RATING: NC-17 overall
SPOILERS: Season 6 through “As You Were”.
DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. GO team! Theirs, not mine.
DEDICATION: For Mint Witch, who reminded me that it’s all about the journey, not the destination.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Lyrics to “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails used without permission.
DISTRIBUTION: Please ask my permission first, just so I know where it’s headed.
FEEDBACK: Sure, fire away to firstname.lastname@example.org
She pulled it out from the drawer and tossed it carefully to me. I uncorked a bottle of merlot and poured us each a glass. Next, I placed a tall pair of silver candlesticks with beeswax tapers on the table and lit them carefully with my lighter, before sitting down to sip my wine and watch her putter around in the kitchen. She was smiling to herself, her hair pulled up in a clip. It seemed so surreal, this domestic scene that surrounded me. Tara walked over and handed me a plate of spaghetti. She set hers down as well and smiled at me. ”Thanks for dinner, pet,” I said with a grin.
“No big deal,” she said as she unfolded her napkin. “Anyone can make spaghetti.”
I raised my glass in a toast. “To Tara, without whom I’d mostly likely be driving drunk in the middle of the desert.”
“To Spike, for saving me from cockroaches and dirty old men,” she said with a smile. We clinked glasses.
I shook Parmesan all over my pasta and took a big bite. “This is unbelievable, Tara. God, I missed your cooking.”
“I liked it when you used to come over for dinner with Dawn and Will and I. I never understood why you didn’t come to the house any more after we brought Buffy back.” She took a bite of spaghetti. I shrugged, pretending to be very interested in my food. She gave me a serious look. “I wish that you would open up to me. I would really like to know why you were going to leave, what happened with Buffy.”
“The details aren’t important,” I said. I put down my fork and crossed my arms across my chest. “What I want to know is why you care.” She looked at me, startled. “Why would it even matter to you if I left or stayed?”
She toyed with her wineglass. “I could tell you, but I don’t think you want to hear it.”
“I’m a big, strong man. I can take it.” I tried to stare her down, unsuccessfully.
She looked at me with sadness in her eyes. “You’ve always seemed so sure of yourself, so strong. I’d never seen you look so lost, so aimless.”
I rose and pushed the chair away. “Since when do you care? Since when do any of the Scoobies give a fuck about me at all? You don’t need me around to fight, now that you’ve got your Slayer back.” I couldn’t keep the bitterness out of my voice.
“You didn’t come around any more either, Spike.” She just didn’t get it.
“Why? So you could ignore me or make fun of me?” I walked into the dining room and paced. “I’m just a joke to all of you,” I said. “The vampire that can’t feed, can’t fight humans, only gets the nutty, dizzy girls.”
She stood up and walked over to me. “I never thought you were a joke. I always thought you were a good fighter, and a loyal friend. You took such good care of Dawn.” She put her hand on my shoulder. “And you dated Buffy. She was with you, as a couple. Sometimes love just isn’t enough.”
“She didn’t love me,” I said bitterly. “I never touched her heart. She let me fuck her that was all. I was never more than a joke to her, either. I was just convenient; she said so, after the first time we made love. I should have believed her, instead of fooling myself.”
Tara’s eyes filled with tears. “Oh, Spike. I can’t believe she said that to you.” She cupped my cheek in her hand.
I jerked my head away. “Don’t pity me!” I said vehemently. I turned to go but she grabbed my hand.
“I don’t pity you,” she said. “I pity her. All that love wasted, when she needs it so much.”
“I thought she was falling in love with me. I thought I could make her happy.” My voice cracked. “She said that I was killing her. That being with me was killing her.”
She wrapped her arms around me and held me tightly. I sank into her embrace, her sweetness, and her comfort. It felt so good to be held. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I know how much you love her. That must have been so awful for you.” She gently stroked my hair.
“It’s why I was leaving,” I said. “I’m afraid that if I stay in Sunnydale, I’ll be following her around, and staring up at her window. I’ll be just as pathetic as all of you think I am.”
“That’s not going to happen. You’ll get through this,” she said quietly. “Maybe one day, you’ll look at her, and it won’t tear your heart out to do it. If I can see Willow every day, and move on, then so can you.”
I pulled away and looked down at her. “I don’t know how. I don’t know what do with myself.”
“You need to learn to live without her. She’s been the center of your life for so long. You need to make a life for yourself.” She looked so sincere. She stood on tiptoe and kissed me gently on the mouth. My body tingled with it, and she tasted so sweet on my lips. She took my hand and led me back to the table. I sipped my wine and watched her, her hair gleaming in the candlelight.
I sank back into the tub, the water so hot the room was filled with steam. The antique tub was immense; I could stretch out my legs all the way. I lathered my hair with shampoo and plunged underneath the water. It was nice and comfortable, the heat relaxing muscles I hadn’t realized were tense. I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of the water, of the faint strains of music coming from Tara’s room. I thought about what she’d said. About moving on, getting a life. It cut like a knife to admit that I had come so close with Buffy, had every chance to win her love, and failed. When it came to the Slayer, I never could win. I’d forgotten that.
I got out of the tub and dried off, wrapping a towel around my waist. I opened the door and walked across the hall to Tara’s room. She rested on her stomach on her sleeping bag, looking through a pile of CD’s. Her boom box played a bouncy track I vaguely remembered from the early 80’s. She wore a tiny scrap of a nightgown, the plunging neckline barely covered her nipples and the skirt was twisted high on her thighs. I admired the view while she sang along, completely oblivious to my presence. She was achingly beautiful, and the fact that she was so unconscious of it only made it that much more appealing.
I knocked on the doorframe and she startled. “Hey there,” she greeted me. “How was your bath?”
“Brilliant. I haven’t been so warm in years.” I could almost mistake myself for a real boy.
“I’m trying to pick music for my audition,” she said. “You want to weigh in?” She patted the sleeping bag next to her and I sat down.
“You should pick something you like, something you feel comfortable with,” I said. “Something that feels good. A song that makes you want to move.”
She frowned and popped out the disk from the player. “Nothing seems right,” she said with a sigh.
“You need to get in the right frame of mind,” I told her. “Wait right here.” I went to the kitchen and grabbed the wine and the glasses. I went back to Tara’s room and poured her a glass. “Have some of this, it will help you relax.”
She rested back in the pillows and drank her wine as I looked through the CD’s. I selected one and put it in. A slow, pulsating beat played from the radio. She sat up and rubbed her foot, wincing as she rubbed the sole. “Fancy a foot rub?” I asked her.
“Sure, that would be great,” she replied. “Walking around all day wore them out.”
I settled myself at the end of her makeshift bed. I grabbed her ankle in my hands and firmly massaged the arch of her foot with both my thumbs. She took a large sip of wine as I kneaded her foot and watched her. “I love these little nightgowns of yours,” I told her.
She opened her eyes and smiled at me. “I love lingerie,” she said. “It makes me feel elegant and sexy.” She looked so beautiful, the midnight blue of her gown making her eyes look deep and dark. She’d freed her hair from its clip and it fell over her shoulders.
“I feel like one of those gents from a 1940’s movie,” I said to her. “He spends the whole picture bantering with the mousy librarian, and then she takes off her glasses and he realizes she’s a knockout.”
“I guess I’ll take that as a compliment,” she said with a grin. I dropped her foot and picked up the other one, continuing the massage. She bit her lip and put down her glass. “God, your hands are amazing,” she said. “You’re so strong.”
“Superhuman,” I said. “Perfect for working out all those tight muscles you weak little humans get.” I slid my hands up her ankle and rubbed her leg. I was very conscious of her other foot resting in my lap, brushing against my shaft and balls. She moaned slightly as I worked out a kink in her calf.
She closed her eyes and sank back in the pillows. “Oh, that’s so good,” she said faintly. My blood heated as I looked at her, all stretched out on the bed, pleasure washing over her face. I wanted her, badly. My hands slipped up her legs and I caressed her thighs. She arched her back and moaned again, her nipples hardening as I watched. I could hear her heart beat faster as I worked the muscles in her thigh. Her eyes opened, and she stared up at me, revealing her desire, her need.
I pulled away. “I should get dressed,” I said. I left her room and closed the door behind me. In my room, I lay down in the dark on my sleeping bag. My mind reeled. Tara wanted me. Shy, sweet, gentle, gay Tara wanted me. I thought I’d sensed something earlier that day, when she held my hand, when she kissed me in the kitchen. Now I knew, dead certain. I wondered why. After all, we’d been around each other for months, and we’d never even blinked an eye. But something had changed.
The radio next door blared louder. It was a sensual song with a heavy, pounding beat. “You let me violate you,” rasped a low male voice. “You let me desecrate you.” I heard a low moan under the noise of the song. “You let me penetrate you,” the song continued, and I heard it again. Tara moaning. Oh god. I pulled off the towel and stroked my cock, straining to hear the noises that she made under the noise of the music. I could hear her heavy breaths and pants. I closed my eyes and imagined her, her hair spread over the pillows, eyes shut. Her fingers working under the blue satin of her gown, her other hand clenched on her breast. I listened to her gasp and whimper and felt my orgasm build. The noises that she made were in conjunction with the beat of the music, and I imagined her fingers sliding in and out of her depths as she worked toward her climax. I pumped harder, nearing the edge. I heard her cry out loudly as she came, and it was all I needed to bring me over. It felt good, so good, so strong and intense and deep as I came. I lay on the bed, gasping.
She was right next door. She wanted me, quite obviously, and I sure as hell wanted her. All I had to do was go next door, and… and what? “Sorry, I know you’re a lesbian and all, but I heard you wank off and thought I’d offer you a hand.”
She’d turn to me and smile. “Why, yes, climb in the bed and take me now, you big strong man. The mere sight of your muscled chest has turned me straight.”
I was deluding myself, as usual. She was alone, had been for a while. It wasn’t about me. It was about being lonely. And me, wanting her, was just a rebound thing, because of Buffy. That’s all it was. I wiped myself off and lit a cigarette. My telly was propped on cardboard box in the corner. I flicked it on and stared at the screen. I smoked cigarette after cigarette, and tried to get Tara out of my mind. The room next door was quiet, and I figured she had fallen asleep. I had liked it last night, holding Tara close, sleeping with her. I’d felt so needed, so wanted. A knock sounded at my door. I threw my towel in a far corner and pulled on my jeans. “Come on in,” I said.
Tara stepped in, draped in her afghan, pulling her sleeping bag and pillow behind her. “I can’t sleep,” she said. “Can I watch TV with you?”
“Sure thing, sweetheart,” I said. I stood up and unzipped my bag and laid it flat, placing hers on top of it. We lay down together and she threw the afghan over both of us. We settled back on the pillows.
“Why are you watching a documentary on penguins?” she asked, as she looked over at me.
I had no idea. All I’d been doing was lying here, thinking about her. “Penguins are fascinating creatures,” I said. “Very large, and avian,” I said, grasping.
“What have you learned about them so far?” she asked curiously. I looked at the TV. A herd of penguins waddled about, squawking.
“Well, they’re not very graceful,” I replied. “And they don’t fly.” She laughed. I turned back to her and grinned. “Well, fuck, I don’t know. I wasn’t paying attention. I was woolgathering.”
“What were you thinking about?” she asked, and there was a glint in her eyes that told me that she knew.
I slid my hand up her thigh, over the silk of her nightgown, and she gasped. “I think you know what I was thinking about,” I said in a low voice.
She rolled away from me. “Earlier, in my room,” she spoke slowly, “you had an erection.”
Kind of hard to deny that one. “Yes.”
“Because of me?’ she asked.
“From looking at you, smelling you, touching you.” I wanted to touch her more. The strap of her nightgown was sliding down her shoulder, begging to be pulled off.
“Does that happen to you all the time?” she asked curiously.
“When I’m with a woman that I’m attracted to, yeah. I’ve got a pretty high libido. I love sex, I think about it a lot.” Sex, blood, fighting. That summed up my thought process, most days.
She looked at me seriously. “I liked the way that you were touching me.” She looked in my eyes. “I wanted more. I didn’t want you to stop.”
“Nothing wrong with that, love. Perfectly natural,” I reassured her.
She looked puzzled. “Not to me. I’ve never felt this way about a man, never wanted to experiment.”
“You’ve never even kissed a man?” That was a little hard to believe.
She shook her head. “Not romantically. I never wanted to. I never liked any of them that way.” She looked at me. “But I like you. I like the way you smell, I like the way you feel, I like looking at you.” She seemed really upset.
“It’s okay,” I said softly. “It’s just thoughts. You’re not hurting anybody, not doing anything wrong.”
“As long as it is just thoughts,” she said. “As long as we don’t act on them.” She looked at me hesitantly. I was very aware of her body, how good she had felt underneath my hands, how sweet she had tasted when her lips brushed mine.
“Are you telling me that you want to act on them?” I asked her.
She blushed. “I don’t know what I want.”
“Love and lust aren’t the same thing, pet. You don’t have to feel guilty, thinking about me when your heart’s with Willow. And the same goes for me.” I wanted so much for her to understand. “It’s just a bit of sparking. You like the way I look, I like the way you look.”
She wrinkled her brow. “Do you think that’s all it is? Just pheromones? Just meaningless need?”
“It means whatever you want it to mean. I wouldn’t try to make anything of it, if you wanted me," I said simply.
“Wouldn’t you want something more than that? Shouldn’t it be something more than that?” she asked.
“Sometimes it is. And often it isn’t. Just do whatever feels right,” I suggested. She put her head on my shoulder and I held her hand in mine. We watched the documentary in silence, listening to the narrator drone on about the penguins. It was better than a sleeping pill. Her body heat was wonderful, and I cuddled in closer to her. She smelled so nice, fresh and clean. She fell asleep, and I pulled the afghan up to her neck and turned off the TV. I kissed her gently on the forehead and listened to the sound of her heartbeat as I dozed off.
I woke up a few hours later. Tara was on top of me, her hair covering my chest. Her nightgown had ridden up all around her waist, and I could see all the way down. She was so gorgeous, her body so amazing. She stirred in her sleep, and her mouth rose closer to mine. I wanted to ravage her mouth, slip inside her and make love to her. My cock stirred, aroused by her nearness.
I quickly slid out of her embrace and dressed. I grabbed my duster from the hook next to the front door and left the house, carefully closing the door behind me. I lit a cigarette as I walked through the quiet cemetery. I heard a noise behind me, and turned around. It was Buffy, stake in hand.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I live here,” I said.
“I saw that your stuff was gone from your crypt,” she said.
“Yeah, I took what was left of it.” The pathetic, charred bits of what passed for my life.
“So do you have a new crypt here?” She looked around, like I’d have a mailbox out front or a welcome mat out.
“No, I have a house.” I pointed. “Up over the hill.” She followed my gesture. “Do you want to see it?”
“Sure.” We walked through the cemetery, not talking. We went up the path and stood in front of my house. “This is really nice, Spike.”
“Thanks. It was a lot of work to find it.” I turned to her. “Would you like to see inside?”
She looked at me searchingly. “Sure.”
We walked inside and I showed her the living room and the loft. I opened the door that led to the bedrooms and kitchen. She followed behind me noiselessly into the kitchen. “Want a drink, or some ice cream?”
“What kind of ice cream do you have?” she asked.
I opened up the freezer. “Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia,” I said as I held out the pints.
She smiled. “We used to have those in the freezer all the time when Tara lived with us. They’re her favorite flavors.”
“They’re hers,” I said. “She lives here.”
She looked at me oddly. “Tara lives here? With you?”
“She’s my new roommate.” Blank stare from the Slayer. “Do you want one of these?”
“Chunky Monkey,” she said. I handed her the pint and a spoon. She took a big bite and looked thoughtful. “Why would Tara want to live with you?” she asked.
“She didn’t like her other place, and we get along well together.” A little too well.
“I didn’t think that you knew each other that well,” she replied.
“We worked together on patrol every day you were gone,” I told her quietly. “Giles, and she and I were a unit. I ate at her table every day. I slept on the couch more times that I can remember.”
“I never knew that,” she said.
“You never asked.” I opened the other pint of ice cream and took a bite. “You never asked about anything that happened when you were gone.”
“It was just too hard to think about.” I looked over at her, so somber and serious. I remembered the girl she was when we met, all fire and zest and bravado. That girl was gone, and I didn’t think she was ever coming back.
“I’m sorry if I made things worse for you, Slayer.” She looked at me. “I never wanted to hurt you. I just wanted to love you, to make you happy.”
“I know,” she said softly. “I knew how you felt. I never should have let things go so far.”
We sat for a moment in silence. “Why did you make love to me?” I asked her. “Did you ever mean for it to be anything more?”
“I’m not sure,” she said. “After the first time, I wished things were different, that I felt more than I did.” She frowned. “I just didn’t have anything to give you.”
“Do you wish that we’d never been together, that you’d never kissed me that first night?” I asked. I was afraid to hear the answer, but I needed to know.
“Yes.” She looked me straight in the eyes, and I knew it was true. It hurt as much as when she punched me. She got up and handed me the carton of ice cream. “I should go.” I walked her out and stood in the doorway as she walked away. Her head was bowed, her shoulders hunched, as if she walked against a strong wind. I shut the door and headed back to my room.
I opened the door and leaned against the frame. Tara slept; her body sprawled across the afghan. I knew her, better than I had thought I did. I’d seen her in love, seen how devoted she was to Red. I’d seen her fight, seen her use magic. She was a strong woman, and she gave everything she had when she believed in what she was doing. She never did anything casually, was never halfhearted.
If I touched her, she would be mine unconditionally. That was the way she loved, without limits or boundaries. She wasn’t the kind of woman who would give her body, and not her heart. She’d love me with all she had to give, holding back nothing. My heart was broken, my body dead, my soul long lost. I shut the door and walked away.
Continued in Chapter 4