Spike’s world had narrowed to stone walls, whisky flavoured blood and the endless yammering of his television, left on because the silence hurt his ears. The anger had died away to grey, cold ashes but the hurt and the love burned steadily inside him, consuming each other. When they had gone, when he was empty, he planned to talk a walk outside. He’d heard the sunlight was particularly bright this time of year.
His bruises had gone. Buffy hadn’t really been trying to kill him after all. A few kicks, a few punches – they were nothing. In the past, she’d dealt out worse to him on a weekly basis. But since they’d come together as lovers, her hands had never been used to punish him. Except when he asked her to.
How had it fallen apart so quickly? He understood her anger that he hadn’t told her about the chip. Maybe he should have. But what difference did it make? He could only hurt her and he would never –
And how could she have thought that she was under a spell or changed? A cold thought pierced his mind. Did she think that something had made her fall in love with him? That it was all connected? Slayer’s not quite human so she falls for a vampire? He tried to remember what she’d said. Something about Red’s spell. The witch had made them fall in love before but somehow he doubted a resurrection spell had that kind of side effect.
And what did she mean about leaving her? He wasn’t planning to leave. Tasting that blood, feeling the demon rise, knowing that she was vulnerable because of her trust and her love – it had scared him and he had panicked. She hadn’t let him explain –
A smile curved his lips for an instant, bitter and fleeting. She’d pushed it all aside. Beat him down to prove beyond doubt that he wouldn’t attack her, no matter what. That was his – that was the Slayer for you. Direct. Simple. Lost forever.
Spike’s head sank into his hands.
Her dreams were full of him, had been for days, but this was different. As Buffy’s face burrowed deeper into a salt-wet pillow, she began to dream as a Slayer and fear held her close in chilly, bony arms.
She was in the graveyard, with the pink flush of sunrise chasing away the shadows. Dew spangled grass, flowers unfurling petals to meet the new day, the graves looking peaceful as though the dead below were slumbering in their satin lined beds. Given the location, it was almost pleasant to walk along the paths, breathing in air still cool, still fresh from night.
But she wasn’t walking now. She was running and her bare feet were hurting her. She spared a glance and saw that she was leaving a trail of blood. Looking ahead, she saw Spike’s crypt, saw him lying in the doorway, the shadow that protected him shrinking inexorably as the sun rose.
As Buffy cried out a warning, he began to burn.
Spike woke and looked at the bottle inches away from his bleary eyes. It was empty. He squinted at it. Still empty. The floor was cold but the bed had been unbearable. It was full of her scent, full of reminders. The whole crypt was. So many memories of her in here that there was no room to move, no room to breathe.
Staggering slightly, he walked to the door and flung it open. He was vaguely disappointed to discover that it was still dark. Sliding down the wall to the ground, he lay down to rest, just for a moment –
Buffy woke, her eyes opening wide, her heart hammering. The clock beside her bed glowed in the dim light and she tried to focus on it. The numerals made no sense at first and when they did, she ceased to think rationally.
She grabbed a stake from habit and scrambled out of the window, down the sloping roof and onto the lawn. The cool sensation of damp grass made her glance down at her feet, remembering how they had hurt in the dream. There was no time to get shoes. The Slayer began to run.
Buffy could run for miles if she needed to, if she paced herself, but even she couldn’t sprint from her house to Spike’s crypt. It didn’t stop her trying. The soles of her feet began to shred as they were pounded against gravel, against sidewalks, against a thousand tiny stones and shards of glass. Her body took the warning pain and ignored it as steadfastly as her eyes refused to see the grey sky overhead.
The cemetery gates. The path to his crypt. The crypt itself. Spike.
She saw them all as distinct images, burned into her mind, the only solid objects in a misty world of suffering. And when she saw him he filled her eyes and heart so completely that there was no room for anything else.
She was still yards away when the sunlight spread over his head and shoulders. She found strength from the same source that had let her drive a sword through Angel and jump from the tower and she launched herself in a despairing dive, covering his body with her own, smelling scorched flesh. Then she lay still as her tortured body screamed for release.
She was dimly aware of the need to drag him inside so that they could both rest, but her mind could not work out how to accomplish it without moving off him and leaving him exposed. She was sure there was a solution but she was incapable of thought.
Spike began to struggle beneath her, awake and disorientated and she panicked. If he threw her off –
Salvation came from a mundane source. A cloud drifted across the sky and the sunlight dimmed. It was enough. She rolled off his body, and knelt up to haul him inside. With the last of the strength that she had, she shut the door. The room began to spin and as darkness swept up to blind her, she heard him murmur her name.
She woke in his bed and lay still as fragmented thoughts flowed together to form a cohesive memory. Her feet burned and throbbed, sending pain shooting up her legs, but it was bearable. She opened her eyes and gasped softly. Spike’s face was above her, his blue eyes staring down into hers with anxious intensity.
“Hi,” she said weakly.
He opened his mouth, closed it and did it again.
“The fish impersonation is cute,” she said. “Have you been practising?”
He looked at her and then he began to laugh. She smiled back and reached for his hand, curling her fingers around it.
“Why do I think we’ve got a lot of talking to do?” he asked, putting his free hand over hers.
“Do we have to?” Buffy said. “Talking is of the bad, I’m sure of it. Leads to whole minutes of not kissing.”
He brushed his lips against her hand gently. “It’ll take your mind off the agony I’m about to inflict. Hoped you’d stay asleep a bit longer.”
He nodded to the table by the bed and she saw a bowl of steaming water, tweezers and cotton wool.
He grimaced. “They’re a mess.”
As he began to clean them, closing his ears resolutely to her whimpers of pain, she told him about her dream, describing her run through the deserted streets knowing what was waiting for her. His head drooped low when she had finished.
“So you’re hurt because of me.”
“No. You’re alive because of me. The feet don’t matter.”
He cradled them in his hands, clean now but with blood oozing from dozens of little cuts. He looked at her. “I can help with these,” he said. “Do you trust me?”
She rolled her eyes. “What do you think?”
He bent his head and began to lick the wounds, closing them, healing them. His tongue moved over her flesh smoothly, slowly, delicately. As the taste of her blood filled his mouth he fought back the urge to change and found it surprisingly easy. Finally he began to kiss her instead, playfully tickling her feet until she giggled and sat up.
He looked at her. “We all right now?” he asked quietly.
She nodded. “If you rate the lead role in one of my special dreams I’d say it was meant to be that we’re together. Which is sort of scary.” She hesitated. “There’s just one more thing before we start in on the fun part.”
He raised his eyebrows. “What’s that then, love?”
“Why did you say I’d insulted you?”
He sighed. “You said you thought I’d stay, no matter what. True as far as it goes. But do you think I’m so selfish I’d stay with you if it put you in danger? Or so much of a pathetic git that I’d let you walk all over me and keep crawling back for more? Once maybe, but not now. I’ll stay because I want to, because I love you. Not because I’m your toy.”
She stared at him, distressed. “I never meant that!”
He studied her thoughtfully. “Fair enough. But, Buffy? Don’t ever hit me again. We’re past that.” She flushed, nodding and he smiled. “So, what’s this fun part then?”
A wicked gleam lit up her eyes as they both abandoned introspection with some relief. “How old are you that you don’t know about make up sex?” she asked demurely.
“It’s better is it?” he asked, running a speculative hand down her back and letting his hand come to rest on her bottom.
She pulled him closer and began to kiss him, her mouth warm and soft. “Much better.”
“Then it was hardly worth saving me, pet, because if being with you gets much better, it’ll kill me.”
“You don’t want to take the risk?”
“Hmm...” He let her pull him down to the bed and straddle him, watching through narrowed eyes as she began to peel off his clothes. “Be gentle with me?” he asked huskily and with a complete lack of sincerity.
His shirt ripped as she lost patience with its buttons.
“Not a chance.”
The T-shirt met the same fate and she bent to kiss his chest, running appreciative hands over the clean hard flesh.
“Spike? What time is it?” Buffy asked, many hours later.
“How would I know? Don’t have a watch. Why does it matter?”
“I went to bed last night and now I’m not in it. Either everyone thinks I’m sleeping in like a teenager, or they’ve noticed I’m not there and they’re panicking. I have to go back, tell them –”
He lifted his head and looked at her. “Tell them where you were?” he said, his voice unsure.
Buffy felt a pang of shame that even now he wasn’t certain how she felt about him. “Tell them about us. It’s time. Though thinking about the way I was moping around yesterday and some of the comments – oh, they so know already!” She sat up, indignation making her eyes sparkle. “They know and didn’t tell me! That is so sneaky.”
“You didn’t tell them,” Spike pointed out reasonably.
She shook her head. “Doesn’t matter. Different thing altogether. Anyway, I’ll go, tell them, come back. Don’t move. Especially don’t get dressed.”
Spike glanced at his clothes, ripped off his body and strewn around the floor and smiled agreeably.
Buffy slid out of bed, evading his hands and looked around for her clothes. “Spike, where did I -? Oh my God!”
“I ran through Sunnydale in pajamas! With dancing cats on them!” Spike reflected that there wasn’t a demon alive who could make her voice quiver with horror, as it was doing now.
He grinned. “I think they were dancing the last waltz, pet.” He nodded at a forlorn heap of white patterned flannel. If it had been in the way of his hands and lips, it had been shredded.
“Then what can I wear?” she said plaintively.
He sighed, seeing exactly where this was going. “If I let you borrow my stuff again, can I get it back this time? I’m running out.”
“Of course.” said Buffy sweetly, planning to do no such thing. She eyed him speculatively. Maybe she was going about this the wrong way.
“Spike? If I had a fantasy, you wouldn’t mind helping me make it real would you?”
He grinned, pursing his lips as he looked at her. “Don’t think that’d be a problem, love. Why? What is it?”
Buffy pushed open the crypt door, stepped inside and closed it softly. The room was empty. “Spike?” she called out.
She climbed down into the lower area and turned to the bed. He stood beside it, exactly as she’d asked and her breath caught in her throat. Humming with approval, she looked at him, eyes widening, lips parted.
He was wearing his boots, laces loose, scuffed leather soft with use. He was wearing his coat, moulded to his shoulders, hanging open, his hands in the pockets. His face had the arrogant sneer she loved, now that it was not reflecting his feelings. His hair gleamed like white gold in the light of dozens of candles and his eyes were as blue as the sky outside.
And he was naked under the coat.
She drank it in, watching him grow hard as if her gaze was a caress, as if her lips were already on him, as they would be as soon as she could walk that far. There was no part of her, body or spirit that didn’t desire him, didn’t love him.
“So, Slayer,” he said, eyebrows rising lazily. “Do you like what you see?”
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