Post-S7. Buffy laments her relationship with Spike. Rated 'R' for language.
|Disclaimer: Joss doesn’t play with his toys anymore. Someone has to, dammit!
--Too little, too late.--
“I should have told him sooner.” She was still crying. I handed her a fresh napkin. She was so young and soft; I wished I’d had real tissues. Her eyes weren’t soft, though. They looked like they’d seen too much.
“Like, this one time.” She sorta smiled. I got the impression it would have been a full on smile if she hadn’t been a wet mess. “He bought me flowers. Roses.” She closed hers eyes, then. I continued to wipe down the counter. I didn’t have many customers that night. Never did on Tuesdays.
I dunno. I don’t mind talking to customers about their problems or whatever, but I never listen too closely. I’ve been doing this long enough to have a hundred well-timed and insightful phrases for almost any situation. And even though I don’t like to see women cry, especially pretty ones. And this one was so young. Man…just a baby, really.
Still, I wanted to know this one. Why she was so…broken. I wiped the same spot in front of her for at least 5 minutes. Had to pretend there was a particularly nasty spill or something. Didn’t want the boss getting upset, y’know. I found myself wanting to hear her story, though. And no, it wasn’t ‘cause she was pretty.
I was about to offer some sort of standard comment on men bearing flowers when she continued. Once she started I was hooked. As she continued, I slowly stopped rubbing the counter. She spilled her tale and I found myself dumbfounded, man, I mean…this was…it was…
I wanted to slap her and hug her at the same time.
I completely forgot that I was supposed to keep moving, keep working. I was just standing there behind the bar staring at her. And she just kept talking.
“We used to…sleep…together. It was sex. That’s all. Well…” she looked around for a minute, no where in particular. “It was sex for me…it was more for him.
“I wasn’t blind, though, I knew. I mean Christ! He told me. Over and over and over and over again, he” she choked on her sobs. “He told me he loved me so often that it became background noise. Predictable. Reliable
“God…how does something like that become ordinary?”
She wiped her nose with the napkin and took a swig of the JD I’d given her…on the house.
“Anyway…he bought flowers…blood red roses.” She sorta laughed then. “He had them all over the cr-…room…with candles. It was supposed to be romantic. I laughed at him. I didn’t want romance. I laughed at him…called him ridiculous.
“He got mad…as mad as he could get being my lapdog, anyway.” More sniffles. I thought she might break down again, but she kept on.
“I got him angry so that….we’d…so he would…he grabbed me and I punched him. We…fought…and then we fucked…like animals.”
She looked up at me and I tried to keep my expression expressionless.
“That’s how I got off, you see…the only way I could feel anything was by hurting him. I knew he loved me and it made it even better. God!” She covered her face then and her shoulders were shaking. I froze. I didn’t know what to say, I mean, what the fuck do you say to something like that? I certainly didn’t want to project my own heartaches on her life…hell…mine probably don’t compare to what she told me. She was crying. Not noisily, mind you. Not that it mattered. There were no customers.
When she looked up, I had a paper towel for her. Better coverage. She snorted an attempt to laugh. A little snot came out of her nose. She was still cute, but…anyway…she continued.
“We had a…complicated…relationship.” I nodded wordlessly.
“It wasn’t all bad.” She closed her eyes, then, and let out this ragged breath. She sounded so tired. I’m sure the alcohol didn’t help, but it was all I could offer.
“He was very sweet, when I allowed him to be. When I was too tired to fight it. He loved me…too much…but he did. Sometimes I wanted him to. I wanted to let go and love him too, but it felt so wrong. But we had this thing, whatever you want to call it. We fought. A lot. I know I don’t look it, but I’m strong. Sort of a bodybuilder.” She paused then, for a long time. “I beat him. Not…that he wasn’t…strong enough to fight back, but he usually…didn’t.”
She looked me in the eye, then. Made me damned uncomfortable.
Had a guy that confessed a murder to me once. He was drunk off his ass, and I just nodded and pretended not to hear what he was saying. After he stumbled off to the bathroom, I called the cops. This little blonde, though, she gave him a run for his money when it came to creeping me out. She started again.
“He was sort of an…ex-criminal. He’d done a lot of bad things. I never let him forget it, of course. I kept telling him he was evil. He had been trying to change…and eventually he did. Eventually my shit made his look tiny. He said it was because of me…that his love for me…” She broke down again. I wanted to reach out and touch her hand or something, but to tell you the truth I was a little repulsed by her. Didn’t let on, though. Like I said: I’m a pro.
“Can love do that? Change someone?” She wasn’t really asking me, so I didn’t bother to answer. I would have said yeah, though, had she asked me directly. I know it changed me once. Figure it could change someone like the guy she’s describing. I wondered if it had changed her.
“He did change, though. I saw it…long before he got back his so-…his humanity. See…I told him he was a monster. Said he was beneath me. Truth is, I was the one that felt like a monster. You got a cigarette?”
I almost didn’t hear her. I started zoning out there, thinking about my own life. Three ex-wives. Lots of bitterness. I handed her a menthol and lit it for her. It didn’t look right on her, though. I could tell she wasn’t a smoker. She didn’t start coughing or hacking or anything. It just…didn’t look right. I wondered if he smoked.
“Thanks. Never had one of these before…he tasted like these. Smoke. Ashes. Whiskey. And then later something else…honey…chocolate. He changed a lot. We went through a really bad time…even for us…and then it ended. Only…it didn’t. He left and when he came back, he was different. Altered.” She was calmer then, so I felt free to turn my back to her and set up the glasses. I turned halfway to her when needed and ‘mm hmm’ed occasionally to let her know I was listening. And I was. How could I not?
She was inhaling the smoke and blowing it out of the side of her mouth. It was a move that teenagers do when they first start smoking because they’d seen it in a movie.
“He came back and he wasn’t himself at first. Honestly, he never was himself again…not the…man…I knew, anyway. He was so full of guilt. Blamed himself for everything. For us. He got…into…a bad situation and I helped him. Then I got into a bad situation and he helped me. We were helping each other and it was totally new.
“We became friends, something I don’t think we’d ever been, and it was…nice. And then he offered to leave and I asked him not to. I found myself wanting him there. Relying on him. Trusting him.
“I realized one day that he still loved me, even after everything, he was still there. I didn’t know what to do. I was still afraid. Of him. Of myself more. I didn’t want to get hurt. And for the first time, I didn’t want him to be hurt either, so I kept him at a distance.
“He tried really hard to hide his feelings from me, but I could see it in his eyes. He was still in love with me. I have to say…it was comforting. But it wasn’t enough. I didn’t know if I could return it and I was terrified of going back to where we were…so…I did nothing.”
She sighed. Her face was dry, then, she just finished the cigarette and drank down the whiskey. I filled her glass. She looked around the room.
“Not many customers, hunh?” She made a decent attempt at a smile.
‘Nah.’ I told her. ‘It’s Tuesday.’
“Ah.” She put out the cigarette and I cleared the ashtray. “He would’ve liked this place.” She started drifting off again, but I wanted to know the rest, so I decided to do what I never do. I asked.
“I had a huge problem. My family…was…being threatened by some…people. Nothing that the police could get involved with. He…helped me…us…all of us. In the end he paid for it with his life.”
I must have gasped or something ‘cause she looked up at me. I tried to cover, y’know. But it didn’t do too great of a job.
“Yeah” she said. “He died for us.” She misted up and the tears started again. I didn’t move to hand her another napkin.
“I was with him….when it happened. It was…horrible. I felt like I had been sliced open and left to bleed. He was holding my hand. He was looking at me with those eyes. Those damn eyes….full of love…for me. I felt…cheated.
“I loved him. I told him so….right then and there. He didn’t believe me. I mean…why would he? I wasn’t even sure I believed me right then. But I did. I do. I love him.”
She looked back up at me and I don’t know what look I had on my face, but she frowned a little and wiped her face off with a cocktail napkin. I just cleared my throat and placed my hands on the bar. My head was spinning. I wanted her to leave.
“Thanks for listening.” She placed a couple of bills on the bar. I told her to keep it.
“No, I wanna pay. You’ve been great.” Again, I told her to keep it. I asked her to leave, then, and she just looked at me.
“I’m sorry is something…did I do something?” She was concerned, actually, that she had done something to offend me. In all honesty, she had. She opened her fucking mouth.
See, this is why I don’t listen too closely to customers when they come in and blab about their problems, man. I don’t wanna know. I don’t wanna hear how some young thing ripped a man’s heart out, stomped on it, tore it to shreds and then tried to put it back together with bubble gum and an apology when she finally realized she had a fucking heart.
‘You did do something, sweetheart.’ I told her as she gathered up her leather duster. ‘Too little, too late.’
She just nodded and walked out without a word.
I haven’t seen her in here since then. Hope I never do. But if you’re looking for her, I hope you know what you’re in for. LA’s not as big as it seems, though. You’ll probably find her.
The lean, curly-headed brunette paid the bartender for the beer, plus a little extra for his time. He got up off the stool and left the bar. He knew Angel would know where Buffy was, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to find her. Spike was given a second chance and he didn’t want to waste it living in the past.