Well, it's my turn to play in enigmatic_blue's back yard. I've just squeaked in in SOMEBODY's time zone, because it sure isn't mine! But I'm delighted to be here and many thanks to the wonderful enigmatic_blue for running this community and for letting us play. Now, my muse has been absent for ages, so this is particularly fitting to the poetry theme and losing your muse. This fic is complete in four chapters, but as I've only just finished and sent it to be looked over, I'm posting the first chapter unbeta'd and will correct any problems when the chapter is returned. Sorry - my ability to organise time has completely deserted me lately. Anyhoo, here it is - ALWAYS MY MUSE.
AUTHOR : spikesdeb
TITLE : Always My Muse
RATING : NC17
CHAPTER : 1/4
SETTING : erm...not sure, after Pangs and Something Blue...maybe long after. Definitely after Spike started showing up and helping. Maybe even an alternative universe, who knows?
UNBETA'D at this stage; please bear with me and let me know if there are any glaring errors. I'll add the remaining chapters once I've had them back in a lucid form rather than my ramblings. Hope you enjoy!
ALWAYS MY MUSE
Spike sat at the sarcophagus that doubled as his desk, amongst other things, and scribbled out another line.
'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?'
He smirked. “Good start. Pity it's somebody else's.” The line he struck through it was deep and gouged the page and the one beneath it.
'My true love hath my heart, and I have his'
“Bloody hell!” Spike leapt backwards from his makeshift chair and snapped the pencil in his left hand in two. He was trying to connect with his muse, but failing dismally. Another night spent sparring with Buffy as they patrolled had in equal parts fired him up and frustrated him. She'd given him the come on – he knew she had – although she'd denied all knowledge as he'd tried to nudge her to admit it. Consequently, he had images of a blonde, bronzed beauty lying supple beneath him, the images eating at his brain and it was making him crazy. The relief of a five-knuckle shuffle hadn't helped, so he'd sat down with his blank page and his medium-hard pencil and medium-hard erection to try and write out the angst.
He'd got nothing.
The gods were laughing at him. Not that he could expect anything else from the gods, of course. He was a demon. The evil undead. Why should he expect divine intervention in the shape of the muses to deliver him beautiful symmetry in words? Maybe he should be calling on Beelzebub to give him ideas.
He used to like Beelzebub's ideas...
Scrabbling on the floor, he retrieved the snapped pencil and sat down again at the stone desk. He caressed the ivory paper of the good quality notebook with calloused hands. His mother would have fainted at the sight of his nails with their chipped black polish and the chewed edges, but he was proud of the fact that he now 'worked' for a living, albeit a job without a wage. He bet his mum would be too, if he told her what good he was doing in the world.
He was, strangely. A soulless, evil, irredeemable demon fighting for the white hats, and loving it. Loving their leader. Loving Buffy Summers.
And here he was again; back to the frustration and the yearning and the need to be loved in return. Some chance.
His hand started to move of its own volition, black scratches marring the perfect page. Suddenly, he was writing and oblivious to the words that poured out of him, simply recording them without reading as he struggled to keep up. His muse was now in charge, and he had no say in what was set down.
Buffy frowned as she looked at the blank pages of her diary. Lately, she was finding it hard to record her daily thoughts, and she was beginning to suspect that it was all the fault of the bleached blond pain in her butt. Somehow, the minute he started falling into his long, lolloping stride beside her she found herself thinking how strong he was, how graceful, how blue his eyes were in the pale moonlight. It was wrong, obviously, and she fought it out of her system. At least, she tried to. And it was certainly not something she wanted to record in her daily journal. Oh, yeah – Giles would love that, she could see it now.
'Patrolled with Spike. Noticed that he had a kind of cool thing going on, despite the Billy Idol hair and the extreme punk leather. Nice cheekbones. Blue eyes. Like realllllllly blue. Wow. Wonder what he can do with that tongue?'
No. Definitely not of the good. Buffy had the journal open on her bed as she pondered. Finally, she recorded 'Slayed' and figured that was all that she cared to share.
After stashing the diary where sticky little fingers couldn't find it, Buffy got ready for bed and slid between the sheets. She switched off the lamp and closed her eyes, but it soon became obvious that sleep wasn't going to come any time soon. She drummed her fingers on the bedspread and tried something Spike had told her. 'Count sheep' he'd said. Sounded whacked out crazy to her and she'd told him so, but she'd give anything a try once.
She growled with frustration a minute or two later; she was thinking 'sheep' but somehow her mind translated that into 'Spike' and instead of watching fluffy white lambs leaping a hedge, she was seeing Spike: Spike grinning, Spike snarling, Spike watching her with undisguised lust, Spike looking at her with eyes that showed a soul he'd long since lost.
She couldn't suppress the tingle that started at her toes and worked its way up her body as her mind went racing on. What was happening to her? Oh, Spike knew, of course; the stupid vampire kept giving her that knowing smirk and pushing her to admit there was something between them. She denied it flat out and usually punched him to underscore her assertion, but deep down she knew he was right. Something was between them. She just didn't know what.
All that she did know was that patrolling had suddenly got a whole lot more enjoyable since Spike had started tagging along. She also knew that she spent a lot longer picking out her outfits these days and was careful to apply a little lip-gloss before she left the house. She didn't usually wear much make-up, except if she had a hot date.
“OH . MY . GOD!” Buffy sat up and squealed. “Spike's a hot date?”
Her pulse was racing as she reached for the lamp, her neck and cheeks flushed and heated. Somehow, without her actually knowing it – or at least, without acknowledging that she knew it – she'd moved right along from seeing Spike as an enemy and rushed straight on past acquaintance and friend to seeing him as a potential date.
He was going to love this! When he'd been pushing her to admit there was something there, she was stalling and thinking along the lines of no longer wanting to stake him through the heart, happy to chat with him and maybe share a joke or two, and okay, she'd concede that he was hot in a totally undead way. Seemed like she'd gone way past that, if the lip-gloss was any indication.
Gripping the sheets fiercely up to her chest she closed her eyes and muttered, “Buffy Summers – you're in big trouble...”
Spike cracked one eye and judging from the motes of dust that meandered in the weak light that made it into the crypt, guessed it was just about dusk. He stretched himself out, knocking over an empty bottle that crashed to the floor to join the rest of the detritus of his evening's endeavours. Peering over the edge of the sarcophagus, he noted the many sheets of crumpled paper that littered the floor, side by side with another bottle, a few cans and an empty blood bag. Looked like it had been a good night.
Rolling back onto his stone bed, Spike dragged the notebook that was digging into his thigh from beneath him and hesitated before he opened it. He remembered writing – boy, was he writing! - but as to what he'd finally managed to scribble down, he'd no idea. The ever hopeful poet that resided inside the vampire allowed a sliver of excited anticipation to peep through as Spike turned the first page.
The jagged edges of ripped out paper bore witness to the many abortive attempts that hadn't made the final cut. About half of the pages had been sacrificed to the rubbish pile, and Spike ruefully wondered how many more of the obviously expensive notebooks he could get his hands on before Giles realised the stock was going down. He grinned as he thought of the watcher scratching his head and wondering if he had finally lost it when he found his precious writing stash only half of what it should be.
So, what had he actually managed to jot down through the alcoholic haze and the pity-party?
I wish that I could keep you safe from harm
Could hide you from the evil and the dark
Could hold you close and wrap you in my arms
And shelter you from all that crave your spark.
But no, you need to feel you're in command
That I am just a thorn to spear your side;
That my attempts to help, you cannot stand
My love, my heart, you scorn and push aside.
I do not know what else I have to give
To show that all I am is yours to mould,
To know that by your gaze I seem to live
Am born anew e'en though my soul is sold.
My love eclipses all the universe -
Though poorly phrased, my gift to you – this verse.
“Bugger me.” Spike paced, wondering where the words had come from. They were far from perfect, but the vitriol he'd felt earlier seemed to have faded away and left behind the mushy centre of his long-dead heart. “Soddin' poofter.”
His hands hesitated as they held the fragile paper, ready to rip and consign the scrawls to the trash. But he couldn't do it. He'd even changed from pencil to pen, made a fair copy of probably a night-time's work. His first sonnet in forever; it was poor but it was heartfelt. He had nothing else, and it did kind of say what he wanted to say to her. To Buffy.
Before he could change his mind the page was ripped out neatly, sealed in an envelope and deposited on Buffy's back step. He backed away from the pale, manilla envelope, his palms itching to snatch it back before it saw the light of day. He was about to grab at it when he heard voices in the kitchen, the angry stomp of teenage feet heading for the door – and in a split second decision, he melted into the night and left the missive where his unknowing muse could find it.
Dawn scowled as she set herself down on the back step and wrapped her arms around her bent knees. Her life sucked beyond the telling of it. Nobody understood her, nobody let her do or say anything. It was always 'you're too young, Dawnie' or 'shhh, Dawn will hear.' Well, yeah – she heard. She heard, she understood, she could help, if only they'd let her. She'd grown up around a big sister who came home with bloodied clothes and had a bedding chest full of sharp, sharp weapons. Normal wasn't something she was used to, so trying to shield her and keep her away from the things that go bump in the night wasn't really helpful. The nasties that were out there were more likely to come for her than for all the other kids in her class. The other kids didn't live with the Slayer.
The kitchen light came on behind her and Dawn's eyes were drawn to an envelope half-hidden by shadow on the edge of the porch. She leant forward and grabbed it, turning it over in her hands and pouting as she saw to whom it was addressed. Buffy Summers.
Of course it was. Who else would anybody write to in the Summers' house? Certainly not her. Her hands were poised to tear the envelope in two, the stiff, smooth paper creasing between her fingers. But she couldn't do it. Maybe it was slayer-related, and if Buffy didn't get the letter, maybe somebody would die. Dawn couldn't have that on her conscience. And if she delivered the letter, it would kind of be like being allowed to help.
She barrelled through the door waving her find and screeching to Buffy that she had something for her.
Buffy took the envelope from Dawn's fingers – eventually, when Dawn had done teasing her with it – and frowned as she looked at the front of it. The lettering curled across the ivory paper with a flourish, the penmanship sure and certain. It was real ink, something she didn't see often. The only person she knew who wrote with a real pen was Giles – but that wasn't his writing. She'd seen it often enough, cramped and blotted, in his diaries.
“Delay, much? Buffy – who's it from?” Dawn had run out of patience and leant over Buffy's shoulder, making a grab for the envelope, only to squeak as Buffy held it out of reach and skipped behind the breakfast island.
“It's private Dawn! I don't read your letters.”
“Yeah, the many, many letters I receive. I've never had any mail since I moved here. Nobody writes to me. Why would they?” Buffy was taken aback by the desolate tone of her sister's words. Her eyes met her mom's, and Joyce Summers moved to hug her youngest girl, placing a gentle kiss on her forehead. She had to reach up to do so and Buffy wondered when Dawn had got so tall. Most of the time she didn't even notice her sister other than as an annoyance. But Dawn was only just younger than she'd been when Merrick had found her and told her that she was the Chosen One. Maybe it was time for the youngest Summers to be more involved.
“Here, you open it.” Buffy handed the envelope over to her sister, smiling as Dawn grinned with delight.
“Uh huh. It's probably just a death threat. You should totally be the one to read that.” Buffy's chuckle told Dawn that she was kidding around, so she quickly ripped the envelope open. The paper crackled satisfyingly under her fingers as she reached in to withdraw the folded sheet inside. It came loose with a slight tug and unfolded easily, all three Summers' women clustering round to read the fine, elegant script that swept across the page.
When they'd finished, they were all stunned.
“Wow,” Dawn breathed. “That totally rocks. Buffy – somebody wrote you a love poem.”
“Uh huh,” Buffy managed, her lips moving silently as she read it again, then again.
Joyce's brow furrowed as she read it, something tugging at her consciousness. She'd heard similar phrasing before, but couldn't quite place it. Maybe it would come to her.
“Buffy's got a sweetheart,” Dawn sing-songed, drawing a half-hearted shove from her sister.
“Honey, who do you think it's from?” Joyce queried, watching her daughter closely.
“I don't know.” Buffy raised her eyes and spoke again. “Honestly. I've no idea. Nobody I know could write like this.”
Joyce smiled as the two sisters bickered good-heartedly. And suddenly it came to her – Buffy might think she didn't know anybody who had the background and the flair to write such a poem, but she'd be wrong. There was one person....