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Crash and Burn

Crash and Burn
By NautiBitz

Info and Author's Notes: See introduction.

"What's with the sudden anti-social riff?" Cordelia grimaced, bright midday sun in her eyes. "Everyone is asking about you. I'm running out of excuses."

"I guess I've just been needing a break." Off her friend's blank stare, Buffy added, "You know... to think about stuff."

She continued to stare blankly. "Huh?"

Buffy nodded and settled for, "Must be the post-car loss trauma."

"Must be." Cordelia gave her a skeptical once-over. "Well, are you coming or what?" She smiled. "Lots of cute guys... and no Parker, I made sure of it."

Buffy glanced at Angel, waiting in the car. "Thanks, but... I don't think so, Cord. I'm not feeling up to the whole meet-and-greet right now."

"Your loss." Cordelia sighed, and skipped back to the car. "But you're not flaking on me tomorrow, got it?"

"Uh huh." Buffy didn't hear a word she said.

"Bye bye, Buff," Angel called out with a wave as they drove away.

"Bye, Angel," Buffy said quietly, and realized something new.

It doesn't hurt anymore. Not like it used to.

Her thoughts returned to the thing that did hurt. Spike.

As much as she wanted not to care, she couldn't help but be worried. And angry. And jealous. Crazy jealous. He'd been out all night, doing god knows what with who. Going for a drive, my ass.

She didn't need this. She really didn't need this.

Her speech was outlined and ready, beginning and ending with the phrase, 'You need to move out'. She had no idea how he'd take it. Would he fight her on it? Would he just leave, no questions asked? Would she ever see him again? Wait, that's not the point.

When she turned to re-enter the house, she heard another car pulling up.

The car of Spike.

Her stomach clenching, she watched him approach. You can do this. You can do this, Buffy. You can--

He stepped out of the car, squinting in the sunlight. With a quick, casual nod in her direction, he said, "I'm moving out."

She stared at him, dumbstruck. "What?"

He was already making his way to the backyard. She followed. "Spike?"

He sighed. "I can't stay here, with you. I can't do this anymore."

"Wait -- hey." She tugged on his jacket sleeve. "That's my line!"

"Glad we agree then." He yanked his arm away.

She frowned at his back. "Did you get back together with Dru?"

"What? No."

"Did you see her?" She followed him again.

"No, I didn't see her. Not that that's any business of yours."

"Then what's with the sudden moving out?"

"Shouldn't have stayed here to begin with."

"What? Why?"

He didn't answer, just kept striding ahead.

She intercepted him at the poolside. "If you don't stop walking I'm going to hit you!"

He relented, and stopped.

She took a deep breath. "Look, last night--"

"Yeah. Believe it or not, seeing you starkers wasn't a bloody revelation for me, alright? This isn't about that."

"That's not what I -- God, why do you have to be so mean?"

"That's a little pot calling the kettle isn't it?" He brushed past her.

"What is your problem?"

"You!" He spun around and said fiercely, "You are my problem! You never should've gotten in my way!"

Her brow furrowed. "In your way?"

"That day was supposed to be my last." He stepped back, fanned his arms out. "I'm a walking bloody ghost, Buffy! Look at me!"

"You look all right to me."

Narrowing his eyes, he leaned toward her. "Stop saying things like that. Just stop it, and let me go. Because this," he pointed between them, "is going nowhere."

He stormed away and slung the guest house door shut.

Buffy stood there, shaking, helpless. Tears threatening to fall, she walked in a daze to the house.

* * *

Spike was blindly stuffing objects into a bag when he saw it.

On one of his song sheets, the ballad about Buffy, there was a cherry-colored lipgloss print.

He sat down on the bed.

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Title illustration by Mike Segawa
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