Link to Chapter One
Chapter 2: Screaming
I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain
-Elton John, Daniel
Traveling in Spain was a somewhat different experience when you weren’t trying to munch on the population. Spike couldn’t stop his mind from picking out places that would be good hunting digs or keep from singling out the person in the crowd who would be his choice for dinner. It didn’t matter how much guilt and shame he felt over those thoughts, they simply refused to go away. He hated that he couldn’t simply turn them off, and hated even more how alone it made him feel.
It wasn’t like he could talk to Buffy about how twisted up he was inside over things like murdering people, or not murdering them, or…she just wouldn’t understand. She’d look at him with her patented Slayer expression of goodness and he’d be left feeling like he yet again needed to find a rock to scurry under like the insect he was.
While he kept mum about that load of rubbish, Buffy did help him out without even trying to. Simply holding her hand, like he was doing now, as they walked through the busy streets of Madrid, did wonders for his mood. She was having a great time playing tourist. Spike loved that he could see things through her eyes, she made everything that much more interesting and exciting.
While he’d slept that afternoon, she’d negotiated Madrid’s tube system—or whatever the locals called it—by herself to visit the Prado Museum. Spike didn’t think she’d suddenly become that interested in art and history, but instead that it made her feel closer to her mother. Joyce would have been ecstatic to be able to go. Initially, Spike had felt left out since he was stuck inside until the sun dipped below the horizon, but when Buffy had returned, she’d been on cloud nine. Not because she’d seen a bunch of paintings by long-dead masters, but because she’d managed to get there and back without getting lost. Spike’s grumpiness at being left behind vanished instantly. Buffy was so capable that he sometimes forgot something as basic as traveling around a foreign city was new and different for her.
He’d hugged her fiercely and dragged her out to get tapas. He’d picked one of the places that served something that was recognizable as food instead of a couple of unidentifiable squiggles on a cracker that cost an arm and a leg. Beer for him and a pitcher of sangria for her and they’d been set.
Afterwards, they’d lit out walking. Spike had tried to appear like he didn’t have an agenda and was picking streets at random, but he had a surprise for her and had steered her towards the right place. Knowing a bunch of fuddy-duddy Watchers did have its perks.
“Museo Na-na-“ Buffy frowned at the sign displaying the name of the building they were standing in front of. Spike looked heavenward. For someone who’d grown up in southern California, her Spanish pronunciation was bloody atrocious.
“La Reina,” Spike said. “The queen.”
“It’s a museum of queens?”
“RuPaul has his own wing.”
She made a face at him.
“It’s an art museum, pet. Named after Spain’s current queen. A bit more modern than what you were looking at this afternoon.” He led her towards the side of the building.
“What are we doing here?”
“A friend of your Watcher’s works here, got us a private viewing.”
“A private viewing of what?”
The Iberian version of Giles opened a maintenance door for them and, after glaring at Spike and apparently deciding he wasn’t about to initiate any riots, led him and Buffy through the dark and silent museum.
“Wait here,” the man said, pointing at the floor. “I’ll turn the lights on.” He returned a minute later. “Do not make me regret doing a favor for an old friend. I’ll be in my office if you need anything.” He stomped off.
“Any ideas where his office is?” Buffy stage-whispered to Spike.
“Not a one.” He turned and trotted into the lit gallery, but ignored the painting it housed. Instead, he waited and watched Buffy as she entered the stark white room. Her jaw dropped and she walked towards the single painting displayed as if mesmerized.
“I can’t remember the name,” she mumbled.
“Guernica, by Picasso.”
Her eyes swept from one side of the canvas to the other. “It’s huge.”
Spike almost couldn’t resist making a joke about that one, it was the perfect set up, but he kept his gob shut. She deserved to admire it without him adding in any lewd commentary.
There wasn’t any seating in the room, so he leaned his back against the far wall and slid down to sit on the linoleum floor. Buffy shed her jacket, dropping it to the floor beside him, and then spent long minutes studying the painting, walking from one end of the gallery to the other. His eyes followed her. To him, she outshone any work of art.
At last, she came and sat down as well. His legs were stretched out and she settled herself between them, leaning her back against his front. Spike looped his arms around her waist.
“So, what do you think?” he asked.
“I like it.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Can you give me more than that?”
“Uh, sure. Well, I can’t put my finger on why, exactly, I like it, since it’s not pretty subject matter.” She tilted her head to the side. “It’s just…I can feel it, inside.” She paused. “Though I guess that sounds kind of silly.”
He shook his head. “Not at all. It’s like the bloke captured not just the horror of war, but also the way our minds scream at us. It makes it feel personal instead of just being a remote depiction of something awful that happened far away.”
He nuzzled his nose into her hair, breathing her in. The trip had been wonderful so far. The constant worry he carried that she was about to run had ebbed. Though just thinking about it made his arms tighten around her. Maybe they could travel forever and she’d never have time to stop and think about a future that didn’t include him. One with daylight, babies, and no monsters skulking about in the shadows.
But, damn it, he wasn’t Angel. He wouldn’t walk away, not until the day she told him to. Not that she hadn’t asked him to before, a million times, back in Sunnydale, but this time he’d listen. The blasted soul would make sure of that.
“I take it this isn’t the first time you’ve seen it.” She slid her hands down his arms until she could interlace her fingers with his.
“I saw it in America years ago. It was in New York for a long time.”
“Really? In the U.S.?”
“Picasso painted it in France, but it’s spent most of its existence stateside. He didn’t want it to return to Spain until the country was free from the git who started the war in the first place.”
“That makes sense.” She dropped her head back against Spike’s shoulder. “Were you here, during the war?”
Fear banded around him. “Yes,” he said tersely as images of things he rather forget rattled around inside his noggin. Bloody hell, why did she have to remind herself that he had been…was a monster.
Buffy was silent for a moment, but then she sighed and pulled herself out of his arms. He braced himself for the pain of her moving away, which was what she usually did when she became uncomfortable with something he’d done or said.
It surprised him when, instead, she wiggled around so she was on her knees and facing him. “Why do you do that?” she asked.
“Do what?” he replied cautiously. He couldn’t read her look. He didn’t think she was mad, exactly.
Buffy cupped his cheek with her hand. “Shut me out.”
“What?” He was completely confused. If there was anyone who did any shutting out, it was her.
“Spike, I know what you are, and I have a darn good idea of what you’ve done. When I ask a thing like that, I’m not asking for some blow by blow recounting of a dinner…date that you had with Drusilla. I’m trying to get to know you, to share a tiny part of your past.”
He shook his head. “You don’t want to, not really. I have the soul, screaming at me day and night, letting me know that a single death at my hands made me unworthy of standing at your side. And there was a sodding lot more than one. You get one good glimpse of all that ugly and you’re not going to want to be in the same country as me.”
“Oh, Spike.” She leaned forward and rested her forehead against his and her arms went around his neck. “No…I…god…you think I’m going to leave, don’t you?”
Fuck. There it was. In black and white, just like the buggering painting.
His mouth drew into a grimace as his eyes skittered away from hers. “Yes.”
He lost the battle with himself and his hands tangled in her hair, holding her in place as a sob escaped his throat.
“I’m not leaving you. And I don’t expect you to be anyone other than the guy I fell in love with.” She gently extricated herself from his grip, kissed his eyelids, and dropped back into her earlier position, sitting so she could see the painting and reclining against his chest. “Let’s try this again, this time with more cowbell and less wigging about how I’m going to ditch you.”
Spike swallowed around the lump in his throat. Christ, he still had no idea what he was doing when it came to her. Never had, probably never would. “Right,” he managed.
“So, what was Spain like back then?”
He played with the ends of her hair with one hand. “Different. Its history was closer to the surface. The place felt old, not all slick and shiny with a few rough patches here and there where the bones show through.”
“Was the war terrible?”
He leaned his head back against the wall and looked at Picasso’s depiction of screaming animals, women, and children. “Yes, but I didn’t know it at the time. Was just a bunch of jolly fun for a vamp. Fear and death around every corner. I could…” he trailed off.
“It’s okay. Whatever you going to say, it’s okay.”
“No, it’s not. Thousands of clergy members disappeared during the war. I could take Dru to a convent and let her have a gay old time. I’d drink my fill and listen to the news or music on the radio while she dispatched the rest of the sisters. Before morning we could dump the bodies down a dark hole and no one would even go looking, thinking the Republican boys had got ‘em.” He shuddered. Sorry, he told the dead. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…
Buffy snuggled against him and kissed his neck. “Stop beating yourself up. You at least had the excuse of being a vampire. What was the one the ‘Republican boys’, as you called them, used?”
There wasn’t an answer for that one. He didn’t understand human evil. “Nationalists were worse. Called in the Nazis to help. That was who did the bombing of Guernica that Picasso made the picture of.”
“Nazis. I hate those guys,” Buffy said in her best Indiana Jones voice.
He chuckled. “Yeah, me too. I did eat one and steal his coat.”
To his surprise, Buffy laughed. “Glad you’re not still wearing it.”
“It would be a might hard to explain nowadays, what with the swastika on the sleeve and all.”
“It’s weird, how much I don’t know about you. Like, I know the parts that matter, but you’ve lived for ever and done so much…I must seem very boring.”
Spike kissed the side of her head. “You? Never. You keep me on my toes, luv.”
She snorted and he slid his arms around her waist again.
“Like that Satsu girl. Didn’t see that one coming.”
Buffy groaned. “Are you trying to change the subject?”
“To anything but me.”
“Fine, if you’re sure you want me blabbing on about myself.”
“It’s my favorite subject,” he said with a chuckle.
Buffy patted his leg. “Then let’s get off the floor and find a café or something. I could go for some caffeine goodness right about now.”
They rose, Buffy reclaimed her coat, and they found their own way out of the museum, neither of them having a clue where the curator’s office was. Once back on the busy streets, it didn’t take them long to find a late-night spot and claim a back booth. It was a local place, a real dive with faded football jerseys tacked to the walls, posters advertising events from ten years ago, and a TV set that was older than Buffy.
Spike ordered a beer, but Buffy was able to get her coffee, which she was clutching with both hands.
After a few sips, she found her voice. “Satsu was one of my best fighters.”
Spike took a chug of his drink, hoping to hide his flash of jealousy because of course the chit would be. Buffy apparently had a type.
“After I got over being wigged out that she liked me, it started to annoy me, because she didn’t say anything.”
Spike drummed his fingers on the table. “You didn’t have to wonder with her, did you, if her feeling were real?”
“She couldn’t have broken the spell otherwise, but, yes, no one had ever whispered in my ear that Slayers aren’t able to love, only—” Buffy held up her hand as he opened his mouth. “Think about what she’d been told her whole life. That she was wrong for loving girls. That it wasn’t real. Couldn’t be real.”
Oh. He frowned. He’d never considered that side of things before.
“Anyway, we were patrolling together, and I flat out asked her if she liked me. Of course, she couldn’t deny it. And then…” Buffy shrugged, her expression pained. “I slept with her.”
He held up a hand. “Wait, go back. You’re missing a lot of parts in there.” He so wasn’t letting her wriggle off the hook on this one.
“I shouldn’t have done it.” She set her coffee mug down hard on the table.
He tilted his head but she was staring down at her hands, her face expressionless. “Why not?”
“She loved me and I didn’t love her. You think I would have learned that lesson.”
His chest tightened and he reached across the table to grasp Buffy’s hand.
“I told her I wasn’t in love with her and she didn’t care.”
He ran his fingers over Buffy’s knuckles. Fuck. Now he was sympathizing with Satsu. “I know that feeling.”
“Only with you…I was lying to myself.”
His fingers spasmed around hers. He had to take a deep breath to keep from crawling across the table and mauling her. There was time enough for that later when she wasn’t busy baring her soul to him.
“What I don’t get, pet, is why you wanted to sleep with her at all. Were you just curious?”
Buffy took her hand back and cradled her coffee cup. “It’s more complicated than that. Satsu wasn’t some science experiment. After Sunnydale…after—” Her eyes darted away to stare at the faded bullfighting posters on the wall, but Spike could still hear the unspoken ‘you’. “After, I hadn’t had the hots for any guy. I sort of thought maybe I was like Willow, y’know?”
He very badly wished he could hug the past her that’d been hurting and lost. Damn the amulet, and Angel, and his bloody fucking self that hadn’t been with her.
One of Buffy’s fingers traced a line of old graffiti cut into the wood of the table. “Satsu was cute, but there wasn’t that toe-curling feeling I get when a hot guy takes off his shirt. I don’t know. This is kind of weird to talk to you about.”
“Thank you for doing it, Buffy. It means a lot to me.” He smiled at her.
She gave him a tiny smile in return and ducked her head. “I don’t want to go into details or compare notes or anything, but it was really nice, being with her. And I liked kissing her. Her lips were soft and she tasted like cinnamon. But…there wasn’t much sparkage when the clothes came off. At least not on my part. It made me feel pretty lame and she did most of the work and…and…I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d never fantasized about doing that stuff to another girl. You have to think I’m the biggest dolt.”
He made a line in the condensation on his beer glass. There was his Buffy, always worried she didn’t measure up sexually. Spike paused before he answered, taking a moment to enjoy a brief fantasy of his own that involved him wrapping an electrical cord around Angel’s neck. The bugger had done a hell of a number on the girl.
“No, not at all,” he said. “There are lots of reasons people have sex. You and me? We get each other hot under the collar with barely any effort.” A tiny, pink blush colored her cheeks. “But for lots of couples, that’s not how it is. Even ones that love each other.”
Buffy’s brow creased.
Spike felt like he needed to clearly spell out what he was getting at. “Don’t try fitting your sexuality into a neat box that has a label on it. It doesn’t need one. Plenty of girls say they like guys and don’t want to look lower than a man’s shoulders.”
Buffy giggled. “I don’t think I fit that group.”
“Not so much.”
She did some remarkable things to his cock with her lips, tongue, hands…
“And how do you know I don’t fit a label? Maybe I’m bisexual.”
“Could be.” He didn’t want to mention he’d never once caught her checking out some bint’s rack, but there were all kinds that fit under that umbrella, weren’t there? “I should point out that thinking a girl is nice looking isn’t quite the same as wanting to shag her. But perhaps you just need to get to know a chit first and the sex part comes after?” He looked over the rim of his beer glass at Buffy, whose nose was wrinkled up.
“Yeah,” she said slowly. “I feel like… no, I’m sure I could have a romantic relationship with a woman or a guy. I don’t think that I’d exclude anyone from the possibility of a long-term relationship—if I wasn’t already in one—because of their gender, but I’d really rather watch the men’s diving team during the Olympics than the women’s.”
Spike nearly choked on his beer and ended up coughing and laughing into his sleeve.
“But Satsu,” Buffy continued, obviously not worried that he might actually be choking, “I think I mostly needed to know I was still someone who could be loved.”
Spike sobered instantly. “Buffy—”
“As I said, I knew better. I seem to need to make the same mistake more than once for it to sink in.” She sighed. “I almost made another one with Satsu. You’ll recognize it…I asked her not to tell anyone.” Buffy’s face fell.
“Kitten,” he said, taking her hand again.
Buffy’s shoulders shook and for a moment he thought she was crying, but then she looked up with a shit-eating-grin on her face and he figured out she was giggling. That was good, he hoped. “Fate totally did not let me get away with that one,” Buffy said around her laughter. “Satsu barely had time to agree before Xander burst into the room.”
Bloody hell. Xander had seen Buffy and Satsu naked in bed together? It was a wonder the berk wasn’t in a padded cell somewhere. Spike was fairly certain his own brain would have dribbled out his ear.
“Just because? Was Xander in the habit of walking into your bedroom at any old time?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “There were vampires, they stole the Scythe. And you can put your bumpies away now, though I’m surprised your eyes still turned yellow and not green.”
Oh, bloody hell. Spike managed to get his demon to recede. He surreptitiously looked around, but he and Buffy were secluded in the back of the joint and no one seemed to have noticed his slip.
“It wasn’t just Xander, either,” Buffy added. “There was another Slayer with him, Renee. They sort of dated before she died. And Andrew.”
“Would have been wasted on that one.”
“Tell me I’m wrong.”
“Not so much. Oh, and Dawn. Though she was still gigantic, so she was looking in through the window.”
“Your sister? Fate really did have it out for you.”
Buffy huffed, but then she laughed again. “It’s funny now, but at the time I was mortified. I was freaking out, there were all these people…and then Willow crashed through the roof.”
“Please tell me somebody put on the theme to Benny Hill.”
She stuck her tongue out at him. “To top the whole thing off, I had to fight the vamps in my Disney pajamas—the ones with Eeyore on the leg— and they managed to get away with the Scythe anyway. It wasn’t fair. They turned into panthers.”
“Studied with Drac, did they?”
“Stupid bunch of sodding party tricks.”
“Tell me about it.”
Buffy was frowning angrily at the dregs of her coffee. He knew just how she felt. Remembering when you’d lost a battle was never a picnic, but he had just the cure.
“Fancy going to look for something to slay?”
Just to Reach You on Elysian Fields
Just to Reach You on FFN