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buffy/spike
More Spuffy thought, because I am nothing if not an obsessive shipper.

I think the hardest thing for Buffy to forgive Spike for was not, actually, the attempted rape, but his failure to save her from herself. To quote her in “Life Serial: “You were gonna help me! You, you were gonna beat heads and, and, and fix my life! But you're completely lame!”

In “After Life”, Spike promised Buffy he would save her (“Every night I save you.”). In “Once More With Feeling”, he sang her back from death. And Buffy turned to him, to help her, to fix her life. And he failed her. And it wasn’t his fault—he didn’t have a soul, is all. But in a weird way, I think what Buffy blames Spike for the most is not trying to rape her (which is, at least, a very straightforward thing where she can say, “He was wrong, I was right”) but not stopping her from using him, or from beating him up in that alley. “But at the same time, I-I let him completely take me over,” Buffy tells Holden, in “Conversations With Dead People”. She trusted him, and he failed her. But it’s not his fault: “[T]he joke is... he loved me. I mean, in his own sick, soulless way, he really did care for me.”

Buffy says, in CWDP, “I didn't want to be loved...I wanted to be punished. I wanted to hurt like I thought I deserved.” But I don’t think that’s the whole story. When she’s struggling with financial problems in “Flooded”, she asks Spike if he knows anything about the subject. In “Life Serial”, she’s furious with him for failing to help her, for failing to fix her life. She starts the affair in “Once More With Feeling”, after he saves her life, and sings to her that she has to go on living.
When she thinks she’s killed Katrina in “Dead Things”, he tells her, “Trust me,” he says, and she does. She leaves the scene of the crime, and lets him handle it. Later, she will be enraged at him for how he handled it. But it’s not his fault.

In the confrontation in the alley, Spike says, “Why don't you explain it?” He doesn’t know it, but that is absolutely the wrong thing to say. It proves that he doesn’t know. He can’t help her. He can’t be her moral compass. He can’t fix her life. She can’t explain—how would he be able to understand? And how do you explain morality? Even Faith, who had soul, was told over and over and over that living without morality was wrong. And yet, she had to literally become Buffy, and experience first-hand what it meant to be a moral person, before she had any desire to change her ways. Spike, too, had to experience it firsthand. Realize that he had hurt the woman he loved, and the only thing keeping him from doing it again was her (“Because I stopped you. Something I should have done a long time ago.”).

And back in that alley, Spike takes the beating from Buffy (“Come on, that's it, put it on me. Put it all on me.”). He doesn’t hit back. He tells her, after, that hitting him was an act of love. He proves, once and for all, that he can’t provide her with the limits she needs (not that she should ever have expected that from another person in the first place).

I don’t think Buffy went to Spike just out of hatred and punishment, although I’m sure that was part of it (and I assume, in the alley scene, she was expecting him to hit her back). She went to Spike because she wanted to be loved, cared for, and understood. Spike not only knows, when he first sees in “After Life”, how she got the wounds on her hands (“Clawed her way out of a coffin, that's how.”), but he did it himself.

“We'll take care of you,” he tells her, as she comes down the stairs, and he does. He tries.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
kikimay
Feb. 24th, 2014 10:14 am (UTC)
Very interesting thoughts. I have to meditate about them, because you have a point but I've never thought about Buffy and Spike like that.

She definetly wants to be taken care of and she also doesn't know how to ask. She's always experienced the care-taker role or the leader one. One thing that always makes me think is when Joyce said to her "You were always be Buffy", or something like that, in 5x05. She was always the responsible/grown up type one, so I think that she really has difficulties in asking someone: "Take care of me". At the same time she wants Spike to fix things. She trusts him at that point. (She didn't want the same from Riley or from Angel) To be fair she also asks Giles, indirectly, so many times, but he doesn't respond to her plea.
There's also an interesting shade here, because Spike rapresents Death - and the desire to embrace depression - and so she can't have an active role in that. Falling into depression means also lay down your hands and let the feeling flow inside you.

itsnotmymind
Feb. 24th, 2014 02:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah, she wants Spike to take care of her and save her and she wants him to punish her all at the same time, so it makes for a very complex set of feelings towards him. And he wants to do both, too, to kill her for, from his perspective, ruining his life, and to save her and help her.
rebcake
Feb. 25th, 2014 04:38 am (UTC)
I mostly agree with this, that they had conflicting motivations for what they did, and how they felt, and what they wanted wasn't always what they said they wanted.

And Buffy turned to him, to help her, to fix her life. And he failed her. And it wasn’t his fault—he didn’t have a soul, is all.

I don't agree that the only thing Spike was missing in order to do all of those things was his soul. I don't know of anybody who has been able to "cure" another person's depression, no matter how they wanted to or how emotionally evolved they are. You can't fix other people. (Make a note of that, Willow.) You can care about and for them, you can try to make their existence better, but depression isn't solved from without, in my experience.

That said, yes, she wanted things from him that she wasn't able to articulate, and that he didn't, couldn't, make them so is what she resents most, IMO.
itsnotmymind
Feb. 25th, 2014 02:22 pm (UTC)
I don't know of anybody who has been able to "cure" another person's depression, no matter how they wanted to or how emotionally evolved they are.

That's a good point. I think things would have gone a lot better if Spike had had a soul, but I doubt he would have been able to "fix" her. I should have worded it differently.
teragramm
Feb. 25th, 2014 02:05 pm (UTC)
I think you make some very valid points. I believe Buffy was looking for love and understanding and in some ways she did get that with Spike. I think wasn't that Spike just didn't understand Buffy's morality she also felt guilt for have an affair with Spike. So she wanted to be be punished and she wand to be loved, cared for, and understood. Add that all up and add in the guilt for having an affair with evil dead and it's not a good combo.

I think the attempted rape is not the only thing Buffy has to forgive Spike for and part of it is that she was drowning and Spike wasn't equipped with the moral compass to help her. His point of view of what she needed was colored by his evil side "you belong in the dark with me." I think her guilt over her affair with Spike was increased because a very small part of her, was tempted to go to the dark side (like Faith).
itsnotmymind
Feb. 25th, 2014 02:26 pm (UTC)
I think her guilt over her affair with Spike was increased because a very small part of her, was tempted to go to the dark side (like Faith).

Oh, definitely. I think we all have that a bit, because doing what you want without worrying about the consequences is just so much easier. Buffy saw with Faith how catastrophic it can be if a slayer goes dark side, and that made her extra-scared of what would happen if she did it herself.
metanewsmods
Feb. 25th, 2014 09:36 pm (UTC)
Hi, can we link this at metanews?
itsnotmymind
Feb. 26th, 2014 12:45 am (UTC)
Yes, please.
spikesjojo
Feb. 26th, 2014 03:52 am (UTC)
I think she set herself up to be hurt by Spike by choosing a demon to heal her. C'mon, she's the slayer - she knows demons. So she put him in a position of trying to help her, trying to answer her demands, knowing he would not be able to do either. She wants punishment - it's the only thing that makes her alive - and Spike is willing to let her punish him as well which is even better.

Buffy wanted him to fix her life - and she wanted him to fail. Either way she wasn't responsible and she could take her anger out on someone else. Depression is the epitome of not being able to act in your own best interests.
itsnotmymind
Feb. 26th, 2014 02:41 pm (UTC)
I think she believed in him a little bit. Just a little bit. And I think that disgusted her, because if a soulless vampire could do any sort of good, that made him better (from her perspective) better than her, and that made her a really horrible person. Which led to her lasing out and trying to put him back in his place as a soulless thing. And I think she did want to be punished, but she also wanted to be helped. I think she believed a tiny bit in the man inside the monster.
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