Part Eleven: Answers
She traced the sharp line of his jaw slowly, careful not to tickle. He needed rest after his ordeal...and what came afterwards. Buffy felt as if they existed inside a bubble just now, the terrible world held at bay by a single candle and a safe cocoon of government issue blankets. If she moved too quickly, spoke too loud, would it burst? Would this disappear? She wondered about that little book Spike had come here to find. Wondered what it was that he would ever return here. She knew he had not expected to find her, if he had known...well he would have come sooner. She knew this, his love was constant, it was she who had wavered. She dismissed the question of the book and returned to her task of memorizing every plane and dip of his face. Trying to carve it so deeply into her mind that it could never be wiped away again.
Willow and her rage. Had the curse been deliberate or the byproduct of a mind drowning in magic? Buffy didn’t know. Nor did she know why it had been erased by contact with Spike. Willow had probably counted on Buffy never seeing him again to disturb the spell. It was a fitting revenge she had crafted, Buffy thought. Truly, she had condemned Buffy to hell on earth.
Spike stirred beneath her and Buffy pushed her dark thoughts aside. He opened his eyes, looked straight up and smiled. That cocky grin, the one that always made her want to punch him, it still did. His gaze lowered until it made contact with the woman draped across his chest. Blue met hazel and the grin broadened. His arm tightened around her waist and he brought his other arm up to pull her head down to his. Their lips met lightly, lingered, and broke apart. She gave him an answering smile, a small one.
“Never thought I’d miss hair gel and peroxide.” she murmured, reaching up to stroke his inky locks.
He looked nonplussed. “Oh, th’ hair. Someone told me I looked dated...Slayer I think.”
She looked surprised. “A Slayer? Been steppin’ out on me?”
He laughed ruefully. “In a way, but not th’ way you’re suggestin’. Brings me to a question I have, pet. Ten years after I left...Paris...I met a Slayer there.” His face grew grave. “Thought it meant you were dead...care to explain that to me?”
Buffy thought back. Ten years...2013.“Faith,” she said.
Spike looked confused.
“Faith, the other Slayer, she died that year...out of prison three days and a gang of demons killed her in L.A. She was just trying to get back into it...the save the world business. The Council told me she was dead...I envied her.” Buffy looked distant as she related the tale.
Spike pulled her closer, trying to remind her he was there. She looked down at him sadly...the bubble was breaking.
He changed the subject, although all of them were somewhat sad. “How is it...that you are still young Buffy? I mean...you’re just th’ bloody same. I’d swear to it.” Spike cupped her youthful cheek in wonder.
Buffy shrugged. “Damned if I know. Cellular sunburn, my ass. Maybe it was the resurrection ritual...or the curse Willow put on me regarding you...to live eternally with no memory of love...I don’t know. I just know I wake up every night just the same, fight the same battle, and try as I might...I can’t manage to get myself killed.”
Spike raised his head up to stare at her closely. “Do you try? T’get killed, that is?”
She looked away; eyes suddenly bright with unshed tears. “Yes....sometimes, when it seems like too much. Then I remember this is my duty, to try and hold back the demons, I have no right to seek death.”
Spike hissed in disbelief. “What makes you think you’re th’ only one who has to fight? T’ do this alone? Buffy, it’s too much for any one person...even a Slayer!” He grabbed her chin and made her look at him. “Buffy?”
Buffy pushed the blanket aside and stood up. “It doesn’t matter if I wish for death or not. I’ll show you.”
She walked naked to the table and fetched the candle. Bringing it back, she held it close to her, close enough that Spike could see something he hadn’t noticed before. He rose up on his elbows and stared. A tracery of nearly invisible white lines crisscrossed her body. Across her abdomen, her thighs, four parallel gashes marred one bicep, a jagged line on her collarbone. She was covered in very pale, almost imperceptible scars.
“You couldn’t see before...it’s very faint...Every battle...recorded for me,” she whispered, dipping the candle so he could see her legs and their marks. “Once in a while...there’s too many monsters. They cut, I bleed, wounds that would kill even a Slayer. Sometimes I make it home, sometimes they leave me for dead, but I always wake up like this, recovered...except for this kind reminder...written in flesh.”
Spike was stunned...he couldn’t think of anything to say.
“So you see...a death wish is pretty useless...for someone who can’t die,” she returned the candle to the table and sank down beside him. She tried not to show the fear that she felt...that he would be repulsed by her now...the freakish thing she had become.
Spike sat up and reached to touch the extremely thin, silvery scar on her collarbone. It was long...uneven. A claw most likely, swiped across her throat to sever an artery. She lived through this? Over and over? He bent and pressed his mouth against it. As if he could take it back, that she never had to feel that pain...
“See now luv...its a good thing,” he said, still kissing the scar, running soft hands over others on her arms, her stomach...
It was Buffy’s turn to look confused.
He kissed her mouth once...lightly, and explained. “Because now you can be with me...forever.”
Buffy felt a surge of hope at his words before reality came crashing down again. She pushed him back a little. “Will you stay with me? Because this is what I do...I can’t leave.”
Spike frowned. “Why not. You like this place so much? Th’ rats? Th’ demons? Maybe this lovely abode y’ got here? This may sound funny comin’ from a bloke who used to live in a grave but this place is a dump.”
“I know...but it’s high up, away from the center of town and easy to defend. Those are the only criteria I care about,” Buffy replied.
Spike moved her over on the blanket and stood up. He hunted about the chamber, looking on the table and beneath.
“What are you doing?” she inquired.
“Th’ book, where is it?” Spike said, turning to look at her.
Buffy pointed at her knapsack in the corner and Spike crossed to it and pulled the small black volume from the canvas sack. He tossed it to her gently and started searching for his pants.
“Your ticket out of here, Buffy. The Adoperis manuscript. Get dressed, we’re getting th‘ hell out of Dodge,” he said, locating the missing clothing in a corner.
Buffy opened the book, determined it to be unreadable and set it down. “No ticket Spike. I can’t leave, not ever. If that isn’t okay with you...then lea...”
Spike was in her face before she could finish the thought. “No! Don’t say it. I will never listen to you tell me to leave again. Just...don’t!” he snarled, crushing his mouth to hers. This was no gentle kiss, it was anger and fear and punishment all in one.
Buffy tumbled back on the blankets, pulling him down on top of her. She let him handle her roughly, didn’t fight as he fell between her legs. He shifted once and was inside her. She accepted it, let him vent the frustration of decades spent alone in her body. She just held on, rocked with him, pressed her lips to his cheek as he drove into her. Whispered “Sorry,” over and over into his ear. She should never have suggested, much less said what she had started to say.
Spike heard her words somewhere in his delirium, his tempo slowed, he looked down, saw the apology in her eyes. She was so afraid. He should have realized that. He almost stopped but she arched into him, telling him to continue...and he did. Not gently but not so frenzied either. She matched her motions to his and it became a thing they did together instead of what he did to her. The room receded and all he saw, all he felt... was her...all around him.
Buffy knew when he let go of the rage, felt him come back to her. She wrapped arms shaking with relief around him and let herself give in to the sensations enveloping her. Rhythm, fiction, heat, and cold. His mouth, his fingers, everything, given to her. It built and built until she felt like she might scream and why not? She arched her back, let it happen and screamed into his shoulder. Bit down on his flesh, dug nails in his back. He growled in her ear, he liked the roughness, he always did. He was in the grip of it as well and he sank so deep it dragged another scream from her hoarse throat.
The instant they both came back to earth, he rolled to his side bringing her with him and kissed her once more, hard and quick. Looking directly into her passion glazed eyes, he said slowly and very succinctly, “Don’t ever tell me to leave again.
When Spike woke the second time, he was alone. He bolted upright and looked around for Buffy. Noise upstairs caught his ear. He rose and dressed quickly. He had no shirt anymore so he just shrugged his rumpled blazer on over bare skin and ascended quickly. What was she up to now?
“Buffy?” he called, shoving the damaged door aside.
She stood by the box that contained her clothes getting dressed. Pulling a black knit cap over her hair, she gave him a quick smile and knelt to lace up battered boots.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“It’s nighttime again. Time to go kill the nasties,” Buffy replied.
She crossed to the card table and started to pile weapons into her knapsack.
Spike laughed shortly. “Why? I told you, we’re leaving.”
“And I told you I can’t. My dut...”
“Screw your duty. It’s pointless anyways. Buffy, we have to get out of here. The book...” Spike shouted, his angry words echoing in the near empty room.
“Yes your little book. I don’t know what it is but it doesn’t matter...” Buffy interrupted him in turn.
“It bloody well does! You think I’d come prancin’ back into this town if it wasn’t? Buffy...it...” Spike stopped, tried to calm himself. She still drove him mad. Stubborn, opinionated little... He walked over to her and sat her down on the solitary chair...knelt in front of her and tried to explain.
He looked up into her stormy face, she turned it so she couldn‘t see him. Still so damned stubborn. This was necessary but still an unhappy task.
“Buffy...it isn’t working. Th’ demons pet...there's just too many. For every one you kill, a dozen leave Sunnydale and venture out into the world. People...well people just can’t fight them. They come out in th’ daytime... steal children from their mothers. Homes are bloody fortresses now...to keep out the demons. Not just vampires anymore...true creatures of hell. Devils and hellhounds...”
Buffy flinched at the mention of hounds. Another bad memory? There was probably no limit to those. He reached up to tilt her chin so he could see her face. Tears shone bright in her eyes.
“You can’t stop them anymore Buffy...not alone,” he said softly, knowing he was tearing away the foundations of her existence, her reason for being.
“So...eighty years of fighting and what? It doesn’t matter? The End of Days is coming anyways?” Buffy replied bitterly. She dragged one arm across her face to dry angry tears.
Spike shook his head. “Still th’ bloody hero. Buffy...it’s not your fault...someone is doing this. Letting them into the world. The book, it has a spell to stop it, seal the Hellmouth forever. It would give people a fightin’ chance to get back on top.”
Buffy looked...guilty somehow. Why couldn’t he convince her this was the right thing to do?
“It’s over for you here...all your people...gone...but I’m here and the world is still here. Don’t you think its time to go?” Spike said persuasively.
Was she wavering?
“They’re dead, Buffy. All of them...Xander...Dawn...Willow. But you’re not. Don’t you want to live, truly live?”
She stood and walked away from him...over to one of the covered windows, leaned her head against the rough black fabric. She said something, so softly even vampire ears couldn’t hear.
“What? What did you say Buffy?” he asked, still kneeling in front of the chair, puzzled at her behavior.
Buffy turned and faced him. A grim expression on her face, arms crossed defensively across her chest.
“I said you’re wrong. They’re not all dead...one still lives,” she replied quietly.
Spike was genuinely surprised. He was about to ask who when the outer door shattered into a thousand splintered pieces. Black smoke billowed inwards as Spike dove across the floor to Buffy’s side. Whatever this was, he was going to be right beside her to fight it.
But Buffy just stood there... motionless... and watched, a look of ineffable sadness on her face as a small figure flanked by six hulking demons stepped into the room. The bubble was broken...
Spike heard her answer through the sound of tiny shards of wood hitting the tile floor...
Continued in Part Twelve: Regrets