It looks like it’s my day, and I have some fic to share. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you, as always, to enigmaticblues.
Title: The Fall of the Year
Summary: We grow. Life happens. Things fall apart. Post-series, about ten years after Chosen.
Water spiraled down the drain in a hypnotizing swirl, catching the pale grey of the predawn light that crept in through the window. Buffy watched it for a long minute, her eyes unfocused, before reaching across and throwing the wall switch. The ancient garbage disposal rattled to life for a couple of seconds, then let out a mournful clank and gave up the ghost. She grit her teeth and counted to five to avoid punching a hole through one of the cabinets.
It worked. Barely.
The front door slammed shut and Spike ambled into the kitchen, dropping a pair of knives onto the counter. Buffy cast a jaundiced eye at the lightening sky outside.
“Cutting it pretty close, aren’t you? Sunrise is about ten minutes away.”
Spike shrugged, collapsing bonelessly into one of the chairs.
“I always make it,” he said.
Until the day you don’t, you idiot. She held her tongue and grabbed the knives, wiping them clean with more vigor than was strictly necessary. “The disposal’s not working again,” she said. The words fell into the silence like withered leaves, dry and weightless.
“What do you want me to do about it?” Spike’s head was tipped back, and he was contemplating the ceiling as if it held the answers to all the mysteries of the universe.
“I don’t know. Fix it?”
Her voice was sharper than she meant it to be, but she couldn’t seem to modify her tone. She could smell the beer on Spike’s jacket, and it caused something inside her to tighten in on itself.
He raised his head and regarded her incredulously. “Fix it?” he echoed? “Not exactly Mr. Handyman, am I?”
“You know what I mean,” she snapped. “I’m not saying you personally. Just…can you take care of it?”
“Fine,” he shrugged. “But I don’t know why you’re asking me to do it. You know I’ll just muck it up.”
There was an edge to his voice, something there that made the knot in her stomach tighten further.
“I don’t have time for this,” she muttered, throwing the dishtowel onto the counter next to the gleaming knives. “The girls are picking me up in a few minutes. We’ve got an early flight to Dallas to take care of that coven I told you about.”
He stared at her. “Again? You just got back two days ago! I thought we’d….” He trailed off. “Never mind.”
She bit her tongue, hard, but couldn’t stop the words from spilling out. “What? Say it. Because you seemed pretty anxious to run off when Angel needed help last week. You didn’t even bother to tell me before you left!”
Spike glared at her, and suddenly she was twelve years old and listening at her parents’ bedroom door as they fought over everything and nothing.
“Fine, Slayer,” he said tightly, and she winced at the seldom-used title. “I guess you know best what’s important to you.”
She felt a rush of fury, wild and potent, that lit her insides with the unfairness of it all.
“You know what I am,” she said, voice low. “You’ve always known.”
He held her gaze for a long moment, then turned around and slumped over the table.
“Yeah,” he said tonelessly. “I know.”
She stared at him helplessly, knowing that something important had just happened but completely unsure of what to do about it. I have a job to do, she wanted to cry. Why are you doing this to me now? A tendril of doubt wriggled through her brain, leaving drops of poison in its wake. You should have known this would happen. You’ll always drive them away in the end.
Spike sat hunched over, scratching at a cut on his right hand. Had he just gotten that tonight, or had it been there before? She couldn’t even remember. When had she forgotten to look?
You were one who was supposed to understand, she thought helplessly.
From the road outside their house, a car horn beeped.
“I’ll be back in a couple of days,” she said to his back, unwilling to leave with things so unsettled between them. “We’ll talk then, okay?”
She gave him a minute, but he never turned around. She grabbed her bag and left then, knowing that they wouldn’t talk about anything when she got back. As she drove off with the carful of young Slayers, she realized with a dull pang that she hadn’t kissed him goodbye.
“Where were you?”
Her voice was more dull than accusing, but he bridled at it all the same.
“Taking the kiddies on patrol. We ran into a nest of vamps, and there turned out to be more there than I planned on. We took them out, though. No need to thank me.” He sat on the bed, stretching his legs out in front of him without taking his boots off, even though he knew it drove her crazy. “What, are you mad I didn’t leave any for you?”
Her eyes narrowed, and for a second he was terrified that she was going to start crying again. Her voice shook.
“You missed Giles’s memorial service.”
“….oh,” he said, deflating instantly. While it was true that clearing the nest had taken longer than he’d thought, he’d completely forgotten about the bloody service. One year to the day since her Watcher had been killed by a warlock, and how could he have possibly forgotten something that meant so much to her? He could have left patrol early, let the Slayers handle the cleanup. “God, I’m sorry,” he muttered. “I would have been there if I….”
She silenced him with a kiss, tugging at his shirt until he lay next to her on the bed. He wondered if he should ask her to talk about it, but he knew in his bones that she wouldn’t want to. Her kisses were dry and desperate, barely touching his skin before moving on.
“Are you sure?” he asked, even as she pulled her tank top over her head. She nodded, sliding underneath him and opening her legs for him to lie between.
It had been a while since they’d had time for this, and he felt, somehow, out of sync. She gave a long sigh when he entered her, wincing as he leaned his elbow on her hair. He pulled away with a muttered apology, starting a slow rhythm that she tried to match. But something was out of joint, some connection misfiring, and he couldn’t quite match his push to her pull. She seemed to give up and simply clung to him, turning her face away and closing her eyes.
“It’s okay,” she said under her breath. “You can finish.”
He reared back, offended, ready to tell her off, but something in her closed face stopped him. She tightened her arms around him, fingernails digging into his back, and he came despite himself, panting into her hair.
He pulled away as soon as he was done, lying on his back and staring disbelievingly at the heavens. Buffy curled on her side, her back to him. He knew she hadn’t come, and his inner beast roared with wounded pride. He wanted to throw her on her back and give her a seeing to that would have her sobbing his name, whether she wanted it or not. He didn’t, of course. He wasn’t that kind of man. Not anymore.
“What’s happened to us?” he asked the ceiling.
He suspected she was still awake, but she didn’t answer him. Suddenly restless, unable to help and unable to lie there next to her any longer without helping, he got to his feet and threw on his clothes. There were a few hours left before sunrise, long enough to find something else to kill.
He glanced over his shoulder before he left the room, and sure enough she was awake, staring blankly at the wall. He turned away, pausing for a moment on the threshhold at the faint whisper that came from the bed. As he took the stairs, he wondered if she had actually meant for him to hear her.
Don’t let me disappear.
Buffy ducked under the sword that swung over her head from the demon on the left, kicking it in the knee and bringing her knife down on its wrist for good measure. It howled and dropped the sword, belting her across the face with its free hand. She could feel its claw rip open her cheek.
That had better not scar, she thought as she flew through the air, and then she hit the ground, hard. She didn’t even have breath to moan, and she grabbed her chest and tried to force air into her lungs.
By the time she rolled to her feet, Spike was fighting two of the demons at once. The one she’d injured was heading toward her, obviously in the mood to finish her off.
“Stay there!” she called to Spike, rolling to her feet and hefting her knife. She took aim and threw, and the knife flew straight and true into the back of one of the demons attacking Spike. It collapsed with a scream, arms twitching as it attempted to pull the knife out of its own back. Spike nodded his thanks, then dove under the swing of the other demon to grapple it to the ground.
Whatever these things were, they were hard to kill. Given that Spike didn’t seem to have a clue what they were either, she suspected they’d have a long night of research ahead of them, just in case this turned out to be something apocalypsy. Once they were finished killing them, that is.
The wounded demon had reached her, dragging its sword in its good hand and baring its teeth. Saliva dripped from its fangs, and she wrinkled her nose. With her luck, she’d wind up with it on her shoes, and that stuff never came out of suede. Holding herself at her full height, she waited for it to rush her.
As she had suspected, it was moving sloppily now that it was hurt. She waited until the last second and then ducked, grabbing hold of its elbow and pulling – hard. The sword swung wild, and the demon tripped and fell directly onto it. It rolled onto its back and gurgled in pain, pulling the sword out of its own chest. It fixed its bloodshot eyes on Buffy and swung the sword angrily at her one last time. She jumped back, feeling the sharp pain that ran down the entire length of her right arm, and then it was dead.
They were all dead, in fact. The night was silent, except for the sound of her gasping breaths and Spike’s quiet swearing as he shoved one of the dead demons off himself and clambered to his feet.
“Not a bad night’s work,” he offered, giving her a grin. “You hurt badly?”
Buffy shook her head, frowning when the motion made her stumble to one side. She collapsed onto her knees and blinked her eyes against the sudden dizziness that engulfed her. She could hear Spike swear again and rush to her side, grabbing her shoulders while he looked her over closely. The burning in her right arm had become more intense as the adrenaline wore off, and she shakily raised her arm to see a long, deep cut that ran the length of it, from elbow to palm. Her eyes fixed on the blood that ran from her wrist.
Huh. Is it supposed to gush like that? I don’t think that’s normal.
She knew vaguely that she should probably try to stop the bleeding, so she closed her left hand around her wrist. Blood dripped from between her fingers onto the ground below, and she could hear the faint, spattering drops as they fell onto the withered leaves. Spike, meanwhile, had ripped off his overshirt and torn it into several long pieces. He pulled her fingers away from her wrist and replaced them with his own, his nostrils flaring from the smell of her blood. Quickly he tied the shirt around her wrist and lower arm, knotting the material so tightly that she couldn’t help but wince.
“Come on,” he muttered, rising to his feet and swinging her into his arms like a child. It was the first thing he’d said since he saw her injury, and that frightened her more than anything else. He took off at a run and she lay back against his chest and closed her eyes. She thought the bleeding had stopped, at least, although she couldn’t be sure.
Spike was breathing in little gasps, strong arms holding her gently as he ran over the dirt roads. Was he taking her to the house they’d been staying at for the last two weeks? She hoped so. It wasn’t like there was a nearby hospital anyway, not in this remote location.
“It’s okay. It’s okay.”
She wondered who was talking, and realized she was saying it over and over. “It’s okay,” she whispered, lips numb, as Spike raced onward. He looked down at her once, his heart in his eyes, and then they were back at the safe house and he was laying her gently onto the couch.
He placed a call to the Council while he cleaned her up with their first-aid kit, telling them they’d find a way to get there within the hour or they’d have him to deal with. He’d cut her shirt off her to deal with her arm, and she vaguely hoped he’d remember to cover her up before the Watchers got there. There was no way they were getting a free show. She smiled fondly at him while he cleaned the long cut and wrapped her arm until she looked like a mummy. Silly boy. Hadn’t she told him it would be alright? The bleeding had indeed stopped, and although she knew she’d have to do some rehab on that arm, the worst was over. She’d lost more blood than this before and lived to tell the tale.
“Thank you,” she said softly, cupping her left hand around his cheek. He was shaking, his eyes wide now that he had nothing to do with his hands, and without a word he raised her up and crushed her to him, being careful of her arm. She wound her good arm around his head, pressing kisses to his head while he nuzzled her bare chest.
“Yes,” she whispered, feeling him take a nipple in his mouth. “Oh, please, yes.” Euphoria.
His fingers bit into the bare skin of her back as he took his comfort from her breasts, urged on by her murmurs. She could feel him hard and ready beneath his jeans, cradled as he was between her legs, but he didn’t make a move to remove either his pants or hers. She ran her fingers through his hair and held him tightly against her, humming softly as she rocked the ache between her legs away. He moved with her, rubbing against her as she rubbed against him, and she felt him stiffen as he found his own completion. It was purely about comfort, affirming her life and theirs, and it was somehow the most intimate thing she’d ever done while still being partially dressed.
She stared at the ceiling, light-headed and serene, the pain in her arm a dull ache in the back of her mind. She ran her fingers over his neck and back, unable to stop touching him. He pulled away slightly and gave her a brilliant smile, stooping to nuzzle against her lips.
“Just so you know, I fixed the disposal.”
She looked at him blankly. “Huh?”
“The disposal. I fixed it. And by ‘fixed’, I mean, ‘offered Xander beer to fix it.’ It should be working by the time we get back.”
She couldn’t help it. Her face cracked in a wide smile, and within seconds she was laughing loudly, helplessly, too weak to stop herself. Spike was giggling too, and she held him close to feel him vibrate against her. Tears came into her eyes as she laughed, and he looked concerned at the weepy smile she gave him.
“I’m sorry,” she croaked. He tried to shush her, but she shook her head. “I don’t know how you put up with me sometimes.”
He looked shocked at that. “Because you’re you, Buffy. And because you put up with my sorry ass – for which I’m grateful beyond words, by the way. I love you, and I wouldn’t want you any other way.”
“For better or for worse,” she joked, then widened her eyes at the loaded phrase she’d subconsciously used and glanced over at him to see his reaction. He was looking at her in awe, a tender smile curving his lips.
“Exactly,” he whispered, kissing her gently.
He was still smiling when he pulled away, and they stared at each other for a long moment while the whir of an approaching helicopter filled the air. She pushed him away from her gently, smiling at his pout.
“It sounds like the cavalry is here. Give me a shirt, and you’d better find some new pants. It’s time for us to go home.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/361935.html