Too tired to lie
Buffy looked like a deer in headlights as all eyes turned to her.
“Huh?” her nose scrunched up cutely in her confusion and for just a moment, Buffy looked like the teenager that Hank remembered.
“Dawn!” Willow and Tara exclaimed.
Dawn looked around, unrepentant, “What? It’s a simple question. Is she boffing Spike?”
Buffy turned and looked longingly at the front door as if she might escape back into the night, but Hank walked over and laid a hand on her arm, squeezing softly, comfortingly. “Why don’t you come in and relax?” He smiled at her, offering the bowl of popcorn. She took a handful and allowed him to take her sword. Hank wondered briefly if she brought it to work with her or what.
“Thanks, …” Buffy felt herself almost say “Dad” and closed her mouth with a snap. Instead, she sighed and squeezed onto the couch, slouching between her sister and Willow. She couldn’t even bother to lie about it. She was so tired.
“Maybe,” Buffy shrugged and laid her tired head on her Willow-shaped friend’s shoulder. “Sometimes.”
Willow flinched away from her with a look of betrayal. “But Buffy! He doesn’t have a soul!”
At the same time, Dawn threw her arms around her sister in joy. “No way!” Pulling back, she asked, “when is he moving in?”
Buffy straightened and backpedaled. “What? Moving in? No …. No…. not moving in.”
This time, it was Dawn’s nose that scrunched and Hank saw the resemblance. His mind took a short tangent to contemplate the genetic magic involved in her creation before returning to the issue at hand.
Dawn said, “I don’t get it. You love him, right?”
“You loved Angel. You said so.”
“Well, yes, but…”
“You wouldn’t boff someone you didn’t love.” Dawn looked so confident of that fact.
Buffy laid back on the couch and covered her face with her hands as Willow and Dawn peppered her with questions and accusations. She had just had a conversation with Spike tonight. About not loving him. Was she lying to herself? To them both? Did she love him? If she was using him, what was it for? To feel? If she were honest, Spike was the only one she could talk to. Could be herself with. Could trust when she let down her guard. But love?
“It’s complicated.” As Buffy thought this, someone else said it.
All eyes turned to Hank and the others stopped talking, mid-sentence. “He’s there for you, right? He makes you feel something. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or even nice. It’s something outside of the day-in, day-out. Outside the stress.” He paused. “Sweetie, you have so much more on your pretty little shoulders than I ever had.” He shook his head. “I don’t think Spike is a usual kind of vampire, or a usual kind of man. I know how little I know about all of this, but if he helps you…”
Willow interrupted, “No – it’s Spike! He tried to kill me how many times? He tried to kill us all! It’s one thing to let him fight evil with us, but you can’t trust him, Buffy! Even Joyce hit him with an ax that time 'cause he was trying to kill you. What if he gets that chip out? He’ll stab you in the back while you sleep. Tell me you don’t actually trust him!”
Buffy’s eyes narrowed at the redhead. “Mom liked him. She told me they sat at the kitchen table and drank hot coco together.” She could feel something rolling inside of her. Pain. And anger. “I can’t trust him? You let him take care of Dawn how much while I was gone? I can’t trust HIM? He kept his promise to protect Dawnie even after I was dead! He has done nothing but help me since I got back. He’s been there every time I turn around. He’s taken care of my sister and watched my back and found my dad and what have you done besides spend my mom’s money and live in our house and spill candle wax on my mom’s bedspread?” She got to her feet and paced to the kitchen door before turning and continuing her loudening rant. “I know what he’s done better than you do! What have YOU done? What did you DO?“
Buffy hugged herself, tears sliding down her face as she screamed, “You think you can tell me who to LOVE? I don’t know if I even can love anymore. I don’t know if you even brought that part of me back! Did you even try? Or did you just ask for the Slayer? The Protector? I read that spell. You wanted a warrior, well you got one!” Her head shook back and forth in refusal as she continued, “You can’t just tear me out of HEAVEN and then start telling me who to LOVE!” Her hands flew to her mouth, covering it as she realized what she’d just said. Eyes wide, she froze. So did everyone else.
Tara spoke first from where she stood, her face ghost-white, her voice quiet. “Heaven?”
Buffy turned and ran.