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'A Thousand Ships Have Sailed' by Quinara.

This is another fic for my series of phone conversations between Spike and Buffy during/after AtS Season 5, where they're trying to build some sort of long distance relationship. This one's a bit gloomy, set a short while after NFA, PG for language but not including any content that would require a warning on AO3. 1000 words on the nose, apparently. For the 'Helen of Troy' prompt from the beginning of the month, but 'Demon Alcohol' would work as well.

A Thousand Ships Have Sailed.

She knew it was Friday night for him, but it was definitely strange hearing Spike so drunk at 10 AM, her time. Strange among other things.

“I luffew, Buffy, yeah?” he was saying if not bellowing down the phone attached to her ear. “I luffew more than any bloodthing in whole wide bloodfung world, and the buggriz, the bugger is, I know you care bowme too…”

Honestly, Buffy told herself, she’d only called to see if the slice to his stomach was healing – but now she was blushing, the kitchen growing too hot around her and her fluffy dressing gown.

(Across on the opposite side of the breakfast bar, Dawn raised an eyebrow, chewing on her toast. Buffy shook her head.)

“…but issard, isso hard sometimes,” Spike lamented on, in great swooping cadences, his breath crackling the line. “With you, wivvangel, wivveverything, I feel…” The blush didn’t fade, but now Buffy’s stomach was twisting, the smear of jam on her breakfast plate filling her vision with the way purple ruined clean, white porcelain. “Is slike you’re Helen of Troy, or summing, and I’m that twat that Paris, Juggins your feckless husband bloke, and, and, and none vit’s real, and you know I’m a twat and Phrodite makes you phone my phone and that, not you…”

(Thank god, Dawn was still trying to eavesdrop. “Quick,” Buffy hissed, covering the receiver with her hand, beating back the panic that had been inching on the misery. She could fix this. “I need your help – Drunk Spike’s gone Giles on me. Helen of Troy? Paris? Twat? Husband?”

Dawn swallowed her toast. “Iliad,” she choked out, frowning and patting her chest like she had heartburn. “Greeks. Helen: married to Menelaus, seriously beautiful; Paris: Trojan, won a favour off Aphrodite and so got to abduct Helen and take her out of Sparta. Starts the Trojan War. Umm…” Blinking, Dawn kept adding like she didn’t know what Buffy was looking for, “They aren’t happy? Paris skips out on some honour battle thing, Helen way judges him, but Aphrodite hops them up on lust juice… She ends up back with Menelaus in the end? Or, after the end, but…”

“Right,” Buffy interrupted, trying to make it make sense. Big affair? War? What was Spike talking about?)

Because was still talking. “… snot really me, issit?”

“Hang on a second,” she said –

– before realising she still had her hand over the phone’s mouthpiece, and was talking to Dawn. Her sister held up her hands, surrendering before she took her plate over to the sink –

– “Wait up a minute, Spike,” Buffy tried again, hand now removed and concentrating down, as if that would bring her his self-pitying face, let her stare those eyes down. “You think Angel’s like my husband?!”

Silence. A vampire sitting alone with a bottle of bourbon inhaled.

Buffy decided it was her turn to talk. “You think I only call you for, what, your looks? Do you even realise how much logic that doesn’t follow?” Tapping loudly on the receiver with her nail, she hoped she got him right when he was listening close. “You think I’m only interested because Angel and I can’t have sex?”

“Buffy, I…” He sounded desperate.

“No!” More incensed the more she thought about it, she came down from her stool to her feet. “No, Spike; I might not have read what you’re talking about, but Dawn has and she says –”

(“Hey!” Dawn called over, loud enough that Spike could probably here. “Don’t drag me into this! You’re seeing the movie Thursday anyway…” Buffy ignored her.)

“You’re saying that we’re the adultery-sex-fest that everyone fights about! And I’m gonna end up with Angel when it’s done!”

Now Spike was trying to interrupt again, “But –”

She didn’t let him, storming on. “Last I checked, Spike – and please, please correct me if I’m wrong, here – last I checked us fiends haven’t had sex in over two years! And yet here I am calling you and having a whole long distance thing!”

“Buffy –”

God, she was angry. How dare he? Sure, they were all insecure, but that didn’t give him the right to rewrite them like this. She couldn’t believe…

Screw it. There were the first few tears in her eyes, but she didn’t think he deserved to hear them. Not now. “Come back when you’re sober,” she snapped, cancelling the call. Breathing.




She spent the day with Dawn, slaying dead their clothes budget, but she did pick up when he called her back that evening. “What?” she answered shortly, sorting through purchases in her room.

“Buffy,” Spike said, his voice so gravelly it was pretty much asphalt. “I…” He couldn’t find the words, it seemed. “Fuck.”

“Go on,” she relented, turning to sit on her bed. There was an awful feeling in her chest, like she’d already forgiven him and now just wanted to hear his voice. Fuck covered it quite well. “I’m listening.”

“Had this whole bit,” he croaked out. “About beautiful girls always being bitches, and you being so beautiful that I forget you don’t…” Then he laughed, sourly. “But honestly, the real answer’s that I’m a wanker, and I’d rather you forgot the whole thing.”

Slumping with a sigh, Buffy shut her eyes against the world. “I can’t really do that Spike,” she told him softly. “Not when I know that’s how you feel. I wanna know why…”

“It isn’t…” Spike began, before stopping, lowering his voice. Angel was probably there again. “It’s not you,” he promised. “He’s here – you’re not. I’m weak.”

She knew the feeling. Looking at her eyelids, nothing but his voice in her ear, she wanted to tell him she loved him, try and make it all OK. But she couldn’t, she just… “It’s you I want on this line with me, Spike. You know that, don’t you? I don’t need to hear Angel’s voice.”

“I know,” he replied, sadly, and she knew he was wondering how much that really meant.

“...OK.”

.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
slaymesoftly
Jul. 24th, 2011 10:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, ouchie! Are you going to quickly write another one to make this better?
quinara
Jul. 24th, 2011 10:29 pm (UTC)
I think I might need to! Fluff hasn't been fixing my mood recently, but hopefully now this is out of my system I can get some brighter Spuffy in my head again...
gryfndor_godess
Jul. 24th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
Sad, but I really like your Iliad metaphor. It seems like something Spike would think at one point or another. I like how Dawn has to explain, too.
quinara
Jul. 24th, 2011 11:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, thanks. I think Dawn is vital for certain points of interpretation when it comes to Buffy-Spike communication. :D
missus_grace
Jul. 25th, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
“I need your help – Drunk Spike’s gone Giles on me. Helen of Troy? Paris? Twat? Husband?”

Great line!

This is typical Spike - so insecure...a long-distance phone relationship is never going to be enough for him. He's too physical, too tactile.
quinara
Jul. 26th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I don't think a long distance relationship is what Spike (or Buffy) would pick in the long term either, but I think they're willing to go with it when it happens as a stop-gap measure. (Fluffily, I also think of them as being still too caught up in each other to really be on the look out for anyone else; not to mention the cynical point that I think they're both so busy and have such limited enough social circles that they don't have the time or the opportunity to meet people attractive enough to make them question the benefits of keeping their relationship ticking over... Which works out for them!)
bogwitch
Jul. 25th, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
So Spike has hhooked up with Angel because he's weak? I thpought this was a spuffy community?
quinara
Jul. 26th, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)
Stop causing trouble, you! I don't know how you got that reading out of this...
relurker
Jul. 26th, 2011 06:43 am (UTC)
I loved it very much! Your drunk-Spike-speech is absolutely brilliant, and you had Buffy in what I think is her best "Slayer mode": big crisis, apparently untenable situation, so she improvises, gets any help and/or information out of thin air (...or in this case Dawn :)), makes the best possible use of it in two seconds flat.
Then it's still all very sad and heartbreaking, but so beautiful!
quinara
Jul. 26th, 2011 09:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you! I'm really glad you think it's in character. It's a bit sad, but I'll confess that as usual I finished this and found myself querying it, going over, 'OK, so I can see what makes Spike my Spike here, but is this really Buffy? What are my thoughts on Buffy that this depends on?' I wasn't quite sure, but I think you've nailed it on the head, so hooray! I love Buffy at her most pragmatic and responsive, so I'm thrilled that that came out. :D
anviloverheaven
Jul. 26th, 2011 09:11 am (UTC)
Oh drunk Spike! So funny yet so sad.

quinara
Jul. 26th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC)
Poor drunk Spike. :( Thank you, though!
moscow_watcher
Jul. 27th, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC)
Poor guys. *pets them*

Lovely piece. Drunk Spike seeing his situation on Homerian scale is bittersweet.
quinara
Jul. 29th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
:( *pets them with you*

Thank you, though! I'm rather fond of drunk!Spike's melodramatic tendencies. ;)
tennyo_elf
Aug. 4th, 2011 08:01 am (UTC)
I love your call fics! This one is a bit sad but they get through this, what doesn't kill 'em makes 'em stronger! :)
quinara
Aug. 7th, 2011 06:30 pm (UTC)
Definitely! And thanks very much - I'm really glad you like the series!
tennyo_elf
Aug. 7th, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome! ^_^
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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