So, if I had known that I would be posting on Halloween, I probably would have come up with something a little more… Halloween-y. (Long story there.) Anyway, this is a sequel to my fic Unsuffer Me, wherein Spike and Buffy meet up in L.A. the summer between S2 and 3. It’s also a little different than my usual fare, but I hope you like it anyway.
As always, thank you to all the participants, both creators and readers/reviewers. And thanks for the extra patience this round. RL has been kicking my butt.
Certain Dark Things
Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters.
Summary: The sequel to Unsuffer Me. Spike returns to Sunnydale, only to find the Initiative waiting for him.
A/N: In this ‘verse, the events of “Lover’s Walk” never happened.
Part I: Recognition
Buffy nearly missed him in the melee. She was concentrating on her friends, who were bolting for the exit, and Riley, who looked as though he might topple over without her assistance. Her eyes scanned the room again, searching for threats that could come from behind, and passed right over him the first time. Other than his eyes, he was unrecognizable.
A second sweep, and Buffy’s eyes met his; she felt the shock of recognition in her bones and froze just long enough to have Giles turning to check on her. “Buffy?”
In an instant, Buffy made her decision, nudging Riley in Giles’ direction and turning back to the battle. “Get out of here!”
“Buffy!” Giles protested, and Xander and Willow turned to stare. “We need to leave!”
She shook her head. “Get Riley and the others out of here, Giles. There’s something I have to do.”
Buffy couldn’t explain, so she didn’t try. Instead, she worked her way through the fracas, avoiding the knots of fighters with the skill born of a hundred fights and made her way over to Spike.
She still had a hard time picking him out among the throng, he looked so different than when she’d last seen him. His hair was longer and curly now, his face bearded, his clothing hanging off of his thin frame. Spike had been lean before, but he appeared to be on his way to emaciated, his duster, which might have added bulk, nowhere to be seen.
Buffy wasn’t sure if he’d recognized her; after their eyes had met, Spike had gone back to concentrating on the battle, avoiding rather than engaging the foes surrounding him. His appearance, combined with how he seemed to duck the battle instead of fighting his heart out, told Buffy that quite a bit had changed in the last two years.
As she approached him, Spike whirled to face her, his face a mask of grim determination, and for a moment, Buffy wasn’t sure that he recognized her. “Spike?”
“Slayer.” His voice was toneless, and hoarse with disuse; it sent a chill down Buffy’s spine.
“We need to get out of here.”
He stared at her for a moment, his expression unchanging, and Buffy grabbed his arm to make her point. “Let’s go.”
Spike finally nodded, some hint of emotion entering his eyes as she led him through the fray. She noted that he continued to dodge blows and flying objects without attempting to fight back, and Buffy followed his example.
She didn’t have time to fight; Buffy needed to get both of them out of the Initiative before they were trapped; she didn’t think it would be too long before the rest of the army arrived with reinforcements.
Linking her hand with his, Buffy waited until they had reached the relative safety of the elevator shaft before speaking. “Can you make it up on your own?”
Spike regarded her silently for a moment before nodding. “Yeah, think so.”
“We’re below a frat house. Don’t stay down here any longer than you have to in order to let us get away. It’s still light out, but there should be places to hide in the house.”
Spike’s face remained stony. “All right.”
“Do you remember where I live?” When he nodded, she continued. “Go to my house. I’ll leave my window unlocked and the light in my bedroom on.”
Spike gave a short, jerky nod. “I’ll see you later then.”
Buffy nodded, searching for any sign of the Spike she’d known in Los Angeles two years ago. Most of the time, she forgot they’d even been together—but there were moments in the dead of the night when she remembered lying next to him in her narrow bed. Spike had been the best part of that summer in L.A., and her biggest secret.
The vampire who stood before her now, however, was ragged and obviously weary, bearing little resemblance to the one she’d known.
He said nothing, and Buffy had no choice but to strap herself into the harness that still hung down. Buffy gave a sharp tug on the rope and began to ascend slowly, Spike’s still, pale face growing smaller and smaller below.
Spike hadn’t been certain that he was actually seeing the Slayer until she touched him and he smelled her distinctive scent. For a moment, just a moment, Spike thought he was dreaming—but since his dreams usually ended with Buffy naked, spread out on silk sheets, he knew it was real.
Trusting her was another matter altogether; Spike had no idea what her connection with the Initiative was, although it appeared as though the Initiative might be crumbling.
Without money, or the ability to defend himself, Spike didn’t have another choice. He didn’t even know where his car was.
Buffy’s room was easy enough to pick out. She’d left the light on and the window open as she’d promised, and the branches of the tree in the front yard hung over the roof just outside her window. Spike found the leap to the roof more difficult than it would have been a year ago. He hadn’t had a good meal in months now, and he was weak.
Spike half-fell through the window, bracing himself on the floor with one hand and taking a moment to gather his strength.
Rising slowly, Spike glanced around the room, feeling like an interloper. Decorated in light colors and pastels, with posters on the walls and clothing scattered on the floor, Spike knew he had no place there.
He suspected that he had no place in Buffy’s life, and yet he would have to beg for mercy; it went against every instinct he had.
The door opened, and Spike whirled. Buffy slipped inside and softly shut the door behind her. “I stopped for blood,” she said, and he saw the tub of red liquid in her hand. “Thought you might be hungry.”
“Yeah, thanks.” Spike didn’t have the control to prevent the demon from coming to the fore. He drank quickly, draining the tub in a minute or two.
Buffy perched on the edge of her bed. “I guess you were hungry.”
“Been a while.”
“How long has it been, Spike?”
The Slayer’s expression was compassionate, and Spike looked away, unable to meet her eyes. “Long enough.”
“Okay,” she said slowly. “You want to tell me why you weren’t fighting back there?”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Buffy rolled her eyes, and the sight was so familiar that a smile tugged at his lips. “Come on, Spike. I might be blond, but I’m not stupid.”
“But you’re not a natural blond.” She gave him a dirty look, and his smile grew.
He shrugged. “You brought it up.”
“There was a battle raging all around us, Spike, and you weren’t fighting. That’s not like you.”
Spike stared at the floor, oddly unwilling to tell Buffy he’d been defanged. “No. S’pose it isn’t.” Buffy remained silent, and he paused a moment before continuing. “They did something to me, put something in my head. I can’t hurt anyone, Buffy.”
She stared at him. “They what?”
“They put something in my head,” Spike repeated. “If I even think about hurting someone, it’s like my head is exploding.”
Spike had expected the look he got from her, a mixture of pity and relief. “Oh.”
Suddenly angry, Spike spat out, “You might be okay with it, but I’m fangless. I can’t even protect myself.”
“I know. I’m sorry, Spike.”
“No, you’re not.”
Buffy looked at the wall just beyond his left shoulder, unable to meet his eyes. “Okay, I’m not, but can you blame me? I don’t want to kill you.”
Spike didn’t respond. He felt a boiling rage under the thin sense of relief from being out of an Initiative holding cell. “How did you get mixed up in this?”
“The usual way. I couldn’t help but notice when vampires and demons went missing around campus.” Her fingers worried the fabric of the bedspread; Spike knew she was lying, or at least wasn’t telling the whole truth.
Spike ran his fingers through his beard, scratching at the skin below. “Right.”
“Look, why don’t you stay here tonight?” Buffy suggested. “Mom has work tomorrow, so you can sleep, maybe get cleaned up.”
Spike snorted. “Yeah, I could stand a shower and a shave.”
“I’ll see what I can find,” Buffy promised, then rose, appearing nervous. “Why did you come back to Sunnydale, Spike?”
“What do you think I came back for?” was his rejoinder. “I wanted to see how you were getting on.”
Buffy offered a tentative smile. “I’m good. Really good.”
He had to ask. “Seeing anyone?”
Buffy shifted uncomfortably. “Yeah.”
“I don’t know.”
That was a lie, too, Spike could tell, and he vaguely remembered the tall, beefy man he’d spotted next to Buffy in the heat of battle. He found that he didn’t want to know; Spike hadn’t expected Buffy to not date again, but it still hurt to know that she was with someone else.
“Yeah, all right.”
“Do you want to sleep?” Buffy asked. “We can probably share the bed. It’s big enough.”
Spike looked out of her window at the velvety, dark sky and thought of all those weeks underground. “Think I’ll sit out on the roof, if that’s all right.”
“Sure. I’ll leave the window open.”
Their eyes met, and Spike remembered other nights spent tangled up together, in silence, or listening to Buffy cry out in ecstasy as she came against him.
It was all he could say, however inadequate.
Giles’ grave tone notified Buffy that she was not going to like what he had to say. “What, Giles?”
“Why did you go back into the Initiative?”
Buffy wanted to look anywhere but at Giles, so she studied the titles on the spines of books littered around his living room, the fabric of the chair she sat on, the pattern of the blanket tossed carelessly over the back of the couch. Her Watcher knew her too well to be fooled by her lies, the way she could still fool her mother.
“I just had to go back for something,” she finally replied evasively.
He pulled off his glasses, and dug a handkerchief out of his pocket; it was a familiar sight that might have been comforting if she hadn’t felt like she was hiding something huge, or if shame wasn’t dogging her footsteps.
She had dreamed of Spike the night before, not Riley—of Spike’s hands and lips and cock.
“I know it’s more than that,” Giles said gently.
Her relationship with Giles was such now that Buffy wanted to tell him. She wanted to tell him about Spike, their relationship in Los Angeles and how he was holed up in her bedroom for the day—with certain pertinent details omitted, of course.
Buffy sighed, deciding that she had no other choice but to be honest. “It was Spike, Giles. I went back for him.”
Giles didn’t ask her if she was insane, which was probably a positive sign. “I see. And you helped him to escape?”
“Yes.” Buffy decided that now was not the time to tell him Spike was currently asleep in her bedroom.
“Was there a reason you didn’t leave him to rot down there?” Giles asked.
Buffy winced, then decided that she didn’t have another option. “Do you remember the summer I was gone?”
Giles’ gaze remained steady. “Yes, of course.”
“Spike was one of the reasons I came back,” Buffy confessed. “We ran into each other when I was in L.A., and he…helped me.”
“He helped you.” Giles’ tone was carefully neutral.
Buffy rolled her eyes, more of a reflex than a response. “That’s what I said, Giles. He helped me.”
She thought of the sex, and remembered what she’d gained and what she’d lost. “Yes, for free.”
Giles sighed. “Where is he now?”
Buffy hadn’t wanted to answer that question, and she still didn’t. “Does it matter?”
“He’s in your home, then,” Giles stated, sounding tremendously weary. “Buffy, do you know the risks you’re taking by—”
“Do you think I’d risk my mom?” Buffy shot back. “The Initiative held him for a long time, Giles, nearly a year. He said they did something to him, put something in his head so he can’t hurt anyone.” When her Watcher still didn’t appear convinced, Buffy forged ahead. “He kept his promise; Spike stayed away. He’s not going to do anything that will make me stake him.”
“You know this for a fact.”
“I do.” Buffy met Giles’ steady regard without blinking or otherwise showing discomfort, and he finally nodded.
“Very well. I want to see him.”
“I’ll ask.” Buffy wasn’t going to make promises on Spike’s behalf, not when he had refused to pressure her one way or another. “I’ll talk to him.”
Giles raised an eyebrow. “What will you do with him, Buffy?”
“I guess I’ll wait to see what he needs.”
Giles nodded. “I see. And Riley?”
Buffy tried to keep the guilt off of her face, but didn’t think she’d been successful. “Riley doesn’t have to know.”
Spike ran a hand over his now-smooth face, then ran a hand through his hair. It was still too long, but he’d have to live with it until he could find a barber that was willing to serve a vampire. There had been a woman who had taken strictly undead clientele, but he had no idea if she was still around.
A knock came at the door, and Spike straightened slowly. “Spike? You okay?”
“Yeah. Be out in a minute.”
He finished drying his face, then opened the door, and saw Buffy’s eyebrows go up. “Looking good.”
“Thanks.” He jerked his head toward the bathroom behind him. “And thanks for the place to clean up.”
An awkward pause followed. “I should get out of here, leave you in peace.”
“Giles wants to see you,” she blurted out.
His eyes narrowed. “You told him?”
“He knew I went back. I didn’t have much of a choice. I told him about L.A., too.”
Spike raised an eyebrow. “Everything?”
“I left a few things out,” she admitted with a coy smile.
Spike took a step closer. “You ever think about it?”
“Sometimes,” Buffy admitted. “It’s like it was another life.”
“Yeah, I guess it was.” Spike stared down the hallway, seeing the pictures on the walls, the homey touches. Buffy’s house was as different as could be from her dingy L.A. apartment, or the white cells of the Initiative.
Spike froze as a female voice floated up the stairs. He gave Buffy a panicked look, and she shook her head. “Hey, Mom. I’m up here.”
“Is there someone with you?” Joyce called out.
Buffy met Spike’s eyes and shrugged. “It’s Spike, Mom. It’s okay.”
Spike had forgotten that Buffy’s friends and family would be underfoot; they had always been alone in Los Angeles.
Joyce appeared in the hall, giving both of them a quick look. “Hello, Spike. It’s been a while.”
He tried to summon up a reassuring smile, remembering the ax Joyce had wielded, and knowing that he was defenseless against her these days. “It has been.”
Joyce looked to Buffy, and when Buffy nodded her reassurance, she turned back to Spike. “Would you like some hot cocoa?” she offered. “I remember you liked those little marshmallows. I think I still have some in the cupboard.”
Spike felt her kindness like a blow, and he nodded sharply. “Yeah.” As an afterthought, he added, “Thanks.”
Joyce gave him an uncertain smile, then went back downstairs. Buffy asked, “Will you talk to Giles?”
Spike shrugged. “Why not?”
It wasn’t like he had anything better to do.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/367901.html