Fic: ‘Turn and Face the Strain’ 6/15 by Quinara [strongish R]

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Turn and Face the Strain
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So here it is, the last instalment for today. Hope you like it!

ETA: I am now posting the next chapters of this story on my journal, since I don’t think I’ll have time to post them all on the free-for-all day. I’ll bring over one or two then, but if you want to get ahead…

Turn and Face the Strain.

[Sequel to The More Things Stay the Same and As Good as a Rest.]

When Buffy thought about falling in love again, she didn’t expect it to be nearly so complicated as it actually turns out to be.
Also, she didn’t expect it to be Spike. (She’s not sure he did either.)

Author: Quinara
Rating: R…? I’m not sure I even know anymore with ratings, but there’s sex in it and people swear lots and (gasp) I think there’s some underage drinking too, which probably needs to be censored. ;)
Length: ~80,000 words in total; ~33,000 words today; chapters are generally between 5000 and 6000 words.
Setting: Late S6, AU As You Were (and so much more! Not least in an AU AtS S3…)


Notes: Many thanks to the fabulous bogwitch for putting up with me and being my beta! This is the final story in a series I’ve written for the previous two rounds of seasonal_spuffy, consisting of The More Things Stay the Same and As Good as a Rest. I think what I’m posting today probably could stand on its own as a S6 AU, but I do follow up some stuff that happens in the previous fics, because it’s a sequel. The main thing is that Dead Things went differently and some stuff happened in LA. Other stuff happened around Buffy’s birthday.
Warnings: I don’t think this would need any of the AO3 listed warnings. I think the genre of this is much more of a drama-going-on-mystery-ish-adventure story, so it’s mostly in line with the show in terms of what it involves.

[Chapter One: I’m Not a Political Animal, But.]
/
[Chapter Five: How Do You Get to Say I’m the One Who’s Stinky?]

Chapter Six: After All, I Wasn’t Exactly Hiding.

She didn’t even think about the route to Restfield from her house, she just ran. If the others worked where she was going, if Kate told them, then that would be fine. But Buffy had to get there before – in case…

When it came down to it, she’d been trying very hard all day not to think about the state Spike would be in, left in his crypt all alone, if only so it wouldn’t influence her decision over what to do about him. Dawn had known, but Buffy hadn’t wanted to hear it, because she knew too, deep down. There would have been drinking, lots of drinking, if not to the point of incapacitation, and that meant –

There was too much risk, too much danger; she couldn’t think straight what might have happened if the eggs had hatched and Spike hadn’t been able to defend himself. It didn’t even matter that she’d been mad at him, or that this was his own fault – the possibility was too much, going too far.

Muscles burning with exertion, she slammed into the crypt like there was a hurricane behind her. It was dark, but the moonlight shone in, reflected off Spike’s hair where he was sat at the back of the upper floor. He didn’t have his boots or his coat on; his eyes were closed. In one hand he was holding the knife he kept by his bed – his other hand had red on it, was bleeding.

Bleeding?

The red ran in gashes up his arm and that was enough to make her dash over to him like she’d never left the night before. “Spike,” she demanded, “are you OK?” She could hear the panic in her voice as she dropped to a crouch.

Opening owlish eyes to stare at her, Spike certainly seemed conscious of the time that had passed. “Oh,” he began, looking at her like she was an apparition. After a moment, however, he visibly shook himself. “Nice of you to drop by,” he began again with more venom, sounding drunk – or as if he’d been drunk and had had a rude sobering up. “Think all limbs are present and accounted for, but you might want to…”

“The eggs,” she tried again, ghosting her hand towards the teeth marks on his arm. Obviously the eggs. “Are they…” She didn’t know what to say, couldn’t be sure what to do. At least he was alive. He was OK; her heart could stop beating quite so fast. “Did you kill them?”

As if she might have been making a cruel joke, then, Spike tilted his head and narrowed his eyes at her. But he didn’t seem find what he was looking for, so his gaze quickly dropped away, coming to focus on the slab of rock that covered the route downstairs. “No,” he said, sounding a little sick. “I didn’t.”

What was that about?

Oh, wait…

She heard it then: the scrabbling, gremlin-like sound coming from downstairs. Snarling, now that she listened; the sound of claws on stone and the –

Quite suddenly there was a crash, frenzied growling rising in volume before it fell away again. It was familiar, the sound of Spike’s bookshelves falling over, tumbling their contents to the floor. She’d knocked them over enough times to know exactly what that sounded like. This time, however, she knew it wasn’t likely the contents would survive.

“Are you…” Spike began, like he was trying to distract himself from the noise. At first his voice was soft, like he didn’t want to ask, but then he continued more firmly, as if she were some distant relative, “Have you been doing all right, then?”

As she met his blank eyes, the corner of her mouth crooked into a wry smile. There wasn’t much else for it, was there? That she’d run over here so fast was pretty much evidence enough, even without her kitchen epiphany. “No,” she replied straightforwardly, settling down next to him with a sigh. “Not really.” And that was what it came down to, in the end, the reason why she was back here now. So much for all her thinking.

Because Spike didn’t know how to not take a risk, he put his crusty, bitten arm around her shoulders. She may have leaned in, giving up. “I’ve been blind drunk,” he told her, as if it might make her feel better. “Wasn’t so fun.”

For some reason, he made her laugh. “I missed you,” she admitted, feeling the emotion squeeze inside her. Maybe it had only been twenty-four hours, but that really was enough. “You get why I was angry, though, right?” she had to ask all the same, look up at his face and hope that he did. It wasn’t in her to let it go completely. “Skeevy demon deals always go like this and they could’ve attacked someone else.” At least the wound on his arm felt like more crust than injury. “They could’ve really hurt you.”

“Didn’t though, did they?” Spike replied contrarily, rubbing the sole of one of his socks on his jeans.

She knew he was just saying that to get a rise out of her, she did, but… “You can’t retrospectively decide if stuff is good or bad, Spike,” she explained, her voice gone annoyingly soft and waspish. “It doesn’t work that way.”

Grinding his teeth, he pulled her closer into his side, as if he would understand her better if he could just get her close enough. “It wasn’t meant to be bad in the first place,” he groused, frustrated.

She sighed again, dropping her head onto his shoulder. Please, will you trust me on this? she thought, but didn’t want to ask it out loud. Not after their last conversation about trust, just in case he really did think all that stuff. She didn’t want to hear it again.

“What are we going to do now?” she asked instead, after a little while.

Apparently as happy to change the subject as she was, Spike shrugged. “Kill the demons, I suppose.” He still had the knife in his other hand, started turning it over. “Got any bright ideas?”

She didn’t. But she did have the cavalry, in the form of Riley, Sam, Kate and the Scoobies, who should have been nearly at the cemetery by now. Which, oh yeah, Spike didn’t know about. It was probably best to tell him. “So, uh, me not so much,” she worked through quickly, “but the guy who came into town tracking the demon who laid these things who just so happens to be Riley – he might?”

It took Spike a couple of moments to work out what she’d said. “Riley?” he spluttered eventually, disbelieving. She knew the feeling. “When did thatovergrown oaf get in?”

As usual with such comments, she thwapped him in the stomach to show her disagreement, but she didn’t do it very hard. He’d only called Riley an oaf, after all. It was the little victories that were important, and that was almost one of them. “He showed up this afternoon at the police station, but –”

Apparently two seconds was how long Riley got to sustain Spike’s interest, because he lost it immediately then. She meant to explain how he would be turning up any moment, but Spike caught ‘police station’ and interrupted with, “Oh, how’s that going?”

Of course, she thought: he was always going to be the first person to ask her that. “OK, I think,” she said, smiling at her hand on his chest – he really did feel kind of nice. Calming. The stress of the day was starting to dribble away from her, even though it made no sense for it would do so. “I don’t know how much Kate likes me”, she found herself saying anyway, “and I think Riley’s gonna steal our main case as a government thing once we tell him about it and you and everything. But I have a chair and some of a desk and I don’t smell of grease.” See? Victory.

“Don’t smell of grease, eh?” Without any more warning than that, she had a vampire nose messing up her hair, like a pig snuffling for truffles or something. Surprise brought a tittering sort of laugh from her throat, because apparently it was his calling to make her produce embarrassing sounds, but she didn’t mind too much. “Hmm,” he continued as she tried to duck her head away, lips murmuring behind her ear to make her squirm. What was she meant to call this bubbly, pleasant feeling, again? “Might need to do a more thorough investigation, just to be on the safe side…”

“Hey!” she insisted, not really trying to resist – the fear about him dying was wearing off and she was heading straight into appreciation that he was still around. At least until he teasingly bit down on her earlobe and she turned to face him straight on. “Stop that,” she said more firmly.

“Or what?” he challenged, and she had one or two very good ideas.

Unfortunately, the moment was broken by the sound of someone clearing their throat. Startled, they both spun towards the crypt doorway, and there, blocking out the light of the cemetery, were basically all of her friends, though Anya seemed to be absent. And Dawn, obviously. Willow as the one who’d coughed.

Oh… Joy.

“Well, that was disturbing,” Xander commented first, hopefully just to break the silence.

It wasn’t welcome all the same. “Screw you, Xand,” she said, half-joking, mostly embarrassed as she clambered with Spike to her feet. She was business-like, she was business-like, she was slayer-like and stepping away from the arm around her waist, right now. And straightening her hair. Ceasing all and any heart flutters.

Riley looked like he’d swallowed an accordion and someone was still playing it inside his throat. “Mouth closed, honey,” Sam told him and Buffy thought maybe she did like her after all.

“OK, so the eggs are here and they’ve hatched,” Buffy said, trying to just brush over that part entirely. “What’re we going to do?” She could take control if she wanted to, so she did, feeling pretty much healed enough that she could cross her arms in an imposing-type manner – that only required a bent elbow, after all. They needed a plan and she was going to come up with one. Even if Spike was starting to pout distractingly. “We’re talking lots of little critters in a combined space, so normal fighting isn’t going to cut it. We need…” As her eyes trailed to Riley’s utility belt, she had a feeling like she was about to answer her own question. Spike wasn’t going to like it, though – and not in a cute pouty way either.

Before she could suggest it out loud, however, Riley found his voice. “I can’t believe it was Spike this whole time!” he accused, as if Buffy should have told him and she hadn’t very reasonably been debating doing just that for five minutes before she’d had to run away. “The Doctor’s been here all along and you’re…”

The Doctor? The question cut into her mental self-defence quite suddenly, and for a moment she was plunged into panic. It was still possible that Spike was lying, in the end, and that she’d been utterly mistaken. She remembered him saying something, right before their quality session of fooling around in the sewers before her last few hours at the DMP… That had just been a coincidence, hadn’t it? One of Spike’s cheesy lines? What if –

Thankfully Kate was there to set everyone straight. “The Doctor’s in LA,” she said, not only sounding certain but completely unimpressed as well. “Do you government types not do any legwork at all?”

“Hey,” defended Sam. “It’s not always easy to keep up one hundred per cent when you’re tracking things across continents.” Riley was glowering; his wife rubbed his arm. “But, uh, thanks.”

Rolling her eyes, Kate continued, “You’ve got a plan, Summers?” Suddenly they were Starsky and Hutch.

It got Buffy’s mind back on track. Critters; combined space. Well, as far as she was concerned, the two added together to equal boom. “Uh, yeah,” she said, nodding towards Riley. “I’m thinking grenade.”

Riley himself was blinking, but his hand fell to a compartment on his belt. Xander interjected, “Hoo, mama,” at the prospect of explosives and Buffy shook her head, crossing the floor to take it.

Before she’d gone three steps, however, a cold hand fell around her wrist. “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Spike said as she turned around, shaking his head and, yeah, not pouting at all anymore. “You can’t be thinking, slayer…” His eyes darted to the gathered crowd, before he stepped in closer and lowered his voice to a hiss, addressing her alone. “Buffy, please,” he asked, incredulous. “Tell me you aren’t…”

“How else are we gonna fix this, Spike?” she hissed back, willing to take suggestions, but getting angry as she started to realise…

“There’s no need to blow the whole bloody place up!” He didn’t trust her. Good god, he really didn’t. How had she forgotten that from the night before? It hit her again and it was like the bottom of her stomach dropped away, because she could see it in his pleading expression, like he had no belief that she’d do the best thing by him, like she would choose options just to hurt him. Some stuff he’d said, maybe that had been made up, thrown out there, but this particular kernel of his feelings… It was real as anything could be.

So few minutes and yet here they were, arguing again. Wasn’t that inevitable? “If even one of those things gets out,” Buffy found herself insisting, almost like a sneer through her hurt, “it’s gonna be a bloodbath.” She thrust her right arm towards the downstairs entrance, glaring. “We have to end this now.”

Again he took the wind out of her sails, begging her, “Look, I know I’ve done wrong, but there’s no need to punish me like this.”

“I’m not trying to punish you!” she told him desperately. There wasn’t time to convince him, not now, not with everyone here, but what was she supposed to say? She just wanted him to understand. “Why won’t you believe me?” she asked, too aware that it was likely her own old mistrust she could see reflected in his eyes. “I don’t…” In the past, yes; in the recent past she would have done this, blown up his stuff to make a point – but now? How could she, when looking at his upset made her ache, and all she wanted was for his flinty eyes to soften?

“My whole life’s down there,” Spike replied nonetheless, not answering but cracking even more under her gaze, as if he was begging her to see what she already knew. “My clothes, my books, my music… My fucking coat’s down there, Buffy.”

God, that goddamn coat. It gave her the heebies, thinking about him stripping it from Nikki Wood – but he’d had it so long, hadn’t he? He loved it, he really did, bound himself up in what it stood for. She didn’t know how to think of him without it. “Spike, please,” she said, stepping closer to him and taking his hand. There was nothing more she could say, was there? He’d either see it or he wouldn’t. What do you want me to do?

For a moment there was nothing. He sucked in his cheeks, a muscle jumping in his jaw and she really thought they were going to go nowhere. She was going to have to do this on her own and it would all be over, everything. Because in the end, she would always have to do the slayerly thing, wouldn’t she? If he didn’t trust that this was it, that she was trying to be good to him as much as she was able to, then they were going to go nowhere. She knew he understood how she put slaying first, but if he didn’t realise she wanted him second, maybe third with Dawn first, how would they ever…

Holding her breath, she squeezed his hand and tried to force herself to let go. But then, in an instant, his shoulders were slumping, he was sighing and shaking his head. With a bitter expression he nodded towards the group gathered in the doorway and said, “I don’t want any of those tossers watching.” His eyes brooked no alternative, if she didn’t want to brand herself a traitor; she wasn’t even thinking about it, too full of a watery, slippery kind of hope. “Take them home and I’ll do it in my own time.” Without you, was the unspoken conclusion.

Someone was saying, “Buffy –” But she nodded, keeping her eyes on Spike and cutting them off.

If that’s what you need. And this was the terrible thing, wasn’t it, because she actually did trust him to do the right thing once he’d agreed to it. Somehow it had happened that way. “Riley?” she demanded, holding up her palm.

The grenade came to her hand. Spike took it, still with a challenge on his face.


When they got home, Buffy convinced everyone they should go to the Bronze. More accurately, it was Willow’s suggestion, because this had apparently been her and Dawn’s wonderful Sunday night plan anyway. The Bronze had special deals on cocktails and mocktails; it was possible Tara was going to be there. But Buffy went along with it and said that everyone should go have a nice time, if they wanted. Riley, Sam and Kate made noises as if they were going to vanish and discuss all the stuff Buffy only had to worry about between the hours of whenever her hours were gonna be, but that didn’t matter. It left her with an empty house. Same difference.

Waiting on the couch in the living room, Buffy wasn’t quite sure how she was going to react when Spike came through the door. He hadn’t said he was coming, but she assumed that he would, if only because of the bootlessness. She’d have to get Xander to bring over some spares so Spike could get to the mall or wherever…

What was he going to do now? If she thought about it, she didn’t have much of an idea, but they could figure something out, couldn’t they? He could stay in the basement to start with, at least – or, well, stay in the sense of nominally having a bed there in-between times when he wasn’t in her bed or hanging around the house. If he still wanted to share her bed, that was. And if she wanted to, obviously, but it felt pretty much like she did. Who was going to fill out the side she didn’t sleep in otherwise?

When he walked in through the unlocked door, she stood up. Spike usually rang the bell, presumably out of some lingering fear he’d be kicked out, but this time he strode straight into the hallway, turning to face her.

He looked remarkably like he hadn’t even tried to get downstairs and salvage anything: empty handed, free of wounds, generally de-crusted. Buffy – wasn’t even sure how she felt about that. Now that she thought about it, she’d been expecting it, but apparently had accepted he could do that if he wanted. “You didn’t try and save any stuff,” she observed, before she could hold it in.

Strangely enough, it startled him, like he hadn’t expected her to think that he would. “Thought about it,” he said, coming into the living room proper as she sat back down. “But then there was your voice in my head, yammering on about risks.”

Well, huh. “You know me,” she agreed as he sat down by her side, overcome by the strange, warm feeling of relief and respect, like he respected her. “Yammer, yammer, yammer…” It was the complete opposite of the ‘I don’t trust you’ feeling; it made her babble.

Snorting, Spike let silence fall for a while, thrumming his fingers on his knees. Still warm, she watched his face. Either what he’d done hadn’t sunk in yet, or he didn’t want to think about it, because his expression was bland, quiet. She couldn’t even imagine what it was like, throwing a grenade at your belongings. Probably he would tell her if she asked, but she didn’t want to, didn’t want to make him hurt.

“Where’s everyone else, anyway?” he asked eventually, like he wanted to start an entirely fresh conversation. Start over.

She really, really felt the same. “Out,” she replied.

Of course there was always the even more distracting alternative, which he proved as he casually threw out, “Fancy a shag?” Like she could take it or leave it and they could put this all aside for another day.

For a moment, she hesitated, not certain it was right of her to take distraction now. Everything was so up in the air; it had been such a long day and he was injured, her shoulder ached. But then…

“God, yes,” she admitted, giving in.

Immediately they were clambering towards each other, like so many times before. She straddled his hips and leaned in, kissing him like she’d wanted to since she’d entered his crypt. She had one arm hooked around his shoulders and the way his body met hers was like nothing else, breath charging through him, gasping out against her mouth. For some reason she was trembling, but she didn’t want to think about that right now; all she wanted was to feel him, feel what he was feeling, forget about anything bad.

The panic hadn’t fully faded, she realised nonetheless, staring down at his mouth as she rested her forehead against his. It was still in her, colouring every nerve with fluttering, fluffy white. There was nothing coy about the way he dragged her further up his thighs, absolutely nothing subtle in the way he ground her against the bulge in his jeans, and yet she was trembling as she kissed him again, every spark of excitement and arousal like a tremor of nervousness. “Tell me…” she whispered then, only asking, not demanding as she sought to calm herself down. “Tell me you love me?”

Of course, he didn’t get what she was asking, because he couldn’t read her mind. “How d’you bloody think I feel?” he asked back, suspicious, like she was trying to ruin their moment of escapism.

She accepted that and committed to kissing him once more, trying to promise that she didn’t mean any harm. Still she wondered, as his tongue moved across her lips and as she welcomed him with hers, what his love meant for him. She didn’t have his trust, she knew that much, but he always said she had this. Could it ever be enough? She tried to read the shapes of his mouth, feeling sounds and words she’d heard from him. The flick of his tongue on the ‘love’, the jut of his lips on the ‘you’, they were almost there, writing over her, but she couldn’t quite taste what they stood for.

Skin: that would help her, she thought, panic turning desperate as she clawed his t-shirt from his jeans and helped him scrabble at her buttons. This was another way of communicating, wasn’t it? If she kissed him at an angle she could push him back further into the cushions, bring herself closer. The feeling of him on her breasts was like cursive she was writing into him, the movement of his body guiding strokes and serifs – but… No. It wasn’t anything, all nonsense, doodles as she writhed in his hands and worked on, defeated his jeans.

The sensible, soul-like part of her brain knew she should stop this, take control of the situation and end it. She wasn’t going to find anything out this way. They shouldn’t be having sex on the couch, no matter how much she wanted it, because people had to sit here. She had to sit here with the Scoobies and watch TV and get on with her life, and if this happened then she would always remember. Spike had already made his home in her bed; was she letting him come down here as well?

Suddenly, then, she was dropping backwards, her legs yanked up to flail in the air as Spike’s mouth was nipping tonguey kisses at her stomach. She did nothing to resist. His fingers were on the fastenings of her chinos, fumbling them open and then pulling the material down her legs; thought evaporated. Blood rushed up towards her head and her eyes flew open, watching her right hand grapple for something to hold onto – it slammed into the contents of the coffee table because she couldn’t work out the angles upside down, swiped at magazines and squidged into nacho mess. So much for her control.

“Urgh,” she gurgled, shuddering, wanting up. Spike seemed to have other ideas, kissing up her bare legs like he wanted her to hook them around his neck, go for the most ill-advised sixty-niner ever; but she needed to see him, needed to be able to judge… As much as she preferred the view as she was pulled back in close, eye line working up from his knee to the fleshier part of his thigh, and as much as he made her gasp and writhe, this wasn’t what she’d signed on for. “Let me down, let me down!”she told him with words and kicks until he was laughing, guiding her hips back down his chest as she sat up, gasping with the uncertainty.

She meant to be angry, but… Oh. He was biting his lip, wickedness in every pale angle of his body. Even with her headrush, she was overcome, hiccoughs of his infectious laughter in her chest where heart squeezed from the sight of him.

It seemed like the moment, so she moved carefully. Yes, sex on the couch was happening, she told herself. Was there any other option? Again she wrapped her right arm around him, but she joined it with her rapidly more useful left hand around his cock. Kissing him close, she leant up onto her knees and then over him, settling with a shudder of pleasure, one adjustment and a sigh. His chuckles mellowed into moans and she held him closer, everywhere, rocking gently to send perfectly-formed frissons of pleasure through them both. It felt even more perfect than it should have been.

The sounds he made were reverent, his body so yielding beneath her. What is this? she thought as she closed her eyes, not entirely sure whose feelings she was feeling, what she was thinking about. Is this love?

“I love you, all right?” came the obstinate growl in her ear, accompanied by harder thrusts upward – because apparently she’d spoken out loud. And Spike thought she was still on the same question. “Fucking hell…” When he said it, though, she thought she could feel it, rumbling through his body where she held him and clutched every echo into her skin. There was calm, definitely calm, acceptance and connection. With his shoulder blades beneath her forearm, his arms curling up her spine – yeah, this was almost like completion and she wondered if that was what his love was: this shifting, gasping necessity.

Secure in his rolling hips, his soothing hands, she could relax herself around him, be gentle and let him be gentle back. That was definitely something and maybe he called it love, but… She knew it as trust, didn’t she? As she felt herself give way to him, softening and melting into the warmth of his hold, she knew that had been there for a while. Even as she whispered, “God help me,” she knew he’d shush the fear away, soothe tension up her back.

This time, however, for the first time, she wanted him to know that it was him doing this, his love that was setting her off. How else would ever believe her, if she kept the truth from him now? Her eyelids were fluttering and her head was filling full with dizziness, yet again, and the sound of her breathing, but she said it, “Thank – thank you,” then gulped as they kissed on.

Eventually it all came together. Her mouth opened to pull in one choked breath; her nose smooshed into his. Vertigo-bright warmth engulfed her. She couldn’t see much, but she could see blue, wide open vistas of it. “You’re amazing,” she promised him, herself, in something not a whimper, slumping into his hard body. “God, fuck, you’re really amazing.”

It made him chuckle, tenderness in every line of tension. “Should see you doing this,” was all he said, like a prayer, before he kissed her again and rolled them down onto the seat cushions of the couch, cosseting her into place and taking control. Obviously because she was still lost. “Perfect, you are, when you go again,” he swore, the words swirling in front of her eyes. “Can’t get enough of it.” His hands felt rough on her sensitised skin, but that was OK – she was starting to realise how he felt. “It’s like I’ve found you, really found the heart of you.”

I think you have. “I think you –” She cried out when he pushed fully back up into her, jerked awake as she arced into the couch. Still she was shaking, too much now, and one old part of her expected him to be looking down at her with vengeance, the cruel need to push her over the edge so he could get off himself. But there was none of it, only an expression of deep, nurturing desire, to accompany the pleasure rushing in behind that kick-start of a shock. She was captivated, so pulled him down for closer inspection, smelled the light scent of nicotine and vampire sweat in his hair.

I know you, she realised as he thrust again, every muscle in place where she felt them. Her mind was rattled, but she could recognise his, the way it worked, the way it animated movement and speech and all of this, the way it tried to be good. Clarity was coming out of nowhere. I think… She was trying too, wasn’t she? They were both trying. I… And it was a cliché to think this now, as he rammed cool flares of satisfaction through her, but she’d never done it before, had she? It didn’t seem fair not to tell him, just because of circumstance. It’s really you. She had to tell him, didn’t she? How else would he find out?

All of her attention shifted to forming shapes with her lips. Shaping breath into voice. Feeling him, she knew she had to beat him to the words, to their silence.

She could do it, couldn’t she? She could –

His face was blurry in front of her crossed eyes, but for a moment she could see him all the same, everything she couldn’t give up. That was the moment when Buffy stopped thinking anything – because she knew it all in her bones.

“I love you.”

It came out as a croak, but was nonetheless quite loud, her words echoing in the silent living room and the sudden stillness between them. In the panic of saying it, panic she knew now for what it was, her heartbeat picked up, a little faster than it even had been and diffusing her orgasm into a wild, cold pounding of blood through her heart and ears. Sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste all came back in a rush: her world reeked of Nacho Cheese Doritos and old, used underwear.

Oh, god; what have I done?

Spike was staring at her, paused over her with his elbows either side of his arms. Cold air was rushing between their bodies; Buffy could feel it on her breasts and could imagine it running over him. It didn’t feel good.

After a moment, it was as if he hadn’t heard her. He shook his head. “You – what?” he choked out in an avid whisper, sounding completely and utterly lost.

Clearly she would have to take control. Somehow. It was coming back to her body at least; her heart was slowing down and the bright, warm afterglow of her first time was still there in her muscles. “We can get back to the – you know,” she began in halting explanation, rising on her right elbow. It had to be OK, didn’t it? Even if she was afraid, he wouldn’t mind, he wouldn’t… “I didn’t mean…” Apart from that you did. “It’s just something I wanted to tell you,” she finished a little desperately, trying to remember the thought process. “I thought you should know.”

She could still see him, that was the terrifying thing. The inside of his thoughts ticking away like something beautiful, something she needed to never stop. “Oh, right,” he was replying, shellshocked. “Well – thanks.” For a moment her worry flared again into panic, yet again, because he was slipping out of her, softening, rolling onto his back by her side. Clearly he couldn’t take it, couldn’t accept…

But it was only a moment he needed to process, apparently, because immediately his left arm was catching her up and scooping her onto his chest. As he entangled their legs she met him for a long, heated smooch, almost sobbing with relief. “Is that OK?” she asked between kisses, her insides way too raw with worry. “Are we OK?”

He smiled as he smoothed a hand down her hair and she fell in love again, like she was dropping in an elevator. “Bloody yes,” he promised. You daft thing. “Bit of a shock is all.”

She’d picked a crap moment. Even as she basked in his radiant expression, felt radiant herself, she knew it. Everything was out of order and she was going to LA the next morning; he’d worry she didn’t mean it and she’d worry herself, forget, maybe, what it felt like until she remembered again.

But… She loved him. Actually, she did. She couldn’t hold that in forever, could she?

[Chapter Seven: By Letting You In.]

Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/803080.html

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