Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
1. One Shot by EllieRose101
Spike could have strangled her.
His hands clenched on the steering wheel of his DeSoto as another wave of fury washed through him. As long as the drive had been, his temper hadn’t quelled. If anything, it had grown. Because to have left him––maybe even to have left because of him––was something he could understand, but for Buffy to have walked out and left the life she had with Dawn? It was inconceivable. She lived for Dawn. She loved her, unquestionably. Yet she’d also gone. Something didn’t add up. And the longer Spike thought about it, the more pissed off he became.
Twenty hours, it turned out, was a whole lot of pissed off.
He pulled into the parking lot Willow had marked for him on the map, ready to smash something. Maybe crash and torch the car. Maybe torch himself, too.
But there she was, standing cold and alone, her haunted eyes looking at him, right to his very core.
Spike stopped and wound down the window, the biting wind streaming into the car and whipping about his face.
“What are you doing here?”
“Heard you needed a ride.” And knew you’d be a right bitch about it.
“Why didn’t Xander come for me?”
Spike sighed. “Boy’s still caught up with family and wedding guff. You gonna get in?”
Her shaking fingers ran along the strap of her duffle bag as she thought about it. She was in desperate need of help, had it right in front of her, and she still stopped to bloody think about it.
Fuck. Things really were buggered.
Spike waited, the engine idling as the stalemate held for a minute. Then some flakes of snow started up again, and that seemed to make Buffy’s decision for her.
She opened the passenger side door, got in, and closed it again without another word, tossing her duffle bag over her shoulder onto the back seat.
Spike turned the car around and set off again. Homeward.
God, she was so stupid. What kind of person can’t even run away from home properly? Teenagers did it all the time. Hell, she’d done it as a teenager and found a way. A sucky way, sure, but a way.
Everything was so much harder as an adult. It didn’t seem right.
Buffy tried to ignore Spike, which wasn’t actually that hard, at the start. He wasn’t talking to her, and she had so many thoughts and feelings to drown in, she probably couldn’t have heard him anyway.
But as they continued down the road, passing the sign for Bellingham, Washington, it was like the swirl of thoughts and feelings began to clear, and then something much less solid underneath snapped, like ice under a snow drift.
She turned as much as her seatbelt would allow and faced him. “Go on then.”
“I know you’re just busting to yell at me––tell me off, or use some of your stupid British words to insult me.”
He stayed silent. It wasn’t good enough.
“No! Talk to me.”
She groaned and briefly considered pulling on the steering wheel under his hands, but she’d been already stupid enough for one week. A lifetime! And as bad as everything was, she wasn’t quite ready to die again, yet.
Buffy crossed her arms and pressed herself hard into the seatback. If Spike wasn’t going to fight with her, she really didn’t know what to do. At least if he was throwing accusations at her, she could get defensive and pretend none of them were actually true.
…it had not been the best Buffy plan ever.
They continued on in silence as the snow falling all around the car got faster.
“Why north?” Spike asked at last. “You couldn’t have gone to Mexico, where it’s warm?”
Buffy considered not telling him, but she didn’t really have anything left to lose. “Mexico was too close. Plus, I wanted to be able to speak the language.”
Spike shrugged. “At least some bloody part of it made a bit of sense.”
Buffy huffed a breath, annoyed that he was right. Again. She’d thought she’d known what she was doing. She’d thought the plan was solid.
She still didn’t know what she was gonna do when she got home.
Buffy closed her eyes and admitted to the inside of her eyelids, “I tried to get into Canada. Vancouver. Just to get away.”
“What stopped you?” asked Spike. He was keeping his tone even. Or trying to. There was a little bit of strain sneaking into it, telling Buffy just how difficult he was finding it.
“Border patrol. My, uh, passport was out of date.”
Spike flicked his eyes at her in a sidelong glance, then looked back at the road, but didn’t say anything.
“I know,” said Buffy, not needing him to have pointed out her stupidity with actual words. “Xander and Anya had been talking about honeymoon plans, and she’d asked him if he had a passport. He’d said he did, but wasn’t sure if it was still in date. So, Anya asked him when he got it, because apparently they last ten years. I got mine less than six years ago––Mom and Dad took me to Mexico when I was fourteen and they were trying to save their marriage.” She shook her head, hating how the memory still plagued her. Maybe another reason why she hadn’t wanted to go south. “Anyway, I thought my passport still would have been valid, but because I got it as a minor, it only lasted five years.
“I should have checked it.”
“You should have stayed in your own bloody house,” snapped Spike, making her flinch a little.
“You know what? Shut up! You’re the one who asked me the question.” Yes, there was the defensiveness. She wrapped it around herself like a security blanket. “Can we have some music?”
“Oh, come on. Now you’re just being petty. You love playing music.”
“I do love music,” agreed Spike. “Don’t want to have to hear you bitch about it.”
She crossed her arms again. “Fine.”
Spike growled. “Are you really gonna do this?”
“What?” she asked, genuinely not sure what he meant.
“Pretend like this is just a normal bloody chat––another one of our barnies––pretend like you didn’t just uproot yourself to the other side of the sodding country, and then call home asking to be picked up like it doesn’t affect everyone else around you.”
Buffy bit her lip. She didn’t know what a ‘barney’ was exactly, but she got the gist. And she couldn’t answer, because that would just rip away her security blanket of denial, and she’d only just gotten under it. So she said nothing, and Spike went back to not talking, and the tape deck stayed off.
“Does the car have a–”
Spike snapped on the heater.
“Right. Uh, thanks.”
Buffy tried to get comfortable, but it was hard. She felt frozen, and maybe possibly was, now she thought about it. Should she pull off her shoes to check her toes? She thought about it, then figured uncovering her feet probably wasn’t a good idea.
When she’d called Willow and struggled through asking for help, Willow had expressed concern but said she wasn’t exactly in a place to judge. Then she’d pulled up something on her computer that calculated how long it would take for the help to arrive. So she’d given Buffy a time and told her to be ready.
Spike had arrived forty minutes earlier than expected, which was forty minutes Buffy could have avoided standing outside, but she’d been so eager to undo her stupid plan, she’d planted herself on the kerb of the bus station a full hour before the agreed time.
Cold could burrow really deep in twenty minutes.
She flexed her fingers, regretting not having packed gloves. Buffy wasn’t even sure she owned gloves. Which showed how ill prepared she was for her getaway. It wasn’t like running to L.A. had been, though that trip had taken about the same length of time to act on. Which was to say, not long at all.
L.A., she could have gotten a bus back from two days before Christmas, probably. Ass crack of nowhere? Not so much. Stupid, stupid, stupid! She wanted to punch the dashboard. Move around. Do anything that might relieve the tension in her body. She tried not to look at Spike as she had that thought, but her resolve must have been frozen, too, because it shattered in all of three seconds.
Buffy had to do a double take when she glanced his way.
“Where are you going?”
She looked out into the darkness they were turning toward. “I don’t think this is the way.”
Spike ignored her, and for a brief moment, she wondered if he might murder her and dump her body out here in the wilderness.
They left the highway behind and followed a road only lit by Spike’s headlamps for a while, Buffy’s urge to fight rising, until they turned a second corner and the light of a gas station came into view in the distance.
She was almost disappointed.
Spike pulled up and filled the tank while she walked inside the little store and eyed the sandwiches, even though they looked stale, and candy, even though most of it was out of date.
Buffy flinched slightly as Spike came inside to pay, the hem of his coat brushing her legs as he passed her. It felt super weird for him not to have brushed her properly, on purpose, and that fact did something to her stomach. She went back to the car as he handed a stack of notes to the cashier.
In the car, it hit her all again: the fact that she didn’t want to go home, but felt trapped, like it was her only option. Canada hadn’t wanted her, but she could have settled somewhere in Washington. Just disappeared. Just–
The car door opened and Buffy shivered, eyeing Spike as he got in and handed her a takeaway cup.
“What is it?”
“Is it good?” It didn’t smell good.
Okay, that was a fair point. She took it, enjoying the feel of the heated cardboard against her palms.
Spike made his way back to the highway and she looked at him from the corner of her eye, trying to figure out why he was being nice to her, even now. She didn’t voice the thought and he didn’t call her on staring at him, though she had a feeling he’d noticed.
Just on and on they drove, the silence between them getting thicker all the time. They passed some weird right-wing propaganda billboard with Uncle Sam on it, and when it felt like the coffee wasn’t likely to scald her lips, Buffy took a sip. She grimaced at the taste, but sipped again anyway. Better warm and gross than cold and minty fresh. When there were only dregs left, she sunk lower in her seat. And at some point, she must have fallen asleep, because she startled awake at the coffee cup slipping from her fingers and hitting her shoe.
Buffy squinted and looked around. The sun was coming up.
“What time is it?”
Spike didn’t answer, so she looked over at him. He had his goggles on and was peering through the windshield, that he’d apparently put cardboard back in front of at some point. Only then did it occur to Buffy what she was asking of him, in terms of the driving.
“Spike?” Her voice was croaky, telling her she’d been out for maybe longer than she thought. “Spike, stop. Please. We need to find a motel or something.”
“’m fine.” He sounded a little croaky, too, but obviously not from sleep.
“How long have you been awake?”
She thought he wasn’t going to answer her again, but after a moment he sighed and tilted his head, like he was trying to figure it out.
“Three days. There abouts.”
“Spike! You can’t–”
“You were gone,” he said flatly.
She swallowed. “Well, I’m back now. Or on my way. Will you pull over?”
He sighed again. “Next turnoff’s in a few miles.”
“Okay.” It would have to do. “Where are we?”
“Just past Eugene.”
Buffy’s scrunched up her nose. “Where?”
“How long was I–”
“No,” said Spike.
She raised her eyebrows. “No?”
“No bloody small talk.”
“Spike, that’s not–”
“No,” he snapped, his voice louder; harsher, but also kind of broken.
His words from last night, about how she affected everyone around her, echoed fresh in her ears. She wanted to say sorry, but she wasn’t sure if she actually was. If her passport had been valid, she’d be over the border and probably glad of it. At least for a while. She kept her mouth shut and Spike navigated them to a motel: Cottage Grove's Relax Inn. It didn’t look like much, but it had a roof and––she assumed––a bed.
Buffy had wanted to pay, figuring it was the least she could do, even though it would use pretty much the last of her cash, but Spike was being stubborn.
“How long you want?” asked the man behind the desk, eyeing them both.
“Rest of the day,” said Spike. “’till about midnight.”
The man grinned as he handed over the key, no doubt thinking they were just there to have sex. “Hope you enjoy your stay.”
Spike grunted at him and pulled his coat back over his head as he went outside and ran for the room. He had the door open by the time Buffy followed after him, at a normal walking pace. She stepped inside and looked around as Spike settled himself on the bed.
The double bed in an otherwise bedless room.
“Just shut up and lie down. Take the chair, if you prefer. You told me to sleep, so I’m gonna sleep. Not gonna jump you.”
Buffy blanched at the admonishment, feeling foolish all over again. She stood still for a minute, not sure which of the options she should actually take, before walking to the small bathroom and locking the door. After she’d used the toilet, washed her hands and face, she took a long time to stare at herself in the mirror. Her face was haggard and she wasn’t sure if it was just from the last couple of days, or something that had crept up on her more gradually, since she got ripped out of heaven. Maybe it was all in her head.
Should she feel offended that Spike didn’t want to sleep with her again? No. Did she feel offended anyway? Only a lot.
Back in the room, she saw he’d taken his coat off and had gotten under the covers. He had his eyes closed and wasn’t breathing, so she wasn’t sure if he was actually awake or not.
Just in case, Buffy gingerly picked her steps across the floor and slipped quietly in beside him, still fully clothed except for her shoes. She only planned to rest a little, figuring that whatever sleep she’d already gotten in the car was enough to get by on.
It was another one of her plans that didn’t really work out.
Buffy woke up slowly, in a kind of fog. It took her a while to figure out where she was, and how she’d gotten there. When the truth of it clicked in her brain––that she was in a motel bed with Spike, miles from home––she rolled towards him, just to look.
He was on his back with his eyes open, his chest rising and falling slowly as he stared at the ceiling. Buffy wanted to reach out and touch him. To ask him if he was okay. But that was stupid. It was all stupid!
“Was it ‘cause of me?”
She propped herself up on one elbow. “What are you talking about?”
Spike turned to her, properly looking at her for the first time since he’d pulled into the parking lot in Washington. “You left. It was because of me, right?”
“Oh.” She bit her lip. “Spike, I…” How could she explain it? “It was more complicated than that.”
“That’s a yes,” he said.
“No,” protested Buffy.
His gaze changed. “No?”
She sighed, already exhausted again. “It’s not a yes or a no. It’s…” She didn’t want to call it complicated again. “It was partly that.”
Spike closed his eyes, hurt blooming across his face. Buffy got the urge to touch him again, but this time gave into it, her fingers reaching out to brush his brow. He looked at her again, his eyes slits.
“What are you doing?”
A scoffing noise escaped her throat. “If I knew that…”
Spike knocked her hand away from his face and pounced, pressing her to the bedsheets as he kissed her, closed-mouthed, hard and needy. He pulled back again a minute later, rolling to the furthest edge of the bed and throwing his legs over the side so he could sit, his hands on his knees.
Buffy panted and tried to sit up, her brain struggling to process it. He’d struck so fast, she hadn’t really reacted. And then he reared away before her brain had time to stop him. Did she want to stop him?
“I’ll go,” he said, startling her away from the thought before she could answer her own mind. “We get back to town, I’ll pack up and leave you to it.”
Panic flared in her chest. “Spike, no!”
He shook his head and clenched his fists but didn’t say anything.
Buffy’s panic turned to irritation. Anger. “Spike, you need to talk to me.”
“Okay, so I’m total hypocrite girl here, but this isn’t you. We can’t both be bottled up.”
He turned his head a little, so he could meet her eyes over his shoulder. “You saw what happened when I don’t bottle it.”
Heat rose to her cheeks. “I wasn’t complaining.”
Spike raised an eyebrow––and still kept his mouth shut!
Buffy threw up her hands. “I need to be the one to talk? Fine! I liked the kiss. And I did leave because of you, but not in the way you think.”
He turned around to face her fully, now sitting cross-legged on the bed. “Go on.”
She sighed, partly relieved they were finally talking, but annoyed that she had to be the one to lead. Opening up had never really been her strong suit.
“See,” said Spike, cutting her off, “that’s the bit I don’t get. How could you have left Niblet?”
Buffy smiled at the interruption, but it felt twisted on her face. Of course he’d found his ability to ask questions the second she’d opened her mouth.
“Didn’t you know? She’s with my dad.”
Spike blinked. “He took her? You let–”
“No,” said Buffy. She carefully matched his sitting position and rolled her shoulders back. “Dad called,” she explained, figuring it was best to start from the beginning. “He asked if Dawn wanted to stay with him for the holidays.”
Spike opened his mouth and Buffy held up a hand to stop him.
“I was suspicious about it,” she admitted. “He’s never really shown any interest before––technically, we figure Dawn hasn’t even met him. They just have implanted memories together––but anyway, I finally got him to admit that things are getting pretty serious between him and his secretary. She wants kids, but can’t have them. So, my dad’s solution was to have Dawn over. He said it was because he wanted to give her a bit of what she wanted. I think it’s more likely he wanted her to find out what teenagers were like and stop wanting one of her own.”
Spike winced a little.
“I know,” said Buffy, “I might be a little cynical.”
He laughed, but there wasn’t any humor in it.
“Anyway,” she said again, pressing on. Because now she’d started, Buffy just wanted to get her explanation over with. “I was pretty sure Dawn would say no, and I’d resolved not to force her. I told my dad that, but it felt wrong to not even ask her. A-and–” God, her voice was starting to break. “Dawn said yes. She went with him.”
Tears started gathering in Buffy’s eyes and Spike reached out to squeeze her hand.
“Goin’ for the holidays isn’t the same as leaving,” he pointed out, voice gentle.
Buffy shook her head. “You didn’t see her. When I asked, she didn’t even think about it, just said yes. She didn’t want to spend Christmas with me. And I can’t even blame her, after everything. Her arm still hasn’t healed yet, from the Willow incident.”
“Not your fault,” said Spike.
“Isn’t it? Willow needed help, and I was so caught up in my own shit, I didn’t even notice.”
Spike took his hand back. Didn’t snatch it, just slipped it from hers; and even though he didn’t say anything, Buffy was pretty sure she knew what he was thinking. She’d kind of been thinking it, too, at the time.
“I know I blamed you,” she said, looking away. “It wasn’t you. Not really.”
He looked confused, and she didn’t blame him. “I’m trying to make it make sense. Let me finish.”
He gestured for her to go ahead, and she did, taking a second to track back to where she’d left off.
“Dawn went,” she said, remembering how she wouldn’t look at her, and had barely said two words. “When Dad picked her up, I thought––maybe––he would have invited me too. And even though I didn’t really want to be around him, I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to spend Christmas with Dawn. Especially since…”
Buffy trailed off and something clicked in Spike’s brain. Something he really should have realized before. Because fuck, it was only their first Christmas without Joyce, wasn’t it? With everything that had happened since then, it felt like so much longer ago.
“Don’t,” she said. “Even thinking about it is too much. I can’t–” She shook her head, visibly bracing herself before continuing. “The point is, Dad didn’t want me. It was obvious he didn’t even think to ask, or realize I was gonna be on my own.”
“Bastard,” said Spike.
Buffy shrugged and Spike shifted. Silently, she leaned into him and he began massaging her shoulders, tentatively at first, then faster. Deeper. Digging his fingers in parts that made her sigh in a different way from earlier.
It was a while before Buffy spoke again, and even though it had helped to know some of the context to her running away, her silence now felt like a stay of execution, because she was still yet to get to the part about him.
“What I was trying to say before,” said Buffy, “about it not being your fault, and it being partially to do with you. Those were different things.”
“Okay,” said Spike, slowly, because it seemed like the appropriate response.
She turned to look at his face and his hands dropped to his sides. No longer needed. “Does that make sense?”
He paused a second before answering honestly: “No.”
Buffy groaned and threw herself back against the pillows, lying flat on her back for a minute before propping herself up on her elbows. “I’m not good at this.”
“Doin’ alright,” said Spike, worried that if she clammed up again now, that might well and truly be the end of it.
She closed her eyes but kept the frown on her face, like she was concentrating on something. Summoning some demon.
“When I said it wasn’t your fault, I meant the sex. I know that was me. Or both of us. But I started it.”
Spike’s eyebrows tried to escape into his hairline. He really hadn’t expected her to admit that, no matter how much he already knew it to be true.
She looked at him, gaze steady, surprising him by opening up more rather than shutting down. “I shouldn’t have said all that stuff about it being a mistake. I mean…” She looked away again. “It was a mistake, but it was mine. I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.”
He tried to follow her ‘round that bend, but it still very much felt like he was missing something. So he waited, ignoring all of his instincts to ask her about it.
Eventually, Buffy spoke again, tying everything together. “After Dawn left, I cried for like an hour. The hardest part was that I didn’t have anyone to go to. Xander was busy, Willow’s in recovery, and you–” She reached out and he took her hand again. “I was so mad at myself, because I needed you, but I’d ruined it. I couldn’t go to you after what I’d said; how I’d treated you. I couldn’t bear it. I had to go. Spike,” she said, her eyes pleading. “Tell me you understand.”
“Starting to,” he said, stroking his thumb across her knuckles. “But Dawn going. You knew it wasn’t long term.”
Tears started to well in Buffy’s eyes again. “I thought, maybe, it should be. That she’d be better off with my dad and his secretary.”
“Rot,” said Spike.
“Rot,” he repeated, firmer now. “Dawn needs you. And as mad as she is, she loves you. She’ll come home, and she’ll need you to be there.”
Buffy sniffled. “You think?”
She blinked and two identical tears tracked down her cheeks. “God, I’m a mess.” She went to brush them away, but Spike let go of her hand to do it for her. When he’d pushed the tears aside with his thumbs, he leaned in and kissed her cheeks, her forehead, her eyelids. Her lips.
This time, Buffy threw her whole body into it, opening her mouth and her legs and almost taking him inside herself, if they hadn’t still been fully clothed.
But no, it was good that they were. They couldn’t afford to make a habit of getting it wrong. Sex with Buffy was glorious, but not if it meant he lost the rest of her.
Before they got so carried away that his brain lost its vote, Spike pulled away, cradling Buffy to him instead of trying to devour her. He wanted to ask her what they were doing––if she was likely gonna think this was a mistake, too––but didn’t know if he had the nerve.
“I suppose we should maybe get back on the road,” she said.
“Eh?” He looked up and saw her nod at a clock on one of the nightstands. 11.30pm. “Bugger.”
Spike hauled himself up, overjoyed when Buffy moved along with him, keeping tight to his side.
She bit her lip. “Can I ask you something?”
“Anything,” he vowed. As if he could ever turn her down.
Buffy blushed, though he wasn’t sure if it was because her question was embarrassing, or just because he’d made a prat out of himself by bein’ too intense again.
“When, uh, we get back. Promise me we can still talk?”
Spike’s mouth dropped open. That’s what she wanted to know? “Should bloody go without saying.”
“Oh,” said Buffy. She looked more relieved than he’d seen in a while. “Good.”
He grinned. “Okay, then, grab your shoes. I’ll get the car warmed up.”
Spike went to stand up only to be pulled back at the last second. Buffy kissed his cheek, smiled bashfully, and then made a run for her shoes, leaving him stunned for a second. By the time he got to the car, he wasn’t sure if he was more hopeful or scared for what might come next.
In the car, Buffy looked hesitantly at Spike for a moment before he looked back at her and raised his arm. She shuffled close and he leaned across to switch on the radio. They drove most of the rest of the way like that, stopping once more so he could buy her “3am breakfast” at an all-night diner.
Suddenly, everything didn’t feel quite so daunting. She hadn’t ruined her friendship with Spike. Or, at least, hadn’t done it permanently. So long as she stayed away from full-on denial mode, she believed he’d keep his promise that she could still go to him to talk. And if it turned into more than that… well, who was she kidding? It was already more than that. But it didn’t have to be totally scary, did it? Part of her still wasn’t sure, but seeing as running away officially didn’t work, facing the fear had to be the next logical step.
By the time Buffy stepped out of the car back in Sunnydale, her heart was lighter and legs were all stiff. She took a moment to shake herself off before going inside, glad California didn’t have any snow. Its lack made taking just enjoying the air so much easier.
Spike parked the car and got out, coming to a stop beside her. He went to say something, but before he got the chance, the front door opened and––there was Giles.
Buffy gaped at him, he hung his head a little, and then they were hugging.
“W-what are you doing here?”
He looked past her to Spike. “I had a phone call. Someone pointed out I… how did you put it?”
“Had been a total and utter pillock,” said Spike.
Giles winced. “Yes, that was it.”
Buffy looked between them, still a little stunned. “Are you back-back? Like, for good?”
“For as long as you need me,” said Giles, and she launched herself back into his arms. Because that was pretty much as good as forever.
“I will always need you!”
He smiled and ushered her in. “Quickly, now, before you make an old man cry.”
Buffy beamed at him, then hugged Spike in a death-grip embrace. Because he’d done this for her, even though he must have known what Giles would say about them maybe being together.
“It was pointed out to me,” said Giles, taking Buffy’s duffle bag, “that Willow was also in need of some assistance.”
Right. Yeah. Buffy glanced a little guiltily towards the stairs. “How’s she doing?”
“I think she has a long road ahead of her, but I trust she can walk it. Provided she’s not on her own.”
Buffy took hold of Spike’s hand and gave it a little squeeze. “I know the feeling.”
“Hey,” he said, nodding at something above him.
She followed his gaze to where Willow had hung some mistletoe over the door. With a smile, Buffy leaned in and took a chaste Christmas kiss. Hopefully, the first of many.
Ajmilone's prompts were: Season Six, Angst, and Holiday. I'd like to think I did the combination justice :)