Hiya: I’m back. Erm. I’ve been fussing for a month with this fantastic piece of pr0n. The dirty parts were all lined up fine, but I couldn’t for the life of me make it click as a whole. And then two days ago I realized I was writing the wrong pairing. I was doing my damnedest to force a potentially really interesting Bangel story onto Spike and Buffy.
So, feeling bad about THAT cruel and unusual failure, I went rummaging around in my hard drive’s daunting thicket of fic grafts, cuttings and compost, and emerged with the following. It’s unbetaed. It’s not even a story. What it is is a self-indulgence—play time—me inattentively spouting one of many higglety-pigglety post-NFA fantasies, sort of the way Anna S. does sometimes, except of course that I’d sacrifice a body part for Anna S.’s command of language. It’s not very long, but there’s enough here that’s (a) pretty, and (b) unlikely to be plundered for other projects that I thought I’d set it loose. So I hope you enjoy it and forgive its copious faults. Cheers.
Title: Self-Indulgent Post-NFA Spuffy Meander
Author: Stultiloquentia More Than Usually Sheepish
Summary: See title
As it turns out, there are enough dragons for everybody. Willow, having registered the disturbance in the Force or whatever, reaches Buffy, who demands to be dumped immediately into the alley while Willow and Andrew whip up a response team. Buffy’s swinging her axe before she’s even fully materialized, and for the next few minutes the air behind the Hyperion looks like boiling water, portals popping as Willow shunts Slayers in from Rio and London.
Buffy and Spike catch sight of each other at the same moment, but time’s not exactly stopping for romance and rising music.
“Hi Spike.” Thwack!
“Hi Buffy.” RAWR! oof.
“Guess we’ve—hiYAH!—got some stuff to talk about.” Clatter.
It’s only a moment after that that they figure out what’s going on, when Buffy swings a blue-faced orc in Lederhosen in Spike’s direction and he yells, “Hey, I just killed that one!” They look at each other.
“Willow!” Buffy bellows. “Get down here! It’s a talisman manifest!”
Willow appears in a shower of sparks, one of which shoots straight for Angel’s chest. The big champ screams and folds, scrabbling at his shirt, which tears open to reveal the sigil of the Black Thorn branded on his chest.
“Poopy,” mutters Willow in a voice black enough for curses. She slams her hand against the mark and barks something Latinate. There’s a clap like a sonic boom, the demon army winks out of existence, and Angel topples unconscious to the ground.
Buffy and Spike scoop him up, and everybody follows suit with the other casualties and trails toward the Hyperion after Willow. They spread Angel out on the counter. “It’s disabled, not gone yet,” Willow tells them. Incongruously, after that display of power, she fishes for a cheery beetle-coloured cellphone and hops up cross-legged on the counter next to Angel’s head. Illyria watches Willow like a hawk. Andrew orders pizza.
Everybody’s basically in stand-by mode, hanging around wondering if this is the eye of the storm or the end. The girls, a practical bunch, delegate room, board and clean-up tasks amongst themselves, and look askance at the awkwardness apparent amongst certain of their reunited elders. Buffy and Spike stare at each other.
He’s beautiful, she thinks, standing there in a puddle of pink rainwater and slime. Of course, beautiful men aren’t rare in her line of work; it’s simply unwise to be flabby and slow when one makes a career of pissing off demons. Or maybe, after one spends a certain number of hours training gawky adolescent girls, men just generally start looking nicer. Hell, she’s caught herself giving Andrew’s hard-won new washboard an appreciative once-over as he ambled towel-clad from bathroom to bedroom.
Biased or no, her wide-eyed gaze flows over Spike, and he returns it, shoulders bunched, head 3…2…1…tilting in that oddly canine way. The light is such that she can see his pupils dilate even from many steps distant, black chasing hyacinth blue. “Buffy,” he says again, finally, and his throat makes that funny little anticipatory hitch she recognizes, but she doesn’t know if he’s bracing himself for a kiss, a right hook, or just a horrible, helpless silence.
“Evidence is stacking up,” she retorts. “Andrew and Willow both said—and that was definitely your axe trick with the six-legged what’s-it in the alley back there, but—”
“It’s really me,” he offers, smiling faintly. “Amulet burnt me up, spit me back out in Los Angeles twelve months ago. Been tryin’ to figure out how to tell you ever since.”
“‘Hi honey, I’m home’ would’ve worked fine,” Buffy says.
Andrew interrupts, flapping a pizza slice, and Willow wants Spike to talk to Giles about Black Thorn members. Biting back hope and irritation in equal measure, he takes the cell phone.
A bit later, Spike ducks out of the hotel for blood and a change of clothes. Buffy follows. Their conversation consists of terse, politely shallow inquiries until they reach his apartment, but the pot’s about to boil over. As soon as the door shuts behind her her jaw clenches and she grates, sharp and unexpectedly loud in the small, dim room, “Why?” and there’s no mistaking what she means.
Spike whirls and flinches, again canine. In the space of a second, the molecules between them might as well have caught on fire. They’re speaking without speaking. He salvages, “I didn’t want to disturb—you were free, you were happy!”
Her hand, alighting on his chest, over his heart, is unbearably gentle, delicate as an insect, but her voice is as flat and flinty as he’s ever heard it. “I,” says Buffy, “was grieving.”
With that, Spike’s whole body buckles, and his kneecaps hit the floor.
Torrent’s loosed. “I grieved, Spike, for a year! It hurt! I thought that was something you knew about? You needed time? Fine. You wanted space? OK, I could have given you that. That, I’d have understood, respected. But you left me hurting. Friends—don’t do that. All I needed was a letter, a phonecall, hell, I’d have settled for a text message. But silence. Fuck you, Spike. Fuck you.”
Backed onto the defensive, Spike surges to his feet and blows up in her face. Harsh words fly. Angel, the Immortal, Fred, Andrew all get lobed like poignards until Spike, weary and filthy and not even begun to grieve for poor Wes and Charlie and very possibly Angel, summons one last burst of savagery to kick Buffy out of his apartment. “I’m bloody tired, Slayer. I can’t do this anymore. Can’t—” He flings up his hand somewhere between a “vocabulary exhausted” and a warding gesture, but ends with a fist. “—You! Get out!”
Buffy freezes. Slowly blinks, as if she’s waking. “You … want me to leave. All … all right.” Like someone’s flipped a switch, her posture changes, and for the life of him, Spike can’t read it at all anymore. “I can respect that.” She turns and walks out, shutting the door quietly. Spike stands in the middle of his living room. He doesn’t, he suddenly realizes, actually have any idea how long it’s been since he read her with accuracy.
Half a day later, it’s still raining. Spike’s at Wolfram and Hart, restlessly sniffing the rubble, but nobody seems to be trapped alive. Except—oh. The Slayer’s there with a couple youngsters and the ubiquitous Andrew, on a mission for literature, by the sound of it. Spike joins them to ask after Angel. Still comatose. The five of them can’t find Files and Records, but they do find some demons. Skirmish ensues.
Buffy and Spike lay in like there’s no tomorrow, battleaxes snapping and thonking through stunned gristle and ozone like a mad tilt-a-whirl. They’re both grinning—at each other, at the demons, at the carnage they’re wreaking. Working with Angel’s crew this last year was a lot of things, even a lot of good things, but, God, he didn’t realize how keenly he’s missed that terpsichorean flash of taut skin and gold hair out of the corner of his eye. There’s no thrill on earth like fighting in the presence of this woman. And judging from the smell of her, she’s having an … exciting time, too.
Demons dispatched, they pick their way across the last quarter of the lot, and find the carpark. Well, what do you know? Not even the senior partners could bear to smash up Angel’s Viper. Spike ferries Slayer.org back to the Hyperion, and loiters in the lobby while Buffy finds dry clothes.
She squeaks when he drags her back outside, ushers her into the Viper and speeds away, but she doesn’t protest. By unspoken consent, Spike points the car north. He finds the punk station on the radio, disapproves, and backtracks, settling for Leonard Cohen. Her hand intercepts his on the way back to the steering wheel, fingers skating up underneath and settling easily into the grooves of his knuckles. As they drive out past the city limits, Spike’s right hand rests on Buffy’s left, palm to palm, and that simple contact feels strangely intimate, as if hands were lips.
It’s fully dark when they reach Sunnydale. Emphasis on the dale. Spike pulls to a stop well back from the warning signs and road block. Out here there’s a moon waxing gibbous, no rain.
Buffy watches Spike’s open mouth as he leaves the car, watches his stillness and then his motion. Pensively, she opens her door and follows him into the fresh night breeze. Spike cuts a striking figure against the sky as he strides toward the crater. He looks eerie with his black wings and white hair.
She catches up just this side of the high fence, and they stand side by side, hands stuffed in pockets. It feels like the place to crack a joke—one of a score of obvious ones—but they’re both dumb. The wind whistles.
“Do you love me?”
“I—” Buffy stares straight ahead, a thousand yards to the thin air above the long fall.
Spike doesn’t sigh. He frowns a little, wraps his arms around himself and follows her gaze out across the abyss. The ghostly breeze gets under Buffy’s jacket, making her cross her arms, too.
“Spike, yes, of course yes. You’re—you’re in my heart, you’re under my skin. But I don’t know— ” She whimpers, frustrated by her stuttering. “How do we even fit anymore? We don’t know. We’ve changed so much, and even before that, we never got the chance to…”
“So that’s it, then? We might not fit, so what’s the use trying?”
“No! I don’t mean that. I just mean—you can’t expect too much. It might not work. We can’t let ourselves expect too much.”
“Buffy.” Spike turns to her at last and cups her cheek, studying her with his poet’s eyes. “That’s the most heart-breaking thing I have ever heard you say.”
She swallows and holds his gaze, but he leans away, then turns and scales the fence with the danger signs, flipping easily over the barbed wire to land on the cracked asphalt. He looks back, eyes glinting at her through chainlink. Buffy inhales deeply, and springs.
The moon wanders elsewhere, but the stars are sufficient. Spike and Buffy sit propped against the fence. Buffy talks a little more about recuperating in Devon, collecting slayers with Dawn, finding peace, or something like it, in Rome. Subdued, Spike takes his turn, sketching L.A. and life as a ghost. When he haltingly admits the horror, embarrassment and pain of the thought of announcing his presence while he had no body, and why he continued to shy away from it afterward, Buffy hears, “You aren’t real,” echoing in her head. “I think I get it,” she whispers, and puts her hand on his thigh.
Later: “I’m not going to follow you back to Rome.”
“…Okay. Wait, what?” She twists to look at him. “You’re not—Spike, you just gave me a big speech about taking chances! Don’t you want—”
“I know,” Spike sighs, chagrined, and pushes a hand through his hair. “I wasn’t being fair. Angel—needs me here. ‘S funny, I don’t even like the sod, but he’s kin, y’know? He lost people this year. Figure I’ll stay and break the trend. …What?”
“Nothing. Well, something. I’m just having a really dumb, belated revelation, don’t mind me. You’re—not mine anymore.”
“You’re yours. OK, I’m about to reveal my spectacular arrogance, but I’ve always sort of thought of you as, well. Mine. My arch-nemesis, my pain in the ass, charity case, punching bag, sounding board, lover—” She thumps back against the chainlink.
“I’m a jerk. Yes.”
“We’re a pair,” he says, meaning one thing.
“I think we are,” she says, meaning another.
It’s only on the drive back that Buffy notices that she hasn’t eaten since lunchtime, so they stop at a diner and order burgers. By the time they’ve finished, dawn’s only a couple hours off, so they locate a hotel.
A bit of nervous circling ensues.
“Should we, er.”
“You can sleep here.”
“Well, I’m not going on the floor!”
“Good. I mean, but I think we probably shouldn’t—”
“Yeah. Slow, and all that.”
“Go ahead and use the loo…”
Buffy wakes up pressed against a long, muscle-y expanse of warmed-up vampire. In the dawn hours they’ve shifted, like magnetic Cheerios in a bowl of milk, until his arm lies across her and her back is snugged up against his chest. His hand cups her breast. Further down, her bottom presses back into … ah. Good morning, Mr. Man. Buffy yawns silently and contemplates. His body feels good surrounding hers, and oddly innocent. She rocks minutely backward, trying not to wake him. He rocks forward, a tiny movement, sending curls of drowsy, sexy warmth through her lower belly. He’s never woken up next to me before, she thinks to herself. I wonder what he’ll do.
She knows the instant he is conscious. He stills; so does she, feigning edge-of-slumber noises. Cautiously, Spike lifted his hand and tilts backward, breaking contact. Buffy doesn’t have to feign her whimper of protest; she opens her eyes and stretches a bit, peering over her shoulder at her bedmate, who’s looking slightly rumpled and embarrassed. “Morning,” she murmurs, and smiles at him. Spike ducks his head, which she takes as an invitation to kiss his jaw.
Spike gasps and pulls himself upright. She follows. “Wait, Buffy, I thought we agreed—”
“I love you.” Spike stops and stares at her blankly.
Buffy sinks back into her pillow. “I love you,” she repeats in a smaller voice.
Spike says, “Excuse me; I have to go take care of my boner,” and disappears into the bathroom. After a moment, Buffy hears the shower start.
By the time Spike emerges, Buffy’s gone. By the time he’s registered this and run through five possible drastic scenarios, she’s back, bumping the door open with her hip and tossing him a bacon sandwich. “Couldn’t find a butcher, sorry.”
“So,” Buffy says, looking like someone who’s spent about half an hour working herself into a state of annoyance and then working back down, “are we doing this or not?”
Spike unwraps his sandwich and takes a too-large bite. “Doing what, exactly? You said you’re tied down in Europe, I said I’m not leaving L.A., you said in all likelihood we’re doomed to failure anyway—”
“I did not!” she squawks, and endures his chary eyeball stoically. “God, can’t we just—” she flings out her arms, “—not decide everything at once? Just maybe try being together for two seconds, like we’re, oh, I don’t know, normal?”
Spike lets out a loud, sincere bark of laughter. Buffy glares, then abruptly deflates with a resigned giggle. “Sorry. My bad.”
“You’re scary, you know that?”
“It’s been said.”
“I don’t know what you want from me. You keep saying things. And then other things. I’m afraid to move.”
“Yeah, I’ve been getting the vibe,” Buffy says dryly, but her eyes are gentle as she considers him. “But I think maybe I owe you some moves, anyway.” She hesitates, seeking permission. “Okay?”
Spike stands with his two bare feet on the carpet, and he’s never felt more out-of-balance in his life. Eventually, he nods, and Buffy sidles close enough to touch. This isn’t the neatly bookended tale of triumph he’s dreamt of a hundred times. He knows they both have streaks of cowardice, but in his dreams it was always him conquering his own and hers. But when Buffy’s strong fingers curl around his own, and she tugs his ear to make him drop his forehead against hers, he feels crazily, unwarrantedly safe. The vertigo melts away.
“How about we start with kisses?”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/54635.html