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What if things had gone a little differently in “Seeing Red?” Quiet Clem could have changed everything.
The bits in between ** are from the episode.
With a Little Help From My Clem
“Hey, Spike!” Clem walks into Spike’s crypt with a grin on his face.
Spike glances up at his wrinkly demon friend and back into his Jack and blood, saying nothing.
“What’s the matter, bud?”
“What am I?”
“A vampire? At least, that’s what I always thought.”
“Duh. What else?”
“A pretty good poker player. A hell of a fighter. You make a good drinking buddy.”
“Where’s the evil?”
Spike throws himself out of his chair and starts pacing. “Why didn’t you say ‘a man to be feared’ or ‘nightmare fodder’ or ‘William the… Bloody’?”
“I’ve never seen that in you, Spike. I’m sorry.”
“Okay, that’s my point. I’m not evil any more. It’s not in me these days.”
“You’ve got that chip thing..”
“Yeah, the chip. The sodding chip. No one can talk about me without bringing up the damned chip. It goes beyond that. There’re plenty of ways to be evil without causing someone physical pain.”
“I believe you. Man, how I believe you.” Even though he is a demon, Clem is definitely more delicate than most.
“They don’t know. They don’t know how I’ve driven up to Seattle. I’ve done things with this chip in my head that would make them faint with fear.”
“Oh. When was that?”
“Couple of summers ago. Right after I got it stuck up my head. Before I met you. I… I was lost. I had to know my limits. Anyway. For a month I experimented. I learned some new things even. But it lost my interest.”
“The thrill wasn’t there because of the chip?”
“Oh, no. I found things to do, and people to hire…” Spike shakes himself. “I just got bored with it. I kept thinking there had to be more fun things to do with my energy.”
“Maybe a new hobby? Pottery?”
“No. It’s… Do you think I am even a little evil?”
Clem squirms. “What if I don’t give you the answer you want? See, that’s something. I’m afraid of you.”
Spike grits his teeth. “Just answer me.”
“I do not consider you evil.”
“Then why does she?” Spike shouts.
“She who?” Spike just glares at him. “Oh. The Slayer.” Clem shrugs.
“Could be. Damn it!” Spike starts pacing again. “Why do I feel like this? About her?”
“Well, she did let you just so far in, got you hooked, then cut you off. I’d hate her too if she did that to me.”
“But. I. Don’t. Hate. Her.”
“You…. Oh. You love her, don’t’ you Spike?”
“How perverse is that?”
“If her skin wasn’t so tight and that personality was in a proper body, I’d hit on her.”
“It’s supposed to be vampires and Slayers killing one another. I’m not supposed to love her.”
“You do. So deal with it.”
“Okay. Next question. Why doesn’t she love me? I’m handsome. I’m brave. I can make her come so hard she quivers for an hour. I’ve saved all their lives I don’t know how many times. All summer I’ve supported her when she was suffering. Why won’t she see I’ve changed?”
“I think it’s your attitude.”
Spike rounds on him. “What’s wrong with my bleeding attitude?”
“See. You still act all Big Bad and evil. Maybe you’re too good an actor.”
“Then I’ll just go over there and act not evil.”
“It’s decided. I’m going over there.”
“Why? Look, leave her alone, let her come to you. The evil thing to do is force yourself on her. Girls like space.”
“She’ll never come to me. She… she hates what I am.”
“So rise above it.”
“Become who you want to be for her, learn to act not evil, then go to her.”
“I act like I act. How I change that?!”
“Well, with that attitude you can’t. Look, what you have against you is a hundred and twenty some years of habit. And habits can be broken.”
“They can! Look at me. I used to be on a twelve kitten-a-day habit. Now I only have four maybe five a week.” Spike looks at him doubtfully. “Unless I win big at poker. But, you know, I cut way back! And I had that habit for fifty years!”
“I was loyal to and loved by Dru for a hundred plus years. My habit is to love someone.”
“All that time was spent with a yodeling loon for a girlfriend. No offence.”
“None taken. That’s what she was.”
“You’ve bragged plenty of times about the things you did with and to Dru. Now you want to try to win Buffy. What you don’t see is that Buffy is not Dru.”
“Whatever, I’m still going over there.”
Clem puts himself between the vampire and the crypt door. Spike glares at his friend. “I like you Spike. I don’t want you staked. Hear me out. Please?” Spike stands down and listens with arms crossed. “This is an example of what I was saying. Don’t just barge in and demand she listen to you. Ask her to. And… listen to her. She has things to say I bet you’d want to hear. Don’t kiss or touch her if she doesn’t want it.”
“She always wants it!”
“Maybe that’s changed. She did break it off with you. Think before you act. You’ve got nothing to gain by forcing, rushing, and playing the Big Bad!” The two look at one another for a minute. “Besides, you owe me three calico and how can I collect if you’re dust.”
Spike chuckles. “Okay. I promise. I will listen and ask. Later, Clem.”
On the way over to Buffy’s house, Spike thinks over Clem’s words. The ugly pucker may very well be right. Still, he is drawn to see her tonight. To see if she will tell him what he needs to hear, now.
He reflects on how funny it is to feel welcome like he is at the Summer’s home. At least, there is no barrier to keep him form entering. Funny too, how often the door is left unlocked. A quick sweep of the downstairs shows no one there. Be he knows she is home, alone. He hears the water come on in the upstairs bathroom. “Well, if she’s in the shower, maybe I can join her. Don’t want to get the leather wet.” Spike shrugs off his coat and tosses it over the star rail before going up.
She doesn’t even lock the bathroom door. Hasn’t she seen ‘Psycho’? He pushes open the door and watches as she straightens from checking the water with one hand on her back.
**“You hurt? You're not moving so well.”
Buffy sighs, not even looking at him, and walks toward the sink. “Get out.”
”We have to talk.” Not wanting any other Scoobies in on this, he closes the door.
“I really don't.”
”Well, this isn't just about you... as much you'd like it to be.”
Buffy crosses her arms over her chest and puts on a tired resolve face. “You spoke. I listened. Now leave.”
Spike sighs a little. “I'm sorry. Not that it matters any more, but I needed you to know that.”
“Because I care about you.”
”Then you might want to try the not sleeping with my friends.”
”I didn't go to Anya for that. I was looking for a spell.”
”You were going to use a spell on me?”
Spike is exasperated, “It wasn't for you! I wanted something. Anything to make these feelings stop.” He sees that Buffy isn’t getting it. “I just wanted it to stop!“ He sees Buffy looking alarmed and gathers himself. Remember what Clem said. I have to be careful. “You should have let him kill me.”
”I couldn't do that.”
She couldn’t? “Why?”
”You know why.”**
Because she loves me? No. wait. Let her tell you. “I have some reasons I would like to believe, but I want to hear, from you.”
Buffy sits on the edge of the tub, again with one hand on her back. She sighs. “It’s… it’s hard to describe. I’ve never felt anything quite like this.” She turns to face him. He leans against he wall beside the door. “It’s like there are… layers in my heart. Like security. While I admire how you fight and… and how you stand by me. But **I could never trust you enough for it to be love.”
“Trust is for old marrieds, Buffy.”**
“My Slayer blood cannot forget what you are. It sings in my gut to kill you, to never forget what you are every time you’re around me.”
“But Buffy, you slept beside me, many nights. We… we made love… all over Sunnydale.”
Buffy shuts off the water and watches the last few drips ripple on the surface before answering quietly. “I hated myself, then. Still do, some.” She looks to his caring blue eyes. “I was juggling chainsaws. Trapezing without a net. You’re a thrill ride Spike.”
Spike smirks. “Thanks, pet. That’s something a fella likes to hear.”
She sighs. “As fun as it was, the whole time, every time I was with you, part of me was hoping you would just do it. Just rip out my throat and drain me dead. Then I could go out happy and escape the hell that is the here and now. Don’t you see, Spike? I know your nature too well to love you.”
Spike slides down the wall and sits there with his arms on his knees. “But I never did,” he ventures quietly.
“No, Spike, you never did. That’s why I’m confused. Nature verses… personality. I know your nature, but I see your potential. Maybe it’s a shadow of who you were with a soul. Also, I don’t know how much of your behavior is because of the chip. I know you can hurt me, I’m different. But… I don’t know Spike.”
Spike buries his face in his arms. “I’m sorry I act like a fool, Buffy. I know what I am, too.” He looks back up at her. “I ask permission to say some things, then I’ll go, please?”
“The least favorite thing for you to hear, first. I love you. Obsessively. But I also respect you. Next, I have changed. Partly because of the chip. Party from just being around you and… them. It’s like… It’s like I don’t have to keep up the big bad persona any more. I have to come to realize that who I was… who Spike is, was shaped by Angelus.”
Buffy gasps and Spike sighs with a half-grin pulling his mouth. “Not Angel. As much as I hate him, he’s good. I mean Angelus. He’s to one who taught me to be evil. I, me, William, whoever you want to call the just-changed me, wasn’t bad. I just so wanted to belong.
“Buffy, you don’t see just how bloody lucky you are. You have a close circle of friends and family who will and do risk their lives for you. You laugh and touch and dance together. And I… I’m an outsider. Less so lately. Now I can stand just outside the firelight, but I barely feel the warmth.” Spike rubs his hands over his face and through his hair, remembering. “The night I was turned I had crashed a party. Everyone was there. The girl I loved was there. And that night everyone laughed at me and pushed me away. I told her I loved her. She insulted me. I ran out. In tears I admit, and right into Drusilla’s arms.” He laughs dryly. “She wanted a toy. Someone to be on the outside with her. Darla and Angelus neglected her. So she made me. Do you know what happened then? They had a reason to pay attention to her again. So, once more, I was on the outside. I learned, very quickly, that the only way I got attention was to be evil.”
Buffy has slid down the side of the tub and is sitting cross legged, listening. “I never knew.”
“A big bad villain isn’t in the habit of showing his soft underbelly, is he? For a century, that was the only way I knew to survive. To keep Drusilla happy. Anyway, my point is, I don’t have to misbehave anymore. I don’t have a reason to. I find I don’t want to. I’m not exactly in the in crowd and I never will be. But you treat me like a man. The gang, they all treat me with some respect and… It’s enough.”
Spike takes a big breath and pushes himself to his feet. “So that’s where it stands, pet. I think I can be as good a man as is possible for a vampire if allowed to. I love you. And… if you ever do decide to love me back, I’ll be around. Regardless, I’ll do whatever I can for you. And for your friends.” Before Buffy can reply, he slips out the door.
He runs as hard as he can, back to his crypt. Sunnydale flies by in a blur. He wants to celebrate. He wants to cry. He wants to break things, too. He feels exposed, yet liberated.
Once there he doesn’t know what to do. The wrinkly bugger was right. Who knew such an ugly demon could be so wise about women? She had heard him out. He had not gone near her. Although the whole time he was there he could smell her.
Sweaty from the hunt. He knew she was naked under that robe, too. He had wanted to show his love, to… to have her, right there. And he had wanted to force her to listen, to feel.
But he had not. She may hate him more now. He may have lost every chance to ever be with her, but he felt so good. Damn. I guess the Big Bad has retired.
“Uh ... knock, knock?” Spike looks over to see Clem standing in the doorway holding a fast food bucket. He waves tentatively. “I remember why I came by earlier. **There's a Nightrider marathon on the TV, so, uh...” he holds up the bucket, “I got hot wings!”**
Spike smiles at his friend. “You were right.”
“Buffy.” Spike waves Clem in and pulls a couple of beers from the fridge.
“I was? I mean. I knew it.”
“I listened and requested and talked and left. I made no move to… kiss her, as much as I wanted to. Thanks mate.”
“Well, it’s not the end of it.”
“You’re saying I have to tippy-toe around her all the time?”
“The Slayer is volatile.”
Spike sighs. “I guess you’re right. So how do I avoid her? Sunnydale’s a small town.”
Clem shrugs, making the layers of skin shift. “Travel.”
“Sure. Drive somewhere you’ve not been. Canada maybe. Somewhere with no evil memories and no one who knows you. Practice acting like new Spike. Then come back, be all ‘hey, Buffy’ cool and see what happens.”
Spike cracks his beer open and thinks. “I’ve not been to Ontario.”
“See? Perfect place.” The two settle back and watch Nightrider. At the first commercial break, Clem looks to Spike. “And… I’ll crypt-sit while you’re gone. You know, keep anyone from squatting or taking your television.”
Spike nods and raises his beer in agreement.
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