Title: Did You Ever Know
Era/season/setting: Season 4, post-Something Blue
The third room looked very similar to the other two: dirt walls, stone floor, torches lining the sides. This one was much brighter, however, and much bigger. And Meg the shawoman was standing in the middle.
She beamed at them. “Congratulations!” she chirped. “I want to thank you both for a very entertaining night. I had every faith in you, really I did—but you know, sometimes I forget to take into account the stubbornness of mortals.” She gave an apologetic glance at Spike. “Or half-breeds. You know, vampires have more human nature than they’d probably like to admit.”
“So, we did it, right?” Spike snapped. “We passed your little trial? We’ve won what you promised?”
“Oh, sweet boy, no,” she said. “Not yet, you haven’t done the trial yet.”
Buffy blinked in disbelief. “Well what the hell have we been doing all this time? You said the challenge was truth or dare, and we did the truth part, answering questions correctly about each other, and we did the dare part!” She paused, and looked back at Spike. “That… was the dare part, right? What we just did?”
He shrugged helplessly. “Felt like it to me. Though I still don’t know what we did.”
Meg sighed. “And here all my lovely planning is going unappreciated. The dare in that room was for you to let down your walls, and engage in some form of intimacy on that bed.”
Buffy squeaked, and Spike frowned. “But all we did was…”
“Yes, well, I had hoped you two would take it a little further than you did,” Meg huffed. “Honestly, I expected you’d both eagerly jump into we’re-about-to-die sex, but noooo you had to go deeper didn’t you?” She shrugged. “No matter. I’m very proud of you for not dying. Though if you had managed to get the key out, that would have worked as well.”
“How were we supposed to get that out?” Buffy asked. She could feel rage boiling up inside her, and felt like she should again be mad at Spike for getting her into this mess. Except that she could hear him breathing angrily next to her—which was a weird thing all on its own—and it made her feel better. That they were in this together.
Meg shrugged. “Beats me. I’d have been very impressed if you’d managed.”
“You bloody bitch!” Spike snarled, striding in her direction.
“Now now, none of that,” Meg said, and waved her hand. Spike was thrown across the room, and a circle of flame formed up around him.
“Spike!” Buffy cried.
“Welcome to the truth or dare challenge,” Meg said. “As for what you went through up to this point, that was just my payment.” She gave a musical laugh. “You didn’t think I was doing this for nothing, did you? Watching you two forced into those kinds of situations that can’t have been pleasant… my my. I could have sat there for days.” She made kind of a moan in her throat, and which completely wigged Buffy out. She looked towards Spike, who had stood up and was glaring at Meg, fists clenched at his sides, unable to do anything more.
Buffy began hurrying towards him, and Meg raised her hand again. Buffy was instantly pinned to the wall, and Meg produced a long sword, apparently out of nowhere. She strode forward, and looked up at Buffy, raising the sword to hold it at her throat. “I could have just had you fight, or something,” she continued demurely. “And that would have been entertaining as well, but this was just… nicer. I think you’d agree, wouldn’t you agree?”
“You let her go,” Spike snarled. “We’ve already agreed to complete your sodding challenge. Just put her down.”
Meg clucked her tongue. “He’s a protective sort, isn’t he?” she asked Buffy. “All sexy with that Mama Bear vibe. But, really, both of you should know better than to just blindly walk in whenever someone offers a challenge. Because, if we’re being all legal and official-like, if I set the challenge, then you are here on my terms. My challenge could be to make you walk through the fire and not burn, Spike, or to stab you with this blade and order you not to bleed out, Buffy dear.” She was silent, for one endlessly long second, before she suddenly laughed. “But, we’ll do nothing quite so drastic. No, really, I think it’ll be quite easy for you to pass this.”
She let go of the blade, but it stayed where it was, pressed up against Buffy’s throat. She swallowed, and felt it dig harder into her flesh. “Buffy!” Spike called, and she tilted her head slightly, to see him testing the fire with his hand.
“Stop that!” she snapped. “You stay where you are, Spike! I’m fine!”
“As I understand,” Meg said slowly, wandering about the room, reaching through the fire to stroke Spike’s cheek as she passed him, “You two were recently under the influence of a love spell.”
“Love spell?” Spike cried.
“It wasn’t a love spell!” Buffy cried. “It was a… a…”
“It was a ‘will be done’ spell,” Spike said.
“Exactly! And all kinds of crazy things were happening…”
“Yes, yes,” Meg said. “But the witch who cast it willed that you fall in love.”
“She did no such thing!” Spike sputtered.
“All she said was for us to get married,” Buffy said. She shared a look with Spike, and he was looking at her with eyes just as wide as hers. “No love involved.”
Meg tilted her head, and looked back and forth between the two of them, grinning like a Cheshire Cat. “Right,” she said. “A spell to get married. Of course. No command to be in love, whatsoever. You could have gone right on hating each other, all the way down the aisle. Could have agreed never to see each other again after the ceremony. So why was it instead that you spent more time in each other's arms, shoving your tongues down each other’s throats, than you did actually planning said wedding that you were commanded to do?” She looked back and forth between them again, at the horror shining in their eyes. “You were in love,” she said. “So, what was that, your own special touch? To make the spell more authentic?”
“N-no!” Buffy said. “We had absolutely no control over ourselves.”
“None whatsoever,” Spike gasped. “You think I would have consented to the Slayer dancing a cake topper up and down my arm if I was in control?”
“We—we don’t know how spells work!” Buffy stammered. “And… and the spell was done wrong, anyway. All kinds of accidental.”
“And how would we have been able to control that, anyway?” Spike asked. “We don’t know how to perform love spells.”
Meg laughed, and clasped her hands over her heart. “Oh my goddess, you two are just… so adorable!” She wiped a couple tears from her eye, giggling merrily. “Completely typical, of course. I’ve seen a lot of couples in my time take these same trials, and sometimes they really don’t click with each other, and sometimes they do.” She shook her head. “You two, though… you’re not just trying to protect your friendship, or spare any feelings here. You two actually are stubborn enough to go to the grave… or the dustpan as the case may be… rather than admitting to yourselves that there was something more in that spell than just forced promises of matrimony.”
She walked to the center of the room, where she could see both of them. She waved her hand, and a sort of red throne appeared, which she regally draped herself into. She crossed her legs, and dangled her hands over the armrests. “Unfortunately though, this is the truth portion of the challenge, and I’m afraid that door isn’t going to open without you being completely honest.” She waved vaguely in the door’s direction, and it also was bigger than the ones previously. It had two big bolts holding it closed. “Are you ready for your questions?”
She paused dramatically, and Buffy closed her eyes, wondering if she could just die right now. She was exhausted. She’d been ready for death to take her in that other room. And right now there was a sword ready to slice her thyroid, and Spike seemed completely ready and willing at the moment to risk inflammation…
“Buffy,” Meg said, and Buffy flinched. “Do you regret that spell ending?”
Buffy squirmed, and felt tears pricking her eyes. She was so tired, so ready for this all to be over. She opened her eyes, and fixed Meg with what she hoped was an intimidating glare.
Meg smiled sweetly at her. “When that spell ended,” she pressed. “Did you feel that you could have continued it, all on your own?”
The tears escaped Buffy’s eyes, and slipped down her cheeks. She looked over at Spike again, but he wasn’t looking at her any longer. He was staring at the ground. No help from him, then. Nothing to make this easier. Or harder.
“Yes.” Buffy sniffed. “Yes, all right? Yes I regretted the spell ending, and yes I would have liked to pretend that it hadn’t.” She summoned a groan, but only to try and make herself sound tougher than she felt in that moment. “Happy?”
“And Spike.” Now Buffy couldn’t face him. She kept her eyes closed, and leaned her head back against the wall. Even though her arms were pinned by magic, they were starting to ache. She hoped Spike would just answer quickly.
“Spike,” Meg said again. “Did it feel natural, that spell? Were you not fulfilling fantasies under it that you weren’t even aware that you bore for your mortal enemy?”
Buffy held her breath. She didn’t know why, though, and tried letting it back out. But it refused. It stayed trapped in her lungs, and she kept her eyes closed, straining to hear his answer. It was the most important thing in the world, his answer. She would have been content with the question never having been asked, but now that it had… his answer meant everything in the world.
“Yes,” Spike said softly, in a voice as broken as hers had been a moment ago.
Buffy’s breath burst out along with a sob, and she instantly bit her lip again.
“Good,” Meg said calmly. A thunderous sound rang through the room, and one of the bolts in the door opened. “And now for the dare portion. And again… we’re going for total honesty here, or it won’t work.” She waved her hand, and Buffy dropped to the ground, as the fire around Spike disappeared. “I’m gonna need you two to prove it. Prove that it wasn’t just magic making you act like you did under that spell.”
Spike wasted no time in striding over to Buffy, grabbing her waist just as she stood up, and planting his lips on hers. She bit back another sob as she leaned into it, letting him in again, letting him explore her anew as if he’d forgotten her already, after the spell that had ended three days ago. She grabbed desperately at his neck, and shoulders, and hair, continuing to kiss him, needing to taste him, to feel him. She had felt so much happier under that spell, and when it had been torn from her she had instantly been struck with the sobering thought that every guy in her life after that would have to be measured up to Spike. Because surely no one could ever kiss like he could.
She still held that opinion, as he broke away for a moment to let her breathe, placing light kisses all over her face before he took possession of her lips again. And she loved him… or, maybe not love, not yet, but she was well on the way. And she was perfectly, perfectly happy to fall the rest of the way if he would let her.
There was another loud sound as the second bolt was released and the large door swung open, but she was too wrapped up in her vampire’s strong embrace to notice.