Title: Did You Ever Know
Era/season/setting: Season 4, post-Something Blue
Spike never wanted to stop. He hadn’t known he could feel like this until Red’s bloody spell, and when that had ended, he wondered what kind of cosmic power had given him that brief glimpse into such a bright and shining world, and then wrenched it away. He’d thought loving Drusilla would be enough… and he had been happy with her, he’d adored her, he’d felt complete with her, but it wasn’t… like this. This felt real, and alive, and like he was holding sunshine in his hands, and drinking it in, letting it burn him without destroying him.
Though maybe it was destroying him. Buffy had tears pouring down her cheeks, falling into the corners of her mouth, and he caught them with his tongue and let the taste of her… pain? Happiness? Mingle with the raw power that she kissed him with. Power, that was what she was giving him. What she was letting him near. Bathing in her glorious exuberance… he suddenly wished he hadn’t been so quick to brush her off when they’d actually had a bed. He was aching to do more, to see how far a Slayer could go. He wanted to worship every inch of her.
“Congratulations,” a quiet voice said, and Buffy roughly pulled back, and stared at him, with round, shining, wet eyes. Her hair was tangled, her cheeks were blotchy, and he could still smell the blood from her knuckles. The sword had pricked her neck, as well, though that already seemed to be healing up. She looked… so radiantly beautiful, and Spike almost stepped forward and started kissing her again.
But Meg kept talking. “You’ve won,” she said, and stepped over to them. Buffy turned towards her, facing away from Spike, but she trailed her hand down his arm, and curled her fingers into his. He grasped her small hand, giving it a comforting squeeze, his heart soaring with love for this girl.
Love? Did he love her, when three days ago he’d wanted nothing more than to kill her?
Meg smiled softly at them. “You have earned what you have asked of me,” she said. She held out a folded piece of paper to Buffy. “Your commandos,” she said. “They’re part of something called the Initiative. It’s a half-baked government operative that has taken it upon itself to harness the demon population, making us behave as they see fit.” A dark look stole over her face, and she said, “It is my greatest pleasure to assist you in taking their organization down. They’re doing an embarrassingly shoddy job, anyway. They don’t understand most of what they’re up against, and they believe in even less. They think the Slayer to be a myth, my dear girl, can you imagine? They are in a lab under your college campus, as I believe Spike is aware of. That is a map that will show you several easy points of entry.” She turned to Spike, and held out a bottle of orange powder. “Said Initiative planted a behavior modification chip in your brain. As you’ve experienced, you cannot bear any intention to harm a human, without it setting off and zapping you.”
Spike recovered enough to be outraged. “They did what? Sodding wankers tampered with my cranium? Not just a clean spell that can be undone then, is it? This is high-tech neurosurgery, this is…”
“Spike,” Buffy said. Her voice sounded weak, but she clasped their joined hands with her free one, and leaned her head against his shoulder. It calmed him, unexpectedly, and he swallowed the rest of his complaints, and looked at Meg again.
“Yes,” Meg agreed. “They’ll have to undo it for you.” She jiggled the bottle that she was still holding out to him, and Spike finally reached out and took it. “When you find the lab, cast this into the air, and for one day those who wronged you will do as you ask. Including removing your chip.”
“Wait,” Buffy said. “You said he can’t try to hurt humans. Does that mean…”
“The chip will not activate if he harms a demon,” Meg nodded. “Or any other living thing.”
“Why all the clues and instructions, pet?” Spike asked. “Why not just give us what we asked for outright?”
She gave a musical laugh, and winked at them. “Well,” she said. “Because that way you wouldn’t have the option of refusing them.” She stepped forward, laying a hand on both their shoulders. “It’s been fun,” she grinned. “Call me next time you need something, yeah? My next challenge will be even better.” She giggled, and raised her hand, and then faded away in a swirl of blue light.
Spike and Buffy stood staring after her, with Buffy still leaning on his shoulder. He took a breath, and squeezed her hand again. “Shall we?” he asked.
“Ugh, yes,” she moaned. “Let's really freaking shall.”
He chuckled, and raised her bloody knuckles to his lips. But as they walked out the door, back out into the woods, he suddenly let her hand go. They turned and watched as the door and all trace of the cavern disappeared, and now… now Spike felt very unsure of everything. Now they were out in the real world. Where they were once again Slayer and vampire. Where she had a bunch of disapproving Scoobies that wouldn’t let Buffy date him, unless they all decided they wanted to date him. Hivemind, that lot. That was how they worked.
He cleared his throat, stretching his arms as they started walking briskly away. “Well,” he said. “Sorry we didn’t have any monsters or torture, pet. That’s the last time I summon a shaman who slips me her card in a bar.”
Buffy snorted. “So… you picked her because you thought she liked you?”
“Yeah, I didn’t know she’d end up being a debauchee who would force us into situations that would make us…” he stopped. “Well, you know.”
Buffy didn’t answer, and they walked along in silence. After a while he realized he didn’t quite know where they were going, but they seemed to be heading in the direction of her campus. And he wasn’t sure what to make of that. Did she want to do this storming the Initiative thing, right now? Was he about to get his chip out, and they’d return to the world of enemies, since she couldn’t trust him not to kill people, and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to resist anyway?
“Speaking of that,” Buffy said brightly, even though they hadn’t spoken in a while. “You know… um… that I would have said whatever she wanted me to say to get out of there, right?”
Spike looked at her shrewdly, but decided not to point out that the door wouldn’t have opened if Buffy had been lying. “Yeah,” he said cautiously. “Of course. Perfectly natural. Woman like that is only gonna hear what she wants to hear…” he stopped. Since when did this girl have the power to reduce him to rambling?
“Suppose you want to go storm the castle, then,” he said dejectedly.
“Well,” she said, clearing her throat uncomfortably. “I mean… I guess you’re probably kinda in a hurry to get your chip out.”
There was another long silence, and the UC Sunnydale campus came into view. “I mean, it is what we did this for,” Spike said, wondering at himself for his inability to hold his bloody tongue. “Not like we’re actually gonna refuse these, no matter what that bitch—”
“Spike?” Buffy asked quickly.
Spike swallowed. “Uh, yeah?”
Buffy stopped, and he did the same. She shuffled her feet for a moment, and then looked down, saying, in too cheerful a voice, “I’m not really sure Willow actually undid that spell.” Neither said anything for a moment, and then she raised her eyes shyly to his. “Are you?”
Spike blinked, staring into her deep green irises, trying to read her. Or at least trying to figure out if he was reading her wrong. He smiled, still cautiously, and then shrugged. “I did wonder, to tell you the truth,” he said. “Seeing as how your boy is still going out with an ex-demon.” He reached out and took her hand again, tentatively, and she grasped it firmly and grinned.
“And Giles still needs glasses to see,” she added.
Spike felt his heart swell for this girl as he stroked his thumb lightly over her injured knuckles, and then started walking again, tugging her along beside him. “And we never did call off the engagement properly,” he said. “You’ve still got my ring and everything. Guess that means the wedding’s still on, eh?”
“Mm,” Buffy agreed, nodding. “I’m thinking a June wedding though… in the year 2072.”
He grinned, and kissed her temple, but she reached her free hand up around his neck, and pulled him down to meet her lips. And again, Spike was flooded with radiance, with power, with awe and worship lust and… love. Definitely love. Maybe not on her end, but… at least she seemed open to the possibility.
“I think Willow’s pulling an all-nighter in the library,” Buffy said airily, once they’d started walking again. “If you wanted to come to my dorm until the sun rises.”
Did she know that she had the power to make a dead heart beat again? Because there was definitely something happening in his chest that Spike couldn’t put a name to. He kissed the top of her head and murmured, “What about taking down the commandos?”
“I don’t think we need to rush into things,” Buffy said, swinging their joined hands. “We’ll get the gang together, form an actual strategy and stuff.”
He swallowed. “We?”
“Well, yeah, we’ll need your dust,” Buffy said. “Probably all kinds of things we could get them to do in one day.” She grinned up at him. “Whoever those soldier guys are, they’re in for a world of disappointment. Can you imagine the looks they'll have on their faces when they see us?”