Title: Sad Song in His Heart - Chapter 1/3
Pairing/Characters: Spike/Buffy, Harmony, OC
Summary: What was Spike really thinking and feeling when he met up with Harmony in the bar at the end of Harm's Way? And why is it about to get him in a serious amount of trouble?
Spoilers: Spoilers for Harm's Way and the Season 8 retcon of The Girl in Question
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Just playing.
Word Count: 1974 of fic, 3671 with added commentary (which goes to prove I talk too much)
First off, a little explanation for the fic banner made by the talented ducktheduck. I selected the images to be symbolic of the story rather than just random pictures of Buffy and Spike. So we have a screencap of Spike from Conversations With Dead People. I’d have preferred Harm’s Way because of him not wearing the duster in the above image, but his mood for the fic is best shown in this cap of him. Second we have a Buffybot pic. Then a picture of SMG from her Maxim photoshoot which I thought fitting as Buffy bares all in this story, baring her heart to Spike. Finally on the far right we have a picture of SMG in Rome at an event, which is meant to symbolize the Buffy Decoy who’s all glam and easy smiles compared to SMG Maxim’s serious expression.
Three Buffys? (or is it Buffies? I went with the first way.) This fic was made especially for Aisalynn who had been beta’ing for Thought You Should Know and shown a marked interest in the Decoy in Rome’s character. I jokingly offered to write her a PWP for Seasonal Spuffy entitled “Buffy, the Decoy and the Bot: the Kinkiest Threeway Spike didn’t know he had coming”. Well as you can see, while the story certainly remained kinky it wasn’t PWP kink. The exact opposite in fact. This fic is the epitome of plot-kink aka twist. I kept trying to make them all have sex and they just refused to do it. Buffy was shy in front of them and the Decoy kept looking away awkwardly and Spike was a little embarrassed that his first time with Buffy in so long was in front of two lookalikes. The Bot of course was totally into it and only upset that she was being made to watch instead of actively participating. I still have this version saved on my hard drive. Heh, I should probably post that.
Had a bad day again
She said I would not understand
First a note about this snippet from the song “Bad Day” by Fuel. It just felt like it fit the spirit of the mood of this story, most especially Spike’s mood as it’s beginning. It’s about giving up and feeling despondent, turning your back on the one you love when you’re feeling down. Sound familiar?
The bar was nicer than the dives and hellholes Spike normally chose for drinking himself into a stupor. ‘Course, demon bars weren’t known for their exacting standards. Probably why this bar was so swank. Mostly humans inside drowning their sorrows or chasing tail. He was pretty sure some were doing both. More power to ‘em.
So we enter with Spike’s POV here. My own style of writing tends towards making a POV piece sound like the character. I probably dance a fine line between using and abusing this technique, but I try to make the word choices and sentence structure sound like Spike. This is how he views the world and this is what he’s thinking and rationalizing.
What’d it say about him that he’d chosen a human bar near Wolfram &Hart instead of scrounging for a demon bar where he could mingle and brawl amongst his own kind?
He’s feeling a bit lost. Doesn’t know where he belongs. Can’t go to Buffy, can’t go back to W&H (yet). Closing time, one last call for alcohol…
A flash of blonde hair caught his eye and he tensed unconsciously. No, it wasn’t her. Though technically the piece of fluff at the bar also qualified as an ex, the two blondes were leagues apart in his mind and heart. He huffed an unnecessary breath and ambled towards the chatterbox gabbing at the bartender. Looked like he’d managed to find a bar that catered to his kind after all.
A fake out to Buffy, initially unwanted and then welcome. The first hint that Spike has trouble recognizing Buffy, that his judgment is off. That he’s jumping at shadows.
“So I save the summit by killing the skank who tried to frame me, and all I get is, ‘get me some coffee.’ You believe that?” Harmony pouted before shaking her head and giving a smile armed to charm and disarm. “Oh, hey, can I get another, but with one of those little umbrellas?”
All dialogue from this point is lifted from the episode Harm’s Way with descriptions added to mark the delivery of the characters in the episode. Taken from the buffyworld transcripts unaltered.
Spike smirked at Harmony’s chipper voice complaining about her day. The office gossip had traveled so quickly it’d caught him on his way out the door. Out the door, out of town and out of the country. Across the pond. Taking that big leap. Leap of faith and all that jazz. Right.
A little stream of consciousness meets prose as Spike muses on his failure for the day. Also taking note that Spike had heard about the ruckus with Harmony even though he was supposedly leaving town.
Except he’d never quite made it.
Ah, well. Plans change. He might as well get sauced with his blond ditz of an ex. Not like he had anything better to do. Sitting down next to Harmony, he eyed the liquor bottles and wondered if Harmony might put up the dosh for the drink he’d just ordered. His funds were depressingly low until he was able to fence some of the knickknacks he’d swiped from Angel’s penthouse.
That’s the spirit, Spike. Get trashed and distract yourself with Harmony nattering on. I just loved taking a dig at Angel here. While I don’t think Spike goes around stealing the way he used to, I think he would swipe something from his grandsire, no hesitation at all. Partly because he thinks Angel owes him and partly because it’ll annoy Angel.
Was stealing from an evil corporation still considered a sin? Couldn’t be. He was practically Robin Hoodwinking Wolfram & Hart out of their ill-gotten gains. He deserved a medal for chipping away at that fortress of evil. The fact that he was also sticking it to Angel was just a bonus and in no way should detract from his ultimately good deed.
Robin Hoodwinking. Heh, made up verbs are fun. As is Spike rationalizing why it’s okay to steal and how it actually makes him a warrior for good. This whole chapter is about showing Spike in a rationalizing mood. That he’s not even being honest inside his own head, let alone in what he’s saying. Words lie, even those not spoken aloud but only existing on the page.
“Yeah, life's an ever-lovin' bitch, isn't it?”
Commiserating with Harm was easy. Compliment her outfit, stroke her ego, put on the active listening façade, rinse and repeat. Whatever faults the girl may have – annoying, clingy, not the brightest bulb – right now she was a welcome distraction. Her talent for inspiring aggravation and her tendency to swim in the shallow end of the pool of life were sure to keep his mind off other… things.
Okay, Spike’s being a bit mean here to Harmony. Taking her for granted the way he usually does, in fact using her to distract him from what’s upsetting him.
“What are you doing here?” Harmony sounded surprised.
“At the moment, hearing a bit of your story of woe.” First step, keep the conversation on her. Once she took the bait, she’d natter on for hours and he could let the easy rhythm of her rah-rah spirit numb him down.
Not very nice, Spike. He’s playing her.
“But...what happened to Europe? Aren't you supposed to be slayer-chasing or something?”
Well, damn. How’d he forget her other talent? The one where she always picked at the last thing he wanted to talk about. Girl was like a dog with a bone when she decided she wanted an answer, too. “I was on my way. Had a boat ticket and all. Then I put a little thinking into it. A man can't go out in a bloody blaze of glory, savin' the world, and then show up 3 months later, tumbling off a cruise ship in the south of France. I mean, I'd love to, don't get me wrong, but, uh, it's hard to top an exit like that.”
The most hated explanation in Spuffydom. But I can’t help but view it as a complete cover. Hence the fill-in-the-blank rationalization of this half of the first chapter. Showing the dissonance between what he’s saying and what he’s thinking. That the man who prides himself on honesty is now living in lies, lies so convincing that he’s fooling himself. This attack to his sense of identity hasn’t been helped by being non-corporeal and subject to Angel’s judgment for the past few months.
There. That sounded convincing.
Harmony rolled her eyes. “Come on. Girls don't care about stuff like that. Just one look at you, and she'll forget herself, and she'll get all tingly, and it won't matter how horribly you treated her in the past and how you took her for granted, and...”
Okay, maybe not so convincing. And hey…”I never took her for gr – Oh.” He paused and looked at Harmony significantly, an unspoken apology quickly veiled. “I expect Buffy would be happy enough to see me.” Sure, she’d be happy to see him. Though definitely not enough. The thought of her smiling at his miraculous return was quickly followed by her nonchalantly sending him on his merry way. “It's just, I gave up my life for her, the world, and if I show up now, flesh and bone, my grand finale won't hold much weight. All of it... won't matter.” Going out in a blaze of glory was all he had to hold onto. She’d needed him to be her champion and he’d delivered. Glory and sod all else was all that was keeping him going. Not like he had anything more to hang his hat on. Not like she’d ever really lo –
Poor little lost boy, he’s got no one to love him. He’s caught up in feeling sorry for himself. Sorry and unworthy. And of course this perspective is based on the belief that he didn’t believe her when Buffy said she’d loved him in Chosen. This mindset is the heart of the story.
“Yeah, not mattering.” Harmony sighed. “I know that feeling well.”
Oh, balls. Now his despondent mood was infecting those near and almost dear to him. Grasping mentally at straws, he tried to look encouraging. “Oh, come on, Harm, you matter to someone.” Odds were that was true. Yeah, everybody mattered to somebody. He was sure that was true. Even when a person didn’t matter to the one person who mattered the most, there was still someone out there who cared. Somewhere. Somehow.
And here’s where he turns it around. He goes from being completely self-absorbed and wanting to use Harmony to feel better to realizing that he and she are alike. And this moment of connection makes him want to ease her burden. He vacillates between his beleaguered hope in love and his new despondency, channeling the hope for Harmony’s benefit.
“I do?” Harmony looked hopeful and slightly disbelieving.
He knew that feeling, the desperation to believe something too good to be true and the wrenching pain when forced to admit that the shine was masking dross as gold. Hell, he wasn’t going to be the one to spoil it for Harm. Maybe she wouldn’t realize it was a lie, maybe she wasn’t quite sharp enough to pull back the well-intentioned veil of deceit, maybe it wouldn’t be a lie for her. Besides, wasn’t believing the impossible dream better than this bleak reality? Girl deserved some hope. She’d had a rough day. “Yeah. Girl tried to frame you, didn't she? Must have mattered to her. Everybody's talking about it.”
In saving Harmony, he’s saving himself in a way. Except he doesn’t know how. But it’s this rare kindness that he’s trying to protect her belief in herself when his own self-worth is shattered. He’ll spend the rest of AtS Season 5 searching for validation and putting on the mantle of hero first with Doyle!Lindsey and then returning to take up Angel’s mission. He goes where he feels needed, where he feels he can help. But it’s not a passion for him. And Spike is all about passion. The only event that really gets him involved is trying to save Fred and then avenging her death.
Harmony sat back, surprised. Her face slowly lit up with joyous realization. “You're right. That girl hated me. She wanted me dead. I matter.”
Spike nodded and raised his glass to toast her, satisfied with a job well done. It’s good she believed she mattered.
At least one of them did.
Poor Spike, so lost. So disconnected from the very essence of who he is, now directionless, passionless, fearful of going balls to the wall.
The hours passed in a drunken haze. Harmony had long since toddled off upon seeing a likely bloke smile her way. Girl would never learn, but at least the odds of her being framed for murder were close to nil for the evening. And giving credit where credit’s due, she had solved her problem all on her own. No rescue needed. Maybe there was hope for her yet.
Fond thoughts of Harmony. Fond, envious thoughts of his more innocent self who he identifies with Harmony. Innocent in terms of hopeful versus cynical. Not innocent versus evil, mind you.
Spike scowled at his empty shot glass and reached blindly for the bottle of Scotch resting on the bar. Desperate for a drink after Harmony had ditched him and their unpaid tab, he’d managed to convince the bartender that he was an esteemed guest of the terrifying and all-powerful CEO of Wolfram & Hart. The liquor had flowed freely ever since. Good to know the Great Poofter still had his uses. Like helping Spike get stupid drunk, for one.
Sticking it to Angel again. He’s almost like a gypsy here, that by stealing from the Poofter and hoodwinking him, he’s earning his stripes. But underneath all this snark and resentment, affection and love. Angel is family. Now Harmony got away without paying and most likely because Spike fell out of his mercenary, manipulative mood with her.
A heady perfume wafted towards him and he was struck dumb by the scent – a pleasant mixture of flowers, soap and something earthy and old. Old as in powerful. And something else, something underneath the other aromas that smelled familiar. He turned his head slightly without looking and breathed in deeply, peeling back the layers as he isolated the familiar tang.
The overlying scent of Amara, something so unique that Spike’s vampire senses recognize it as old and powerful.
Buffy. No, it couldn’t be.
Then the underlying scent of Buffy, meant to throw him off his game. And more importantly, scent is one of the strongest triggers for memory. Is there a better way to make Spike start to think about Buffy? A topic he’s been trying to avoid all night even in his own mind.
Spike whipped his head to the right and encountered a pair of eyes so dark they appeared black looking at him curiously. The woman was striking, raven tresses falling straight down her back, red lips contrasting her porcelain skin. Beautiful and not what he was looking for. He shook his head, looking beyond the mystery woman to search the room. No, not here. He could have sworn…
I love this. How he clinically notes the woman’s beauty and then just keeps searching for Buffy in the crowd. Note the eye color – black.
Hell, he’d dodged a bullet. Last thing he needed was a gentle letdown, the final stab to his heart. He was already walking wounded here, didn’t need Buffy to show up and kick his legs out from under him. He could hear her voice in his head, at first putting him off reluctantly – does it have to mean something? – til she gave in and set him straight – it would never be you, Spike – before finally putting him in his place – you’re beneath me – and moving on with her day.
I could have added more violent words Buffy’s said to him, but I think these are the ones that resonate for Spike the most. Especially that he’s “beneath her”.
I love you.
God, why did she say that? Was she trying to torment him? He knew it wasn’t true. For all the times she’d been brutal, beat him down, tore away his every defense, she’d never been truly cruel till she’d told him that. ‘Course she didn’t mean it. He was dying, for Christ’s sake. A pity ‘I love you’ was miles worse than a pity fuck. At least the pity fuck didn’t gut you every time you thought about it.
Doubting the declaration. And her saying ‘I love you’ and not meaning it would be more painful to Spike; Spike who’s only ever wanted to be loved. He’s so worked up that he even slips tenses here – instead of saying “He had been dying, for Christ’s sake” he says “He was dying, for Christ’s sake”. A callback to his dying in the Hellmouth but also to the fact that he’s dying right now. His hope is dying, his ability to believe in love.
Why’d she say it? Why couldn’t it have been true? Why couldn’t he have stayed dead or at least been resurrected with a convenient amnesia package that wiped away all the past aches and pains?
Some wishes here as well as a shout-out to the most common post-Chosen fic of Spike being resurrected without his memory intact. Which for all its own problems, in some ways is easier. Spike and Buffy have a very complicated history and wiping that slate somewhat simplifies things.
Spike hunched forward, his face buried in his upraised hands as he stared through splayed fingers at the oak bartop. A faint humming started to vibrate the air around him and he blinked. Mission accomplished – he was drunk. He dropped a hand to swipe at the spinning waves of air and looked up suspiciously when the humming morphed into a lyrical singsong rhythm. A song that was coming from the lady to his right.
And here comes the song from the lady in red. Note the color – red. I just find the image of Spike swatting at song notes in the air amusing, kinda like the way he watched his hands when he was tripping during Woodstock.
Turning slowly in his drunken stupor, he glanced down at her thigh and noted the expensive cut of the red sheath dress she was wearing. Lady in red. Huh. He’d always liked red. The humming continued as his eyes traveled up over the gentle curve of her hips, her slim waist and voluptuous breasts. Right, beautiful lady in red. He’d forgotten about her completely.
Drunken musings on him liking red and disinterested realization that the lady is beautiful.
What was she singing about?
Spike blinked erratically, trying to clear his eyes as he stared dumbly at her bright red lips pulled back into a delighted grin. Something a bit off about that. Like she was laughing at him as she hummed her little ditty through her teeth.
Spike’s drunk. And Amara’s enjoying herself here. A delighted grin, laughing as she sings a song unnaturally through her teeth. Amara – a beautiful lady in red who’s hitting on a vampire in a bar. Except she’s the vamp – the lady on the prowl, completely assured and out to get what she’s after.
“What…what you singing about, love?” Spike slurred, squinting at the woman.
He’s too drunk to be alarmed.
She leaned in closer and he closed his eyes as that perfume inflamed his senses again. Her lips brushed up against his ear and the humming slowly became words sung over and over – a dream is a wish your heart makes a dream is a wish your heart makes a dream is a wish your heart makes – till he jerked back as a chill attacked his spine. The humming continued to surround him but he could no longer hear the words without her mouth pressed up against his ear.
Again the powerful, affecting scent. And this is a shoutout to Cinderella and an allusion to this being a darker fairytale – red & black & wishes. I thought it was disturbing that the singsong humming actually became words the closer she got to him, that there’s a message embedded in there that his vampire hearing can make out when she’s that close to him. But it’s something a normal human would never recognize. That the song echoes inside him.
“What are you on about?” he demanded belligerently, raising his eyes to glare at her.
Finally alarmed though still drunk.
“Making your wish come true,” the woman purred, eyes now gleaming red with streaks of silver circling through the flaming color of her irises.
And we finally hear the “W” word. Uh oh. Note the color of her eyes, once black and now red with streaks of silver.
Spike tensed, leaning away from her as she surged towards him. “Pfft, never made no wish,” he denied vehemently.
Well, certainly not outloud.
Her hand snaked forward to touch his chest and she grinned triumphantly. “Oh, you did. You did. I heard you. I heard your heart make a wish.” She licked her lips, devouring him with hungry eyes as she slowly savored the moment. “Wish granted."
And here’s the vengeance demon fakeout. But even more peculiar, the idea of a heart-wish. That she can hear his heart’s desires. Something to do with her powers and her song. That her song almost works like sonar, pinging off objects and reverberating back to the sender. She sings to Spike, his heart-song reverberates back to her. I really wanted her introduction to be mysterious and chilling.
*** If there’s anything I’ve discussed that raises a question, feel free to comment below. Thanks for reading.