Title: The Best and Worst

Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Buffyverse
Rating: R

Pairing: Past-Spike/Buffy

2017 Comment Meme Prompt: Buffyfic! Because tg needs to write more. :D Sneezy Spike. Newly human sneezy Spike? Love me some sneezy Spike!




The Best and Worst


There she was. It had been more than a dozen years since Spike had last seen her, and she looked as fetching as ever. And it was really her this time. Not some double to draw attention. Not some magical decoy to keep her safe. And definitely not a dream. Not this time. This time she was real and present and breathtakingly beautiful.


Which meant that Spike definitely couldn’t let her know he was there.


Oh, he wanted to, of course. He wanted to go to her and wrap her in his arms. He wanted to feel her strong slayer’s body against his. He wanted her to grab desperately at him the way she once had when she needed something only he could give her. But he couldn’t give that to her now. He couldn’t be that for her now. More than a dozen years and she still looked young and gorgeous… while he looked older.


Did she even know he was mortal now? Would she be shocked by how he’d aged? The tiny bits of gray mixed almost imperceptibly into his receding, dark blond hair. The wrinkles under his eyes.  The angry, healed scar across his chest. The pounds he’d gained around the middle. There was no way she would now look at him with that same wanton desire.


Especially not with this raging head cold he hadn’t been able to shake for days. “eh-ehh-Impschhh!” He sneezed into the crook of his arm. Really, he should be back home in bed with a take away container of soup, a hot water bottle, and Passions marathoning on Netflix. But he’d had to go out tonight, had to know if the rumors of the slayer coming to town were true, had to see her for himself.


Careful to hang far back so she wouldn’t see or hear him, Spike tailed her through the streets. When she turned down an alley, he waited before following. And then he watched from the corner as she took on a handful of vamps. This was Buffy at her best. Still graceful. Still strong. Still fit.


Spike was none of those things any more. His days doing social work were satisfying and rewarding, sure. He made a difference. But it was nothing compared to fighting real evil, saving the world, and preventing apocalypses. It was nothing compared to dancing with the slayer. It was mostly paperwork and meetings and looking at some of the worst humanity had to offer.


And sometimes that meant long nights in the police station waiting room or even longer nights in the hospital waiting room. Sometimes it meant having two snotty, sobbing kids attached to him, one in each arm, as unfit parents yelled obscenities after him. Sometimes it meant wishing he hadn’t given up alcohol a couple years ago so he could go home and get thoroughly pissed and forget everything for just a little while.


But there was nothing he could have done to forget about her. No matter what he’d been doing or where he’d been or who he was now, she made him push it all aside. She drew his attention. She rekindled his obsession. She was so close, just down the alley. Her blond hair going in and out of shadow, her body spinning, her fists tightly clenched. She did away with all five, just like that, just like she’d been doing for almost all her life. Just like she would have done to him once upon a time when he’d still been a vampire.


Spike shivered. He wasn’t sure if it was from the thought itself or the cold of the night or maybe his cold, but he hugged his arms to his chest and leaned against the brick wall. The sounds of bars closing up for the night filled the night as drunk patrons stumbled out after last call.


Still worried she would hear him though, he buried his nose back in the crook of his arm. “hih IHMphsh!” He smothered the sound as best he could into his long-sleeved, button-down shirt. No more leather jacket for him. He wore dress shirts and sweater vests and bowties like a stuffy old ponce and—worst of all—he liked it. But she wouldn’t.


He never wanted her to see him like this—weak and sick and old and mortal. That would be the absolute worst. This whole venture had been a foolish risk. He should have known better. He’d only wanted to see her one more time, but now she was headed back his way. Soon she would emerge from the alley and spot him. He wasn’t sure he could handle the look on her face when she recognized him and saw him as he was now.


Without a second look, Spike turned quickly. He lost himself in a crowd of people waiting on a street corner for the light to change. He boarded a city bus and rode it to the stop nearest his building. He tried to make peace with his memories and regrets and unfulfilled desires and the simple life he now had.


He coughed and snuffled constantly as he walked up the stairs of his building that had no elevator. His breath came in wheezes and he was forced to stop on the fourth floor to catch it and blow his nose to clear it. Two flights later, he emerged from the stairwell and headed down the narrow hallway. He trudged along, trying to talk himself into a hot, steamy shower before crashing into bed.


But he stopped when he got to his door. Key out of his pocket and in his hand. Dingy sneakers barely touching his welcome mat. Heart pounding hard in his chest. “Buffy?” His voice was rough and crackling and full of congestion and surprise and apprehension. This could not have gone worse if he’d planned it.


She looked even more beautiful close-up. She stood there with her arms crossed over her chest and her head cocked slightly to the side. He could hardly look at her. Even though he couldn’t look away either. “You can’t follow me around town for three hours and then try to disappear without talking to me,” she said.


“How…?” How had she tracked him? How had she followed him? How had he not noticed her?


“Giles gave me your address. I took a cab.”


“Oh. Ihh!” He fought against the urge to sneeze, pursing his lips, trying to rub it away with a knuckle scrubbing beneath his nose, but it was no good. “ihh IhhpttTISHHHH!” he sneezed in the direction of his shoulder.


“Your cold sounds worse than it did earlier. You’d better go take care of it.”


He nodded, gritting his teeth, hating that she knew he was ill but loving to hear her concern. Feeling awkward and gangly and weak and tired, he made for the door, fitting the key into both locks, and letting himself in. He went straight for the tissue box he’d left on the side table near the door. He snuffled and swiped at his nose until he felt a little more clear-headed. Then he turned and realized she was still there.


Buffy stood on his welcome mat, rocking on the balls of her feet uncertainly, waiting for an invitation to come in as if she needed one like a vampire would.  


“Do you wadt sub herbal tea? I’ll get sub goig.”


She smiled and nodded and followed him inside. “I was afraid you wouldn’t want to see me after all this time,” she said to his back as he headed to the small kitchenette of his studio apartment. “I was afraid I’d be a reminder of…”


He turned, tissue pressed to his nose. But if he wasn’t careful, he’d have to use it to blot tears from his eyes pretty soon. “You’re a rebider of the best of be,” he told her. He gestured for her to sit on the couch and went over to fill the copper tea kettle with water.