- Fic: The Distance Between Us (1/11)
- Fic: The Distance Between Us (2/11)
- Fic: The Distance Between Us (3/11)
- Fic: The Distance Between Us (4/11)
- Fic: The Distance Between Us (5/11)
- Fic: The Distance Between Us (6/11)
- Fic: The Distance Between Us (7/11)
- Fic: The Distance Between Us (8/11)
- Fic: The Distance Between Us (9/11)
- Fic: The Distance Between Us (10/11)
- Fic: The Distance Between Us (11/11)
Title: The Distance Between Us
Summary: Nineteen years after leaving Sunnydale, Spike encounters a startlingly familiar young woman fighting vampires in the alleyways of London – a young woman who holds the key to both his past and his future.
It was with cautious steps that Buffy entered Spike’s apartment. She didn’t know why Spike had invited her or why she’d agreed to come. She was filled with an odd combination of fear and anticipation. She wasn’t quite sure which one was worse.
“The loo’s in there,” Spike said, as he cocked his head toward a half-open door on one side of the room, “if you wanna freshen up.”
“No, I’m good for now. Thanks.” Buffy sighed heavily and looked absently about the room.
It was a surprisingly nice place. A studio apartment. Not too extravagant or anything; just clean, neat, and functional. It was sectioned off into three separate areas; kitchen, living room, and bedroom. And no matter where Buffy stood, she couldn’t help but be painfully aware of the comfy looking double bed pushed up against the far wall.
She heard Spike close and lock the door behind her. “Are you hungry?” he asked.
“Yeah, you know, as in food? I’ve got some leftover Chinese takeaway if you’re interested.” He moved toward the kitchen and stopped at the refrigerator door, waiting for her answer.
“Sounds great,” she said with a total lack of enthusiasm, as she dropped her bag onto the couch in the center of the room. “I haven’t eaten since yesterday. Unless you count those two bags of airplane peanuts. But I don’t think they count. Airplane peanuts are not food.”
“No arguing with you there pet.” Spike turned toward the fridge and began rummaging around for the leftovers.
Buffy knew there was nothing she could do to help, so she sat down at one of the stools on the other side of the kitchen counter and watched Spike.
Seeing him again had been a complete shock to her system. Talking to him had been even worse. So many times over the years, she had imagined what it would be like. She had never imagined it would be like this.
The truth was, his first reaction had been the one she’d been expecting. She had expected him not to believe her, about Willow or her feelings. What she hadn’t expected was this odd offer of friendship. She didn’t know what Spike was doing. Maybe he just felt sorry for her. Maybe he just thought she was the most pathetic thing in the world and he was just trying to give her some comfort. It seemed like an odd gesture. So many times she had accused Spike of being less than human, and now, here he was, offering her the simple human comforts of food and shelter. She knew she had underestimated him again. She always had. Maybe she deserved to be punished for her mistakes. After all, she had brought this all on herself.
Spike quickly heated up the Chinese food and made up two plates. He then poured her a glass of red wine and himself a nice glass of warm blood, and sat down across from her at the counter.
It was a quiet dinner, mostly spent stealing furtive looks at each other. He hadn’t changed at all, not in nineteen years. Of course, Spike was a vampire, so that wasn’t so surprising. Still, Buffy had expected to see some change. But Spike was still Spike. It made Buffy feel painfully old. Spike had stayed the same, but she had aged almost twenty years. Of course he didn’t want her anymore. He could have any woman he wanted. Why in the world would he still want her after everything she’d done to him?
“Not hungry?” Spike asked, looking pointedly at her half-full plate.
“Sorry,” Buffy offered. “It’s been a long couple of days. I haven’t been to sleep in almost forty-eight hours. I guess I just don’t have much of an appetite.”
“Why don’t you try to get some sleep then?”
“Yeah.” A knowing smirk momentarily graced Spike’s lips, but he was quick to suppress it. “You can have the bed, I’ll take the couch.”
“Oh.” There was absolutely no way to hide the disappointment from her voice. Spike didn’t seem to notice. Or at least, he pretended not to notice; his oh-so-subtle way of letting her know that he wasn’t interested. It made Buffy feel even smaller.
Painfully self-aware and desperate to get away from the rejection, if only for a moment, Buffy pushed herself off the stool and walked toward the couch. “I’m gonna get ready for bed, okay?”
“Sure. Fine.” Again, he seemed not to care.
Buffy inhaled a girding breath and reached for her bag. A second later, she retreated into the bathroom, closed the door and let out a sharp breath.
She felt like the world’s biggest fool. She should never have agreed to come here. It was beyond torture. She couldn’t be close to Spike without wanting Spike. And he simply didn’t want her. How was she ever supposed to make it through the night?
Buffy quickly changed into her sleepwear. In all the years that had passed, her taste in clothes had never changed. She was still wearing tank tops and pajama bottoms to bed. Of course, if she’d had any idea that she might be spending the night in Spike’s apartment, she would have brought something much more frilly and feminine, but she hadn’t known. So a tank top and pajama bottoms were just going to have to do.
When Buffy had finished with her evening routine, she packed everything up in her bag and left it on the side of the tub. Then she squared her shoulders and somehow willed herself to open the door. When she entered the larger room, she found Spike laying out a blanket for himself on the couch.
“Did you find everything alright?” he asked, like she was just an ordinary houseguest, and he an ordinary host. “Toothpaste, soap, towels?”
“Yeah, everything was fine. Thanks.” Buffy just stood there watching him as he fluffed up the couch pillows and got his bed ready. It was bizarre, this little domestic routine they were playing. It was oddly unsettling. Buffy needed to do something, but what?
“You know,” she began, before she could stop herself, “that couch is probably too short for you. Maybe I should take it instead, and you can take the bed.” Please don’t say yes. Please don’t
say yes, Buffy silently prayed. She knew Spike had a bit of an old-fashioned streak, being Victorian and all. He would never let a guest – particularly a female guest – take the second best bed. At least, that’s what Buffy was counting on.
“Nah, it’s fine,” Spike replied. “I don’t mind. I don’t plan to get much sleep anyway.”
“Why? Is something wrong?” Buffy was slightly hopeful that he intended to stay up all night, thinking about her. But of course, she was wrong.
“No, nothing’s wrong. I’m nocturnal. Or had you forgotten? Don’t ever get much sleeping done after the sun goes down.”
Now Buffy felt both small and stupid. Of course. It hadn’t been that long. How could she forget that Spike hardly ever slept at night? Maybe she would just chalk it up to a very long and stressful day. She didn’t have much choice.
“Right,” she breathed out quietly in answer. “Well, goodnight then.”
Buffy meandered toward the bed. When she reached it, she ran her hand lazily over the duvet, enjoying the feel of the fabric against her fingertips. She was going to sleep in Spike’s bed, and whether he was there with her or not, it meant that she might finally get a decent night’s sleep for the first time in a long time.
“Somethin’ wrong Slayer?” Spike asked, after she just continued to stand there, staring lazily down at the bed.
“No, I . . . I was just thinking. This bed is really pretty large, and I don’t take up all that much space, so if you wanted to—“ She looked up at him and found him staring at her with cold, disbelieving eyes. It stopped her in midsentence. She gulped down a breath and hastily mumbled, “Or not.”
“You want me to share the bed with you?”
“Well, not if you don’t want to. I just thought—“
“You thought . . .?”
“I thought you’d be more comfortable there. That’s all.”
“Sleeping next you?” he laughed. “Hardly.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Buffy asked indignantly, putting her hands on her hips and rounding on him.
“Oh, you don’t know? Come on Slayer, you’ve never been as naïve as all that. Don’t go playing the ignorant virgin now. It’s very unbecoming.”
Buffy seriously wanted to slap him. Not just for insulting her, but for insisting on calling her “Slayer” again. He hadn’t once called her Buffy yet, and it was really starting to irk her.
“Well, I’m sorry if you took my trying to be nice as some kind of unseemly offer. It wasn’t. I just thought you might want to be comfortable while you slept. But forget it. I hope you wake up with a backache that won’t go away for a week. It’s the least you deserve.”
Buffy turned in a huff before Spike could say anything, and slid under the covers, pulling them up to her nose so that she could no longer see him. She just wanted to go to sleep. She didn’t want anything from him anymore. Just some peace and quiet. Of course wanting peace and quiet from Spike was like wanting peace in the Middle East. She could want to her heart’s content, but it was never going to happen.
She heard him approaching the bed and her pulse instantly quickened. Stupid, stupid heart, she thought. Stop beating like that for Spike. He doesn’t deserve it.
But of course he did deserve it. And of course, her heart would beat like that for no other. Buffy stayed perfectly still, waiting to see what he would do.
“Move over Slayer,” he commanded, as he tugged up the corner of the duvet.
“I’m sorry, there’s no room at the inn. You’ll have to sleep somewhere else.”
“Alright then, have it your way.”
Buffy thought he was going to leave, but instead he just climbed over her and got under the covers on the far side of the bed. He put his arms behind his head and lay back on the pillow with a contented sigh. “This is nice. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever really appreciated this bed till now. Then again,” he said, glancing down at Buffy, “I’ve never had anyone as beautiful as you in it before.”
She knew it was supposed to sound flirtatious, seductive, but all it made her think about was all the women who had been here before her. It made her want to jump out of bed and spend the night on the couch herself.
“You’re awful quiet,” he said, when she didn’t respond.
“What would you like me to say? That I’m flattered that I’m more attractive than the nasty, vampire skanks that you normally bring home? Sorry, just can’t muster enough gratitude for that.” And in a huff, Buffy turned over, giving Spike her back.
“That’s not what I meant,” he said quietly. “I’ve never had a woman in this bed before. I just . . . I don’t know.”
He sighed again and Buffy was strangely tempted to turn over and look him. But she didn’t. She had some pride left; what little of it there was.
They both lay there like that for a long time, neither one speaking, but neither one sleeping either. Finally, Buffy couldn’t take it anymore. She had to say something. “Why won’t you call me Buffy?” she asked softly.
“’Cause it hurts. It hurts to let myself think I’m close to you, when I’m really not. Easier just to keep you at a distance now, and not go there.”
“Why? You know how I feel about you.”
“I hope so.”
Buffy held her breath, waiting for him to say something, anything. But he didn’t. Instead, he moved up behind her, wrapping his arm around her waist and holding her close. She instantly burst into uncontrollable tears.
Buffy turned around within Spike’s embrace and he gathered her up against him, allowing her to cry against his chest. It felt so unbelievably good to be in his arms again. To be held by him. To be safe and warm and not alone.
It took Buffy a long time to cry herself out. By the time the tears had completely dried, Buffy was fast asleep.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/366035.html