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Chapter Notes: Dialogue up to 'hold their interest' written by Jane Espenson and/or Douglas Petrie.
"I NEVER need you, Spike." Buffy pushed past the gloating vampire, wanting to get away. From him, from everyone.
Spike followed. He couldn't help it. Every time she said his name, hell -- every time she so much as spoke to him, he felt a little bolt of pleasure. He had to goad her on, no matter how much her constant rejection stung him. "Oh, I get it. You just don't like who did the rescuing, that's all. Wishin' I was your boyfriend what's-his-height. Oh wait, he's run off."
"I don't need a boyfriend. To rescue me or for any other reason."
"Don't need or can't keep? You keep making notches on the headboard, but eventually they get out of bed and run away, don't they?"
"You're disgusting," Buffy spat, revulsion rolling off her tongue.
Wits not in top form tonight either, I see. He caught up with her again.
"Rough talk," Spike said. "Maybe that's what your problem is, you push 'em away? Or is it the other -- maybe you cling too much?" Going in for the kill, he added smugly, "Or maybe, your beauty's fading. The stress of slaying aging you prematurely. Things not like they used to be... not as high, not as firm."
She looked as if she'd been punched, but retorted, "You know, Spike, the more I get to know you, the more I wish I didn't."
"Or maybe, you just don't hold their interest." He spun and walked away, leaving her behind for once. See how you like it. Bitch.
That's it, Buffy thought, blood simmering to a boil. That's really it.
"All right, Spike," she resolved softly, her voice shaky.
He turned on his heel to face her, ready for whatever she'd throw at him next.
Her eyes burned into his with quiet rage. "Why don't you tell me." She dropped her coat.
He tilted his head, not comprehending.
"Tell me, you undead piece of shit, whether I hold your interest!" Her chunky cross pendant catapulted into his gut.
He jumped away from the cross, and dodged the boots that followed. "What are you...?"
She hopped out of her jeans, swaying as she balanced on each leg.
He shook his head. "Slayer--"
"Come on, Spike!" Buffy said, anger rising along with her sweater, which she promptly flung at his head. "You want to know everything about me, why don't you just take a good look!"
Spike knew the black satin bra and panty set she wore intimately. He'd fished it out of her drawer a few times and inhaled the faint scent that detergent couldn't wash away. He often imagined her wearing it for him. But this... "Buffy, I--"
"I am not done!" A tear had sprung to her eye. She unhooked the bra, straps falling down her shoulders.
Spike held his breath. He'd dreamed of this moment. Though not quite this way...
"You're the goddamn expert, why don't you tell me!" Her breasts were exposed. The bra hit his face. "Tell me if I've lost my looks!"
She was gorgeous. Of course she was gorgeous. An absolute wet dream. She had to know that. Didn't she know that?
"Are they high enough, Spike?" She tugged down her matching panties, bunched them up and hurled them at him. He almost instinctively tucked them into his pocket, then thought better of it. "Are they fucking firm enough for you?"
For him? If only. He made a cautious step towards her.
"Well?" she cried, standing there in all her naked glory. "Fucking tell me!"
She was an angel. She was glorious. She was a glistening gift from heaven, standing before him... in a graveyard. Shivering, shaking, crying. What had he said this time to get her so upset?
"Buffy," Spike said, advancing another step.
She tried to maintain an indignant posture as she waited for his verdict.
"No..." she said, her eyes welling. "I'm really not."
It was clear now that her confidence had taken a crippling hit from Riley's departure. Spike had to tell her the truth. "Buffy, you're beautiful. You're... gorgeous," he stressed achingly. "Not to mention strong. Smart. Witty. And compassionate beyond any measure."
She blinked away some tears. Why was he saying all this?
"You're perfect," he said again and swept his eyes over her moonlit form, "in every way, and I can't imagine why anyone would ever leave you."
Buffy sniffled, and looked up at him warily.
Spike stepped a little closer. "If you were mine, I'd fight for you 'til the bitter end."
Their eyes met. Suddenly, she felt a flicker of understanding. What he meant. What he was after. What was really going on between them. A shiver ran through her body.
She recoiled, and said, scanning the ground for her clothing, "I have to be somewhere."
The spell was broken. "Yeah."
She said, "My, um..."
"Oh, right." He handed her the panties he'd been holding on to.
She shimmied back into them. He plucked the bra off the tombstone it had landed on and held it out for her.
"Could you--?" She spun her finger in a circle.
"Yeah." He stole one last glance and turned around. He saw her cross, and picked it up gingerly by its chain. When he faced her again she was pulling on her coat.
"Thanks," she said, taking the necklace.
"Look, Buffy, I'm--"
"Please. Don't." She held her hand up weakly. "Let's just... pretend this didn't happen, okay?"
"Yeah," he said, resigned. "Sure."
Buffy gave him a quick grateful smile and slowly walked away.
As he watched her disappear into the shadows, Spike sighed.
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