: Don’t own BtVS. Don’t own Harry Potter. Not making any money. Suing is bad for your karma.A/N
: I actually wrote this a LONG time (as in six months) before I started The Other Half, and here you can see my first BS/SS centered writing. I never posted it, because I wasn’t sure if I would continue it. It seems to end naturally where it does.
He had been as seedy as the bar she had met him at. Unapproachable in appearance, rude to the new patrons, filled with dark and shady intent, and having gone through so much abuse he was little better than second hand goods passed down from a homeless guy on the street. Buffy couldn’t have said what had drawn her to him, she seemed a glutton for punishment when it came to men, some sort of masochistic tendency that was built into her makeup- a Slayer thing. Sometimes she wondered if there wasn’t a huge shiny red button on her forehead that read ‘self destruct’ that she just couldn’t stop pushing.
So it was fitting that she’d met him in a demon bar down in an area of Cleveland where no respecting citizen would stand within a mile radius. Funny, she hadn’t even known Cleveland had places like that. Vampires, demons, Hellmouths- yeah. Ghetto ass district with hookers and the works? Nah. But there it was, and there she was on a Saturday night. Looking to get so wasted she wouldn’t be able to sit up straight, let alone walk home.
She had been in a major pout fest for weeks. Pout wasn’t really the right term to describe it; just some phrase Willow had coined that stuck to Buffy like superglue. Really, it was a depression. Not ‘hey, back from the dead’ depression but more of ‘Spike’s dead’ depression. It really wasn’t fair. They had just started to get someplace, someplace warm and fuzzy and comfortable. Not quite love on her part, he’d been right about that, but the stirrings of it were there. It was like- the second before you fell on your ass from going head over heels. She was still falling and hadn’t quite hit yet.
So that was what Buffy had come to this crap hole to do. Hit rock bottom. It was a pretty simple plan. Far simpler than the normal gotta save the world type plans. This was a get drunk and hit the jagged and rough rocks plan. Cry in the beer time country music fest. She was going to morn, and damn it, she was going to do it in a way Spike would approve of.
The demons in Cleveland weren’t quite in the know. Buffy and company had just arrived, and it was taking time to rebuild the reputation. The Slayer was known well enough, but so far they didn’t quite know who the Slayer was. Couldn’t spot her, at any rate. So she was free to hobnob with the worst of them- looking like the tasty little morsel that had just walked in off the street by mistake. She let them eye her up like a buffet. Booze and a fight sounded like a nice mix.
There were a whole bunch of demons at Jack’s that night, too. Couple of Vamps- never complete without them. There were some of your garden-variety Gorlock demons. A few blue guys with six horns sprouting from there heads- not a very complimentary look. Jack himself was a Lufang. Funny sounding name but it wouldn’t be wise to laugh in his face about it. Lufang’s were fifteen feet tall, muscles to make Schwartz—whatever weep, and nasty piss yellow skin that they liked to peel and eat. Yeah, peal and eat their own skin. And if that wasn’t bad enough, whenever they talked they had a tendency to spit blue goo out of their mouths. If ever the old adage ‘say it, don’t spray it’ came into play, it was when you were talking to a Lufang Demon.
“You have anything in a bottle. Sans blood?” Buffy asked him, nearly straining the tendons in her neck as she tilted her head back to gaze up. She started to put her hands on the bar, and then grimaced as they came away sticky. “Ew,” she muttered, wiping whatever it was off on her jeans.
“Tequila,” the Lufang answered, once again spraying that blue gunk from his mouth.
Buffy closed her eyes as it hit her, sighing, and wiped off her face with the back of her sleeve. Well, sister’s sleeve. Technically, this was Dawn’s, but Buffy wasn’t all that worried about it. She wasn’t worried about a lot these days. “Tequila it is.”
She took her bottle and slammed down the money before twisting off the cap and taking a long drink. It burned her throat and tasted worse than one of Dawn’s food shortage concoctions. “Yuck.”
Buffy waved her hand in thanks and wandered back away from the bar with bottle in hand. She raised it again to her lips, sucking it down a good four long gulps as quickly as she could, hoping that the more she drank the better it would taste- sort of a black coffee thing. “Yuck!” she muttered, shaking her head with one heck of a sour face.
“You’re doing it all wrong.”
Buffy froze, bottle half way to her lips, eyes fixed on the crappy jukebox with the music labels all crooked across the room from her. Of all the dam bars in Cleveland, all the damn demon bars, she had to pick the one with some British guy. The voice was completely different, smoother than Spike’s ever was, more sure. It was deep and spoke with a sort of dark promise, like black silk sliding over the skin. The words- they were Spikes. The land of tea accent was Spikes- even if whoever stole it was obviously of the high and snooty sort. None of that cockney twang she had really loved.
She turned, gazing down with deer in the headlight eyes at him. He looked nothing like Spike, either. ‘Cept the black garb and the really pale skin. That’s where the similarities ended though. Spike was probably way older, but he was in an eternal mid twenties. This guy was in his early forties, at least. The lines at the corner of the eyes that were sunk with dark bags attested to it. Black eyes- too. Buffy didn’t even know people could have that color. Like his pupils had just taken over the rest of it.
Black seemed his color. Where Spike was bleached blonde, he was ink black. Longish hair, down to his shoulders and hung in nasty greasy clumps. His nose was huge and crooked, must have pissed one too many people off and they naturally went for the biggest target. Rest of his face was bony and sharp, no softness there. Nothing looked soft on this guy. All sharp, all nasty, all mean.
“So- how should I do it? ‘Cause, I thought the only requirement was to swallow,” Buffy retorted once the shock wore off.
The guy smirked.
Buffy closed her eyes and exhaled sharply. “Okay, that sounded so wrong.”
“It did,” he agreed, lifting his own glass of some burnt red liquor before taking a drink. He set it down on the table and regarded her as little better than a bug to be crushed under his black leather wingtips. Snazzy. “However, I think I received the intended message as opposed to the solicitation.” As Buffy’s face burned he continued. “Unless you’re an experienced drinker, you’ll need a chaser. Alcohol content within that is an option, I find it highly useful however if your intent is to get completely smashed.” His eyebrow took a languid trip towards his hairline. “Which is what I assume you’re attempting to do.”
“No attempting to it. I’m going to get smashed,” Buffy informed him, before glancing around. “Chaser? Uh…”
The man lifted his arm and motioned towards the demon bartender. The giant Lufang ambled over with a seriously annoyed look on his face. “What now, human?”
“Cranberry juice,” the Englishman told him without a hint of concern for a potentially pissed off demon. At the demons blank look, the man sighed and rolled his eyes. “Is orange juice too much to hope for?”
The demon grunted and walked away. Buffy looked over at the black figure. “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it,” he replied, flipping over a strange gold coins with long fingers when the Lufang pounded the juice on the table- a bit sloshing over the side of the glass. The demon caught the spinning coin before it could roll right off the edge and ambled away, back to wiping the bar with a disgustingly dirty rag. “Jilted lover?”
“What?” Buffy asked, head snapping away from the demon to regard him.
“The reason for your pitiful drinking binge,” he elaborated with a drawl.
“Oh- oh! No. Well. Yes, but no. I was the jilter not the jiltee. But, that’s not really the reason- but it sort of is,” she finished lamely, turning again to the bottle before plopping down in the booth across the table from the man in black. She quickly followed it with a drink of orange juice, and found herself not wanting to throw up as much as before. “It works.”
“Of course it works,” he replied with no small amount of sarcasm. “So you jilted your lover, and now he- or she in this politically correct age- is wising up? Not much of a reason to drink yourself into oblivion.”
“He. And no. He’s dead,” Buffy said bitterly, gripping the bottle so tightly it’s neck cracked. She blinked and took her hand off it. Gazing with guilt at small jagged line in the clear bottle of Jose Cuervo. “I break everything,” she said softly.
“Mm. I really shouldn’t have asked,” he answered with a sneer before taking another drink. “Take it from me. Everyone breaks something or someone at one time or another. Some of us more than others,” he murmured. “Now, the only way you actually deserve that guilt you seem to be carrying, is by asking yourself if you enjoyed breaking his heart. Before he died. Or after, either way. You’d be a right bitch then.” He took another drink from his glass. “But since you’re here moping over it, I think I can already tell your answer.”
“I didn’t want to. I was just messed up,” Buffy said sadly. “He helped unmess me.”
“I wouldn’t be to sure about that,” the man replied snidely. “You seemed pretty messed up to me.”
Buffy glared over at him. “Yeah, and you’re a model vampire too.”
He scowled. “I’m not a vampire, you silly chit.” He lifted his glass and shook it slightly. “Brandy, luv. Not blood.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes and watched him closely. Breathing, check. ‘Course, he could fake that. Then, there was that slight pulse on his neck. Can’t fake that. Still, he was giving off tingles of- something. “Sorry. My mistake.”
“Often made, I’m sure,” he replied as one long finger circled the edge of his glass.
“So- what are you?” she asked, picking her bottle up again. “Aside from British with an incredibly rude attitude.”
He smirked at her, lifting his own and taking another sip. “Wizard, actually,” he stated after putting his glass back down.
“Oh.” Buffy blinked. “My friend Willow is a witch. She’s more of a, a super witch. Do you have clubs?”
“In a manner of speaking,” he replied in a hesitant way. “I don’t think your friend would be interested. It’s not exactly a gathering to talk about magical theory over tea and crumpets.”
Buffy was beginning to feel a bit fuzzy, sort of light in the head. Her feet tingled, and she shifted them just to make sure she still could. When she found out they did, but felt as if they were someone else’s- numb- she smiled foolishly. Flopping her chin onto her hand. “Tea. What is it with you British types and tea?”
“It’s a fine drink. Much better than whatever terrible concoctions you Americans think up,” he said with those thin lips curled into a smirk. “Careful, that’s a grown up’s drink.”
“I am grown,” she replied- with more slur than perhaps intended. The slurring was definitely on the more side. Which called for more tequila. She took another drink, gagging before she managed to bring the orange juice on a more or less on a direct path to her mouth with a few side turns near her chin and cheek.
“Contrary to popular belief, age does not denote maturity.”
Buffy sat up straighter, jutting her chin out defensively. “I don’t like your manners. Aren’t you people ‘spose to be polite?”
“A horrible lie that has somehow propagated itself.” He slung one long arm across the back of the booth, and funnily enough, Buffy realized that he wasn’t wearing a black trench coat, but a robe of some sort. Over an old fashioned petticoat that had at least a hundred buttons going up the middle. She had thought Giles was stuffy, but this guy was absolutely old world.
Buffy turned back to her bottle, and found it nearly half way gone. She frowned before taking another drink, but this time didn’t notice any foul taste. It seemed almost smooth going down. The bottle rang out into the bar quickly filling with more vampires. Vampires that eyed the two of them up in a way that started to annoy Buffy.
She looked one right in the eye and frowned. “I don’t think we’re very welcome here.”
“You just figured this out?” he asked, and the sarcasm was beginning to become familiar. “My, you are quick on the uptake, aren’t you?”
“I’m a very fast learner,” Buffy agreed nodding. “Except with- math and science. And history. And, well, anything besides demonology.” She turned back to him. “Although if I’d had more time to study, I’m sure I could have done better than a C+ average.”
He seemed much more interested now, leaning forward and mimicking her own pose with his pointed chin resting in his hand. “And what would you know of Demonology?”
“More than you’d think,” she replied, grinning. “Lots more. It’s my job.” She paused, blinking. “Or, calling. Whatever. Can’t call it a job since it doesn’t pay. Callings never pay.”
“No,” he murmured silkily. “They don’t. Pity.” He arched a brow at her. “I must have missed your name before.”
“Buffy Summers,” she told him, holding out a hand a little too far to the left. “You are?”
“Snape,” he replied as he took her hand and lifted it to his lips. Buffy blinked as he kissed the back of it. “Severus Snape.”
“Some kinda Bond thing, eh?” She asked with a nervous laugh as she pulled her hand away. “You know, we usually just- shake.”
“Indeed. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I meet a young blonde intending to get completely inebriated,” he responded as his eyes glanced over towards the vampires gathering near the pool table. “They really are simple creatures. All blood lust. Hardly any thought a’tall.”
“Yeah,” Buffy agreed, already reaching for her stake. “Looks like they’re thinking of ganging up on us.”
“I would love seeing them try it,” he drawled before taking another drink. Buffy noticed his right hand remained out of sight under the table. He regarded her again with seeming obliviousness to the vampires. “What sort of a name is Buffy?”
“What sort of a name is Severus?” she asked in return. She pushed the bottle of tequila away. Things were starting to swim, and she wasn’t sure how well she’d hold up against six vampires if it started getting too blurry.
“An old family name,” he answered. “So, do you feel properly smashed yet? You certainly look it.”
“I’m toasty.” She grinned. “No more Spike thoughts.” That, of course, prompted more Spike thoughts. Her face fell slightly as the memories of the vampire with a soul flooded over her. “Oh. There they are.”
“Spike would be the not quite love of your life that so recently passed away?” he inquired. “A very unusual name.”
“He got it from driving railroad spikes through his critics,” she informed him without a moment’s hesitation.
“Sounds like a charming fellow.” Snape gazed back over towards the vampires who had begun moving forward across the room.
Buffy waved her hand. “That was before he got that chip in his head. When he was a baddie. After the chip, he was just a neutered vampire.”
“You’ve a very odd taste in companions, Miss Summers,” he stated. He then drained the rest of his drink in one long go that showed off a rather strong neck. Bad thoughts.
“Tell me about it,” she mumbled. Buffy struggled with her own eyes, telling them to stop staring. “That’s me. Odd companionship. Odd life. I’m just odd.”
“Well, at least your not dull,” he pointed out with a smirk. “Although, I think you would do much better without the self depleting commentary. I am more than capable of insulting you. Takes the fun out of it if you do it yourself.”
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to be the party pooper,” Buffy said, feeling another pout fest coming on. She sighed, took a final drink of the tequila, and waited for the vampire now standing over their table to speak.
“Looks like we’ve got two live ones.” The vampire was probably newly sired; he seemed the stupid type as he laughed with his friends. Buffy glared up at him, taking in his shaggy brown hair and yellow eyes since he’d shifted into his game face.
Buffy swirled in her seat, narrowing her eyes up at him. “Those the clothes you were buried in? ‘Cause, got to tell you, I think the dry cleaner missed a spot of dirt.”
The vampire slapped a hand over his heart. “Ouch. Little girly has some teeth.” His uber buddies laughed behind him, as he shifted his jaw. Two pointy teeth stuck out just above his lower lip. “Mine are sharper.”
“I’m not a little girly,” Buffy warned quietly. It was too bad the noticeable slur in her words ruined her attempt at intimidation. “Why don’t you just leave us to our drinks, and go find someone else to suck on.” She paused, the words repeating in her mind, “or not.”
Buffy was quick with her stake, her arm shooting upwards and drove Mr. Pointy between his cracking ribs and straight into the heart. He was dust just as she pulled her stake back, leaving her glaring up at the rest. “Anyone else wanna play?”
His five remaining friends exchanged wordless glances, obviously wondering about the wisdom of it. But Snape was right, they didn’t really think, because in an instant they were advancing. Buffy didn’t get the chance to dust anyone else, because before she could even flip out of the booth, a beam of light erupted from Snape’s side of the booth after he spoke a few quick words in some language Willow and Giles were always spouting.
It sounded better from his mouth.
Just as Buffy was wondering where the hell that thought had come from, the five Vamps all burst into flames. The result was predictable. Vampire catches fire, Vampire burn like newspaper tossed in as kindling.
She had an awful view of Spike’s hand erupting into flames as she held onto it. Buffy lifted her own, looking at the place where the scars had been before her healing strength had taken them away, just as the final vampire’s skull fell to the floor before erupting into dust.
“I think it’s time to go.”
Buffy’s head snapped up at Snape’s voice, and she stared at him uncomprehendingly. He nodded towards the other demons that were giving them rather nasty looks. One of the funky blue guys with all the horns even cracked his knuckles threateningly. “Guess so,” she replied crestfallen.
“C’mon then,” Snape told her as he gracefully slid out of the booth and leaned over the table to take her bottle of tequila. Buffy followed, but stumbled down the one step and nearly fell flat on her ass. Snape’s chest stopped her, and she looked up with a sheepish expression.
“Mm. I’m sure,” he remarked in that oh so endearing cutting way he had. It made everyone else in the world aside from him sound like a complete idiot. Maybe Buffy was an idiot. She had certainly behaved like one recently. “Can you take your bottle? It’ll be easier to steady you if I have one hand free.”
“I’m steady. Steady girl,” she remarked. Her one step went more to the side from where she had intended on going. Buffy stopped and held out a swaying hand for the bottle having decided he might’ve been right on this one. Snape managed to press it into her hand, and then his arm was around her shoulder, leading her through the bar.
Soon they were back out in the alleyway, the rusted green door slamming shut behind them. Buffy pushed her stake back into her jacket, and used the newly freed hand to wind around Snape’s waist. “You don’t know where I live,” she said.
“No. I don’t,” he replied with a tilt of his head in acknowledgement. “But I do know where I am staying. I figure one place is as good as another to sleep it off.”
Buffy stopped mid step, nearly pulling him down with her. “You’re going to take advantage of me!”
He rolled his black eyes. “Oh yes, because little foolish girls that are drunk are just the sort I enjoy. Sex somewhere between throwing up and blacking out is a truly understated experience. So sorry to disappoint you, Miss Summers, but I like my woman sober enough to know what the hell they are doing.” Snape began walking again, pulling her along with him. “I could just leave you here in the alley for any demon to come and finish off- if you’d prefer.”
“No, no. Bed sounds better,” Buffy mumbled before taking another swig from her bottle. “Long as your being honorable about it.”
“I never said anything about giving you the bed.” He sneered at her. “You’ll be by the john all night, I suspect.”
“There goes the last shred of chivalry in the world.” The world began spinning around her, and she clutched tighter at Snape. A familiar taste of bile rose in the back of her throat, and she suddenly convulsed forward.
Snape was quick. Or maybe time was moving faster. It seemed to slow as he held her near the wall while she expelled most of the tequila she had drank. Her hair was already tied back, but she could feel his warm fingers bracing her forehead as she continued being sick. Finally she coughed up the last of it, and noticed her bottle was gone. She glanced around and saw the broken bits glinting in the street light overhead like tiny stars in the gravel. “Uhhnn.”
“Not much farther now,” he said gently in a seeming one eighty from his previous ‘better than thou’ act. She liked it better. “Just a few more steps.”
Buffy hadn’t realized they had walked so quickly. It seemed only a matter of seconds from the bar to the big beige door with the little brass eight on it. Snape didn’t even bother with a key, muttering another spell and pushing the door open for her.
Buffy stumbled in, and despite Snape’s earlier assertion, she fell right on top of the mattress. She rolled over with a loud groan, curling her legs up towards her chest and wrapping her arms around them. “I shouldn’t drink,” she slurred.
“That would probably be a good idea,” he said as he hovered above her. She felt the blanket shift beneath her, and then it was being pulled over her shoulders. “You’re perfectly safe here, Miss Summers.”
Buffy mumbled some incoherent thanks, and then with her body still numb and heavy at the same time, she slipped into unconsciousness.
Buffy shouldn’t have woken up. She really shouldn’t have. It would have been kinder to die in her sleep, rather than live in this agony. Her mouth felt like sandpaper, and there was the taste of rotten eggs in her mouth. Her skull felt like the entire cast of Riverdance was giving a show, and threatened to split in half. She was also convinced that if she so much as moved her pinky her sour stomach would erupt like a volcano. Buffy wasn’t the type of girl who enjoyed throwing up- even if it would make her feel better.
She did what anyone would do in such conditions. She moaned like a wounded beast.
Someone was moving around her bedroom. Buffy blinked several times to force her eyes to open in the harsh light. No wonder vamps hated it. It caused those riverdance bastards to do an encore performance. As soon as she was able to peek out through tiny slits, she saw her room had been totally redone.
Then she remembered last night. The white walls and ugly patterned carpet that looked harder than a wooden floor reminded her that she had allowed some strange man just shy of Giles’ age to take her back to his room. She tried to sit up, but found that her stomach was definitely against that idea. “Uuuuhhhnn.”
The bed beside her aching body shifted slightly, and then a long white hand was in front of her holding what looked like a vial of some blue liquid the color of blueberry punch. “Drink this, it will make you feel better.”
She recognized that voice. The same silky sotto that was probably the only noise that didn’t make her head want to explode. Her smaller, shakier, hand reached out on blind faith. If he had promised that arsenic would bring an end to her suffering, she would have taken a bottle full of the stuff. She tossed the vial back into her throat. It defiantly wasn’t blueberry punch. It was sweeter, like honey but not as sticky.
And he was right. It didn’t even take five minutes. They needed this stuff on TV for headaches. She sat up, feeling nearly a hundred percent. Leaning against the backboard as she gazed at the vial. “You should sell this stuff.”
“On the muggle market? I think not,” he replied with a smirk.
Buffy tore her eyes away from the vial long enough to give him a questioning look. “Muggle?”
“Ah. Those without the ability to use magic,” Snape explained as he held out his hand. Buffy gazed at it for a while, wondering what it was he wanted. Then her mind seemed to catch up. She hastily handed over the vial, and looked back down at her hands. They folded themselves for lack of anything better to do.
“Thanks for letting me stay here,” she said quietly. “I don’t usually do stuff like that.”
“Get completely drunk and go home with mysterious men? I should hope not,” he replied as he slipped the vial into a small leather satchel near the dresser. “I’ve experienced it enough times to notice when someone needs to forget for a little while. Trouble is people also tend to forget to take care of themselves.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Buffy replied, rubbing her temple. Was there any sort of guidebook about what you were suppose to do in one of these situations? A pamphlet? The pamphlet would have worked much better for her. A few bulletin points. What To Do In A Strangers Motel Room The Morning After. Not After That. Innocent Afters. Written by Buffy Summers, Cause She’s Been There.
“If you want to freshen up, there’s a bathroom- in the barest sense of the word- right there,” he said. She was grateful, since it saved her from trying to dredge up some sort of words. Apparently he’d already written the pamphlet. Probably a good thing since she was a terrible writer.
Buffy nodded, slipped off the bed, and quietly padded her way around him into the little bathroom. Once inside, she turned on the water and let it run cold before splashing it over her face. She reached for the towel, looking up, and then staring at her reflection. Her skin was dripping with water, but her eyeliner was running and smudged horribly. Her hazel eyes still looked bleary, red rimmed, and puffed. Buffy sniffed, and rubbed the towel vigorously over her face. Its stiff fibers felt like they’d rip her skin right off. At the very least it took up some of the dark smudges.
Buffy rinsed out her mouth. There wasn’t any mouthwash, so she had to make due without that or a toothbrush. She rinsed her mouth out again.
She wasn’t minty fresh, and it threw her. Everything was throwing her. She didn’t go out without her makeup. She didn’t start the morning in the clothes she’d worn the day before- well sometimes, but not often.
When she stepped out she was still feeling a sort of weird sensation of it’s not really real. Snape was in the corner, a huge book that Giles probably would have salivated over, sat open on his lap. His robes were gone, along with the petticoat, leaving him in a black vest and regular thin cotton shirt beneath that. She noticed the shining cufflinks, looked like pure silver in some sort of squiggly design. The longer she stared at them as he turned the pages the more they looked like snakes.
“I don’t have a car.” He was still gazing down at the book. He hadn’t looked up yet. “So I’m afraid I can’t offer you a ride.”
“That’s alright. Driving on the wrong side and all anyway,” Buffy said, picking at her sleeve. Dawn’s sleeve, whatever. “Look, I just wanted to say thanks. Again. You didn’t have to do what you did.”
“Mm,” he hummed again, placing a long black ribbon between the pages and shutting the book. He looked up again, all dark eyed and mysterious. “You’ll be alright now, Miss Summers?”
“Yeah,” Buffy replied rather inadequately. She ran a hand through her hair, drawing it back and fixing it into a ponytail with the help of a tie, anything to keep busy. “And its just Buffy.”
“Buffy then,” he parroted slipping his book onto the table. It sounded heavy. “Your stake is on the table.”
Buffy winced, turning slowly to see Mr. Pointy right on the bedside table. Probably for the best, she’d been run through by it before. Would be really unpleasant sleeping. “Ah. Don’t want to forget that.”
“Not if you’re planning on going back to any bars with unusual patrons,” he murmured with that dripping sarcasm.
“Girl needs protection,” she said with forced cheer. She reached for her stake, and then pushed it into her pocket before crossing her arms over her abdomen. “And you were there too.”
“I’m the sort who goes,” he stated, looking straight into her eyes. “What I’m trying to figure out is just what sort you are. You know a great deal about demons, yet you’re not a witch. You carry a stake. You know how to hit a vampire even while your unable to stand straight. You date vampires, or at least carried on with one. A neutered one, whatever the bloody hell that meant.” He stood, glancing over at her. “You’re a very unusual girl, Buffy.”
“That’s me,” she said softly. Her gazed remained fixed on the floor. “I better get home now.” She finally glanced up. “My little sister is probably wondering where I am.”
“I’m not stopping you,” Snape replied as his lips twitched upwards. “By all means, leave.”
Buffy nodded. She moved towards the door, stepping around Snape. Her hand reached for the doorknob, settled onto it’s cool steel. The cheep kind that could be crushed in an instant if she’d decided to. Like a coke can. And when you thought about doorknobs and coke cans, it was called stalling by the people who didn’t delude themselves.
People who wouldn’t have lied about what Spike meant to them. First the distraction, then the broken boy, and finally the champion he deserved to be. Buffy should have told him so much more than she had. Should have admitted it to herself a lot sooner. It was all a mess of unresolved stuff. She was a mess, a mess pretending to be all neat and tidy with nicely stacked coke cans and collected doorknobs.
Crap, that didn’t even make sense.
“Do you think that it’s possible to be stuck almost loving someone forever?” she asked quietly still staring at the ugly beige door with its little peephole. “Even after they’re gone.”
There was a sigh behind her, the annoyed kind. Buffy bit her lip and twisted the doorknob. She’d obviously outstayed her welcome.
“Eternally. Isn’t that damnation? Perhaps heaven, but I’ve never found love to be very kind or blissful. Not for long.”
Buffy twisted to look at him. His arms were folded defensively, even as he tried to pull off a casual pose leaning against the motel wall. A motif of black against that dingy white wall that wasn’t even white. It had been stained yellow from cigarettes and god knew what else. “So what’s the same thing if you weren’t quite in love, but nearly?”
“Perdition I should think,” he murmured.
It was not the comforting answer she’d been looking for. Then again, this wasn’t the comforting kind of guy. The truth hurt, and it was time she faced the fact she wasn’t going to feel better or be resolved. It was just another wound her Slayer super powers couldn’t heal, and she’d just have to stitch and move forward. Live. Spike would want that.
“See ya Sev,” she told him as she pulled the door to the motel room open.
“Severus please,” he said with a strained pitch to his voice. Buffy turned to flash an impish grin before moving out into the daylight.
Spike still swam in her head. His face, his voice, his smile, the way his eyes twinkled when she had said something unexpected and welcomed. It hurt. It was sort of unfair, the way people could leave you over and over again, and it still hurt raw and fresh every time. Like it was the first, and leaving you feeling like it should be the last. Buffy didn’t think she could take another.
She would. Life wasn’t like that, wasn’t nice or pretty, wasn’t the damn bowl of cherries. It was happiness and sadness- it was pain, pleasure, and everything in between. It was tall mysterious men at demon bars who let you sleep off stupid binges in their beds. It could have gone badly. It should have, that was her luck. But it hadn’t.
Life had surprises, and sometimes they were good.
Buffy swiveled around, walking backwards for a time and watching the motel shrink in the distance. She nearly bumped into a signpost, which caused her to finally turn back around and walk head-on again.