Stage Fright

Chapter 4




Buffy was practically shivering with nervous energy.

After the deep and meaningful with Tara that afternoon, and some quiet self reflection, she’d come to a realisation. She did care. And it was a scary thought. She’d gone down that route before, had become seriously involved with a vampire, and it hadn’t ended well. There’d been blood and death and pain. Part of her was afraid the same thing would happen again, but mostly she was just afraid of being rejected. Of not being good enough. Of having her heart broken again.

The fact she even considered the possibility of heartbreak said everything. Her relationship with Spike had been more than just a fling. If given the chance it could have become something truly wonderful.

Of course, whether or not that chance was given was no longer in her hands.

Buffy stood at the entrance of Restfield Cemetery.

Her courage was walking a tightrope, at any second ready to fall, and the further she walked across that rope the more wobbly she became.

She came to a dead halt.

Oh god, I can’t do this...

Her fists were clenched by her sides so tightly that her fingernails dug into her palm. The pain was welcome, more so than the anxious butterflies in her stomach. She felt sick.

I’m not going to throw up, I’m not—

“What the bleedin’ hell are you doing here, Slayer?”

Buffy jumped so violently she was certain her feet left the ground. How was it possible he could sneak up on her without her sensing him?

Spike’s mirth was obvious in the shit-eating grin which stretched across his face. It was nice to be one up on her for a change.

“Jesus!” Buffy gasped, startled by the sudden noise. “Stalker much?”

As quickly as it had appeared, Spike’s good mood vanished.

“Me? Stalking you?” Spike spluttered. “You’re the one hangin’ out in my backyard.”

“Your backyard? It’s a public cemetery, Spike. I have just as much right to be here as you do.” Buffy folded her arms across her chest and stuck her nose in the air.

Spike opened his mouth to argue but the words died in his throat. What was the point? “Just... sod off, would you.”

Buffy blinked in surprise. “Hey! Free country here, buddy. And in case you forgot, ‘she who hangs out in cemeteries,’ that’d be me.” Hands on her hips she stared him down, her expression daring him to argue with her.

“Fine, I’ll leave.” Turning abruptly on his heel, Spike began to stomp away.

He didn’t get very far. After a moments hesitation Buffy followed after him.

“Wait a second; I’m not done with you yet.”

Spike stopped so suddenly Buffy crashed into him. Whirling around he fixed her with a furious stare.

“For once in your life make a sodding decision. You can’t keep tugging me around like this.”

“I know,” Buffy whispered. I know I haven’t been fair... and I’m sorry.

Spike blinked in surprise. “Come again?”

With a sigh, she repeated. “I said ‘I know.’”

A frown crinkled Spike’s brow. He was confused. The slayer was acting very strange. Well, stranger than normal. She was jittery, her eyes darting all around the place, settling anywhere but on his face. She was constantly shifting her weight from side to side, her fists clenching then releasing. And her heart was racing. Obviously something had her worked up into this state.

Part of him, a large part, wanted to tell her to piss off. Let her stew. She deserved it. First she ripped his heart to shreds, and then she had the gall to rub it in his face. As far as he was concerned, whatever had her worked up into this blather was probably very much deserved.

If it wasn’t for the fact he loved her so bloody much he might have been able to say just that. Despite what history dictated—that she’d take what she wanted and break his heart all over again—Spike couldn’t walk away. He was mad for her... or maybe just plain mad. But either way, the decision was made for him.

With an exaggerated sigh he spoke. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” It was an outright lie, and Buffy knew Spike would see right through it. Get it over with and apologise to him.

The vampire scowled. “All right then, if you’re going to play it that way. Find someone else to tell all your secrets to.”

“No!” Buffy said urgently. “It’s...” I’m sorry, alright? See, it’s not that hard. Just SAY it!

“It’s... what?” Spike demanded with frustration. “Just because I’ve got an eternity to live doesn’t mean I want to wait here and—”

“I’m a waste?” Buffy cried, her eyes filling with pain.

“No, I didn’t say waste, I said wai—”

“I should have known expecting you to understand was hopeless,” Buffy continued, barely even noticing that she was speaking over him. “You’re not even listening to what I’m saying!”

“Not listening?” Spike roared. He was at the end of his rope. “How do you expect a bloke to comprehend a word that comes out of your mouth when you’re talking in circles?”

“I am not! I was perfectly clear; you’re the one who’s too thick to get it.”

“Thick? You haven’t said a bloody thing which makes a lick of sense, you twit.”

Buffy huffed in displeasure. “I’m sure if I knew what that meant I’d be offended right now.”

Spike clenched his fists by his sides, his jaw ticking with frustration as he ground his teeth together.

“Well, aren’t you going to say something?”

“About WHAT!?” Spike shouted. “You keep half finishin’ sentences, it’d take a psychiatrist to figure out what the hell is goin’ on in that head of yours.”

“I said I was sorry!” Buffy shouted in return.

“No you bloody well didn’t,” Spike fired back. “I think I’d remember that, being as how I’d sooner expect hell to freeze over before an apology escaped your lips.”

Buffy’s mouth formed an ‘O.’ So caught up in what he hadn’t said she hadn’t even realised her lack of explanation. She offered a sheepish smile. “Did I not say that part out loud?”

“No, you didn’t.” A grin tugged at the corner’s of Spike’s lips. He fought it as best he could but it was of no use, he was hopeless when it came to her.

“Oops?”

A comfortable silence fell between them and Buffy was relieved by the lessening of tension. It would make saying what she needed to easier. Now all she had to do was work up the courage to actually give voice to the words.

An idea struck and a brilliant smile lit up her face. It was perfect.

“Spar with me?”

Confusion clouded Spike’s expression for the umpteenth time this evening. “What now?”

“Do you need me to speak slower?” Buffy teased light-heartedly, grinning widely at the mock glare he shot her way. “Spar. With. Me.”

“What about the chi—”

“If there’s no intent to hurt, I don’t think it will fire,” Buffy assumed.

“Who says I don’t want to hurt you?”

Should’ve seen that one coming... she mused.

“Just do it, alright!”

“Easy Slayer, no need to get your knickers in a twist.” Spike curled his tongue behind the back of his teeth cockily.

“Who says I’m wearing any?” Buffy retorted.

Is she sayin’ that…?

Spike’s resulting blank stare was just the opportunity Buffy needed to sneak a jab to the ribs. He doubled over, her choice of words distracting him.

“Come on, Spike. Don’t go soft on me. You know I can take it.”

She was deliberately taunting him, of this he was certain. Another fist sailed toward him, aimed directly for his head, however this time he was prepared. His counter-reaction was automatic, left arm rising to deflect the attack while he jabbed forward with his right.

When she dodged to the left Spike swung a roundhouse kick toward her head, his leather jacket whipping around his body as he spun. Once more she darted outside of his range.

“Too late,” Buffy retorted cheekily.

And so they fought.

The longer they sparred the more competitive they became. Each attack was more precise than its predecessor, and every defence more crucial. It was slayer against vampire, no holds barred, the way it had been in the past. The way it should be.

In minutes twin huffs and puffs of exertion coloured the night, the sounds of the fight blocking out the rest of the world. The whip of Spike’s jacket, the whistling of fists slicing through the air, and their breathing was all to be heard. The world had shrunk down until it was just them.

Nothing else mattered.

Buffy was thrilled; her plan was working. Spike’s expression was one of pure delight. Unlike others of his kind who cared only for the kill, he relished the fight. To him it was like foreplay. Without the pre-show action the slay itself was hollow. Even though Spike couldn’t truly hurt her because of the chip, she knew—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that he wouldn’t hurt her.

With that thought in mind, Buffy stopped fighting.

“Got you now,” Spike grinned victoriously, snatching her fist mid swing and pulling her toward him, her back pressed against his chest.

“Yes you do,” Buffy admitted, spinning in his arms to face him. Spike’s surprise brought a grin to her face, which softened into a smile as his surprise melted into awe. “You’ve got me.”

“Slayer, it’s not nice to joke.”

“Who says I am?” she questioned. “I’m yours, Spike. That is... if you still want me.”

“Still—” Spike struggled to find words. “I never stopped.”

Buffy blushed under his heated stare. Any anxiety she’d felt earlier had completely dissipated. Tara’s words rang in her mind. “Don’t you know yourself well enough to identify when someone is important to you?”

She knew.

Now she just had to convince Spike.

“I’m sorry,” she blurted out. “I’m sorry for my inability to make decisions. I’m sorry for changing my mind the few... several times I did. I’m sorry...” She sniffed, her eyes watering with emotion. “I’m sorry—”

“Shhh, love,” Spike shushed. “It’s alright.”

“No, it’s not,” Buffy denied vehemently. “It’s not alright. It’s not right that I treated you so badly when you were the only person who was nice to me. It’s not right that I took advantage of your feelings for me.” Tears were rolling down her cheeks and she melted that little bit more when Spike ever so gently brushed them away. “And most importantly, I’m sorry for not being honest with myself.”

Spike was silent, contemplating everything Buffy had just divulged. Never had he expected her to apologise to him, for anything. To say he was surprised was an understatement. More importantly, he was touched.

“I was afraid. Of being hurt again, of letting myself become vulnerable.”

As she'd expected Spike opened his mouth to object. She silenced him with a finger to his lips, her eyes pleading for the chance to finish what she'd started while she still had the courage.

“I should’ve told you sooner.”

Spike tilted his head in question.

With a deep breath for courage, Buffy continued. “I should’ve told you that... that I have feelings for you.”

Spike’s expression bore striking similarity to that of a goldfish, and Buffy struggled to keep a straight face. The fact she could smile at all was a testament to the fact she’d made the right decision. With Spike she was happy, and she never doubted for a second that would change. Because he would make sure she always was. She just hoped that one day she could make him feel the same way.

“If you still want me, I’d like...”

She never managed to finish the request, the words kissed off her lips by the impatient vampire. Buffy’s heart leapt and she smiled as she kissed him back with just as much fervour. Once more they duelled, each fighting for dominance yet neither really caring who won. All that mattered was that they were together.

When they broke for air a couple of minutes later, Buffy giggled.

“What’s so funny, love?”

“Can I take that as a yes?” She fluttered her eyelashes, extricating herself from Spike’s arms and taking a few steps away. “Or should I find another ‘backyard to hang out in?’”

Spike’s answering growl was low and possessive, the glint in his eye deadly.

With a squeal Buffy took off toward the crypt.

They hadn’t entirely smoothed things between them, Buffy knew she had a lot to make up for. It was going to take time to restore broken trust. Nor had everything been discussed, there was still the matter of her friends to think about. One thing was certain, she was not going to allow them to dictate her life, something she would make very clear when she informed them all of her new relationship. And she couldn't wait to see Spike's reaction.

A long road stretched before them, but they'd made progress... a fresh start.

The start of something special.


The End


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