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* * * *
Chapter Eight
Grasping at Straws

* * * *

* * * *

Buffy ambled between tombstones distractedly, her heart not exactly set on patrolling. She had told her mother and all her friends about Spike; how their history was made up, just like their memories of Dawn. She didn’t go into too much detail about his evil status, not wanting to alarm them, but Buffy did tell them to avoid him unless she was around. She trusted Spike, but she didn’t know if her trust was real or based on the monks’ deception.

She looked up in surprise when she felt his presence. Buffy didn’t know if it was the familiar sound of his footsteps hitting the earth or some enhanced Slayer sense, but she knew he was there before she saw him. At first she entertained the idea that he was following her, but she’d been wandering so aimlessly that she didn’t realize that she was in his cemetery. Hell, she was even standing by his crypt.

They say the mind can take you places…

“Hey there,” Spike greeted pleasantly, although his nervous smile gave him away. He’d noticed her long before she did him. “Is everything alright?”

“Y-Yeah,” she stammered, trying her best to stay cool. “Everything’s… peachy.”

God, did she just say peachy? Why do people say peachy, anyway? Why not some other fruit?

“Kill any nasties tonight?” Spike asked, stepping closer so that there were only a few feet between them and nodding at the stake in her hand.

Buffy lifted it up and regarded it as if she hadn’t realized she’d been carrying it all night. “Uh, no. It’s been pretty quiet. What about you? Kill anything?”

She tried not to sound accusing, especially since she knew that the chip would prevent him from harming any humans. If Spike caught on to her suspicious tone, he didn’t show it. He simply shrugged.

“Another dull evening. Just went out for some smokes,” he said, lifting a paper bag up as if the cigarettes offered him an alibi. “Do you… want to come inside?”

He gestured to the door of his crypt and Buffy’s eyes widened.

“Uh, no, I’m good. I was thinking of going home, actually. I have an early class tomorrow.”

Spike nodded sadly as she walked away. “Poetry class?” he asked.

Buffy turned. Okay, so the conversation wasn’t quite over. “Yeah. Professor Lillian.”

They stared at each other, neither knowing what to say or do. Spike wanted to rush over to her and take her in his arms, to kiss her and tell her over and over that what he felt for her was real, no matter what their history. But he didn’t.

“Okay,” she said. “Um, so… bye.”

Spike strained to keep something resembling a smile on his face. “Goodbye, Slayer.”

As Buffy walked away the numbed feeling in her chest started throbbing painfully again. Why couldn’t things be simpler?

Spike watched her go, the ache caused by her absence hidden in the shadow of his anger. He was being punished for things he couldn’t even remember doing. It made a fellow wonder who was really being evil in this situation.

The door of his crypt shut with a bang and the bag of cigarettes flopped off the seat of the armchair. Was he supposed to keep pining after her, waiting for her to see him as she used to, or would it be better for him to just move on; head out of town and try to find out who he really was?

Spike’s head whipped around when he heard a shuffling in a dark corner of the crypt. “Who’s there?” he asked in a low voice, sensing a familiar presence.

“A happy memory, pretty Spike.”

Drusilla stepped from the shadows, a rose plucked from a tombstone bouquet resting in her slender fingers. “Look who’s come to make everything right again.”

Spike regarded her with mild surprise as the bud of the rose ghosted down her pale cheek. Drusilla was a part of his past, a past a bunch of blokes in brown frocks decided to glaze over. Perhaps she could help him discover who Spike really was.

* * * *

Joyce shook her head sadly as she laid another white blouse across the ironing board. Her daughter had barely said a word to her when she’d gotten home, even when Joyce asked why she’d come in so early. Buffy had muttered goodnight and trudged up the stairs, and it was the soft click of her door closing that keyed Joyce in.

Buffy was miserable.

Joyce lifted the hot iron and started flattening the creases in the blouse, imagining each wrinkle as a problem in her and her daughters’ lives and wishing the iron she held wielded more power than hot steam. Dawn was treating the discovery of her origin like another quirky side-effect of her sister being the Slayer, even though Joyce knew it was tearing her up inside. Buffy’s seemingly perfect relationship with her boyfriend had fallen apart, and now she was pretending like he’s never existed.

Dawn, who had always adored Spike, felt like her sister was punishing him for something he didn’t do. Joyce knew better. Buffy was afraid of her own feelings, not of Spike’s. Her daughter constantly reminded her loved ones that the vampire might be a danger to them, but Joyce didn’t think that she meant it. Buffy knew that Spike would never hurt her, and she was staying away from him so she could pay him the same respect. Joyce only hoped that Buffy’s staying away wasn’t more painful to him than anything she could do or say.

Joyce pushed all thoughts of their fabricated memories from her mind and flipped the blouse over. No, someone needed to keep a level head. Try as Buffy might, her emotions could be too much for her sometimes, and Joyce would have to pick up the slack. It was something she was used to, being a mother, but it still worried her. She wouldn’t be around forever.

* * * *

Spike grinned as Dru recounted her adventures in L.A. with Darla and Angelus. Something about all that mischief and mayhem seemed right, almost cozy in its familiarity. He wondered as he watched her fingering the burn on her chest
if the monks had time to do their magical lobotomy on Drusilla as well.

Couldn’t make her any loonier than she already was.

“I want us to be a family again, my William,” Dru confessed fervently, stepping closer and laying a hand on his chest. “Come back with me.”

“To Los Angeles?” Spike sighed.

As tempting as it was to join his dark beauty in L.A. and paint the town red, he still felt ties to this place. Not only to Buffy, but to Dawn as well. He couldn’t go on with his miserable unlife knowing that he’d left when she’d needed his protection. That’s why the monks had fucked with his head so much to start with, yeah? For Dawn, so that he would protect her.

“I don’t know, Dru.”

Drusilla pouted and pulled her hand away, all the while with this knowing fire in her eyes. "I know why you stay here. Tin soldiers put little knick knacks in your brain." Her hands fluttered to her temples, and she twitched her head to the side dramatically in mock imitation of the pain from the chip. "Can't hunt! Can't hurt! Can't kill! Can't even remember. Magic monks locked away all your beautiful memories and replaced them with lies. But I’ll you the truth, my Spike.” Drusilla pulled him close and nipped at his ear. “I’ll remind you,” she whispered, her voice enticingly low, “who you really are."

Spike’s eyes fluttered closed as she continued to nibble on his earlobe. He could feel something when she touched him, almost like a memory, but it was more of a feeling. A powerful feeling.

Impatiently wanting more, Spike grabbed her shoulders and pulled her hand away. Drusilla gasped in surprise.

“Tell me more,” he growled desperately. Dru leaned in so that their noses touched, her dark eyes never leaving his.

“You’re a killer. Born to slash, and bash, and…” she pulled his hand to her chest and closed her eyes in ecstasy. “Oh! To bleed like beautiful poetry. Nothing could ever stop my boy from flowing.”

“But if you know about the chip,” he said bitterly, “you know about the pain. It’s blinding, love. I couldn’t kill if I wanted to.”

Drusilla eyed him suspiciously. “Wanted?”

Spike forced a grin onto his face and pulled her closer. “So, what shall we do to celebrate your first night back on the Hellmouth?”

He hoped he could distract her from his adopted morals by sliding his hand to her ass and waggling his eyebrows suggestively. It seemed to work. Drusilla placed a hand on the back of his neck and drew him closer.

“I feel like dancing. You love to dance, don’t you my sweet boy?”

He lowered his mouth to hers. “Sure, love. Let’s dance.”

* * * *

Buffy turned onto her side and bunched her pillow beneath her head, unable to sleep. She had tried to focus on something that would distract her from Glory and Spike and all of this Key business, like her reading presentation for her poetry class the next day, but that only seemed to stress her out more. Buffy didn’t know as much about Keats as she should.

Her mind was wandering back to her run-in with Spike when a sliver of light fell across her face. Dawn stood in the doorway, glowing in the dim hallway light and looking thoroughly disheveled. Apparently she’d been tossing and turning herself.

“Hey,” said Buffy with concern, sitting up in bed. “Is everything okay?”

Dawn stepped inside and closed the door behind her.

“Mom’s asleep.”

Buffy raised her eyebrows. “Do you need something?”

Dawn shuffled her feet. “I didn’t mean to wake you up, it’s just—I can’t sleep.”

Buffy smiled and moved to the other side of the bed. “C’mere.”

Dawn didn’t smile back, and it took Buffy a moment to realize that her sister had lied to her. She waited until Dawn had slipped under the covers to wrap her arm around her.

“Bad dream?” she asked knowingly.

Dawn hesitated before responding.

“Everyone was dead. You, Mom. Even Spike, which is weird, ‘cause vampires are supposed to go poof when they die, but… everyone was dead.”

Buffy sighed and pulled a lock of hair away from her sister’s face.

“I woke up and you were all downstairs, like you’d stayed up late watching a movie or something, but you weren’t asleep. When I shook Xander and tried to wake him up, he disappeared, and then everyone was gone and I was alone. I couldn’t leave the house. I kept screaming and screaming but I couldn’t wake up.”

Dawn started to tear up and Buffy pulled her closer. “Shh, Dawn. It’s okay. Nobody’s dead.”

“I’m just afraid that being the Key is something bad. Glory said I wasn’t evil, but I’m afraid that I’m going to hurt people I love.”

“You’re not evil, sweetie. You’d never hurt anyone.”

“Not on purpose.”

“No, not ever. Don’t you even think for a minute that you’re evil. You’re not. I know you’re not.”

Dawn sniffed and leaned into her sister’s arms, accepting her comforting words. “What about Spike? Can’t you tell if he’s really evil?”

Buffy stiffened. “He doesn’t have a soul, Dawnie.”

“So? Hitler had a soul. At least, I think he did. I’m pretty sure he’s classified as evil.”

Buffy sighed. “Let’s just go to sleep, alright? We’ve both got school tomorrow.”

Dawn exhaled slowly and closed her eyes. “For what it’s worth, I don’t think he’s evil.”

* * * *

Spike tore into the girl’s neck and gulped hungrily at her blood, moaning in pleasure at the sensation. Hot, human blood caressed his throat, sticky and rich like maple syrup, but not as sweet. Spike pulled the woman’s body closer and pressed his fangs harder into her neck, deepening the penetration and increasing the amount of blood that flowed into his mouth. She was just dead, Drusilla having snapped her neck mere seconds before tossing her to him, but the girl’s still flowed freely.

Spike heard a thump as the body of Dru’s kill hit the pavement and he pulled the ginger haired girl’s body away from him, taking a moment to look at her face. He’d never looked at their faces, not after he’d killed them, but for some reason he felt like he owed it to the girl. Spike almost didn’t recognize her because her eyes were closed and she wasn’t laughing, but he remembered seeing her before.

Buffy had invited him to a frat party a few weeks ago, claiming that she wanted to pretend like she had a normal college boyfriend. Spike played along, only because she did the same for his little games, although he didn’t really fancy spending his evening with a bunch of drunken college kids. He and Buffy hadn’t stayed long, but he remembered seeing this girl. There was a group in a circle on the floor, playing that game where you spin the bottle and you have to kiss whoever it stops on. He remembered her bell-like laugh as the bottle stopped on a boy she obviously fancied and she bent towards him.

And now she was dead. He looked up at Drusilla, who, unlike himself, was still in game face. Spike dropped the girl to the ground and glanced at the side entrance to the Bronze before staring at his Sire. “Still want to dance, love, or shall we keep with this game?”

Drusilla moved towards him with the grace of a lioness, extending her hand and taking his. “Let’s see what treats await inside.”

Spike glanced at the girl now lying by the dumpster before wiping the blood from his lip and following Drusilla back into the club.

If this was who he really was, he wasn’t so sure he liked it.

* * * *

The next day Buffy met Willow and Tara at the Expresso Pump after their English Lit class. During the hours when she was at school Buffy tried hard not to think about slaying or potentially evil boyfriends, but after running into Spike on a night of little slaying, she couldn’t focus on anything else.

“What do you think, Buffy?”

Buffy looked up from her latte to find Willow and Tara looking at her with interest. Apparently they’d been having a conversation.

“Um, that… it’s wrong?” she guessed.

“Do you even know what we’re talking about?” Tara asked.

Buffy pouted. “No. I’m being broody Buffy. Not very fun, but big on the alliteration.”

“Alliteration, hey! You’re learning something in that poetry class,” Willow noticed with pride.

Buffy shrugged and followed her friends as they left the coffee shop and headed down the sidewalk. “I just don’t know what to do.”

“Is this about class or the brooding?” Willow asked.

“The second one. I…” she hesitated, debating on whether or not she should depress her friends with her gloomy thoughts. “I want to believe that my memories are real, or at least that they’re close enough to the truth so that I can trust him. I mean, the monks did their spell over six months ago, and Spike’s behavior hasn’t changed at all. But then again every time I see him all I can think of is that he’s evil.”

“But Spike has been helping,” Tara pointed out. “He helped you fight Glory twice, and, well, he’s been a lot snarkier lately, but he hasn’t changed. Has he?”

Buffy shook her head. “Not really. It’s just so weird. I’m having more trouble with the idea that my memories of Spike have been altered than with the idea that my sister wasn’t always human.”

“Maybe it’s because you’re afraid of Spike changing back,” Willow observed. “You don’t really have that problem with Dawn because well, as far as I can tell she’s gonna keep on being human. But Spike? He could fall back on the way he used to be. If he really was so bad,” she added. Willow had been thoroughly shocked when Buffy had told her about Spike’s ‘evil’ past, and part of her still didn’t believe it.

“Maybe,” Buffy agreed distractedly as they turned a corner.

“Have you tried talking to him?” asked Tara. “I mean, I know it’s not really my place to suggest anything, but if I were as confused as you are, I’d talk to him. He’s probably just as freaked out by all this as you are.”

“Uh-huh”, Buffy replied distractedly. She hadn’t heard a word that Tara had said. Instead her eyes had been pulled like a magnet to the dire headline on a newspaper the man behind her had just thrown into the garbage can. Brushing past her confused friends, she walked up to the trash can and lifted the paper from inside.


The three girls exchanged worried glances.

* * * *

She knocked softly on Spike’s door.

“Spike?” she called, guessing he wouldn’t have heard her timid knocking. The sun had just set, a time he’d usually still be in his crypt. Unless he’d slipped out early, for reasons Buffy couldn’t surmise. She knocked one more time before opening the door and stepping inside.

It was dark, as it usually was, the only light coming from the numerous lit candles scattered along the edges of the windows. Buffy looked around, expecting Spike to be lounging in his armchair or resting on his makeshift bed, but she couldn’t see him. She walked to the end of the crypt, peering into the shadows as if expecting him to be lurking there, watching her.

Buffy sighed in disappointment. She had hoped to ask Spike if he knew anything about the murders at the Sunnydale train station. She knew that he probably didn’t, but she came anyway, hoping to catch another glimpse of him. Maybe they could talk…

But he wasn’t here. Buffy walked dejectedly toward the door, deciding that she may as well head over to Willy’s and see what information she could beat out of him, but before she could even reach the handle, she felt a sharp, jolting pain in her shoulder that radiated out to every bone in her body. Buffy grasped her shoulder as painful gasps escaped her lips. Her eyes were unfocused, making difficult to recognize the blurry figures looming over her, but Buffy heard one of them speak to the other, their voice sounding far away.

“She’s weak as a kitten, my pet. Claim her, make her your third. It’s time you remembered what you are—a killer.”

Buffy recognized that voice. She winced and tried to sit up, but a figure emerged from the shadows and held her down. Buffy stared at the demonic features of her lover as he hovered above her, snarling. She was sure that he would try to bite her, but in an instant he blinked and pulled away. Before she could do or say anything, she felt another sharp pain throughout her body and then nothing.

* * * *

Spike paced along the length of his bed, his game face melting away into a worried expression.

What was he thinking, playing along with Drusilla’s mad games? No, this wasn’t a game. She wanted him to kill the Slayer, his Slayer, to prove something. Drusilla claimed that by taking the life of his third Slayer he’d revert to his old ways, and that’s why she wanted him to do it. But Spike knew that she knew, as she always did. He was still in love with Buffy. If he killed her, then Dru would see him as hers again. He could go back to what he had been before the monks decided to take an egg scrambler to his brain.

Spike stopped pacing and looked at the unconscious form of the woman he loved sprawled across his bed. The way he’d placed her there, her limbs draped awkwardly at her sides, gave her the look of death. He couldn’t stand it, even the idea. Buffy dead? What is this? He loved her. Did he kill people he loved before? Did he ever love anyone before?

“What keeps you?” Dru asked, sounding almost bored. Spike turned to her.

“Just… preparing for the pain. You know.” He pointed to his head.

Drusilla hissed in frustration and turned away with him. Why did he even bother lying to her? She always knew, whether it was because of the bloody pixies whispering in her ear or some kind of knowledge she’d gained from knowing him for so long. Knowing Drusilla, it was probably both.

He had to keep stalling. Spike knew he could take Drusilla on, but if he made one mistake she could go for Buffy. Spike closed his eyes as the images of Drusilla slitting Buffy’s throat or snapping her neck entered his mind.


Spike would wait until Buffy came to and then make like he was going to bite her. Then they’d take care of Dru, and he could explain to her what this whole debacle was about. He only hoped that she’d listen.

“She brings it out in you, you know.”

Drusilla was at his side, staring resentfully at Buffy’s sleeping face.

“I’ve always seen it, hiding behind your eyes, but with her it’s brighter. She fuels the lantern inside you.”

“What do you mean by that, love?” he asked.

Dru’s eyes burned into his as she placed a hand on his chest, over his unbeating heart. “Kill her, Spike. The Slayer’s blood will douse the ugly flames that burn you, that want to take you away from me. It’s burning your insides, making you rot. I can smell it.”

Spike stared at her in wonder. What the bleeding hell was this dozy bint on about now?

They both looked away from each other when Buffy started to stir. Thank God, she was waking up.

A wide grin spread across Drusilla’s thin face, making her look like some sort of demonic clown.

“Take her now; make her scream. You always liked your screaming.”

She stepped back, giving him room to kill the Slayer. Buffy turned her head and groaned in pain, lifting her hand drowsily and placing it over her heart. Spike felt like a knife was twisting in his gut.

Stupid bastard, you let her get hurt.

Spike reached to soothe her but he hesitated. If he killed her now it would all be over. He wouldn’t have to deal with seeing her everywhere, haunting his waking hours as well as in his dreams. He wouldn’t have to deal with her fear of what he is, or with her rejection of him. She wouldn’t be able to punish him anymore.

Right. It was settled, then.

Buffy opened her eyes, blinking a few times before looking up at him. “Spike?”

He couldn’t do it.

“Only kill her if you have to,” he whispered before turning on Drusilla.

Dru hissed as he swung at her. “Naughty boy! Going for the bellows instead of the bucket. Mummy needs to teach you a lesson.”

“I think you’ve taught me enough,” Spike growled, catching Drusilla’s wrist as she raised her claws to swipe at him. He restrained her by grabbing her other wrist and holding both of her arms in front of her.
“Just go, alright? I don’t want to have to kill you, but I will if I ever see you in Sunnydale again."

She blinked at him, a look of genuine disappointment on her face. He expected her to lash out at him, to scream or to protest, but she didn’t. Dru stared at him, her eyes narrowing.

“My Spike is dead.”

She yanked her hand from his grip and stepped back, her eyes now on Buffy as the Slayer sat up.

“Even I can’t save him now.”

Dru’s face crumpled and she fled through the door, slamming it on her way out. Spike sighed with relief and turned to Buffy, who was now standing beside him.

“Are you okay?”

She answered with a slap to his face. Spike gritted his teeth together and sighed. “And here I thought you'd go for the nose.”

Buffy glared at him, but he could see the hurt behind the menace.

"Right, pet... this isn't what it looks like."

“It looks like you and Dru were trying to kill me.”

“She wanted me to kill you, yes,” he replied. Spike rolled his eyes to the ceiling and heaved a heavy sigh. “Bloody hell.”

“What was she doing here, Spike?” Buffy demanded.

“She wanted me back, didn’t she? Tried to get me to kill again, even though I told her I couldn’t. Didn’t want to, but…”

Buffy’s eyes widened at his regretful tone. “But you did.”

He focused his eyes on her in earnest. “I didn’t kill her. Dru did, I only…”

Spike grimaced, disgusted with himself. What kind of vampire was sickened by the thought of drinking human blood? No, it wasn’t the blood that disgusted him, it was knowing that he’d let himself become an animal again. He liked the violence, but he couldn’t get the sound of that girl’s laugh out of his head, giggling at him while he looked down at her pale, lifeless face. Killing was what he was supposed to do, yet at the same time he knew he was more than just an animal.

“Bollocks,” he muttered miserably, his head falling into his hands. “It doesn’t matter, does it?” he asked suddenly, returning his eyes to hers. “I can try to prove that my love is real, but you’ll still think it’s a lie. You see me as a monster now, and you cling to it, refusing to remember what I was to you. I know what we had wasn’t real, but I don’t care. I still love you.”

Spike waited for her to respond, but she didn’t speak. Buffy just stared at him, as if waiting for him to turn around and contradict everything he’d just told her.

“Buffy,” he whispered softly, taking a cautious step closer to her. “Do you love me?”

She still didn’t respond, but Spike could see tears forming in her eyes. He was tired of this.

“What if I got my memories back? If I could see what had really happened between us? Would that change anything for you?”

Buffy’s eyes widened.

“What if I had one of the witches do a spell that would help me remember what I was? Could you love me then?”

“Spike, do you even know what you did? You tried to kill me—again and again.”

“Buffy,” he stepped closer and placed a hand on her shoulder. She looked ready to bolt, but she didn’t. “It doesn’t matter. Don’t you see? If I forget everything, if I push it aside, there’s still you. I love you. Can’t tell you why, especially the way you’ve been treating me…” Buffy had the grace to look ashamed. “But I do. Isn’t that what matters?”

Her eyes had filled with tears as he spoke, and when she tried to reply her breath was high and squeaky. “Spike, I don’t know what to do.”

He raised an eyebrow curiously, hope fluttering in his chest.

“I know that you love me, okay? That’s not why I’ve stayed away from you. I’m afraid of what’ll happen if I try to love you again.”

He placed his other hand on her shoulder and pulled her closer, slowly make the space between them disappear. “Try?”

“You don’t know what it felt like when I found out that you tried to kill me. It wasn’t just memories I got back, it was feelings. Anger, and hate, and resentment… Spike, I don’t want to hate you.”

He brushed the tears that fell from her eyes away with his thumb. “Then don’t.”

“But what if I’m supposed to?”

“You’re not supposed to feel anything, love. You just feel.”

Spike approached her slowly, his lips nudging hers before pressing against them more firmly. Buffy’s hands slid up his chest as he deepened the kiss, coming to rest on his shoulders.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, pulling away so she could breathe. His lips returned to hers in a soft apology. Spike was sorry for having hurt her in the past, for her having to remember it, and for all the trouble she was facing now because of Glory and her search for the Key. The woman he loved shouldn’t have to deal with that much pain.

She pulled away from him.

“I can’t.”


“Can we talk about this tomorrow?” she asked in a tired voice.

Spike’s shoulders slumped. “Right. Will we actually talk about it tomorrow?”

Buffy straightened up and shot him a glare. “Hey, I could be kicking your ass right now for that stunt you pulled with Drusilla, but I’m not. So just let it be, alright?”

She brushed past him, walking funny and holding her shoulder, the one Dru had zapped with the cattle prod.

“I’ll come see you tomorrow,” she said when she reached the door. “I promise.”

Spike closed his eyes as the door shut behind her. Dru had either mucked things up real good or actually helped them move forward. He still wasn’t sure who he was, but Spike knew that he needed Buffy, and that she needed him. As long as he didn’t do anything stupid he might be able to fix this. Spike figured that when he had her trust back, he’d make it good from there.

Until then he’d just have to wait.








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Unrequited -  est. May 26, 2005.