Title: Love's Growth
Author: Miss Murchison
Summary: For this story, I went to an old favorite, John Donne. Opening the book, I found myself reading "Love's Growth," and I've written three short fics based on lines from the poem. This is the second one, but they can be read in any order.
I consider these outtakes from some of my happier Spuffy stories, where soulless Spike and Buffy have a conflicted but working relationship.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc.
Methinks I lied all winter, when I swore,
My love was infinite,
There'd been a book she'd read in high school…well, at least she'd read the Spark Notes… about a woman who had to wear a big letter A on her chest. Buffy sometimes thought she had a letter like that, one that only Spike could see. One that made his eyes blaze yellow every time she said, or someone else said, or he thought about, or he thought that she thought about, a certain word. Angel.
She'd had to call LA. She hadn't even wanted to talk to Angel, particularly, although she didn't think it should be a big deal if she did. She'd needed some information from Wesley about a spell, and Giles couldn't ask for it because he'd done the spell wrong and had a bad case of magically-induced laryngitis and Willow and Tara were out of town for some witch thing.
So she'd called, and she'd talked to Wesley, but while he was off checking some grimoire, he'd handed the phone to Angel.
The conversation had been kind of awkward, the way it always was with them these days, but they'd gotten through it even though Buffy had been aware that Spike was standing behind her the whole time, his eyes lit up until she was surprised flames weren't rising up out of his bleached curls.
When Angel handed the phone back to Wesley, he'd said, "Take care," and she'd said, "You too."
"'You too' what?" Spike had demanded.
"Nothing!" she'd snapped back, worried about Giles and about the demons he'd been trying to fight with the spell.
They'd figured out what had gone wrong the first time, restored Giles' speech, and forced the demons to appear in their true form so Buffy could fight them. Spike had jumped into the battle with a ferocity that was a bit much even for him, slashing and shouting until Giles expressed a desire to be deaf instead of dumb.
Then, when the fight was over, Spike had stormed off, fists clenched, the skirts of his duster swirling around his legs as he stalked into the darkness. Buffy had dumped the weapons in Giles' hands and gone after him.
She found him on his way back to his crypt and she'd lit into him right away. "Where are you going? Home to have a good sulk? Going to spend the night figuring out ways to punish me for saying two sentences to my ex?"
He'd kept going, tossing words over his shoulder as she followed. "What do you care?"
"Spike, what the hell has crawled up your ass all of a sudden? I'm not with Angel, I'm with you. Why should you care what I say to him?"
He whirled around to face her and pointed at the ground. "Do you remember this place?"
"Yes, of course I do. I've patrolled it for years. Why--"
"You stood here six months ago and said you loved me. Or don't you remember that?"
Of course she did. It was a hard thing for her to say, these days, after the way things had ended with Angel and Riley. It had taken a lot of courage to get the words out, to make that kind of commitment to an unsouled vampire with a jealous streak and a continuing tendency to growl hungrily when humans other than Buffy and Dawn were around.
"I remember," she said with slowly dissolving patience.
"Just the one time." His tone was strained and his expression stony. "You never said it again."
She realized she was grinding her teeth and unclenched them to say in a vicious tone, "I said it, and I meant it."
He stepped back a pace. "Then. You meant it then. Past tense."
"Damn it, Spike!" This was so unfair. She wasn't good with words. He knew she wasn't good with words. And now he was throwing, what did they call it in English class? A verb tense? He was throwing verb tenses at her head. She was being assaulted with grammar. This went way beyond being reminded of ex-boyfriends on the annoyance factor. She wanted to punch him.
"You said you'd never loved anyone so much, not even Angel."
"Yeah." Her heart had been thudding hard, and she'd had to force the words out. It had been so difficult because the words had never been truer. Saying them again wouldn't be any easier. No, it would be even worse.
His eyes were on her face, his expression tormented as if he were searching for something there and not finding it. "So, do you still love me as much as you did then?"
"No," she snapped angrily, and was about to say more when, suddenly, she was alone.
"Damn!" She rocketed after him, her slayer speed greater than even his vampire's pace. Still, he was halfway across the cemetery grounds, almost to his crypt, when she leapt on his back and brought him down, hard, to the ground.
He struggled against her grip and managed to wriggle partially away, but she held tight to his legs, so enraged she was ready to bite through the denim of his jeans before she'd let him go. "Stay!" she ordered.
"I'm not your pet dog, Slayer!"
"No, you're not. You don't have to take pet dogs down in a flying tackle and they don't run off when you're not even halfway through a sentence."
He snarled, and she could tell by his voice he was in game face now. "Why'd you want me to stay, then? So you could see how much it hurt when you finished telling me you didn't love me any more?"
She squeezed his legs so tight he yelped. "You're so stupid, Spike." She was yelling now. "I meant that I love you more that I did then. You asshole, I was trying to say that I love you more every day we're together."
"What?" He sounded stunned.
She made a fist and smacked him on the butt with it, then brought her arm down again to resume her grip on his legs. "I love you, idiot! And every time you show up with some present or tease me or we fight some demon or even each other, I love you more. I love you more every time we make love and every time you do some stupid little thing for Dawn and every time you don't kill Xander or eat someone who's pissed you off. I even love you when you're pissing me off, like right now."
He was silent.
Since he was finally letting her talk, she let the words spill out. It was easier, somehow, when she'd worked herself up to this much anger. "But I'll tell you what I don't love. I don't love it when you're so damn busy being jealous of--of someone else, who is part of the goddamn past tense, so jealous that you argue and make me say stupid things and run off before I'm done saying them. I don't love it when you pull this kind of crap when we could be doing other stuff."
There was a long pause before he answered, and his response came in a slow drawl, low and sexy, as if the whole argument had never happened, as if they weren't lying in the damp earth of a graveyard with his face covered with dirt and her strong arms clutching him around the knees almost hard enough to crack his bones.
"What kind of stuff did you have in mind, Slayer?"
Methinks I lied all winter, when I swore,
My love was infinite, if spring make it more.