Forget and Smile – Chapter Fifteen

This entry is part 15 of 16 in the series Forget and Smile
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This is the last chapter, but there are a couple of epilogues that I’ll post in a few minutes. *eyes the clock*

Forget and Smile

Chapter Fifteen

Buffy was grading papers in the office that had belonged to Ms. Yoder, the teacher who had eloped to Des Moines, leaving Spike to teach Language Arts. She’d only been in here a few times before, but now that Carrie was back, she couldn’t use the Martial Arts teacher’s room, and she’d never really made her own mark on that anyway.

She couldn’t go downstairs to Spike’s office, not after last night. First there had been the knowing looks from the farmer as he had loaded his llama into his trailer, then the awkward drive back in Spike’s car, with the truck’s headlights boring into the passenger compartment from behind them for most of the journey. The realization that she was covered in mud and probably looked worse than she ever had, except maybe when she’d gotten covered with black goop killing a Bezoar demon. They’d both started talking simultaneously once, and both stopped before they’d gotten out more than two syllables each. The only thing she’d managed to say that was even slightly coherent was that she’d pay to have his car detailed because she’d gotten the seats all muddy, and how stupid was that?

She was afraid to ever see him again, and right now she’d trade every weapon in her arsenal for just a tiny clue to what he was thinking.

“Buffy?”

She jumped in her chair and whirled at the sound of his voice. He was standing by the door, just a few feet away, and she searched his face for some clue to his feelings, but he could still do that closed, expressionless expression and he was using it now.

She heard something snap and looked down to see she’d broken the ballpoint she was using in half and ink was leaking onto her fingers.

Really suave, Summers. She dropped the pen and grabbed a tissue, looking down as she wiped.

“I think we need to talk, but this isn’t always the best place. Can we go somewhere else?”

For an answer, Buffy grabbed up her jacket. Silently, he led her out to his car and opened the passenger door for her. She spent so much time trying to interpret that old-fashioned gesture and reconcile it to his stern expression that they were on one of the county roads before she realized they’d left town.

Where is he taking me? She wondered momentarily if they were going to fight some demon in the woods, but he didn’t look like a man preparing for a fight. They drove past a small cemetery, and her stomach lurched as she caught sight of a mausoleum huddled next to some cypress trees. But he didn’t even glance at the graveyard, his eyes focused on a small side road just ahead.

He turned down it and drove perhaps a quarter of a mile before pulling into a gravel drive. “It’s going to be a bitch getting out of here in winter,” he said. “I’ll have to take off more snow days than the brats. I may need to buy a truck, and a snow plow to attach to it.”

“Sounds like a fun toy,” she choked out, realizing now where she was. Her legs didn’t want to move properly, but somehow she got out of the car and stared at the building in front of her.

“Yeah, a friend of mine has a pickup he wants to sell me for seven hundred dollars, but there’s no point if it won’t start in the cold—” He stopped, giving up on this line of small talk. “Do you like it?”

“Yes,” she said, staring at the small house with all the windows. Lots and lots of windows. And solar panels on one side of the roof. And a skylight on the other. And a sun porch. Not the abode of a man who liked to live in darkness.

Well, not anyone’s abode yet. It was still obviously a construction site, with building permits taped to uncurtained windows that looked in on empty rooms.

He went to the front door and unlocked it, holding it open for her to enter first. “I like this,” she said, standing in the entranceway and looking around the front room. “This is a good space.” She peeked into the kitchen, then went over to a corner and looked at the buckets of paint piled there. “You’re ready to start painting the walls? You’ve picked out great colors.”

“Yeah.” He turned from flicking on a thermostat and looked around the big room, as if trying to see it through her eyes. “This was supposed to be smaller. The whole house was. But the witch and Katie kept saying I would need space for parties and serving food, a place for friends to stay, and more than one bathroom because of visitors, and the next thing I knew it was a bloody mansion.” He seemed a bit bewildered. “Couldn’t convince them I was building the house just to get away from the lot of them.”

Buffy laughed. “You’ll get lonely out here, after a while.”

“I hope not,” he said quietly.

She became very still.

“Want to see the upstairs?” he asked.

She followed him, trying to pay attention to his words without reading too much meaning into them. “Friend of Willow and mine is going to come for a visit next week. Xander offered to help with the painting and finishing some of the woodwork. He’s good at that—”

“I know,” she said. “I went to school with Xander.”

It was warmer up here, and not just because the heat was turned on. The light from all those windows was helping to warm this space, even on this chill day. Buffy unzipped her jacket, then clutched it around herself again. She hugged herself nervously, watching Spike’s every movement.

“Ah,” he said, hovering in the upstairs hall. “Yeah. I forget there’s still a lot we don’t know about each other. His eyes did that strange unfocusing thing, and he dropped the subject. Guest room,” he said, gesturing to his right, “and—”

She stepped into his bedroom, staring at the floor. There was a sleeping bag there, unrolled completely, piled with blankets and pillows. Through a door, she could see a bathroom, the walls still unpainted but the fixtures in place, toiletries scattered on the vanity.

“I thought so,” she said. She saw his raised eyebrow and added. “I sensed the place was inhabited. Slayer stuff, you know. I could tell no vamps could get in here.”

“Ah,” he said again. “Inhabited. Yeah. Just don’t tell the housing inspectors. The sodding bureaucrats would go spare. I don’t have my occupancy permit, but I needed—I just needed to make this place mine.”

She smiled. “It is yours. You fit here.” The depth of her pleasure at this fact surprised her. “You’ve made it yours. You have a place.” It was warmer here than downstairs, and not just because the furnace had kicked in. The huge skylight overhead had focused the heat of the sun on this space. She took off her coat at last, hanging it over the doorknob and rubbing her arms, enjoying the warmth and the brightness. This room was bare but not bleak; it was an expectant emptiness, anticipating a rich future.

“Yeah.” He seemed bewildered, not by her words, but by her understanding. “And, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Oh?”

He ran a hand through his hair and said the words she’d been dreading. “Buffy, about last night—”

“I’m sorry—” She started to choke out the apology she’d stared earlier, but he had already launched into what was obviously a prepared speech.

“Last night, I know—Buffy, it wasn’t just that Jim was on the way and there was a dead demon on the ground and a llama watching. We hadn’t exactly thought things through, well, I hadn’t, wasn’t prepared for one thing — ”

Oh, my God, thought Buffy, catching his very prosaic meaning at last. He actually thought about practical consequences. He was acting like an adult, and all I could think was that he was rejecting me—

Buffy’s mind reeled back, first to the previous evening, and then to another night, years past. When she’d clutched at Spike yesterday, she’d confused herself with girl in the condemned building. The one who was so confused and depressed after being brought back from the dead that she didn’t care about anything except being able to feel something, anything. The girl who had known that there was just one person, just one thing, that could make her feel alive. So she’d had sex with a vampire who was using her because she made him feel like he was alive too.

Because I’ve finally realized that’s what his love for me was all about. Somehow, I connected him to life, to whatever bit of his humanity refused to give up when the demon took his soul. Back then, I was too busy wallowing in my own darkness to realize he was reaching for the light. Even though he knew it would burn him, destroy him.

That was a long time ago. I’ve learned to live on my own. And he certainly doesn’t need me to drive away the shadows any more. We don’t need each other, not really. But, oh, how much I want him.

She forced herself to pay attention to his words. There was no way Spike could know what sinister images her mind had just conjured. Free of the memories that haunted her, he was just a man making an apology for almost letting his libido override his common sense. Not too abject an apology, though. What had almost happened last night was not something he could ignore, but not something he needed to agonize over either. He would say the proper words and move on. Because for him, it had been a simple error of judgment, corrected before it had gone too far. Nothing like an attempted rape in a bathroom. Nothing like a violent assault in a dark alley. It’s so simple for him now. And maybe I’ve finally gotten to a place where it can be simple for me too.

He was standing in front of a big window in the sun-bathed room, looking around at the taped drywall and the unvarnished flooring. “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to do with this,” he said. “Seems important, exactly how to fix it up. Couldn’t get any real ideas, though, even after driving Kitten bonkers watching the home improvement channels for hours when she wanted Farscape reruns. Considered asking over a few gay friends, or maybe since Martha Stewart is out of stir—” The feeble jokes trickled away, and his voice became earnest again. “Then you came.”

He was still standing several feet away, too far away not to seem awkward. He’s nervous. Oh, so nervous. But not as much as I am.

His eyes kept shifting away, then coming back to hers, as if he was afraid to see her reactions to his words, but couldn’t bear not to know. “Last night, I came up here. It felt like the right place to be, as right as anything could be after the way we left each other. Fell asleep, eventually. When I woke up, I looked around and thought again, what do I want here, in this room? Still don’t know, as far as paint on the walls or what kind of furniture, or—”

He shoved his hands in the pockets of his jacket, and gave her the embarrassed stare of a man who is about to say something he knows is sentimental but who just can’t help himself. The butterflies in her stomach were fluttering hopefully.

“Buffy, I knew the one thing I wanted to see here was you. Oh—” He held up a hand, as if to forestall an objection that she had no desire to make. “I know you’re a slayer, and your job means you have to travel a lot, and I have these commitments to all these damned brats at the school, so—I mean, if you have to leave after you finish this job, I understand. But I’m asking you to make this the place you come back to when you’re not working. Willow said you didn’t have one, just a sister you visit sometimes, but everyone needs that.” He was almost stuttering now, repeating himself. “I just thought that the place you could come back to could be here.” A deep breath heralded the really important words. “And hoped that I could be the man you came back to. Because I couldn’t bear being with you, if I knew you’d just get on a plane and leave in a few months. Because I—”

It was desperately important that he not finish that sentence. Buffy threw herself at him so quickly and so violently that he reeled back against the wall, and she had to fling her hand up to hit it first and pull him back, to keep him from banging his head. Her lips were against his, and, after a startled moment, his arms were around her almost as tightly as she dared to hold him. He pulled away from her then, staring into her eyes, and then gave a great, joyous bark of laughter. She felt herself smiling in glorious response. He kissed her back, and they somehow spun around, reeling against the opposite wall now, Spike still laughing against her lips.

Then she was really tasting him, open-mouthed like last night, deep and passionate, with no hesitation on either side. They were fumbling with each other’s clothes, one of his hands feeling her breast through her bra, awkward but warm, oh, so warm, and she reached for the zipper on his jeans just as his left hand slid up under her skirt.

He touched her and realized how aroused she was, her panties soaked already, and he stared at her wonderingly. “God, Buffy, you’re—”

“I’ve been ready for you for so long,” she moaned. “Spike, I practically came while you were making your speech just now. Don’t make me wait any more.”

The fumbling became more urgent then, as his hand went to his pocket, and she kicked off those panties, hearing a tear as he ripped a packet open, and then—

It was the same, him lifting her to him, with her arm around him, helping him, their need to be joined overcoming the sheer awkwardness of the position and everything else in the world fading away as they realized just how right and perfect this was, the two of them together in a way that they could never be with anyone else.

Then he reached up to pull her head towards his, losing his balance and hurtling them both towards the floor. As they fell, Buffy twisted, still holding him, so that she landed below him, because he was just human now, and she didn’t want him hurt, and he wasn’t strong enough to stop her from doing that, and he did manage to get his hand behind her head so that she wouldn’t hurt herself either, but instead of crashing through rotten boards and collapsing a building, they landed on the pillows and the bedroll he’d thrown over the solid floor he’d laid in this new home he’d built over a strong foundation. And it was so warm here and this place was filled with light and the clean smell of fresh sawdust and freshly laundered blankets instead of chill darkness and the stink of ashes and decay. So it was all different but still the same. Because he still felt the same inside her, still completed her as nothing else could, still drove her to that emotional height she could never reach without him.

“I love you,” she gasped, staring up into those blue eyes, eyes that looked as shocked and awestruck as they had when they’d done this that other first time years ago.

She said the words again, the words she had stopped him from saying earlier. Because it was so important that this time she say them first.

“I love you.”

He was moving inside her, and that was as perfect as she remembered, his hips molding to hers with each stroke and then pulling away to create a momentary ache that he soothed with the next thrust, until her body could stand it no more and every nerve shuddered with the perfection of the moment. He muttered the words just as she came, trembling beneath him as he stared down at her, his back arched, the violence of his own response taking him by surprise. “I love you, Buffy.” He collapsed into her strong arms, and she held him there, safe and secure and loved.

This time, they had gotten it right.

Epilogues

 

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/233550.html

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missmurchison