Yay! It’s finally the 18th! Well, I have a few offerings today..all one-shot of the fic variety. This is the first of three… I wrote it awhile back, but have infused a fresh, newness that can only come by editing. :)
Summary: It’s like a whisper against her heart, the thought of him. A phantom caress that wakes her up from an empty, haunting slumber. One night,it tells her to go to him. And one night, she listens.
A/N: Set after NFA, fairly AU because who really knows what happened after the screen went dark? In my version, W&H survived, because it seems the type of place to never really die out. That’s all you need to know, really. Here’s what I know we all wish happened. Thanks to crackers4jenn because she is amazing and inspirational as a writer.
One night when she wakes up, she feels him.
In the quiet moments of her life, she feels him like a ghost, a scent lost in the breeze and a voice threading through her hair. But in this vivid still-shot of a lonely night, his presence feels so real that she reaches out her shaking fingers as she sleeps, breathing uneven and troubled. When she wakes up touching the wrinkled creases of her cold bed instead of the smooth planes of his cold skin, she knows it must be all in her head, all in her heart.
She saw him die. Of course, in her world, death is by no means the end. She is a living, bleeding reminder of this, every breath she takes improbable and impossible but true, nonetheless. Yet standing there that day it rained fire and the earth split open, death felt final. Death felt ‘over’. He was beautiful, she thinks, all glowy and hard muscles and bright eyes, with orange light blazing a fiery halo around his head. It was a fitting way to go, she supposes. He was finally the champion he’d always wanted to be, and in his last words to her, he held a quiet dignity that strikes her to her core even now.
And still… and still. There’s that echo buried deep within her, his gravelly voice, the quirk of his mouth, the heat in his eyes and the sleek grace of his muscles. She saw him die, but she feels him in these early morning hours. It seeps into her bones and he is constantly with her, like he always wished he would be.
There’s no way to tell him that now. He sacrificed himself for the world as heroes are wont to do, although if he’d asked her, she would’ve told him not to bother, for coming back brings twice the pain and nothing ever really changes. Now she’s stuck in paradise, dwelling on how truly alone she is, lost among a tide of human beings with human hopes and dreams. She hasn’t got any more duties, any more responsibilities, any more propechies and legends and history stopping her from being happy. She can finally be free- but she finds herself shackled to the what ifs and the could be’s and,God, it would just figure that after all this time and after her death and his, she is finally ready to let go for him.
She’s shacked up with this guy… he doesn’t even have a real name. The Immortal, he calls himself. She sometimes finds herself subversively calling him “Mort,” for short, in that head of hers that can never stop thinking, never stop wishing. Mort’s just a means to the end- she needs to forget and he needs a piece of arm candy, beautiful and vibrant and everything everyone wants to see. Even legends have to keep up appearances, he reminds her, but they both wonder just who it is he is talking about. He whispers as the moon filters into her room that he can taste another memory on her tongue, a passion of long ago. He says he recognizes it rather well. Saw the bugger some months ago, in fact.
Her heart stops and in the space between each rhythmic beat, she somehow knows it is not Angel he is talking of. She somehow sees a flash of platinum hair and a crash of tongues and teeth, and by the shiver that runs through her body, she knows. She can’t help but know.
“Where,” she whispers, her voice flat. “Where?”
And he tells her. He tells her of the Champion and the Angel who visited Italy with a sole purpose in mind: to win the heart of the Slayer. And as he tells her of the chase, of the way they saw her without her seeing them, of the way they have once again chosen her path for her, her heart resumes beating. Very hard. Anger, glorious, righteous anger slides through her blood and mingles with relief. A long lost feeling for a long, lost love.
He is alive. She saw him die, and he is alive. Huhn. The universe always comes through, she supposes.
And it is the question of what she must do that has been plaguing her. Two weeks have passed, and she reasons that a untold amount of events could have happened since those months ago when he first came to Italy. So many reasons not to search, so many reasons to stay away. And yet she wakes up to his scent and his touch more and more lately. She could fly to L.A and go to Wolfram & Hart, she could stride in and take his hand and show him that yes, it was possible, they were possible, they could work and it didn’t always have to hurt. She could be happy. Really happy.
Or she could sit here forever, or until she dies again, or he dies again, or the world inevitably ends. She could do that, and she’d be stuck with ghosts forever. Like she always knew she’d be. She could be the shell of a girl that she’s become accustomed to being, the pod person from those late night tv shows she used to sneak with him after a night of rough, delicious, sating sex. Of making love. The eerie glow from the screen used to play across his features until he looked almost transparent in the pale blue light, glimmery and shimmery like some sort of dream. She could stay here and she would be denying herself her future.
“I want to book a flight,” she whispers into the phone on a sultry Tuesday night. The air is gentle and easy in her room and there is a sense of a new beginning clinging to her skin. It is foreign; nothing has ever felt this good in a long while. She wants to drink to it, champagne sharp on her tongue. She packs instead.
Clothes, toiletries, airplane reading, and just because old habits die hard, a long serrated piece of wood in her pant leg that somehow, airport security always seems to miss. Her life has been packed into a suitcase and she is preparing to touch down in L.A. There is fear in her heart and it is blurring the lines of her vision. What is she doing? Just because she wakes up to phantoms, she thinks she can erase the past two years and make this all okay again? What does she think will happen? She’ll kiss him and he’ll be putty in her hands? They always fight, even in their passion, tooth and nail. Her hands are shaking as she pays the cab driver his money, as she easily hoists her suitcase up from the trunk, as she eyes the large, imposing building in front of her. This is his life now, this is what he knows. What right does she have to interrupt?
And then like a whisper, his voice caresses her heart. “A hundred plus years and there’s only been one thing I’ve been sure of: you…You are one hell of a woman.”
The imagined burn of the ashes falling from his cigarette stings her fingers, like the tears sting her eyes. She lets loose a laugh, deep and true, at this memory. In that moment, she knows. Phantom or not, he is with her now. Forever, with these words, he has proved to her what he is. Her safety, her truth, the only thing she can count on in a world that lets everyone down. All she can do is hope she’s been with him, too.
The steps are never ending it seems, and a cluster of suit-types goggle openly as she shoves the glass doors open. She wonders where he will be, how to go about finding him in this place of shadows and illusions. Then comes the fleeting sense of his scent. She looks up sharply and there he is, peering over the edge of the railing, his eyes wide and dark. There’s been a hell of a battle, she can tell. His hair is longer, curling against pale skin and faint bruises. He is skinnier, a little weaker, because his fingers curl around the steel bannister like he can’t quite stand on his own. Her heart aches as he measures his steps, the darkness casting a black shadow against his cheekbones.
And so it goes. She has woken up, she feels him in her blood, and she watches as he descends the stairs achingly slow. She wants to run to him, but she understands that this may scare him away, may draw attention, may dredge questions that she does not want to answer.
He stands in front of her, his leather duster cool against her fingers, the smell of smoke and grass heavy in the air. His voice, hoarse and laden with meaning, reaches her ears. “Me?” he asks, and that is all. That is enough, because he is here, really here, and for the first time in so long, she can feel him for real.
She can do nothing but nod. Her hands shake and drop from his jacket, her eyes blur with tears. Her shoulders shrug and her voice is desperate. “You.” she whispers. “You.”
His hands catch hers and hold on tighty, the cold skin somehow warming her up more than she’s ever been warm before. His eyes gaze into hers, into her, and his mouth works soundlessly. “God,” he says brokenly. “Buffy.”
And then she says his name, her arms thrown around his neck and her body tight against his. She says his name, calls to memory a man that once was, and it is a power all on its own. “William.” Just once, she tries it, the flavor of it foriegn on her tongue. “Spike. I… love. I love you.”
He sobs into her shoulder, her hair, and his touches aren’t phantom anymore. They are real and solid and maybe now, maybe now Buffy can start to live again.
One night when she wakes up, she feels him. Only this time, he is really there.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/4912.html