Break Even by Mabel Marsters

ReviewsRating: PG

Summary: When you lose the love of your life, can you ever really get over it? Can a broken heart be mended? Spike isn't sure that he'll ever stop loving Buffy even though she seems to have moved on. Spiralling ever deeper into depression, will he be able to find a way back to happiness?

Author's Notes: Betad by dawnofme and seapealsh - both amazing ladies.------------------this fic was inspired by the lyrics of three songs by The Script--------The Man Who Can’t Be Moved - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw-J8kC5DHo Break Even - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2omyqxbsKw The End Where I Begin - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toV84pYmI0g

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Chapter 1

Spike opened his eyes and did what he did every morning these days – he groaned. Another day to fill. He didn’t know how he got through each new day, but he somehow did. He sat up in bed and looked around the grimy room with distaste. He really ought to clean it. The one room studio apartment was filthy. Dishes were piled high in the sink in the kitchen, which struck Spike as odd as he couldn’t remember the last time that he had actually cooked anything. The trash can overflowing with fast food cartons told a more accurate tale of the state of his diet.


Spike scratched his balls absentmindedly as he flopped back onto the pillow. Maybe later, huh? He’d give the place a right going over today – only not just yet. Eventually, he climbed out of the bed as his bladder screamed its need for release. He walked to the tiny bathroom in the corner of the room. Spike sighed with relief as he pissed for what seemed like hours.


Hmm, better splash some bleach in the toilet when I clean the flat.


The bowl was stained brown. A large part of him was disgusted at it. But a bigger part of him just didn’t have the energy to care. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror above the basin as he washed his hands.


See, Mum, I’m not a total slob. I still wash my hands when I’ve had a piss.


He ducked his head at the sight of the shadows beneath his eyes, his lank dirty hair and several days’ growth of beard. He hated what he’d become but he just couldn’t get himself together enough to do something about it. Spike turned the radio on and then switched it straight off as Katrina and The Waves bleated about ‘Walking on Sunshine’.


“Bollocks!”


His voice sounded hoarse. When had he last had a proper conversation with anyone? He’d had his sunshine but she’d walked out on him. He’d fucked up and she’d upped and left him. He’d made sure that most of his friends disappeared too. There was only so much whining a friend could take before they started to avoid it. Spike slumped down onto the bed, which was the only thing that he could sit on apart from the wonky stool at the kitchen counter. He buried his head in his hands and sobbed. He couldn’t carry on like this – he knew that. He wasn’t stupid, but he had no idea of what to do.


He hadn’t always been this pathetic. No, he’d once thought that he had everything a man could wish for. He could see her now, as clearly as if it were yesterday. She was beautiful, so slim and pretty, the way her hair seemed to catch the light even on a dull day. It was when he’d been working in L.A.; he’d literally bumped into her on the corner of the street as he had been out to get coffee and donuts for everyone. The coffee, of course, had ended up all over her. Spike managed a ghost of a smile. The stain had never come out of her lovely burnt orange coloured summer dress, despite him insisting on having it cleaned for her. The way that she had smiled at him even though he’d soaked her through brought fresh tears to his eyes as he recalled it. Well, she’d smiled at him after yelling and throwing one of the donuts at him. He’d gotten her name and number and had walked back to work in a daze, then promptly got a bollocking for not getting any coffee and donuts!


Spike rolled over on the bed and lay on his stomach. He crossed his arms and laid his head on them. How had he managed to not only let her go, but have her hating him too? They’d met on that same corner for their first date. Buffy had insisted on meeting him there, as it was halfway between where the two lived. It had started as a bit of a joke. He’d been waiting there for her with a chocolate coated donut and a latte – skinny of course – when she had arrived. It had broken the ice nicely. They’d shared the donut but the coffee had been thrown in the trash.


Spike had never been so nervous on a first date in his life and he’d had plenty, and plenty of second and third dates too. A penniless musician held a bit of romantic appeal to most girls. His blue eyes and bleached blond hair didn’t hurt his chances with the opposite sex. But when he set his eyes on Buffy for the first time, all covered in icing and coffee, he knew. She was The One. He had truly believed that the perfect partner was out there waiting for him but he never thought that he’d actually find her. He’d expected to settle, like most did, for Miss Almost Right, but in Buffy he had hit the jackpot. He was petrified that she wouldn’t recognise him as her version of The One. And how did a wannabe musician with, let’s face it, not great prospects, convince this perfect person that she should want to be with a slim, bordering on skinny, not overly tall Englishman? Of that he had no idea – hence the terror.


Spike’s stomach rumbled loudly, interrupting his trip down memory lane. It was a well trodden lane. He followed it daily. He reluctantly got up and wandered to the kitchen area to see what he could find. After opening several cupboards, he found an out of date can of tomatoes and three mouldy slices of bread. He tried to remember when he’d last eaten. It was yesterday, wasn’t it? He glanced at the trash. Balancing on the top of it were three empty Budweiser cans. But he’d eaten something with them, hadn’t he?


“For Christ’s sake, Spike, this is bleeding pathetic.”


He walked to the bathroom and stepped into the shower. He always slept naked - saved on washing pyjamas if nothing else. He managed to get lather on his sponge with the tiny piece of soap in the dish, making a mental note that he really ought to buy some more of that too. Food, bleach, soap, check! He washed his too long hair with the same bit of soap. Add shampoo to the list. He got out and dried himself on a large towel. Spike felt smug when he could squeeze an ample amount of toothpaste on his brush. See, not that bad at housekeeping. He dragged a brush through his hair after roughly towelling it dry.


A rummage in the wardrobe yielded a pair of clean jeans and a wrinkled but clean t-shirt. He hesitated before he put it on. It was the one that he had worn on that first date. He closed his eyes and sighed deeply before pulling it over his still damp hair. He wasn’t so lucky with the hunt for a pair of socks. He settled on one royal blue (when had he ever owned royal blue socks?) and a black one. His trusty battle-scarred boots were found in a corner near the door. His jeans hung loose on his hips. He grabbed his wallet and walked out into the hallway. The stairs as usual stank as if someone had pissed on them. Spike pushed open the door to the outside and squinted in the light. Not that it was very sunny. London on a June day was quite often not particularly sunny. Not like L.A.


Spike slapped his face hard. “Fucking stop it!” A woman crossed the street as she saw and heard him. Oh, great! Now she thinks that I’m a bleeding nutter. And I’m not! He ignored the part of him that queried his last thought. He walked to an ATM machine and pushed his card in. He hated using the thing. The number he had to key in was, by some evil quirk of fate, the month and day of Buffy’s birthday. He pressed the keys as quickly as he could. Selected £40 option and waited nervously to see if it would let him have that much. He was so delighted to see the money pop out that he grabbed his card and cash and didn’t check his balance. He’d a horrible feeling that his parents had put some money into his account again. Christ, I’m such a loser. No wonder Buffy left me.


Only that wasn’t the way it had happened at all. Far from being a loser, Spike had just sold several of the songs that he’d written. He’d hated doing it – he wanted to be the one to sing them – but he had to try to get his name out there for the industry to see somehow. He was on the brink of major success – according to his agent anyway. Spike had just been delighted to have some money coming in from his music. Maybe one day soon he’d be able to drop the office job and concentrate on his music full time?


It had been an idyllic few months. He was sure that even rose tinted glasses couldn’t have made them any better. To his utter delight, Buffy seemed to feel the same way about him. They always met on that corner. Spike didn’t own a car. Being brought up in London, with its excellent public transport, he’d never bothered to learn to drive, preferring to spend any spare cash on things related to his music. Now he wished that he had. He wanted to chauffeur Buffy around, not meet on a corner. Everything had been perfect. They were soon inseparable. Unlike the other girls that Spike had dated, both in London and L.A., Buffy resisted his charms for six dates. Spike had almost been afraid to take that final step, when she had eventually agreed to go home with him. He’d called his roommate, Oz, and asked him to make himself scarce, as they had left the restaurant. He could remember how his hands had been shaking as he undressed her. How she’d smiled at him and put her hand on his, before kissing him and just pulling the blouse over her head without unfastening the buttons. Christ, he’d almost shot his load then, like a teenager on his first time. In the end, it had been heaven. Pure heaven.


Spike shook his head. Would he ever have a bloody day when she didn’t fill his thoughts? He glanced up and saw that he was at his destination. An egg McMuffin would hit the spot. He ran a hand over his concave stomach. Better make that a couple. He queued up, surprised at how many people were in the fast food restaurant so early in the morning.


“Two egg McMuffins, please,” he said politely.


“They’re not served after eleven,” the sullen, spotty faced girl at the till informed him.


Spike smiled his best smile. “Aw, come on, a couple of minutes overtime. No one will notice.”


The girl blinked and then sneered. “It’s one thirty pm. Can I get you anything else?” .


“One thirty?” repeated Spike stupidly. Christ, I’ve only just got up.


The girl cleared her throat but before she could say anything, Spike blurted out the type of burger meal that he wanted and agreed to it being sized up to whatever the hell it was for an extra few pence. He snatched up the tray and hurried to an empty table in the corner. He sat with his back to the room. As he ate, he reflected on the time that he’d been with Buffy. Yeah, memory lane was definitely a well-worn path. The trouble was it seemed like it was circular. Never ending, without any forks in it to choose and move on in a new direction.


They had been blissfully happy. Poor Oz got used to Buffy staying over just about every night. She still lived with her mother and younger sister and so staying overnight at her place was out of the question. He was inspired and the song writing came easy. He sang them to her as soon as they were finished. He grimaced as he sucked up a mouthful of coke from the cardboard cup that was about as big as a bucket. He hadn’t written one word of a song since he’d gotten back to London. But he couldn’t help being upset, could he? It’d pass. He’d get over it. Just taking a bit longer than he thought it would.


Looking back it was totally bloody ridiculous that he lost the love of his life because of a stupid high school reunion. Their first argument had been their last. Spike shouldn’t have gone. He hadn’t planned on it. He was actually playing at a concert that night-an acoustic set opening up for an established singer. It was a big opportunity for him. It was rumoured that some scouts might be in the audience and not the ‘let’s all go camping’ kind of scouts. When it had come up, Buffy had insisted that he do it and had told him that she’d go with him. Spike knew that she’d been looking forward to the reunion for months and so had insisted that she still go. It wasn’t like she hadn’t heard him play, was it? He gave her the money for the cab so that she’d stay at his place and not go back to her mom’s.


He’d played his set and as he was packing up his guitar, a man approached him. He gave Spike his business card and suggested that they have a chat over a drink. Spike looked at the card suspiciously – he’d heard it all before, then almost dropped his guitar with the shock. He recognised the record label that the man represented, hell; he recognised the man’s name! By the time the two had parted company, with an appointment booked for Spike to go for a formal meeting the following week, Spike was buzzing. He couldn’t face sitting in the empty flat waiting for Buffy to come home, so without giving it a proper thought he climbed in a cab and told the driver to go to the High School.


He handed his beloved guitar into the cloak room, paying double to make sure that they looked after it well. He walked along the corridor and upped the pace as he heard the fast pop song get replaced by a slow one, one that he and Buffy loved. He pushed open the doors to the hall and scanned the people standing around the dance floor for Buffy. He was just looking back over the room when his heart missed a beat. She wasn’t being a wallflower. She was in the arms of a tall dark haired man in a sharp business suit. Spike could see how shiny his shoes were from where he stood. He glanced down at his old boots that hadn’t seen any polish since the day that he had bought them. His favourite black Levis were now faded to grey. He felt under dressed with his Foo Fighters t-shirt on.


He should have just walked over and politely cut in, got rid of the big goon and whispered his news in Buffy’s ear. But he didn’t; he was frozen to the spot. He snatched a glass from a passing waiter’s tray, not caring what it was as long as it was alcohol. He knocked it back whilst watching the pair on the dance floor. The way the man’s hands caressed what only he should hold. The way she smiled up at him and snuggled into his chest. Spike felt sick.


“You haven’t got a name badge.” The voice made Spike jump. He turned to see a brassy blonde standing next to him with a bossy look on her face.


“I didn’t go to school here. I just know someone who did.”


He was surprised that he had actually managed to speak, his mouth was so dry and his heart was making up for skipping that beat by racing so fast that he could hear his pulse pounding in his ears. He looked back at Buffy and him! Was the song never going to sodding end? The blonde, Harmony, as her name badge proclaimed, followed Spike’s gaze.


“That’s so sweet, isn’t it? After all these years, those two are just back to being like they were in school. They were the prom king and queen, of course. Don’t they make a lovely couple?” She leaned in close to Spike. “They’re both single. I heard them talking. They only split because Liam was so focussed on his career. He’s a hot shot lawyer now. Did you see the Ferrari in the parking lot? Buffy’s so lucky.”


“Ain’t she just,” croaked Spike.


How could he compete with that? The meeting next week would probably lead to nothing. Why shouldn’t she opt for someone with a ‘proper’ job as his father would say? The song finally ended but Spike let out an anguished groan as the couple kissed and walked off the floor hand in hand. Spike swore that he heard his heart break right then. He turned and fled the room, bumping into the waiter, not caring as he heard the tray crash to the floor.


“Spike!”


He heard Buffy yell but kept on running. It wasn’t until he got out of the school and in the parking lot that he realised that he had nowhere else to go unless he walked all the way back to his apartment. He leaned against a car and struggled not to cry like a bleeding ponce.


He heard running feet and his name being called again. “Spike! What are you doing here?”


What are you doing here? Not, it’s great that you came, I missed you! Spike looked up and saw her hurrying towards him, closely followed by the big git.


“Buffy? Are you okay?” Liam said as he caught up to her. He glared at Spike. “You’d better not scratch the paintwork, buddy.”


“What?” Spike looked round at the car that he was leaning on. Oh, it just had to be, didn’t it? A red Ferrari. Great. He pushed himself off the car with the palms of his hands. “Maybe I should just paw it all over and then stick my tongue down its throat?”


It was Liam’s turn to say, “What?”


Spike pointed at the car. “That’s yours.” He pointed at Buffy. “That’s mine.”


“Spike!” yelled Buffy. “That’s mine? How dare you talk like I’m something that you own?”


Spike glared at her. “I thought I did, until I saw you licking this fucker’s tonsils in there!”


Liam stepped between Buffy and Spike. “I think that you’d better calm down and watch your mouth in front of the lady.”


“The lady? The sodding lady! That’s my girlfriend and I’ll say whatever I fucking want to, you big arsehole.” Real mature, Spike. Way to go!



Liam began to raise a fist, but Buffy got hold of it. Spike always remembered how tiny her hand looked on that bastard’s arm. “Angel, don’t hurt him!”


Her words were like a red rag to a bull to Spike. Not only could he not compete in the money and flash car stakes, now she thought that he wasn’t capable of looking after himself. Being on the short size had its advantages. He took two swift steps towards the pillock, jumped up slightly and head-butted him. Spike’s forehead connecting with a very satisfying crunch on the big git’s nose.


Shit, that hurt! He looked at Liam. But not as much as that. Blood was dripping from his nose onto his poncey designer lilac coloured tie. Spike was smiling as he turned to Buffy. His head snapped back as Buffy slapped his face. He put his hand to his cheek in shock. “Why did you do that?”


“Because you’re a thug and an idiot. Do I need to go on?” snapped Buffy. She turned to Liam. “Are you okay?”


Liam rolled his eyes but to his credit didn’t point out that blood streaming from a broken nose probably meant that he wasn’t okay. He nodded, then winced, then muttered, “Yeah.”


Buffy turned to Spike. “What the hell are you playing at? Going all Neanderthal?”


Liam smirked at Spike over Buffy’s head, which didn’t help Spike’s temper one little bit. “How do you expect me to react when my girlfriend is snogging the face off her ex the minute she goes out without me? Telling everyone that she’s sodding single! What was it? The designer suit? The car?” He pointed from his chest to hers and back. “Did this mean so little? Did I mean so little to you?” He bit his lip as he heard his voice tremble.


“You don’t know me at all if you think shit like that matters to me! Angel is an old friend – one that I haven’t seen for ages. We were just having some innocent fun,” shouted Buffy, unable to meet Spike’s hostile glare.


“It didn’t look very fucking innocent to me!” Spike wondered if it was being in a school yard that was making him act like a jealous teenager.


“So, now you don’t believe me or trust me? Tell me, why am I with you at all?”


Buffy began to cry. Spike went to go to her but found a huge hand on his chest. “I meant what I said. You need to calm down, buddy. Maybe then I won’t press charges for assault. I take it that you’re here on some sort of visa?”


Spike glared at him. Typical sodding lawyer, threatening him with that. He swatted Liam’s hand away. “Buffy?”


Liam put his arm around her and to Spike’s dismay Buffy leaned into him. “Shall I take you home, now that the evening is ruined?” Liam asked.


Buffy nodded miserably.


“Buffy, please,” begged Spike. “I’m sorry. I’ll take you home to your mom’s or my place?” He knew that he shouldn’t have said his place the second it was out of his mouth.


“I don’t want to be with you, Spike,” said Buffy.


Spike thought his knees were going to give way. “What, tonight? Or ever?” His voice was low.


“I don’t know, Spike. I just don’t know,” Buffy sobbed. “I’ve never seen you like this. Do I really know you at all?”



Spike stood dumbfounded as he watched Liam walk Buffy to the passenger side of his car and help ed her into the seat. The door closed with that soft clunk that only the most expensive of cars make. It set Spike’s teeth on edge. Liam brushed past Spike as he moved to open his door. Spike made yet another mistake, grabbing Liam’s arm and pulling him round to meet his fist. He connected soundly on the taller man’s cheek but the big sod barely flinched. Spike heard Buffy yelling at him again. He thought that Liam was going to punch him – he hoped that he would – anything rather than have him get in that car and take Buffy away.


When Liam grinned at Spike, he suddenly realised his mistake in hitting him. He was playing right into the big git’s hands by acting like an idiot. He could see the disgust on Buffy’s face as she peered out from the car.


Liam simply straightened his bloodstained tie and pushed Spike away. “Go home, boy. Preferably to your native land.” He folded himself into the seat, pulled the door shut and drove away, revving the engine loudly.


“Fuck it!” roared Spike.


How the hell had this happened? He’d been so happy, so excited and now he’d acted like a total tosser and Buffy had just driven off in a car worth more than he currently would earn in several lifetimes. Why had he over reacted? He loved Buffy so much that he could and would forgive her anything. Why hadn’t he kept his mouth shut? He went back inside to retrieve his guitar from the cloakroom and steadfastly ignored all the strange looks that he got, and then he set off walking away from the school. Spike reckoned it was about four miles back to the apartment. Twenty three years old and can’t bleeding drive. What a joke! He decided that he’d talk to Buffy in the morning, grovel if need be. They’d be all right. They had to be. They were meant to be together.


A toddler spilling his drink and bursting into tears brought Spike back to the present with a start. He looked at the half eaten congealing burger and pushed it away in disgust. He got up and carried the debris of his meal to the waste bin, throwing it in. He walked out on the street and headed to his flat, shoulders slumped and his hands shoved deep into his pockets. Things hadn’t gone quite as he planned the next morning either.


It wasn’t until he was lying on the bed staring at the ceiling that he remembered that he hadn’t bought any of the things on his list.

Next


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