Title: Bound by Love
Rating/Warning: PG-13, mild language/suggestiveness
Word Count: 3,804
For: Seasonal Spuffy
Theme: The Dance; Love transcends death.
Setting: Post Chosen; Set somewhere in Ats S5 (does not follow comics in the least)
Genre: Reunion Romance
Beta: dusty273 (Thank you SO much for always being there, my friend! You rock!)
Summary: A slayer dream leads Buffy and Spike to a moment eight years in the making…
A/N: Love transcends death. I’ve seen that theme stated before, many times, but I don’t think I fully understood its all-encompassing meaning until writing this story. Love is powerful, so powerful it can transcend death. It can also transcend pain, distance, doubt, fear and an innate sense of duty. It can last a lifetime and beyond it for some lucky enough to live that long. Like Spike. For him, love is the epitome of all things. It’s what he wants most in the world. It’s what he needs most, to find the person to love him as he has loved them. Buffy is that person… and she’s just now figuring it out.
BOUND BY LOVE
The dream began as it always did. A flash of light in a sea of vacant black. Light so bright, so blinding, so white, she had to squint to see anything beyond it. Yet if she followed the light, as she had all the times before, Buffy knew exactly where it would take her… and to whom.
But why did she keep dreaming about Spike in L.A.? He’d been gone a little over a year now. Disappearing with the town of Sunnydale. It made no sense for her to dream of him so often the past few months, and yet, somehow, it made perfect sense. To her. To them. To what they’d become together toward the end.
“Know you’re there, Slayer. Know you can hear me.”
She startled at the sound of his voice, and blinked against the brilliant white light shining down from somewhere she couldn’t picture. “Where are you?” she asked, turning her head, scanning the lights as much as she could. “Where am I?”
“You’re on the edge, love. Steady now. Almost ready to fall.”
She could hear the smile in his voice, the support. The warmth of it encouraged her to step forward, to trust him, and go to where he called her.
“That’s it, baby. Come to me. I’m waiting for you. I’m right here. Just follow my voice, yeah? Just keep walking to me. I’m right here. I’m right here, love.”
Buffy frowned, not understanding what was going on, but then, suddenly, a rainbow of colors sprouted before her, a flash image of an alley, a fight… and then he was there, standing right there in front of her, grinning, holding out a hand for her to take it.
“See, love? Told you I was here.”
He had, hadn’t he? But… how? What was this place?
“I don’t… understand,” she said, looking him over with her eyes, taking in his black jeans, red shirt and long, worn, black coat. “You dusted, Spike. I saw you burning. I felt you… leave me. So how… can you speak to me now? How can you be here now?”
“How can any of us be here, Buffy? Just am. Got a heart, got a soul, same as you. Might have a little extra with the demon, but… doesn’t change that I’m a man, too.”
He lifted a shoulder and pushed his hand further out, further toward her. Almost willing her to take it. To accept him, just as he was. A man…with a demon lurking in the shadows.
“Come on, Slayer. Trust me. I know you wanna dance.”
Dance? He called this dancing?
Buffy swallowed, stared at his outstretched hand. “There’s no music to dance to.”
That smile again. The one that made her so wet, so eager to see him, to touch him.
To love him.
“Don’t need music to dance this dance, Slayer. Already got a steady beat.”
What beat? She didn’t hear any beats. What was he talking about? What was this?
“Spike… I’m scared. I don’t know what’s going on here.”
“Of course you do, love. You’ve always known. Just being stubborn admitting to it.”
He flexed his fingers, wriggled his hand, palm facing up, and waited.
Buffy drew in a sharp breath and, unlike the other times the dream had come, reached out to take Spike’s hand. His skin was still cool to the touch, and familiar. So familiar that a rush of warmth spread from his flesh to hers, heating her from the outside in.
She didn’t have to ask what caused the heat. She knew. She felt it all the time. Even when she was awake. Even when… Sunnydale disappeared back into the earth.
It was love. She knew that now. Real, scary, crazy as a lunatic love. The kind of love that didn’t die. That couldn’t die. That… wouldn’t die.
He nodded and released her hand. Stepped back. Faded into the light.
“You’re ready now, love. I’m waiting for you. All you gotta do is look. You’ll find me. Know it. Feel it in my bones. Find me, Buffy. Find me…”
Buffy woke with a start, heart pounding, palms sweating. Her whole body felt warm. Hot. Hotter than it’d been before she’d fallen asleep for sure. Much hotter. As if… she could feel his love for her growing, spreading, even outside the dream.
Why though? Why now? What did it all mean?
Did it mean anything?
She knew that it must. She knew there was a reason she kept dreaming of him. Thinking of him. Believing in him.
Could dream Spike be right? Was he still here? Was he waiting for her to come to him? To… find him?
It seemed impossible, and yet… she felt the truth of it in her bones. In her blood. Her heart. Deep down inside her soul.
Spike wasn’t dust. He was out there, somewhere, and he wanted her to find him. She was supposed to find him. Meant to find him.
* * *
The summer air was ripe with sweat, with blood. Fear. Once, Spike would have reveled in that little plethora. But that was before her. Before it. Before them.
He glanced down at the scene unfolding below, the participants barely lit by the light of the moon. He shook his head and, without warning, jumped from the building roof he’d perched on, taking out two of the seven vampires surrounding the gaggle of teen girls with a slice of a wooden stake. Another vamp, this one a mite younger than the rest, came from his right side, intending to jump on him—a swift roundhouse kick to the solar plexus sent the fledge spiraling out of the way and into an open pipe sticking out of a building. He dusted instantly.
The remaining four vampires circled him, giving the humans ample time to skedaddle when the fledges weren’t looking. Spike took satisfaction in the confused looks the idiots sent each other, even more so when their anger over the sudden loss of food gathered like storm clouds. His delight only lasted for a moment though, only for the time it took the ringleader to lash out at him. Then it was a blur of movements, a haze of dance steps, fluid on his part, jumbled and discordant on theirs.
Christ, how he missed Sunnydale. Missed the Slayer. She always knew how to fight with him, and how to dance. Without her at his side now, nothing felt the same. Not the fists. Not the fangs. Not even the sexual charge he got from the brawls. It brassed him off, and made him more melancholy than he liked.
It took him only seconds to wipe out the last of the gang and then, as had become his habit of late, Spike stood alone in the alley. No more sweat. No more blood. No more fear.
He scowled, irritated despite the win.
Bloody hell. What did it take to get a good, rollicking fight around here? That one he hadn’t even taken a punch, much less vamped out. He felt cheated. He felt…off.
Shaking his head, Spike bent to wipe the vamp ash from his boots…and stilled.
Something shifted. What, he couldn’t be sure. But whatever it was tugged at him. Prickled at the skin on his arms. Ignited the otter blood running through his veins. If he didn’t know any better, he’d think—
He jerked to his feet. Eyes scanning the alley. The rooftops.
Nothing moved. Nothing breathed. And yet…he felt the change. A sudden disturbance in the otherwise quiet night. In the dark, something held out of place. Foreign and…familiar.
A lesser demon may not have noticed the shift. Chalked it up to changing winds. Settling night sounds. Spike knew better, though. He recognized the sting. The abrupt awareness. The rising anticipation. He knew the rushed need to hunt, to feed, to kill.
A quick inhale through his nostrils. A slow turn to his left, and…there. Right there in the shadows of the opposite alley. Hidden between two dumpsters. He couldn’t make out her stooped form clearly from this distance, but…he knew his suspicions were true. Knew she watched him. Could smell her scent wafting toward him. Something light, airy, sweet. So bloody sweet, he had to fight not to smile. Not to go to her.
But he wanted to. God, how he wanted to. It’d been too bloody long since he held her in his arms. Felt her breath on his neck. Yet, he couldn’t be sure he’d be welcome in touching her now. Things had changed. How much so, he wasn’t yet sure.
Relaxing his pose, Spike shoved his hands into his duster pockets and rocked backward on his boot heels. “Never took you for the stalker type, Slayer. Must be a new hobby of yours, eh?”
A rustle of leather sounded. A slight intake of breath. Then she appeared out of the darkness, long golden hair hanging about her shoulders, an angel dressed in solid black, right down to the matching leather duster to his. Green eyes focused, determined. Her lithe body striding toward him with a single, solitary purpose.
He staggered at seeing her there, so confident, so poised, so… bloody effulgent.
Christ in hell, there really was no other word for her just now, was there? She was brilliant in her luminance, in her resolve to get to him.
Would she stake him? The thought passed through his mind unbidden; he tossed it out of hand.
Buffy had no intention of staking him. Berating him maybe, punching him likely, but not dusting him. Not ending him. Not today.
As she neared him, his throat burned with the need for liquid, for blood. Her blood. Her essence. Her kiss.
“I can explain,” he said, knowing even as he spoke the words they would be in vain.
She didn’t want his explanation. Didn’t need it. Knew it wouldn’t change anything even if she had it. But he had to give it anyway, if for nothing more than to ease the guilt inside of him.
“I’m sorry,” he blurted out, holding his hands out in front of him, hoping to ward off her anger at him, even as part of him yearned for it. “I never meant to keep you in the dark, pet. Wasn’t thinking how it’d make you feel when you discovered it.”
She stopped, less than a foot away from where he stood near the back door of some long closed down Italian restaurant, and watched him, studied him as if were a stranger, a specimen in one of Fred’s Petri dishes. “Why did you? Keep it from me. You knew I would want to know. You knew I would…dammit, Spike, you knew how I felt about you.”
No, actually he didn’t.
Oh, he’d heard her say the words all right. Even saw the tears as her heart broke for him, for his loss. But that didn’t mean she meant them. Not the way he wanted her to mean them, at least. Not the way he needed her to mean them, either.
Spike dropped his arms. Re-pocketed his hands. “Excuse me for not being too certain of that fact, pet. Had a mite bit of other things going on at the time.”
Green eyes narrowed in outrage. “And I didn’t? God, Spike, people were dying, my friends were dying, the world was uprooting itself beneath our feet and I told you I loved you. How could you not have believed me? I’d never said the words to you before!”
True, she hadn’t. Of course, she also hadn’t held the emotion he needed to hear inside them. Without the feeling, they were just words. Words spoken in a moment of fear, of sorrow. Didn’t mean anything. Couldn’t. Not for them.
It saddened him, but he accepted it. Took it as it was meant. Nothing more.
He looked down, frowned at the dust still splayed across his boots, and sighed. Toed it across the ground. “Different time then, wasn’t it, Slayer? Different people, too.” He gave his head another shake and looked back up at her. “Without all that other stuff, pet, what reason did I have to believe you meant it? Hated it whenever I said it to you. Why should then be any different with you than all the times before?”
Her hands balled into fists. Her eyes flashed emerald fire. She looked radiant, standing before him, glorious even in her anger. Christ, maybeespecially in her anger.
No other woman’s anger affected him as hers did. All he could do not to pick her up and slam her against the stone wall, burying himself inside her until she agreed to be his again.
“How do you know I didn’t feel it before that night?” she asked. “Before that moment? Just because I never said it, never told you, doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. That it wasn’t real for me. That you weren’t real for me.”
So she lied when swore she would never love him? When she told him he was beneath her? That he was a monster? That she was using him?
Spike snorted. Then, as a new thought occurred to him, he found his own gaze narrowing, his own temper rising. “Did you even mourn me, Buffy? Did you shed a single tear over my dusting?” Surprise replaced the anger in her eyes, but it didn’t hide the quick flicker of guilt. Nor did it hide the deep-rooted hurt that settled somewhere in his chest as a result. “What I thought. Wasn’t even a blip on your radar, was it? Just picked up and moved on. Carried on the good fight.”
“What did you expect me to do? I didn’t have time to mourn anyone. I had a job to do, remember? Save the world. Stand alone.”
Spike knew what that was like. Had lived it. More than once. But Buffy…she’d never been truly alone. Oh, she may have thought so a time or two. But she always had someone there, at the end of the day, waiting for her to come home, to check in. Unlike Spike, the Slayer had a whole slew of people who cared for her, who loved her, supported her, worried and mourned her. And she had hundreds of baby-slayers to stand and fight beside her.
No, she wasn’t alone. Never had been. Not really. Not like him.
“Spare me the pity party, love. I’ve already read that menu.”
Her eyes widened. Her lips parted. She looked shocked, wounded, and if he wasn’t mistaken, a mite close to tears. It was the tears that gave him pause. Mostly because he’d never seen her shed them over him, over them.
Could he have misjudged her that much? He didn’t think so, but…she painted a picture, standing there all affronted. Lost little lamb seeking…what? Acceptance? Absolution? Affiliation?
“How did you even find me? Know the poof didn’t tell you. Not that altruistic.”
She blinked, briefly looked away. To gather herself? “I found you the same way you once found me.” She lifted a hand, roughly swiped beneath her eyes, and met his gaze head on. “I followed my heart, Spike, and my instincts.”
Well, bloody, buggering hell. “That road led you here? To me?”
“Yes, it did.”
Something moved inside her gaze. He didn’t know what, but he knew she wanted to tell him something. Something important. Something…real.
“There’s more to this little ditty, isn’t there, Slayer?”
She nodded, lifted her chin slightly, challengingly. “I had a slayer dream. Several, actually. You were in them. You…asked me to find you. To come to you.”
“And here you are.”
She licked her lips. Took a step forward. Stared him down. “Yes, Spike, here I am.”
* * *
Buffy didn’t think she’d ever been so nervous, felt so vulnerable, in all her life. Yet, there was safety, too. And warmth. The same warmth she’d felt in her dreams. In her heart.
“I wasn’t lying to you,” she told him softly, reaching out a hand to touch his face. “I meant the words. I still mean them. They’re why I’m here. How I found you.”
She could tell he didn’t get it. That he didn’t believe her. It hurt, but she understood it, too.
She lowered her arm, dropping her hand from his face in order to reach for his hand and linked their fingers together. She took hope in the fact that he didn’t pull away from her. “Do you remember the fire that sprang up from our hands? That wasn’t natural, Spike. The amulet…it changed us, made us stronger, closer.”
She swallowed back a lump in her throat and forced herself to close the rest of the distance between them, bringing their entwined hands to rest against his chest. “I can see you, whenever I closed my eyes at night. I can hear your voice, talking so clearly in my head. And I can feel you, all the time. Even when I didn’t know it was you that I was feeling. It’s like I have a second heartbeat, a steady pounding, and it got stronger, louder, the closer I got to Los Angeles. The closer I got to you.”
Disbelief filled his narrow gaze. Yet she saw the hope there, too.
Buffy held onto that hope. Used it to ignore the mistrust in his voice as he said, “Poof lives here, too, you know. Could’ve been drawn to him. You two being star-crossed and all that rot.”
Buffy fought her smile. “It wasn’t Angel, Spike. It was you. My dreams told me to find you.”
His brow furrowed at her words, but that was all. No other reaction. No other emotion.
Buffy felt the lack of response immediately. Recognized its meaning for what it was. What it meant.
She was too late. Spike had moved on.
Buffy pulled her hand from his and backed away. Wrapped her arms around her midriff. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come here. I shouldn’t have let myself think that—well, I suppose it doesn’t matter now what I let myself think.” Or hope. “I was wrong. I can see that now.”
Spike lifted a brow, studied her intently. “Wrong about what, Slayer? Me wanting you? Nothing wrong in that. I always want you. Told you that before.”
Want, not need. Not love. “Forget it. I obviously made a mistake and I—”
His hand shot out to grab her wrist, and he yanked her toward him, hard. When she focused on him, when she met his eyes, they were glowing, yellow-gold in color, and filled to the brim with anger. Fury, even. With her.
“That’s it?” he snarled. “You just show up here, out of nowhere, claim that you meant it and now you’re what? Taking it back? Walking away?” He released her hand and pushed her away from him. The force of the shove nearly caused her to stumble over her own feet. As it was, she barely had time to right herself before he cut her to the quick with more words. “Go ahead, Slayer. Walk away. Turn your back on me. Be nothing new there, would it?”
He turned from her then. Marched down the alleyway. Then he stopped, paused, twisted, and moved, fast as lightning, back to her again.
“No, you know what, Summers? You don’t get to do this again. You don’t get to walk away from me. You came here. You wanted to find me. Not letting you take it back now that you have. In case you missed it, I’m through being your whipping boy. Your naughty little secret. Got my pride back. Game’s changed now. I’ve changed.”
She could see that. Almost feel it in his rage at her, his pain…and something else. Something that rested just out of reach, out of sight of his now burning, golden eyes.
Was it love? Or had that been the biggest change in him? Had he forgot his love for her? Forgot what they shared those last few nights in Sunnydale? How close they’d been. She prayed he hadn’t; she feared he had.
“I love you,” she told him honestly, hurriedly. “I love you so much it hurt to breathe when you told me to go. When you forced me to leave you in that Hellmouth. And I did cry, Spike. Not where everyone could see or hear me, but… I did cry. I did mourn you. I’m still mourning you. Every single day that you’ve been gone from me.”
His body stilled. His head tilted to one side, his eyes flashing between colors, warming, searching, as they peered into hers. “You mean that, don’t you, pet? You aren’t playing games this time, are you? You came here to be with me. To…stand with me.”
“Yes, that’s why I came. Why I’ll always come.”
Buffy lifted her arm again. Touched his cheek with her palm. “I’m ready now, Spike. I’m not on the edge anymore. I’ve fallen over it. I think I had a long time ago. I just didn’t realize it until now.”
She drew in another breath, straightened her shoulders, and dropped her hand from his face.
“I’m in love with you, William. But what I don’t know, what I can’t figure out, is if you’re still in love with me.”
Gold turned to blue in an instant, a stunned sort of awe over-eclipsing the disbelief and doubt written in his gaze. “Bloody hell,” he said, taking her by the arms, her leather coat rustling beneath his hands as his eyes misted with tears and his voice pleaded with truth. “It’s still all about you, Buffy. Always has been. Always will be. I’m covered in you. I’ll never get you out. You’re in my bones, love. No getting rid of that. Ever.”
Joy burst inside her. White-hot, beautiful and blinding.
She threw herself into his arms, wrapped her arms around his neck, holding on tight as she kissed his mouth, hard. Then softer, gentler. “Oh thank God, Spike! I thought I lost you! Really lost you.”
Spike tightened his grip around her waist, brought her head to rest against his chest. Lightly chuckled against her hair. “Not gonna happen, Slayer. You’re bloody well stuck with me now. Till the end of the world.”
That sounded right. So right.
“I love you, Spike. So, so much.”
His arm lifted behind her, his hand coming to rest on the back of her head. Then he knotted his fingers in her hair and gently eased her head back, just enough for him to peer into her eyes. “I love you, too, Buffy. Never gonna stop. Not even in dust. We’re bound, you and I. Lovers till the sodding end.”
Buffy knew he meant it. With him, she knew he meant everything.
Especially when it came to loving her.
Hugs and love to all!
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/795991.html