Title: Life is Beautiful
Timeline: Goes AU during AtS S5 ‘The Girl in Question’
Warnings: Sexual Situations
Summary: The one in which Buffy and Spike are idiots and Dawn get something else to speak to her therapist about.
Notes: Beta’d by the completely awesome robotgort.
If you want me like this
-Celine Dion “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”
Everything felt wrong. It was like he’d been following a compass and was just now learning it didn’t read true. He was done. Finished. Caput. The hallway outside Buffy and Dawn’s apartment was narrow and wallpapered in a nauseating pattern. He couldn’t continue this wild goose chase.
Her scent had been all over those rooms.
Spike felt his heart teetering on the edge, waiting for a final push to fall off and break.
He halted at the top of the staircase.
“Angel, you go on and do what you need to. I… after that…” Spike shook his head. “I’m going to have a smoke and go back to the plane. See you in a couple shakes, yeah?”
Angel paused and looked back at him. Spike shrugged a shoulder and pulled a cigarette pack out of his pocket. Something like sympathy tugged at the corners of Angel’s mouth and eyes. “Sounds okay. You be careful out there, this isn’t home.”
“You can say that again.” Spike trailed behind Angel, leaning against the building and lighting the cigarette that dangled between his lips. His grandsire waved a hand absently in farewell before hailing a cab. Truthfully, Spike had expected the old poof to put up more of a fight. Buffy’s scent must have rattled him as well, maybe given him a few old dreams and nightmares that needed to be bottled back up.
For Spike, his thoughts were a waterfall that was threatening to drown him. He forced himself to finish the cigarette. He wanted the anticipation. When he’d smoked the cig nearly down to the filter, he dropped the butt on the sidewalk and crushed it out. Slow, measured steps brought him back to the door into Buffy’s building. He caught it as someone yelling loudly into a mobile phone walked out. Quickly, he went back up the steps and into her flat.
His nose led him straight to her bedroom. He closed the door and simply stood there. Clothes spilled out of the closet and hamper, shoes and weapons were strewn everywhere, and here and there pictures–all recent looking–were tacked up. There was also a map of Rome with a few pushpins stabbed in it, but if their color and placement had any meaning it wasn’t obvious to him.
Spike let himself take a deep breath. Her scent, which had been tickling at his nose, came to life. He’d meant to take a few breaths, drink her in one last time before letting his heart say goodbye.
He’d been a bloody fool.
He fell to his knees under the sensual assault of Buffy being in his nose, his throat, his lungs. His body shuddered as he gasped in breath after breath.
Laughter, dark and viscous, bubbled up. Get over her? Get over Buffy? Never. It was all some cosmic joke. She was shagging the Immortal, couldn’t care less about ole Spike, but he was destined to burn for her forever.
Hadn’t Andrew said she brought the blighter here? She’d probably used every nasty trick Spike had ever taught her on the bloke, right in the bed he was looking at. The modest bed with its peach colored sheets and white eyelet-lace comforter seemed like a device created solely to torture him.
Buffy, his heart sobbed and sang at the same time. His Buffy, lying with another after telling Spike she loved him. He had no doubt she knew he was alive. The list of people that were aware he was at Wolfram and Hart with Angel grew ever longer. But she didn’t come.
He hadn’t wanted to be right, when he’d told her she didn’t love him. Had just wanted to make things easier on her, give her a way to believe that someone else she loved wasn’t leaving her. He might as well not have bloody bothered. That one ‘I love you’ hadn’t drowned out the number of times she told him she hated him, hated that he was a dirty, nasty, evil thing. As if he didn’t know how far beneath her he truly was.
In a fit of self-flagellation, he tore the comforter and sheet from the bed and buried his nose into the mattress. Maybe the intermingled scent of her and her lover would give him enough of a push to leave her behind. Or maybe it’d give him the last little jolt he needed to greet the sun as it rose.
Nothing but unadulterated Buffy met his nose.
He sat back on his heels and frowned.
The duster came off and was tossed onto a pile of clothes beside the bed. He brought his nose back to the bed and sniffed again. Still just her.
Confusion replaced the brew of anger, fear, and jealousy that’d been steeping in his mind. Like a dog he shuffled on all fours, nose working the entire time, over every inch of the bed. He pulled the sheet back to reveal the bare mattress and repeated the process.
Still nothing but Buffy. No hint of a male of any kind, immortal or not.
The fact that once in a while she brought herself off with her fingers was as clear as day to him. He shook his head. Those mental images could wait for later.
He stood and remade the bed.
This didn’t jive with what either Angel or Andrew had told him. He picked up her pillow and smashed his face into it. Nothing but her and the aroma of her shampoo. Plus the faintest hint of what Spike desperately needed to believe weren’t tears.
He returned to the living room and thoroughly sniffed the couch and loveseat. He could scent Buffy and Dawn easily enough, but the only male was Andrew. Nothing led him to believe sex-type activities of any kind, even cuddling, had ever happened on any of the Summers’ furniture.
Spike felt like he’d been pushed off a cliff.
Had Angel lied to him?
Returning to Buffy’s room, he clicked the door closed behind him. He sat on the edge of the bed. Her bed. His mind was chasing itself in circles. She hadn’t come for him, but she obviously hadn’t found herself another fellow. Or at least not one she ever brought home.
Unthinkingly, he undid the laces on his boots and toed them off. He stripped his socks and dropped them next to the boots. His t-shirt was next, landing on top of the socks. He stood, undid his belt and fly, and pushed his pants down to puddle on the floor with the rest of his clothes.
It’d be just for a minute.
He stretched out face down on her bed and pulled the top sheet and comforter up over himself. Buffy was there, surrounding him. Her scent was swamping him, filling up every nook and cranny of his being and seeping into his skin.
Christ, he missed her.
The jet lag, and maybe a few of those little bottles of booze, was making his eyelids heavy. He could afford just a few minutes of sleep, safe with his Slayer’s essence all around him.
A tiny thrill went down his spine. She’d lain here, right where he was, and would again. The same sheets around her glowing skin, the same mattress cradling her. Maybe she’d dream of him now, and maybe in those dreams she’d even smile at him.
Spike felt his heart lighten. Yeah, that was a good image, Buffy happy.
Sleep overtook him.
It was only an hour or two from daybreak. Buffy kicked an offending pebble and sent it skittering along the cobblestone street. It was much later than she usually stayed out, but Dawn was staying with a friend and she hadn’t found nearly enough things to slay during her regular patrols. The local demon community had apparently gotten some kind of memo that they should lay low tonight.
She’d even gone to a demon bar or two, looking for a fight, and found nothing but peaceable, non-human-eating locals. Even the places closer to the Vatican had been free of the usual riff-raff that haunted there, looking to seduce, feast on, or otherwise hassle the clergy. It was downright weird.
Bleary-eyed, she entered the apartment and tossed her coat on the floor beside the door. Her shoes and stakes ended up on top of it.
With a sigh, she stepped under the warm spray of the shower and washed the night off. Her grimy clothes stayed on the bathroom floor as she wrapped a big, fluffy towel around her middle. She’d pick up her laundry tomorrow.
Buffy pushed the door open to her room and froze mid-yawn.
Spike was in her bed.
That didn’t make a whole lot of sense because Spike was dust.
She managed to blink.
He was still there, lying on his back with his legs stretched out and arms tucked loosely by his side. He appeared to be asleep.
Buffy’s brow crinkled. Actually, he was faintly snoring. The comforter was bunched at the foot of the bed and the sheet was riding dangerously low on his hips. His bare feet were sticking out. He was snuggling her pillow and his hair was tousled like he’d been there for hours.
She still couldn’t put two and two together, that Spike was both dead and sleeping in her bed.
Had anything odd happened during patrol? The very few fights there’d been had all involved easy-to-dust fledges. Walking home there had been a stab of pain in her head, which she’d thought had been the start of a rip-roaring headache, but it’d never materialized.
What if she had died? An aneurysm, like her mother. The doctors had said it could happen between the space of one heartbeat and the next. They’d also said that genetics could be a factor. While she didn’t like to think of collapsing dead on some random street in Rome, at least it wasn’t a messy end. She had a will and Giles would make sure Dawn was looked after.
Buffy grinned and the towel hit the floor. It was a little weird that this time around heaven had made her finish walking home, but maybe she’d ended up in a less abstract heavenly dimension. Fine by her. She rearranged the sheet and comforter and slipped into her bed. Spike’s skin was cool as she cuddled up beside him and laid her head on his shoulder. Still a vampire then. That was also totally okay. In all her dreams and fantasies he was always a vampire, and while she would have understood if he was human, because it was heaven after all, she was still glad to find him as she remembered him.
It also made her so happy that he was here. Even though his sacrifice had saved billions of lives, plus all the lives of those not yet born but would now have the chance, she hadn’t been sure he’d be allowed. It was nice to see that the scales of justice had tipped decisively in his favor.
With a soft grunt, Spike curled his arm around her. He muttered something that could have been her name.
Buffy yawned again. You’d think dying would cure sleepiness, but it apparently not so much. More relaxed and content that she’d felt at any time since Willow had resurrected her, Buffy pressed herself close to her vampire’s side and promptly fell asleep.
It’d been longer than five minutes.
Spike forced himself back to consciousness.
A lot longer. While he couldn’t pin the exact time down, he knew it was daylight.
He also knew there was a warm body resting against his and that he had a hell of a case of morning wood.
He’d gone to sleep in her bed.
Buffy’s scent was still the only one in the room. Hardly daring to even think it, he turned his gaze to the woman sleeping ensconced in his arms and using his chest for a pillow.
Oh, god, it was Buffy. A very naked Buffy. He could see the strawberry-pink tip of one breast, which did nothing to douse his raging lust.
How had this happened? Had he dusted? Maybe Angel had come back and found him in Buffy’s bed and simply shoved a stake right through his back. It really was the only thing that made sense. It wasn’t quite heaven as Buffy had described it, but he couldn’t knock it, either. He was holding the only thing his heart desired, so where else could he be? He sent a brief prayer to the PTB, thanking them for their forgiveness. He’d done it, he was in heaven.
Tentatively, he stroked her shoulder and his eyes went wide. If Buffy was here with him, did that mean she was dead, too?
“Buffy?” He shook her gently.
“Hruh.” She squirmed against him and stretched a little. Her hand caught the sheet and pushed it down so her palm landed right on his hard-on.
He groaned. “Bloody hell.” Immediately, he bit his lip. Did you get in trouble for saying that kind of thing in heaven?
Buffy’s heartrate and breathing increased as she woke up.
“Uh, Buffy?” he tried again, keeping as still as he could under her hand, just in case she was, despite the naked cuddling, not interested in being physical. He didn’t want to upset her. Not now.
She turned big green eyes towards his face. His memory hadn’t done justice to how vibrant they looked in real life. “Hi, Spike,” she said. He thought he was going to cry from the sound of her voice.
“Are we… are we in heaven, luv?” he whispered.
“Yeah, I think so.” She positively beamed at him.
“What, you… how…” He couldn’t find the right words.
“I’m not entirely sure, but I think it was an aneurysm, like my mom.”
“Oh.” Well, that was a bit of alright. Time was tricky in different dimensions. She could have lived to be older than Joyce, but that was a question for later. First, he had another, more important one. He felt a little silly asking, what with her being nude in bed beside him, but he had to hear her say it. “Is it okay, Slayer, that you’re here with me?”
Buffy’s warm fingers tightened around him, making him moan. “It’s very okay. Don’t you remember?” Her eyes sparkled. “I love you.”
Oh, christ. This actually was heaven. “I love you, too, Buffy.” He almost flinched, waiting for her to do or say something that belied her words, but instead she leaned forward and kissed him.
Spike returned it fervently, setting loose the emotions he’d been choking back for years. Buffy mewled and responded in kind. He knew he was crying but couldn’t find it in him to stop what he was doing long enough to swipe at the tears. He rolled her over, using his weight to pin her to the bed.
“I’m going to make love to you now,” he warned.
Buffy hooked her legs around his hips. “You’d better.”
Dawn let herself into the apartment and tossed her bulging backpack on the sofa. She sighed heavily when she saw that her sister had left her icky patrol jacket and boots by the door. Even worse, Buffy had left the bathroom a complete mess. Ugh. Who was supposed to be the grown up?
As she walked past her sister’s closed door Dawn nearly fell over her own feet. There were noises coming from inside her sister’s room. Rhythmic, creaky, bedspring noises.
Dawn made a face. Had her sister brought someone here? As far as she knew Buffy was the polar opposite of wanting a boyfriend at the moment. She was still grieving for Spike, though her sister would probably have poked her own eye out rather than admit it. In front of Dawn, Buffy was always putting on her ‘everything’s just great’ mask. Dawn was fairly certain Buffy didn’t realize that Dawn wasn’t falling for it.
Worse was that while Buffy never cried when Dawn was there, on nights when Dawn was over at a friend’s place, Buffy would curl up in her bed and sob herself to sleep. Dawn had caught her sister at it more than once. It left Dawn conflicted. If she left then Buffy cried, but if Dawn only stayed home, then Buffy didn’t grieve. Dawn didn’t know which was worse, so she’d stay over at her friend’s places, but not as much as she would like.
There was a breathy moan from the bedroom, making Dawn wrinkle her nose. It just seemed so unlike her sister to be having a one-night stand. And it was majorly gross because Dawn could hear them. Full of righteous indignation, Dawn raised her fist to knock on the door.
Suddenly the voices got clearer.
“Oh god, I love you, I love you, I love you, Spike! Yes! Oh god!” Buffy was nearly yelling.
The answering voice was one Dawn would know anywhere. “Love you, Slayer. My girl, my Buffy.”
Dawn backed away from the door very quickly.
Buffy was in there with Spike.
Spike was alive. Or undead. Or… whatever.
It made Dawn glad that her sister had evidently decided that she wasn’t going to try to pretend she hadn’t been desperately missing him.
Though it was still icky that she could hear them. Dawn supposed it could have been worse. She could have walked in on them going at it on the sofa or something.
Dawn hauled her Discman and headphones out of her school bag along with her math homework and settled at the kitchen table.
The phone rang.
“Hello?” she said, hoping the occasional noises leaking out of Buffy’s bedroom wouldn’t be audible on the other end of the line.
“Yeah, who’s this?”
Dawn rolled her eyes. “What do you want? Buffy doesn’t want to talk to you, right now or probably ever.”
“Um, yeah, got that. I just… ah… is… is Spike there?”
Angel knew Spike was alive? Dawn remembered how weird Andrew had been when he’d gotten back from L.A. Spike must have been around then, too, but for some reason not with her sister. She just knew Angel would end up having had something to do with that. “Angel,” she said coolly. “Spike is dust at the bottom of the Sunnydale crater. Why would he be here?”
“Uh, I heard rumor and thought I’d check.”
Right. Dawn rolled her eyes again. Lie much? She decided she was better than that and went with the truth. “Whatever. I haven’t seen him. Just be glad it’s me that answered and not Buffy. If you said something like that to her she’d be crying for the next two weeks straight.”
“What? Dawn, can I please talk-“
“No.” She hung up on him. She stuck her tongue out at the phone and, after quickly glancing left and right, she flipped it off for good measure.
Settling down at the table she put her headphones on and turned the volume up on OutKast’s latest album.
Dawn worked through her math homework, following that with English, Italian, and economics.
Eventually she ran out of school assignments so she turned the TV up loud to watch a couple shows from the states that were subtitled in Italian instead of being dubbed. When they were over she switched to the local news to practice her language skills. Her teacher said she was a natural.
As night deepened and Dawn found herself halfway through a book with an Italian soap opera blaring in the background, she gave up.
Enough was enough.
Waiting until the noise from Buffy’s room had reached a lull, Dawn knocked on the door with her full strength.
After several minutes of hushed discussion, the door jerked open, revealing a scowling Spike clad only in his jeans. Buffy was wrapped in a sheet on the bed.
“What the bleedin… bit?” His voice trailed off. “What are you doing here?”
“I live here!” she said indignantly. “You’re the ones who’ve been making dying cat-noises for hours.”
Spike’s mouth fell open and her sister turned bright red.
“How did…” Pain flashed through Spike’s eyes. “How did you…”
Dawn crossed her arms. “How did I what?”
“How did you die, nibblet?”
“What?” Were they crazy? “Die? I’m not dead. If I was dead, I wouldn’t have had a stupid amount of homework to do.”
Spike’s brow creased. “But…” He glanced back at Buffy. She looked incredibly confused as well.
“By the way, Spike, Angel called looking for you earlier. I told him I hadn’t seen you.”
“Thanks.” Spike ran a hand through his hair and retreated to sit at the foot of the bed. “I thought…”
Buffy curled her arms tightly around herself. “You’ve been alive?” she asked Spike in a tiny voice.
“As I get.” Both his eyebrows shot up and he looked surprised. He must have believed Buffy knew. Stupid Angel. “I was a ghost for a good long while, stuck haunting Wolfram and Hart. Eventually things changed. Heard you’d moved on.” Buffy put a trembling hand on Spike’s back. He gave her a shy smile. “Know better now, don’t I?” She nodded and Spike faced Dawn again. “I followed Angel here yesterday on some fool mission and couldn’t make myself leave. I thought the wanker had found me in Buffy’s room and dusted me.”
Buffy’s eyes were huge. “I thought I’d died on the way home from patrol.”
Dawn couldn’t help herself, she started laughing. “Oh. My. God. Both of you thought you’d died and heaven was boinking each other senseless while screaming over and over again how much you love each other?”
The corner of Spike’s mouth turned up. “Uh, guess so?”
Buffy’s cheeks tinged pink, but she shifted forward on the bed and wrapped her arms around Spike’s shoulders. “Yup. Though I suppose since we’re not dead we might actually have to eventually talk and figure things out.”
“Do we have to?” Spike groused. “I thought we’d sort of skipped a bunch of that.”
“Whatever,” Dawn huffed, reminding them she was there before something groiny could happen. Again. “You love him, he loves you, the rest is just history and probably some stupid misunderstandings. Now since none of us have had dinner-”
“I’m sorry!” Buffy said, her face stricken. “I…”
“Yeah, yeah. You thought you were dead and doing the Wild Thing with your boyfriend in heaven. I get it. But now you two better hurry up and get dressed. Buffy knows where there’s a 24-hour butcher’s shop. I can show you how good my Italian’s gotten. And then I get to pick which street-food vender we go to. Actually, I get to pick where we eat out for the next ever. Okay?”
Both her sister and Spike nodded.
Dawn pulled the door closed, counted to ten, and opened it again. “Really?”
Guiltily, Buffy and Spike broke apart from the kiss they’d been locked in.
“I’m starving,” Dawn complained. “You guys can do that more when we get back. Just quieter. Please.”
Dawn closed the door without giving them a chance to respond. Something that’d been pulled tight in her chest relaxed for the first time in months.
Everything was going to be okay.
Buffy was going to be okay.
Dawn grinned. Life had just gotten good again. Now when she went to stay with her friends she never again would have to worry about Buffy at home, crying alone in her bed.
La vita è bella.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/570395.html