Spike had no idea who he was, or who she was either, or why they were in a cemetery. She suspected he wanted to throw up, but didn't ask him lest the question trigger the beginning of the vomit-fest. She just hauled him back to his place. But he balked at the door, refusing to go in"Why do you bring me herethis is an abandoned crypt!"
Since he'd hit his head ostensibly helping her patrol, (he'd called it helping; she called it dogging her with obscene come-ons while she patrolled), Buffy brought Spike back to the house. He followed her from Restgate to Revello with a dogged quiet air, gazing around vaguely at everything they passed. He didn't ask any questions.
He didn't recognize Dawn. When they led him into the living room, he stared at the TV for a few seconds in a way that gave Buffy a big sinking feeling. Shit. "Hey, what year is it?" she said.
"Lost my memory, not my wits. It's eighteen eighty. November. At least ... no, that's not right." He frowned. "Know that isn't it. It's ... two thousand an' one?"
"Right. I bet it's all coming back to you now. Who am I?"
Dawn's eyes went huge. "Spike doesn't know who we are?"
"You two ... you two ... sisters, aren't you? Sound like Americans." He kept giving the television shifty suspicious side-glances.
Great. He was just guessing.
"C'mon, you know us. Buffy and Dawn? And you know the TV. You love TV." This was even more annoying than when they'd all lost their memories.
"Maybe he should rest," Dawn piped. Her now habitual tendency to slide into anxiety at the first sign of uncertainty was now turned up to positive alarm. "Spike, you should lie down. You probably have a concussion." She tried to lead him towards the sofa.
"Vampires don't get concussions," Buffy said.
"Why not? I'm sure they can. Spike, lie down."
He blinked. "Vampires?"
Dawn was asleep, she'd been dozing, and Spike was supposed to be asleep too, downstairs on the sofa, but she knew he wasn't. She'd left him there hoping he'd remember himself in the night and sneak out of the house before first light. She didn't like feeling responsible for him, and she didn't like having him under her roof. Since that first time she'd ... succumbed ... she'd promised herself she wasn't going to fuck him anymore, and she wasn't going to let him just traipse in and out of her house like he had any right to be there. She kept meaning to get Willow to do the uninviting spell but somehow she kept forgetting to mention it when she saw Willow, who always seemed to be elsewhere when she did think of it.
Stupid Spike. Stupid Willow. Everyone making things so difficult.
Buffy got up, thinking she'd take him back to his crypt now, whether he knew it was his or not. That was where he belonged.
She found him in the downstairs powder room. The water in the sink was running. He'd stripped to the waist, and was washing his hands and arms and face. The mirror over the sink was wet and soapy where he'd dragged his palms across it.
"Something's off with this looking glass."
"You're not going to be able to see yourself."
"An' I can't seem to feel clean. Also, I'm hungry, but food didn't sate me."
"What did you eat?" There was so little food in the house, and she didn't have any money to buy more until Friday. The Be-A-Little-Kind-To-Amnesiac-Spike impulse was really proving to be a pain in the ass.
Of course everything at the moment was a pain in the ass, starting with her being alive when she was supposed to be safely, permanently dead.
"Ate a bit of this an' a bit of ... not much in your larder I recognized as victuals. But none of it was any good to me."
She'd never before seen Spike like this, frankly bewildered, edging on scared. He'd always been one to pretend he knew more about any situation he found himself in than he really did. Always one to figure the angles and try to play them. And since their night together, when the barriers came down ... he'd been insufferable.
She reached around him and shut off the water. Her arm brushed his bare wet arm. She'd promised herself she wasn't going to ever touch him anymore. There were no two ways about it. He disgusted her. Lusting for him, fucking him, made her disgusting too. She couldn't believe she'd gone as far as she had. She'd never ever have done that before.
And yet here she was all jostled up close to him, and it was making her skin go hot all over.
"D'you know what's wrong with me?"
"You hit your head and blacked out. Do you remember hitting your head? You were chasing down a demon at the time, it threw you against a stone."
"'Fraid not. Last thing I remember ...." He shut his eyes. "Last thing I remember makes no sense, anyhow. All jumbled up, an' feels far away." Opening his eyes, he focused on her. "Are you my sweetheart?"
She pulled back. Her face felt like a fist. "No."
The confusion in his gaze made her feel mean and mingy. "Funny, that, because I" He touched his chest, where his heart would've beat if he had a beating heart. "Had a feeling ...."
"No sweethearts." She drew back, out of the tiny bathroom. Wanted to get him out of it too, get him bundled back into his funerary little compartment, far from this house and her so-called life.
"Have this sense that ... that this's somethin' you an' I do" All at once he was up close to her, wedging her against the door jamb, hands on her arms. Before she could move out of the way, he buried his mouth against her neck, beneath her hair. Her senses betrayed her into the squirm of pleasure that always came when he kissed her there.
When he bit her, the incursion was so sudden and sharp that the cry froze in her throat. Her body froze too, pitched off-kilter, palms fitted to his sleek moist biceps, then rocked back against the wall as he sank in, settling himself against her with a kind of grateful rippling, as if he expected no resistance. A blank moment of inaction stretched out and out, punctuated by the pulling sensation at her throat, his thirsty gulps. She felt him go hard against her belly.
She shoved him off.
Spike stumbled against the sink. Droplets of her blood were spattered on his chest and chin. He felt uncertainly at his face, exploring the slick red-stained mouth, the protruding fangs. Seeing the blood on his fingers, the amber eyes went huge with astonishment. Then he lurched at her again.
This time it was easy to bat him back. "Quit it!"
Had there been a stake handy, she'd have used it. She'd only fallen for the oldest trick in the book! "You are loathesome, Spike. Pretending you have amnesia so you could bite me?"
"Butthis's what I've been hankerin'bloody hell. What'm I doin'?"
Again he put a hand to his face, prodding at the sharp teeth, the distended shapes of nose and cheeks.
Nope, not a hoax.
He really didn't know.
In a different voice, one that sounded weary even to her, she said, "Just stop, okay?" Shouldering past him, she inspected the wound in the mirror, then snapped the medicine cabinet open to look for dressings. The wound was bleeding, and she felt light-headed, like he'd spun her around and flipped her head over heels.
Her heart pounded, as if its sole job was still only to deliver sustenance to him. She took deep breaths, trying to slow herself down. To suppress the strong feeling that she'd pushed him off much too soon.
She hadn't meant to at all, but once Dawn was off at school, she went to the crypt to check on him.
He should've been asleep in his big stupid bed, but when she barreled in, Spike was sitting on top of the stone sarcophagus where she'd left him a few hours ago, his feet dangling, apparently staring into space. He started at the sight of her, and slid down. When she got close to him, she saw the burns.
No need to ask what happened.
"I really thought you'd have snapped out of it by now."
"My ... my skin started smolderin', then broke into flame. When I went outdoors."
"I guess I should've warned you."
"What's wrong with me?"
"You're a vampire. Leave that alone." He was poking at the burned patches, making himself wince.
"This always happens?"
"You can only go out at night." He was like some sort of bad practical joke.
"Hunger for blood, an' live in this unclean place." He gestured at the mournful surroundings. "Think I'd rather burn."
Be my guest. "You'll get your memory back." C'mon, you have to.
She wasn't sure if it was because she thought it might help, or that his expression, so abject and uncertain, irritated her. The roundhouse punch came from her core with a nearly electrical phwoom. He skidded into the candleabra, went down with a crash, the half-burnt candles rolling off in every direction.
He lay there unmoving while she held her breath. Now he'd get up, shake himself off, and be Spike again, the Spike she could kick in the teeth for giggles. She'd be able to go home and get on with her abject existence already in progress.
She held the thought through the opening of his eyes, through his wobbly baby-chick efforts at getting up on his elbows, shaking his head to clear it. A line of blood marked where her knuckles had connected with his singed flesh. He felt the cut on his cheek, saw the red on his fingers.
"Don't understand. Why d'you hate me?"
I hate you because you're a monster, is what she meant to say, would say in a second when she could tear her lips free of his. I hate you because when I'm near you I feel like a monster too.
She didn't mean to be doing this. She'd leaned in close to help him up, that was all, and he'd misinterpreted her gesture, and that was why they were staggering up grappled together, hands plucking at clothes, mouths firing kisses like blows. Why they performed a stagger-waltz across the cold floor to splay atop the sarcophagus.
Her heated body throbbing beneath his, her face caught in his hands, she couldn't shrug away when he broke their kiss to confront her. His appraising look was bewitching; she could only return it, getting tangled in the blue whorls of his eyes.
These weren't the eyes of the monster. The monster was subsumed. The Spike looking at her with such curious hunger wasn't the one she loathed, the one she'd sworn off.
He seemed to see what he was searching for in her face, because his blossomed in a sudden smile, dazzling. "I get it." His tone radiant with relief, like he'd come at last to the egress of a perplexing maze. "We had some spat, yeah, before I got conked? But we are sweethearts." His fingers softened, caressed her hair. "I knew we must be."
"Mind you, still dunno who we are, but I wouldn't feel like this with you, like your scent an' your softness an' your voice, everything we do together, are just on the tip of my tongue ... like they'll come back to me any second."
"Whatever it is that went wrong with us, I'll put it right. It'll be all right."
How could she contradict this, when it was so obvious that she couldn't push him away? When her arousal was so apparent to him, even without the heightened senses of the demon?
His gentle fingers drew the hair back from her neck. "This still paining you?"
"No, it's fine. Don't worry about that. Just ... don't do it again."
"Didn't know I was gonna do it at all." The uncertainty crept back into his voice. "Wouldn't hurt you."
She kissed him this time, so he wouldn't talk about it anymore. That's what she told herself. She was doing all this now because maybe in a way that being in her house, or drinking her blood, or getting punched, didn't, sex would make him remember. And then she could pound him in the nuts and leave him here.
When he drew back, she wanted to pinch him in frustration. "Can't we go back to your house? You can't like it here."
"There's a bed downstairs."
She wriggled out from under him. "I'll show you."
When he saw the hole in the floor, its protruding ladder, he hung back. "Don't want to go down there."
She almost stamped her foot. "This is your place."
He fixed her with a bright fevered eye. "You can't like this. Why should you want to be here? Don't know much but I know that."
Shame licked at the back of her neck. "Spike, it's okay. I ... I like it fine."
His face was so clouded with doubt she couldn't look at it.
"Said I was sorry, 'bout whatever went bad between us. All this, s'not making sense. Why d'you treat me this way, if we're sweethearts?"
She tossed her head. "I told you. You're a vampire, I'm the vampire slayer. We're mortal enemies." Shut up and let's get to the part where we fuck.
"Why don't you slay me, then?" The question slipped out in a whisper, as if he was asking it only of himself. He made a faint gesture, glancing from her to the hole in the floor, and back at the sarcophagus whose dust they'd just disturbed. "Ah, get it now. You don't really care for me. Know I'm in love with you, so you come to me an' then you go away again, as you fancy. Think that's better'n I deserve."
A tingle sped through her, leaving her watery and mute. A few ticks went by before she remembered to breathe.
"No, that's not true."
His head tilted, regarding her. She felt nakedly transparent in his gaze. He could see everything she was, everything she hid even from herself.
"It's complicated." She went to him, put her hands up on his shoulders. Then, when he didn't react, shifted them to cup his face. "But it's not like you're saying. Don't think that." On tip-toe, she kissed him the way she'd never done yet, soft and lingering, the way she used to kiss Angel. She tried to put into it all the comfort and reassurance she'd ever longed for for herself. That she longed for, and could no longer find anywhere, since rising from her grave.
You're going to have to stake him the second he comes back, you're going to have to really do it this time, because he can't ever be allowed to know about this.
He made no more objections about the crypt, about the bed. Never took his eyes from her as she undressed for him, delivered herself again into his open arms. "Ah, sweet, sweet," he murmured, as she covered him, made her hair sway across his lips in time to the soft teasing movements of her body. Where, she wondered, was this coming from, this deliberate languid desire? She'd never made love like this before, except maybe to herself.
"Say my name, love. Is that how I call you? Love?"
"Love ... love is good." She didn't want to start to cry. Crying would be bad.
"Say my name."
"You ... you're William. Your name is William." She flushed into goosebumps as she said it, half afraid that he'd shake her, strike her, that the name would ruin everything.
But there was nothing like that. "Is it? Ah ... ahhhhh. Oh love."
"William. Yes." She sank down, rocked slowly on his gratifying heft. In the yellow glow of the candles they'd lit, his skin was the delicate blue-white of shadows in snow. She could sink into his regard like an ether.
"Love, love," he crooned. "Knew this was how we are. Knew it. Sweet."
"This is sweet. You're sweet."
"Yes," she said. "William, yes. You are. You are."
He glowed. His kisses recalled sensations she'd forgotten were possible, thawed the cold inside her, opened what had been locked down. Each breath, each motion, a high-wire swoop, a hot red swoon. A visit to the girl she'd been, the girl who died.
If only he could go on being this way, for her, whenever she needed it. Secret from everyone. Even from Spike. Even from her real self.
Dressed again, fed blood from the fridge, it was difficult to persuade him to stay put in his crypt. It was night, he was restless.
"There are others. My friends. I need to make sure they understand, before you meet them."
"What happened to you."
There was no way they would understand. The Scoobies, understand this? Spike hit his head and he doesn't know he's Spike anymore, he thinks he's my boyfriend, and none of youWillowshould get any bright ideas about trying to cure him because I kind of like having the use of him this way and you all owe me big-time.
Yes. Yes, that would certainly work out just fine.
"I mean, I think you'll probably be okay. Soon. All on your own. But meanwhile you should stay here where you're safe." She needed to get gone. She had obligations elsewhere, and a powerful twitchy need to get away from everything he'd just made her feel.
"I'm a vampire."
"You're a disoriented vampire, and you could get into trouble." She didn't want to have to explain the chip, either.
"Would probably help me remember, to go 'round with you. See these people I supposedly already know."
"Just trust me on this."
That brought him close. She'd been brushing her hair, getting ready to leave. He took the brush from her hand so she had no choice but to look at him. "Do we?"
"Do we what?"
"Trust each other."
It's complicated. She'd used that one already, she couldn't trot it out again.
Her hesitation was too apparent.
"Guess I'm still not really clued in 'bout what goes on between us." His sadness brought up her own with a whoosh, like air blown into a banked fire. Her cheeks flamed.
"It'll be okay," she said, "if you just stay here."
But he was already reading her, the language of her scent and pulse and heat. Noticing and assessing. "Yesterday you wanted me to remember, but not anymore."
It wasn't fair. That he could still know her this way, when he didn't even recall her last name anymore.
"What are you? I mean, what's wrong with you? This here, it's not right."
"I told you"
"Right. I'm a vampire, you're the vampire slayer." He caught her before she could walk away from him. "What kind of lovers are we, though?"
"You don't want me to remember, because this now is easier for you. You're not really my sweetheart."
"I'm no one's." His confrontation this time was too direct. She was afraid she'd be sick, afraid she'd collapse. Could flail, wail. "I don't ... please. Please. Don't do this now. I don't even belong to myself anymore!"
"Everything's wrong, here."
"Everything's wrong," she echoed. She couldn't look at him, not at all now, and he'd fallen back a little, so she seized the moment, and made for the exit. He didn't try to stop her, or call after her. The crypt's heavy door swung closed on her back, and she ran.
Dawn said, "How's Spike?" and Buffy said, "How should I know?" in a certain tone of voice, and made her eyes big and round, and directed a kick under the table, so that Dawn suddenly plunged back into her book as if she'd never spoken. Xander and Anya had their heads together. Willow was staring into the computer like she was hypnotizing, or hypnotized.
That was that evening.
She expected him to turn up at the Palace, wanting to screw behind the dumpsters again, but then realized that he didn't know she worked there. That was a relief. Sort of.
She was going to stay away, but then it occurred to her that he'd been low on blood, and if he was being obedient about staying inside, she'd have to bring him some. At the meat wholesaler the guy said, "What is it with you girls and the blood tonight? Is this some sort of sorority prank?" After that, she ran.
Dawn was already there, but from the look of her, Spike hadn't tipped her off yet. About the sweethearts thing. He was sitting in the musty armchair, Dawn perched on one rolled arm, an open book splayed on the other. She was prattling to him about school; he listened with a willing incomprehension. The blood she'd brought in a sack sat on the table. The television, for a wonder, was off.
Maybe he didn't know how to turn it on.
Maybe he was afraid of it.
"Dawnie, you're not supposed to be here."
"He still doesn't remember us."
"C'mon, I'm taking you home."
Spike rose. Buffy turned to him. "Not you."
"I want Spike to walk us home."
"He needs to stay here. Drink his ... stuff."
"He walked me lots of times when you were!"
"Why do we have to be so mean to him? That's all I'm asking! He"
"Dawn, stop it now. Spike's not your friend. He's not ... not ...." Beam me up, Scotty.
He dropped back into the chair, snatched up the book as he threw one leg over the arm. "Right. Startin' to bore me. Get out, the both of you."
He had plenty of blood, so she didn't go back for two more nights, and then on the third night, when she went patrolling after work, she talked herself into the idea that she didn't have to go back to him at all, that she could be finished with Spike any time she decided to be. Why should he be her problem? Why had he ever been her problem?
This was making all kinds of sense, at least until she rounded into the alley behind Birch Street and saw him dragging a girl in at the other end.
The chip fired. Spike bellowed, the girl ran, and when he rose from his jack-knife, he saw her.
They just looked at each other, either end of the alley, long shadows cast forward. Him in his leather, her with her stake.
"This agony, it'll happen every bloody time I try to feed?"
"Afraid so." She began to stroll towards him. He took her in, stalking over the dirty ground, weapon in hand.
"You do this to me? This why I can't remember?"
"Didn't hurt when I bit you."
"I don't know why that is."
"Maybe I do."
He could move sometimes, faster than the eye could track. A trick he seldom resorted to, so when he did it now, she wasn't ready to find herself snatched up, held aloft by his fist jammed in her throat, unable to land a kick, shaken until black dots flashed in her line of sight. When he snatched her down her head felt as big as the moon, the blood exploding behind her eyes. Couldn't tell if she was still holding the stake, because she couldn't feel her body.
"Should've done this to you years ago, slayer." The crunch echoed in her left ear, the blood rushing out of her swollen balloon head into his devouring mouth.
When his fangs withdrew from her throat, she knew her heart and limbs again, but everything was slow, beyond the languor of their lovemaking, beyond the fatigue of a long clean fight. He was still right there, cradling her in his arms, though her conception of her body, of his, was fast dissolving. Fluttering, blinking, blind.
"Answer me one thing. Why'd you have to lie?"
Why? Why did I lie? Did I lie? What lie? Why am I?
"Eh? What's that?"
Had she really spoken? She was floating again in a disembodied limbo, not the same easy warm loving light one they'd snatched her out of a couple months ago, but who was she to quibble when she was on the very verge of being once more released?
Except there was still this question she had to answer, fairly, before she could go. Spike, who was restored from his few days and nights of amnesiac innocence, still merited that much. After all, wasn't he delivering her from hell?
Words formed on the lips she couldn't feel, out of breath she couldn't spare. "I wanted to ... want to."
"Wanted to lie to me?" The harsh edge was gone from his voice. Plaintive querying William sought again to understand what was slipping between them.
Wanted to lie to you. That wasn't what she'd meant, but as the words twirled in her slowly draining head, they began to seem right. Wanted to lie to you about me, but no matter what I said or did you always knew me, the layer beneath the layer beneath the layer of me. You knew I didn't want you and did, didn't want to want you and longed to. You knew I could never ever see you as just a demon, or as a real man either. You knew what might've been except that it never could be. Nothing could ever be right between us.
"Everything you know. About me. Is true."
There was something else he said, something else she felt. But she never knew what.
Return to Herself's Fic.