I’m running out of chapters…
Buffy wrapped herself in the towel and stared at the blouse and skirt she’d been wearing with a pout. She could’ve always lifted some new clothes from the mall, but after awhile her petty theft started to feel all petty and wrong. The food she needed, but she could make do with one outfit. Now, however, all she saw was the dirty, filthy, disgusting skirt and blouse she’d become all too familiar with during the past week.
“Spike?” She held the towel close as she climbed the ladder.
Spike stood near the door, sucking on the remains of a quickly burned cigarette. “Yeah, love?”
“Um, do you think you could go to my house?”
“I want some different clothes. The other ones are starting to smell, and they feel dirty. Would you mind?”
Spike approached the entrance to the lower level and stared down at her. Buffy held the towel tighter. “You want me to get some clothes?”
“Yeah. Ooh, and a toothbrush. Unless they threw it out. They haven’t thrown my toothbrush away, have they?”
“I don’t think so…”
“I’ve got one back at the mansion. I could always go back and get it, but… would you mind?”
“No. No, I’ll get it. Do you know which one it is? Wouldn’t do for me to nick Dawn’s toothbrush.”
“You want me to remember what the toothbrush I used four years ago looks like?”
Spike shook his head. “I guess you’ll get the other one later.”
He put his hands on his hips and sighed, looking down at her. Buffy raised her eyebrows.
“What, you want me to go now?”
“Spike, I’m naked!”
“Yeah. I can see that.”
“The sun’s not up yet. You could just sneak in through my window and grab a few things. I should have some bags in my closet. Do you mind?”
Spike smiled down at her, pleased and amused. “No. I don’t mind. You seem like you’d be awfully fussed if I did.”
Buffy blushed. “I don’t want you to think I’m bossing you around or anything.”
“Right. ‘Cause that would be new.”
She would’ve been hurt if it weren’t for the teasing glint in his eyes.
“I’ll hurry,” he said, grabbing his coat and heading for the door. He paused once he reached it, his hand hovering over the handle as he turned around. “I’ll be right back.”
“Okay,” Buffy replied, a nervous smile plastered on her face. It slowly disappeared once he was out the door.
He came back last time—no reason for him not to again. She should just calm down and wait for him, and try not to think too much about what would happen if he didn’t come back. Or if he took too long.
Buffy climbed up fully to the main level of the crypt and walked over to the armchair, plopping down into it with a sigh.
I guess I’ll just wait here. Naked.
* * * *
Spike had come through the front door plenty of times the past week, though not as joyously as the first time in many months that he’d been allowed to step over the threshold. It was still dark, however, so he decided to go the stealthy route and climb up the tree near Buffy’s window. Easy entrance, he could see why she used it so often.
He opened the window quietly and slipped through, silent as a church mouse. He decided to leave it open until he went back out to avoid excess noise.
Spike stood still for a moment, feeling very out of place. Over the past week this had become a sacred space. No one had dared enter for fear of disturbing… anything, everything. It wasn’t the same to him now. It wasn’t a blessed place to be revered; instead it seemed to him more a memory. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. The closet, the mirror covered with pictures, the clutter on the vanity table—all of it looked and smelled of her.
Spike shook his head, dispelling his jumbled thoughts, and instead focused on why he was there. Clothes, toothbrush, possibly some other girly things. He opened the closet and found a good-sized duffle bag wedged behind a large number of shoes. Spike moved to grab an armful of hangers when he thought it might look awfully strange if all of her things went missing.
So instead he grabbed just a few things, a few blouses, some skirts, a couple of pairs of shoes—she shouldn’t need that many. The bag was getting quite full when he opened the top drawer of the dresser, filled to the brim with all sorts of frilly things, so it made quite a noise when he dropped it on the floor.
* * * *
Her mind was racing, a body moving through the forest. She didn’t know whether it was running to or from something. It felt like from. As her mind ran down the path, the branches played out memories like leaves in the wind. Touches, barbed words and insults, declarations of love and hate, stolen moments of pleasure and pain. They all carried his face—his smug, shit-eating grin, that look of hurt that only she could put there, the anguish of his soul leaking from his eyes, that glint of frustration, that one, little frown that would appear for just a second between his eyes after he’d stilled above her, before it was replaced with a smile of release. All of it played past her, running and dancing and laughing and screaming and punching and killing and wishing and feeling and so overwhelming that she felt like she was choking…
Buffy pulled her knees to her chest and pressed her head against them. Being here, in this time, was more like touching a memory than actually living and experiencing it. She felt like an outsider and like she was completely involved at the same time. That woman she’d saved in the alley those nights ago—her instincts had compelled her to save her, her logic had reminded her that the girl wasn’t for her to save, but her heart told another story. This was her time, her home, her duty. She’d been ignoring her heart for the past few nights, but being in this place, his crypt, with him there…
Now her heart wouldn’t shut up, and logic was slapping it like crazy trying to make it.
* * * *
He turned around, his eyes darting from the bag on the floor to the bleary-eyed girl sitting up in bed behind him.
“Dawn,” he replied, trying to keep the surprise from his voice.
“You okay?” she asked groggily, regarding the alarm clock with a wince. “It’s almost four a.m.”
“Sorry,” he said. “What… what are you doing in here?”
Dawn sat up a little straighter, seeming more awake. “My room felt empty.”
She was covered in sorrow like a thick layer of dust. Spike stared at her, wanting to tell her that everything would be alright and that he was absolutely certain of it. He wanted to gather the rest of Buffy’s things and take Dawn back to his crypt to show him that Buffy was alright, that she was alive—at least, she would be.
But he couldn’t. It was like seeing the bride before the wedding, or worse, counting your chickens. Besides, it wouldn’t do to piss off future Buffy by alerting others to her presence. She seemed to be very against that mode of action.
“I’m sorry,” was all he said.
“What are you doing in here?” she asked, regarding him curiously.
“Me? I… I guess… my crypt felt empty.”
“The sun should be up soon. You should probably go.”
“Right,” he responded nervously as she laid her head back on the pillow, sleep overcoming her once again. “I’ll just… I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Okay,” she murmured, closing her eyes. “Be careful.”
Spike waited for her breathing to even out before he grabbed the bag off the floor and crept as quickly and quietly out the window as he could. Once on the ground he raced back to his crypt.
* * * *
“Um, Spike? You didn’t get me any underwear.”
Buffy rifled through the bag where it sad on Spike’s bed, pulling out a pair of boots and some sneakers, just to be sure. Clutching the towel to her chest, she turned to him again. “You forgot underwear.”
“Oh, uh… sorry.”
“I know you know I wear it…”
“I was kind of in a hurry. Made some noise, didn’t want the others to run into me.”
Buffy laughed softly. “That wouldn’t have been good. I guess I can make do without for now.”
“I can always go back. Try when the others aren’t there.”
Buffy pulled out a thick blouse and some black pants that weren’t too snug and stared at him. Should he leave, or should she?
The same question didn’t seem to be on his mind. His gaze traveled from the garments in her arms and down her body, slowly making its way back up. Was he waiting for her to dress right in front of him?
“Um…” she began, hoping some sound from her would break him from his daze.
“No,” he replied quickly, before blinking and shifting his gaze to her face. “I mean… sorry. I’ll just step outside for a bit. Let you have some privacy.”
He was out the door before she could even mutter “thanks.” Buffy didn’t take her time changing. He’d walked out that door too many times, and each time it was harder to accept that he’d walk back through it. Losing him once was enough.
“I’m decent,” she called out when she was dressed.
Spike reentered, his gaze fixed on her, but this time it wasn’t with restrained lust. This time his eyes were clear.
“What do I mean to you?”
Buffy hadn’t seen that coming.
“What do you…”
“Mean,” he repeated. “To you. I can’t be around you wondering. You’re treating me different, an’ if I didn’t know better I’d say you were afraid of me, but I know that’s not true. You don’t have to give me a long speech about your feelings; I just need to know what I am to you before we go any further with this.”
Buffy swallowed. Was there an easy answer to that? Anything short and simple would be a lie, and she didn’t want to lie to him. Even if it would be better for them both if she did.
“You… you’re important to me.”
Spike’s reaction mirrored hers from a few moments ago—he hadn’t expected that. “How so?”
“Um, we’re close, in the future. C-Closer. We become friends.”
“Really?” he asked, stepping closer to her. His movements were fueled by an odd mixture of confidence and apprehension, a combo she hadn’t seen since she’d last been around him.
“Yeah. Really good friends. We don’t swap friendship bracelets or braid each other’s hair, but there’s some bondage. Bonding! Friendship… bonding. Friendship bonding.”
Why did she have to butcher the English language?
“So… you like me?”
Her throat was starting to feel tight. “Yes.”
“Huh,” he huffed, a smile threatening to curve the corners of his lips. He seemed pleased and surprised by this information. “And I suppose I feel the same about you as I do now?”
“Well…” she began, but stopped. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to get into the issue of his soul, even though that was true. It was the fact that she couldn’t refute that. She couldn’t say that he didn’t feel the same way. He’d still had the same feelings, but they were expressed differently. Maybe the soul had intensified his love, but she couldn’t deny what he felt. She couldn’t say that he didn’t really love her when hindsight told her that he did. “Yes.”
“So where does that leave you and me?” he asked. “Since I’m pretty much the same, can you treat me like you do then?”
He was close. Not so close that he was invading her space, but close enough that one small step and their bodies would touch. She wanted their bodies to touch. She wanted to hold him again, to kiss him, to feel his skin and his hair beneath her fingertips.
“Love?” he prompted, dipping his head lower and looking into her eyes. “You still with me?”
“Yeah,” she replied, realizing that it had been longer than she’d thought since he’d asked his last question. “We’re okay, Spike.”
Spike smiled and sat on the armrest of his ratty armchair. “Okay then.”
* * * *
The moon was high in the sky when they made their way to the mansion, walking side-by-side. Buffy needed to get her books and the much longed for toothbrush, and Spike didn’t want to leave her side.
Buffy didn’t mind.
They couldn’t think of anything to say to each other. That was a lie, actually. Spike was dying to know more about what their future held, and Buffy was desperate to apologize to him for things that she’d done—or will have done—and to give him warnings, such as “avoid shiny jewelry.” It wouldn’t be right, though, and they both knew it, so they kept their curiosity in check.
This didn’t stop Spike from asking about the others. Buffy felt that it really wasn’t his business, especially since he’d probably tease the others with what she told him, but she couldn’t keep silent when he asked about Dawn.
“She’s in school right now,” Buffy told him. “First year of college. She’s madly in love with this guy named Eduardo, and I was kind of iffy on leaving her behind in Italy. But there’s nothing to worry about that we can see. Willow did a background check and I checked for a pulse and/or horns, and he came out clean. I just hope…”
It was weird, talking about her hopes for the near future when it was so much farther away.
“What about you?” Spike asked as they climbed the hill, the mansion now in view. Buffy offered him a hand when he slid on some loose rocks, and he stared at her quizzically before taking it.
“Yeah, you. You say you left Italy? Where are you now?”
“Sunnydale,” she replied with a grin, which broadened when he rolled his eyes. “Cleveland, actually.”
“Well, it seems demons aren’t the only things a Hellmouth attracts. Any of your other mates squattin’ with you?”
Buffy smiled sadly. “No, just me.”
“Alone? That doesn’t seem right. What’s their excuse for leaving you behind?”
They were in the garden now. “They didn’t leave me behind. I left them. Besides, I don’t need any babysitters. The others are off doing their own thing.”
Once inside the main living area, Buffy immediately went to the couch and started collecting books. Spike stood back, mentally debating his next choice of words, his better sense losing the battle.
He’d spoken in almost a whisper, but he knew she’d heard him when her body stilled.
“You do your own thing, too.”
Buffy placed all the books in a neat stack and lifted them before walking over to Spike.
“I’ve just gotta grab a few more things,” she said softly, her hands shaking as she passed the books to him. She turned away quickly so he couldn’t see her eyes, but he didn’t need to see them to know that sunshine and happiness didn’t lie in their future.
Not that it wasn’t already a given.
* * * *
“Okay,” she said, placing the books on an end table he had by the armchair. “I guess I should get with the research again.”
Buffy pulled the small reading glasses she’d nicked from the local Walgreens from the bag she’d stored all her stuff in and turned to Spike, who was smiling at her.
Buffy frowned. “I’m not a big fan. But if I’m going to get back to my time, I need to… do something. Unfortunately beating up demons won’t do the trick. I wish it would, though. I’m good at that.”
“Yeah,” was his simple reply. His smile had disappeared, and Buffy frowned at the far-off look he was sporting.
“Hmm? Yeah, fine. Let’s get crackin’.”
This was something she’d never experienced—sitting on the crypt floor with Spike doing research. She could feel his eyes on her every now and then, but she only glanced up once or twice, finding him suddenly engrossed in whatever he was pretending to read.
Spike couldn’t help but look at her. She looked so different, with her long hair pulled into a ponytail, enhancing her age-sharpened features. The glasses were something he’d never seen her wear, and they made her look very dignified. He never thought of Buffy as the brainy book type, but he could see that she had it in her.
Or maybe it was just the glasses.
He wanted to touch her; it didn’t matter where or how. Spike scooted to the left, shifting the book in his lap as he did so. There. His shoulder was now touching the little cleft where her calf met her knee. He’d expected her to tense at the contact, but either she didn’t notice or she didn’t mind.
It wasn’t enough, though. Spike wanted to feel her skin beneath his fingertips. He wanted to hold her and kiss and tell her the things that she wanted to hear. The only problem was that he didn’t really know what those things were, and if she’d ever want him to touch her. If she’d ever really let him.
They’d lapsed into an uncomfortable silence, the only sound that broke it being her diminished coughing and the flipping of pages, Spike’s slightly more audible. He didn’t really read what was on the pages in front of him—he wasn’t very interested in sending her back anytime soon.
When dawn cast the interior of the crypt in a golden hue, Spike finally turned and looked up to see Buffy passed out in the armchair, her body twisted so that her head rested on her outstretched arm. She pouted in her sleep with a furrowed brow, and with her glasses askew Spike concluded that he’d never seen her more adorable.
“Love?” he whispered gently, rising to his knees and touching her shoulder.
“You want to sleep somewhere more comfortable?”
She nodded and licked her lips sleepily, but made no effort to move.
“What are the glasses for?”
She exhaled deeply before answering. “Reading. Justalil farsighted.”
Spike couldn’t suppress a smile as he gently removed the glasses from her face. “Ah. That explains a lot.”
Spike stood and bent over the chair, lifting the sleepy girl into his arms for the second time in so many hours and carrying her towards his bed again. He didn’t want to put her down too quickly, so he made his movements slow, his fingers relishing the feel of the back of her knees and the soft skin of her arm.
Her eyes cracked open when he laid her carefully on top of the mattress.
“What are you doing?”
Spike blinked. Did he do something wrong? “I was just trying to make you more comfortable.”
“Where you sleep?” she asked groggily, shifting onto her side and looking at him, her eyes barely open. Spike shrugged.
“Figure I’ll catch some sleep in the chair. I’ve been meaning to get a proper bed downstairs, but ‘til then…”
He trailed off as she scooted to the opposite edge of the mattress, the universal signal that he should join her on the bed. He stared at her, dumbfounded.
“Just lie here,” she mumbled, her eyes now closed.
Spike stared at the empty space beside her before removing his coat. She was already asleep when he climbed onto the mattress beside her. He kept his eyes on her face, watching for a reaction as he slid his hand to her waist, their knees touching. He wanted to watch her for longer before he succumbed to sleep, but even vampires could be the victims of exhaustion.
Two seconds later—or so it seemed—his crypt door flew open. Someone shouted out his name and automatically he cried “bloody hell!” before he rose from the bed, his eyes falling on the empty spot beside him. Xander was saying something rather loudly and with great urgency, but Spike didn’t hear him as his eyes darted around the interior of his crypt.
Buffy wasn’t there.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/76399.html