This Is Not My Beautiful House
Summary: After Spike goes after that dragon, he wakes up where he least expected
Story Notes: Written for on Livejournal. Spoilers for all of BtVS and Angel. Set post Not Fade Away.
Disclaimer: All hail Joss from whom all these characters flow
Completed: March, 2006
Thanks: To , reader and commentator extraordinaire. A couple of the dialogue points in here were her idea too. I steal only from the best.
You may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
You may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!
You may ask yourself
Am I right?… Am I wrong?
You may say to yourself
MY GOD!…WHAT HAVE I DONE?
That would mean, presumably, being naked.
The way he was when he first found himself here.
On reflection, Spike decided that wasn’t such a good idea. He didn’t know who or what was going to come through the door next, and even if it was only Buffy—some version of Buffy—well, she was a slayer, wasn’t she? Best to be careful if he wanted to go on not-breathing and see this through.
Anyway, he was too restless to just lie down and look pretty. Pacing the room, he went on poking into things, opening drawers, peering under the bed.
There was a chest there, like the one Buffy had once used to keep weapons in.
This one was full of toys, not the kind for Jemima. Restraints—chains, ropes, silk scarves, cuffs of various types—vibrators—he wondered when she found the time to need those, what with the pace they supposedly kept up—clamps and blindfolds and … a hefty strap-on. Crikey, Spike thought, does she go at me with that? All at once he was revved up again, even more than he’d been when he opened the closet door to that perfumed forest of Buffywear. A sniff at the article in question confirmed that, yes indeed, she wore it—it was clean but still smelled plainly enough to his keen senses of her cunny. That aroma, long-lost and mourned, set him into a tremble of anticipation. He couldn’t keep from handling himself through his jeans—would’ve unzipped and tossed off right there, except for wanting to be vigilant.
Instead, he shoved the chest back where he’d found it, and circled the room again, rubbing his crotch even as he willed his cock to relax. For the first time it occurred to him to wonder: how? If this was real—as real in its place as his experience was in his own—how had it come about? What was different to make Buffy want to cozy up with him like this? Back when they’d had their thing, she’d never let him have her in the house, let alone in her bed. And when she came to his crypt, she’d almost never just get into bed there either. Never wanted anything they did to be the least bit tender or romantic. Her every touch was rough and hard … and exquisite for it, but still not … not what he could never teach himself to stop yearning for. Even at the end, when she’d spent those couple of nights lying beside him. She’d let him hold her. But she hadn’t held him.
He couldn’t imagine a Buffy who’d live with him like a wife, noting anniversaries, leaving lovey notes. Which seemed to prove what he’d suspected all along: this was a construct. He’d been put here by some power greater than himself—it was just like when he’d awakened in that white cell in the Initiative. He was being manipulated, that was all.
It was his heart and head, not his cock, that hardened now. Yeah. He’d do a little manipulating in return. He’d get what he wanted out of her, and then he’d find out just what the hell the game was, and how to get out.
Just as he reached this decision, he heard the kitchen door open and close. He recognized her step; she crossed the kitchen, the dining room. He heard her on the stairs. This was it. Taking up a position at the far side of the room, the bed between him and the door, he braced himself. Ready.
She reached the top of the stairs, and stopped. He could hear her heart beat—it was going pretty fast. She only paused for a moment, but he wondered about that moment. What was she doing?
She muttered something he couldn’t catch. A soft sound, something sifting to the floor, followed by a stifled clinking. Imagining what weapon might make a sound like that, Spike brought up his fangs.
Then she was in the doorway, leaning shoulder against the jamb. Her hair was loose; she was clad in nothing but strappy high-heeled sandals, and pale green lingerie so wispy that he could see her nipples and the dark shadow of her cunny hair through the silk. The sight literally defanged him. He stared, rooted to the spot. A big bottle of Krug was insufficiently concealed behind her back. The pair of champagne flutes in her right hand scraped together again as she held them up; she was trembling. “Lover, I brought you something for our—” Seeing the empty tossled bed, and him standing on the far side of it, her smile, brilliant for a moment, died. Suddenly she looked as deflated as her daughter when he’d frightened her. “God, I totally suck at this. What is it? What’s the matter?” Dropping the glasses and bottle amidst the sheets, she came to him, tottering a little as if her ankles were watery.
Spike was startled by his own voice, saying “Nothin’, nothin’s the matter,” and by his arms, which were around her in a moment. She pressed against him, circling his neck with her own delicious arms. Her scent overwhelmed him—the Buffybot, who did like to throw herself against him this way, hadn’t smelled like the real Buffy. But this—this was her, in every way his senses could determine. Oh God, it was Buffy.
Except it wasn’t, because never in his wildest dreams had she behaved this way.
“Why are you wearing so many clothes? Didn’t you see my note? I wanted, you know … for this to be romantic. Like what people do on anniversaries.”
“Saw your note, sure I did. Just—lost track of the time a bit. You’re beautiful.” He put her back to look at her, and to try to pull himself together. All his resolve, about being hard and playing the players’ game back at them, was dissolving into nothingness in the face of this woman looking at him with such uncertainty and—yearning. When had Buffy ever yearned at him?
Never. Never never, and why should it affect him like this? This whole thing was false.
Christ, this was confusing. This was doing his head in.
Now at his words, she glanced down at herself. “You don’t like my outfit? I went out to get it special, because I saw it in a magazine and I thought, you know … I thought … I was even planning to do a little dance ….” At this she blushed, magnificently, bright red that spread up from her breasts, blotching up her neck and into her already bright cheeks. “I thought—”
Head spinning, Spike went to sit on the bed. What was he doing? He couldn’t—shouldn’t—mustn’t—go through with this.
But how could he not? How, when she followed him, nestling onto his lap, nuzzling his neck—and this was like that time they were under a spell, but it wasn’t either, because she’d been strange then, they both were, like they were reading a silly script. He could feel that this was real to her, she was het up and ready for him. A ticklish thought crossed his mind—was this really what Buffy was like, when she was in love? Had she been like this with Angel? All girlish and confiding and wanting and unsure of herself? He felt like a peeping Tom, watching under false pretenses. She was some fellow’s girl, that was for sure, but not his. Not his.
Her fingers strayed beneath the waistband of his jeans, beneath his shirt, tugging it undone as her lips did amazing things to his neck. Her voice, all breathy and languid, whispered in his ear. “Happy anniversary, Spike.”
Remembering the champagne, he reached back for it. Opening it would provide a diversion.
“This was thoughtful of you, pet. You thirsty?”
“I’ll open it. Why don’t you get naked?”
Getting naked was just what he didn’t want to do. Getting naked would lead to fucking her, and—
He could just tell her the truth. Right now, just stand up and announce himself. And then that would be that; she’d put some clothes on. She’d probably beat him up too, which would have the ring of familiarity, at least.
She’d taken the bottle from his hand, and slid off his lap to sit beside him while she wrestled with the foil covering the cork. She was so bloody earnest. As she worked, she started to babble, “Can you believe five years? I mean, us! Five years! I looked up what the 5-year anniverary gift is, and it’s wood. Isn’t that funny? I figured that would send the wrong message, you know, if you gave you—but then I figured you’d get wood if I went to La Perla and wore … right?” She glanced around at him, tipping him a wink with her play on words. The cork sounded with the harsh suddenness of gunfire; Spike felt like he’d been hit.
To his surprise, Buffy ignored the glasses; took a swig straight from the bottle, and handed it to him.
This was like being trapped inside a kaleidoscope. One moment she was Buffy, and the next she was some stranger wearing her skin—and what skin!—who sounded like her but didn’t act like her. Except that as soon as he managed to convince himself of that, he’d ricochet back to feeling her, wanting her, not caring whether this was true or not. Taking the bottle, he sipped slowly, drinking her in, trying to decide what to do.
With a sigh he couldn’t quite interpret, she crawled higher up on the bed, stretched out. Raised a bent leg lazily, and touched the thin strip of silk that ran beneath. “This is getting pretty moist,” she murmured thoughtfully, as if it was a problem, like a leaky sink, she wanted to prompt some help with.
“You look … you look like bloody heaven.” As stalling tactics went, he felt, this was lame.
But she smiled, a smile that scorched his poor heart like sunrise.
He swallowed some more. The surreality of this was off the charts.
“Let’s take a bit of inventory, shall we pet?”
There were things he wanted to know. Even though this was all an illusion, he wanted to know what the story of it was. It would kill him, but he was going to ask.
“Of our year, yeah? Seein’ as it’s our fifth anniversary.”
“Okay.” She sat up readily, crossed her legs. The sandals were very strappy, and very high. They were gold. Her toenails were freshly painted a sparkly pink. The sight of them about did him in.
“Have I made you happy, then, this year?”
Her eyelashes dipped; she looked at her hands, then up at him in a way reminiscent of one made famous by Lauren Bacall. “What do you think?”
“Want you to tell me.”
She reached out. “I’d rather show you. Why aren’t you naked yet?”
“I’m gonna take an inventory of you.” Seizing the stuff of his teeshirt in both hands, she yanked it up and off before he could stop her. “I’ve been thinking about this for weeks. We’re gonna go nice, and slow, and thorough, and did I mention slow? Because this is special.”
“Special, yeah, cause usually—”
“Usually,” she supplied, “we go fast. And rough.”
This was starting to sound like that old Ike and Tina record.
“You always liked fast and rough,” he said. You wouldn’t have me any other way.
“I do like it. But it isn’t all I like, right?” She’d eased him onto his back, was hovering over him—not straddling, but kneeling beside, and her fingers were in his hair, smoothing it gently back from his forehead in a way that made him shiver. “Remember how we were doing it that night I first told you? Remember that?”
Told me what? “How could I forget?”
“I was thinking it would be good if we could do it like that. So slow and tender I thought I’d explode. You did it for me that night but now I’m gonna do it for you.”
This at least was a relief, as he had no clue what it consisted of, and was sure to get it wrong.
“I think about that every year. You know. What we celebrate as our anniversary—and it’s just as good an anniversary thing as any, isn’t it? And the bad thing Willow did to you after, now it’s over, that just makes it mean more anyway, right?”
“Right,” Spike breathed. He was running his hands softly up and down her arms, a touch he’d always craved and only rarely been permitted. Buffy smiled at him, a smile that went all through him, that made him hard and incandescent with desire. His hand was on her shoulder; she nuzzled it with her cheek, and kissed it.
“I’m talking too much, but I want you to know. I want you to know, Spike. I don’t take any of this for granted. What you give me. What we are together. I love you so much.”
“An’ I love you. Love you, Buffy, always have, always will. With all my mind an’ my heart an’ my soul.”
She frowned, and for a moment he thought she was going to pull away, but then her brow cleared and she came in close for a kiss; his arms went around her, and the separate things they’d been doing and saying sped up and blended together into the one thing, no more talking, just kissing. He kept expecting her to sit on him, to wrench his head up, bite his mouth, the way she used to, but Buffy still seemed intent on her promise of going slow. She permitted him to kiss her in the way he’d always wanted but never had—without hurry or escalation, with time to taste her and feel the softness of her mouth, the flavor of her tongue. She made kittenish noises, caressed his face with unbruising fingers.
This was so good. Too damn good. Any second now, he thought, they’ll do it. Whatever it is they’ve brought me here for, they’ve got me good and pinned and now it’ll happen.
Maybe she was going to suck his soul out through his mouth, and send him to hell. That would be about right.
This idea was suddenly so strong in him that he shuddered. Put her aside and sat up.
“Spike—what’s the matter?”
He cried out to the ceiling, to the room, to the Senior Partners. “Just do it, all right? Just bloody do it, or else put me back an’ let your filthy army trample me—whatever—but no more of this!”
Nothing happened, no thunderbolt, no rumbling voice, no sudden transposition to the White Room.
Just Buffy in her pretty lingerie, awash in alarm, reaching for him. “Spike, what is it, what’s going on?” She glanced around, then lunged for the nightstand, where she pulled a stake out of the top drawer. “Who’s in here? What do you see?”
He was on his feet now. Glad he still had his jeans, and relieved that she’d armed herself. That was the proper way for them to talk.
“Thing is … I’m Spike, yeah, but I’m not your Spike. Think we’ve been switched. Leastways, I belong somewhere else.”
He expected her to rush him, but she stayed where she was, kneeling in the center of the bed, blinking, bewildered.
“A few hours ago. Right before you left the house. I came to myself here in this bed. But before that—I was in LA, fightin’ ‘longside Angel and his people—apocalypse situation. An’ I hadn’t seen you in a year. We weren’t … we aren’t … Something happened. Dimensions were intersecting—ghoul armies on the march—you can imagine. Guess I got sidetracked somehow.”
“Oh my God.”
“You believe me, yeah?”
She shook her head, but it wasn’t a negation.
“Should’ve spoken up sooner, I know. But—I wanted to see you. Wanted to see Buffy who loved her Spike, because … because … it’s not like this where I—”
Buffy held up a hand; he stopped talking. Slowly, fiercely, she stood up. Here was the girl he knew. He found himself exhaling, and suddenly wanted a cigarette, as if they’d just finished something heavy together.
“So—what? You’re from the world without shrimp?”
“Got shrimp, all right, I suppose.” He’d never much cared for shellfish. “What it hasn’t got is you an’ me bein’—”
She interrupted. “Why didn’t you tell someone sooner? You’ve been here for hours, I know Xander was here, Anya was here—”
“Saw Faith too,” he admitted.
“And you kept quiet.”
“Told you why,” Spike mumbled. “You know … even you ought to know … how I am about you.” She was advancing on him, the stake in her fist. He raised his hands, palms open. “Not here to do anything to you an’ yours, Buffy. Seem to be victim of circumstance, or … thought I’d been bunged into a Wolfram an’ Hart holdin’ dimension. Didn’t know who to trust.”
“What does that mean? Wolfram and Hart Holding Dimension?”
“Look, it’s a long story.”
She flashed him the old stink eye, that he knew so well. “Weirdly enough, I buy that you really are alterna!Spike, because you’re just self-centered and dumb enough to forget that if you’re here, my Spike must be there. Didn’t that occur to you? Or did you just not care? Because that would be like you too.”
“And that I might really really be anxious about getting him back? Seeing as how I’m used to him, and he’s the father of my kid? Shit. I find out there’s a you in every dimension, and apparently you all think with your cocks.”
“Shut up. I could so stake you right now, you stupid vampire.”
She went to the phone.
As he listened to her talking to Giles, Spike was swamped with a stunning nostalgia, and loneliness. He’d had no idea how much he missed even this, the intimacy of her contempt—stupid vampire—the comradery of the Scoobies, the house itself, small and warm and human—not like the outsize glass and steel environs of the law firm or the dingy basement flat he’d occupied the last few months, alone. When he’d been here, he was part of something in a way he wasn’t in LA. Sure, they let him play his role, but none of them was fond of him, none of them really gave a shit. Buffy might not have loved him at all, she might’ve lied to his face in his last moment, but in those final harrowing weeks, she’d taken care of him. Demonstrated in unforgettable ways that he had value, was part of what she defended, her world.
It wasn’t what this Buffy’s Spike had—her heart and body and lovingkindness, evidence of which poured forth as she excitedly explained the situation to Giles and urged him to do something about it pronto—but it was more than he’d ever had in all his undead days. And he knew he’d never have it again, even if he walked out of that alley.
Buffy hung up the phone. “They’re on their way. Get out so I can dress.”
Something—not relief?—made him want to give her a hard time, now it was all out in the open. “Nothin’ I haven’t seen before, love. Wouldn’t mind getting another peek before you put the goods away.”
“I’m not goods. Anyway, I thought you said—”
“Said there’s no you-an’-me where I’m from. Didn’t say there never was.” He waggled a brow at her.
“I can’t believe I kissed you and told you all that mush stuff. How do I even know you’re telling the truth? You’re probably evil.”
“You think so? Stake me, then.”
She stepped closer, brandishing the stake, but though there was no hint of humor about her at that moment, he wasn’t worried.
Instead of attacking him, she looked straight into his eyes. Searching. Wondering.
“It’s only me, pet. You’d know me anywhere, wouldn’t you? We’ve always known each other, yeah?”
“You are so full of shit, William The Bloody. Get out. Out.”
Cheated of lovemaking, he could at least console himself with a snack. While the blood heated in the microwave, Spike looked out the kitchen window. It was getting dark now. The neat houses across the street were same as they ever were—he’d never paid much attention to them.
The First Evil must not have come to this Sunnydale, or if it did, she’d stopped it a lot quicker and neater than they had. The people here had never packed up their cars and abandoned this town.
The microwave dinged. He took a fresh mug from the cabinet.
“I see you’ve made yourself right at home.”
Buffy sailed into the kitchen, looking very soccer mom in a light long-sleeved turtleneck sweater and sweatpants, her hair pulled into a neat ponytail. The look said: no more nonsense, sexy or otherwise.
“An’ why not?”
“But it isn’t your home. You said—”
“Knew this place right well. Was in an’ out all the time, an’ stayed in your basement for weeks before the big battle with The First. But everythin’s different,” he sniffed. “Just that it all still stands, to start with. Somewhere ‘long the way, things diverged big time.”
“Well, for one thing, you an’ me don’t live together in wedded bliss.”
She blushed. “We’re not actually mar—”
“I haven’t even seen you in a year. Less you wanna count spottin’ the back of your head in that dive in Rome. Which I don’t wanna count.”
“Sunnyhell is gone. All this—” he swooped an arm “is a crater with a heap of rubble at the bottom.”
Buffy’s eyes widened. She glanced around, as if the house was about to collapse.
“I died at the bottom of that crater. Burned up.”
“You look pretty un-burn-y to me.”
“Yeah, well, it got better. Didn’t want you to know, but it turned out to be less simple than that, on account of an amulet I wore that did a big part of the heavy liftin’ during the fight.”
“That’s not important. Important thing was—”
“That you went into it knowing you’d die, and you did it anyway.”
“Yeah. ‘Spect you find that familiar?”
She nodded, looking solemn.
“Only my quietus wasn’t quite yet, so now I’m on round two of my unlife, hooked up with Angel in LA. Leastways—not hooked up hooked up—”
He couldn’t quite read her expression.
“So how did it diverge?” she said. “You’re just like my Spike. You know all of us, this house, the town—”
“You died, we just established that.”
“Yeah. That was a while ago now.”
“Right, the Glory thing. An’ they brought you back, Willow an’ the others. That wasn’t a pretty year.”
“What happened for you? Want to know how you got into this life with me. Last thing that should ever have happened.”
Buffy shrugged, but a little smile played around her lips. “You know. Getting pulled out heaven … it was bad, I was sad and mad and uh, behaved like a cad, but you were sweet to me, you made things bearable, and after a while we got to be a thing and now we’re a thing with our own little kid. Every year we save the world. The family that slays together, et cetera.”
You were sweet to me, you made things bearable. That’s what he tried to do, only it hadn’t worked for them. Because a soulless demon couldn’t really be kind; he could love, but his love would always lack the power to heal. He was sure of that. “Family. Whose kid is she?”
“Ours. Yours and mine.”
“I mean who got her on you?”
“How the buggerin’ hell did I give you a kid?”
Now she hesitated, blinked. “Time travel was involved. It was another thing.”
“Time travel. When was this?”
“Is that a trick question? Nine months before Jemmie was born.”
“No, I mean … after Willow brought you back from the dead.”
“Not long. I came back, I was miserable, we … took up with each other.”
“Was there singing?”
“Just for that one day.”
“Right. I remember that.” Thought he preferred not to.
“Okay. And then a few days after the singing, you and I … got together.”
“Brought the house down.” He knew his grin was lewd, but that was a memory he never got tired of, even with all that happened later overlaid on it.
“We did.” Her smile too, contained layers of association.
“And then Giles left, an’ you had no money, you got that McJob, an’ we had our escalatin’ series of squalid assignations which you—”
“Giles didn’t stay away long. What McJob?”
“Dunno how you could forget the bloody Doublemeat Palace, love.”
“You’re saying I worked there? I’ve never even set foot into—oh. I think this might be where our notes stop comparing.”
“And the squalid assignations? What does that mean?”
“If it doesn’t mean anything to you, pet, I’d as soon keep it that way. What about the trio?”
“Nerds. What, Warren, Jonathan, and—I can never remember that other kid’s name. Them? They were a pain in my ass. But they all left town a while ago now.”
“They were after takin’ over. The spring after you were brought back, they murdered a girl, made you think you’d done it, an’ when I tried to stop you martyrin’ yourself for it, you beat my face to a bloody pulp. An’ later that Warren shit put a bullet in you an’ killed Tara.”
“Yeah, yeah, an’ that made Willow go off the deep end, Full Metal Magic, an’ she came this close to ending the world.”
“This close? How close?”
“Dunno exactly. After what went down between you an’ me in this house, I left town. When I got back, was crazier than a shithouse rat on account of gettin’ my soul, and then—”
“Whoa whoa whoa! Soul?”
She’d grabbed his arm. Her eyes were the size of cake plates.
“You must know—”
“I don’t. I don’t know. What are you talking about?”
“What’re you talking about? Don’t tell me he doesn’t—? You’d never live with him, love him, without his having—”
“Of course he doesn’t have a soul. How could he?”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/72812.html