Okay, to write a character, you must understand how that character thinks, what the character feels -- you must be able to get in their head and under their skin. You must understand the character's motives and thought processes.
With Spike, this is all at once an easy and complex task. Spike is a changing character, one that shifts between good and evil, helpful and stalkery, and back again. He's complex, but easy to understand. Let's start with his introduction on the show and go from there. I'm not saying this'll be structured, just saying that's where we're starting. We're likely to jump all over the place.
In "School Hard," he and Drusilla roll into town, knocking over the Welcome to Sunnydale sign in the process. Through most of the second season, his main goals are doing what Drusilla tells him to, and getting back at Angel. Spike's a badass, yes. Spike's evil, totally. But the whole world revolves around love to him, even as a vampire. Past love, current love, future love. This is reflected in his relationships with Angel, Drusilla, and Buffy on the show.
Spike's primary motive is wanting to be loved, wanting to love. This is true for the good things he does, as well as the bad, souled, chipped, or not. Okay, take those three main love interests (Angel, Dru, Buffy), and consider the themes of the relationships.
Spike is completely devoted to Drusilla. He loves her, and this is clear even though he has no soul. Drusilla is flighty and leaves him for random demons, always coming back to him. Spike takes her back everytime -- until, of course, he has another love interest in sight. Spike doesn't want to be alone, and he's willing to take any kind of treatment if it means he has someone.
Spike's relationship with Angel has a lot of history, and they've mostly been shown as rivals, but if you delve deeper into the subtext and allusions it's clear that that isn't the only relationship they've had together. Really, though, beside the point, since I'll be digging into that in my Spike/Angel essay. Let's just assume they're ex-lovers for now, k? Spike is desperate to one-up Angel, to prove himself better than him. This is seen all through their relationship, from flashbacks to their current arrangement on Angel.
Now, in Spike's relationship with Buffy, at first he hates her. To his own horror, he then becomes obsessed with her, and starts to love her, in his own way. In season six, she of course, opens herself (and her legs) to him, dragging both down into a spiral of love/hate and violent sex. Then there's the infamous bathroom scene in which Spike tried to rape her. There was an outcry from fans that this didn't make sense. That it went against character development. I beg to differ.
Consider the roles he played in his relationships with Drusilla and Angelus. Love's bitch, he openly called himself, and he is love's bitch. He, generally, is the 'bitch' of the relationship. Then came Buffy. For a majority of the sixth season, he once again played the bitch role, the submissive. However, if you look deeper into his relationships with both Dru and Angel, you can see the aggresive nature coming through. Spike? Devoted as fuck -- and willing to do anything to keep his relationship, or to get back at his lover once the relationship deteriorates. With Buffy, in "Seeing Red," it was simply this aspect of him coming through again.
This isn't to say that it's all on the same level, of course, I'm just making a point that it was in character. It's understandable that the writers 'went there,' considering his history.
So how exactly do you, as a writer, deal with a Spike that did try to rape Buffy when your fic is supposed to be happy, or when your fic is supposed to feature 'good' Spike? Well, the most important thing is that you do deal with it. Pretending it didn't happen could be detrimental to your Spike characterization. You, of course, don't have to have the issue front and center in your fic -- just keep it in the back of your mind. Remember that Spike isn't happy fluffy bunnies.
Remember that when Spike loves, regardless of who he loves, he loves passionately. He loves with a fire. This is both good and bad, like I mentioned before. It can force him to reform, it can also inspire a relapse into evilness.
To write Spike, in any relationship, all you have to do is attempt to understand him. Understand the goodness in him, and understand the evil in him. Ignoring either side will result in a lopsided Spike, afterall -- or at least one that doesn't read as the one we know and love on the shows.
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