Chapter Eight: Sweet Misery
“So how are Dawn and Spike doing?” Xander asked as he flipped through the channels, looking for something to watch. Anya lowered her magazine to look at him.
“You know about that?”
“Yeah. Spike told me they’ve been hanging out.”
“Well, that’s true,” Anya said cautiously.
“You could have told me, you know. So I guess their working it out, getting back on track?” Anya started reading her magazine again.
“I suppose you could say that.” Xander glanced over at her, puzzled.
“What?” Anya put the magazine down again.
“What did he tell you?”
“He told me that it turned out they’d been living in the same city; he bumped into her at some club and they’ve been spending a lot of time together. Why, did he make that up or something?” Anya shook her head smiling bitterly.
“No that’s all very true.”
“Is there something else? What’s going on?”
“Absolutely nothing.” Her voice was sharp, irritated.
“Anya! Would you stop with the cryptic and just tell me what the problem is,” Xander said, worried by how upset Anya seemed. She slapped her magazine down on the coffee table and put her head in her hands.
“I can’t tell you! I promised Dawn I wouldn’t.”
“You promised you wouldn’t tell me? So there is something to tell? Now you have to tell me! You can’t say something like that and just expect me to forget about it.” Anya rubbed her temples and appeared to be having a silent debate with herself. “An!”
“Alright! Look, I’m not happy about breaking a promise to Dawn, and normally I wouldn’t, even if you begged me, but I just think she’s making a huge mistake!”
“What is going on? What mistake?”
“Dawn thinks that Spike doesn’t want to be anything more than friends, that he doesn’t love her anymore.” Xander looked blank.
“Why would she think that?”
“She says that’s what he said.”
“What?!” She filled him in on everything Dawn had told her.
“It’s got to be a misunderstanding, right? I mean, we know he still loves her. Right?”
“Of course he does. Why would he tell her he didn’t?”
“Do you think he’s still trying to protect her or something?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sick of him hurting her. Next time he calls I’m putting a stop to it.” Anya smiled and hugged Xander. Maybe now those two had a chance.
It was Dawn’s night off again so she and Spike made plans to go out to dinner. She searched through all her dresses to find something special to wear for Spike; she wanted to wear something that made her look really fantastic. She decided on her black Carmen Marc Valvo cocktail dress. She smiled at her reflection, turning from side to side. This ought to do the trick, she thought.
It fit like a dream, caressing her curves lovingly, and showing off her legs to perfection. Maybe when he saw her in this dress he’d actually realize she had curves. Maybe if he were attracted to her he would start to fall a little bit in love with her again. Yeah, she thought sarcastically. Cause it’s JUST that easy! God, who was she kidding? A stupid dress wasn’t going to win him back. She sank down on the edge of the bed; she needed to stop living in denial. He wasn’t in love with her, and she couldn’t force him to be. She wiped the tears from her eyes, and stood back up. She would just have to accept the fact that he would only ever be her friend. That would have to be enough. She went to the mirror and brushed her hair as she fought back a sob.
Spike didn’t know why he had agreed to this. It was hard enough to be with her when it was just a casual evening at home. Now they were going to be all dressed up; she’d probably wear one of those sexy little dresses of hers that drove him half crazy with wanting her. There would be wine and candlelight and probably dancing; there was always dancing. He’d have to hold her pressed against his body half the night and pretend it didn’t affect him. This was going to be torture. He raised his hand and knocked on the door then reached up to smooth his hair back nervously. She opened the door with a smile.
“Come on in. I just need to put my shoes on.” The comment caused him to look down at her bare feet, which in turn caused him to notice her bare legs as she turned to go get her shoes. His eyes traveled slowly up over the rest of her body, the curve of her hip, the span of her waist, the swell of her breast as she turned back towards him, and her beautiful, perfect face. She leaned over to slip her shoes on and her hair spilled forward, brushing the curve of her cheek. He was right; she’d worn one of those damn dresses. It was going to be a long night. She smiled. “Ready?” No, he thought. He held his hand out to her.
“Let’s go,” he said cheerfully.
The night wasn’t all torture. They had fun together at the restaurant, talking and laughing just like they always did, although he noticed that Dawn seemed a little sad. He wondered what was bothering her. Most of the night she seemed to be enjoying herself, but every now and then, usually when she thought he wasn’t looking, he noticed she was on the verge of tears. It hurt him to see her in pain, and he wished she felt close enough to him to confide in him the way she used to.
When they were finished with their meal Spike asked her to dance hoping to chase away her sadness. She took his hand and something flared briefly in her eyes as she smiled at him, but it was gone before he could figure out what it was. As he led her onto the dance floor the music turned slow and sexy. She twined her arms around his neck, her body melting into his. They swayed to the music as his hands slid slowly down her back coming to rest low on her hips. Her hand gently stroked the nape of his neck, her fingers playing with his hair, and he pressed her tighter against his body. She rested her head on his shoulder and Spike tensed as her lips brushed against the side of his neck.
He knew she couldn’t know how she was affecting him, but every move she made seemed provocative, designed to seduce. He leaned slightly away so he could see her; she tilted her head back to look at him and her gaze was heavy-lidded and sultry. There was no way she could know how much he wanted her in that moment. His head lowered toward hers; he felt helpless to resist the temptation to taste her just one time. As she lifted her lips to meet his, the song suddenly ended. Spike froze, gazing deeply into her eyes before pulling roughly from her embrace.
“I can’t do this anymore,” he rasped harshly. “I’m taking you home. Let’s get out of here.” He strode off towards the door and Dawn stared after him in hurt and confusion for a moment before following. She had almost kissed him. No wonder he’s upset; I practically threw myself at him. He’s probably embarrassed and uncomfortable. When she caught up with him she started to stutter an apology,
“Spike, I’m sorry. I-I didn’t m-mean to-”
“I know.” That’s the problem, he thought. She hadn’t meant for him to get all…aroused. He’d probably shocked and embarrassed her. Bloody hell! She was involved with someone else, he was supposed to be her friend, and yet he’d been about two seconds away from an attempt at seduction. What was wrong with him? “Don’t worry, Dawn, I have no intention of seducing you. I’m taking you home and then I’m leaving.”
“Oh.” Dawn felt like he had slapped her; she knew she’d done something foolish, but he didn’t have to be a jerk. She started to get angry. “Whatever! Let’s just get the hell out of here.”
The drive to her place was silent and uncomfortable. When they got there her anger had faded and she just felt sad. “It’s okay if you want to come up.” Spike turned and looked at her with a frightening intensity.
“I don’t think that would be a good idea.” She looked down sadly.
“Are we still friends?” she asked quietly. He reached out and lifted her chin so she was looking at him.
“We’ll always be friends, remember? I couldn’t stop if I wanted to. I just think maybe we need a little space. I’ve been taking up a lot of your time; I’m sure there are other things you’d like to do, or people you’d like to see.” His voice sounded odd and she looked at him sharply, but he turned away from her. “I just think we should take a break. Maybe wait a while before we get together again.”
“Awhile? What does that mean?” she demanded. If he was leaving again she would kill him.
“I don’t know, a couple weeks maybe. You can give me a call whenever you’re ready.” She nodded.
“If that’s what you want.” They sat silently. Dawn thought she might break down if she didn’t get out of there soon. She started to get out of the car saying, “I better go, then. I guess I’ll call you later.”
“Okay, I’ll see you.” He looked at her for a long time then simply said, “Good-bye.” Then he was gone. Dawn let herself into her apartment and sat down on the couch. She stared at the wall, unmoving, for close to ten minutes. She pulled her knees up to her chest and her face slowly crumpled. She dropped her head onto her knees with a sob then slid sideways until she was lying on the couch in a fetal position. She reached up and pulled a blanket off the back of the couch and pulled it over herself; her body shook as she wept uncontrollably. How had everything gone so wrong?
Dawn woke with a start, unsure what had awakened her until she realized the phone was ringing. She started to jump up to get it, but her muscles protested. Oh, god! Legs. Not. Working. Need help. She rolled to the floor and crawled over to the phone.
“Hello,” she said, her voice full of pain.
“Dawn? Are you okay?”
“Chaz? What are you doing calling here?”
“Well, good mornin’ to you, too, darlin’!”
“I’m sorry,” she laughed. “I didn’t mean to be insulting; it’s just you’ve never called me at home before. It threw me.”
“That’s alright; no offense taken. You sound like you had a rough night.” The events of the prior evening flooded Dawn’s mind and she felt a bone deep weariness set in.
“Beyond belief,” she muttered as she sat on the floor, her back pressed against the wall. “I topped it off by spending the night in a ball on the couch. My muscles have all rallied in protest.” Chaz laughed.
“Sounds bad. Know what’s good for that?” Dawn had an idea where this was headed.
“Good work out, lots of physical activity.”
“Are we coming back around to the reason for your call? Are you, perhaps, in need of a favor?” Dawn asked, smiling.
“I got a couple of guys just starting out in their training, wondered if you felt like helping me out with a few things. Show ‘em how it’s done?”
“What time would you need me?” Dawn asked.
“Around four. I could give you a ride to work afterward so you wouldn’t be late.” Dawn thought about it. It would be invigorating to get in a good work out; it might also help her work out some of her frustration. “What do you say; are you in?”
“Yeah, I’m in. I’ll be over at four. Should be fun.”
The training exercises were energizing as always, and Dawn felt like a new woman afterward. Her workouts always made her feel better, although she still felt sad about Spike. She wanted him in her life, but she also realized that she had survived without him when he’d left before, and she could do it again if she had to. She just didn’t want to have to. She showered and changed quickly, getting ready for work. She headed back to the training room to find Chaz doing some bag work. He stopped and looked up when she came in.
“You ready to go?”
“Yup. Let’s hit the road.” Dawn and Chaz joked around on the way to work about which one of them was tougher. He jokingly threatened her as they pulled up out front, and she laughingly made a disparaging remark about his manhood as she got out of the car.
“Don’t get too cocky, little girl. You think I couldn’t take you?” he asked as he charged around the car and grabbed her. She pretended to be afraid, and then smiled at his antics. He was always good for a laugh. Dawn’s head snapped up suddenly as she got that prickly feeling she always got when Spike was near. She searched the street, but didn’t see him anywhere; then the feeling was gone. Strange, she thought. Must have been my imagination.
Spike had lain around all day trying to sleep without success. He kept thinking about his conversation with Dawn the night before. He’d thought she would be mad at him for what happened when they were dancing, but instead she’d seemed almost apologetic. He didn’t understand why. It’s not her fault that I can’t keep my bloody libido in check! It wasn’t fair to her to cut her out of his life because she didn’t return the feelings he had for her. He was supposed to be her friend, and he got the impression that he had hurt her last night. He decided to meet her before her first set and apologize for being such a jerk. He smiled; maybe they could do something after she got off work.
He was getting ready to cross the street near the club when he heard her familiar laugh and looked up. He was just in time to see her getting out of a car out front. Somebody came around from the driver’s side and picked her up in a bear hug; she squealed in mock terror as the guy spun her around. It was him, the guy she’d gone to see that first night he’d followed her. Spike guessed maybe she wasn’t as hurt as he’d thought as he ducked back into the crowd and quickly disappeared.
“So they’re together, but they’re not really together?” Tara asked in confusion.
“Yeah, they’re friends and all, but she says he told her he didn’t love her. But Xander and I know that’s a total lie,” Anya explained. Xander, Anya, Tara, and Willow were all having dinner together, and the discussion had turned to Dawn and Spike.
“So do we know why he’s lying?” Willow asked.
“No, see that’s the big mystery. I mean, they can finally be together; so why is he trying to ruin it?” Xander demanded in frustration. “The worst part is he hasn’t called in forever, and I still don’t know his damn number so I can’t even confront him about it!”
“Has anyone considered that maybe he doesn’t love her?” Tara suggested quietly. They all looked around the table at each other.
“Crazy!” They all spoke at the same time, dismissing the idea.
“So,” Willow said. “What do we do?” There was only silence as they realized that none of them knew the answer.