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For A Certain Value of Real (PG13)

I think this may actually count as spamming the comm by now. But I hope you enjoy!

Title For A Certain Value of Real
Author Brutti ma buoni
Words 1000
Rating PG13
Prompt Through The Looking Glass
Setting post-NFA




He sensed something was off, well before she turned so that he could see the tears.

*

This wasn't how Spike had expected reunion to be. She should have been running, flinging herself at him with a passionate kiss, or – more than likely – punching him in the face for keeping quiet for so long. Not hiding her silent sobs away.

"Buffy?"

She sniffled out a "Hi Spike," half-hearted as she hadn't been with him since after she resurrected.

His guts clenched, a proper human response he'd rarely found a use for since he died. He sat down beside her, just close enough so's she knew he was there. "What's wrong?" He wanted to touch her, brought up a hand almost to her shoulder, but flinched away from something so overt. (Briefly chased a moment of déjà-vu, but he didn't have time to pursue that now.)

Spike talked at random, reintroducing himself into her world as she sat unresponsive. Couldn't talk enough, so much to tell her, so much he'd been longing to share these past months, imagining her face as he talked about Angel's kid, Wolfram and Hart, Illyria, the Senior Partners' half-assed Apocalypse, Hell…

She didn't say a word, barely turned a hair, and he didn't understand anything. He still couldn't fathom what it was, the thing he'd sensed was wrong. Here she was, whole and healthy and-

No. That was it. She had no heartbeat.

*

For one insane second, his hand twitched towards his ever-ready stake.(Any part of the living dead was Buffy, he'd once said, he'd protect it forever. Knew better now. Any part of a vampire was still Buffy, she'd want him to end her.)

But of course it wasn't a vampire. He'd have known it from the moment he first sensed her. The reason he'd let it pass him by so far was that there was still something mimicking the heart, a pulse thrumming through her. Too regular, almost… yeah, forget almost, completely artificial and mechanical.

They'd sent him to the fucking Bot. His fucking-Bot, to boot. He hadn't even known she'd survived Sunnydale's collapse. What kind of sick mind-

He realised he hadn't been talking while his brain worked furiously. So the robot knew she'd been rumbled. She was crying again.

"Don't do that. 'Spect you'll rust or something unhelpful." Well, no call to be cruel to the machine. He knew that now, soul nudging his conscience into kindness.

"Can't help it," she sniffled. She didn't look like his perfect, unblemished robot. She looked emotional. Real. Not something he'd ever thought about the Bot before.

His guts clenched again, more intensely. Something fucking awful had happened.

"There was an accident," said the robot.

He said nothing.

"Willow saved me," said the robot.

He couldn't say a thing.

"Just my brainwaves. Just my… soul, I guess. So she put me in here."

*

Spike was a dead man. Didn't breathe, didn't eat, didn't (therefore) crap, nor reproduce in any way a natural being would recognise.

Buffy was the same now.

Spike enjoyed his unlife. More than enjoyed, he'd relished it to the rafters for over a century, and still adored his immortality more than a sane man should. Shouldn't matter if the woman he loved was in the same boat. Should delight him: play his cards right and they'd have aeons together

But. Oh, but... He loved Buffy's humanity. (Had loved.) Her warmth, her breath on his skin, her strength that was a thousand times more awesome because it came from a fragile mortal. Her taste and smell, all woman, sweat dripping after a hard fight or a good fuck. The relish with which she ate, feeding the Slayer fires, scarfing down Doublemeat as if it were actual food.

All gone.

*

But some part of this robot was Buffy. The Buffy-part that laughed and cried, strove and won was still alive. The part he'd loved and lost so many times he'd gone beyond déjà-vu on that count. So he stopped hovering in horrified half-comfort, planted an arm round her shoulders, and hugged her.

Hugged the robot.

His own words from months before were in his ears. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. The robot was Buffy, did what Buffy did, tried like Buffy tried. So it really was quite simple.

Well, almost.

"She did this to you? Red?" He had to ask. Just to check.

The robot- No, Buffy nodded. No tension in her plastic face that he could see. (Could he tell, before, when the robot was hiding something? He couldn't remember.) But, far as he could see, Buffy was tranquil, under the smudges of past tears. "Yes. I asked her to help. I was-"

Still Buffy enough not to admit she'd been scared. How different, though, from the girl who'd died for the world not so very long ago, sloughing off mortal cares with a leap into joy and peace. Now she'd been human, and selfish: too much to lose, not wanting to go.

Though she didn't spell it out, he could imagine the scene, fear and pain, gasping for help. Not surprised the witch did what she could. Anyone would have.

Whether that was a good thing, long term, he was less certain. But he was bloody glad to have had this moment, arms round her.

"Cheated death for a third time, eh, Slayer?" (That didn't come out sounding as happy as he meant.)

She didn't look exactly jubilant when he pulled back from the embrace. "For now. Nobody knows how long the robot was built to last. Plus, battery life's not so great. I've wound down a couple of times, which: embarrassing. But it's kinda working so far."

*

Spike realised that she was cheering up, now the revelation was out. Seemed like she'd pretty much made her peace. If only he could, maybe they'd be okay.

For some bizarre reason, he flashed onto the end of Some Like It Hot. Nobody's perfect.

Yeah. Spike knew that better than most.

*

Comments

( 50 comments — Leave a comment )
shapinglight
May. 24th, 2011 06:31 pm (UTC)
Spamming the comm? Not at all! This was weird and sad and sweet all rolled into one. Poor Buffy(bot).
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 24th, 2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
I think it's a setup for a fic I'm not planning to write. But two dead persons getting up to fight, and face the world sounds like a plan.
louise39
May. 24th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
"Cheated death for a third time, eh, Slayer?

Poor Buffy - she must be scared all the time. Spike, as always, adjusts to the now reality.

Repeating shapinglight - weird!

But... you do Buffy/Spike weird well.

Edited at 2011-05-24 06:49 pm (UTC)
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 24th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
I find the idea of an old mind in a new body really compelling, in a weird way. Glad to hear the weird came across well!
gryfndor_godess
May. 24th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
This is a really sad, interesting concept; it reminds me of the Tin Man in Wicked. I like that you don't shy away from making Spike uncomfortable with it, despite his best intentions, and I like the observation that this time Buffy didn't want to give up her life. This line is very poignant: How different, though, from the girl who'd died for the world not so very long ago, sloughing off mortal cares with a leap into joy and peace.
The paragraph about how he loves her physical humanity is also lovely.
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 24th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's a very odd thing to have thought of, but it fascinates me. mabus101 has a very creepy thing with Buffy trapped in the Bot, but the idea of her doing it voluntarily is fascinating.
smells_corrupt
May. 24th, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC)
Interesting concept. I like Spike's inner turmoil over Buffy not being human. And the moments where he thought she was a vampire were oddly sweet. Good job!
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 24th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
I think this is the starter for a much bigger fic I'm not currently planning to write. Two non-humans among humans. Is that a good thing? Could be fun.
waddiwasiwitch
May. 24th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
Oh I wasn't expecting that. What a sad but intriguing idea.
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 24th, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)
One of those weird ideas that sometimes come to you - and that's exactly why I love this comm!
hello_spikey
May. 24th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
*sniffle* Heartbreaking! But real and wow... definitely a new take on the reunion! Great description, and I love how you bring us slowly to the reveal without feeling like you're withholding from the audience.
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 24th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much. Like peeling an onion, I hope - you know where you're going but you don't know what you'll find.
lutamira
May. 24th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
This is such an interesting idea. I especially like how it explores the ways Spike and Buffy have changed from past versions of themselves. The premise has so much promise - I'd certainly be interested in reading a longer version if you were ever inspired to write it. :)
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 24th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm not sure it'll work as a longer fic, but it's interesting to play with.
rahirah
May. 24th, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
Ooh, now that's different!
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 24th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC)
*g* Thanks! Not sure what to do with them now I've got them there...
zanthinegirl
May. 24th, 2011 09:06 pm (UTC)
Gah! Now that's a take that I've never seen before. I'd say something intelligent, but I'm still kind of reeling.

Gah!
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 24th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
Heh. I know how you feel. I had the idea, and then kind of poked it for a while till I had at least some clue what to do with it.
slaymesoftly
May. 24th, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC)
What a twist! yeah, sad and weird and yet, oddly hopeful.
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 24th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Very odd idea, but I quite liked it to play with.
gillo
May. 24th, 2011 10:20 pm (UTC)
Love the flashback and the Some Like It Hot ending. Even more I love Spike struggling to come to terms with the revelation, his thought processes as he decides what matters most. Poor boy. Poor Buffy.
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 25th, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Fun to play in Spike's brain for a change.
moscow_watcher
May. 24th, 2011 10:26 pm (UTC)
What an unusual twist! Great story.
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 25th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
I know! Original plot ideas and me, they don't combine very often. I'm strangely proud, even if I don't quite know what to do with them now.
rebcake
May. 25th, 2011 12:12 am (UTC)
Awww. I think this works beautifully, and it makes me want to do some "Defenseless" follow-up for these prompts...
snickfic
May. 25th, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)
I support this notion!
(no subject) - brutti_ma_buoni - May. 25th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
readerjane
May. 25th, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
Heartbreakingly strange.
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 25th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
treadingthedark
May. 25th, 2011 12:33 am (UTC)
Suprising and very cool!
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 25th, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
tennyo_elf
May. 25th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
Very different and heart wrenching. Interesting reunion. They need to make her like Data from ST:TNG, she would last forever and be super strong and would be a happy ending sort of.

Enjoyed this take, thank you for sharing!
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 25th, 2011 07:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It could be so good for her and for Spike, in a way, but at the same time she's already lost so much. Definition: bittersweet.
(no subject) - tennyo_elf - May. 26th, 2011 02:30 am (UTC) - Expand
snickfic
May. 25th, 2011 02:34 am (UTC)
Oooh, this is stunning. Such a great unfolding as we and Spike realize what's happened. I approve muchly.
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 25th, 2011 07:59 pm (UTC)
Why thank you! Very strange concept, but also interesting to work with.
ever_neutral
May. 25th, 2011 06:34 am (UTC)
Oooh, this is great! Haunting and creepy and saaaad. <3
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 25th, 2011 07:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks! If they were simple, they would also be boring, no? (I deeply approve of your Wes/Faith and Angelus/Darla love, btw. Not boring At All.)
(no subject) - ever_neutral - May. 25th, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
relurker
May. 25th, 2011 08:53 am (UTC)
I'm starting to be a little scared of the ways your imagination works...
Loved it.
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 25th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC)
Hee! And yet you friend me to get more of the weird. (Welcome, btw!) I'll try to keep up the strange work.
anviloverheaven
May. 25th, 2011 12:19 pm (UTC)
I love your spam.

Please feel free to spam me as often as possible.

mmmmm....Spuffy Spam.

*drools*

brutti_ma_buoni
May. 25th, 2011 08:10 pm (UTC)
Heh. I do my best...
quinara
May. 25th, 2011 02:26 pm (UTC)
Oh noes! How sad and weird and cool. Please keep up the spam; I am definitely enjoying it. :D
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 25th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks! These prompts are ceertainly doing something to my brain. I'm going to assume it's a positive thing...
hello_spikey
Jan. 6th, 2012 07:14 pm (UTC)
oh darling! This is angst-tastic! *SOB*

Gorgeous and dark and so human. I especially love the visceral little memory details.
brutti_ma_buoni
Jan. 6th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! What a lovely comment to receive.
red_satin_doll
Dec. 11th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)
Oh god, was not expecting that at ALL. The contrast between how Spike still loves his unlife and can relish it, with Buffy being trapped inside a machine is just too frightening for words. It reminds me a bit of Catherine in the Witch although totally different circumstances. Maybe it just frightens me on a personal level? I'm also thinking of all the times the bot was injured/damaged (then torn apart) and how in reality its body wasn't nearly as strong as Buffy's.

When I was reading this I also found myself thinking about the bot and the bodyswap in S9 (comics? what comics? did I just say that?) This of course is just so much more interesting.
brutti_ma_buoni
Dec. 11th, 2012 09:01 pm (UTC)
It's a troubling fantasy, isn't it? And you're right, we saw so much violence to the Bot, it's really obvious how fragile she is now.

Glad this worked for you, and thanks again for commenting. (I sometimes lose track of where to answer you when you're in my back catalogue, but they are all read and appreciated!)
relurker
Nov. 26th, 2015 12:27 pm (UTC)
Just seen this following an old link, and WOW, what a scenario.
But I like this one much, much better than any turned Buffy situation.
Poor Buffy, poor Spike.
( 50 comments — Leave a comment )

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