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Buffy/Spike

Fic: DUST (32/?)

Posted on 2012.04.17 at 02:17
Tags: , ,
Previous Chapters are HERE

Title: DUST
Author: [info]knifeedgefic  
Era/Season: Season 4 (post “Harsh Light of Day” and “Fear, Itself” but before “Beer Bad”)
Rating: Mature/NC-17 (strong language, sexual situations, adult content)
Genre: other?
Betaed by: [info]goblin_dae  , [info]yakimama  , and [info]subtilior  

Summary: She'd kicked his butt, taken the Gem and sent it off to Angel. Buffy thought she'd seen the last of Spike. Clearly, she’d been too optimistic. That he was in her house, in her room, waking her out of a sound sleep and asking for (okay, demanding) her help meant that something had to be majorly wrong. They weren't due for another apocalypse, but ... why else would a vampire make a truce with the Slayer?




Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all recognizable characters, locations,and dialogue belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and the various writers. This is written purely for fun.

DUST: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fanfic by KnifeEdge
Author's Note: I know, Spike is British and therefore he should be thinking "torch" instead of "flashlight" in his internal narration, but it was too confusing once I added in actual torches. So, let's just pretend he's picked up the American term instead.

32.

 
He loved her.
 
He was in love with her.
 
He hadn’t even thought before he’d said it, hadn’t had a chance to roll the idea around in his brain and see how it tasted before he’d blurted it out—which made it deeply, unfortunately, horribly true. Spike was in love with Buffy.
 
With the Slayer.
 
For a moment, he really wished he was dead—as in the actual sense, rather than his current sorry undead state. He had no idea how long he stood there, frozen in horror. All he could think about was how utterly, totally, thoroughly fucked he was.
 
In love with the Slayer.
 
He was in love with the Slayer.
 
For more than a hundred years his heart had belonged to one woman only: Drusilla. Their relationship had been stormy and turbulent, and he’d known that she was too damaged to ever love him as completely as he had her. Instead, he’d loved enough for the both of them and turned a blind eye to her unfaithfulness as much as he could. They had fought and shagged and gone their separate ways, but Spike had always found Dru again, had always been able to patch things up. It had been a mad, masochistic kind of love, but he’d believed in it with everything that was in him.
 
Until she’d broken him. Until she had cast him aside.
 
And now, like a complete twonk, he’d found the one woman in the world who was guaranteed to bring him more pain than Dru ever could … and he’d fallen in love with her.
 
Spike rarely questioned his heart. It wanted what it wanted, and it wanted it with more ferocity than he’d ever craved anything else in his existence, including blood. It had been that way when he was human, and it had only gotten worse once he’d become a vampire. There was no reasoning with it, no logic to it—his battered heart was hopelessly consistent on this point. He had fallen in love, and there would be no climbing out for him. He still loved Dru, after all ... but now there was Buffy, glowing deep inside him and pushing the shadow of Drusilla into the corners.
 
He cursed the Slayer, cursed Sunnydale, and the spell, and Drusilla for driving him here, and Angel for taking Dru, and the Slayer for shagging Angel, and the entire world for making Buffy what she was and him what he was.
 
If he could have reached into his chest and ripped out his heart and stomped it into the ground, he would have.
 
Spike laughed bitterly. Turned out that the Slayer had been right about him after all. He was more like Angel than he thought. Only far, far more pathetic, because while Spike might be able to shag her with impunity, she’d stolen his heart … and there wasn’t a curse in the world that could give it back to him. She’d sent him to hell as surely as if she’d thrust a sword into his chest.
 
Still, the knowledge settled something in him. Everything he’d been so confused about for the last month, his sudden disinterest in killing her and his need to please her, the way he wanted to be kind to her when they fucked rather than simply shagging her senseless, the things Dru had said—and there were implications there he wasn’t yet ready to examine—it all made sense when he added this last, missing bit of the puzzle.
 
He loved her.
 
And nothing would ever be the same again.
 
He became aware, after some time, of a rattling noise, and Buffy’s panicked breathing. She was swearing softly, coughing after every few words, and judging by the sound of it, trying to resurrect the dead flashlight by threatening it.
 
“C’mon, work, damn you,” she muttered.
 
“Buffy—” he croaked, his voice as raw as hers.
 
“Shut up, Spike.” Her tone was cold. “Just … shut up.”
 
Her heart was rabbiting away, and the scent of fear rolled off of her. It was a delicious combination, and he couldn’t keep from licking his fangs. Just because he loved her, after all, didn’t mean he wasn’t still a vampire. Probably a good thing it’s darker in here than the inside of Angelus’ arsehole. She’d stake him, if she could. He knew it.
 
Still, he had to say something. “Look … about what I said—”
 
“Which part of shut up did you not understand?”
 
“The part where I have to obey your bloody orders,” he snapped. “Buffy, we need to talk.”
 
“No. No, we do not. What we need is for this stupid flashlight to work, and then to get the hell out of here.”
 
“What I said—”
 
“We will never speak of again. You were angry, you blurted out the first … you were just … We’re not talking about it. Why won’t this thing turn on?
 
“Slayer—”
 
“SHUTUP!”  The whistle of air was all the warning he had. He ducked just as something whizzed past his head to crack off of a rock somewhere behind him. She must have flung the flashlight at him. It rolled, and then he heard it clatter over the edge and down into the chasm below. Somewhere, a demon was about to get brained by falling flashlight.
 
“Hey! That was my property you just chucked down the gullet of hell, I’ll have you know.”
 
“You p-probably st-stole it,” she said through chattering teeth. The fight seemed to have gone out of her. Cloth rustled, and he moved toward the sound, wincing when he stepped on some uneven rock and jarred his injured leg. God, I’ve got rotten luck.
 
He sighed. “Yeah, probably did.” His hand came up and caught at a damp bit of her jacket. It was icy cold, and this close he could sense her trembling. There was nothing on earth he wanted so much, just then, as to wrap her in his arms and warm her.
 
Unfortunately, even if she’d let him, he had no warmth to give.
 
Pillock. What’s next, Spike? Gonna wish you could grow old with her and give her kiddies, too?
 
He wanted to fight it out, wanted to discuss what he’d said and why he’d said it and whether or not she felt anything for him … but now clearly wasn’t the time. If he’d had a heartbeat, it would have stopped earlier, when he’d seen her go down into that puddle. Something had freaked her out to the point where she’d nearly lost it, and he’d had to use some of the restraining tactics he’d learned over the years when Dru had had her more violent fits.
 
She was stronger than Dru, though, and far, far more vulnerable. The slender arm he held in one hand trembled. With his other hand he fished out his lighter. The tiny flame seemed incredibly bright in the darkness. Buffy’s face was pale, and she had her arms wrapped around her as if she could contain her shivers simply by holding herself still.
 
Their little chat was gonna have to wait until they were someplace warmer.
 
“Guess it’s a good thing I smoke, yeah?”
 
His attempt at levity fell further than the doomed flashlight. She glanced past him at the cold stone floor and clenched her jaw.
 
Spike wondered if she could see how pitted and dangerous it was, beyond the tiny circle of light from his zippo. Little pools of water lay in wait for another tumble. Rocks littered the ground, ready to trip or twist an ankle. And while the chasm in the corner was the deepest, several thin fissures spiderwebbed away from it. What had been merely some villain’s dream lair, in the light, had become a deadly obstacle course in the dark.
 
If they were going to get out of there in one piece, they needed more light. “Stay put,” Spike said.
 
“You’re leaving?” Buffy’s voice held an edge of panic.
 
“I’m gonna go find a bloody torch, what did you think?”
 
“Oh. I thought—”
 
Spike’s temper began to boil again. “What, that I’d just ditch you here and scarper off on my own?”

“Yes! Well ... Does ‘scarper’ mean to leave?”
 
Spike took a deep breath and tried to put a lid on his anger. She was afraid, of course. He didn’t need his nose to tell him that. Stuck down here in a place that obviously brought up some bad memories, half-drowned, freezing, relying on him to get her out, add in her abandonment issues—yeah, she was afraid.
 
“I’m not gonna leave you,” he promised. “What I said earlier—I meant it. Didn’t know I meant it until I said it, but I do. And I don’t leave the women that I—”
 
“Don’t say it,” she warned. Her eyes had gone steely again.
 
Love.” He stepped back quickly, in case her fists got any ideas. Instead, she turned away, her proud little chin held high. “I don’t leave, Buffy. I won’t leave you, I swear it—”
 
Her laugh was a harsh, strangled thing. “Fine. Fine. You don’t leave. You’re Mr. Stand-By-Me. Whatever. Can we have this argument somewhere that is else? Cause I really don’t want to be here anymore.”
 
That was half her bloody problem, Spike thought. For once, however, he bit his tongue. Instead he handed her the lighter. “Hold this, don’t let it go out.”
 
She frowned, but took it. “Why?”
 
“Because I need it to see where I’m goin’ … and I reckon you’d rather have it than stand about in the dark on your lonesome.”
 
Relief flooded her eyes, then she looked at him suspiciously. “I thought you c-could see in the dark.”
 
Why was it everything he did had to have some kind of evil ulterior motive?
 
“You do know how vision works, yeah? It’s pitch black in here. Got to have some light. I’m not a bat, after all. That ought to be enough for these old eyes, though. You hold that up, and I’ll go see about a torch or something.”
 
“Oh.”  Her fingers were shaky on the lighter. “I could come with you.”
 
“You can’t see well enough to know where to put your feet.”
 
“So you’ll tell me where to put them,” she said, determined.
 
“You don’t trust me, remember?”
 
She took a deep breath, and this time, when her gaze met his, he could see the scared girl and the Slayer both mixed within. “I’d rather trust you than wait here alone.”
 
Floored, Spike could only gape at her. “Right,” he said, and ran his hand through his hair nervously. “Right then,” he took a step toward her, only for his right leg to buckle under him. “Fuck.” He wobbled, then straightened his wounded thigh. “Stupid thi—”
 
He froze, surprised when Buffy slipped under his right arm and put her left around his waist. “What—?”
 
Her gaze was fixed on the ground straight ahead. “You’re gonna have to tell me where to go,” she said. “Don’t make a thing about this, okay?”

Spike swallowed hard, cleared his throat, and nodded. “Bit to the right, then, and straight on till morning.”
 

***

 
Their progress was haltingly slow. He’d managed to ignore his injuries earlier when he’d been fishing her out of the puddle, but the vampiric version of adrenaline was starting to wear off. Aches and pains were making themselves known: his eye was starting to swell shut, his nose was probably broken again, and he was pretty certain she’d cracked a couple of his ribs during their tussle. Then there was his leg, which was having a screaming fit where the crossbow bolt had torn through his upper thigh muscle and hit the bone.
 
In addition, the Slayer’s puddle plunge was taking its toll. She was shivering constantly and pressing against him hard in order to conserve what little body heat he could give her. It wasn’t much, but room temperature at this point was probably warmer than her damp clothing.
 
And bickering, apparently, was better than admitting that they were both miserable, hurting, and needed each other. By the time they reached the cavern’s parlor of the damned, Spike had nearly managed to forget his earlier revelation, and Buffy had gone entirely over to the Bitchy Side.
 
“You’re freezing,” he said. Because stating the obvious is so bloody helpful, Spike.
 
“You gonna p-pretend you c-c-care?”
 
Spike clenched his jaw. “Maybe I don’t. Maybe it’d be better for us both if you turned into a meat popsicle. You’d get your bleedin’ death wish, and I’d get a measure of peace. Can’t say I’d miss how bitchy you are.”
 
She jerked to a halt. “I d-don’t have a death w-w-wish. Why d-do you k-keep saying that?”
 
“Sure you do,” he said. “Every Slayer has a death wish. Comes part and parcel with the gig, pet. You fight and you fight and you fight some more. And eventually you get tired of it. Eventually, you just want it to end. Maybe you don’t bite a bullet or leap into the mouth of hell—but you start looking for an out.”
 
“What d-do you know?”
 
“More than you. You forget I killed two Slayers? I know a bloody death wish when I see it, Slayer. And I see it every single time I look in your eyes.” Only now he knew why it killed him a little, every time. 
 
“I never forget that you k-k-killed two s-s-s-Slayers, S-Spike,” she said. “The only d-d-death wish I have is f-f-for you.”
 
“Careful there, princess. Be a bloody shame if those chattering teeth of yours bit off your tongue.”
 
“I hate you.”
 
“Keep telling yourself that,” he said. “Someday, you might believe it.” It had worked so well for him, after all.
 
She stumbled going up a set of roughly hewn stone steps, and Spike’s bad leg twisted under him. “Oops.”
 
“Bitch,” he growled.
 
He made himself let go of her and hobble ahead, toward an altar-like section that held what looked like half the inventory of Yankee Candle Company. Most of them had no wick left, and tallow had melted down the stone to pool in great lumpy wax stalactites beneath. “Here,” he said, and took the lighter out of her shivering hand, then touched the flame to the few candles that remained intact. The light grew, and Buffy sank down on a bit of stone nearby with palpable relief.
 
The place looked like it had been decorated for an issue of Better Crypts and Caverns. On this side of the cave, archways that wouldn’t have been out of place in a cathedral lay shattered over broken rock. Chunks of furniture rotted in the shadows, surrounded by bits of mildewy manuscripts. One of the papers caught Spike’s eye as he started to search for the makings of a torch. Carefully he eased it out into the light. The edges crumbled to dust when he touched them, but the center remained mostly intact long enough for him to make out the crest and a bit of the Latin.
 
“Aurelius.” Spike frowned. “Slayer ...?”
 
She sighed and huddled in on herself, fisting her hands under her jacket and refusing to look at him.
 
“Angel said you killed the Master,” Spike said. “This the place, then?”
 
She made a sound he couldn’t quite interpret. It hadn’t been a laugh.
 
Spike limped over and knelt in front of her so he could see her face better. She just turned it away. In the flickering candlelight she looked heart-breakingly beautiful, even with her wet hair and her pale face framed in shadows. How had he not seen, for so long?
 
“Tell me,” he insisted.
 
“Why?” she asked. “What does it matter? It happened. It’s over. It’s ancient history, Spike.”
 
“It’s your history,” he said. “It matters to me.”
 
“It shouldn’t.”
 
“Well, it bloody well does!” He snarled and grabbed her chin, forcing her to face him. She smacked his hand away and glared at him instead. “Ever since we set foot in this place you’ve been running scared. You think I don’t smell it on you? Think I can’t tell when you’re frightened out of your wits? You lost it, back there, when we were fighting. You almost died. Almost drowned yourself in a fucking puddle—”
 
“Well it’s not like it would have been the first time!”
 
Spike froze.
 
“You asked me who I killed here,” she said, fury lighting her face and getting rid of her chatter completely. “Me, Spike. I’m the one who died here. Three years ago. I came here to fight the Master, and I lost. He bit me and dumped me in one of those little pools, and I drowned.”
 

***

For a long moment, Spike just stared at her.
 
In the flickering light she thought she could see a hundred thoughts flashing behind his eyes. If she hadn’t known better, she’d have thought he was human.
 
Then, because Spike was eloquent, he said, “What?”
 
“I got better,” she said, humorlessly.
 
“I can see that,” Spike said.
 
“So, I don’t have a death wish,” she said, because clearly he was missing the point. “Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt.”
 
He stared at her, his eyes serious and dark.
 
“That’s precisely why you do.” 
 
“Huh?”
 
When he looked at her again, the candlelight caught the edge of his face and she realized that it was bruises, not shadows, that had darkened the hollow beneath his eye.
 
“You got a taste of it,” he said. “Death. It caught you once, and you know it can catch you again. You survived but you know you’re not immortal. You cheated death and eventually you know he’s gonna come to collect. But you’re not scared of it anymore. You know that when your time comes, you’ll get to rest, and you want it. You want it to end—the fighting, the responsibility. Admit it, Slayer. You like to dance with death. You’re a little bit in love with it.”
 
Why was it always Spike who saw through her? Why was he the only one who could? It pissed her off, infuriated her.
 
“I am not in love with death,” she said.
 
He looked at her, and his eyes were filled with pity. “Yeah,” he said. “You are. I know why you let me shag you. I’m not stupid, you know. Well, not completely, anyway. You’re looking for your grand exit—hoping that I’ll slip up, break my promise, take a bite out of you. Sorry, Slayer, not gonna happen.”
 
Don’tsayitdon’tsayitdon’tsayit.
 
“I’m in love with you,” he said, doing this thing with his eyebrows that made him look super-serious.
 
“You’re not in love with me. God, do you even hear yourself? You’re delusional, Spike. This spell … it’s made us both crazy. It’s like that Stuck-Home Syndrome thing—”
 
“Stockholm—”
 
“Whatever. The point is, we’re both … lonely. That’s it. We’re like the last two people on earth; and you’ve got boy parts and I have girl parts and so we, you know, got part-y.”
 
She winced. Got part-y? Sometimes Buffy wished her mouth came with an owner’s manual so she would know how to shut it off. Or at least program the language setting correctly.
 
Spike stared at her with something like exasperated amusement, a smile twisted the corner of his lips.
 
“Maybe it started that way,” he said. “But things change. We’ve changed. God, bein’ around you, day after day, seeing you, touching you, knowing you—how could I not love you, Buffy?”
 
“You don’t have a soul—”
 
“Back to that old song, is it?” Spike rolled his eyes. “Don’t need a soul to love, pet.”
 
“Angel—”
 
“Fucked you over good and proper, and now I’m gonna pay for it. Yeah, I know. I’m not Angel.”
 
That much was painfully obvious. She glanced back at the place where she’d nearly died for the second time. Spike had pulled her out.
 
“...I don’t fucking know CPR, and if I have to wing it I’m gonna cock it up, so would you cough that water up already?...”
 
“Spike? If I had... I know you said you... if I had d-drowned... You said you didn’t know CPR...”
 
He shrugged. “Would have tried anyway. Not letting you escape me that easy, Slayer. Figure I’ve seen it on TV enough to have blundered my way through. Not like I could have made it worse. Why?”
 
His head did that tilty thing that reminded her of a dog trying to understand human. It wasn’t a bad comparison, really. Of course, Spike was a hell of a lot smarter than a dog, and he always did understand her—sometimes better than most of the humans she knew.
 
“Who pulled you out last time? Who brought you back?” he asked, as if he already knew the answer, even if he’d never heard the story.
 
“Angel,” she said, to answer his first question. “And Xander.”
 
Spike frowned. “I’m surprised Bat-face didn’t take them out first.”
 
“They ... weren’t here. I—I faced him alone.”
 
“Alone?”
 
Giles had wanted her to talk about it. So had Willow, and Xander, and Angel. They’d poked and prodded and asked a bajillion questions, because they’d cared, because they’d wanted to know how it had all gone down. But how could she tell them, when they’d been so involved? How could she tell them when, at the time, she’d been so full of feelings—anger and fear, fury and resentment—at them. For not telling her she was going to die, for letting her find out the way she had, for manipulating her. Xander had told them how he’d had to go to Angel and practically bully him into helping find her. He thought that she hadn’t noticed the way he’d gloated, just a little, at Angel’s inability to save her. It wasn’t that she wasn’t grateful Xander had saved her, but he didn’t have to be so smug about it.
 
And Angel—talking with him about it was even worse because it was almost like Angel hadn’t even cared that she was going to die. He hadn’t tried to stop her, hadn’t gone after the Master on his own like Giles, he’d just … waited, and when the chance for him to be her hero had happened the best he could do was claim he had no breath.
 
Buffy had taken CPR. Giles had sort of insisted on it, as part of her Slayer training. She’d also taken biology. If Angel could talk, he could still inflate his lungs, and that’s pretty much all he’d needed to be able to do to give her—
 
Spike’s hands shot out and gripped her hips, then he yanked her down into his lap and slammed his mouth over hers. It was only when she couldn’t talk anymore that she realized she had been—talking, that was. Everything she’d wanted to say to everyone else, all the words that had been bottled up inside of her, the anger, the resentment—it had all come pouring out. Because Spike hadn’t been there. Because Spike was there, now. Because, while he hadn’t saved her, he’d tried.
 
And now he was kissing her as if his unlife depended on it. Her mouth opened automatically underneath his onslaught, and she moaned when his tongue dipped inside to taste hers. He wasn’t warm, but he was warmer than her wet clothes, and she suddenly wanted to strip out of them and burrow into his arms.
 
She pulled back for air, and Spike’s hand caught in the hair at the nape of her neck. His eyes were very dark and intense. “Do you trust me, Buffy?”
 
“No,” she whispered.
 
“Not even a little? Won’t hurt you, I swear. Just want to try something.” He seemed serious, which with Spike meant that he really, really was. After a moment’s hesitation, she nodded. A smile briefly touched his lips. Then he was kissing her again, and whatever it was he wanted to show her apparently involved his tongue—which she didn’t really mind at all.
 
She tugged at his shirt, her hands skimming under the fabric to touch his skin. He moaned into her at the contact, and his hand tightened on her hip. Still, he made no move to undress her. It was getting kind of annoying, actually, that he wasn’t doing anything.
 
Then he did do something, but it wasn’t anything she would have expected.
 
Just as she was about to break their kiss so she could breathe, he clamped his hand around the back of her neck to hold her in place. His head tilted to the side; his mouth opened wider over hers. She felt him inhale, felt his chest rise under her palms, and then he breathed into her mouth.
 
Buffy’s eyes flew open, but it was too dark for her to see much more than the candlelight haloing Spike’s white hair.
 
For a second, she fought the sensation. Only, she really kinda did need air. In the end, however, it was curiosity that made her relax, made her stop fighting against him. He inhaled again, and breathed again, and filled her lungs. For a second or two, she simply sat there in his lap and let him breathe for her.
 
She felt, for a moment, like she had when they’d done that trance. They were one being that moved together and breathed together. They weren’t a slayer and a vampire, or the living and the dead. They were just Buffy and Spike, and she knew that whatever else might happen, whatever it was he thought he felt for her, Spike would do everything he could to keep her alive.
 
Even the impossible.
 
When he finally pulled away, he looked as shocked as she did. It took a couple of breaths for her to actually remember how to work her lungs on her own. Spike cleared his throat.
 
“Well,” he said. “Now we know the answer to that question, don’t we?”
 
“Yeah,” she said, shakily. “Guess we do.”
 
“What do you say we find a torch, get out of here, and go home?”
 
“I think I’d be good with that.”
 

***

 
They stumbled in the doorway just before dawn, Spike leaning heavily on Buffy’s shoulder to keep the weight off his injured leg. She’d have minded, except that he blocked the wind, which had dried her clothes but left her freezing. Her fingers and toes were numb by the time they hobbled up the walk, and the blast of warm air on her face as she opened the door was nearly painful.
 
There was only a momentary pause in the foyer. Then they looked at each other, at the stairs, at Spike’s bad leg and Buffy’s muddy hair and clothes, and without a word they headed up the stairs for the bathroom, leaning on one another.
 
She wasn’t going to think about it. Wasn’t going to examine the choice too closely, though she knew she’d made one. What she wanted, right now, was to make it up the stairs and into a hot shower. At this point she was well past exhausted. There was a good chance she could make it up on her own, but a better chance if she just didn’t let go of Spike.
 
What she was going to do when they got up there, she still had no clue.
 
If she didn’t think about it, if she just moved, things would sort themselves out without her having to make a conscious decision. Right now, she was all about the unconscious.
 
The last few steps were the worst. Her legs trembled under her, and she could feel Spike wobbling a bit beside her. They used their free arms to kind of push off the wall in a forward direction, and to keep themselves mostly upright. “Bit further,” Spike muttered, and then they were tumbling through the bathroom door to fetch up against the counter like something that had washed in on the tide.
 
He left her there after being sure she wasn’t going to fall and hop-limped across the tile to the tub. She heard the water come on and automatically began stripping her clothes off. Her jacket was stiff and crusty and didn’t want to budge. After several moments of fighting with it, she gave up and managed to toe off her shoes. Numbly she set to work on her jeans, and then Spike was there, pushing her fingers away and undoing the button and zipper.
 
Really, she should stop him, she knew. This was way past the boundaries that they’d set before. But she was tired, and fumble fingered, and somewhere along the way she’d made the choice to trust him—it seemed pointless to put up a fight over this. Besides, it wasn’t like he hadn’t seen her naked.
 
She let him finish stripping her, then helped him out of his blood caked jeans. With their arms around each other’s waists they climbed into the tub. The water was hotter than she could really stand, but she didn’t complain. Instead, she simply stood there and let it wash over her, thawing her cold skin.
 
Spike’s hands slid over her shoulders and turned her toward him so her back was to the spray. It was only because she was so tired that she let herself be pulled into his embrace, only exhaustion that made her lay her head against the solid wall of his chest, close her eyes, and drift.
 
Distantly she felt his hands smoothing over her skin, slippery and warmed from the water. He didn’t move her, just washed the bits of her that his hands could reach without having to dislodge her from his chest. Somehow he even managed to shampoo her hair. Sleepily, she was aware of his fingers trailing through the wet strands, working conditioner through the ends. It felt like heaven to let him do this for her.
 
Finally, just as she was starting to fall asleep for real, he took her by the shoulders and set her back from him. “Sorry, pet,” he murmured. “Gotta deal with my leg for a mo’.”
 
Buffy leaned back against the tile wall and cracked her eyes open. In the bright bathroom light she could see the mess that was Spike’s right thigh now. The bolt had gone through the muscle, and when he’d yanked it out, he’d made a huge mess of it. Blood oozed from the ragged wound, and he hissed  when the water hit it.
 
“Ouchy,” she said. Then her gaze drifted up to take in the rest of him. Mottled bruising marred his rib cage, and the discoloration around his eye was even more pronounced in the light. Several other bruises had blossomed across his chest, including one right over his heart.
 
Buffy frowned. She knew she’d hit him, but... she didn’t remember the details. It had all been a bit blurry.
 
He struggled to rinse the wound out, then reached for the soap. Buffy watched with sleepy fascination as he lathered his hands, then ran the suds over his skin. Pretty. Had she ever watched a man shower before? She couldn’t remember, but she doubted it. Angel had been kinda private about that, the one time they’d...
 
“Buffy?” Spike stilled his movements and studied her with his head tilted to the side. “You alright?”
 
“Yes,” she said, and realized that she was crying.
 
“Buffy … Pet. Don’t … Look, it’s been a long night, yeah, and we’re... you’re … we’re …”
 
Whatever else he said was lost to her sobs. Slowly, as if he thought she’d break if he did, Spike eased his arms around her. Far too tired to flinch, she let him stroke her back and murmur nonsense against her hair.
 
She was just so tired. Tired of the spell, tired of the loneliness and the pain and the confusion. It was a good thing she had super human strength considering the baggage she had to carry. And now there was Spike, who confused her even more with his evilness and his sexiness and his insistence on feeling as though he were human. As though he really did care. Really could love her.
 
And if it was true, that something as soulless as Spike could love, then what the hell was wrong with her? She wasn’t good enough for Angel, but she was bad enough for Spike?
 
The water shut off about the time she ran out of tears, and then Spike helped her out of the shower. There was toweling and hair drying, but she felt as though she were sleepwalking through it. He sat her on the closed toilet, bundled up in a towel, while he fished out the first aid kit and did something to his leg. She watched through heavy lidded eyes.
 
“Gonna need some help here,” he said, reaching for her again. She let him pull her up, let herself be guided beneath his arm and then, supporting each other, they limped out into the hall. Here, Spike hesitated, then glanced at her warily. She ignored him and muzzily contemplated the hall carpet, which was in desperate need of a vacuuming. Then he turned them, and they dragged themselves into her bedroom.
 
The bed rose up to meet her like a long lost friend, and Buffy, heedless of how she’d gotten there, embraced it with open arms.

_________
To be continued...



Still alive...

If you haven't had a chance to read the Q&A I did about this story a few days ago, maybe that'll hold you over until I get a chance to update again. With any luck it won't be as long as it was this time.

Comments:


Phoenix
phoenix_zeal at 2012-04-17 09:18 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Buffy. Oh, Spike. I don't know if it was because I already had a headache and am exhausted, but I could really feel how tired they both were. You have such an amazing ability to make me care for and love them so much even though they're far from perfect. Maybe I love them more because of their flaws. Of course I did in the show as well but I just want to hug your fics and never let go.

I'm rambling, I know, but I love this very much and it's well worth the wait.
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-17 14:26 (UTC) (Link)
I like to think that we love them for their flaws, because it makes it easier for us to relate to them. I have a hard time loving characters that are perfect (or nearly so, or portrayed that way -- Edward Cullen I'm looking at you...). But I love Buffy and Spike because they're both, in so many ways, just raw bundles of emotion and flaws. It makes them both easier to write, and more challenging... not to mention somewhat exhausting, because I have to draw on all of my own emotions and flaws so that I can understand them better. Still, it's worth it, in my opinion.
Phoenix
phoenix_zeal at 2012-04-17 16:56 (UTC) (Link)
Oh yeah, Edward Cullen pisses me off a lot. Though what irks me the most is that Edward has tons of flaws and he's a stalker-ish creep but we're told that he's perfect.

Characters with flaws, and with no one to tell us that they're perfect, are much more loveable.
Alexis
japanimecrazed at 2012-04-17 11:49 (UTC) (Link)
Great chapter! I love the experimentation with CPR.
ladypeyton
ladypeyton at 2012-04-17 12:24 (UTC) (Link)
OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!!!! I'm so excited to see a new chapter! Thank you thank you thank you! %^D

Gunna go and read now!
ladypeyton
ladypeyton at 2012-04-17 13:56 (UTC) (Link)
The whole chapter was just wonderful. Gripping and emotional and heartwrenching in places and well worth the wait. Thank you. I look forward to the next time you are able to post.

Edited at 2012-04-17 01:57 pm (UTC)
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-17 14:21 (UTC) (Link)
It's reactions like that that make me happy to post. :D
Alexandra
gryfndor_godess at 2012-04-17 12:34 (UTC) (Link)
Aw, this chapter is really wonderful and heart-wrenching. I like all the parallels with "Crush" and "Fool For Love." I love the CPR experiment.

I really like this description: His head did that tilty thing that reminded her of a dog trying to understand human.
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-17 16:38 (UTC) (Link)
My dog does that thing all the time, and the way she cocks her head to the side and stares at me reminds me so much of Spike. It's like she hears me, knows I'm talking about her/to her, and really wants to understand. Maybe if she just tilted her head a little further to the side she could hear me better and I'd start making sense to her...

I wonder, often, if JM did that on the show deliberately, because he often does it at points when it seems like Spike would be deliberately trying to puzzle through something, either twisty Buffy logic or the intricacies of human morality.
Kirsten Carlson Mercer
Kirsten Carlson Mercer at 2012-04-17 13:12 (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

This is always worth the wait!
spicy_vanilla91
spicy_vanilla91 at 2012-04-17 13:16 (UTC) (Link)

Sweet Baby Jesus! Thou art back :)

Oh my. Oh my. I litterally squealed in the middle of a coffee shop when I opened my emails and saw you had updated. And god did you not disappoint!!! I loved, loved the "CPR" bit and how much it showed that they are both now linked beyond anything that might happen. I always thought myself that Angel was a bit stupid for not saving her life when obviously he could (I mean if Spike can smoke, why the hell couldn't Angel give CPR?) But then again I never was a big fan of Mr Cryptic-Big-Forehead. He lacks the passion for life that both Buffy and Spike share.... Probably lost it in the gutter when he was feeding on rats... But I digress! Lovely chapter, adored how sweet Spike was capable of being with her. Loved even more that she was just too tired to protest and simply accepted what he had to offer without making a fuss about it. I can't wait for the next part! Thank you so much for sharing this with us :) Do you have any idea when the next part might be up? Soon hopefully?
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-17 14:21 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Sweet Baby Jesus! Thou art back :)

I don't know when the next one will be up. It's written, but unedited, and unfortunately (or fortunately?) it's got a lot of plot hints in it. Possibly the most plot hinty chapter yet.

I'm a few chapters past it, writing-wise, but would like to get a little further and make sure the ball is rolling, and all those plot hints are making sense in context. That way when I DO post it, I can say "and the next chapter will be up on..." :)

Re: CPR
Because I like to invent logical reasons for illogical moments on the show (I do this a lot... try to find plausible reasons why the characters behave certain ways, say certain things, or do things), I like to think that Angel honestly doesn't know how CPR works or how to do it. Why would he? "I have no breath," makes it sound like he wants to save her but can't, without making him look like a moron while "I don't know CPR" makes him look fallible. Angel is all about saving face. I can't imagine him admitting to a hole in his supposedly vast and superior knowledge, not in front of Xander anyway.
spicy_vanilla91
spicy_vanilla91 at 2012-04-17 14:50 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Sweet Baby Jesus! Thou art back :)

Hahaha true, true that does make sense. Though why he'd think important to protect his pride when she's dead at his feet, I don't really get. Plus as Spike said, he would have tried to do something, anything at all, which Angel didn't. Anyhow, as a character I believe he was underexploited in Buffy (I haven't gotten to watch the entire Angel series an don't know if I ever will.. The episodes I watched weren't nearly as exciting as the Buffy ones). I always thought they could have done more with him to justify the way he acts towards Buffy or at least to offer us some perspective on him as a human, for instance. Two minutes of drunkeness in an alley doesn't exactly scream character development lol! Not like 'Fool for Love', 'Crush' and 'Lies my Parents Told Me' did for Spike. And in the end I think what pissed me off the most about Angel was that because he had his soul from the moment Buffy met him, she always gave him the benefit of the doubt even after he murdered Jenny, whilst Spike, whom sure did horrible things (the worst being trying to rape her) actually got his soul back out of love and guilt and never was THAT fully recognized by any of the characters on the show... Anyways, here I go again rambling on and on lol! Can't wait for the update and I will be watching my emails carefully for anything new by you! Good luck with your writing. :)
Lirazel
penny_lane_42 at 2012-04-17 13:43 (UTC) (Link)
I am so glad to see more of this story. I'd missed it so!
hello_spikey
hello_spikey at 2012-04-17 16:26 (UTC) (Link)
So glad to see this updated! Wow, Buffy and Spike are both down at their lowest, aren't they? Poor things!

The breathing thing was suprisingly hot! I have to say I share that theory - that a vampire, not needing to breathe, doesn't de-oxygenate air taken into his lungs. This could be handy in water-related emergencies!

Stupid Angel. :P

Hope Spike can convince Buffy she's worth loving - if anyone can it's him! And I hope they find SOME sort of clue or lead on this mystery before they lose all hope.
Rebcake
rebcake at 2012-04-17 17:41 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, so good! I love that they're getting down to brass tacks, as it were.

how could I not love you, Buffy?”

“You don’t have a soul—”

“Back to that old song, is it?” Spike rolled his eyes. “Don’t need a soul to love, pet.”

“Angel—”

“Fucked you over good and proper, and now I’m gonna pay for it. Yeah, I know. I’m not Angel.”


Certainly not! She's no dummy though, so I have hope that she'll see the value of that before long, even when she's not about to drop from exhaustion.

Also, I adore the whole h/c shower scene to bits. Caretaker Spike is a lovely aspect of his character.
Immortal Beloved
beloved_77 at 2012-04-17 18:48 (UTC) (Link)
Holy mother of crap! An update. :-D
diebirchen
diebirchen at 2012-04-17 19:47 (UTC) (Link)
Have we all mentioned how thrilled we are that this story is continuing? If not, consider it mentioned. And Angel and breath -- HE SMOKED -- BLEW THE SMOKE OUT! The show showed it. Geeze Louise!
seapealsh
seapealsh at 2012-04-18 02:11 (UTC) (Link)
What a great chapter! These two wounded warriors need each other so much. This was well worth the wait.
Elena
moscow_watcher at 2012-04-18 17:04 (UTC) (Link)
Incredible chapter!

I love this story so much, I can't can't find words to express it.

May I ask you a question: is the scene where Spike breathes for Buffy a homage to Waterworld?
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-18 17:09 (UTC) (Link)
Not intentionally, no. I have seen Waterworld, several times, so it's possible that I was subconsciously recalling it... but the actual inspiration for that scene came from an experience I had with a (now ex) boyfriend in college, who demonstrated the same technique. It's a very bizarre experience, and incredibly intimate, and I wanted something that harkened back to the trance they did earlier in the story.
Elena
moscow_watcher at 2012-04-18 17:16 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for quick reply! I asked because it's quite known that Joss was doctoring the script of "Waterworld", and I'm almost sure that the scene of breathing "for us both" was his contribution.

And - I want to repeat that I adore your story.
singedbylife
singedbylife at 2012-04-18 17:07 (UTC) (Link)
Phoenix_Zeal wrote how exhausted you made her feel and I second that. I too, was right there with Buffy and Spike in the tunnels and at home. Hurt, tired, confused, emotionally drained. It was lovely! And it gives me hope for the next chapters, of course. Love how you manage to convey their personalities so painfully right.
Corinna
alwaysjbj at 2012-04-28 04:27 (UTC) (Link)
Fabulous update. All very intense and emotional.

And if it was true, that something as soulless as Spike could love, then what the hell was wrong with her? She wasn’t good enough for Angel, but she was bad enough for Spike

Oh, Buffy! I don't know if I want to shake her or hug her or both. Stupid, stubborn, heart-breakingly poor girl!
singedbylife
singedbylife at 2012-09-05 22:55 (UTC) (Link)
Can I just say that I still adore this story? :-)
nonikk63 at 2013-05-08 18:31 (UTC) (Link)
The first story by you I read was "West of the Moon, East of the Sun" which is the best fanfic I've read - it's simply beautiful - but this story is extremely good too, and also totally different from "West of the Moon". It's all I wanted Season 6 to be, even better this way with Spike unchipped and not in love with Buffy when the story starts which gives their relationship a far better dynamic; all the tension and animosity between them that still can’t stop that strong undercurrent of irresistible attraction from pushing them toward each other. The feelings and thoughts that make them act the way they do are so very realistically described and very credible; they’re real people with real feelings, the psychology works. Of course Buffy must fight her feelings for Spike, because he is (still) evil and Buffy is a force for goodness, she can’t vouch for Spike’s (lack of) values, actions or choices no matter how sexy he is or even how much she feels understood by him. To me it was always totally understandable that her inability to resist him would make her push their relationship into that dark place, punishing them both for their inappropriate feelings. You picture it so very well. To provide them with a happy ending without losing all credibility requires a delicate touch. Everything needs to shift in a new direction from believable reasons and turns of events. This last chapter made that turn in the most exquisite and excellent way. I understand this is still a work in progress and I can wait a long time to see what happens next, because I’m sure it will be well worth the wait.
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