Twenty-Five Trips Around the Sun (2/2)

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Title: Twenty-Five Trips Around the Sun (2/2)
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: It’s Buffy’s twenty-fifth birthday, and she’s still fighting the good fight. Only, this time, her job is interrupted by someone bearing a gift. Post-series.

Here’s the second part! Thank you to the mods for all their hard work on Seasonal Spuffy this round and in the previous years. :o) Happy 25 years of Buffy!

(It’s free for all day, right? Feel free to delete if it’s not.)

P.S. According to AO3, this is my 100th Buffyverse fic.

The rain pours harder as Buffy moves, her muscles gliding in familiar motion as she kicks and punches and parries and slays. The vampires are a blur of shadows in the darkness. The features that might distinguish them on a clear night are obscured by the rain and motion.

And Buffy is thrust back into a lesson Giles laid out for her over and over again in Sunnydale. One sense is cut off and the other Slayer senses take over, heightened only when she is properly motivated or in the right headspace. At the moment, she is both motivated and in the right headspace.

She hears the scuffle of shoes against stone, the unnecessary breaths of exertion leftover from human days, the sashay of clothing moving against itself.

Dust flies all around her as she moves, and the vampires keep coming and coming, and the rain keeps pouring until she is covered with the muddy remains of the undead.

A flash of lightning is coupled with the sharp retort of thunder in a small break in the deluge of water and foes, and she glimpses what she’s facing. More vampires seem to have melted out of the shadows and into the streets, making her think that maybe the whole town is undead, and her muscles sing in time with the hum of the scythe.

She is ready.

Until she isn’t.

A vampire lands a lucky blow on the small of her back, sending her tumbling to the ground. Her weapon spins away across the slick surface even as her palms catch her fall and then slip, her skin abrading on the rough stone. Her chin hits the ground, and for a moment, she’s stunned.

The vampire jerks her onto her back so that she’s facing the blackness of the sky, and she can’t see, can only feel the creature’s breath on her face as he growls.

He sniffs, and she feels his tongue hungrily gliding over the cut on her chin. She hates that he’s tasting her blood, and anger swells in her chest so hard that she regroups enough to punch him in the jaw.

Lightning blazes again, and she sees this is the vampire she was after earlier. She catches his smirk as he backs up rubbing his face. She leaps to her feet, somehow managing her footing in the water, but before she can resume the fight, other vampires grab her by the arms and slam her against a wooden wall. She’s not sure if it’s a building or a gate of some sort.

She struggles to no avail, and she considers that maybe she’s going to die on her twenty-fifth birthday after all. No gift for her except maybe a welcome back to heaven party.

Before she can even quip, her ears detect the familiar sound of a vampire. . . no, multiple vampires being dusted.

Attention pulls away from her as the vamps turn to face this new enemy.

Maybe Dawn sent the decently-talented-for-being-new Slayer out to look for her, wondering what was taking so long. After all, this was supposed to be a quick mission before Buffy’s birthday dinner, set purposely the evening before to prevent badness.

She takes advantage of whatever this distraction is to wrest her right arm free, jamming her elbow back against the wood so that it splinters with ease. She grabs the largest piece that breaks away and manages to stake the vampire to her left followed quickly by the vamp on the right. More muddy vamp dust is better than being drained dry and left for dead.

She still wants cake. Dawn promised her cake.

The sky is suddenly streaked with a huge line of electricity – one of the biggest she’s ever witnessed, but that isn’t what draws her attention.

Around the flailing dark forms surrounding her, she catches a glimpse of something that she never expected to ever see again – a flash of pale hair, a hint of dark leather sweeping around. This time, her heart skips a beat, but before she can really see, darkness resumes, and she takes a fist in the face.

She cries out with the surprise more than the pain, and she aims in the direction of her wayward scythe, dodging blows and gliding along until someone grabs her foot, and she crashes again. This time, she avoids her chin, and lightning shows her that the scythe is closer than she thought. She lunges forward, her fingers just barely wrapping around the handle before she is jerked back.

She manages to scrounge up enough traction to fling her head back and headbutt the vamp behind her before angling around to stake him good and proper.

She’s on her feet then, and the rain comes down in a torrential downpour. Her mind and body take over the slaying even as her heart goes down a different path. She can’t stop it, not with so many distractions preventing her from stomping down on the possibility.

Because. . . what if?

She still hears the sounds of vampires being slain all around her – more than what she is capable of doing on her best day in a dry and semi-visible cemetery. And the hope surges forth unbridled, fueling her muscles and movements as she dances around the sea of vampires, dusting them and willing some form of light to shine.

Mother nature grants her a crooked thread of lightning, but she only catches another hint of familiar movement in the corner of her eye.

She rounds the other direction, wanting to see, but she can’t.

So, she drives on faster in her frustration and desperation to know, her body following the rhythm of the kills.

And as the swarm of vampires thins, she senses him even without the light. He’s behind her and covering her blind spots the way she covers his. She knows this waltz – it’s safe and heady and airy all at once, and if she’s honest with herself, she’s always loved dancing with him. She loses herself in the ebb and flow, wanting to cherish it even if it isn’t real.

After what feels like an eternity of almost confirmations and slay after slay, all the vampires are dust, and she comes to a stop, her scythe lowering and her chest heaving from the exertion.

The rain has slowed to a slight patter, but the lightning flashes again, and this time, he’s there before her, facing her with raw emotion on his face. The improvised stake in his hand falls to the cobblestones with a clatter, and she casts the scythe and her memory of him aside to focus on now.

She launches herself at him, half-expecting to go right through him, for him to be a figment of her overactive imagination because Iris isn’t real, the message from her mom isn’t real, so this can’t be either.

When she collides with him, relief soars though her chest as he staggers back. When she pushes past his coat, his body is the same in her arms, and she presses her face into his neck to inhale his familiar scent.

Her mouth finds his, and she is kissing him. His lips are soft and then firm on hers as he gives in to her greeting. She hasn’t realized how lost she has been without him. Her whole body comes alive – far more than when she’s holding her scythe or when she’s out patrolling in need of a good slay. She forgets the rain and the muddy dust of former vamps as she loses herself in him the same way she used to but didn’t let herself after he was gone.

When her lungs start to burn and insist on her taking a breath, he gently pushes her back so that she gasps with a combination of need to continue and the need to breathe.

Her cheeks are hot from tears on top of the rain, and she manages, “S-spike?”

“Seems you got yourself into a bit of a pickle, pet.” His voice is deep and warm, and she wants him to keep talking, so she can snuggle down into his words.

But stubborn indignation makes her say, “I was handling it.”

“Uh huh.” Why does he sound so nonchalant?

“What. . . how are you here?” She can’t bring herself to say he’s supposed to be dust. . . again.

He runs his hands down the back of her arms the way he always used to when he kissed her and took her right hand in his left. “We should probably get you out of this storm. Got a place to lay your head? Or I suppose we could find an abandoned house wherever here is. I can probably still pick a lock if needed.”

Buffy feels dizzy with confusion. “O-okay. I mean, I don’t know where to find an abandoned house, but I have a place. A temporary one.”

Spike leads her over to the scythe, bending to pick the weapon up and passing it to her. Lightning flashes, and Buffy thinks she catches a glimpse of vulnerability in his blue eyes. “Lead the way.”

She squeezes his hand, takes a deep breath, and tries to remember which way to go. The city is smaller than Sunnydale. It shouldn’t be too hard. “I-I don’t know.” She isn’t sure whether she’s hesitant because she doesn’t know where to go or because she doesn’t understand what’s happening.

“Not sure where to go?” His tone is gentle.

“Yes. I mean, no.” The memory tumbles into place, and she starts in the remembered direction. “Dawn and I are renting bungalows at the edge of town. I think I remember which edge.”

“Dawn’s here?” Spike sounds unsure.

“She is. She’s staying with the new Slayer and her family in one, and I’m in the other. They’re tiny. The bungalows.” Buffy suddenly feels nervous. “Long story.”

“Long stories come with the territory,” he says softly.

The rain comes down harder again, pushing aside the space for talking, and Buffy hurriedly leads Spike up and down streets, backtracking once when she takes a wrong turn. He hasn’t let go of her hand for which she is grateful. They were physical in a lot of other ways but not in the hand-holding way. All she knows now is that she doesn’t want to let go of him lest he disappear from her side.

They reach the small house soon enough; Buffy’s grateful that Dawn turned the light on for her. On the front porch, they’re finally out of the rain, and Buffy feels uncertainty rise again, so she avoids looking at him and fumbles for the key, which is hidden under a small, dry potted plant that’s probably longing to be out in the rain.

“Not so secure,” Spike notes with humor in his voice.

“Hey, I’m a Slayer,” she says with a shrug.

Her hand shakes, and she struggles to slot the key in place until Spike covers her hand and guides the key home. She turns the knob and is greeted by a rush of cool air from the air conditioning. She shivers.

“Come in,” she says, rubbing her wet arms.

Spike follows her inside, and he shuts and locks the door behind her, a force of habit from Sunnydale. “Pet. Buffy. Look at me.”

Instead of listening to him, she grabs a towel that Dawn has thoughtfully left hanging on the coatrack and wraps herself in the clean, fluffy softness. Buffy’s glad that the rain washed away most of the vamp remnants. Still, she really wishes she could shed all her clothing, but she can’t because she already feels too naked in the light.

She swallows and finds Spike’s eyes and holds them with her own at last. The emotion he’s always worn like a badge of honor is still bright in his eyes. “How are you here?” she repeats. “Angel told me you died. . . again.”

Spike gazes at her steadily and doesn’t even get defensive at her mention of Angel. “I did.”

“Then, how are you here?” She briefly worries with her lip. “And where were you?”

Spike’s expression softens as he remembers something, and he reaches into the pocket of his duster, pulling out a slightly crumpled flower. He opens his palm to her, and her eyes grow wide as she watches the purple iris unfurl like in a time-lapse video, covering the scar on his hand. She instinctively touches her matching scar – the one formed by the mystical fire that covered their clasped hands years ago.

“Your mum sent me. Doesn’t matter where I was. She said you needed me.” His lips press together in a hint of a smile. “I’m a sodding mug for a Summers lady. Always have been.”

Buffy feels her cheeks flush, and her words come out before she can stop them. “You were at peace.” It’s not a question.

“Not exactly. No. Not in hell but not in any sort of heaven either.”

“Oh.”

“To be honest, it was a bit boring. No fighting. No rough and tumble. Just unending purgatory. Lindsey and similar blokes yammering on about regrets. Ponces. The whole lot of them.” She catches a sparkle in his eyes as he smirks. “The fight tonight. . . with you. Worth even the briefest of trips.”

Her heart aches, and she takes a step back without thinking. “Brief?”

“I don’t want to make any assumptions.” She realizes again that he’s insecure, too, despite the supernatural intervention to bring them together.

“But you’re my gift,” Buffy says with light trepidation. “For my birthday. Twenty-five years. I’m a Slayer. I’d say that’s like living to be a hundred in human years.”

“Always knew you were remarkable,” he half-teases before taking a deep breath and a step toward her. “And I think it matters if you want me to stay.” He’s asking even though it’s not a question.

“I think it matters if you want to stay,” she counters, meeting him halfway. She cups his hand in hers, gazing at the flower’s brilliant color and then lifting her head to view the vivid blueness of his eyes. She hopes he sees that more than anything, she wants him to stay.

He studies her face and doesn’t hesitate. “I do.”

She crushes him in a damp embrace. “Thank god.” She can no longer protest her feelings.

He holds her in return, resting his cheek on the top of her head. “If I knew you’d miss me this much, I’d have fought through hell and high water to get to you.”

She laughs. “Dummy. Do you honestly think I’d ever want you to not be here after what we’ve been through?”

He sighs. “Maybe.”

“After our last night. . .” She still remembers making love to him for the very first time before the collapse of Sunnydale. They’d toppled a building and then a whole city together, but that one night before the big battle was as special as the night they just held each other. She blinks back tears. Her heart tells her that he’s still firmly here with her as she is with him. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” He pauses with what she thinks is the gravity of their declaration but then, “Um, pet. . . ”

“Hmm?”

“Look.”

Buffy lifts her head and then moves toward the living room, drawing Spike along with her. She flicks on the lights and finds herself surrounded by irises in a rainbow of colors. A happy birthday sign drawn and colored in Dawn’s handwriting hangs crookedly from the curtains. It’s not as beautiful and vibrant as the other dimension was, but Buffy’s heart soars.

She beams. “Ohhh.”

“Looks like little sis did things up right and proper.”

“She said I should stay in because bad things always happen on my birthday. She let me go if I promised I’d come home for a late dinner. Oops.”

“She’s not wrong about the bad on your birthday,” Spike notes with a tilt of his head. “You almost bloody died out there.”

“But not this time,” Buffy says firmly.

She caresses one of the flowers, and a small cluster of sparkling lights sprays up from inside, coating her and Spike before she can react. She blinks, and the lights are gone, but she’s dry and warm. Her hair hangs loose and wavy around her shoulders. She gazes at Spike who shrugs and runs a hand through his own dry curls.

“Iris came through with a little something extra,” Buffy says.

“Magic iris?” Spike asks.

“Kind of.”

“Lil Bit went above and beyond.”

Buffy laughs because she realizes he didn’t meet Iris the way she did, but she doesn’t want to explain now. Now. . . she sweeps her now dry blouse over her head. “Make love to me?”

Spike lifts an eyebrow at her, drinking her in. “Are you sure?”

“It’s been too long.” She has many, many things to share with him, but those can wait, especially since he’s staying.

She pushes his jacket off his shoulders, eager to feel his skin on hers. He sheds his clothing as she wriggles out of her boots and jeans. They come together, flesh on flesh, and he trails kisses along her neck and jaw, pausing to whisper in her ear, “Happy birthday, love.”

“Best birthday ever,” she sighs, trembling and not from the cold this time.

He pauses to whisper in her ear, “Let me make it better.”

The end.
5-19-22
4:50 PM

Originally posted at: https://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/749785.html

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