indie and tango
“What the?” Spike murmured under his breath as he climbed over the ledge to Samantha’s window. Her lamp was on and he had no trouble making out her trembling shoulders or her tear stained face.
He padded quickly to her bedside, gently sitting on the mattress next to her. With a sniffle, Samantha half climbed into his lap and he wrapped his arms around her, pressing gentle kisses to the top of her head.
Spike adored Samantha. Sure, he felt weird and more than a little pervy dating a girl he’d known since before she was even a glint her father’s eye ... but self-loathing aside, he couldn’t deny his feelings toward her. While he looked upon Joey with the affection of a beloved uncle or family friend, grinning at her antics and reveling in the misery she brought her parents, Samantha had always been a different story entirely. He’d never had the easy camaraderie with Samantha that he’d had with Joey. Which was just as well, because it could have made the time Angel brought his daughters to one of the stops on the band’s farewell tour two years earlier even more awkward than it already was.
Spike hadn’t seen Samantha in years and at first glance, he had thought she was Buffy. But upon closer inspection, he realized that the gorgeous young creature was Angel’s daughter, not his wife. Samantha had been reserved, as always, guarding herself with icy control. But over the course of the night, they’d spent a good deal of time talking. He managed to draw her out of her shell and discovered that behind the rigid control, lurked a flirtatious and daring young woman. Upon that realization, he had quickly cut the night short, and gone back to the hotel to take the coldest shower in the history of man.
It was Samantha that had pursued him, surprising him with telephone calls so racy that his toes had curled. They spoke on the phone and over email for months. Spike tried, he really did, but Samantha wouldn’t be dissuaded. And truth be told, he didn’t want to be dissuaded either. He fell in love. Hard.
So, for the last year and a half he’d been sneaking around with one of his oldest friend’s daughters. He pretended to be the doting family friend while he spent his nights sneaking into her room and praying her father wouldn’t overhear. Luckily, Buffy and Angel were usually so busy themselves that it wasn’t an issue.
Spike sighed, hugging Samantha tighter as her sniffles gradually began to subside. As much as he was in love with her, as much as he would do anything for her, Samantha had always maintained distance. Not just from him, but from everyone. She was always set apart, always in control of the situation. You never knew what she was thinking. And Spike had never, ever, seen her fall apart like this. “Sweetheart,” he whispered, “what’s wrong?”
She sniffled one last time and pulled back, blinking up at him with damp eyes. She seemed to be considering how much to trust him and Spike held his breath for interminably long seconds.
“My parents,” she finally admitted sadly. “I just thought they needed the right push and they’d get back together, but now I don’t know.”
Spike nodded, brushing a few strands of hair back from her beautiful face. Though he had to admit, he found it much less stressful sneaking into the house now that Angel wasn’t actually living in it, he knew that it was hurting Samantha.
Still sniffling, Samantha told Spike about what had happened that evening with her father and Rebecca. She told her about her mother’s reaction to the news and about the flooding basement episode. Her tone was defeated and it struck Spike deeply. Samantha was never defeated. Ever. He always thought that she had been in control from the moment she came into the world. She did what was necessary and everyone else was expected to fall into line. The lost little girl sobbing on his shoulder was breaking his heart.
“So, Buffy’s still seeing that lawyer ponce?” Spike questioned thoughtfully after a long, calming pause.
“Yeah,” Samantha said. “He’s a cocky son of a bitch. I really hope Daddy gets his hands on him someday.”
“I’ll tell you what, pet,” he said softly, kissing the tears on her face. “Why don’t we take Lindsey out of the picture? Your mother’s picky enough. She won’t find someone else worthy of her for quite some time if he’s not threatening the issue.”
“What could we do to get rid of him?” Samantha asked quietly.
Spike gave her a dazzling smile. “Lawyer boy will never see it coming,” he answered.
Buffy changed clothes three times before her Wednesday night date with Lindsey. It was in the middle of the week and a school night. She should be studying but she couldn’t get the picture out of her mind of Angel with another woman, touching her, making love to her. Just Samantha’s description of his hand on the woman’s leg was enough to make her insides twist.
She stared into the mirror and shook her head in disgust. It wasn’t her clothes that were wrong. It was her. She had lost weight and since she was thin to begin with, it made her look haggard. Dark circles rounded her eyes so dark, cosmetics couldn’t completely cover it. The most noticeable was the look in her eyes – sad, desperate, wild.
For a long time she stood staring at her reflection until she thought she could see right through herself. Her daughters and her husband were barely speaking to her. She was falling apart. This date with Lindsey would do nothing but help her hate herself just a little bit more.
When Lindsey arrived to pick her up, she forced herself to be far more cordial than she felt. Lindsey was the perfect gentleman, helping her with her jacket, opening all the doors. His car was a Mercedes, black and sexy as hell. The restaurant he picked was in the historic hotel downtown. Buffy had never been inside it before. When she suggested it to Angel, he just snorted saying it was too stuffy for his taste.
Buffy smiled at Lindsey as he poured her a glass of wine. She took in the atmosphere, the jazz combo playing lightly in the background, the soft, candlelit atmosphere. It was nice. Very nice. Buffy couldn’t help but chuckle at the novelty of being wooed. She and Angel had just sort of fallen on and for each other. There was really no dating. It was like one second they didn’t even know who the other was and the next moment they were spending the rest of their lives together. It had all seemed so perfectly natural. It wasn’t this awkward, somewhat stilted rapport she had with Lindsey.
She smiled, taking a large drink of wine. She had to admit that the recent stress had taken a toll on her relationship with Lindsey. While she still liked him and found him attractive, she couldn’t look at him without thinking about all the problems with Angel. More and more, Lindsey wasn’t worth all the trouble. But Angel was moving on. That, more than anything, urged Buffy to see if she might have a spark with Lindsey.
By halfway through dinner, she was fairly sure whatever spark may have been there had been drowned. And at the moment, drowning sounded rather appealing. As Lindsey motioned toward her wine glass, Buffy nodded with a smile. Three glasses of wine were improving her outlook on things.
“Your place or mine?” Lindsey asked boldly.
Buffy smiled at him, slipping into the car as he held the door open. “Mine.”
Buffy wasn’t sure when she had noticed them, but she had. The dark haired couple sitting several tables behind Lindsey. They looked stunning together. The guy lacked Angel’s raw masculine appeal, but he was handsome. The young brunette across the table complemented him perfectly. He wore a wedding ring, she didn’t. Logically, Buffy knew it wasn’t Angel and Rebecca, but looking at the couple chatting, hands brushing against one another, their inviting smiles ... she couldn’t stop the images she had of Angel and his new fuck toy. Not caring if she looked like a lush, she’d finished off the bottle of wine.
Lindsey smiled at her without comment and drove them to her house. Buffy leaned against the soft leather seats and smiled. The wine had helped tremendously and her whole body felt so much better. Short minutes later, Lindsey was opening her car door and escorting her inside. He led her directly up the stairs and to the bedroom with a little direction from Buffy.
Once the door was softly closed, Lindsey pulled her into his arms and kissed her, and Buffy pressed herself against him, enjoying the thrill of kissing someone who was not Angel. Lindsey’s hands roved over her body more quickly and less expertly than Angel, who had memorized every plane of her years before. The more he touched her the more her heart began to race and she fought the urge to back away or jerk when he caressed more intimate places.
She threaded her fingers through his hair defiantly and tried harder to lose herself with him. He was sexy and although different, his touch was arousing. She kept very still as he unzipped the back of her dress and moved down to kiss her throat as he smoothed his hands over her bare back.
She tried to relax as he slipped the dress from her shoulders, trailing his fingers down her arms. She assured herself that she was attracted to him and wanted him to see her naked body. She wanted to give herself to him. She was so busy reassuring herself in a monotonous mantra inside her head that it took her a second to realize he had stopped touching her.
She opened her eyes. Her dress was pooled at her feet, leaving her just in her matching black lace bra and panty set and Lindsey was staring at the scars marring her abdomen. She had been so nervous, she had forgotten about them completely. Now, tears sprang to her eyes as she crossed her arms over her stomach and backed away, nearly tripping over her dress.
Lindsey had been, and still was, staring at her in utter horror. The scars were ugly, sure, they were definitely not something you’d see on a pin up girl and Lindsey clearly hadn’t been expecting them. Angel always kissed them when they were in bed and often splayed his hand over her stomach, caressing them when they were just lounging around together. To him, they were a beautiful gift. To Lindsey, judging by the way he’d gone green, they were not.
Choking on a sob, Buffy ran to the gathered the bundle on the floor at Lindsey’s feet and ran to the bathroom. She locked the door behind her and crawled into the tub, clutching her dress and purse to her belly. Curling into a little ball, she began to sob. She heard Lindsey’s voice through the door, but ignored it as he begged her to come out and talk to him. Nothing he could say would change the look on his face. The absolute revulsion in his eyes was enough for her to know everything she needed to know.
Angel had been at the onsite gym of his apartment complex attempting to work out some of his recent stress when Buffy called his cell phone, sobbing. He felt like his heart had flung out his chest at the sound of her desperate tears. Barely able to understand her, he figured out, as he ran out of the gym to his car, that she was at home, Lindsey was with her and something about her stomach. Whatever it was, he felt panicked as he raced the few miles it took to get home.
He used his key to get in and took the steps two at a time to the bedroom to find Lindsey talking to a closed bathroom door. Lindsey jerked up and looked at Angel before backing slowly away from the door. Angel hurried to the door and knocked on it, knowing he would have plenty time to kill that home-wrecker later.
“Buffy?” he called. “It’s Angel. Let me in, baby.”
He didn’t say anything else, but stood waiting in silence for a minute, maybe more, until a little click sounded and the door was opened a crack. Shooting a prideful glare at Lindsey, Angel slipped inside and shut the door behind him. He found Buffy curled in the tub in nothing but a bra and a pair of panties, and a dress draped over her middle.
Immediately, Angel fell to his knees and tugged at the material across her stomach. “Buffy, are you hurt? Did he hurt you?”
She gripped the material with white knuckles, holding it against her scarred belly. New bouts of sobs over took her as she closed in on herself.
“Baby, it’s just me,” he whispered soothingly, trying to inch the material away. “Let me see what’s wrong.”
When he was finally able to pull the dress away, he looked at her stomach in confusion. There was nothing wrong with it. It looked perfectly normal to him. He moved closer, trying to inspect some hidden hurt but could find nothing.
“I don’t understand,” he whispered, climbing into the tub and easing himself behind her. She nestled against his chest and let him hold her. “What were you hiding, sweetheart?”
“M-my stomach,” she finally blurted. “He saw,” she sobbed, her whole body racked with the force of her tears, “and he just s-stared. Repulsed by…my sc-scars.”
Angel was torn. On one hand, Lindsey's aversion to Buffy's scars was no doubt what had kept the insolent whelp from fucking his mate. But on the other hand, Lindsey's rejection had wounded Buffy deeply, made her doubt her self-worth. Angel sighed, cuddling her closer. "I love you, Buffy," he whispered.
Her sobs stopped and they were silent for a very long time. Eventually Buffy groaned, hating herself. "I'm a mess," she whispered desolately.
"You're just confused, baby," Angel told her, pressing a soft kiss to the space beneath her ear.
She sobbed again, her entire body shaking with the effort. "I'm just so unhappy," she cried. "And I don't know why. I'm upset with you, but we're still sleeping together. And I love you, but I still go out with Lindsey. Then I want Lindsey to touch me, but I freak out when he's not you. My daughters hate me. Samantha thinks I regret having her. Joey's going to end up on welfare - "
"Shhh," Angel hushed her gently, turning her around in the confined space so she could bury her face against his chest. His hands smoothed up and down her back until her sobs finally subsided. When she was reasonably calm, he sat on the edge of the tub and lifted her into his lap. With one hand, he leaned over and started the water in the bathtub, pouring some of her favorite bubble bath into the water. Methodically, he undressed her and ever so gently, set her in the warm, bubble filled water. Standing, he shed his own clothes and quickly joined her in the tub.
Buffy lay back against his chest with a weary sigh. She let Angel gently wash her body as he murmured soothing words into her ear, telling her how much he loved her, how absolutely beautiful he found her, how she was his life. With Buffy now exhausted and wrapped in her hooded chenille robe, Angel cracked open the door. The bedroom was empty. A very cursory glance out the window showed that Lindsey's Mercedes was long gone. Returning to the bathroom, he scooped Buffy up in his arms and carried her to their bed.
"What the fuck are we doing?" Joey demanded, glaring at her sister.
Samantha merely smiled knowingly. As Lindsey stomped out the front door and jumped in his car, Samantha started the engine. Her parents were going to have to worry about each other. Right now, she was going to take care of Lindsey. Samantha had merely been intending to follow him home and find out where he lived, but Lindsey wasn't going home. He was going to a bar.
Angel's daughters sat outside Willy's for two hours before finally venturing inside in search of their prey. Samantha grinned wickedly when she saw him bent over the bar drowning in beer. If he was three sheets to the wind, this would be really easy, just like Spike said.
“Okay,” Samantha said quietly. “You go order a beer.”
“Me?” Joey gasped. “You’re the older one.”
“Yes, but you look twenty-five and I look twelve,” Samantha explained. “Now go.”
Shrugging, Joey sauntered across the bar and sidled next to Lindsey. Although he was aware that Buffy had two daughters, Lindsey had only seen the pictures in the house. Hopefully, he would be too drunk to recognize her right away. True to form, Joey immediately started flirting with both the bartender and Lindsey. Samantha grinned. It was like shooting fish in a barrel.
Samantha strolled across the bar, pausing to wink at a drunk guy who shouted at her. She had no trouble controlling the male species. While Joey attracted them like flies and then let them have their way, Samantha attracted men and dangled them on their little hooks until she had a use for them.
She slipped the roofies into his beer and hoped it would both dissolve and not turn his drink blue. She would definitely have to ask Spike why he would know so much about the date rape drug. His dark beer didn’t appear to have a blue tint, but it was dissolving a bit too slowly. At this rate he would have chunks in his brew. Samantha took a deep breath and then caressed his shoulders. Joey did her best feminine huff of disapproval as her sister took over the show.
“Buffy,” Lindsey slurred, “I’m so sorry.”
“Drink your beer and let’s get out of here,” Samantha whispered. She stayed partially to his side, hoping the drunkenness and the partial view would fool him long enough.
“I didn’t mean ta hurt your feelin’s,” he said.
“Of course not,” she crooned. “Come on, finish your drink, sailor.”
"You sure this is the right place?" Joey demanded. She was breathing hard, laboring from the effort of trying to support Lindsey's largely unconscious weight.
"It's what's on his driver's license," Samantha said, taking Lindsey's keys and opening the apartment door.
"You know, this is just too choice," Joey grumbled. "I'm supposed to be the bad kid, but you're the one drugging people and breaking into houses."
Haughtily, Samantha looked over her shoulder. "I do what needs to be done," she said shortly.
Together, they managed to drag Lindsey through his apartment to the bedroom. Samantha had to admit that he had great taste. The apartment was decorated with an artist's eye. Oh well, too bad. They managed to dump Lindsey on the bed. "Take off his shirt," Samantha ordered, reaching for the hem of her own blouse.
Joey stared at her dumbfounded. "Wanna run that past me again?" she asked.
"His shirt," Samantha said, pulling her blouse over her head and carefully folding it. "Take it off."
Joey was too shocked to protest. Gracelessly, she pulled Lindsey's shirt over his head. Samantha shrugged out of her bra and crossed her arms over her chest. "Okay, now, there's a camera in my purse," she said, crawling onto the bed with Lindsey and wrapping the covers around both of them.
"This is bullshit," Joey muttered. "Why am I the one that's always grounded when you're clearly the juvenile delinquent?"
Samantha merely smiled at her sister with a superior smirk. "The art is not getting caught," she countered.
Still muttering under her breath, Joey began snapping pictures.
Slipping beneath the covers with Buffy, Angel carefully removed her robe and tossed it aside. He cradled her against him and held on to her, stroking her stomach lightly with his fingertips. He traced the scars one by one. He had long memorized them. He knew each stitch that had been placed in her flesh, just as he remembered each moment he sat by her bed praying he wouldn’t lose her.
Buffy fell asleep, lulled by his familiar touch and Angel held her for a long time, much longer than he had intended. He didn’t know what to think or where his life was going from here. There was nothing he wanted more than to stay there in bed with her for as long as he could, but he knew it wasn’t possible. She had said that she still loved him, that she was confused and although it wasn’t everything he dreamed she would say, it was enough. He could hold on to that little tidbit and be okay.
With a deep sigh, he carefully extracted himself from her body and prepared to go back to his apartment. She had made it abundantly clear that he was no longer welcome in his own home. As he tiptoed to the bathroom, Buffy roused from sleep and looked anxiously around the dark room.
“I’m here,” he whispered back softly. “I was just going to get my clothes. Don’t worry, I’m going to go home before the girls know I spent the night.”
“Don’t leave,” she whispered. She rose from the bed and almost trudged toward him. She took his hand and pulled lightly to lead him back to bed.
“Alright. I’ll stay the night.”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. He watched her hair sweep over her shoulders in the dark and reached out to touch a strand.
“No?” he asked in confusion.
“Will you…will you please just come back home?” she said hoarsely. He couldn’t clearly see the tears in her eyes, but he heard them in her voice.
“And if you change your mind tomorrow?” he asked, trying to keep his tone calm. “I’m not going to jump in and out of your life, Buffy.”
“I’m sorry, Angel,” she choked. “I love you so much. We still have things to work out but I want you to stay. I…I need you to stay.”
He pulled her closer, hugging her against his body. "Okay, baby," he whispered. "If that's what you want."
On to part 9
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