FIC: Riders PG-13 (12/30)

This entry is part 12 of 30 in the series Riders
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Chapter 12   Disturb Me

Trouble me… Disturb me with

all your cares and worries.

Trouble me on the days when

you feel spent

Why let your shoulders bend

underneath this burden

When my back is sturdy and strong?

-10,000 Maniacs

Trouble Me

 

Buffy waited for his touch.

 

Suddenly, there was a blinding light.

 

She covered her eyes.

 

When she removed her hands, the horse and rider had vanished.

 

But he would come back for her.

He had claimed her.

 

And she had accepted.

The door to the mining office had opened abruptly and light shone into the darkened interior.

The rider, suddenly interrupted, lost his concentration. The moment was ruined. The Slayer and her power had slipped through his fingers. He jumped up with a roar and turned to see what had created the disturbance. The mining shift supervisor stood there with a lantern in his hand while three other men stood behind him. Two other miners carried a man obviously badly hurt.

The supervisor shifted his feet. “I’m sorry Sheriff. I noticed your horse outside. There wasn’t any light, so I thought you were patrolling around the mine on foot.” Moving away from the door, he motioned the men into the office. “Darish got hurt when some rock fell. We’ve sent for the doctor, but we need the first aid kit.”

Pocketing the crystal, Grip moved away and through the door. “It is no matter. I need to leave now, anyway.”

The rider glanced at the wounded man and knew he would not last the night. He could always perceive impending death.

Tonight’s failure was not important. He had located the woman and soon he would summon her again. He had sensed that deep within her, the woman yearned for a good death. Grabbing the reins he kicked his horse and galloped into the moon lit desert.

He would give the Slayer what she craved.

*****

Spike shifted away from the bright moonlight shining on the bed and tightened his hold on Buffy’s wrists. She was restlessly murmuring nonsense again and he could feel that her fever was higher than ever. Suddenly she tensed, her hands tightened into two fists and her eyes shot open.

A confused expression crossed her face as she whispered. “Spike?” She tried to shift and stared at her hands. “What’s going on?”

Spike realized she was finally awake and abruptly freed her wrists. As soon as her arms were free, Buffy sat up quickly and slid into Spike’s arms. “It was awful. He came for me and I wouldn’t fight.” Weakened from her illness and the encounter, she sobbed.

Spike, not sure what was happening, put his arms around her and held her tightly. He murmured to her, using one hand to awkwardly stroke her hair. “Now, now, luv, it was just a fever dream. You’re fine now. I’ve got you.” She burrowed deeper against him and Spike knew he would relive this night for months. Buffy was actually offering him the chance to comfort her.

Her crying ended as she shuddered and whispered. “It couldn’t have been a dream, it felt so real. That black rider guy came for me and he was really the grim reaper.” Her eyes widened. “Even though we were supposed to fight, I couldn’t do it.”  Her voice was flat, hopeless. “I wanted him to take me. Oh God, Spike, I let death win.

Spike’s concern increased. What was she saying? A dream about fighting death and allowing it to take her?  Spike panicked. He knew every Slayer had a secret desire to find out what lay beyond this life. He just hadn’t realized it was so strong in Buffy already.

He tightened his hold on her. He would never let her succumb to that desire, not while he was here to provide support and comfort. He vowed that no matter the cost, he would keep her alive. She had to go on living.

Buffy felt Spike’s grip tighten. She realized her confession had affected Spike strongly and his extreme reaction comforted her. She didn’t know what had caused her to seek solace from the vampire; she only knew that he had provided it. It somehow felt right to be in his solid arms and to feel him stroke her hair. She felt safe from her own shortcomings.

She pulled back and searched Spike’s face. His blue eyes were full of concern and worry. He reached up and tucked a blonde strand behind her ear. “Buffy, it’s alright. Whatever happened, we’ll deal with it.”

She placed her hand on his. “Thank you.”

Her whisper of thanks galvanized Spike into action. He reached over her to the nightstand, picked up the cloth from the basin and wiped her tears away. He noticed that her fever had broken and he knew she needed to rest. There was plenty of time, it was hours until sunrise.

Buffy watched his earnest blue eyes as he carefully wiped the sweat and tears from her face. The cooling sensation of the water felt wonderful. She smiled slightly. “That feels really good, you’re a good nurse.”

Spike’s voice was gruff. “Yeah, well, had a bit of practice through the years, but that’s not important. What’s important is you lyin’ down and getting’ some rest. If you don’t, that fever could return. You need to give your Slayer constitution time to finish the healin’.”

“Before I sleep though, can you fill me in on our sitch? Where are we?”

Spike knew how stubborn the Slayer could be, so he pulled away and stretched out on the bed. “I promise I’ll fill you in, if you lie down and rest while I talk, okay?”

“Okay”

He was taken by surprise when she stretched out near him. He itched to touch her again but he opted not to risk it. “So, pet, what is the last thing you remember before wakin’ up here?”

Buffy wanted Spike to continue holding her. When she had awakened from the dream tonight and seen him leaning over her, she’d suddenly realized that she did had feelings for him, something had coalesced within her at that specific moment. She saw with complete clarity what type of man he was and how much she needed him. It had taken their reliance on each other to bring it to the forefront.

Buffy had an inkling that Spike felt the same way, but she knew that he would never make the first move. There was too much history between them, so it would be up to her to try. She’d just have to hope that he did feel the same way.

She slid closer, turned on her back and stared up at the painted pine ceiling. “The last thing I remember was standing on the top of the hill. How did I get here and where exactly is here? Is this a hotel or something?”

Spike stiffened when she moved and immediately relaxed again when she settled down next to him. He knew the Slayer wouldn’t really rest until she was comfortable with her surroundings, so he took a deep breath and told the entire story of carrying her to the river, meeting Kale and bringing her to the ranch. He even spilled about their

‘marriage.’ To his great relief, she merely chuckled at his improvisation.

Buffy grew serious, rolled on her side and placed her hand on his arm. “Spike, you carried me all that way to the river? Then sat up with me all night?” He’s the only one that would have been strong enough to do it. He saved my life. She searched his face. “I guess you were worried about keeping up your promise to watch my back.”

Spike, his eyes downcast, spoke quietly. “You were thrashin’ around and I didn’t want you to fall and hurt yourself even more.” Okay, mate, in for a penny, in for a pound. Here’s your chance to tell her. He raised his eyes and stared intently into hers. “I was worried about you, not my promise.” He took a deep unnecessary breath, let it out slowly and said quietly, “I was worried because I care about you.

Spike held an unneeded breath. He had finally decided to open his heart and now he anxiously waited to see if Buffy would slice it to ribbons. Was it only her unusual weakness and the frightening dream that had driven her into his arms for comfort or could this be the catalyst for something that she’d already felt?

When she didn’t reply right away, his heart sank again. Carefully he lifted her hand from where it rested on his arm, but before he could move away, a strong hand stayed the movement. He glanced up to see Buffy smiling softly. “Thanks for being honest.”

She reached over and touched his face. “I care about you, too.” She smiled wryly. “When I realized it a few moments ago, I was pretty sure I’d be way too scared to ever admit it.” She laughed lightly. “Nervous much?”

Spike, buoyed by her statement, chuckled. “Well pet, we do both have such stellar relationship histories.” He had the sudden twin urges to spout torrents of poetry and kiss her breathless, but there was a time and place for everything and this wasn’t it for either. He settled for lifting and kissing the palm of her hand.

He searched her exhausted face. “Buffy, I think with everythin’ that’s gone on tonight, and you nowhere near one hundred percent, we should rest awhile before you tell your story.” Smiling softly at her, he added, “I think we could both use some time to digest what’s been said here.”

Buffy sighed. She knew that as much as she wanted to talk to Spike about the black rider, she was utterly exhausted. Rest would be the smart thing and Spike was right; they could both use some time to process this sudden shift in their relationship.

She closed her eyes. It could all wait until morning. The black rider wouldn’t come back tonight, but he would come for her again. When he had reached for her tonight, his mind had opened briefly and Buffy had seen an overwhelming lust for her power. It scared her how easily he had overpowered her need to save herself, how ready she’d been to go to him.

Gazing at the blond spooned against her, Buffy knew the next time she faced the rider; she wouldn’t have to do it alone. As she settled into sleep, Buffy’s final conscious thought was of the joker from a deck of glowing cards.

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/186957.html

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