Fic: The Gift (3/3)

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Oops! I’m a few minutes past my posting day, but I wanted to get this last section up. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, and I hope you enjoyed the story.

Link to Part Two

“You… you did this for me?” Buffy sat up, wiping her face and looking at the vial Spike had given her. She gave him a hard glance. “I didn’t ask you to do this,” she said, her voice shaking, but this time from fury rather than sorrow. “I never asked you to do this!” She pushed him away and strode to the other end of the room, pacing back and forth. “You could have been killed,” she ranted. “Do you think my superpowers are more important than that? God!” She choked, and started crying again. “Spike, this was your reward! You shouldn’t have done that.”

Spike started chuckling. He couldn’t help himself. She was absolutely magnificent in her righteous indignation. He hadn’t seen her this full of life in months, and he felt a sense of lightness just watching her. No matter what her decision, she knew now what he was. The agony of imagining her reaction was finally over.

“No, you don’t,” he said firmly. “You don’t get to do that.” He rolled to his feet and leaned against the wall, watching Buffy pace. “I did this because I wanted to. Of course you didn’t ask for this, you silly bint. That’s why they call it a gift.”

Buffy stared at him, trembling, before throwing the vial across the room. He caught it neatly and tucked it back into his pocket, watching her carefully. She sank back down to the sofa, burying her face in her hands. “I can’t believe this is happening,” she muttered, her voice muffled. “Just when I’d finally…” She broke off and let out a bitter laugh. “Time to come clean, I guess,” she said, her voice dry and her face as white as bone. “Time for your present, Spike.”

Buffy walked over to the fireplace and grabbed a thick envelope from the mantle, twisting it in her fingers nervously.

“I was saving this in case you came back in time for Christmas,” she said. “I told you that I’d been doing a lot of thinking while you were away. It was… it was hard. Losing my powers, being a normal girl…it was a lot harder than I expected. And I know it wasn’t easy on you either.”

She looked up at Spike, and he gave her a soft smile. “You were better at it that I was,” he admitted. “Remember me after the Shanshu, trying to deal with being a human again? I was a mess, Buffy. I don’t know how you put up with me.”

She gave a wry smile. “I don’t know how you put up with me either. But I realized that it was something that we’d both gone through. I kept telling you to think of the Shanshu as a gift from the Powers, and…” she trailed off and shook her head. “I guess I decided to take my own advice. Maybe this was supposed to be something good, for both of us. What if it was the next step in our lives, and I was missing out on it by crying about what I’d lost?” She fingered the thick cream envelope and seemed to hesitate slightly before handing it to Spike. “I thought maybe it was time to give real life a try.” She nodded at Spike. “You can open it.”

After one last curious glance at Buffy, Spike lifted the corner of the envelope and slid the contents out into his hand. He caught his breath. “Oh, sweetheart,” he murmured, staring at what he held.

On the top was a picture of a beautiful beach house. The sun was shining down on a rocky beach, and in the background was the bluest water Spike had ever seen. Taped on top of the picture was a cutout of him and Buffy that he recognized from a trip to Rome to visit Dawn last year. They were standing in the sun smiling, their arms around each other. The two figures had been attached to the picture so that they were standing on the sand in front of the beach house. In case there was any doubt as to the meaning of the picture, Spike saw that Buffy had written “OURS!” with a marker in big bold letters, an arrow pointing to the house. Beneath the picture were two plane tickets and a set of what appeared to be legal documents.

“Oh,” he whispered, his heart breaking. “Buffy…”

“Not a big deal,” Buffy said airily. He didn’t think she even noticed the tears rolling down her cheeks. “It was just…it was just something I thought of. I thought this was supposed to be our chance to have a normal life together in the sun — no demons, no vampires, no fight against evil. I thought that maybe we were both finished, and this was supposed to be our reward.” She sniffed and scrubbed at her eyes furiously. “I know you said once that you’d given up dreaming of the house with the picket fence. But I thought…well, maybe this would be more our style. It’s in Monterey. Do you know how much cash the Council has socked away?” She gave him a watery grin. “Even after everything that happened, Giles wanted me to stay on to advise the Slayers. I convinced him to give me early retirement. I figured the Council owed me one.”

Without further thought, Spike reached up and pulled Buffy onto his lap. She straddled him, hugging him tightly, and he rocked her slowly as they both cried. They sat there, silent except for comforting murmurs, until the fire started to flicker and die. Buffy finally pulled back, her face blotched and puffy but her eyes clear.

“You can still have it, you know,” Spike murmured. “Forget the potion. You can take that early retirement, have the normal life.”

Buffy shook her head fiercely. “Not without you,” she said, her voice husky.

“Well, the beach may not be the ideal location for a vampire, but we could probably make do.” He hugged her again, tangling his fingers in her hair and tilting her face so he could land a soft kiss on the corner of her mouth. “God, I’m so sorry.”

“I’m not,” Buffy said after a long moment. “It’s just… part of the weirdness of us, I guess.”

“Plenty of that to go around,” Spike said, and Buffy let out a bark of laughter. He felt her fingers digging into his pocket, and he straightened out to give her easier access. She extracted the vial and held it up to the light curiously.

“I meant what I said, you know,” he said quietly. “It’s your decision. Either way, I’ll be with you to the end. You know that.”

“Yes,” Buffy said, caressing his face gently as he leaned into her touch. “I know.”

***

“Oh, God,” Buffy moaned, stretching contentedly. “That was… wow. And the thing with the…did I mention wow?” She gave a soppy grin and fell back on to the bed. Spike curled contentedly around her, stroking her breast and dropping kisses on her face.

“Not too bad,” Spike said smugly. “Looks like I’ve still got it.” He eyed Buffy curiously as she lay flushed and panting. “How you feeling, love?”

Buffy blinked thoughtfully. “Okay, I think.” She pulled Spike into a tight hug, then quicker than a flash flipped him on the bed so that she sat straddled on top of him. “Definitely okay,” she said with a smug grin and a wiggle of her hips.

“Looks like you’re back,” Spike said, caressing her hips with a smile. “Any regrets?”

Buffy shook her head decidedly. “Nope. I guess I’m back in business.” She moaned as she felt him harden beneath her, and she switched her hips slowly back and forth. “I guess you are too,” she said breathlessly, then gasped as Spike pulled her down to lie next to him.

“I have to ask…” Spike said, then trailed off.

“What?” Buffy asked. She looked at Spike closely, and her face softened. “It’s not better,” she said quietly.

“What isn’t?”

“The whole human vs. vampire thing,” she answered. “It’s not better with you as a vampire, and it’s not worse either. It’s just… different. But it’s still you, and that’s the most important thing. Does that make sense?” Spike nodded, in awe that she was able to read him so well. “I loved you as a vampire,” she whispered, dropping a kiss on the tip of his nose. “And then I loved you as a human, and now I love you as a vampire again. You’re still you, and you’re the man I love.”

He wasn’t able to answer her, instead pulling her down for a long kiss. Having his supernatural powers back was… exhilarating. He could taste her, feel her, sense her, in a way that he’d never been able to as a human. But at the same time, he wasn’t able to share her breath, or hear the pounding of his own heart, or feel their mingled sweat run over his body. Ultimately, it was a trade-off, and he was grateful for the experience of truly having Buffy, in every sense of the word.

“Same goes for you,” he said. “I’m in love with the girl, not the powers. If you’d never taken that bloody potion? I wouldn’t have loved you a whit less, and I never would have left you.” She gave a half shrug, and he shook her lightly, forcing her to look at him. “You know that, right?”

“Yeah,” she said with a small smile. “I know. I just… I still can’t believe what you’ve done, Spike, what you gave up. That’s an amazing gift to accept, and… I just wish I could give you something in return.”

Spike gave her a tender smile. He knew something she didn’t, and it was something he hadn’t been sure of until they were making love. When he’d first come in, he’d noticed that her scent seemed subtly different — richer, more vibrant. He’d chalked it up to the effects of the curse, but now that her body was free of it, he knew for sure that it was something else instead.

Maybe there were some miracles that didn’t have to be bargained for.

“You’ve already got another present for me,” he said, leaning down to kiss her and resting his hand on the flat of her lower abdomen. “I’m guessing it’s something we gave to each other before I left.”

Her eyes widened and she gasped, twining her fingers with his. “What?” she said faintly. “Are you saying… are you sure?”

He laughed at her stunned expression, shaking his head in mock disgust. “You modern girls. Don’t you know the workings of your own bodies?” He lowered his head and breathed into her ear, feeling her tremble. “I can smell it on you, Buffy, even if you don’t know it yet.” He pulled back to look at her beautiful, laughing face, wanting to freeze this moment forever.

“Happy Christmas, Slayer.”

THE END

[A/N: Whew! It’s over. That’s probably the most unrepentantly soppy thing I’ve ever written, which only seems right for a Christmas fic, so I’m reveling in the rampant sentimentality.

First of all, thank you to makd for getting me on the right track by suggesting a Christmas story. And as some of you have realized, I owe a huge debt to O. Henry and his Christmas story,  The Gift of the Magi. I wanted to do a Spuffy twist on that classic tale. Finally, thank you to everyone who has read and commented. I appreciate it very much.]

 

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/8275.html

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