Foolish as he knew it was, Spike waited for her.
He'd done his part, hadn't he? He'd sung her his song. Cut his heart out and presented it to her on the good china with a sprig of parsley. Sure, he saw it on her face as the phone rang, as that reminder of her reality set in, how easily she could dice his offering into a hundred pieces... but there was a glimmer in her eye, right before the gears started shifting; a little glimmer that said she felt the very same way. Or maybe she just thought the song was pretty.
It was hard to tell.
Why couldn't he read women anymore? Used to be so good at it.
He closed the piano lid, and looked at his hands, the scar from the broken bottle.
He hadn't a clue that Dru was cheating on him all that time. Blinded by love, he was. Or obsession.
He must've known he was just hanging on by a thread when he followed Dru out here. That's why he did everything in his power to keep her, which only served to push her farther away. Soft and sticky. Doting and clingy.
A muffled shout drifted from the kitchen, and he smiled. Telling someone off again.
That was his Buffy. Made him forget all about Dru. Made him forget he even existed before last Thursday. Made him realize his "eternal" love for Dru ended long before that fateful day.
Hated her for that.
Well... not entirely.
So, the next move was hers, all she had to do was... come back.
But she was off the phone. There'd been silence for minutes now.
Which meant only one thing: she was sharpening her blade.
Right. He stood up. There's my cue.
* * *
Buffy opened his door at 10am. He was sleeping on his stomach, white sheet barely covering his ass. If only he'd stop looking so pretty...
When the door latched, he jerked up and turned around, adjusting the sheet to shield his nudity.
"Hi," she said.
He ran a hand through his sleep-mussed hair. "Hi."
She sat on the foot of his bed, looking around the room.
He cleared his throat. "Something on your mind?"
She nodded. "Us."
He propped himself up on two pillows.
Nervously, she rubbed her hands together. "Look, I... that song was beautiful."
Sighing in resignation, he leaned back and turned his gaze to the ceiling. Part one of the kiss-off. Pretty song.
"But... the thing is..."
Nibbling on his thumbnail, he shook his head. "Don't."
She twisted at the waist to face him. "I have to."
He sat up. "Don't bother. Hell, I know what you're gonna say--"
"Will you please just listen to me?"
Folding his arms, he looked away. "Go on."
"The thing is..." She breathed in. "You're still in love with her."
He frowned. Didn't know she'd say that. And besides... "You're still in love with him."
"Love him. Not in love. Not anymore."
He squinted at her. What's she saying?
"I don't want to be your Rebound Chick."
"You're not my bloody rebound," he insisted with a chuckle. "And we didn't bounce off each other, did we? Stuck tight. Could be tighter." Fingers crossing to demonstrate, he twitched a brow. "Then we bounce."
She rolled her eyes. "Can we not? I'm trying to figure out some serious stuff here and you're being all Innuendo Boy which makes it way too hard for me to--"
"Decide what you want?"
"Yeah." She looked down. "I mean, your song said you'd wait. You'd stick around, right?"
He nodded. God, I'm a ponce.
"And I get that you have your reservations too. But there was some stuff you left out."
"Like... it wouldn't hurt to know what you want. What you really want."
"Don't need a bloody song to tell you that."
Her eyes met his. He was giving her that look. That total possession look. "I can't give you that."
He scoffed. "More like won't. I'm a fun project for you, but the moment it threatens to get real--"
"Is that what you think?" She stood up. "You're not a game! You're... you're too real. And I don't know if I'm ready for that. Yet. Or, if I'll ever be. Can you understand that?"
Shutting his eyes, he sighed. "So what do we do while you decide whether or not I'm worthy?"
"Sorry." He gestured at her. "Rephrase that with your... 'real' bit. What do you propose we do?"
"We ease off for a little. Give each other some space. I won't go all hobiscuit on you, and you won't... do the many things you do that turn me hobiscuity."
He pursed his lips. "Right. Okay."
"Good," she said, and headed for the door.
She turned to him.
"I never think about her. Not when I'm with you."
She saved her smile for when she was outside.
* * *
Buffy opened the back door.
He was touching the doorframe, eyes downcast and shy, hair shining in the porchlight.
"Don't want to bother you, just--"
"Come in, Spike."
He stepped inside, glanced around the den. "Fresh out of refreshments, is all."
She outstretched an awkward hand toward the kitchen. "Help yourself."
"Thanks." He headed that way.
The phone rang, and Buffy heaved a frustrated sigh. "Fucking Cordelia."
He smirked. "Trouble in paradise?"
"Something like that." She followed him toward the kitchen and picked up the phone. "Yeah, what?"
"Oh, uh, hi. ...Buffy?"
"Oh, Willow, hi!" Buffy watched Spike grab a beer out of the fridge and sift through the drawers for a bottle opener. "I'm sorry, I thought you were someone annoying. What's up?"
"Well, here's the thing. I was thinking, I mean maybe this is, I don't know, too weird for you? But... me and Oz were just about to go to Diamante Pier, and I, well I thought of you--"
"Oh my god, I haven't been there since--"
"Since we were kids, right? Yeah, me either. So I was thinking, I mean, only if you don't have plans, which you probably do--"
"I'd love to go, Will," Buffy interrupted with a smile, and locked eyes with Spike. "Why don't we do one car and pick you up in say, thirty minutes?"
Spike's brow wrinkled. We?
She made a tentative gesture, asking his permission.
He shrugged and nodded, sipped his beer.
"Okay, sure -- is that 'we' as in you and Spike?"
Buffy turned around to face the kitchen counter, lowered her voice. "That's 'we' as in 'just friends'."
"Uh-huh," she teased. "Methinks the lady doth protest too much..."
Buffy gasped. "Don't you Shakespeare me! Little rabble-rouser."
"I neither rabble nor rouse. I'm merely astute."
"Well, put your stute somewhere else." She opened and closed a cookie jar. "You... do still live at 7 Crescent right?"
"I surely do. See you in a few!"
* * *
"I love your car, Spike," Willow said from the back seat.
Oz patted the frayed leather behind Willow's head and confirmed, "She's a classic."
"We've been through a lot, she and I." He glanced at Buffy, who couldn't help but smile.
Willow sighed. "I wish I had a car like this. I wish I had a car."
"Tell me about it," said Buffy.
Spike found Willow in the rearview. "I know a guy, could get you something like this." Buffy was squinting at him. "On the up and up. I swear."
"Yeah?" Willow asked. "For like, how much? I'm not real large with the cash right now."
He shrugged. "Owes me a favor. I could probably get him down to say, nothing."
"Really?" Willow jumped up and down and squealed. "Oh my god! Really?"
Spike smiled. "Just let me know when you're free. I'll take you both down there."
"Oh my god! That would be so great! Oh, but -- do I have to act all disinterested and cool and stuff? Because that sort of goes against my very nature."
"Not at all," he laughed. "I can do all the talking. Though I'd have to disagree that you're not naturally cool."
"Aw..." Willow looked to Oz. "He thinks I'm cool."
Oz touched her hair and said tenderly, "I got the memo a while back."
"Anyone who tells you different's a bloody pillock."
Buffy watched Spike during this exchange, first with a growing curiosity, then with a sense of amazement, and now with something else she couldn't quite name.
Why had she not seen this before?
Spike wasn't a work in progress; he wasn't someone who needed to be changed or dressed up or fixed.
Spike was... perfect.
Without a second thought, she reached out to touch his hand that rested on the seat between them.
He looked at her, surprised.
She met his gaze, and their fingers intertwined.
Slowly, he smiled back.