Greetings all! I’m so excited to be participating in yet another round of Seasonal Spuffy! Every round there’s such a great turn out. I love seeing the fandom still producing quality work season after season. I apologize that I don’t have more to offer myself. I had some additional fics in the work, but orders for training in a different part of the world came down, as can happen in the military, and my writing time got cut a little short. That said, I hope yall enjoy this fic, and I would greatly appreciate any comments and constructive critiques you have to offer.
Title: When She Kept Showing Up
Timeline: Post Season Five
“You can’t keep driving forever, you know.” She didn’t say it accusingly. There was no irritation or annoyance in her voice. It was just a statement. The saying of a simple, uncomplicated fact. “You’ll have to go back sometime.”
Spike nodded. “And I will. But not yet. Just a little longer.”
She fell silent, and the silence was so easy he had to glance out the corner of his eye to make sure she was still there. Buffy was so much easier to talk to now that she was dead.
She’d begun popping up about a week ago. It didn’t matter where he was – his crypt, at Willy’s, or on the occasional patrol. She’d be there as clear and detailed as though she was alive. Sometimes she’d show up right next to him. He’d turn around and poof there she was, pretty as you please. Like she’d been there the whole time. But the first time he saw her, the first time he simply stumbled across her. She was in Restfield. He’d been stumbling home, drunk and mumbling to himself, and the sight of her had knocked him dead sober. He’d stood stock-still, watching the phantasm pace, agitated, among the graves. She wove through the headstones in a rough circle, motions jerky with restrained energy. He’d tried to say her name, but all that came out was formless noise. She jerked towards him, eyes wide, and took one long look at him before disappearing. He’d rubbed his eyes, chalked it up to bad blood, and went home.
When she kept showing up, he figured he was just finally starting to lose it.
Spike drove east. He wanted to see that bright full moon shine over the desert. He had known the second he woke at dusk, that tonight was going to be one of the hard ones. One of the nights that made him wish like hell he could greet the sun in the morning. Thirty seven days after Buffy had done her swan dive off a building, he was just getting to the point where he could make it through a day sober. If he really wanted to, that is. Most of the time, he didn’t.
The Desoto sped smoothly and quickly over the asphalt, putting mile after mile between him and Sunnydale. The music was off and the windows were down, letting the wind whip through the vehicle. He wanted his head empty. He wanted to be as cold and spacious as that moonstruck desert. Spike took another long swig off the bottle of whiskey wedged between his thighs. His flask, emptied hours ago, rolled around somewhere on the backseat floor.
Every so often he shot a look at Buffy, making certain she was still around. Quick, greedy looks. She sat curled up in the passenger seat, sans seatbelt, hugging her knees. Jean shorts and a tank top even though it was cool outside. She was barefoot, and he just made out the shine of her small toenails in the darkness of the night.
Part of him wanted badly, so very badly, to stop the car and turn in his seat, and just look at her. Soak her all in. But he didn’t. Partly because he was afraid if he did, she would simply disappear. Like Orpheus leading his girl out of the underworld, so very desperate, but forbidden to look back at her. And partly, because if he didn’t look, didn’t give in to the part of him desperately clamoring to see her again, it was easier to pretend they were any other couple out for a moonlit ride. Just a man and a woman that could take any road they wanted. Follow whatever whim or wind that blew their way.
So he settled for glances. Little stolen glimpses of the gold and silver creature gracing his passenger seat. Silver because of the moonlight. Gold because that’s what she was. What she’d always been.
“Mm?” So much easier to talk to, now that she’s dead. To pretend this was another of his thousands of daydreams of what could’ve been, however vivid.
“Do you wish you still had that ring? That what was it… Gem. Gem of Amanda.”
“Amara. Gem of Amara.”
“Whatever. Do you wish you did?”
He knew his answer immediately. Knew it by heart. And because she was dead, and thus not really here, he told her just as quickly. “Somewhat. If I had the ring… would’ve saved Dawn.”
Dawn being the big euphemism for her. For saving Buffy.
“And I could go out in the sun. Thought about it a lot. I thought about…” he stopped, took an unneeded breath, reminding himself that she wasn’t really there, before continuing. “Thought about what it’d be like. Seeing you. In the sunlight. With my own two eyes and not in some photograph. Maybe in one of those little sundresses of yours. Touching you. Pushing your hair back and kissing your bare shoulders.” He stopped sharply, like the wind had been knocked from his undead lungs. He rubbed his brow with his thumb, and pressed on. “But it’s no use going back over things like that. If I’d changed something then, kept the ring, might never have ended up where I ended up. Helping you on the white hat side of things. Fighting at your side.” He smiled bitterly. “If only for a little while.”
“Are you still going to? Fight for the good guys?”
If she were alive, that would’ve pissed him off. But she wasn’t, and it didn’t.
“Made you a promise. I’ll watch over Dawn ‘til she doesn’t need me anymore. And maybe a bit more after that.”
“And after that? After Dawn?”
“After that… don’t rightly know. Time’s taken me to some pretty strange places.” He rolled his eyes and muttered under his breath, “Case in bloody point.” He felt her eyes on him, waiting. “But will I go Slayer-killin’ evil again? No.” Swiftly, he took another gulp from his flask. “Don’t think I have the stomach for that anymore.”
Spike stole another look at her. “You never wanted to hear these things when you were alive,” he said, catching the slight quirk of her lips upturned in a smile.
“I didn’t want to hear about a lot of stuff.”
With pale fingers, she traced the dusty lines of the glove compartment. “You know what I’m going to miss?” she asked eagerly. “I mean, besides everything,” she added, not waiting for him to reply. “Having mochas at the Espresso Pump with Willow. We would sit there for hours just talking about anything… school and boys and girl stuff. Oh! And Sunday mornings when Mom would make blueberry muffins for Dawn and me.”
Something in his throat clenched, and he wished he was empty, as cold as the desert. “Yeah,” she said, softly. “Those are the things I’m going to miss the most.”
“Buffy?” he started, voice thick. “Are you really here? Or am I… have I finally gone ‘round the bend?”
She looked at him, her smile still there, but it was sad. “What do you think?”
He swallowed. “I don’t know,” he answered truthfully, voice hoarse. “I don’t know.”
“If I was really here, what would you say?”
That was easy. He knew that like he knew blood was sweet and the sun would burn. He looked at her, scarcely paying attention to the road. “D’you think you could’ve ever loved me?”
He blinked, or she flickered, one or the other, he couldn’t tell, and panic seized him. But she kept on smiling that tender, sad smile. “I think… I don’t know. There was something there. I don’t know what, but something. A possibility.”
A ragged, desperate breath tore out of him and all pretense was abandoned. “I don’t think I can do this. Buffy, I can’t handle it. I need you, I miss you. Stay, just a little longer, stay and be real, please, I – ”
He had to touch her. Had to feel her in his hands, before she left him all over again.
He reached out, hand shaking.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/272965.html