Now, for the work in progress section of today…
Just one word of warning: it’s been ages since I’ve posted an unfinished work. For years, my writing has consisted almost completely of one-shots. Hence, the really nervous part. ^^;;
Title: And the Dream Will Set You Free
Author: randi (randi2204)
Notes: In answer to a challenge at the Bloodshedverse. I simply couldn’t help myself. This is going to be long, not the short fic that was likely envisioned by the challenger. Also, lines have been filched, tweaked and outright stolen from various episodes throughout the course of this fic. (The particular ep in this chapter is Out of My Mind.)
Summary: What if, at the end of Out of My Mind, it was Buffy who woke up from a dream?
Disclaimer: Not mine, all Joss.
It always satisfied some destructo-urge to kick open the door to Spike’s crypt. It felt even better when she was angry.
And right now, Buffy was beyond angry – she was furious. Incensed. Raging at Spike for what he had tried to do. It wasn’t enough that he’d tried to get the chip out, but he’d taken her money and said he’d help find Riley – stupid me for believing a vampire! – and then kidnapped the very doctor that Riley so desperately needed. And the fighting on top of that – Harmony and her itchy trigger, Spike trying to bite her… Not to mention that Riley could have died while they were trying to get the doctor back – just from fighting, and so not because Harmony was in any way dangerous.
Oh yeah, kicking in the crypt door was going to feel so good.
She gave it a couple extra kicks for good measure.
Then it flew backwards, creaking on the ancient hinges and slamming into the wall with a crash that would have woken the dead.
And the dead was awake now, if he hadn’t been before. She stepped inside, not caring about the sunshine streaming in around her, and saw Spike flowing up out of his chair to face her, just outside the reach of the sunlight. “Slayer,” he ground out, and it had a familiar anticipatory edge, just like he thought he’d be able to fight her – like he used to, before he was chipped… before he was reduced to sniping miserably on the sidelines.
And suddenly, she missed fighting with him. Their snarking verbal battles were all right, but she missed the physical challenge, the thrill that always tingled through her because she knew. If she was just a fraction of a second off, a thought too slow, Spike would have her.
“I should have known it was you. It’s been nearly six hours.”
Buffy snorted. “Only because I was busy cleaning up your mess.” And reassuring Riley, or trying to, and now I’m wondering just how reassuring it sounded when I told him I’d date Spike if I wanted a boyfriend with superpowers…
“Your mess, Slayer, not mine. Yours and the boy’s. I just borrowed the doc…”
Oh, how she hated that smug I got it all figured out tone! It made it even easier to pull the stake from the waistband of her pants. “You know what? I’m done.” There was a finality in her tone that astonished her. “I am done, Spike. I should have done this years ago.” She raised the stake and was just as surprised to discover that she wasn’t threatening him… not this time.
This time, she meant it.
“You know what? Do it. Bloody just do it.”
Expecting him to backpedal and try to weasel out of getting his just desserts, the gritted words took a moment to register in her mind. “What?”
“End. My. Torment.” He skinned out of his shirt and threw it to one side, giving her a clear view of his chest, where to aim her stake. “Take me… out of a world…that has you in it!”
That world wavered about her. Spike? Begging for death? He’d been so full of life before… well, for a vampire. Did this sudden death wish just stem from today’s events? He must have had a lot of disappointment in trying to get the chip out – what was one more time?
But no, she thought, remembering. He thought he’d really done it this time – that he would be able to kill her, that he’d be free. The pain that had ripped through his brain when he tried to bite her must have been even worse for being so unexpected.
Could she really do it? If he was begging for death, could she actually…?
She surged closer, stake raised high, ready to let it fall and pierce his chest with her uncanny Slayer accuracy.
He flinched a little – maybe startled by the suddenness of her movement, or maybe just because death was before him now after so long in his shadow – sucked in a short and oh-so-unnecessary breath, then stood stock-still, jaw clenched and a light blazing in his eyes that practically dared her to do it.
And unaccountably, she paused, filled with uncertainty. She studied him, saw resolution and anger and a hint of desperation. Doubt crept into his face, softening his features, and she was forced to think about just when he’d become so familiar that she could read his emotions.
Then it didn’t matter any more.
Determination filled her, and she stepped forward again, until she was almost up against him. He didn’t flinch this time. He didn’t have the chance.
The stake clattered to the floor and, with all the speed she could muster, she reached out with both hands, wrapped her fingers around the back of his neck and pulled his mouth to hers.
Apparently, she could do it after all.
His lips were cool against hers, and motionless for a moment as he stood shocked. Then she remembered the heat, absolute and all-consuming, that had flared between them under the false engagement of Willow’s spell, because it burst out again. Fire raced along her every nerve as he started to reciprocate, mouth opening, hands grasping her arms. Taking advantage, she pushed her tongue into his mouth, curling it around his own, coaxing it into battle.
Her heart thudded wildly in her ears, and she tingled all over, just from his closeness, his hands on her, his mouth on hers… Buffy found that she couldn’t get enough of the taste of him – tobacco and whiskey and Spike. She didn’t even care that she couldn’t breathe. She just wanted to keep kissing him.
Then that connection was broken and she was so cold, gasping at the sudden ache of his absence. She opened her eyes, unsure of when she’d closed them, and whimpering a little in protest.
He’d shoved her away – not too hard or even too far. He still held her upper arms, his fingers clenching tightly, and now her hands rested on his biceps, trying to keep from getting pushed even further away. And he stared, his eyes wide with confusion as he studied her face.
She hoped she saw a flash of desire, too, along with the puzzlement.
She took another gulp of air, unable to look away from his face, losing herself in the intense color of his eyes.
She wasn’t sure who made the first move that time, but she was leaning toward him, yearning for the touch of his lips again. And then she had it, and it was wonderful. His skin warmed quickly beneath her hands, and her hands wandered over the expanse of him. Arms and shoulders, chest and abs and back, all firm rippling muscle beneath her fingers.
It made her even hotter.
She had to pull away again, fighting to breathe. Immediately, she dove back in, kissing along his jaw, down his throat, and he tilted his head back with an appreciative moan. “Buffy…” The way he said her name, the unintentionally seductive tone of his voice… tiny little flutters of pleasure exploded in her stomach at the sound. “Mmm… Buffy…”
His hands were on her back, pulling her even closer, though she was already plastered against him. She continued to cover his neck and collarbone with kisses. “Spike,” she breathed, “oh, God, Spike, I love you…”
Her world jolted as if he’d pushed her away again, but she never got to see his expression. This time when she opened her eyes, she was in her dorm room, jack-knifed upright in her bed, heart pounding and mouth open to scream.
Her eyes darted around her sunlit room, as if expecting Spike to be there, accusing her. When her heart finally slowed to a more normal pace, she slumped back against the headboard, her face in her hands.
A dream. Just a dream.
Get it together, Buffy! she told herself as sternly as she could. It was just a dream! A totally wig-some dream that you cannot possibly share with anyone because bovines would be birthed by the herd… but still just a dream. Very much with the not real.
She glanced at the clock on her bedside table and felt a burst of panic at the time before remembering that she didn’t have any classes today. Sighing in relief, she flopped back down on the bed and put an arm over her eyes. What does it say that I’d rather go to class than think about…that?
Then she brightened. Ooh! I can do that! I never had the weird and wiggy dream where I… was… totally aching for the kiss of Spike lips. God! Frustration made her grind her teeth until her jaw hurt. C’mon, Buffy, you’re usually good at being denial-girl! And this? Would be a really good thing to deny.
But the dream stubbornly refused to go away. It lingered in her mind’s eye, taunting her. Especially Spike’s muscular chest. I remember… he’s really built like that under the leather… No! Horrified by the direction her thoughts were taking, Buffy tried to wrench them away. Riley! My cute and hunky boyfriend is Riley. Not Spike. And Riley doesn’t have a chip… well, okay, not any more. And he doesn’t have superpowers… well, except he kind of did, until yesterday… and his “brother” was Frankenstein’s worst nightmare. But! He’s not a vampire! He’s not evil. And he loves me. Several huge points in his favor.
Riley… who was injured yesterday in a fight with Spike… and who had surgery yesterday, and who I said I’d go see today. Oh, I hope he isn’t going to go all insecurity-boy on me again today. She groaned at the thought, and immediately felt ashamed of herself. Oh, good, Buffy. That’s the way to be a good girlfriend – get all whiney because your boyfriend just had surgery he needed to save his life that he didn’t want because he was trying to keep up with you. You can be supporto-girl. Right? Right.
Even though she got out of bed and prepared to go to Riley’s apartment, the lack of enthusiasm to see Riley still remained. It wasn’t until she was halfway to his place that she realized why.
The dream. It was still there in her head, and for some strange – twisted – reason, it felt like she was being unfaithful.
But whether that was to Riley or to Spike, she didn’t want to contemplate.
“Would you like me to get you something to drink?”
Riley smiled. “No, thanks, I’m good.”
“How about something to eat? I could…”
“No, it’s okay. I had something a little while ago.”
Buffy sat down nervously on the opposite end of the sofa, only to jump up again a moment later. “Are your pillows okay? Need me to fluff them again?”
Riley glanced down at the veritable mountain of cushions and pillows surrounding him. “No, I think they’re all cowed into being as fluffy as they can after their last pummeling. Not to mention the Slaying of one of their brethren.” He plucked a stray piece of downy fiber from her hair. “Hey…” His hand quickly changed trajectory as she started to pace again, and he grabbed hold of her arm. “Relax. I’m gonna be okay.”
“Yeah, I know.” She settled back on the sofa, not quite close enough to touch him. “Still doesn’t mean I wasn’t scared.”
Riley cupped her cheek gently. “I’m sorry for that. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Trust me – we are so having words about that when you’re feeling one hundred percent again.” Then she softened both her tone and her expression. “Right now, I’m just glad you’re gonna be all right.” She leaned forward and gave him a brief, chaste kiss.
Riley grinned at her brightly, despite the ache of his incision. “Come on, share my pillows,” he said, trying to coax her a little closer. He always wanted more of her kisses.
The way she tried to fend him off clearly said she didn’t want to aggravate his injuries. “No, Riley, you should just rest.”
“I am resting. I can rest as well with you right next to me as I can with you all the way over there. Better even,” he finished hopefully.
Buffy looked at him doubtfully for a moment, then gave in. “All right. If you’re sure.” With some reluctance, she inched closer until she could lean against his shoulder a little. He frowned when he realized she kept her muscles taut so he wouldn’t have to bear too much of her weight. But he didn’t quite dare call her on it.
They sat in an awkward silence, neither willing to speak until the sun sunk low. As soon as the sky started to darken, Buffy pulled away and said, “I’ve got to get ready for patrol. Want me to come by tomorrow?”
The smile Riley gave her felt a bit forced to him, but he wasn’t certain she noticed. “Sure. I can’t help but feel better when you’re around.”
She flashed him a tight grin, pecked his cheek and did not look back to see his obvious disappointment as she rushed out the door.
Spike counted himself more than lucky that he managed to catch sight of the Slayer before she saw or even sensed him. After yesterday’s spectacularly painful arse-kicking, he had absolutely no desire to be anywhere near the chit.
Not to mention the chip-removal debacle had cost him his shagging partner. When he’d woken up this evening, Harm had already cleared out. Not a unicorn behind, and while in many ways it was a relief not to have to deal with her inane prattle, it meant he was alone again.
Once, he’d nearly convinced himself that he wanted to be alone, that he would be happier without having to cater to a woman’s every whim, mad or pointless or… whatever. That he could travel fast and light and do as he damned well pleased.
But that was before this miserable wreck of a chipped existence, when he’d been feared and powerful. The good old days, he thought longingly, blowing out a stream of smoke. With Dru… even with Angelus and Darla, it wasn’t so bad…
It was then that he realized that in all the long years of his existence, he’d only been alone in the past few… and those few had been utterly wretched.
The thing of it is, mate, he thought, staring at the burning end of his cigarette and watching as the smoke coiled upwards, you don’t like being alone.
Being a lone wolf and sole survivor was not as much fun as he’d expected.
Shaking himself out of his depressing reverie, he stamped out the butt of his cigarette and stalked back toward his crypt. Thing to do now is just lay low for a bit, and hope that the Slayer’s a bit more forgiving than usual. He snorted and rubbed his chest. Be a bloody cold day in Hell before that happens.
In the dream that had woken him to find Harmony gone, the Slayer had burst into his crypt, bandied heated words with him and then staked him.
If possible, Buffy was even more hesitant to see Riley the next day. She put it off until after her classes, even though she knew that wouldn’t leave much time before she had to go out on patrol.
And of course, she felt guilty about it, which led to her seemingly aimless wandering, arms crossed over her chest to keep out a chill that wouldn’t go away.
How could one dream have such a huge effect on me? she wondered. I mean, I’ve had Slayer dreams that were weirder… or, well, maybe not, because that was pretty wig-worthy. But it’s just Spike. Formerly killer vamp who was the bane of my existence. And hello! How many times did he try to kill me before he got chipped?
Somehow, this just has to be his fault. She paused just outside Riley’s door. Doesn’t it? It is Spike’s fault, right?
Yeah, right. How can it be Spike’s fault when you’re the one who dreamt of him?
Shaking away the depressing thoughts – because she was just certain that it had to be Spike’s fault somehow – she pasted on her brightest smile and let herself into Riley’s apartment.
“Hey there,” she said, and pressed a quick kiss to Riley’s lips when he rose from the sofa. “How’s the patient today?”
“Much better now,” he replied with a smile and pulled her against him.
Carefully, Buffy nestled against his wide chest and closed her eyes, hoping that this visit would be less awkward than yesterday’s, and knowing that it wouldn’t be.
It had only been a couple hours since she arrived at Riley’s, but Buffy was hurrying back to her dorm room to prepare for patrol. Her guilt at avoiding Riley and… and other issues had led her to promise him that she would cut her nightly rounds short and stay at his place.
But she felt uncomfortable about it, as much as she had about spending time with her boyfriend the day before. God, what is it with me? I should not be thinking about Spike when I’m trying to comfort my totally human boyfriend. Spike thoughts are totally of the bad. The bad and the very, very evil. So no more, brain, you hear me? No more lusty thoughts of Spike.
She paused in the process of pulling out some stakes from her weapons chest. Lusty? Lusty?! These are lusty thoughts now? Gah! She sank down on the bed in shock. Oh, dear Lord… yes, definitely time for a Giles-ism, because oh, my God, Giles could not possibly wig over this any more than I am. I am having lusty thoughts of Spike.
After a few minutes of near hyperventilation, she pulled herself together, shoved her stakes into her Slayer satchel, as Willow had dubbed it, and ran out the door, grabbing her jacket as she went. Instead of heading to the cemeteries, however, Buffy set off across campus.
Something this big called for reassurances of the best friend variety. Preferably with lots of ice cream.
“Lusty thoughts?” Willow blinked. “From the oh-so-not-happy-Buffy expression you’re wearing, I’m guessing these lusty thoughts are not of the Riley type?”
Buffy stuck her spoon in her mouth and shook her head so she wouldn’t have to actually say anything. She had stopped off at the campus store and that brief detour let her show up at Willow’s door bearing cold and creamy chocolatey goodness.
“And these lusty thoughts are of the bad?” Willow swirled her spoon through her softening ice cream. She was kind of lolling on her bed, while Buffy sat on the floor, leaning against a bolster.
Buffy swallowed. “Completely bad, Wills.” She started playing with her own pint, making ice cream mush. “I mean… they’re not about Riley, so wouldn’t they be? Y’know, bad?” How far can I go and not say that it’s Spike? Gah!
Willow took a thoughtful bite, and swiped her tongue over the spoon for good measure. “Well, I guess that kinda depends.”
Buffy gaped at her, eyes wide. “Wha…? With a side of huh?” Wait, wait, she doesn’t know it’s Spike…
“Well, I mean, do you plan to act on these lusty thoughts?”
“No!” She shook her head emphatically. “A world – no, a galaxy of no!”
Willow smiled at her. “Then on the badness scale, I’d say those lusty thoughts are pretty minor.”
Staring at nothing, Buffy frowned and slurped another spoonful. “So… having… thoughts about another guy is not bad – not too bad – as long as there isn’t any actual kissage or…” She drifted off.
“Buff, a lot of people have thoughts about people who aren’t their girlfriend or boyfriend.” Willow spoke gently, bringing Buffy out of her thoughts. “They’re just… y’know, fantasies. You wonder what it would be like if you were with this other person… but it doesn’t mean you’re going to give up what you already have if you’re happy.” She paused, and then asked curiously, “You never had these kinds of thoughts before… I mean, with Angel?”
She shook her head again, blushing a little as she glanced away. “No. I just thought about Angel… and what the future…” She looked up from her ice cream. “It’s really not so bad?”
A shadow flitted across Willow’s face. Quietly, she said, “As long as the fantasy doesn’t get out of hand… because that usually means someone gets hurt.” As soon as it had come, the pain departed, and she added, “But yeah… like definitely below chipping a nail.”
Buffy couldn’t help herself, and grinned. “I dunno, Wills, chipping a nail can be pretty harsh…”
Willow grinned back. “Well, it’s way, way below extra-couply smoochies or… or some other example I wish I could come up with that would be more reassuring.” Her smile faded and her eyebrows quirked up in worry.
“You’re dropping the ball on me, Will.”
“I know, and I feel terrible shame.” For about three seconds, Willow wore a look of great solemnity, then it disappeared into her usual cheerful expression. She maneuvered herself until she was lying on her stomach, propped up on her elbows, cradling her ice cream and grinning at Buffy, still seated on the floor across from her. “So?”
“So, now is the time for dishing. 4-1-1 on the hottie – I presume he’s a hottie, anyway –that’s got our Buff all a-flutter.”
Buffy could feel her ears turning red. “What’s to know?” she asked hurriedly, stirring her now quite-melty ice cream. She was grateful for Will’s reassurances, but this part was what she had dreaded…
“Just so I can see what would be so attractive as to catch your eye,” Willow replied playfully, clearly thinking that Buffy was just embarrassed and not seeing her sudden distress. “Tall or short?”
“In between.” To her horror, Buffy discovered she had lost control of her mouth. She had intended to lie, or at least obscure as much of the facts as she could, but the truth spilled out regardless. “Taller than me – because who isn’t? – but not too much. Just a few inches.”
“Body?” Willow closed her eyes, as if to imagine him better.
For just a moment, Buffy thought back to the fake engagement while they were under the Will Be Done spell. She’d had pretty much a free access pass to Spike’s body. She smiled slightly, remembering. “Muscular… but not anything like Schwartzeneggarian. Um… well-proportioned. Nice shoulders and arms… and a great…” Suddenly, she remembered just who she was rhapsodizing about and her blush heated again.
“A great what?”
Buffy glared at her friend, but Willow’s eyes were still closed.
Even hotter, she ducked her head and muttered, “A great… butt.”
“Hmm.” Willow smiled. “Okay, got it. Now… face?”
Buffy opened her mouth and then closed it, thankfully before any words could escape. Handsome – no, really, is there something beyond handsome? Cheekbones so sharply defined you could cut yourself on them. I have never seen eyes that blue, and they’re so expressive… And his lips just beg for kisses… even when he’s at his most annoying. Hmm… I wonder if kissing him would make him shut up for a few minutes… God! You do remember that you are thinking about Spike?
Brain bleach. I need vast amounts of brain bleach.
But the thing she minded was that she didn’t really mind thinking about him like that.
Sensing that her silence had gone on too long, she quickly said, “Good looking.” Then, when Willow’s eyebrow arched and her mouth twisted in a little moue, she amended, “Okay, very good looking. You know I’m not good with words, Will! Don’t make me…”
But Willow was implacable. “Eyes?”
Buffy closed her own. Doomed. “Blue.”
At last, a ray of hope! “Brownish… and kinda wavy. Curly.” Lying by telling the truth – who knew? Yeah, all with the bleach, but his eyebrows are dark, and the way he slicks it all back, it’s probably way curly. Because that would so not mesh with the Big Bad image…
“Do I know this guy?”
Buffy fidgeted. “Dunno, Will. There’s a lot of guys on campus…” She wanted to hold her breath, to see how Willow would take that little bit of misdirection, but that would have been a dead giveaway.
But Willow just grinned and said, “I’ll have to keep a lookout for him then – make sure he’s good enough for our Buffy…” Quickly she sobered. “Not, y’know, that I think that you’re… that there’ll be dumpage and the heave-ho-ing of Riley…”
Buffy replaced the lid on her container of now-very-runny ice cream. “And here I thought that only Xander had that particular ability.” She shoved the pint into the tiny dorm fridge and stood.
“Huh? What ability is that?” Willow rolled to a sitting position, looking at her in confusion.
“To be able to talk around that foot in your mouth.” She watched as Willow gaped fishlike, and then gave her friend a big grin to let her know she’d only been kidding.
Trying to muster what remained of her dignity, Willow blustered, “Well… it’s… a… learned trait. Kind of… you know… necessary to survival…” Then she, too, smiled.
Impulsively, Buffy reached out and hugged Willow, and was reminded of how long it had been since she had when Willow squeaked in surprise before embracing her in return. “Thanks, Will,” she said, and her sincerity was heartfelt. “I feel better about a bunch of things.”
“And now, patrol, and making Sunnydale safer for the clueless.” Buffy gathered up her bag. “I do appreciate… and I’m sorry for dredging that up for you. Sometimes, I’m just like the rest of Sunnydale… totally-clueless Buffy.”
“Nah, it’s okay. I mean, if it hadn’t happened, how could I be able to give you advice now?” Then her determined half-smile faded away. “It happened. And I can’t make it not have happened. It’s… I just gotta learn from it and move on.”
Just then, as if by Fate, the door opened and Tara entered. Even as Buffy watched, Willow’s face lit up. “Hey,” was all she said by way of greeting, but just that one word was infused with all she felt for the other girl.
And looking on, Buffy felt a tiny stab of jealousy. Not that Willow had replaced her with some other girl, because she’d so gotten over that last year, but because… she wanted that. I don’t do that when Riley walks in, she realized with a chill. And I should. I should totally be able to do that.
Maybe it’s just a low-level light up, she quickly rationalized, but then felt worse instead of better. Because Riley doesn’t deserve a low-level anything, and…
I deserve someone who makes me that happy just to be around him.
Hurriedly she bade Willow and Tara good night, still rocked by her own thoughts. Even as she staked her third vampire of the night, the greater part of her mind was caught up in what she had learned – in what Willow had said and what she most emphatically had not.
Comments and criticism gratefully accepted.
Continued in Chapter 2.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/209223.html