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Fic: Meanwhile

Title: Meanwhile
Creator: drizzlydaze
Rating: PG
Setting: S5
Word count: 986
Prompt: 3. If only Buffy had said 'I love you' earlier...
A/N: In which Buffy says ‘I love you’ earlier.



It came like a thunderbolt, bright and searing. Everything he dreamed but barely dared hope. That moment when she looked at him and said, quite casually even though it was anything but (did she even know?), “I love you.” And he was struck.

She continued on like nothing momentous had happened. “So I’ll see you later? I gotta meet Will at the Magic Box now, and you’ve got your thing.” She slung her bag over her shoulder, notepad peeking out the top.

“Uh,” he struggled to find his voice, “yeah. Later. I—love you!” And they exchanged a light kiss. When she left the house, Riley leaned against the wall with a goofy smile.

~~~~~

Love was a word often spoken between them now, and the more Buffy spoke it, the more she seemed to smile into it. The walls he always suspected Angel had built around her heart were weakening. She was finally freeing herself of that shadow, and from her the love he always knew she had in oceans glowed.

Riley watched from the sidelines as Buffy staked a vampire. She wasn’t keen on him patrolling. He decided to lay off while he recovered from the op, but after that he was so getting back into the game. Grinning, Buffy was about to move onto the next vamp—

“Whoa! Cool it, Slayer.” Spike had his hands up. “Just little ol’ me here.”

She didn’t lower the stake. Riley smiled to himself. “What do you want, Spike?”

“Free country, innit? Just walking. ‘s pretty near my digs.”

“Restfield is thirty blocks away.”

“W-well,” he said, stumbling over the words, “it’s on the way.”

Riley narrowed his eyes, pushing off from the crypt wall. “From where, exactly?”

Spike didn’t even look at him, only answering when Buffy repeated the question. “Like I said, free country. I’ve got my own stuff. Non-evil,” he added hastily, “but stuff.”

“Better be. Or I’ll stake you faster than you can dust.” A vampire conveniently stepped up to serve as an example. As it dusted, she turned to Riley and said, “I just have one more grave to check. You should head back first to make sure you take the meds on time.”

Riley wanted to stay, but he knew better than to argue when Buffy was being protective. When he was recovered, she’d let up. Hopefully. Or he’d just show her that he really could still fight. “Alright. Love you.”

“Love you,” she said. He felt a smile light up his face.

And couldn’t help but notice that Spike’s instantly soured—more than that, it darkened and crumpled, and something else in his eyes… But Riley only caught a glimpse of his expression, a sliver of emotions; a moment later Spike turned away to the ground.

But it was enough. Enough to suspect. Maybe to know.

But Riley was too happy, too secure, to care all that much.

~~~~~

“I got your call,” he said unnecessarily, now thinking his carefully thought-out words were clumsy and heavy. So he discarded them. He sat beside her. “Are you okay?”

She was looking down at the ground, at the wood of the steps, and didn’t answer for a long while. “Maybe,” she finally said, and spoke as though it cost her great effort.

“You don’t have to say,” he said hastily. “You don’t have to define your own feelings. You can just… be.”

Now she looked at him with watery eyes, with such a look of bright affection and appreciation that he almost forgot the news. “Thank you,” she said. Then she looked down and told him what had happened to Joyce. His heart was pierced with grief, both hers and his own. He reminded himself and her that there was always a chance. That it was only preliminary. That there was always a chance, and for now, they could do nothing but wait. He would pray, but she didn’t believe and he wasn’t too sure either.

He was patting her back, which shook with quiet sobs, when he heard the cock of the gun. He looked up. Spike stood with wet eyes (wet eyes?) and a thunderous expression. And a 12 gauge double barrelled shotgun in his hands. Riley stiffened and Buffy looked up.

“What do you want?” she said with a hard, wet voice.

For a few moments, Spike only stood there, surveying them. Then with an amalgam of anger, anguish, sympathy, and a million other unidentifiable emotions flitting across his face, he walked away.

~~~~~

They were a unit. Package deal. Turtle doves. Partners. So it was unusual that Buffy had gone ahead, but then, she had been acting strangely since that stakeout with Spike. Later, she’d promised. I’ll spill the scoop later. And he’d reluctantly resigned himself to patience. (He had, however, an inkling on what might have happened. A shadow that he tried very hard to ignore.)

Buffy wasn’t at the Restfield entrance when he got there. He didn’t bother waiting around, instead heading straight for Spike’s crypt, a horrible feeling creeping down his spine. Two figures swept into the crypt as it came into sight. One was clearly Spike; the other a tall, dark-haired woman he did not recognise. He slipped in silently soon after.

“Spike… What have—” Buffy cut herself off, warily eyeing Spike. Her hand inched toward her belt. “What happened?”

The woman came from the shadows. “Me.” In her hand, a cattle prod—

Riley jumped in and knocked it away, stake in hand. He moved into fighting position, moving on the woman—the vampire. When she finally fled into the night, he turned back to see Spike with the cattle prod and Buffy falling to the ground. She hit the cold stone with a thud. Riley moved without thinking.

For a split second, the image of Spike’s pained face hung in the air in a cast of dust; then he was no more.

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
kikimay
May. 8th, 2013 09:47 am (UTC)
Ouch! The angst!
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:21 pm (UTC)
Late reply, but thanks!
readerjane
May. 8th, 2013 11:37 am (UTC)
Poor Spike! Not much chance, ever, and even that little taken away. :-(
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:22 pm (UTC)
Just realised I hadn't replied to comments here...

Thanks! Most of my stuff involve Spike having no chance for some reason.
slaymesoftly
May. 8th, 2013 02:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, ouchie, ouch, ouch! Well done!
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:22 pm (UTC)
Late reply is late; thank you!
red_satin_doll
May. 8th, 2013 03:09 pm (UTC)
OMG you put a Riley-positive fic on a Spuffy site! Sacriledge!

I'm teasing you of course; you threw me for a loop with the first paragraph, so well-done. I can actually see it playing out this way. Not that I'd advocate for that, but then we wouldn't have had to put up with Riley's "woe is me" routine the first third of season 5. (I have sympathy for the guy, really, but - vamp whores? really, dude?)

It's actually pretty rare to see fic that is fair to Riley. (Then again I'm one of those weirdos who thinks she did love him.)
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:24 pm (UTC)
Somehow I missed that I hadn't responded to comments here...

Haha I know! Mystifyingly, Angel-positive is even more common than Riley-positive in Spuffy. I greatly prefer Briley to Bangel. I don't personally think she loved him, but yay for non-bashing. Very glad the misdirect worked in the first para.
red_satin_doll
Jun. 7th, 2013 01:36 pm (UTC)
Mystifyingly, Angel-positive is even more common than Riley-positive in Spuffy. I greatly prefer Briley to Bangel.

*POSSIBLE RANT AHEAD* You know I'm a Buffy-first fan, but I get the sense that most Spuffies are Spike-first fans, so I'll go with the easy answer: AYW, and the destruction of Spike's crypt, plus the total nonsense of the demon eggs plot - which I DON'T want to get into because the sheer stupidity of it drives me mad. *RANT AHEAD* But the writers actually mean for me to see him as a great guy or rather, some of the writers were admitted Riley shippers and it shows, and they didn't seem to be aware of their own blind spots. That's probably what gets me the most.

"Tell ass-face I said hello" in TKIM is pretty damn rude IMO, not just to Spike but to Buffy. Riley knows Spike is important to Buffy, important enough for her to try to hunt Riley down about the chip, and they were sleeping together. It's in the same vein to me as Xander's insults in S6. Imagine Buffy sending that message to Riley re: Sam Finn. "Tell cunt-face I said hello." Fandom would eviscerate her. I also suspect that more Spike fans like Angel to Riley because Spike and Angel are family, they have a blood connection. Angel is important to Spike, to who he is, Riley isn't.

Short version of my Buffy-fan angle: his treatment of her - and the writers insistence that he's a great guy, poor baby, and it's all her fault, the bitch, even when he's going to whores, is pretty ugly. (At least had the "I lost my soul!" excuse for his crimes on BtVS. IWRY is another matter entirely.) Going to vamp whores and lying to her is a pretty profound violation of her heart, her trust and her body, IMO, all of which she gives him freely. (Thank god vamps don't have HIV, right? Right?) Plus not showing up for patrols, and not telling her about the vamp nest when it's her job as "cop" to know about these things? If he apologized once, even a little, or made amends the way Spike does in S7 I'd probably be a lot more forgiving. But the writers made it impossible for me. I can understand why he does what he does on an in-story level, but I'm not ok with it. And I can forgive almost anything. I don't even hate Xander.

I don't personally think she loved him

Deinfitely agree to disagree: I'm not seeing or feeling that at all on her end.


I think the two of them want different things from a relationship, which would be fine on it's own, but it's on him to say he's unhappy, not her. He's jealous of Angel because he "made Buffy cry", and caused Buffy pain? Ick. Buffy wants a more adult, grounded, centered relationship and he wants adolescent angst. "Love" and "in love" are not the same thing and we saw with Bangel how emphemeral that is. Romeo and Juliet kill themselves because they are "in love" but we're told that's supposed to be the romantic idea in our culture. So I guess it's not Riley fault that he bought into that. I find it painful that Buffy's expressions of love are rejected or simply not believed no matter what she does, to the point that she begins to believe that she's not capable of it.

Edited at 2013-06-07 03:07 pm (UTC)
drizzlydaze
Jun. 8th, 2013 02:46 pm (UTC)
My reason for preferring Briley over Bangel is now going to sound rather unanalytical (because it is) and overly simple, but here it is: Bangel is boring to watch. That's often pinned to Briley, of course, how boring it is, but while Briley is more nondescript, I actively dislike watching Bangel. I did on my very first watch, and I still do. It's so soppy I can't help but cringe every time there's a moment. Just... bleh. So I pretty much hate Bangel to the core. Briley I'm okay with. (Note: I do love Angel on his own show. He's so much more interesting.)

"Tell ass-face I said hello" in TKIM is pretty damn rude IMO, not just to Spike but to Buffy. Riley knows Spike is important to Buffy, important enough for her to try to hunt Riley down about the chip, and they were sleeping together. It's in the same vein to me as Xander's insults in S6. Imagine Buffy sending that message to Riley re: Sam Finn. "Tell cunt-face I said hello." Fandom would eviscerate her.

Gotta disagree with you heavily here. Firstly, 'cunt-face' is definitely way more derogoratory, extreme than 'ass-face' (which is TV appropriate). Then there's the fact that Sam vs Spike is totally different--firstly, no soul; next, killer and rapist etc.; and an unhealthy relationship. In AYW, Buffy's supposed to be investigating The Doctor and ends up sleeping with Spike 'on the job'. That's when Riley catches them, when he's been out the whole day investigating The Doctor to find it's (apparently) Spike, walks in on Buffy under the covers with him when she was supposed to helping. Anyway, back to 'ass-face' comment, I think it was definitely played more like a humorous jibe than vehement. In fact, it's bodes better for Riley's treatment of Spike because he can joke about it and Buffy can take it.


Short version of my Buffy-fan angle: his treatment of her - and the writers insistence that he's a great guy, poor baby, and it's all her fault

Agreed, though the writer bias was really just in Xander's speech.

Re: Buffy's love and Riley's insecurities
When Buffy doesn't tell him about Joyce's brain tumour, medical troubles and all that, Riley feels like she should've. And the fandom jumps on him. Which yeah, I agree with. But then when I think of Buffy/Angel, I get the feeling that she really would've told Angel if that had happened to Joyce--of course, this is because it's a different relationship and a different dynamic, and older Buffy is definitely much less dependent than high school Buffy. But it also makes me think that, more than her independence or Slayer isolationist crap, she doesn't think Riley can help her through her feelings or turmoil. She does gain the habit of sorting out her feelings by herself, but, let's say with Spike this time, she shares her troubles with Spike too. So while Riley is wrong for being on Buffy's back for not being more open, I think he's right in that she's not as trusting or close to him as he'd like. This doesn't mean you have to be dependent on someone to love or trust them, but seeing as she does that with Spike and Angel, Buffy is better with connection. But she didn't have that with Riley.


Anyway, for my own view on Riley, people are always blaming him for his insecurities on, say, strength. Now, Riley is definitely in the wrong for not bringing up his own issues with Buffy, but I don't think it's viable to blame him for having those issues (not that you are)--to further clarify, what I mean is that people are always shouting about Riley not being able to handle the fact that Buffy (and for some reason, 'female' always comes into this) is stronger than him. I think it's more the fact that he's weaker than he's ever been before, and he's not used to it. Honestly, Spike and Buffy would have the exact same issues if they had been humanified. The shanshu fics where Spike is unhappy being human basically outline the issues Riley had, and it frustrates me that the connection is never made between the two situations. Plus, Riley thinks Buffy needs a superhero boyfriend because she is a superhero. Nothing to do with masculinity problems. I know we weren't talking about that (lol) and you didn't express any views on that particular fandom view, but I just wanted to get that out, haha.


Edited at 2013-06-08 02:47 pm (UTC)
quinara
May. 8th, 2013 03:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, how you make us pay for our promptly ambiguity! But this is so great - I'm so lazy with my reading that I would never seek out a Riley POV (unless I was tricked into it! :P), but I love what you say not only about him but about Buffy and Spike as well, with Buffy easing into her love because she is actually full of it and Spike still, generally, better than your average soulless vampire when it comes to the end of FFL, but not quick enough or lucky enough to get to what that will ultimately mean for him.

Of course, the question now is how the heck would the rest of S5 gone???
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:27 pm (UTC)
Ridiculously late reply because I forget things.

Haha, gotcha! I loved writing this almost purely for changing the intented meaning of the prompt. The rest of S5? What's the point without Spike? :)

red_satin_doll
Jun. 7th, 2013 03:14 pm (UTC)
with Buffy easing into her love because she is actually full of it and Spike still, generally, better than your average soulless vampire when it comes to the end of FFL, but not quick enough or lucky enough to get to what that will ultimately mean for him.

I like this interpretation/summation of it very much - and it's not all that far off from the description of him on the show IMO. He doesn't "get' (can't possibly know) what it will mean to let Dru turn him, or turn his mother; he doesn't get what it means to make a pact with the Slayer in terms of his relationship with Dru or Buffy down the road; he doesn't "get" that saying "I love you/in love with you" to Buffy will mean he'll have to re-examine his entire life and all his illusions; that "love" and "in love" are often two completely different things; he doesn't "get" that getting his soul is not the end-all and cure-all, in fact it's just the start.
velvetwhip
May. 8th, 2013 05:14 pm (UTC)
This is really nifty! You did a great job again with this alternate scenario!


Gabrielle
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:27 pm (UTC)
Super super late reply, but thank you for the comment! I love alternate scenarios.
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 8th, 2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
Wowser. That's some alternative, and makes me very glad it didn't happen!
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:28 pm (UTC)
I somehow managed to forget to reply to comments for this fic, but thank you!
waddiwasiwitch
May. 8th, 2013 10:24 pm (UTC)
Hurts. Great job as usual.
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:36 pm (UTC)
Laaaaaaate reply. Thanks for the comment.
rebcake
May. 8th, 2013 11:14 pm (UTC)
Great twist on canon and the prompt. An emotionally healthier Buffy means...something totally different from what we got. Go you.
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:40 pm (UTC)
Redonkulously late reply. Thank you! It is interesting, if sadder for us.
spuffy_luvr
May. 9th, 2013 02:24 am (UTC)
You keep killing Spike! Now I'm going to be afraid to read your next prompt.

Well done, though. I liked it.
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:40 pm (UTC)
Lol I forgot to reply to all the comments here. Hence this late thingy.

Thanks! Maybe next time I should kill Buffy instead.
gingerwall
May. 9th, 2013 12:17 pm (UTC)
Very nice! I don't think that scenario was ]what the prompter had in mind, but I always love it when you twist things like that.
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:41 pm (UTC)
Very very late reply, but thank you! I loved twisting the prompt and the scenario.
binsoup
May. 10th, 2013 12:12 am (UTC)
i'd email bomb you if your fic weren't this well-written. :-)
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:42 pm (UTC)
Belated reply, whoops! Haha, thanks. ^^
shapinglight
May. 16th, 2013 01:56 pm (UTC)
Another great twist, which I'm glad didn't actually happen.
drizzlydaze
Jun. 7th, 2013 12:42 pm (UTC)
Desperately late reply, but thanks for commenting. I'm glad too.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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