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Title: Whose Torment Is This, Anyway?
Author: Rebcake
Banner art: okdeanna
Pairing: Buffy/Spike, with appearances from some of the gang from both AtS and BtVS
Word Count: 1110
Rating: PG13
Summary: Six months after the battle of the Hellmouth, Buffy brings her team to Wolfram & Hart on a legal matter and finds that she’s been kept out of the loop in some important ways.
A/N: This chapter was beta'd by thepuddinhead. Thanks for talking me down, sweetie! All the standard disclaimers apply.



Chapter One on DW / Chapter One on LJ
Chapter Two on DW / Chapter Two on LJ

Part Three: We need to talk

They slowly made their way out of the ruin. Both vampires were pretty banged up, and Angel’s shoulder injury made climbing back up to the balcony difficult. Spike let Buffy take the lion’s share of that particular load. Her grim expression was enough to keep him from getting in her way, though he helped where he could. He well remembered how she channeled her anger and frustration into physical exertion. He might not be a wise man, but he’d learned that much.

The longer it took to clamber out, the more he felt a haze of unreality over the whole situation. Her scent was in the air, making him feel lightheaded. Her flushed cheeks and swinging hair drew his eye like an oasis would a parched desert wanderer. He wondered if he had really recorporealized, or if it was all a detailed mirage. He was careful not to look at her directly, nor to touch her. If this were the next stage of his ghostly torment, he didn’t want to do anything to hasten the end of the illusion.

As they emerged from the building, Willow and Xander slipped off the hood of their car.

“Hey!” chirped Willow. “All accounted for! Hi Angel! Great to see you, Spike! Didn’t expect that when I got up this morning.”

“Red,” said Spike, suddenly finding himself with an armful of witch. The affectionate gesture was wholly unexpected, and the sudden contact helped to snap him back to the here and now. She gave him a brief hug and a wide smile, and quickly stepped aside.

“So, how’d the torment work out for you guys?” she asked.

“The torment was a bust,” supplied Buffy. “Fresh out of the perpetual. We’re all going to have to make do with the regular kind.”

“Too bad. Angel,” said Xander with a nod. “Mr. The Bloody. You did good. Welcome back.”

He stuck out his hand, and Spike slowly took it.

“Harris.” They shared a firm handshake before Xander retreated to the car. That exchange surprised Spike even more than had Willow’s hug.

“I’d better get that back to the lab,” said Angel, pointing at the goblet.

“Oh. Right.” Spike handed it over without argument.

Angel gave him a hard look. Spike shrugged.

“So,” said Willow, clapping her hands together. “I guess we should all just meet back at Fred’s lab in the morning. M’kay?”

“I’ll make the arrangements,” said Angel. He looked around, but after getting no response aside from a few nods, he limped over to his car and drove off.

“Um, guys? I’m gonna ride back to town with Spike, if that’s okay,” ventured Buffy. She turned to look at Spike. “Is that okay?”

It was downright astonishing, is what it was. He wasn’t sure if it was okay or not, but he shrugged.

“Whatever you say, Slayer.” She frowned.

Willow and Xander announced they planned to stop for breakfast before heading to the rendezvous. Buffy slid into the Viper’s passenger seat and watched the others’ taillights disappear. Spike bent down and rested his forehead on the car’s roof for a moment before taking a deep breath and opening the driver’s side door. He folded himself into the seat and rested his hands on the wheel, staring straight ahead.

“Hey.” Buffy cleared her throat. “I’m really glad you’re not dusty.”

“Beats the alternative, I’m told.”

“There’s more than one of those…” Her face fell. “Oh, god, you weren’t in heaven, were you?”

He lifted a brow and slid his eyes in her direction. “Angel’s office? Hardly.”

“Oh. Good. Not that I don’t want you to end up in heaven!” She slumped forward. “Why is everything coming out wrong?”

“Maybe because you never expected to see me again? Didn’t have your speeches ready?”

She turned in her seat to gape at him. With arms crossed, she settled back against the door. He mirrored her position, raising his eyebrows expectantly. She narrowed her eyes.

“Aren’t you even a little happy to see me? I thought we had a … connection.”

It was a challenge and a plea. She wanted reassurance, he could tell. Didn’t trust her own perceptions. Didn’t want to let her down, but he couldn’t stand to live last year over again. Better to get to the meat of things right away. He was a big vampire; he could deal with reality. He’d just have to make it easy for her. It couldn’t hurt any more than say, losing a limb, could it?

“Buffy. Slayer. I’ll always be happy to see you. Always. Just don’t want you to feel obligated to follow up on anything you said in the heat of the moment.” He couldn’t look at her anymore, so he slid his eyes over to the windscreen. “A fellow goes up in a blaze of glory, it’s bound to make a girl feel grateful and all, but you don’t owe me anything.” He waited for her tearful denial or grudging acceptance. And waited some more. Finally, she spoke.

“Are you serious!?” Ah. Neither then. Full of surprises, his Slayer. He eyed her warily.

“Well, yeah. It was brilliant, what you said, but I won’t hold you to it.”

“Gee, thanks, Spike,” she said in a tone more acid than relieved. She fell silent, fuming.

He couldn’t see how she could be truly upset with him for releasing her. It was the right thing to do, even if it did about kill him to get the words out. But she clearly had something to say. He waited for it. It didn’t take long.

”Look, I know you’ve seen me at some pretty low points, but when exactly have I ever given you the impression that I’m a, well, a whore?”

His eyes snapped to hers. “What?”

“Have I ever doled out my affections for services rendered?”

“Now, Slayer…”

“No. Seriously. In all the years you’ve known me, have I ever once said, Hey, Big Boy, if you just throw yourself in the way of this itty bitty apocalypse, I’ll make it worth your while?” She batted her eyes in a terrifying approximation of a coquette. “Or said that I’ll love you forever—or even for the next couple of hours—if you’ll just rescue my damsely self from the distress of the week?” Suddenly the car seemed much too small to contain all that righteous fury. “I’m not that girl, Spike! You, out of everybody, should know that! If I say I love you, you’d better freaking believe it!”

The Viper rang with her words.

“Oh.”

“Yeah: ‘Oh’.” Her anger seemed to seep away. He waited for the next curveball.

After a minute, Buffy said, “Let’s walk.” He nodded.


Continued in Chapter Four: We can work it out

This entry was originally posted at http://rebcake.dreamwidth.org/27159.html. Please comment here or there using OpenID.

Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
waddiwasiwitch
Oct. 4th, 2012 10:47 pm (UTC)
I liked the reception Spike got from both Xander and Willow. Spike putting his foot in it and offending Buffy was so in character for him at this point. Stupid vampire indeed. I'm really loving this so far.
rebcake
Oct. 4th, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
Heh. Yeah, I always get a bit miffed when people say that Buffy only said she loved Spike because she was grateful, or wanted to throw him a bone while he was dying, or something. I just don't think she's that kind of girl, and I think she'd be pretty PO'd if anybody put it that way.

I once read a short story in which Buffy and Faith are in a bar, and drunk!Buffy is complaining about Spike's "No, you don't". To paraphrase, Buffy says, " What? Did he think I was just trying to make him feel better? I'm not that nice!" I loved that. Wish I could find the story again...

Anyway, I'm glad you're enjoying this. Thanks for commenting!
shapinglight
Oct. 5th, 2012 09:48 am (UTC)
Well, good. He was being a bit of a dick there.
rebcake
Oct. 5th, 2012 06:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, for sure. Buffy's just the gal to 'splain things to him, too! She worked damned hard for that little moment of emotional openness in the Hellmouth. For him to shrug it off is NOT ON.

Thanks for weighing in, darling.
zanthinegirl
Oct. 5th, 2012 10:42 am (UTC)
I think you've managed to hit a good 75% of my post-chosen spuffy reunion kinks in this chapter. Buffy really meant it, because she doesn't just go throwing the L word around! Willow missed him! Xander is proud of him! (we just need Dawn and Spike to make up to get the 100%) so obviously enjoying this. ::hugs story::

Really nice little scene with Willow and Xander. I like muchly!

Spike bent down and rested his forehead on the car’s roof for a moment before taking a deep breath and opening the driver’s side door

Great character moment. I can easily see this happening.

rebcake
Oct. 5th, 2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
I'm so pleased it's working for you. I can see why writers choose to characterize Willow and (especially) Xander as antagonistic to Spike, but I just didn't see any of that in the last third or so of Season 7, so I figure they must've been more concerned with their own sins than his by that point. By the end he was on the team, as far as I could tell.

I apologize for the lack of Dawn in this. I'm with you, though!

Of course Buffy meant it! And it's not very nice of Spike to be so careless with a moment that was huge for her. Tsk. I'll bet he's regretting it already...
hello_spikey
Oct. 5th, 2012 07:39 pm (UTC)
Go Buffy! No more than the tongue lashing that silly manpire deserves!

Heee aaaaaaaaaw love Willow's hug and Xander's manful response. And poor sore Angel limping home with a cup of mountain dew.
rebcake
Oct. 5th, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks, sweetie! If only Buffy could slay their insecurities as easily as she can the other monsters..

Willow, Xander, and Angel all behaved pretty well, didn't they? ¡Yay! Learning and growing: it's a thing.
brutti_ma_buoni
Oct. 5th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
Oh.

Yeah, oh.

*g*

You make me very happy.
rebcake
Oct. 5th, 2012 09:24 pm (UTC)
Heh. I usually have some sort of meta point I want to make hidden in every fic, and Buffy's (totally justified) rant is the one in this story. Bad Spike (and some viewers), for not taking her seriously!

I'm happy you're happy. Thanks for commenting!
estepheia
Oct. 7th, 2012 03:24 pm (UTC)
Yay! Great stuff.

Loved this bit: “So, how’d the torment work out for you guys?” she asked.

“The torment was a bust,” supplied Buffy. “Fresh out of the perpetual. We’re all going to have to make do with the regular kind.”


Loved Buffy's furious speech in the end even more.
You really have the voices down to a t.
rebcake
Oct. 7th, 2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
I liked that line, too! I mean, they don't really get to live torment-free, and naturally they've come to expect (and accept) it. Poor kids.

I'm glad you liked the rant. Justified!Buffy is pretty impressive, I think.

Thanks so much for the lovely compliment! Stop by anytime!
kikimay
Oct. 7th, 2012 08:28 pm (UTC)
I hated so much the motivation given by the authors in Season Five (Why Spike didn't go to Buffy) and I've always thought that Spike, in that particular season, was a bit OOC, even if I enjoyed very much his interactions with Angel. That said, I think that your take, at this point, is amazing and IC.
Buffy isn't a damsel in distress, Spike! You should know better! *pets the insicure, stupid vampire* *loves her slayer*
rebcake
Oct. 7th, 2012 11:07 pm (UTC)
I've given lots of thought to the question of why Spike didn't go after Buffy in AtS S5. Far too much, probably. I've finally made peace with it, though I don't accept the reason given — that he couldn't top his exit — as what was really going on. I think there were a few things:

a) His soul filled him with so much shame that he was convinced that he was unworthy. When he first got the soul, he was so damaged that he didn't have the strength to stay away, but now he does. Just like Angel, but don't tell Spike I said so.

b) He cherished that final "I love you" even if he didn't believe it, and didn't want to give Buffy the chance to take it back. Which he was sure she would.

c) Angel is a champion button pusher (as is Spike, to be fair) and he reinforced all of Spike's doubts very effectively.

There's probably more to it, but those are the highlights. If Buffy hadn't shown up at this opportune moment, things would have gone much the same, alas.

Anyway, I'm glad you are enjoying this, and I'm super glad that you think I'm keeping them in character. This Buffy is a bit more mature than TV Buffy, but I like to think that this is where she'd end up after the events of S7. Thanks for commenting!
(no subject) - red_satin_doll - Oct. 8th, 2012 05:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rebcake - Oct. 8th, 2012 06:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
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red_satin_doll
Oct. 8th, 2012 05:38 pm (UTC)
“The torment was a bust,” supplied Buffy. “Fresh out of the perpetual. We’re all going to have to make do with the regular kind.”

I was reading this chapter and chuckling at the line above (SO true to Buffy's voice), enjoying the interactions of W & X with Spike, and Angel being - well, Angel, and then I got to this section:

“Have I ever doled out my affections for services rendered?”

“Now, Slayer…”

“No. Seriously. In all the years you’ve known me, have I ever once said, Hey, Big Boy, if you just throw yourself in the way of this itty bitty apocalypse, I’ll make it worth your while?” She batted her eyes in a terrifying approximation of a coquette. “Or said that I’ll love you forever—or even for the next couple of hours—if you’ll just rescue my damsely self from the distress of the week?” Suddenly the car seemed much too small to contain all that righteous fury. “I’m not that girl, Spike! You, out of everybody, should know that! If I say I love you, you’d better freaking believe it!”

THIS. ALL OF THIS. I LOVE this chapter and adore you for writing this. I'm always surprised when I see fans say that they think she said it "because he was dying." (I love that line you quoted from that other fic "I'm not that nice!") I mean - really? Clearly I am not watching the same show as those folks, and thats's ok - but to have that low an opinion of Buffy, esp in that moment, completely floors me.

You've interwoven a bit of meta into a great story in such a way that it's seamless and fits the context beautifully (in other words, it doesn't stand out screaming "Meta now!") And since I happen to agree 150% with you on this point, so much the better. Very impressive.
rebcake
Oct. 8th, 2012 06:32 pm (UTC)
I don't think people quite realize how insulting it is to Buffy to diminish that hard-won moment in the Hellmouth. She's not a perfect person, but she's a fierce warrior, not a people-pleaser.

Anyway, I'm glad the meta bit wasn't too glaring to you. I was just trying to see things from Buffy's perspective. ;-)
(no subject) - red_satin_doll - Oct. 8th, 2012 10:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rebcake - Oct. 8th, 2012 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
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relurker
Oct. 17th, 2012 01:38 pm (UTC)
You tell him, Buffy! : )

Love the chapter, love the interaction: brava!
rebcake
Oct. 18th, 2012 10:38 pm (UTC)
Hee! I'm so happy you enjoyed it. I always enjoy Buffy giving Spike a good tongue-lashing. Mmmmm hmmmm.
(no subject) - red_satin_doll - Oct. 24th, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
mierke
Dec. 5th, 2012 10:32 am (UTC)
He wondered if he had really recorporealized, or if it was all a detailed mirage. He was careful not to look at her directly, nor to touch her. If this were the next stage of his ghostly torment, he didn’t want to do anything to hasten the end of the illusion.
This is love - being so scared that what he sees isn't real that he doesn't want to chance anything to chase her away. So typical Spike.

Spike thinking Buffy didn't mean what she said and Buffy getting indignant and angry over that? Also very typical. Great work!

After a minute, Buffy said, “Let’s walk.” He nodded.
That made me giggle.
rebcake
Dec. 5th, 2012 11:16 pm (UTC)
Well, it's not like Spike hasn't been haunted by visions before, right? It's understandable that he'd be hesitant to take things at face value. Good things don't usually happen to him...

I think Buffy has every right to get her back up here. Spike is being dismissive of something that was HUGE for her.

Of course, they need to clear the air, and for these two that's not going to happen sitting in a tiny car. ;-)
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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