Put the Masks Away
There were just flashes left of the night Buffy and Spike had together, burning gaping holes in their souls where the other had taken a tiny piece of them. They could chalk it all up to coincidence, to a night where everything seemed to fall into place and yet the idea of having to distance themselves from it was strikingly painful.
Buffy didn’t know how to say goodbye, how to wipe away the tears that were fighting to distribute themselves onto her cheeks and spill down to the dip in her collarbone. She knew they would fall when she was alone. If she could run into the bathroom, close the door behind her and drop to the floor she would cry every bit of the saline that she fought to keep inside now, beside him.
Spike was shaking on the porch, standing away from the rising sun that teased him with the idea of death. He was smoking. The smell of the cigarette was burning into his fingertips and the taste, laying a home on his lips.
She could see that he was hurt, upset and like her, trying desperately to hold back his emotions, even if they weren’t tears. Every few seconds she wrestled with the idea of standing close to him again, of taking his hand in hers and not dropping it, not pushing it away once they walked inside. Who would really be surprised by her actions? Her friends would bitch and moan of course. Anya would remind her he was just killing people not too long ago. Giles would silently blaspheme her for being so stupid.
The truth was that no matter how much she wished she didn’t care about what anyone thought, she did. It was her job to care. If she did have the ability to turn off her emotions, she wouldn’t be prepared for the continuing months till the hellmouth opened.
Spike leaned against the doorway, tapping on the doorknob with his finger, flicking ashes onto his black boots. Buffy watched him with the ease of the lover she was, absorbing every one of his movements into her brain, tragically reminding herself that their hours together would slip away like sand once they entered the house. When she thought of sand and the end of the night, she choked on her own saliva and began to cough. He threw the cigarette to the porch floor, not bothering to knock out the smoke with this boot.
“You okay pet?” he asked, stepping forward and reaching for her, which quickly turned into his hand on fire from the suns rising rays. “Bloody hell!” he cried out, patting his hand on his jeans getting rid of the fire. Buffy’s eyes were wide as she continued coughing into her hand. It was just a reminder of what they couldn’t have. He would never be able to stand in the sun with her and that was something Angel had once decried to her. His speech was long forgotten in the midst and madness of her life. Spike would never leave her because of that. Buffy wouldn’t want him too. But could he love her if she lived to her forties or eighties and he stayed the same?
“This sucks,” Buffy said once she’d regained her composure and had stopped coughing. Before Spike could answer she was opening the front door quietly, grabbing his other hand and pulling him inside. “You need some ice or something,” she whispered, glancing into the living room at the girls wrapped up in blankets on the floor, sleeping and snoring.
Spike stopped in his tracks, wrapping his fingers around Buffy’s, causing her to halt with him. “Does that one always snore?” he asked, nodding to a wisp of black hair where a girl’s head was covered by a navy blue blanket, leaving just small trails of her hair out to the open.
Buffy suppressed a laugh. “Yea,” she responded getting a grip on Spike’s hand and urging him forward, towards the kitchen.
“Good thing I sleep in the basement,” Spike whispered as he followed her, laughing softly about the snoring blob on Buffy’s living room floor. She kicked the kitchen door open with the bottom of her slender boot and held it open for him with her free hand.
Buffy let her fingers sashay away from his as she walked to the refrigerator, opening the freezer. “Sit,” she told him pointing her finger at one of the wicker chairs perched near the island in the middle of the kitchen. He raised his eyebrows at her, skeptically but sat down anyway and looked down at his mangled hand.
“That really ruined the moment,” Spike spat out trying to hold back his sarcasm and pain. Buffy looked over her shoulder at him, placing ice into a paper towel.
“What moment?” she joked, pressing her stomach against the island’s side and leaned over, taking his burned hand into the palm of her vacant one. She put the ice filled towel onto his dead skin. “Were we having a moment?” Buffy asked, her green eyes glimmering with mischief.
Their eyes locked and the sentiment of caring behind them wasn’t missed, just shadowed by reality. Love could not enter the picture even if sex had, for just a flicker of time. “How does that feel? Better?” she questioned as the ice began to melt, water spilling out of the towel delicately onto his knuckles.
“Better,” Spike answered. His other hand moved on top of hers, not purposely, it was an ever-growing reflex to touch her when she was touching him. He’d spent so much time afraid of being around her that now when she gave him an opening, an okay, it was a part of him to react, to savor the action before it was gone.
Buffy threw her chest over the counter and kissed him, tenderly on the cheek. The lip-gloss she’d applied while they were walking back home left a small mark. She removed her hand from underneath his, creating a smile that looked more like a frown.
She opened the refrigerator door again, taking out the orange juice container and clanking it down on the counter near the sink. Her back was to him. He let his eyes roam over the bit of skin that was exposed under her silky blonde hair. He closed his eyes as his head began to ache from the ongoing sorrow that seeped into his bones, making him feel incredibly weak. Spike could hear her pour the juice into a plastic cup, imagining her glossy stained lips touching the rim, leaving a lip print while she drank away.
When he opened his eyes, he didn’t know why he was remotely surprised to see her staring at him. The cup still in her hand, lips wet and red. Her hair glowed, differently from the night’s rays. The sun’s quiet, damper emission through the window left an angelic glimmer to the scene before them. Him vampire, her human, not that either of them were capable of being an angel even though she’d been to heaven and back.
She didn’t say anything, just continued to stare at him, eyes intent on his. Thoughts coursed through her brain, to her blood and veins, making her heart and soul ache with glorified pain. The pain was different from dying. It wasn’t fast. It was slow, tearing out her insides and placing them back all inside out and mushy, making her feel like she was going to lose her mind if she did not once again feel him inside her, around her, on top of her.
“I should get to bed,” Buffy blurted out, shaking her head, trying to brush off the desire to engage in sexual intercourse with him all over again especially in the kitchen where anyone could find them. She made an awkward face at him, stuck the plastic cup into the sink and quickly walked the distance between the island and the doorway. Spike stood up abruptly. The chair he had been sitting in making a screeching noise as it scratched against the floors surface.
“Buffy, wait,” he called out, seizing her wrist. She stopped, swinging around to look at him, tears forming in her eyes. It has to be over. It has to be over. It has to be over, she repeated in her head. She was sure it was killing her, that he was killing her just by touching her. Buffy knew that it was exactly what she’d done to him so many times; that she would continue doing, although not because she didn’t want him, care for him and crave him. It was simple. She needed him too much, so much so that his grasp on her was sure to burn into her skin.
“I can’t,” Buffy made a pleading noise filled with sadness and disappointment. Her eyes glazed over with a blank emotion, something he couldn’t make out and she slipped her wrist out of his grip and kicked the door open again with the bottom of her boot.
In an instant she was gone.
Spike could hear her steps clawing up the stairs. He was alone again. This didn’t shock him. He told himself that he hadn’t expected too much even though he paid attention to the tears creeping to the surface of her eyes that probably weren’t real. They weren’t for him. She was an actress, deep down, constantly obeying someone else, some character instead of jumping into her own skin.
Spike tried desperately to forget that she was just a girl that made constant blunders that caused chaos but the truth was he loved her. When a person truly loves someone else their flaws disappeared. They twisted and churned into some part of good in that person even when you knew exactly who the person was or is. Spike still wasn’t fully capable of facing her dark sides; the sides that could rip him apart in a second, like then when he couldn’t move his feet to drag himself downstairs to the basement.
Love was about letting the other person make mistakes, even if they didn’t let you do the same. He’d learned that. She couldn’t love him, not in the way he loved her.
In retrospect it wasn’t completely her fault. Buffy was the slayer. She had a job, a stance on human existence that sometimes he didn’t even understand. Her mother had died. She’d found the body. Spike, even after killing his own mother, twice, couldn’t articulate that type of pain that had inhabited her after that, let alone what it was like to sacrifice herself for her own sister and then to be pulled out of heaven back to a place that seemed like hell.
Spike forgave her, time and time again because that’s what people do when they love someone. He couldn’t forgive himself though, not yet, even if she’d made it perfectly clear that she had forgiven him, or given him the slightest suggestion that she loved him. It didn’t make a difference, because to him he never would get the girl.
Spike slouched back down, hands in his pockets, leaving the ice and the paper towel on the counter, letting the water drip down to the floor, making a small puddle. He headed towards the basement door, opening it and walking down the wooden stairs, sliding his hand against the wall as he walked. He lifted his arms once he reached the floor and pulled his shirt off, tossing it to the floor. He crashed onto the cot, lying on his stomach. He formed an oval with his arms, placing his cheek on top of his skin. He closed his eyes, blocking out the sun that was spiraling in from the distant window.
The dizziness of the night’s events coursed through his mind all over again, forcing his eye to twitch unpleasantly. He had some strange desire to the listen to The Beatles, which was rare for him although the lyrics to ‘here comes the sun’ rang restlessly in his head. Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter.
Buffy stared at herself in the mirror, brushing back the stains of black eyeliner left by her tears. She noticed the small wrinkles that probably shouldn’t be there but she felt so old and had been through so much already. She wasn’t sure what she was doing or why she had to literally run away from Spike even if that was another theme to their relationship. He tried to make amends and she would pull away or push away, depending on the instance. Her hands were shaking, as was her body. “I can’t keep doing this,” she said to her reflection, sounding crazy.
Buffy dropped her body a little bit and leaned her elbows on the countertop, turning on the cold and hot faucets watching the water fall into the sink. She didn’t bother pulling her hair back as she dipped her face into the water, washing off her make up, coming up with a clean, fresh face. She looked back at her reflection and turned off the faucets. She dried her face with a clean washcloth from under the sink and threw the cloth onto the floor where all the dirty towels had been chucked. She made a mental note, in all her melancholy to do laundry in the morning or to get someone else to do it.
She turned the knob of the bathroom door that opened to her mother’s room, which was now her room. Potential slayers had overtaken her bed. There was no room for her anywhere. After all she had never explained where she’d gone or when she’d be back.
“Fuck,” Buffy cursed under her breath, tiptoeing around the room to her dresser, taking out a pair of sweat pants. She went back to the bathroom, taking off her boots then jeans, flinging them to the floor with the towels. Buffy then decided to pick them up and carry them, pulling at the drawstrings of her sweat pants. She threw her jeans over her arm as she walked down the stairs, going slowly, making sure as to not disturb anyone as they slept.
Her body moved swiftly, silently through the house towards the kitchen where she was half hoping Spike would still be. It shouldn’t have made her sad that he wasn’t, since she shouldn’t have expected him to stay around. She noticed the water dripping to the floor where Spike had clearly left the paper towel.
Buffy frowned, throwing her jeans onto the chair, not feeling the least bit hung over. She suspected that was only because she was trying not to think about how much alcohol she had consumed. She walked to the sink, grabbing the dishtowel. She strolled back to the other side of the island where the water was dripping. She picked up the wet paper towel and threw it across the kitchen into the sink. Then bent over and soaked up the water on the floor with the towel.
Buffy stood up, walked to the sink, and then stared out the window at the rising sun. The sky melted into a mixture of colors, blue, purple, pink, yellow, and orange. She thought that if she’d ever had picked a major in college maybe she would’ve liked photography. It seemed appropriate that she’d discover some sort of creative inclination when she stared at a sky painted with so many diverse colors. Something other than hell had to exist if there was such a beautiful image exploding into the atmosphere. It was strange that such a small thing, just looking at the sky could give her hope in her future, in the world’s future.
She could hear Spike’s voice coming from the basement and grabbed her jeans off the chair, dangling them over her arm as she opened the door to the downstairs, to Spike. Her feet made light pounding noises on the wooden planks as she walked, letting the palm of her hand slide along the railing.
Spike caught her eye as she barreled down the last step, standing awkwardly between him and the way out. He didn’t say anything. He’d been singing a little bit of ‘here comes the sun’ and almost whispered, ’little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here’, to her but stopped himself, realizing he would sound crazier than he was. She waved to him, feeling awkwardly, desperate for his attention, for his love, for his arms around her.
Buffy stayed still, jeans still hanging from her arm, eyes blood shot from fatigue. “What are you doing?” Buffy asked, staring at his bare chest then up at his eyes that were shooting explainable daggers at her. “I’m sorry,” she shot out at rapid speed, the words rushing past her lips. Spike was sitting on the makeshift bed, showing very little emotion, making her feel hollow inside. She could feel the tears erupting in the back of her tear ducks once again and fought them back, feeling like she would throw up at any second.
Spike noticed how pale she looked and grew concerned. He threw the deck of cards, he was about to start playing with, onto the cot as he got up. “What is it?” he asked, getting close enough for her to fall into him. Her head buried in his chest, tears exploded down her cheeks, onto his skin. He could feel the saline dripping down her face. He resisted the urge to cry himself. Instead he pulled her into him, drowning his hands in her hair, resting his chin on the top of her head.
Spike finally understood that it was all just as painful for her as it was for him. He didn’t want to let her go, didn’t want to remember the past, unless it involved something happy between them, like the past few hours. They hadn’t once fought or belittled one another. Of course, that didn’t count her running away from him minutes before. It was heaven, at least a heaven that he’d wished for, time and time again.
Spike knew that every time he fought by her side he would’ve easily surrendered his life, knowing full well that he’d lived as much as he could, (being undead and all) beside her, for a good deal of time and that was heaven enough.
If they’d been at his crypt he would’ve lit candles, covered her in a blanket and told her how beautiful she was but it was her basement; a place that would never be completely his, leaving him always slightly uncomfortable. Buffy, finally, not out of want, took her head away from where it rested on his chest and wiped her tears away with her fingertips. Spike tilted his head downwards, gazing at her and brushed his own fingertips over her salty tears, wondering if it would’ve been appropriate to tell her how beautiful she looked. He knew she would’ve shrugged him off, never fully grateful for a compliment.
“Sorry,” she murmured. “I had something in my eye,” Buffy grimaced at her words, trying not to betray her emotions. He grimaced as well, feeling like he’d just been punched in the stomach even if she was partly joking. Spike turned his back to her, flopping back down on the cot, his feet hanging off the edge.
Buffy didn’t know how to ease the tension she had built. What am I doing?, she thought. She wasn’t sure if she should close the gap between them by sitting down next to him on the cot, or if she should just walk back up the stairs and wash the memory of his lips on hers away.
Buffy scowled, waiting for the words in her head to form properly. “I’m an asshole,” she quipped, the words not exactly coming out the way she’d expected.
Spike glanced up at her, blue eyes beaming with questions. He appeared more pale than usual to her and she could sense his sadness seeping into his skin and bones. She began to feel even more horrible for not being the person he deserved, for not being the Buffy she felt he loved. She often wondered if she would ever properly be ready for someone to love her, especially the way he loved her so unconditionally. In a lot of ways he loved her in the way she loved Dawn, like family. He accepted her flaws, her annoying ability to shut off and push people away with continuing ease. With or without the sex he loved her.
Spike grumbled, pulling out a cigarette, lighting it effortlessly. Buffy felt she’d become addicted to cigarettes as well. Whenever she was around him, around the scent, she inhaled, letting the nicotine invade her system. Over the summer, when he’d been gone she was restless, wondering where he was, although she had never admitted it to anyone. She would stare at a pack of cigarettes at the drug store, wondering if she could pick out his brand and if having just one would kill her. It was only a fraction of the many things that reminded her of him over the summer. She’d barely asked him about Africa, still afraid to believe that what he did, everything he did, was for her and everything he would do, would be because of her.
He laced his lips over the cigarette, sucking in the nicotine that flowed nowhere, just in and out. She smiled as a triangle shape cloud of smoke wafted out from his lips.
Spike jerked his body forward, dropping his bare feet to the ground where the alcohol stain still lay, dried up in a funny shape. He patted the empty space beside him for her to come and join him. She obliged first by flinging her jeans across the wooden railing and then padded towards him in her white socks. She collapsed down next to him, smirking a little bit as he peeked at her curiously. He raised his dark eyebrows at her. He couldn’t remember ever seeing her in sweatpants.
Spike shook his head, biting back a sharp laugh.
As if reading his mind Buffy said, “I told you about laundry.” She began playing with the drawstrings around her waist. The air was heavy with dissatisfaction and an undeniable yearning. It bounced off each of them and flooded the room. “Why do you smoke?” she questioned, eyes still laid upon her hands that were wrapping the small fabric around her fingers.
Spike stared at the cigarette in his hands, smoke floating up to the ceiling. The question appealed to him on numerous levels; when and how, popped into his head and even why, was an obvious question but he had no real answer. His memory was blanked out in places. It just seemed to have happened at some point, that nicotine became a crutch he could bury himself in and not get hurt by. “I don’t remember,” he responded honestly, placing the stick to his lips watching her face contort into palpable interest.
Buffy’s head rested into the cement-covered bricks of the wall, hair clinging to the indents where brick met brick. She curled her legs up Indian style, trying to get comfortable but the situation, no matter how well they knew one another, was awkward.
Spike was content either way. He was better at remembering the good opposed to the bad. The reminiscences of the nights’ events that would flow through him, time and time again were those where she was not timid or scared, where she’d kissed him, proposing some sort of newfound hopefulness between them.
Buffy cemented herself with the bad and the good; taking on, both fully and completely, but her brain tended to remember the bad over the good, afraid the good would cloud her judgment.
She wondered about Faith sometimes, if things had been different. If Faith hadn’t turned into a murderer would she have had these problems? Could she have faced her feelings for a vampire who had gotten a soul just for her? Would Faith push the good away and force herself to face the bad? Buffy wasn’t sure anymore. Faith was a killer. She always would be. So comparing her own feelings and emotions to a girl who had switched her body to fit into Buffy’s was probably not the best thinking pattern for her to have while trying to sort herself out.
Spike didn’t know very much about Faith but at times Buffy imagined they would’ve liked each other, a wave of jealously crossed paths with her soul and heart causing her to let out a brittle laugh. Spike gazed at her in a hopelessly romantic way that made her laugh harder. She could feel her mind running away, inside of her, skimming the edges of sanity.
Words were not their specialty. They never had been but she wanted him to say something comforting, something that would make her feel less crazy. She quickly learned that he didn’t have to say anything, just his eyes on her, tenderly, drew out all the fear and apprehension from the night’s events. He was sad. It was laid all across him, in his pupils, in the crystals of blue and flecks of green of his eyes.
It wasn’t a reaction or reflex it just happened. Her head in his lap, while he instinctively stroked her hair reminding her of the times she’d been sick when she was younger and her mother would delicately stroke her scalp, making her feel better. Spike was caring like that although she’d never have admitted such a thing to herself a year ago.
Things had changed. She had grown up while he was gone. He had gotten a soul so maybe they were both grownups now. Buffy often tried to convince herself that he was always Spike with or without the soul but after their altercation before he left, it was hard for her to believe that. Instead she believed that the soul made him different, made him more human, less evil.
The echo of sunlight merged with the room, making small swirls of light jump along the floor to the ceiling. Buffy closed her eyes, still inhaling the nicotine that waltzed around the room.
Spike ran his fingers through her golden locks while glancing over at the window, at the sunrise. In their corner of the room, he wasn’t in any danger of being burned, not physically, emotionally was a completely different story. He didn’t ask her why she had come downstairs. He figured there was no room for her in her bed. Spike knew that questioning her motives on carrying herself down to darkest area of the house once more, would only make her run in another fit of panic. He didn’t want that.
She looked peaceful, lying there on the cot with her head in his lap. She would’ve been magnificent to paint in the day of Renoir. The impressionist artists he had run past, sometimes even killed would’ve found her features magnificent in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The curve of her jaw, piercing green eyes, lips fashioned like a heart and skin the color of porcelain. It was no wonder he had fallen in love with her. Despite her internal flaws she was insanely beautiful and always equally stunning in bed, regardless if they were having sex or if she was just sleeping. It had been the image of her fighting him off that propelled him to Africa but it was the image of her innocence that brought him back.
“I heard you upstairs,” Buffy whispered, eyes opening, pushing her head up as his hand glided out of her hair. He took a last drag from the cigarette and dropped it to the floor bending slightly to press it into the ground.
“Were you spying love?” his thick British accent drawled out. Buffy moved her body upwards to sink into his waist where he welcomed her. She stuck her tongue out at him, making him laugh.
“I was not the one talking to myself,” she pointed out, rolling her eyes. “And I have issues,” Buffy made a rolling noise with her tongue to signal she was being sarcastic and rested her lips into a smile.
Spike usually spent his nights, staying up late and attempting sleep during the day. Sometimes Andrew would come downstairs and they would play a card game where Andrew would always argue he won.
Most of the time, Spike hated the mornings because he was alone, while Buffy was sleeping upstairs. But, this morning was different. Instead of thinking about her, she was there, melting into his body. Second by second he was realizing that the extraordinary night had turned into an extraordinary morning. No, they would never really be what he wanted but he could always settle for whatever she was willing to give him. That was the balance in their relationship. She would offer up something, anything, and he would take the bait because he had to.
“I wasn’t talking to myself,” he quipped back, pinching her waist playfully with his fingers as he shifted his body around to face her more eloquently, instead of jerking his neck back and forth to see her. She lifted her eyebrows, waiting for an explanation as to why she’d heard his voice earlier. “I was singing,” Spike responded, looking in her eyes.
Buffy elevated her body, curious about his answer. “What we’re you singing?,” she asked, her eyes wide with interest. She curled into him further as if they were one person, with one heart, which they technically were. She had reached the point where she wondered if her heart beat for him too, if living had become fascinating because she was doing some of it for him. The thought had occurred to her more than once even though she’d never talk about it with him or anyone else for that matter.
Spike mumbled, shaking his head at her. “Nothing,” he answered. She responded by punching him in the ribs, not knowing her own strength. “Bloody hell, pet!” he rasped out grabbing onto his stomach where a bruise, would later emerge. “It was ‘here comes the sun’,” Spike looked over at her, still holding onto his stomach.
Buffy looked confused. “You want me to do something about the window?” she asked, standing up, bumping him with her thigh and rushing over to the window. She tried to cover it with a blanket that was hanging on a shelf near her, then a large book that must’ve been her mother’s, since she never had time for reading anything that huge.
Spike shook his head, watching her as she placed her toes forward onto the floor and lifted her heel, trying to cover the sun. It was endearing to see her so concerned about him and highly amusing that she hadn’t understood what he’d said. “No, pet, the name of the song,” he dropped his hand from his stomach and moved it to his forehead where he massaged his temples, feeling a headache brimming as she continued an attempt to cover the sun that was dancing through the window. “Buffy, it’s okay,” He said calling her back over to him.
Buffy twisted around, her blonde hair glowing in the sunrise. It shined purples, blues and yellowish gold’s on the lighter strands of her hair. Her skin looked tan, tanner than it had in the dark and he wondered when and how her skin had reached any point of crimson considering how little time she spent out in the daylight.
It was painful to think that he couldn’t share that with her. That they couldn’t go out in the sun together and bathe in it, kiss under it, hold hands under it, even make love under it, if they ever reached the point of turning sex into love. He thought they were close, so close he could literally taste it, touch it, feel it binding them together more equally than ever before, even if he let that hope evaporate, constantly, even with her standing only a few feet away from him. Hope was always there, no matter how he distinguished its fire, it hid in the shadows with him, sometimes even with her but it was just that; hope, an intangible emotion. Nothing really came of it. He could tell himself it was hope that had put them together hours before, but it was just chance, just her need to be away from everyone else that placed them together.
Spike remembered their fight over the gem of Amara years ago, how easy it would’ve been for him to appear in the daytime if she hadn’t ripped the ring off of him. He’d learned later on, after returning to Sunnydale from L.A, that Angel had crushed the ring. How stupid, he’d always thought. Although if Angel had kept the ring, that would mean that it could’ve been him instead of Spike staying up with Buffy, watching her try to hide away the heavens.
Spike wasn’t completely sure he would’ve been the same person he’d grown into if he’d have been able to keep the ring but the sound of it was still appealing. It would’ve really helped him through the fight that was coming and even with whatever was happening between him and Buffy. He wondered if he could still tan in the sun.
Buffy quickly broke him out of his thoughts. “Oh,” she paused, leaving the book on the small indent of a windowsill, a sliver of radiance coming through, between the edge of the book and the rest of the window. She strode back to him. “I thought…” Buffy trailed off as she sat back down on the cot. Spike couldn’t help but laugh. There seemed to be no use in explaining the song to her. He was sure once he said ‘The Beatles’ she would’ve squirmed around, wondering where a beetle was. He would just blame it on her drunken tiredness and his unwillingness to explain what he really meant through words.
Spike raised his arm in the air, pressing it along the wall, signaling for her to fall into him again. Buffy reciprocated, blending her own waist with his.
She squirmed uncomfortably, moving herself upwards. “I’m sitting on something,” Buffy pulled the deck of cards he’d flung on the cot before, out from underneath her. “This,” she threw them into his lap and rested her head on his shoulder. He could smell the raspberries, emanating from her hair, still. Her scent soothed him, it always had. “You play cards by yourself?” she asked, somewhat sadly, looking up at him with crystal-like eyes.
“Sometimes,” Spike answered opening the deck of cards and shuffling them in his hands; the sound of each card hitting another echoing in the large room. “Or with Andrew,” he finished, glancing over at her. She snickered slightly, curious as to how Spike and Andrew had become hanging-out buddies. She figured it was just that Andrew was amusing and was probably less annoying than the potentials, which was true. “Don’t get any ideas, love.” He smirked at her, small bits of his teeth showing.
“Do you know how to play spit?” Buffy asked, taking the cards from his hands and shuffling them herself. He watched her hands. The way her fingers tilted upwards to each new card that entered the second pile between her fingers. The way her broken nails sounded along the surface of the tough paper edges. He could see small bruises that he hadn’t bothered to see until then. She had punched something so hard; it’d left a knock, a cres, indented in her hand. A wave of concern washed over him. Spike worried about her, about how much of herself was going into this upcoming battle and how much of her would be left if and when it ended.
“I can spit, yes,” He replied jokingly, still watching her hands with a brimming trepidation.
Buffy shook her head, catching the look in his eyes, briefly, as she tossed cards into his lap.
She stopped, holding the rest of the deck of cards in her hand. “What is it?” she asked, commenting on the distorted look on his face. The look usually only happened after he’d been knocked down by a hard punch, or a kick to the gut.
Silence fell over the large, hollow room and Spike wrestled with the idea of telling her exactly what he felt. He could sense the words about to slip from his tongue and yet he couldn’t find the courage to say anything about what lingered in his mind. “It’s nothing, love.” He twisted his lips into a smile, curving his eyebrows up, near his forehead.
Buffy watched him, knowing he was lying. A part of her wanted to press the issue, to push him for more information but she couldn’t bear the idea of causing either one of them added pain. Especially when the whole house awoke in a few hours. In her mind it wasn’t dropped, or bitten away, just there, resting, something she’d bring up again, someday. Mostly because she believed the look would come again.
She ignored his last comment completely, distancing it from her mind.
“You’re just a barrel of laughs this early in the morning,” Buffy started again with the tossing of cards into his lap and then hers. She reached the last card and put it into the pile that rested on her thigh, positioning herself away from him on the cot.
Spike picked up his cards from the space between his thighs and made a block with them. He moved his back and waist to face her, but kept his feet planted to the ground. They both, in sync, began their pile of cards. Buffy looked up at him then down at his cards to see if he had finished placing them in short solitaire form, which he had.
“Okay. 1-2-3 Spit,” Spike said both of them plummeting cards to the space between them.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/84355.html