Francine - harvest
I Blame the Dutch mpoetess
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Just thinking about Spike. About Spike as clueless git, to be specific. About how maybe he *can't* get it, without a soul. Maybe they're right. Or maybe he just doesn't know how to, and no one knows how to show him.

Ficlet - spoilery for As You Were


Never Get It

What did I do? What did I say? What was it this time? I know what pissed you off, but what was *wrong* with it? What are the words to make it right?

Explain it to me, he'd said in the alley, when she'd tried to give herself away for something done and over, something she couldn't fix, something dead-forever and not worth drowning her light for.

Make me understand, he thinks, but doesn't say, as he looks at her now, in the wreckage of his bedroom. What did I do? What can I do? How can I make you happy again?

He knows these questions. He’s asked them, times uncounted, arms crossed, huddled against the wall outside the lair, whichever lair it was. Didn’t matter, summer, winter, Paris, New York. Was always cold when he wasn’t burning in the fire of her grace. Dru, Dru, Drusilla of the moods and the stares and the moments of dancing lightness, so thin he could see through her. So sharp he could slit his wrists on her collarbone.

When she’d wanted him, it was like peaches and roses and rotting bodies in the earth, turning to loam, decay so old it was past the smell of death, was just the world in his nose, being reborn. Blood so fresh he could swear as he painted the ribbons on her skin -- sweet red on blue shadowed white down the insides of her thighs as if she could ever, ever again bleed with the moon -- that it came from her own veins. Burning the lie into him that they told about the dead, that there was no heat, that anyone who’d known her fingernails against his breast could ever fear fire.

When she turned those mineshaft eyes on him and narrowed them to slits, hiding misty gray behind pinched lids, teeth bared in a pit-viper’s hiss, and sent him away, it was colder than dying had been. That had just been a winter storm in his head -- like the headache he’d gotten once from eating a lemon ice too quickly, gobbling down his treat before his mum had decided it wasn’t a proper thing for her son to be buying from a street vendor -- then fuzzy, like falling asleep, and it was over. Dru cross with him, though, her mad, random disdain, that a bent head and a soft word couldn’t placate, couldn’t fix… That was like staying alive, in the blizzard. Like leaning against a cold wall and freezing there, stuck to the brick or the rock or the faded wood because there was no place warm in the world, except within her regard, and the coldest place of all was where he was, just outside of it.

Inches away. If only he knew. If only he could put the words together in the right way, to unlock the puzzle of her anger. To see what had made her bite at him this time. To understand, beyond which word, which thing, which action, had set it off. down to what it was that was *wrong* with it. He’d plead with her, sometimes, Drusilla haughty as a Queen, back as erect against the vinyl of a stolen dinette set as if she were corseted and stayed on a velvet settee. Tell me. Make me understand. Explain it to me.

She never would. Only time, only the cotton batting of sleep, the whispering of random faeries in her dreams, would soften her gaze. She would wake wide-eyed, and extend her hand, the royal pardon given only on a whim, and he would take it like the pathetic little frozen fool that he was, and he’d *still* never know what he’d done. Not really.

He understands these questions. The ones he doesn't ask, this time. What can I say to make you stay? Why? Why are you surprised I‘d do something like this? Why can‘t you believe I wouldn‘t? Why deny me in front of him? Why not listen to me; I had something to tell you. Why don’t you love me? Why can’t you? Why are you walking away? Tell me what I can say to make it right. Make me understand. Please. Just tell me.

He doesn’t ask them, this time. Not with Buffy. He knows the answer. Knows, in the desiccated ghost of a smile that he sees on her lips, as she frees herself of him. He hears it in the soft, living breath of his name, given freely to him, gracing him with the trappings of humanity as she takes away everything that matters. He knows, though he doesn’t understand, when she walks out of his home, the shell of his home, up and into the light, leaving him to freeze.

If you have to ask why I’m mad at you, he can hear some woman pouting on his telly, soap opera moodswing music on the background, then you’ll never understand.

He’ll never understand, is the answer. Is the question, is the answer. He’ll never understand why they can’t love him, and they can’t love him, because he’ll never understand. So why, even now, does he keep asking the bloody questions?

Tell me. Explain it to me. Make me understand.

The walls of his crypt offer no answer, not even an echo.

(Deleted comment)


2002-02-27 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

I swore I wouldn't respond to this, because I don't have a decent answer that I think you'll appreciate. Yeah, my mileage varies, but it varies so much that I don't think we'll ever agree on the character.

What Spike doesn't get isn't how to treat people decently, or loving personal relationships. What Spike doesn't get is himself. He can suss out other people's reasons for acting the way they act, but he can't understand why what *he* does isn't ever good enough, or right enough.

He can't learn from someone else's model of how to be moral. Even human children don't learn from that. They learn from one on one interaction. From someone teaching them. They learn from growing up, and many of them learn from externally based pseudo-chips. Bad behavior means pain. Means disapproval. Means no treats.

Drusilla, Spike's first "mother", was completely mad. She would have taught him whatever struck her fancy. Reinforced "bad" or "good" behavior in a pattern so random that no child, or newly-hatched adult, could make any sense of it.

Buffy continues this pattern. I want you. I don't want you. Here, take me. No, you're bad. You're empty, rotten, hollow, and I want you. You're evil, and I'm giving you up for your own good. Or my good. Or something.

These are his one on one relationships with people he actually loves. The rest are external to his still-childish sense of self. Don't matter. Won't kill because Buffy would hate him, or won't kill because he needs them, or won't kill because they amuse him, or won't kill because he genuinely seems to like Dawn, but he's not going to *learn* from them, at this stage.

I'm not sure where you get "Anti-Saint Spike of the Piercing Insight" -- whether that's a comment on my other fic, or a Spike-apologist's apparent view of the character, to you, or what.

My take on him is that he's always been most clueless about himself, and about the way other people feel about him. About the way the world really works, vs. how he wants to pretend it does. He's endlessly amused, in a bored, painfully ironic way, with the way other people interact, because they're separate from him -- but he doesn't get why Buffy can't love him, because he thinks he's tried everything he can, and shouldn't she see that?

He doesn't *get* that everything he can will never be good enough.

But-- it's a piece of fiction, not an attempt to persuade anybody of Spike's morality or lack thereof. There's a reason it's in his POV.

(Deleted comment)


2002-02-28 10:07 am (UTC) (Link)

William had a real Mom. Spike is a whole 'nother creature, theoretically. He might remember William's mum, but the demon Spike is pre-set to think everything he learned as a human about what was right and wrong, has no meaning. So this new creature with old memories is raised by a madwoman and two people who definitely were sociopaths.

Spike is a grown vampire. He's something that looks like a man, and thinks *somewhat* like a man. He also spent a hundred and nineteen years with Dru as his closest model, followed closely by Darla and Angel. Five/six years of knowing Buffy and Co. aren't going to change that overnight, without some kind of profound spiritual transformation (he doesn't have to have a human soul to have a spirit, per se -- presumably the demon in him is *some* sort of spirit).

The fic was actually an attempt to see what he might be thinking if he truly *can't* change. If Spike is constitutionally incapable of *getting* the one thing that makes it impossible for Buffy to love him. (Aside from, personal observation, her complete dislike for his personality, regardless of what pretty physical chemistry they have.) That is: he doesn't have a soul. Buffy can't love a creature with no soul. He asks why. He says he can change, at points. He thinks he can change, at points. But he doesn't want to change, not really -- he's not capable of wanting to be good. He's just, barely, capable of *wishing* he could want to be good.

And the thing that makes it impossible for him to understand why Buffy can't love him without a soul, is his lack of a soul. There's no way she could explain it to him in words that he'd understand. He's not a stupid man, you're right -- he sees the knowledge gap, but can't cross it, because he's incapable of it.

I don't know if that's my ultimate take on the character -- but I wanted to play out the irony, from inside his skull. Knowing there's something intangible that he's not understanding in his love relationships (in Dru's case because of something missing in her, and in Buffy's case because of something missing in Spike)and realizing that he'll never understand why missing that thing is such a bad thing, precisely because the ability to understand its necessity comes only through possessing it.

The way he acted with Buffy and Riley in As You Were, though, the rudeness to Buffy in order to brag to Riley, yes, that got on my nerves. He's smart enough to recognise superficial behaviours that will piss someone off. I'm not getting into the egg thing, because I still don't know what to make of it. If everything was as it appeared on the surface, then yes, they made Spike out to be profoundly stupid, and I don't have a decent character explanation. If there's something more to it (i.e., he really *was* watching the eggs for someone, and wasn't the one trying to sell them, but he was doing the macho pride thing, not trying to explain after the first few attempts because she would believe the worst of him anyway), then I can see how he might be shortsighted enough to keep them about, thinking someone was going to pick them up soon.

As to figuring out Buffy's worldview -- Buffy doesn't *have* a worldview. Oh, there are things anyone would know would make her angry -- but there are things she'll forgive of her friends that she won't forgive of strangers or enemies. There are things she'd let slide for Angel that she wouldn't let slide for Spike. She operates on intuition that gets shakier every day, and her own behaviour is so schizoid, I can't imagine anyone could really understand her worldview, much less someone with two strikes against his comprehension of it already.

Er -- yes. I didn't think you were unaware of the difference between a piece of fiction and an essay. I was saying that it was me trying to explore the character from inside his head, not me trying to use fiction to convince anyone of my take, because rhetoric wasn't working.