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Could Be You ~ Chapter 11

Author: Abby
Title: Could Be You
Chapter: 11
Previous Chapter: Chapter 10
Setting: Season 5
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Sexual Situations, language, bloodplay
Summary:  You know you wanna dance.  Spike knew it, the fans knew it, and this time, Buffy knew it, too.  Begins in the alley scene outside the Bronze during Fool for Love and moves swiftly off-canon.
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em.  I’m just borrowing them for a while.  Not for profit and no copyright infringement intended.  Some dialogue borrowed from Listening to Fear written by Jane Espenson.
Beta: dampersnspoons
Banner: xtanitx

 


Could Be You

Chapter 11
*~*

Everywhere he went, he could smell it.  Old—no, ancient—and foreign, like something long forgotten that crawled out of an Egyptian tomb, or so out of this world that it rode down from the sky on a meteor.  It sent a shiver down his spine just thinking about it, because anything he didn’t know that smelled like that could very well mean big trouble.  The more he tried to hide his unease from Buffy, the more she picked up on it.  After checking around the house, they circled Buffy’s block, then outward until they ended up in a neighbourhood park some thirty minutes and not a shred of luck later.

Couldn’t say he minded the way she stuck close, though, letting him do the leading because he had the nose and she had the brains to realize he was absolutely right about her being too dead tired for patrol.  The girl was as stubborn as a mule and it was a damn good thing he liked her that way, because she might just frustrate the hell out of him otherwise.  Not that she didn’t already, but he couldn’t say he minded that, either.   

“Anything?” she asked, for something close to the hundredth time.

Spike closed his eyes and inhaled, drawing the offending odour into his nostrils.   The same scent invaded his lungs: strong, primal, and caustic.  It was a wonder Buffy couldn’t smell it, too.  He was willing to bet she would, right up close to the beast, but they hadn’t had so much as a glimpse of the thing.  It was everywhere and nowhere at once and he was having a devil of a time tracking it. 

“Can’t make heads or tails of it,” he said, letting his shoulders slump a little in defeat.  “Let’s get back.  Don’t think we’re gonna see any action tonight.”

She bumped his hip with hers, looking up at him with an adorable little half grin and a pointedly cocked eyebrow.

He slung his arm over her shoulder, and she leaned into his side as if she belonged there.  “Well, not this kind, anyway,” he said, sweeping his hand out to indicate the playground. 

Buffy’s cheeks flushed bright pink and Spike chuckled, loving the contrast between the wild woman in the bedroom and the blushing girl beside him.

“I’ll call Giles and ask if he’s seen anything,” Buffy said, glancing sidelong at him.  “Then we can figure out what to do about it.”

Buffy wrapped her arm around his waist and squeezed, holding them together for a long moment before she released him.  She didn’t step away, allowing his arm to drape across her shoulders as they walked.  As much as Spike kept telling himself not to count his chickens just yet, each moment like this, every time she let him have another little piece of her, he couldn’t help but think that maybe it wasn’t going to be so hard after all.  Already this thing between them had gone further than he ever imagined.  He all but pulled his heart out of his chest and gift-wrapped it for her back there in the kitchen, and she wasn’t running away.  Hell, she pulled him back when he tried to.  It wasn’t difficult to let fantasies take over, to imagine spending every night with her, being with her in every possible sense of the word.

That kind of thinking was dangerous, and he knew it, especially when everything about her life was unsettled right now.  He couldn’t stop it any more than he could stop loving her.  At least he thought she was starting to understand that, too.

“Dawn knows.”

“Dawn—what?” He halted mid-step and had to catch her before she stumbled onto the pavement. 

But she wasn’t tired.

Buffy yawned, covering her mouth with the back of her hand.  When she recovered, she glanced up at him and said, “About us.  Dawn knows about us.”

Words failed him for a long moment during which he was fairly certain he gaped down at her like a slack-jawed idiot.  He hadn’t expected her to tell anyone yet—or ever, that not so tiny doubtful part of him whispered—not when the absentee otherwise known as Finn hadn’t a clue that things weren’t nearly as peachy as he probably thought.  Telling her sister must mean something, he reasoned, unless—

“Oh, hell, she didn’t hear us?”

“God no,” Buffy said, giggling softly.  “Just talking.  But when Riley showed up...”

Spike nodded, starting forward again just a bit faster than their previous pace.  “Smart girl.”

“More like persistent.  She wouldn’t give up until I said it was you.”  Buffy leaned her head on his shoulder.  “I think she maybe wants this more than you do.”

That wasn’t bloody likely, but there were advantages to having an enthusiastic ally.  He knew Dawn had a bit of a crush on him—he’d have to be deader than this not to notice that—but he had assumed she, like everyone else in Buffy’s loyal little entourage, thought the ex-soldier boy was the perfect partner for the vampire slayer.

“I take it back, the girl’s brilliant.” 

He considered it another small victory when Buffy didn’t even flinch at that.  Not for the first time he wished he could see into that head of hers and figure out where he fit in it.

They had to separate to squeeze through the outer gate of the park, and though she didn’t paste herself back against his side, she stayed close enough that their coats swished together as they walked.  The conversation died, but the silence that followed wasn’t the obtrusive, jittery sort, but comfortable, warm in his belly like twelve-year-old Glenfiddich and as blissful as the first mouthful of blood after a good, hard chase.

Spike tried to concentrate on their faceless critter, on catching some subtle deviation he was obviously missing that would give him an idea of where it was hiding or tell him for certain it had moved on, but the distraction of Buffy made a wasted hunter out of him.  He could feel the fatigue pouring off her, could see it in the way her stride lacked its usual don’t-mess-with-me pace, in the droop of her eyelids and the soul-deep yawns she didn’t think he noticed.  The rosy tint was all but gone from her cheeks, leaving her pale and fragile-looking in the moonlight.  It was an illusion, one Spike was coming to understand a little more each minute.  Buffy Summers was more resilient, more determined than any other soul on Earth.

The shortcut down the alley between streets brought them back to Buffy’s house through the backyard.  Everything looked appropriately dark and secure, with just the lamp above the range spilling its orange glow through the kitchen window.  Buffy headed up the steps and turned at the top when Spike didn’t follow.

“Think I’ll take another sniff around the house before I come in,” he said.  “Just in case—”

The scream tore through the dead silence of the night.  Dawn.  Crying out for Buffy with frantic, bloodcurdling fear of the sort Spike remembered all too well.

Buffy took off without delay, throwing the door open and tearing through the house toward the sound of Dawn’s panicked voice.  Spike followed, racing behind her up the stairs.  The erratic pounding of two frightened hearts and the stench of fear, overlaid by that same ancient, alien odour assaulted Spike’s senses as they neared Joyce’s door.  Buffy flung it open and the two of them piled into the room, where the stink was so potent it threatened to scorch Spike’s lungs.

“What?  What is it?” Buffy asked, her wild-eyed focus whipping around the room.

“There’s something out there, Buffy!” said Dawn, wiping at the slimy, putrid gunk clinging to Joyce’s face.  “It’s after mom!” 

“You guys stay in here.  Don’t leave this room.” Buffy turned and grabbed Spike’s wrist.  “Come on.”

She pushed him toward the hallway and shut the door behind them, looking first toward the end of the hall and then to the stairs.  “You check downstairs,” she said.  “Don’t let anything—”

An ear-piercing screech like nails on a chalkboard came from overhead.  Before he could look up, it dropped from the ceiling: ugly, grey, slimy, and still screeching as it landed on Buffy and knocked her to the floor.  She walloped it with a hard fist but it wouldn’t budge.  Spike kicked it in the side once, twice, before it tumbled off and skittered away, wriggling faster that it should have been able to, up the wall and across the ceiling, disappearing down the stairwell.

Buffy jumped up, eyes immediately turning upward.  “Where?”

“Downstairs,” he said, already heading toward them.

As it had outside, the creature’s scent surrounded him, seeming to come from every direction at once.  He couldn’t track it, couldn’t see it either, so he followed Buffy as she stalked slowly through the house.  She was in full slayer mode, body tense and ready to spring, deadly expression etched onto her face—hard and beautiful. It was precisely the wrong time to be letting his thoughts wander south, but he could do fuck all about it.

They reached the kitchen, where Buffy pulled a butcher knife out of the block before heading down the back hall.   “It’s too quiet,” she said, pausing by the basement door.  “Where the hell did it go?”

On cue, the demon launched itself out of nowhere, landing on top of him this time, the acrid stench oozing from the grotesquely human face squealing down at him, burning his nostrils and making him gag.  It clung to him with strength belied by its tiny body, and he tried to roll over, to squish the slimy bastard or at least gain the advantage, but it wrapped its clawed grey hands around his neck and squeezed.  Spike didn’t need the breath but he couldn’t stop the panic of being unable to pull air into his lungs, and he flailed his limbs in a desperate attempt to shake the repulsive thing off him.

His foot connected with something—something that gasped and sounded an awful lot like Buffy and also caught the creature’s attention unlike any of the blows Spike managed to land.  It shrieked and leapt off him, and he got to his feet in time to watch Buffy punch the overgrown caterpillar and send it skittering down the hall.  She jumped up as it charged at her again and a glint of metal lying between him and the beast caught his attention.

The knife.

“Buffy!”

He threw it and she caught it with ease just as the creature knocked her down.  She stabbed at it, drawing an even harsher scream, and kept stabbing until it stilled.

Spike threw the beast off her and held out his hand to help her up just as the front door burst open and half a dozen men rushed into the foyer.  Another group scuttled into the hallway from the kitchen.  The man at the head of the first group separated from the pack, stepping forward and stinking undeniably like Riley Finn.

“Are you okay?” he said to Buffy, though Spike didn’t miss the way his eyes drifted to where her fingers were still wrapped around Spike’s wrist.

Buffy didn’t answer, just let go of Spike and bolted up the stairs while Riley watched her flee.

“You just missed a real nice time,” Spike said.

Riley spun around, finally noting the dead demon lying on the floor behind him.  His eyes widened comically before narrowing again to look back up at Spike.

He reeked of rage as he closed the gap between them, squaring his shoulders as all men did to make them look even bigger and more imposing.  “What the hell are you doing here?”

How he itched to wrap his hands around the boy’s throat and show him and his soldier buddies what a real vampire could do.  The bloody chip had other ideas though, sending him warning shocks for even daring to think it.

“Me?” Spike said, splaying his palm out over his chest.  “Looks like I’m helping your girl protect her family.  What were you doing?”  He glanced pointedly at the men still waiting in the doorway.  “Playing toy soldiers?”

Riley shoved him against the wall and Spike let him, laughing because he knew it would only piss him off more and if he couldn’t use fists and fangs, he’d resort to the only weapon left to him—verbal battery.

“Need backup, Finn?”

“No, I got this,” Riley said through tightly gritted teeth.  Spike heard the second group retreating back through the kitchen as Riley’s gloved fingers tightened around his throat.   “Don’t worry boys, it doesn’t bite.”

Oh, but he wanted to.  Wanted to bite that superior smirk right off Riley’s face before explaining in graphic detail every nasty little thing he and Buffy got up to the night before.  Which might leave him with an angry slayer to deal with, but he could most certainly work with that.

Riley’s fingers squeezed tighter, reminding Spike he had more immediate concerns than finding creative ways to handle Buffy’s ire. 

“Even if I did, I wouldn’t bite you,” Spike said.  “Not worth the aftertaste.”

Riley’s fist imbedded itself into his stomach.  The overgrown bugger was strong even without the Initiative enhancements and the blow rocked him back against the wall, the sound of the impact reverberating through the otherwise silent house.  Spike reacted with a hard headbutt before he could stop himself, throwing Riley off him and falling to his knees as the chip fired, shooting familiar, agonizing jolts of electricity through his brain.

“What—?”

The sound of Buffy’s voice brought him out of the pain-induced fog.  She stood on the last stair, knuckles white from her grip on the railing, eyes wide as she looked back and forth between the two of them.

She opened her mouth to speak again, but Riley charged forward before she could get the words out, stopping when his feet met the stair’s edge.

“What’s he doing here?” Riley said, pointing a demanding finger in Spike’s direction.  “Buffy?  What the hell is he doing here?”

Buffy’s eyes hardened in an instant.  “That thing tried to kill my mother!” she said, jabbing her finger in the direction of the dead demon.  “And you’re worried about Spike?”

“Damn right I’m worried!” Riley said, voice rising louder.  “He—”

“You need to stop yelling,” said Buffy, through clenched teeth.

“I found him sniffing around your room the other day, and now he’s here again!”  Riley glanced back at Spike, eyes narrowed and angry before he turned to Buffy once more.  “I want to know what the hell is going on!”

“I am not—” Buffy stopped and took a deep breath, and when she spoke again she used a low, almost deathly calm voice.  “I am not having this conversation right now.  My mother—”

“Is upstairs absolutely fine!” Riley said, leaning forward as though he were trying to tower over her.

“No thanks to you,” Spike said, standing now with a palm pressed to his aching head.

“Not helping, Spike,” Buffy said, glaring hard as she planted her hand firmly in the centre of Riley’s chest, pushing until he backed off.  “I just got her settled, Riley.  I’m not going to tell you again to stop yelling.”

No sooner did Buffy pull her hand from his chest did he press forward again.  Finn either didn’t notice or didn’t recognize the danger in Buffy’s icy tone and clenched fists, or in the way she dropped into the defensive stance that came as naturally to her as breathing.  Spike had to force himself not to jump into the middle of it.  Buffy didn’t need him fighting her battles, but she had Joyce and Dawn to worry about and Riley just wasn’t getting the hint.

“For Christ’s sake, Finn, give the girl some air,” Spike said, steeling himself for Finn’s retaliation.

As expected, Riley whirled around and caught Spike in the jaw with a meaty fist, knocking him flat on his ass.

“Riley!”  Buffy charged down the stairs, grabbing Riley by the arm and tossing him back just as he made to finish the assault with a solid kick to Spike’s face.

Enough.”  Riley turned to Buffy, gripping her arms.  “I’ve had enough of Spike getting free rein just because you think he can’t hurt anyone!”

Buffy shook off Riley’s grip and held up a hand in warning when he made to move closer. “This isn’t about Spike and it’s not about you, either!” she said, gesturing toward the stairway.

“The hell it isn’t,” Riley said, voice deceptively calm for the way his whole body vibrated with emotion. 

“It’s about my mother,” Buffy said, eyes moistened now with unshed tears.  “She’s sick, Riley.  I’m trying to look after her and this isn’t helping at all.”

Spike watched from the floor as Riley clenched his fists and bit his lip, then whirled around to face the commando standing at the head of the small group still lingering in the foyer.  Spike couldn’t hear what Riley said, but the commando nodded and the group turned to leave.

“Take your demon with you,” Buffy said, shoving the body toward them with her foot.

Two of the men retrieved the corpse and followed their comrades out into the night.  The last one vanished down the steps, and Riley turned back to Buffy, who stood near the stairs again, arms folded across her chest.

“I begged you,” Riley said.  Begged you to let me help.  But you don’t need me, do you?  You don’t need me, but you needed him?”

Oh, bugger.  If Spike were the praying sort, he’d have begged any deity who would listen to put a stop to Finn before all of this came out now, tonight, when the last thing Buffy needed was another fight.

“Stop it, Riley,” Buffy said, eyes flicking to Spike before focusing back on Riley.

“Oh, I’ll stop it.”  Riley stomped over, grabbed fistfuls of leather and hauled Spike to his feet.  “Get the hell out!”

Spike landed in a heap on the porch, staggering to his feet because his head hurt too fucking much for coordination.  Buffy stood in the doorway, eyes wide and wet, and a roiling, heavy dread settled in his gut as he stared back at her.

She wasn’t going to do it. 

“Tell him, Buffy,” Riley said, holding the door in one hand and her arm in the other.  “Tell him to stay away or I’ll make sure he does.”

“Spike...” 

Oh he heard the apology there, all right, and the fear too, because Spike knew he could get away unscathed, but Buffy didn’t.  However, it didn’t much matter what she thought when Spike got the boot and Finn got the girl, and unless she grew a pair in the next ten seconds and put Riley in his place, Spike didn’t see this going down any other way.

“Save your breath,” Spike said, turning so he wouldn’t have to see her, gritting his teeth against the shiver of aftershock from the chip.

He heard her whimper but refused to turn around as he all but threw himself down the steps.  The front door slammed behind him, and he paused while the vibration of it echoed through the night, trying to tell himself the moisture on his cheeks was just an effect of the chip firing, and the squirming in his gut wasn’t anything but hunger.  He pressed his back against his favourite tree, kicking at the cigarette butts littering the grass and cursing his fingers for shaking too much to light another.

It was just as well.  As soon as he could walk without giving his legs a pep talk, he was out of there.  Didn’t want to be lingering beneath her window tonight anyway.

Rather be up there with her.

“Bloody not happening now, is it?” 

Giving up, he tossed the unlit cigarette back in its pack and pushed off from the tree, not quite able to resist the urge to glance up at her window before moving on.

Buffy opened the window the moment he turned, and stood frozen there in the dark, staring down at him as he looked up at her.  He held her gaze for a moment, a long, agonizing, painful moment, before he broke the connection and headed off into the night.  He ignored the muffled voices from the bedroom and listened instead to the one in his head, telling him to go find something to kill before knocking off the nearest liquor store and drinking himself into oblivion.

*~*



>>To Be Continued in Chapter 12

Comments

( 12 have spoken — take the speaking stick )
kaitlyn_lehman
Nov. 10th, 2010 11:22 am (UTC)
Poor Spike. He always gets shafted D: I thought I was hallucinating when I saw this though and then when I realized that it was real I almost fell off my bed bed. Congrats on making my roommate think I've gone insane! I really liked this chapter though. I like the bond that they're developing and if your Buffy has any common sense at all she'll throw Riley out on his ass.

And my userpic is relevant to this chapter.
abelina
Nov. 12th, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC)
You fell off the bed because of the update itself, or because of what happened in it? LOL, either way, that makes me smile, lady! I'm glad you liked it, even if things didn't go exactly how us Spuffy lovers would want them to go!

if your Buffy has any common sense at all she'll throw Riley out on his ass. <-- stay tuned, my friend. Stay tuned.

And yes, that is a fantastically appropriate icon!
slaymesoftly
Nov. 10th, 2010 12:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, way to bring the angst! Poor Spike. So very likely and real. *stabs Riley* and *smacks Buffy*
abelina
Nov. 12th, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)
Things couldn't be blood and peaches forever, could they? Thanks for offering to smack some sense into Buffy, but I have a feeling she won't need the reminder, and thanks for reading!
timeofchange
Nov. 10th, 2010 01:33 pm (UTC)
Aiee! Poor Spike. Poor Buffy. What a mess.
abelina
Nov. 12th, 2010 10:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you for saying "poor Buffy". Not so much here, but on archive sites I'm getting a lot of Buffy hate after this chapter, so I appreciate you pointing out that she's not the bad guy here. Thanks for reading!
sarian71
Nov. 10th, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
*sigh* It was going so well... They were making so much progress. They were wonderfully comfortable together. Even Dawn knew about them! And then Riley has to walk in and ruin everything. Grrr...

Hopefully this turns out to be a very, very temporary setback! :)
abelina
Nov. 12th, 2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
My nursing instructors were fond of the phrase, "Trust the process." Everything has a purpose -- Spike and Buffy's progress as well as Riley's sudden entrance into the story.

Thank you for reading!
donnamour1969
Nov. 11th, 2010 02:46 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this chapter. I admire the dialogue--both the inner and spoken. You've got these characters down pat. Was sorry to see how the chapter ended, however. Just when Spike was making some headway. Please give Buffy a backbone. She sure didn't have one where Spike was concerned in the show. Well done--home you don't make us wait too long for the next chapter!
abelina
Nov. 12th, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
I appreciate the feedback -- I do like knowing that I'm being true to the characters. Remember, though, that Season 5 Buffy is not Season 6 Buffy.

Season 6 Buffy had a whole host of problems and was in such a dark place she was in a lot of ways a different person entirely. She's the one "without a backbone".

Season 5 Buffy hasn't been wrenched out of heaven against her will, and deserves a little more credit.

Thanks for reading!
jamalov29
Nov. 15th, 2010 10:12 am (UTC)
Ah ::wipes a tear::! But it was expected and I felt for both Spike and Buffy. I really appreciated how you did the re-writing of the fighting scene with the demon and Riley's arrival- and although I had taken crashing position ;) I wasn't prepared for the stab of pain that was caused by Riley's words and throwing Spike out of the house while Buffy could only stand upset and silent.And I love how they stare at each other before he goes away.
Great characterization.


Edited at 2010-11-15 10:18 am (UTC)
abelina
Nov. 21st, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC)
It had to happen sometime, you're right. I like knowing that the chapter caused you such an intense reaction -- that right there is the best sort of drug a writer can get, I think. I'm so glad you liked the chapter, even if it was painful. Thank you so much!
( 12 have spoken — take the speaking stick )

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