It felt like Spike had been in the dank, dark basement for weeks. Which is part of what made his ill mood so amusing. He’d lived in a crypt for years but suddenly found a few weeks in a basement depressing.
Maybe, he thought, it had to do with the fact that Buffy and the bit and all the others were upstairs living a happy, shiny life while he was confined to less hospitable quarters; maybe he just didn’t like the reminder that Buffy did actually belong in the light while he belonged in the bleedin’ shadows.
Or maybe he was just putting too much fucking thought into the entire situation and was driving himself batty? Yeah, that was probably it.
Just as he was finally about to put himself out of his self imposed misery by getting some sleep, the basement door opened. Hopefully it was just one of the Scoobies coming to drop off some laundry and they’d be leaving in just a minute…
“Spike, can I talk to you for a minute?” Or maybe it was the Slayer.
“Sure, luv. Can’t promise I’m very good company tonight, but—sure,” he finished, choosing not to explain to her why he was in a foul mood.
“Are you okay?” Buffy asked, surprising them both—him more so than her.
“Guess being holed up down here while all you are bouncing and chattering around upstairs is just getting to me,” Spike wasn’t about to put her off when she finally seemed to care how he was doing.
“You know you don’t have to stay down here, right? You’re not a prisoner or anything.”
“Nah, ‘m just chained to the wall 18 hours a day…seems like 18 at least.”’
“God, I’m sorry—I wasn’t…I’ll try to get down here more.”
Buffy was apologizing to him--apologizing…to him. And what was more, she seemed to actually mean it.
“Don’t worry, pet; you’re doing what you need to do.”
“Spike,” Buffy interrupted, waiting until she had his full attention before continuing, “I am going to try.”
“Thanks, Slayer, I appreciate it. So what was it you wanted to talk about?” Spike asked when Buffy made no move to say anything more.
“Oh, yeah, um,” she began, suddenly seeming nervous, “Do you remember that Will Be Done spell that Willow did a few years ago?” When Spike just gave her a look, Buffy laughed, “Right, of course you do. Anyway, um, well, see the thing is…”
“Don’t’ have to talk about it if you don’t’ want to, luv. No one’s forcing you.”
“No, I…I need to talk about this. I spent a lot of time trying to pretend like that day never happened.” Buffy rushed to continue when she saw the pain flash across his face, the pain he quickly hid from her, “But lately I’ve—okay, so since it happened I’ve been thinking about it a lot.” Buffy moved to sit on the end of Spike’s cot. “I never really was sure what exactly Willow said to make us get married—I mean Giles and Xander, theirs was pretty transparent, you know? But with us—I never knew exactly what she said.”
“Probably just some mumbo jumbo ‘bout us loving each other or something.”
“But that’s the thing,” Buffy told him, finally turning to look at him, “She didn’t see anything about love. I asked her—and I got her to do a sort of hypnotizing, memory spell just to be sure she was right because…well I think it’s kind of important.”
“What was it she said then?” Spike could tell Buffy needed him to help her get this out.
“Well Xander said something about me needing you then. And so, Willow said then I should just marry you.”
“Okay,” Spike drawled, not catching her point.
“See…remember that one time that I said I never need you?”
“Yeah,” he remembered almost everything she’d ever told him. Especially that—he’d been so cruel to her then, preying upon her pain of Riley’s leaving. “Sorry about what I said then,” he mumbled, not wanting to interrupt her, but wanting her to know.
“It’s okay….and, well, if I really didn’t need you, then I wouldn’t have married you—at least that’s how it seems to me. Since Xander said I needed you…shouldn’t what Willow said with the ‘then’ be dependent on that being true?”
“Not sure it works that way, kitten,” he liked what she was trying to say but didn’t want her to base her feelings on something that may or may not be true—he wanted her to figure it out for herself.
“Well what does ‘work that way’ is that plenty of people get married without loving each other.”
“Sure they do, but what’s that…” Suddenly Spike thought he saw her point.
“I told Riley and Willow that I….I loved you. For those few hours I loved you completely and I was so happy—and I didn’t let me hate myself for it either.”
“I don’t want you to love me, pet if you’ll have to hate yourself for it,” he didn’t want to ever cause her that much pain.
“That’s the…Spike, I’ve always tried to say I couldn’t love you, you know? But obviously I did then—because loving you wasn’t a part of Willow’s spell. Marrying you was, yeah—but not loving you. That I did all on my own.
“So…I’ve obviously just not been letting myself feel it on my own…for whatever reason. See, I think… I can be so stupid, Spike. I wish, God…I so wish I could tell you why I’m being…why I keep stopping myself from loving you. There’s nothing logical about—“
“Sure there is….what I…last year—“ he still wasn’t able to say what he’d done to her—still regretted it more than anything else.
“Spike…if I can forgive Angel for killing Miss Calendar when he was Angelus and all of the other things he did, then….I forgave you for that, Spike.”
“Yeah well, you shouldn’t have…whatever Angelus did, he didn’t…he didn’t do that.”
“Spike we both did a lot of things last year that we both regret …but you, you got your soul after that. I know you know it was wrong and that you’d never do it again…that’s enough for me, okay? Maybe…maybe it wasn’t at first and maybe no one else can get how I can forgive you, but…but it’s not up to them, it’s up to me because I’m the one who has to forgive you for it Spike—not them. And I do.”
“As long as I don’t have to forgive myself,” he said it quietly, not intending for her to hear.
But she had heard him, “Try to though, okay? Try to. Like I was saying though—you’ve proven your love for me more than anyone else ever has…you’re always here, always backing me up….I don’t’ know…I don’t know why I keep stopping myself and I wish so much that I could tell you I’d figured out why and I’m going to stop it because I want to love you Spike, I really do. But I’d be lying if I said that…”
“It’s alright, pet—“
“No, it’s not, Spike---it’s not alright!” Buffy insisted. “But I…I am going to try—try to figure it out, try to get over whatever ‘it’ is…I’m going to try, Spike. I know…it might not be enough, but it’s all I can do right now.”
“It’s more than enough, love, more than enough,” Spike said, absolutely floored by the turn of events. Sure he didn’t want her to have to ‘try’ in order to love him, but he could see that wasn’t what she was saying at all.
Maybe this dank, dark basement wasn’t going to be so bad after all.