So here's the next stupid chapter of my stupid Seasonal Spuffy fic beta'd by stupid slackerace. No, wait... Beta'd by the lovely slackerace who knows things about punctuation I'll never understand. Including how to turn my fic into actual, honest to god sentences. You'll notice I said 'next' and not 'concluding half' because... well that's how it turned out, okay? Does anyone else have this problem where you just want to write a smutty little ficlet and you just start with a few paragraphs of set up? Then suddenly you have two whole chapters and the smut is still just a few more paragraphs away...
This time it was a clear week before Buffy returned to the crypt. Spike spent many idle hours of darkness chain-smoking in her front garden, and though the vampire was certain she always knew he was out there she never once came out for a chat.
The need for Buffy gazing seemed to have gotten worse since she'd spent the night in his bed. Though he had genuinely intended to go back to sleep, Spike had been drawn into listening to her heartbeat, enticed into wakefulness by the scent of warm Slayer and the sight of her face unmarred by worry. When he'd finally dozed off it was nearly light and she hadn't moved once. When he'd awoken at midday she'd been long gone, not even a lingering warmth where she'd lain. But five hours hadn't been enough of a fix to tide him over for five whole days. Finding it harder and harder to refrain from just walking into her house, on the sixth night of their patrols never quite crossing, Spike took the night off from trying to stalk a Slayer who was definitely avoiding him and popped out for a few rounds of kitten poker and some beers with the boys.
It had been a lucky night for Spike. Better than winning three Burmese miniatures was discovering their value to the demon world and Spike had happily traded them for a case of wine each. Because it offended the vampire to have so much alcohol sitting around the place undrunk, he'd made good headway before passing out and started again with the afternoon soaps. By nightfall he was on his third bottle, skipping out the fiddly business of a glass, and that would be the evening Buffy turned up. She marched in, prepatrol this time, took the bottle straight out of his hand and raised it to her lips. Paused for just a second, thinking better of it.
"Not blood, right?"
"Only of innocent grapes."
She took a deep swig then shuddered and Spike laughed at her little girl grimace. "Bad day, love?"
"There's another kind?"
"There will be. I've got vodka if you prefer?"
"Is that less gross?"
"Nah, just takes less before it seems tasty. And it'll get you unconscious quicker, if that's what you're looking for?"
She leaned against the sarcophagus next to him with a sigh. "Yes. No. Gotta patrol."
"Just the one glass, then?"
Without waiting for an answer he was off searching for the one glass left in his possession after a very boozy summer. Spike didn't question the medicinal properties of alcohol, it had always worked for him after all. A few blessed hours of not thinking, a good old scrap, and generally he felt better than he had before. And Spike was currently at the best bit of drunkenness, motor functions more or less intact but thinking definitely fuzzy, the stage that has humans dancing in public and occasionally trying karaoke. She took the glass, as innocuous looking as water, without protest but didn't drink.
"So can I assume the six days in between have been more or less okay for you? Seeing as you haven't busted in here all week? Or have you just been avoiding me?" If his voice was a touch sulky he couldn't help it, probably just the wine talking.
Buffy gave him a guilty smile. "I've not been avoiding you, we just haven't happened to bump into each other."
"And as I put in quite a lot of effort, happening to bump into you, it follows that not happening to takes a little work on your part."
She took a sip of her vodka, mostly, the vampire suspected, to avoid answering. Shuddered again as it went down. "Oh that's just disgusting. And I don't think you're supposed to drink vodka in pints." Spike waited patiently and after the requisite amount of shuffling Buffy continued. "Maybe there has been some avoidance. I'm not really a people person nowadays."
"I'm not people."
"No." She took another sip of her vodka, pulled the same dismayed face. "D'you have any soda?"
"Probably for the best. I need to kill things, there's been a whole bunch of weirdness today, bound to be some big bad out there pulling the strings. Besides, I think that's actually enough vodka to kill me. Giles would be so pissed if I'm the first Slayer to drink herself to death." She put the nearly full glass down on a dusty surface and toed at the bare earth floor with one delicate sandal. "Do you want to come with?"
Spike was already pulling on his duster, the barest wobble in his step as he followed her to the door. "We could hit some of the demon bars. Always something needs killing there."
Buffy shrugged. "Sure."
Willy's was dead. That is, Willy's was bustling. Thirty seconds after Spike striding in with the Slayer in tow asking Willy what he had was worth killing, Willy's was dead.
"Way to go with the subtlety, Spike."
"Not my style," he breezed, deftly steering her away from the cemetery and patrol. Though she'd drunk a grain of sand compared to Spike's small mountain it was hard to tell who was more in control. The walking and the not having a drink for fifteen whole minutes thing was starting to sober the vampire and Buffy was actually talking, okay complaining, which suggested to Spike she'd somehow managed to get pissed when he wasn't looking. "Your fault, anyway. Whenever I go in there on my own something tries to beat me up."
She gave him a grim smile. "I get that." Then a wheel turning mood change which had to be down to vodka vapour and she brightened. "Does that mean I'm scarier than you?"
"Your shoes are scarier than me."
He saw the doubt flicker over her face, didn't wait for her to decide which of them he'd just insulted. "I know another place, newish. We'll be subtle this time, have a drink or two, case the joint 'fore they all run away."
Unfortunately, a drink or two was over Buffy's limit. Or fortunately, if you happened to be the vampire currently getting a very good view down her blouse and hearing her talk more than he'd ever done before, even if you added all the times she'd ever talked to him all together. One elbow on the damp bar, she'd ceased scanning the establishment for likely slayees and was giving Spike a rambling lament about the horrors of retail, she'd lost him somewhere around slug flavoured candles. There was now no question who was drunker, despite his head start Spike had been playing a game of catch up since the first round had slid across the bar.
Without him noticing, Buffy had moved on to some nonsense about exploding lint. She was talking animatedly, gesturing with the hand that wasn't holding her up, eyes unnaturally bright from the booze, looking alive. Spike knew he should warn her about the morning after but he was enjoying himself too much and it would take a braver vampire than he to cut the Slayer off from her liquor now he'd let the bull out of that particular pen. Still, a break for a spot of violence now might be good before she fell flat on her arse.
"How 'bout we start on the two Rash-maals in the corner?" he suggested. "Not likely to be behind the exploding lint but they're definite people eaters. Give us an exit if the rest pile on?"
Buffy blinked stupidly at him, slowly remembered their original purpose and followed his head tilt to two dinosaur-like demons in a cubby hole near the back door.
"Sure. Just let me finish my drink." She took a big gulp of her vodka and coke, still grimacing though her stomach was full of the stuff. Spike resisted the urge to wipe the dribble off her chin and wondered if she'd be gracing his bed again tonight.
"Thanks," Buffy added.
"No worries, pet. You know I like a good scrap."
"No, I mean..." She broke off, maybe searching for the right words. One finger stirring the ice in her drink and Spike could almost see her mind wander off; it was a minute or two before she snapped back to herself with a shake of her head. "I don't know what I mean. Why are you being so nice to me, anyway?"
Spike rolled his eyes. Same old Slayer, even pissed. "'Cause I wanna get in your pants," he answered with just a touch of sarcasm. "Had you forgotten?"
Buffy frowned, opened her mouth but all the words had been used up on evil lint. "Oh."
She tipped the rest of her drink, ice cubes and all, into her mouth and swallowed. "The two in the corner?" And without waiting for an answer she was off, swaying slightly but heading straight to her target. By the time Spike had caught up one of the dinosaurs was already dead, thick exoskeleton no defence against a broken neck.
"You're doing it wrong," Spike pointed out, the Slayer rounded on him indignantly.
"I've already killed mine!"
"Exactly. Where's the fun in that?"
The remaining reptilian didn't seem to have a huge range of facial expressions but rose out of its too small chair with what Spike assumed was an angry grunt; he punched it in the face.
"You gotta start a fight, get the rest of them riled up, yell stuff."
"Like, all vampires are stupid?"
"Yeah. And also, hey!"
The only other vampire in the bar lifted its head angrily. Not being so bright, he only saw a small drunk blonde girl so he rushed her. Buffy staked him.
"Slayer! You ain't getting it!"
The dinosaur finally made it out from behind the table. Impatiently, Spike rammed a salt shaker into its eye, snagged its nearly full bottle of bourbon and threw his own drink over the slimy demons at the next table. "Make some mess, create a ruckus."
Buffy punched Spike, sending him clear over the bar and into the bottles behind. He grinned at her and vamped out, adding another unbroken bottle to his own personal collection as he stood. "That's more like it!"
The sensible demons, including the one working the bar who'd seen Buffy kill a Rash-maal with no visible effort, took this opportunity to leave. The rest charged at the Slayer.
It wasn't a long fight. Even though her hand eye co-ordination wasn't what it should be, Buffy made methodical work of her attackers, and when Spike finally pulled her out of the bar she was no worse for wear. The vampire was tinkling, coat bulging suspiciously and a bottle in each hand. He passed one to the Slayer and she squinted at the Mexican label. "Was that about killing bad guys or stealing drinks?"
"Though you'd be too drunk to notice," he admitted easily. "Maybe I miscalculated. And that was about having fun. You know, killing the bad guys, saving all the fluffy puppies, you used to like that sort of thing."
"I liked punching you."
"There you go then, walking entertainment at your service. Hang on a minute."
He balanced his bottle on the top of a tombstone, almost invariably the nearest thing at hand in Sunnydale. The Slayer watched bemused as he stripped off his duster and draped it over the same stone with the exaggerated care of a very drunk person.
"There you go, have at it."
Buffy shook her head with a giggle. "You've ruined the moment. It was that smashing noise that made it fun."
"Ha! You had fun!" He cast a reluctant eye back to his recently stolen booze. "Shame to waste all that drink, though. Down that one, you can hit me with the empty bottle."
Obediently the Slayer parked herself on the low cemetery wall and took a mouthful that would have been a measure in England. She was far too drunk to consider that the idea of downing a full litre of tequila and then doing anything was absolutely ridiculous.
"What are you doing?" she asked as Spike sat beside her.
"Getting you drunk so I can seduce you," said the vampire cheerfully. "Now drink up."
"You shouldn't do that," answered Buffy seriously
"Why not? You're already pretty tipsy. And emotionally vulnerable. Prime time to strike."
Despite herself Buffy smiled, but firmly screwed the top back on her tequila bottle. "I'm not that tipsy."
"Well thanks." But Spike was the original weeble, rolling right back up for more. "It'd be fun."
"Like a bar fight was fun?"
"You used to think fighting was fun. It would be, if you let yourself go a bit. Let yourself enjoy it."
"Maybe the part of me that enjoyed stuff stayed dead," said the Slayer morosely.
That wasn't really a feeling the vampire could relate to, the part of Spike that revelled in life hadn't been born till he died. Even when miserable, he enjoyed himself in a masochistic way, wallowed in his misery, made huge dramatic gestures and starting brawls was an important part of that process.
"Lets test that theory out, scientific-like." He leered and Buffy gave him a watered down, drunken version of that look.
"Would I have to be naked for this test?" she asked dryly.
"Fair enough. What if-"
"If you're about to suggest any kind of costume, I may have to kill you."
The vampire subsided with a pout, brightened as he remembered the bottle. "Got enough booze to keep you pissed for a week, that ought to cheer you up."
Buffy pulled a face. "Getting drunk does not cheer me up."
Spike looked with some disappointment at the bottle in his hand. "Bugger. Are you sure?"
"You could always just drink it yourself."
"But I wanted to help! There's only two things that cheer me up, and you won't have sex with me. I don't know what else to do."
Buffy obviously didn't have any suggestions either because the silence stretched. Because he was drunk and daring, and she'd allowed it a week ago, Spike draped a companionable arm around her shoulders. She shook him off angrily. "Don't, Spike."
The vampire rolled his eyes, an impulse he regretted when the cemetery rolled on for moments after his eyes stilled. "Don't what, pet?" he asked when the scenery stopped spinning. "Cop a feel of your vertebrae?"
"Don't get all... friendly."
Even through a cushion of wine that one hurt, and it took more effort than usual to bite back the angry retort. "We can't be friends? Because I sort of hoped we were."
"You don't want to be friends. You want..." Buffy glanced round the cemetery furtively before uttering the last word. "...sex."
"The two aren't mutually exclusive you know." And mostly because he wanted to make her smile he added. "Go on, Slayer, just shag me. Who's it going to hurt?"
"You," answered the Slayer quietly.
"What's that, love?"
Buffy uncapped the bottle again, took another swig. This time the gag reflex didn't kick in till the third gulp.
"I said you, you moron. Are you drunk or something? Look, I have to go home now."
"No. Don't go, Buffy. Explain that one to me."
"Well it's not going to hurt me, is it? Life can hardly get any worse."
"I don't think that's a wise thing to say on a hellmouth," Spike joked. "And I'm still not getting it. How, exactly, do you think nailing your pretty little self will do me anything but a power of good?"
He kept his tone light, the contact between their upper arms casual. Even drunk, Spike could sense the beginnings of a serious conversation and he didn't want to let her slip away; he figured it unlikely that she'd ever fall for the 'couple of quick drinks' trick again.
"Because you'd think it meant something, and it wouldn't and it would all be... horrible. And you've been nice to me, kind of, I don't... I don't want to make things horrible for you too."
"Darn," said Spike flippantly. "Foiled by my own niceness. You know, Slayer, I wouldn't mind some of that horribleness. And I ain't talking about sex here. I'm evil, I'm at home with horrible. I'd take it all from you to see you happy."
"I have to go home."
Right. End of conversation then. The Slayer wobbled uncertainly to her feet and Spike followed to steady her arm. She wobbled some more, stumbling against his chest, then out of nowhere she was bawling. Weeping loud, snotty floods of tears, choking out noises between sobs that made no sense even to vampire ears. Vaguely aware that he was taking advantage, Spike pulled her close against him.
"Let it out, love. It'll not stay this bad forever."
"This is your fault!" she cried, pushing him away with a half-hearted strength that the vampire ignored. "I was... I was fine."
"No you weren't."
"Well I wasn't crying! You made me cry!" She took a firm hold of his arms, holding herself steady or trying to force him away from her Spike wasn't sure. "What did you do to me?"
"Got you drunk, pet," Spike explained unrepentantly. "'S good for you."
"I don't feel good. You were supposed to help."
"I'm helping as well as I know how."
She made another feeble attempt to escape his bearhug, giving up with another sob and settled for wiping her nose on his T-shirt. "Well that sucks. I hate you."
"That's okay, you let it all out. What the drink's good for."
Buffy made a derisive noise between snuffles. "I tell you I hate you all the time."
"Point," agreed Spike, far too drunk to remember this little conversation was meandering without a point. "Though not so much lately. So why's it me you've been coming to for a pick-me-up?"
"Because I hate everyone else more? And let go of me."
"No. You'll fall over," said Spike firmly. "And you can't hate everybody. What about Dawn? She's less irritating than most of your friends."
This set off fresh wails of drunken anguish. For several minutes Spike could only rub her back and murmur platitudes of the let it all out variety as Buffy regressed to vowel only words.
"What was that, love?"
"I said I hate Dawn too. Sometimes I hate her most of all. If it wasn't for Dawn I could have jumped straight back off that tower and I wouldn't be here."
"My poor girl. Is it really so bad being here?"
This time when she pushed him away she meant business, and though her centre of gravity wasn't precisely central, anger alone seemed to keep her upright.
"Have you just not been listening to me? I was done. Finished. Happy. And none of this stupid life mattered even a tiny bit. It was such a high, you couldn't imagine, not a high just... perfect. And I was perfect. And now I'm back here and this life still doesn't matter and there's no point and I could have it all back. All I have to do it die. Every day I get up and have these stupid conversations about my long term goals and I don't care, I just want to be dead."
Well he'd told her to let it all out, his own fault if he was chilled by the utter bleakness inside. Her grief was choking him, he could think of no comfort to offer. Buffy stood aloof, tiny now her speech was done, tear streaked and crumbling.
"Is it true that you go to hell if you kill yourself?"
"Yes! A special hell, the really bad one." Though she batted him away, Spike gathered her in his arms again in silent consolation. The part of him that may have appreciated eternal rest was gone more than a century since and Spike couldn't ever now understand wanting to be finished. He'd genuinely believed, as much as one can believe after three bottles of wine, that getting Buffy drunk and weepy would help. More at least than iron reserve and plastic smiles. Now he wished he could put the genie back in its bottle; while he couldn't empathise with her feelings neither could he disagree with her logic. The simple and permanent solution to all Buffy's misery took her out of his reach forever.
"It's only another eighty years. What's that to an eternity of perfection?"
She didn't answer, her fingers tightening painfully on his arm, and it wasn't until her other hand flew to her mouth that Spike realised she was going to be sick. He held her hair as she retched tequila out onto the grass, held her up as the exertion of heaving made her faint. Buffy stayed doubled over for long minutes until Spike gently pulled her to her feet.
"Let me walk you home, love."
"I'm okay. I'm fine. I don't need walking anywhere."
"I know. But let me anyway, just this once."
As well as feedback, could you all send nicotiney vibes my way?