anaross (anaross) wrote,
anaross
anaross

The Shearing

Well, I wrote a few stories branching off that.  I don't know. I found them recently and there were some lines I liked. So here-- don't think I've posted this.

The Shearing (there might be other chapters, I don't know... I kind of like how it ends)
PG-13 (non-explicit sex, couple bad words)
Spike/Buffy  (mentions of Spike/Faith in the past

 

I suppose first you'll want to know how we ended up roommates, Spike and me.  You know, considering that we started out as mortal enemies and then were, well, sex partners for awhile, and then something like friends, and then kind of nothing at all. Ex-enemies. Ex-friends. Ex-lovers.  Then-nothings. And now roommates.

Where to start?  Well, I was in Rome for awhile, and that was good.  I had a new boyfriend, who was rich and immortal and widely admired and feared.  But after several months, I got bored and called Giles.  I told Giles I'd be the SoCal slayer, but he said Faith was covering that, and maybe I should just think about going back to school and majoring in something and starting a new life.  I wasn't enthusiastic.  I never thought I'd miss slaying, but there you have it. Just the mention of slaying, and I got all nostalgic for those late-night patrols of the Sunnydale cemeteries, the exciting encounters with vamps, the dumb discussions with Spike while we dragged demon bodies into the woods to decompose in private. 

And the sex afterwards, okay, I admit it. 

The Immortal was pretty good in bed, but he lacked, oh, passion.  I knew he was just as good in bed with every other woman- after all, we never went out without some girl from his past coming by and marveling over him.  I wasn't anything special to him, and he wasn't anything special with me.  Sometimes I found myself remembering what it was like to be loved, really loved, desperately loved, passionately loved. The way Spike loved me.

I did like all the money, the cars, the minions doing my every bidding.  But I just wasn't cut out to be a kept woman.  Dawn kept reminding me what Mom would say if she knew.  And there's nothing so likely to cut off a profitable romance than thinking of your mom.  I'm not angry, Buffy, but I'm... well, disappointed. I expected more from you....

Mom was probably the only one who'd think Spike was better for me than the Immortal. Well, Mom and Dawn.  As soon as Dawn found out Spike was alive, she'd located his email address and started up a daily correspondence with him, and the Immortal, who'd once impressed her, was relegated to ick-status.  And her constant mentions of Spike's new business-- he was determined to make some money killing demons, which was his only real talent, except, well, you know-- and Spike's new apartment and Spike's old car couldn't help but remind me of Spike.  And I guess I started feeling guilty that I'd just blown off the news that he was alive, or undead anyway.  He probably deserved better from me than that.  Even if I didn't want to be involved with him, and I didn't, I was pretty sure, I owed him a phone call or a visit.

 

So as soon as I got back to LA, I went to his office.  It was in one of those old brick buildings you see in Bogart movies.  Of course Spike would have to choose a Philip Marlowe type of office.  Anyway, I walked in the front door and there he was, sitting shirtless in a leather chair, with Faith in his lap.

He was happy. She was happy. They were in love.  I did the congratulations thing and backed out of the office and went to a nearby park and cried for awhile. That bitch.  She'd wanted him all along.  When she took over my body, one of the first things she did was come on to him.  And when she returned to help out that last spring in Sunnydale, well, I couldn't help but notice how she'd unbutton another button whenever she thought she might be seeing him. She didn't care that he was insane or on his way from evil to good or in love with me.  She just thought he was hot.  He didn't want her then, or at least he turned her down, but I could just imagine how quick she was to go after him as soon as I was out of the picture.

But it was my fault, I guess, for being out of the picture.  Spike had moved on. Well, not very far, just to another slayer.  He always had a thing for strong women. Willow said Faith was just a substitute for me, but then Willow didn't see how they looked at each other.  She loved him, plain and simple.  And he loved her.  I don't know why.  Who knows why people love each other?  But I liked to think it wasn't until he thought, I mean, knew, that he had no hope with me that he fell in love again.  He loved me for a long time, pretty hopelessly, and that made me feel a little better.

Oh, yeah, and I was happy he was happy.  Well, I wasn't happy exactly.  I'm a slayer, not a saint.  But we had a track record, and it was pretty bleak.  I always ended up hurting him. Sometimes I meant to, and sometimes it was accidental.  But if I made him happy, it was only long enough to set him up for worse pain.  And I felt guilty about that.  That's why I ended up with the Immortal, I think.  I couldn't hurt him if I tried. 

So I lost Spike to Faith.

She made him happy.  Good for her.

I went back to Angel.  I don't want to make it seem like this was just a rebound thing. Angel was my first and greatest love, right?  And once all the apocalypses were done, and the Hellmouth closed, and the Immortal history, and Spike otherwise occupied, there wasn't really anything to keep us apart.  Oh, there was that wolfgirl, but she didn't last.  She got loose one full moon, and ripped up a couple of homeless guys, and she was so ashamed she refused to see Angel anymore. 

So there we were, Angel and me, finally at the same point at the same time.  I moved into the penthouse (the building had been reconstructed after that last battle), and I went back to school, just like Giles wanted, and Angel and I sat every evening on his couch, him with his big philosophy volumes and me with my crim justice textbooks.  It was quiet and companionable, and when I told him I loved him, he never told me I didn't. 

Then Faith was killed.  It was a consortium of demons, aiming to pick off all the working slayers, and they started with her because I had retired.  She died in Spike's arms one night when the fog was coming in from the ocean, and he wasn't ever the same after that.  He was cold and relentless as we tracked down the killers before they could get the other slayers.  He didn't want comfort or sympathy or companionship.  He just wanted to kill the ones who killed Faith. And after we finished that, Giles and Andrew and Dawn took him away for awhile to London, where they were starting a new Slayers Academy.  Dawn told me he was training the new slayers and drinking too much.  "But he's okay, really," she said.  "Just sad."

It was months later that Giles called, begging me-- well, Giles doesn't beg, but he sounded pretty desperate-- to take over the Hellmouth in Cleveland.  "Faith was going to do it, but-- well, anyway.  Kennedy's having some kind of breakdown, and no one else is experienced enough.  I know you're settled there in LA, and it will cause you trouble--"

"Okay," I said, surprising myself.  "Finals week is over, so I can leave right away." 

"Oh," he answered.  I could tell he was packaging up all the arguments he hadn't had to use.  "Well. That's very good of you, Buffy.  Considering that you will be leaving behind school and --" 

He was too cautious to mention Angel. Or maybe he just never said that name if he could help it.  But I said, "I hear they have colleges in Ohio too. And I need to get back to work.  Kind of getting bored just writing papers about evildoers."

We worked out the details-- the stipend, the travel costs, the weaponry neededB and when all that was settled, I finally asked, "So how's Spike doing?"

I could almost hear Giles taking off his glasses and polishing them.  In a surprisingly gentle voice, he said, "He's doing better.  I think he understood he was unlikely to have Faith long.  And so he says he was lucky they had a few happy months."

"Dawn says he's drinking too much."

"Dawn is Californian.  Her definition of 'drinking too much' is perhaps a bit more stringent than here in London."

"So he's not drinking too much?""

"Well, he is, yes, but so am I.  The national curse.  He's all right. The young slayers keep him busy. They are--" a sigh-- "very new. Very untrained."

I wanted to ask if they were all falling for Spike. But maybe it wasn't too smart to remind Giles that he was employing a vampire who had killed two slayers and bedded two others. 

Besides, I knew already.  Of course they were all falling for him.  He was tragic and beautiful and redeemed and drank too much.  I'd fall for him myself, if I didn't know him already.

When I told Angel I'd be gone for awhile, he took it pretty well. The hazards of being a Slayer's boyfriend, he said with a sad smile, and told me he'd call every night.  And in a couple weeks, I was settled in a cute Cape Cod on the outskirts of Cleveland, surrounded by lilac bushes and a quarter-acre of very green lawn. It was spring and I loved all the trees and the breeze off the lake and the garden that didn't need any watering, because it rained every couple days.

But there were a whole lot of demons.  The vampire population was pretty quiet, but I hadn't seen this level of demon activity even in Sunnydale.  It was too much for me by myself, so I called Giles and demanded he send me an assistant.  He must have heard the worry in my voice, because a couple days later, there was Spike at my door. 

I tried not to show it, but I was glad.  No young slayer was going to be like Spike, who was as battle-hardened as they came.  I had trusted him with my life a hundred times before, and I knew I'd trust him again. 

He had a per diem-- Giles had seriously re-vamped the whole recompense thing at the Watchers' Council-- and after some discussion we decided that it would make more sense if he just rented my basement apartment so he'd be available whenever we needed to patrol.  Since I was in school days, and he usually went out at night after patrol, we wouldn't be in each other's way.

The only problem was, of course, that we used to, you know, sort of have a relationship.  But we could ignore that, right?  He didn't mention it, and neither did I.  We talked about the past as if all it included was demons and hell-gods and vampires-- a long series of fights between us and the evil element. 

Well, there was another problem-- Angel.  I somehow never got around to telling Angel that Spike was there.  He probably knew-- he had his sources-- but I thought it was best not to push the subject.  It wasn't like Spike and I were doing anything... not that I couldn't, if I wanted to, of course.  Because of the, well, circumstances of my relationship with Angel, I'd always asserted my right to occasional outside... experiences.  I hadn't exercised that right yet, so it hadn't become an issue, but as long as it didn't interfere with us, it was supposedly allowed. 

Angel would probably think Spike would qualify as interference. 

But it wasn't his call.

Not that it mattered.  Spike wasn't interested, as far as I could tell.  He was polite, well, polite for Spike, and he was the world's best demon-fighting partner, as always, and otherwise he kept to himself. 

 

He was still in mourning. Dawn had mentioned that he was a real Victorian, that he was observing a full year's mourning period.  I didn't know what that meant, really.  He was wearing black, but then he always did.  He was going out drinking just like always, having found a nearby tavern (which he insisted on calling the pub).  But he never brought anyone home, that much I knew.  And his mirror, the one that didn't reflect him, was covered with photos of Faith.  It almost made me cry the first time I saw that.  Poor Faith. So vivid and lively and dead so soon. Finally loved, and then lost.

One evening, when we'd skipped patrolling so I could study for a test, he disappeared and came back without my seeing him. I could hear him crashing around downstairs, and I was sitting in the living room with a history book on my lap when he emerged from the basement.  It was a warm night, and he was wearing just a red t-shirt and blue jeans.

All his white-blonde hair was gone.  In its place was an eighth-inch of stubble.

"You got your hair cut," I said inanely.

He ducked his head and jammed his hands into his jeans pocket.  "Yeah." He was looking at the front door, not at me.  "New year. New look."

I started to say the new year was six months away, but then I realized.  Yesterday must have been the anniversary of Faith's death (and I didn't even remember, and never said anything to Spike). Today was the first day of the new year for him.

And he marked it by cutting off all that hair that had marked him as himself for so long.

I stared at him, and he lifted his head and stared defiantly back.  Then he moved towards the door.  "Going to the pub. See ya."

My mother's voice suddenly emerged from my mouth.  "You're not going anywhere looking like that!"

He must have heard Joyce too, because he stopped with more obedience than I'd seen since she died, stopped and looked at me. And then he bit his lip and gazed down at the floor. "That bad, huh?"

Oh. Right. He couldn't see himself in a mirror. He had no idea.

All I had to say was, "Yeah. That bad."  And for a second, he looked stunned, hurt, the way I'd look if someone told me I was as ugly as sin and my earrings didn't match.  And so I had to say, "Uh, bad in a good way."  Yeah. Bad in a young hoodlum way. Bad in a sexy, vulnerable, sweet-mouthed, dangerous way.

"What way?"

I couldn't lie to him.  Not now. Not with him looking so beautiful and broken and minimal and hurt.  "Bad in an all the girls with too much makeup are going to want to push you up against a wall and unzip you kind of way."

He glanced back to the door. He was trying not to smile.  "And that's bad."

"Yeah." You know, I'd never really complimented him, never in all those years.  I mean, sometimes I'd tell him that he'd killed that demon in a particularly efficient way, and sometimes I told him that he was a good fighter.  That was it.  I never called him handsome or sexy or anything like that.  Of course, he wasn't my type. I mean, big and dark like Angel.  Riley was kind of a medium Angel. And the Immortal was like that too, a big man who loomed over me and made me feel like a frail flower.  A real trick when you're a slayer, feeling like a frail flower.

Spike wasn't my type.  He was too lean and too light and too bright to be my type like Angel and Riley and the Immortal, even if he did last longer with me than any of those other guys did.  And I guess I never told him he was good-looking or hot, even when I kind of thought it.  Even though he was, I had to admit, much better in bed, more passionate, more giving, than any of the others.

But now he'd cut off all his hair, and he looked like trouble on two legs, and I wouldn't be his friend if I let him out alone.  He looked young and thin and tough and frail. He looked different, and yet more like himself than ever.  His eyes were blazingly blue, and his cheekbones were sharper and his cheeks hollow, and his mouth was soft.  He looked dangerous and vulnerable and scared and scary.

I put down my book and rose.  "I'm coming with you."

His protest was immediate.  "Don't need protection, Slayer."

He never called me anything but Slayer anymore. Well, Buffy sometimes. But never pet, never love, never sweetheart.  It was my name or my job, that was it.  He wasn't cold or resistant. He just ... he just never reached out to me. 

"I'm not talking about protection," I said. No, more like chaperoning.  "I just want to see the show.  What the girls say when they see you."

 

Well, they said what you'd expect.  Oh, Spike. And wow. And how about we get out of this place and go be alone somewhere.  And who's the blonde?

"She's my landlady," Spike said.  He was a regular here, I'd figured that out already.  I mean, he liked Man U, not the Browns, and he was religious on the evils of American beer, and the jukebox full of Mariah Carey and old Foreigner hits had to make him physically ill.  But every couple minutes some guy in a Browns t-shirt would come by and tap him on his shorn head and make some joshing comment before moving on to the bar.  Everyone knew him. Even liked him. Go figure.

The girls came by too.  Only they didn't move on.

We were sitting at a table in the corner. I had the booth side to myself.  He was on the other side, surrounded by four girls. They all had too much makeup, just as I predicted, and short hairdos gelled up and dyed odd colors.  Cleveland had kind of weird fashion trends. They were way into clashing.

Spike didn't seem to mind. He was leaning his head back against the breasts of one girl as she ran her fingers over his stubble, and smoking a cigarette held by another (and he'd supposedly quit smoking), and holding another girl's hand.  His other hand was under the table, probably up the fourth girl's short skirt.  He was a dog and his hair was hardly an eighth of an inch long and I despised him.

The trouble is, he didn't seem to care. 

"Your landlady?" one girl was saying skeptically.

"Yeah.  My landlady," he repeated. 

"Oh, yeah?"  And I found myself saying the words I'd always resisted saying.  "I'm his girlfriend. Ex-girlfriend."

He opened his eyes and gazed at me in astonishment.  Then he sat up, and said coldly, "She was never my girlfriend. We just fucked a few times."

I couldn't suppress a gasp. It hurt. Boy, did it hurt.  To hear our long and complicated  relationship characterized like that-- to hear him use that term when he used to say he tell me how lucky he was to make love to a goddess.  Okay, I'd never let him finish saying that.  But that's what he used to say, not "we just fucked a few times."  He never said that before.

Even the sluts seemed kind of appalled for my sake.  Not that they moved away from him.

I looked him straight in the eye. We had so much history.  I remembered it, even if he was determined to forget.  "Oh, I don't know if I'd call five hours straight just a few times."

The good news is, he removed his hand from under the table. 

The bad news is, the sluts were all mouthing five hours straight?

Spike rose, and muttering an apology to the sluts, he stepped away from the table.  "Slayer.  May I speak to you in private?"

I'd accomplished my goal. I'd gotten him away from the other girls.  And, hiding a smile, I followed him out into the street, and there, under a streetlamp, he turned to me.  His eyes were cold and blue and I shivered, but I wasn't frightened.  He couldn't hurt me.  Well, what he said in the bar hurt me, yeah, but he couldn't really hurt me. 

I knew him, after all. Knew why he did what he did and said what he said. 

And now he balled his hands into fists I knew he wasn't going to use, and in a low voice, he said, "I don't know what you're about, Slayer, but you can stop right now."

I was watching his mouth as he spoke.  "Why do you always call me Slayer now?"

He started to speak, then stopped, then shook his head.  "Go home, Buffy.  I don't want you here."

"Why not?" I tried to make it sound cool and defiant. Faith-like. I wasn't sure it worked.  Anyway, he answered me.

"Because that's a place that's mine.  And I don't want you to ruin it too."

Oh. Well.  He proved it. I was wrong. He could still hurt me.  "You're being mean," I whispered. 

"I'm being honest."  He turned and started back to the bar, but I got hold of his shirt.  He knew I could rip it if I wanted to, and so he stopped and stood there, looking at me with that impatient look of his. 

I liked the feel of his old t-shirt in my fist.  I like the feel of his hard chest underneath.  I moved closer and pressed up against him, pressed him against the brick of the building.  Slid my hand down his hip and to his thigh, and then I stood on my tiptoes and kissed him.

For just a second, he was still, and then he sighed and slid into the kiss, and it was so much like I remembered that I let go of his shirt and touched his cheek, pressed his face with my fingers to keep him there, right there with me, his mouth tender and cool under mine. He closed his eyes, as he always ended up doing.  And then I closed my eyes too, and kissed him.

I slid my hand up to the nape of his neck, to touch where his curls used to be, felt the bristles sharp under my fingertips.  It was a new sensation, and now the kiss felt new too, sweet and hot and sharp.  I pulled slightly away and opened my eyes.  "You still love me."

He pushed back against the brick, a few inches separating us now.  "I still want you. That's all." Before I could respond, he added, "And I haven't had sex for a year, and I'd want any of those girls in the pub. So nothing."

This time it didn't hurt.  I touched his face again, tracing the sharp outline of his cheekbones.  "So something."  My fingers moved to his mouth, and I said, "I know you."  I meant something by that, something important, and his mouth curved under my fingers, and I felt the ghost of his breath.

"What do you know?"

I'd never been good at explaining. "You know. Let's go home."

He stood his ground.  He might be hard and wanting, but he didn't give in.  "Not looking for a triangle, slayer. Want something uncomplicated."

Uncomplicated. Well, that wasn't anything we'd ever been.  "What do you mean?"

His eyes narrowed.  "I mean, don't want to compete with my own grandsire."

I'd only had one drink, but I felt hot and restless, and I pulled out my cellphone and hit the speed-dial, and when I heard Angel's voice, I said quick, so I wouldn't chicken out, "Look. I'm sorry. But I'm going to be with Spike now."

And I hung up so I wouldn't have to listen to him argue with me. 

Spike was staring at me.  He grabbed the phone and hit redial, and I could hear Angel answering and saying, "Buffy? Is that you?"

Spike hung up and shoved the phone at me.  It immediately started ringing, so I turned it off and said, "Okay. No triangle. Just you and me."

He didn't answer. He just slid out away from the wall and started walking, taking long strides down the street towards the lake.  I had to run to catch up to him, and he wouldn't speak until we reached the little strip of sandy beach two steps down from the street. 

I stopped to pull off my sandals, but I left them there by the seawall and followed Spike, the sand wet and squishing between my bare toes.  He was waiting for me by an old private pier, his marble-pure face so familiar and so alien now without his usual bright crown of hair.  A new year. A new beginning.

I didn't know what I was doing.  I never knew what I was doing with him.  At every point in our long relationship, I never thought.  I just did.  We were enemies, so I tried to kill him.  We were reluctant allies, so I tried to protect him.  Then I wanted him, so I took him.  Then I got scared, so I pushed him away. Then he needed me, so I helped him. Then I needed him, so I ... killed him. I guess.  Then he was gone and I left him behind.  Then he came back, and I lost him.  Now here he was, and I wanted him again. Want, take, have.  That's what Faith always said, and it worked for her.  Worked with him.

 

So I walked up to him and took his hand, and he didn't pull away.  But his voice was just a whisper in the soft breeze that came off the lake.  "Buffy... you should call him back. Tell him you didn't mean it."

It was the last thing I expected to hear.  He'd always hated me being with Angel.  I shook my head to clear it.  "Why?"

He looked down at our joined hands, stroked my wrist with his thumb. "This isn't going to work.  So don't wreck it with Angel.  I'm not going to love you again."

I felt like I'd been kicked by some demon. All the air was sucked out of my body, and if he hadn't been holding my hand, I might have collapsed into the sand.  As it was, it took me a minute to gather myself back together enough to say, "You can't just decide that."

"Yeah, I can."  He looked past me at the water, his eyes dark as the darkness all around us.  "Just won't love you again."

I gripped his hand tighter.  I felt I was falling.  But I reminded myself of his kiss, so sweet and tender.  That wasn't a kiss of just wanting. I knew the difference. I knew him.  "I don't believe you."

He looked at me then, smiling faintly.  "That's my slayer."

My slayer.  It sounded good. Intimate.  It didn't sound... unloving.  I felt encouraged. "I know you. You don't stop loving. You probably still love Drusilla."

He sighed. "Don't take this wrong, Buffy, but she's easier to love than you are.  Especially when she's not around."

"Don't take it wrong?" I grabbed my hand back. "How am I supposed to take it?"

"Take it any way you want then."

"You think I'm hard to love."

He considered this, his head tilted to the side, as if he waited for some inspiration.  "Easy to fall in love with, I'll give you that.  Just-- just we never got on."

There he was doing it again. Diminishing us.  We never got on.  Epic sex and epic battles. He got his soul for me. I broke his heart. We saved the world together.   And we never got on?  It sounded stupid and trivial and... and not us.  "That's stupid."

 

"Is it?"  He considered this too, putting his hand on the wet wood of the pier and stroking it.  "Maybe.  But I'm not doing it again.  Not really about you anyway.  I'm not going to love anyone again. Done with that."

"Oh."  It hurt, the way he said that. Not just me. It had to hurt him too.  "But--" I couldn't think how to say it. "But Spike, you're good at loving."

This made him turn back to me. "I-- well. Thanks. I guess."  And then, all in a rush, he said, "Look. All I ever wanted was to love someone who loved me back. That's all. And I had that. It didn't last real long. But it was true. And it didn't end just because Faith died."  He put his hand, damp from the wood of the pier, on his heart.  "Still here. And that's what love means to me now.  I don't want to replace it with pain."           

I wanted to cry, but wasn't sure why. I guess... because he was hurting. Because Faith had died and left him alone.  Because he was so loving and now he said he wouldn't love anymore.   Because he wouldn't love me anymore. 

Because he'd long since stopped hoping I'd love him back.

 

 

           

It took an hour or so, but I convinced him I was just as much of a slut as those girls in the bar, and I didn't need love, just wanted sex.  And I got him back home and took him to bed and we were us again-- hot and desperate and generous, and when the sun was rising he burrowed under the covers, against my back, and said, "You were right. Needed you first."

I wasn't sure I liked that "first" idea, because it sort of suggested that someone else might be second.  And I'd decided there wasn't going to be any someone else.  He was mine, and I was going to keep him.







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