation heavy in her voice.

He sat down beside her and put a hand on her back. “What is it?”

“Mom. She…. She has a hospital appointment. They’re giving her a brain scan.”

“I’m sorry, love,” he said, his voice genuinely stricken. “Nice lady, your mum.”

Fully overwhelmed by the situation, Buffy buried her face in his chest.

“That’s right,” he soothed, stroking her hair. “Let it out.”

---

It was becoming a habit, Spike always being around when Buffy needed someone. That and them not discussing it afterwards. She wasn’t sure if it was right; if she was just using him for his comfort. She wondered if he was going to get hurt, at the end of it, but then the thought of him hurting made her ache, and she knew that it was more than just comfort. He meant something to her and she wasn’t just using him, but how could they get beyond that? Buffy so badly wanted to convey to him that his feelings were returned, but she was scared witless about putting her own out there.

I have to tell him something, she thought. Then she had an idea. She could trust him, right? He was loyal to a fault. And he seemed to really like Dawn – treat her like a little sister. So Buffy would let him in on the origin of the Key. That would show her trust without her needing to explicitly admit it. Yes, she decided. I’m a genius.

When they met up for patrol again, Buffy was less sure of her brilliant plan. It wasn’t like she was now having doubts about trusting him, but rather that she was aware the knowledge could get him hurt. She really, really, didn’t want him to get hurt – or worse – because of her. She gulped just thinking about it.

“Where to, Goldilocks?” Spike asked, coming from behind her.

I really need to pay more attention, Buffy thought to herself. He’s always sneaking up on me.

“Oh, um…” she mumbled, instantly deciding tonight wasn’t gonna be it for revelations. “Warehouse district, maybe?”

“Sure thing, sweets,” he agreed, and they went on their way.

Outside one of the first warehouses they came to, Spike and Buffy encountered the Hellgod she’d been hearing so much about. Buffy had deemed it inevitable that she would turn up, after the monk warned her she was in town, but she had hoped his insistence about her great strength was mostly an exaggeration. It was not, and now she was limping home with a badly beaten up Vampire leaning on her bruised shoulder.

“What was all that about?” he asked.

“I’ll tell you when you’re safe in bed,” said Buffy.

“No,” he shook his head and then winced at the pain it caused. “Not that. She called me your boyfriend and you didn’t even bat an eye…. Wait, did you say bed?”

“Ssshh, Spike, you’re not making any sense,” said Buffy, blushing. She hadn’t even thought to make a denial of the remark at the time, truth be told.

“P’rolly not,” he agreed. “Haven’t hurt this much since Angelus got his last happy.”

Buffy stopped dead in her tracks. “What?”

“I’m sure you know of the wanker’s affinity for torture?”

“Well, yeah, but…. But, you? Why would he hurt you?”

“Forget I brought it up, pet.”

“I– okay.” She nodded. “Let’s get you home.”

Buffy had tried to settle Spike into bed as gently as she could, but he was injured everywhere. As she got up to leave, he put a hand on her arm, gently, and requested she stay.

“I’m gonna sit here,” she said, pointing to a chair near the bed. “We should be careful about aggravating your wounds.”

Spike grinned at her use of the words he’d spoken to her, not so long ago. “I might get the sense you actually listen to me,” he teased, and she stuck out her tongue. “Oh, do that again!”

“Don’t be gross!” she scolded, but she was smiling.

“I love you, Buffy,” he told her – suddenly serious.

“I know,” she replied. “I…. I know. You gotta get better.”

“Yeah, sorry. Just needed to say it.”

Buffy smiled again and repeated a third, “I know,” before ordering him to rest, promising she’d have blood for him, afterwards.

Chapter Text

After three pints of the red stuff, Spike insisted he was well enough for the Slayer to crawl in beside him and return some of the comfort he’d offered her, without danger of ‘aggravating his wounds.’

In all honesty, he wasn’t sure how he could be so bold. Being open with her about how he felt left him vulnerable and he hated it, but – ever love’s bitch – he couldn’t help himself.

“If you’re sure,” Buffy had replied, before climbing atop the covers.

Oh, yeah, he thought. Not just stupidity making me open. It’s also the fact that she responds to it.

They were quiet for a bit. Comfortably so. That had surprised him – the ease with which they could just spend time together, not doing anything special. It meant the world to him; times like these.

“Here’s the deal on the Hellgod,” Buffy began, out of the blue, bringing him out of his reverie. She told him everything. Well, everything she knew, which didn’t amount to a lot, but she didn’t hold back on the details. He’d risked his life – or, rather, unlife – to fight the beast, so he deserved to know why.

It was a hard pill to swallow – the knowledge that they were about to begin a battle that not everyone was likely to survive, but he was willing to stand with her in the fight; willing to risk anything for the Slayer or the little Bit, though he wasn’t truly sure where the protective instinct she engendered within him had come from, or when. Truth was, he loved the girl like a sister. Loved their mum, too.

Goin’ soft, he thought, though he feared he’d never truly been hard in the first place. Not like Angelus; nowhere near as vicious as Angelus, even at his worst.

Not for the first time, Spike considered that he’d been made wrong. But, for once, the thought didn’t really bother him. Why would it, when it meant he had a shot at sharing a bed with such a glorious creature as Buffy Summers? For her, he’d don as many white hats as the Powers that Be could fit on his skull. But he was getting caught up in his thoughts again. All his intentions would be irrelevant if they didn’t beat Glory and survive the year.

“I’ll be with you in this,” he stated, “If you want me.”

“I do,” said Buffy, in a tone that implied there was more than just a single layer to the response.

“Buffy–” he began, but she cut him off with a brief shake of her head.

“I’m scared you’ll get hurt,” she admitted. “So scared.” Once more, it was obvious her words could be taken in different ways. Spike simply nodded.

She was on her way again, after that. “I’ve got class, but I’ll call in later.”

He nodded, already missing the warmth of her against him. “Sure thing.”

Somehow the night had slipped away from them and he hadn’t noticed. The instant Buffy was gone, he regretted letting her go. He went to roll over onto the pillow she’d been leaning on, to inhale her scent, but gasped with pain the movement caused.

Over the following two days, Buffy continued to nurse Spike to back to health. Not once had he complained about the beating he’d taken, and it had all been for her.

Once during that time, when she’d been sat in bed beside him, he’d said, “I’m not gonna ask you what you feel for me. Not gonna push my luck. But… but I think it’s fair to say you feel somethin’, right?”

Buffy had nodded.

“And it’s not just pity?”

There was more nodding and a pained expression from the Slayer.

“Just tell me if I shouldn’t get my hopes up. Warn me now if it’s nothin’ more than friendship.”

“Your hopes are safe,” said Buffy with a shy smile. Spike was in awe. They were so close, physically, and it took every ounce of his willpower not to close the remaining gap and kiss her. As he sat there thinking on it, she did just that: a single, brief kiss. And then she went back to holding him, and they went back to not talking about it.

When he was back on his feet, they went back to him visiting her. Finding her perched on her porch steps, one day the following week, Spike eased himself down beside her. “Makin’ a habit of this.”

“Yeah,” she agreed with a small smile. She hadn’t been crying, that time, but that didn’t mean he assumed all was well. He knew her better than that.

“What’s the occasion?” he prompted.

Buffy gave a small shrug. “Riley left town today.”

Spike stilled. “How’re you feelin’ about that?”

“Honestly? Kinda not feeling anything. Which is good. Definite goodness. So don’t want a re-run of Angel’s exit-induced-grief.”

“Yeah,” said Spike, somewhat awkwardly. His grandsire and her ex-lover was another thing they’d silently decided not to discuss.

---

Another three days passed. Their encounters were becoming more frequent and much more obvious. Every time Spike came by the house, Dawn and Joyce would share a look and he pretended not to notice.

“Your eldest home?” he would ask the lady.

“She’s right upstairs,” she’d always tell him, as if he didn’t know.

This day was different, though. Spike had a grave expression and he wasn’t in the mood for pleasantries. He went upstairs without a word, and the look Dawn and Joyce shared shifted to one of confusion and concern.

“Slayer?” Spike asked, standing outside Buffy’s bedroom door.

“Come in,” she replied. “And use my name!”

He entered but didn’t say anything; just took a seat on the edge of the bed, the furthest he could be from where Buffy was sat painting her nails.

She stopped and screwed the lid back on the bottle. “What’s wrong?”

Spike turned to look at the love of his life with such agony in his eyes that she actually thought he might burst into tears.

“God, Spike, what happened?”

He broke her gaze and said to the floor, “I don’t think you’re going to forgive me.”

All Buffy’s slayer-senses went into overdrive. She waited for further explanation, which took a while, but finally Spike continued by saying, “Dru came back to town, today.”

Buffy gasped. Why did it feel like she’d been here before? Was he going to break up with her? Leave her? Had he cheated?! She shook her head, knowing everything swimming around it was irrational. After all, they weren’t even officially a couple. He’d been with Drusilla for over a hundred years. What stake did she have in him that could come anywhere close to that? He loved her, sure, but he’d loved his sire first. First love was powerful. If Angel changed his mind and came back to her she’d do it, right? Well, no. Now she wasn’t so sure. They’d both changed so much, and now she was in lo– – Um. Now she had feelings for Spike. And why was he being so quiet?

After an eternity of silence from her end, Buffy had the courage to ask, “What did you do?”

“I’m sorry,” was all the answer she got.

“Tell me!” she demanded, loudly, before lowering her voice to a whisper to add, “Please.”

Hesitantly, Spike recanted his tale. “Dru came back,” he began again. “I told her to shove off, right? But she talks me into going out – just for a drink. So we’re at the Bronze when the Hell-bint shows up, and before I can even think about clearing people out: poof, she’s transformed into some human boy. I turned to Dru to find her eyeing up some couple she wanted to chow down on, and I had an idea.”

“Yeah?” Buffy pressed.

“I’m sorry,” he said again.

“Spike, what happened?!”

“I told Dru to kill the boy.”

Buffy’s face was blank, then it curled up in confusion. “Huh?”

“The boy – one sharin’ a body with Glory – Dru killed him for me.”

“And now, what? You think you’ve done me a favor and you’re gonna go back with her?”

“What? No, Buffy, I’m not going anywhere. I mean, I will – if you want. But not with Dru. I’m telling you I got a guy killed!”

“A guy that was sharing a body with Glory?”

“Yes.”

Buffy went silent again, long enough for Spike to get up and leave. He couldn’t bear for her to actually say the words herself – that he was no longer welcome there. She was so lost in her thoughts and feelings that she hadn’t fully registered that he’d gone. On some subconscious level, she assumed he was away for a smoke and would come back. But he didn’t.

She went after him.

At his crypt, she called his name but he didn’t reply. She sensed him below, so she went down the ladder. Back on her feet, she looked at him. He returned her gaze and said nothing.

“Jerk,” she finally blurted out, but again there was no response. “Hey, I called you a jerk!”

“Not arguin’, pet.”

Buffy let out a sigh and tried a new tactic to get the conversation rolling. “Do you realize what you did today?”

“Yeah, and I’d do it again. Know that’s not what you wanna hear, and I know I said I was sorry, but I’m only sorry that it hurt you. I think–”

“Shut up,” said Buffy as she walked closer to where he was laid. “What you did was turn down a chance to get back with someone you loved; a chance to give in to your true nature. What you did was save me and my sister from a lot of danger, even though you thought you’d end up being punished for it.”

Spike was looking at her intently – trying to read her eyes. “Was I wrong?” he asked.

“You shouldn’t have walked out, earlier,” said Buffy. “That kinda made you a jerk.” She got closer again and opened her arms to him. “I’d like comfort now.”

Not really understanding what was happening between them, Spike granted the request and pulled her against his chest.

She held him tight, and whispered a heartfelt, “Thank you,” in his ear.

“So I get to comfort you even when I’m the bastard that’s made you upset?” he questioned.

“Duh,” said Buffy. “Who else is gonna do it?”

He smiled and pulled back a little to look her in the eye again. “You’re really not mad at me?”

“No,” she replied. “It was a crappy thing to do, but it needed to be done, I guess. Sometimes situations only leave us the option in choosing between the lesser of two evils.”

In awe of how mature she was, and heartbroken at all the griefs she’d had to suffer in order to make her that way, Spike kissed her. She kissed back and rolled them onto the bed.

“What are we–” he began to ask.

“Ssshh,” she replied, nipping at his throat.

He groaned at the sensation and she pulled back a bit. “Spike?”

“Yeah, pet?”

“I love you.”

“Bloody hell, woman!” he exclaimed, fervently laying kisses all over her face and neck. “Love you so much!”

“Show me,” she requested, giving him a look that expressed exactly what she meant. And he did. And that’s how they got together – never again to be parted.

Chapter Text

Little by Little – The Remix

When Buffy was feeling distanced from her friends and her father figure; when she was finding keeping the homework, work, home-life balance difficult to maintain; when she discovered she was in grave danger, yet again, fighting to protect her sister; when her world was rocked with the knowledge that her memories were fake, and her sister wasn’t real either; when she didn’t feel like she could turn to her boyfriend with any of it: the Slayer turned to another lonely individual and let Spike into her home.

When Buffy was almost fatally wounded and her boyfriend betrayed her on top of that; when Spike helped her get through both situations, the Slayer let him into her circle of trust and her regular company.

When Buffy needed answers about those that had gone before her, she let the Vampire further into her life. When she came to understand how deeply he felt for her; when he was visibly upset at the thought of her mother being seriously ill, the Slayer let Spike into her family.

When he got badly hurt trying to protect her and her family, she let him into her heart.

When, after all that, he expected nothing from her, yet was still willing to offer her comfort when her ex-boyfriend took off, she awarded him a kiss.

And after that, when he did something that would help her, even at the risk of losing her for himself, the Slayer awarded him with the love he’d slowly engendered within her.

When all was said and done and he was still there for her, to give yet more comfort even when he became the reason she required that comfort, she finally shared with him her body. Not too bad, for a soulless creature that was just following his heart and didn’t even realize where it was leading him.