Title Can’t Help But
Rating PG, but a little angsty
Prompt for my posting day at Seasonal Spuffy, with a kind of nod to the theme of this season, though it’s not so much a case of ‘madness’ as ‘in need of some support and time to talk’.
A/N This is not an all-human AU. But only one of those in the dialogue knows that.
Buffy, these sessions are whatever you want them to be. I’m just here to listen. You can talk. That’s all this is, to start. You have a very responsible position, and you’ve been through a lot of change. I know you’ve been struggling with that, and it can help to take some time to just talk things through. We’ll see how that goes, okay?
Tell me about Sunnydale...
I thought today, maybe you’d like to talk about someone you lost in the disaster. You’ve mentioned your fear that your memories of people and places will fade now that your hometown has gone. You also referred to Spike a lot, and how he died in Sunnydale. Would you like to tell me about him?
It’s so complicated. I don’t-
Well, let’s try the beginning. When you first met. How did you feel at the start?
Fascinated. No, repelled. No. Fascinated. He wasn’t like anyone I’d ever met. I should have never- So many times I could have ended it but-
So there was a connection?
Yeah. Connected. That was Spike and me. Always connected.
What changed that?
Nothing. We’re still... we would be, still.
Okay. So when did you become aware of that ongoing connection?
It wasn’t some easy thing. Not just one moment. I guess, when he helped me to... deal with... Angel, (that was my first real boyfriend). That was this huge thing, and no one else was there in the same way. They couldn’t be, I got that. But it just felt like Spike and me against the world. Just for a second, but I remembered. So later, there was always this thing that was in my brain, about Spike, and helping.
I don’t want to talk about Spike today. After last week... there’s been a lot of crying. I need to be strong for my girls.
It’s okay, Buffy. It’s okay. No need to apologise. This is about what works for you. How about just sharing some other memories of Sunnydale? Would you like to do that today? We don’t have to analyse everything, every session.
Like... I don’t know where to begin.
Maybe a place? Or a sound or smell that makes you think of someone? Anything that reminds you of Sunnydale.
Smell... Smoke. He really smoked when we first met. Less by the time... less, later on. That ashy smell; it should be gross. I’ve never even wanted to smoke. None of my friends, or anything...
I’m sorry, I seem to be talking about Spike again.
That’s okay. We can go with that. So he was different? Exotic, maybe?
Different, for sure. I always knew it was him, by the smell. Not just the smoke. Leather and gasoline. Huh. That sounds like such a guy-guy smell.
Loving the macho stereotype?
God no. (laughs) Nail polish, that was like the first thing you noticed. Eye liner occasionally, even, just to shock people I think, or maybe just because he liked it. He did a lot of stuff because he enjoyed it, whatever people thought. He read poetry. He danced. He liked dog racing, and Manchester United. Not like anyone else I know.
So, it sounds like he was pretty strong? Defying convention.
Yeah. He was that. Spike never was a traditionalist. He’d do stuff because he wanted to. Or sometimes he needed to. He was like that with Drusilla, I think.
That’s his partner?
Yeah. Ex. He did so much to please her. Never worked out the way he hoped.
And with you?
Me too. He tried. A lot. I mean, it was circumstances that brought us together, but once he decided I was... whatever I was... he changed himself. Deliberately. It’s pretty amazing, you know, someone just doing that.
You don’t change?
Not on purpose. I look back, and... I’m not who I was at fifteen. I mean, that’s okay, of course it is. But it’s weird too. I can’t pinpoint just when I changed, or what, or how. Spike – I know to the day when he changed. And he just kept on changing. Going the extra mile. Being what he thought I wanted. Or what he needed to be.
Sounds like a lot for you to bear.
Yes. I wasn’t always... it didn’t always sit easily. And I think that’s okay too, you know? Someone changes for you, without you asking... it’s okay to be surprised. Freaked, even.
It’s good that you recognise that. We don’t control others’ choices.
That sounds like analysis to me.
Apologies. Tell me another memory, if you prefer.
Now, I know there were some tough times two years ago. Very difficult times.
Yes. My mom died. That was the worst thing in the world. I had my sister, and it wasn’t going well and getting away... seemed like the best thing to do. I was gone for a while, and when I got back... Everyone was trying to help, but it was just... noise. Flapping mouths and more and more duties and... Spike just did stuff. What I needed.
I mean, don’t romanticise him. He wasn’t a nice easygoing guy. Not at all. But he helped. He got what I needed. He gave me space to not be okay, when everyone else wanted me to be fine, like, snap! Everything okay again. Spike gets ‘not being okay’. It’s pretty much permanent with him. Was. He did get it.
Do you think he enjoyed not being okay?
Not really. I mean, put him in suburbia with a job at the bank and 2.4 kids, he’d have flipped out eventually. So that kind of okay... no. But he knew how to enjoy himself. He loved being in love. It was just... when I really knew him, life didn’t really fit with his lifestyle.
We had that in common.
In the end, I had to come back to life.
Was he okay with that?
In the end.
He’d have been okay-er if I’d been clearer, I think. He was confused, he did some seriously bad things. He hurt me.
You haven’t mentioned this before.
No. It was bad. He was sorry.
That doesn’t make it okay that he hurt you. Nothing makes that okay.
Yeah. I know.
(I’m going to say ‘but’ now, and you have to let me.)
But he changed, even more than before. Big change. Couldn’t be bigger. He knew what he did was something he couldn’t live with. So he got help. And he changed. Maybe not enough to make it right. But enough to show he needed to try.
I hope everyone got that, by the time we lost him.
You’ve said you’re ready to come back to talking about Spike, and I agree that would be helpful. How would you describe your relationship with him by the end?
Peaceful. Friendly. Kind of scratchy at times, what with the disagreeing and the not being totally over the past and... Maybe peaceful isn’t the right word, now I think about it. But I went to him for quiet, and relief from all the crazy. He gave me peace, and I hope I shared that with him a little, in the middle of all that noise.
How do you think you two would relate now. If he was alive, how would that have gone?
I had this exact fantasy, you know? I felt, the whole time we were getting out of Sunnydale... I felt like I knew how he would be acting. When I was running to catch the last bus out... he wouldn’t have liked riding the bus. He was into cars. I could almost hear him grumbling about it.
He wouldn’t have liked being on the bus with the injured, either. Not a big carer for random casualties, Spike. All that blood... would have been too much for him, I think. If he was injured too, and he would have been. But he’d have been cool when we had got away. When we had to make all those huge decisions, he’d have been there, making jokes and annoying people and just being Spike, and normal. He’d have told us what to expect about Scotland... that might have put us off moving... Sorry. I know this is your home.
But how about your friendship? Your relationship? How would that have gone? Do you know?
I honestly don’t... It kinda depends on if he still said that stupid thing that he actually said when I told him I loved him, because I knew he was dying to save us. That really pissed me off. I’m still angry.
So if he hadn’t been dying, you wouldn’t have said it?
Maybe not. Not like that. Not in a rush, so he’d got no reason to believe me.
But if you’d had time? If he hadn’t died?
Then... yes. I would have said it. He was pretty amazing, those last months. We got past so much. Seemed like he’d got some... perspective, maybe? He was better at letting go. Which meant I came back to him. That was new. I missed him, when he was gone.
I miss him now. I- God-
This is stupid. It’s a game. He’s not coming back. I don’t want to talk about him any more. What’s the point?
Buffy. It’s okay to mourn. For losses, but also for what might have been, that you never had the chance to explore. You understand that, don’t you?
I have to mourn him. Can’t help but.