Summary: The end...just read. Way AU.
Distribution: Wherever, just ask first. These will be archived with the rest at <http://www.geocities.com/cxyzjacobs/btvsfic/chrisindex.html>
Author's note: Oh my goodness, I can't believe it's finished. Who'd have thunk it? Thanks for hanging in there with me, I know I'm slow. Feedback is most welcome -- happy, sad, mad, or glad, I'd love to hear about it.
Part Nine: Isomorphic
Xander's hoarse voice joined with Willow’s in questioning, the anguish in his eyes shining clear through unshed tears. "Is she alright? Will she be okay?"
Spike seemed unable to respond, standing stock still, mesmerized by the patterns of light surrounding Buffy's elevated form. His lips moved to form the words of an answer, to tell them he didn't know. No sound escaped, however, before a sudden flash of brilliance caused a negative image to burn, then collapse inward, leaving the eerie calm and broken figures of the slayer's friends and family behind.
At Buffy's disappearance, Dawn let out a harsh cry and ran to the center of the triangle, demanding her sister's return. “She’s still here,” Spike whispered. “I feel her.”
Slowly, the others began to wake, first Anya and then Tara. “She did it,” said Tara.
“Did what?” asked four voices simultaneously.
“She made it through her journeys - I was there at the last. I. . .I can’t remember what happened, but I know that she’s here somewhere.” Tara turned from Willow to look at the dazed vampire, and a slow smile spread across her face. Excitement built in her voice as she said “She’s okay. She’s really okay. Look, Willow - can’t you see it?” Tara raised a finger to point at Spike and trace a path in the air towards the door. The ribbons of energy that marked the connection between vampire and slayer had calmed. No longer a writhing snake containing a seething mass of violence, the energy in the channel flowed smoothly, purest gold entwined with royal purple, from his heart across the room to a crumpled figure near the door.
-- -- -- -- -- --
With a strangled sound, Spike strode towards the fallen slayer. Dawn began to follow, but dropped back to sit near Willow when Tara’s outstretched hand restrained her. As he drew near her still body, he knelt carefully to the ground, lifting a limp hand and pressing it to his cheek. Tears pooled in his eyes but did not spill. Ever so gently, he moved her limbs into a more comfortable position. Sitting back on his feet, Spike watched for long minutes as Buffy’s breath lifted her chest up and down in the rhythm of life.
Anya’s gasp of shock at what the vampire did next was the only disturbance in the room. Spike stripped off the black leather coat and spread it across Buffy. One final, tender touch of his lips to her forehead, a nearly inaudible whisper, “Goodbye,” and he rose to leave the room.
As he reached the door, Spike addressed Tara: “Do what you have to do to make her safe.” Turning then to catch Xander’s eyes, he instructed: “You explain. And take care of them.” The sound of the door closing carried a terrible mark of finality with it.
-- -- -- -- -- --
Dawn bit her lip in agitation. “Why is he leaving? It’s over -- Buffy’s back. What does he mean, Xander? What are you going to explain? Tara? Whatever you have to do? That doesn’t sound good. Somebody tell me what’s going on!”
Xander’s eyes wandered to Buffy’s still form across the room, back to Dawn, and finally to the sight of Willow stroking Tara’s hair. It should be easy to tell her - he’d been right. An ‘I told you so’ was definitely in order. Spike was a vampire, and the chip was broken. So why did he hesitate?
Anya poked Xander in the ribs.
“Ouch! What’d you do that for?” he griped.
“Go. Go now. Hurry - she’s waking up! You won’t catch him if you don’t hurry!”
Roused from his contemplation, Xander looked at Anya. Really looked at her. Instinctively, he stood to obey her command. Then it sunk in. Her urgency translated into Xander-terms was an epiphany: She loved him, and he didn’t want to disappoint her. And Spike loved Buffy.
He crossed the room as if demons were chasing him, while Dawn repeated her question, “Explain *what*, Xander?”
“It’s nothing to worry about,” Xander answered as he exited the room. “Got knight in shining armor business to attend to right now. Take my car to get her home if you need it. I’ll pick it up later.”
“Yes, Tara,” said Buffy as she raised up on a bent elbow. “What else do you need to do to me? And who’s Xander shining after?”
For an instant, no one moved a muscle or made a sound. And then, all at once, Buffy found herself buried under an avalanche of hair and giggles and hugs. “Guess you missed me a little, huh?” she said with a lopsided grin as they pulled her to a sitting position on the floor.
“You’re really back!” squealed Dawn. “You’re the really real Buffy!!” Her elation dimmed a touch as she looked at Tara for confirmation.
Tara gave a quick nod, then looked back at Buffy. She chewed on her lower lip as she tried to decide how to approach the subject of the bond with Spike, and the need to break it. Buffy had been so out of it, and things had been so rushed that no one had explained any of it to her.
“I’m really thirsty; let’s go get a drink,” Buffy said as she struggled to stand and failed. “Hey, where’s Spike? I think I’m done with his coat now. It’s all toasty in here. Can’t believe he’d let it out of his sight!”
Tara’s eyes didn’t quite meet the slayer’s as Willow nervously interjected, “Great googly moogly, Buffy. Let me get you a drink. You’re all tuckered out from the dimension jumping and stuff. Dawnie, why don’t you and Anya come with?”
Willow jumped up, grabbed Dawn’s arm, and headed for the door, when she heard Anya tell Buffy, “Xander went after Spike. When he left, he didn’t seem to think he was coming back. That’s why he left you his coat. I think it might have something to do with breaking the bond.” And with that, Anya followed Willow and Dawn out of the room and closed the door behind them.
Buffy clutched a handful of the leather in her hand and began to knead rhythmically. Her expression was stricken as she looked at Tara and said, “Looks like you’re nominated spokesperson Tara. What did Anya mean? Why is Xander chasing after Spike?”
Tara looked away from Buffy’s face, answering questions with a question, “Have you noticed, Buffy, that you can ‘sense’ Spike?”
“Hello! Slayer here. He’s a vampire. Of course I can sense him.” Seeing the implication in Tara’s eyes when she looked up, Buffy realized what she meant. “Oh. You mean something more. Yes. A lot more. What does that have to do with Spike leaving and Xander chasing, though? Color me very confused. And not a little worried…”
“I don’t think you need to worry about Xander, Buffy. Spike can take care of himself on that count, even with the chip. But Spike’s leaving…I - I just don’t know how to tell you this. This closeness you’ve been feeling is more than just slayer-vampire stuff. There’s some kind of an energy channel between the two of you. And truthfully, we think it might have contributed to your, ummm, anger issues. If we don’t sever this connection, his demon could send you right back where you were before we did the healing ritual. We should do it tonight, Buffy.”
“Still not understanding why he would have left, then, Tara. What’s the bottom line here?”
Again Tara looked down at the floor rather than face Buffy. “We just don’t know how it might affect Spike. There was some pretty powerful stuff running around in there - to remove the bond won’t hurt you now that your aura is whole, but it’s attached to Spike in a strange place. It comes straight from his heart.” Tara hesitated before she finished, looking straight into Buffy’s waiting eyes. “It could dust him, Buffy. And he knows it. I think that’s why he left.”
Surprise colored Tara’s expression as Buffy lit up from tip to toe. “I know what the bond is, Tara. There won’t be any severing action here tonight. Can you go find Xander, make sure Spike is okay? I’ll get Anya to drive us home.” Buffy groaned as her words landed in the air. Well, it couldn’t be any worse than what she’d just been through, could it?
Tara tilted her head to one side and considered her friend. Maybe it would be okay after all. “Alright, Buffy. But if you change your mind… I’m here for you. Let me help you to the car.”
-- -- -- -- -- --
Xander came crashing back into the Magic Box, nearly knocking Tara over in his haste. He grabbed her by both shoulders and shook her as he said, “Tell me you didn’t do any bond breaking yet!”
Tara smiled in relief. She hadn’t been wrong about Xander after all. Removing his hands from her shoulders, she said, “Not to worry, Xander. Buffy wasn’t having any more ‘mojo’ tonight.” She giggled a little, then, and said, “I guess you’re finally in on the secret, huh?”
Xander looked blankly at Tara for a moment, then threw up his hands. “Women! And speaking of women…where’s mine?”
“You just missed them, Xander. Anya just left with Dawn and Buffy. She was going to take them home and get them settled for what’s left of the night. Buffy’s too worn out to do anything other than sleep, and Dawn needs someone there in case there are any residual issues from the ritual. Why don’t you go over, too. I’ll lock up here.” She reached out to give Xander a hug. “You did good tonight, Xander.”
Shaking his head in wonder, Xander hugged her back. “It feels better this time, Tara. Bringing her back. It’s as if we’ve fixed something that’s been broken since long before Buffy dove off that tower.”
“I know what you mean, Xander. Just what you mean.”
-- -- -- -- -- --
Buffy peered around the edges of the curtain into the cave he’d made his bedroom. Dawn was right--the place had definite possibilities. Cute tinkerbell lights, too. There were open cardboard boxes strewn around the room. It looked like Xander was right, as well, Spike was obviously packing up. She wondered why he didn’t realize she was present when she noticed the whiskey bottle in his hand. A few minutes to contemplate-- good.
For the first time with a clear conscience, Buffy let her eyes travel over the lounging vampire, soaking in the sheer pleasure of the view. That shining blond hair, thick and soft under her grasping fingers. Broad, unlined forehead, a vast expanse of unexplored skin that made her fingers itch to wander across and down the baby soft line of his jaw. And, ahhhh. Those eyes. Those incredible, bottomlessly blue eyes. Without effort, they could go from the twinkling baby blue of a clear summer day to the murky depths of a stormy midnight sea - and take her along for the ride. A wild ride, to be sure, but nothing compared to the ride those lips and that tongue - Oh! that tongue -- invited her to explore. She felt the clenching in her gut, a wave of heat tearing through her as memory brought to life the shivers of sheer pleasure that mouth could awake in her. Her breathing became shallow and fast as her eyes traveled across the square, powerful shoulders encased in a dark blue shirt. She could hear the suction of his lips leaving the bottle, see the pale pink tip of his tongue caress the glass rim as the hollows of those amazing cheekbones became momentarily deeper. Imagination took over completely, and her eyes closed involuntarily when the shock of his voice roused her even farther. A shudder ran through her from stem to stern, and stepping fully into the room, she opened her eyes to meet his.
"Come to rub it in, Slayer?" he slurred. "What did you think I'd do? Hang around so you could watch me turn to dust? I told you I was through with your games."
"I don't quite know what I think," she whispered. "I don't want you to... I mean... Don’t you remember, Spike?"
The trial wasn’t quite over yet, then. With a roll of her eyes and a small toss of her hair, Buffy sat on the trunk at the end of the bed with her back facing Spike. She pulled off her shoes and Spike’s duster, heaving a huge sigh. “We’re going to have to go through all this again, aren’t we?”
"What’re you talking about, slayer? You come back more of a loon than before? What a wasted lot of effort. . ." He got up from the bed and walked around to face her. “Don’t like it when you don’t look at me when you’re talking,” he said.
“I’m not talking.” Buffy stood up and turned, bending over to open the trunk. The skirt was pretty short -- maybe an eyeful would wake him up. She tossed things around, searching amongst the junk. She knew they were in here, somewhere. Aha! Old habits die hard, it seemed, and there were the boots she needed. Closing the trunk, she sat down , eyes locked on his as she pulled the tall black boots on. “There. That’s better,” she said.
“I must be insane,” she muttered to herself. Then, to the befuddled and semi-drunk vampire, “Let’s try a little role reversal, shall we?” Licking her lips, she began a slow catwalk to where he now stood.
Spike was mesmerized, and more than a little confused. But his instincts were still working, even if his brain wasn’t. And it was becoming very difficult to pretend he was unaffected by her presence. The very air seemed to sing her arousal at him - that had to be the whiskey talking. Kinda nice that the “severing” didn’t dust him, he thought, but the damned chip was still out of commission. Must be busted forever. Was she out for kicks before she staked him, then? His mind continued at a fevered pitch while his eyes were glued on her slow approach.
Time for rationality passed when she stood within breathing distance and poked a finger straight at his chest. Pushing emphatically at each stop to punctuate her words, Buffy said, “You. Are. An. Idiot.” Shoving him back against the wall with the flat of her hand and looking up so that her nose was at chin level and her breath on his neck, she finished, “But you are *my* idiot.”
Following that pronouncement, she pinned him to the wall with her body, straddling her legs on either side of his. She reached up and pulled his head downward, as if to whisper in his ear.
Utterly incapable of resisting, he cooperated. What could she say that would be any worse than he’d already heard? It was almost too much when her words emerged, hot and wet and real against the sensitive skin behind his ear. She lay her head on his shoulder and nuzzled: “And I love you.”
A magical force descended on the scene, and time stood still. For a second, for a minute - forever.
Buffy pulled back to see his face, to be sure that he’d heard her. She watched the questions that filled his mind play across his face - the wonder in his eyes, so beautiful. And all for her. Wordless, now, she stepped back a hairsbreadth to catch one hand in hers and bring it in to her heart. She reached up to touch his cheek, her eyes imploring him for a response.
His mouth moved, and he swallowed air as if trying to speak. But no words passed his lips. Buffy was entranced by the movement of the small knob in his throat, and unable to resist, leaned in to place a small kiss there. As her lips touched his skin, he dropped her hand and pulled her tightly to his chest. “I remember,” he breathed, pulling her head up to reach her lips. “And this is where we left off.”
Waves of pure joy and relief washed over her body as she dove headlong into his embrace. The world disappeared, completely this time, and a new one opened up, dragging them willingly to experience love as it was meant to be.
Somehow they made their way across the room, his lips devouring her every step of the way, her tongue demanding as much as it gave in the heated dance. As they fell back onto the bed, Buffy splayed her hands across the midnight silk of his shirt, popping buttons, grasping the cool fabric and pulling it rapidly away in her urgent need to feel hands on flesh, to revel in the smooth marble of his torso. Needy fingers played across the hard muscles of his chest while teeth and tongue explored the peaks and valleys of his collarbone. Delight filled her body at his tense reaction to her discovery of his nipples. They hardened to small pebbles as she licked her way around the slightly darker skin. Circling her tongue around and around again, she began to suck, first lightly, then with more force, until he bucked up and away in reaction.
“Too. many. clothes,” he whispered. He pulled her shirt over her head, trapping her arms in the process. Keeping a light hold on the shirt with one hand, he ripped the black skirt in two with the other. Clothing dealt with, he pushed her down into the bed to trace his tongue up the gentle curve of her belly. He stopped for a moment to pay careful attention to her navel, dipping his tongue in and out again and causing Buffy to squirm wildly beneath him. She pulled her arms free of the shirt and grabbed at his shoulders. His mouth continued its journey up her body, that clever tongue sliding beneath the wisp of black silk that served as her bra while his fingers worked to release the clasp. She wanted to demand that he give her hungry mouth occupation, but he snatched the thought from her head by focusing on the work of kissing her breasts. His tongue brushed over one nipple, and she thought she would die from the exquisite torment, when he began to suckle. She threw her head back whimpering, “Spike!”
He raised his head a bit to say, “Shhhh,” an evil little grin on his face. “Turnabout’s fair play, isn’t it?” Then he bent to his task again, fanning the flames of desire to a white-hot frenzy in her very core. Just when she thought she could stand no more, his lips began to burn a trail of fire and ice over her shoulder and up her neck, finally reaching her mouth while he slid a hand down her side and over her hip.
Dancing fingers teased across the tops of her thighs, over the band of her panties, and up the center of her abdomen. The muscles of her stomach spasmed at his touch, driving her to fold a foot beneath her buttocks to catch the edge of the black silk and drag it back down her legs. Furiously, she lifted her hips, grinding against the soft denim and cold buttons covering his groin while her hands pushed ineffectively at the waistband.
She heard a little chuckle escape his lips as his hand moved lower, dragging slightly bent fingers across the source of her heat. “Not yet, luv.” At the first touch of his finger in her core, Buffy dragged her mouth away from his, throwing her head violently back into the satin bed-sheets. A single finger dipped in at first, sliding in and out, then back in again. She lifted her hips, swallowing first that finger, then another deep within her. Her entire body began to shudder when he bent one finger at the knuckle, dragging it rhythmically against her engorged clit as he dove inward again and again. She dangled on the precipice of climax, holding on by sheer will, his head moving downward, a wicked glint in his eye. She mewled her displeasure when his hand ceased it’s arousing dance, then nearly flew out of the bed as it was replaced by the wet touch of his mouth. Caught up in the rush of ecstasy his mouth and his tongue evoked in her, she arched up against him and raised her knees, crying out her pleasure as the waves of climax wracked her body for unending moments.
Rational thought returned despite the continued lapping of his tongue against her heat, and Buffy pulled her hands back from their ballet with the muscles of his back and gave a great shove, flipping their positions on the bed. Determined now that his pleasure would equal hers, she tore open his jeans and pulled them slowly down his legs. The offending garment dealt with, she remained still a moment, allowing her eyes to travel down his glorious length. Excited by the knowledge that he was watching, she bent to kiss the inside of his knee. She continued on her path, running a trail of fiery kisses up the rough inside of his thigh while her fingers danced just out of reach of his erection.
A shudder ran through his body as her head neared the hand now drawing lazy circles in the wiry hairs covering his groin. Buffy raised her eyes to see the haze in his deep blue eyes, shooting him a deliberate look as she took his length into her mouth. His hands gripped her head as she moved slowly up and down, feeling under the ridge with her tongue, squeezing with the suction of her cheekbones while her hands traced a pattern back and forth over the sensitive skin beneath his scrotum. She felt his body tense as she increased her pace. Knowing that he was near release, she opened her eyes once again to catch his gaze, squeezing his sac and drawing him in far enough to touch the back of her throat.
Spike roared his pleasure as the first spasms of orgasm began to shake his body. Unwilling to ride the crest alone, he slid his hips out of her reach and jerked her body beneath his in a single fluid motion. He couldn't wait to be inside her any longer. He knelt between her thighs, lifting her hips as he entered her with one powerful thrust. Spike wanted to be gentle, to take it slowly this time, but control deserted him. Her sweet cries and her passionate kisses drove him on. It was impossible to hold back.
-- -- -- -- -- --
“It’s beautiful. Thank you for bringing me here. I needed to see this.” Dawn put her head on Tara’s shoulder as they watched the colors light up the nighttime sky. “Do you think they’ll be okay now?”
Tara put an arm around Dawn, “It’s hard to say, Dawn. There are so many things stacked against them. But you know - some things are just meant to be.”
-- -- -- -- -- --
Eternities passed as Buffy and Spike moved in timeless rhythm. Yin and yang, twinned manus, over and over through the night, light surging into darkness and fire into ice. Soaring from the depths of their passion to the heights of pleasure and back again, they moved together. The balance of color and dark merged, over and back, flowing and restless. Always seeking.
Loving. Giving. Forgiving