Written for: captainofidiots who wanted the following:
Thanks: to dettiot for a great beta on very short notice
Summary: sym*bi*o*sis: the intimate living together of two dissimilar organisms in a mutually beneficial relationship. They need each other.
She laid her weapons out carefully on the bed. Along with the usual stakes, axes, and cross bow, she’d recently added a semiautomatic rifle to the mix. She hated guns, but it had become a necessity. It was needed for protection, and Spike had taught her how to use it. Of course, she could use it flawlessly now. Better than him, even. And though she would never admit it, she had grown to like it. She thought he suspected the same. She’d look up to find him watching her taking target practice, a lustful gleam in his eye.
“You’ve gone all Linda Hamilton on me, love. I like it.”
Half the time she’d roll her eyes at a comment like that, and go back to shooting. The other half, she’d drop her gun and make him show her how much he liked it.
Now, he came into the bedroom and threw a box on the bed. “Ammunition,” he said.
She nodded. They seemed to speak in short hand these days.
She packed the weapons into a duffel, and then lay down on the bed. “C’mere baby,” she said. “Dinner time.”
He tried to hide the hint of shame in his gaze before he took her in his arms and accepted her gift. She saw his guilt, knew it was there, but ignored it, as she knew he did. It was the way it was with them, the arrangement they had. He hated that he needed her blood to stay alive.
She wasn’t sure if he realized just how much she needed him for the same reason.
There were no more butcher shops to get blood from, of course. Spike had attempted to feed on animals, but the radiation made the blood intolerable. It would have been the same with people, though neither of them mentioned that. Occasionally they found a freezer still running off a generator, and he would get what blood he could by eating the raw meat. It wasn’t enough.
He’d been starving to death before her very eyes.
“Won’t have to worry about vamps much longer, pet,” he’d said to her one day, as he watched her sharpen a stake. “Vamps can’t live without people.” Too late he realized what he’d said.
She’d gone to him, fingers dancing along his rib cage, playing a sorrowful tune. “Good thing you’ve got me, then. I’m people.” He’d turned away and refused to discuss it.
They were in the bath when it happened for the first time. Water sloshed from the tub as she rode him, his head lolling back against the cool tile surround.
“Bite me,” she whispered. His head shot up in surprise, and even as he came he was telling her no.
“Don’t be a martyr, Spike. It doesn’t suit you,” she said. “And besides, you look like hell.”
She pulled her wet hair off her neck, and saw his pupils dilate. Placing her hand on the back of his head she brought his face close, and saw it change. He gripped her around the waist, the ridges of his forehead nuzzling her breasts, her shoulder, her neck. Looking up at her, she could still see the resistance in his eyes. “I’m supposed to be the one who never did this to you,” he said, and her heart broke for him. “And I’ll stake myself if I hurt you.” She bent her head to kiss him, letting her lower lip graze over a fang. He groaned as the drops of blood hit his tongue.
“You won’t hurt me,” she whispered, and pressed his mouth to her neck. Her body was overtaken with sensation, his fangs sinking into her flesh, Spike growing hard within her from her own blood. She could feel him inside her, like she’d felt no one before, not since their hands had clasped in a fiery grip. She’d felt his soul then, and she felt it now.
And yeah, it stung a little. But she clung to him like a lifeline, grateful that she could do something for him. He was a dead man, but he kept her alive; a vampire who kept her human.
She hadn’t been with her friends when the blast came, and never found out what had happened to them in the craziness that followed. Perhaps that was for the best. She was thankful that she, Spike and Dawn had at least been together. She wondered if she and Spike might have gotten their respective acts together sooner if they’d known that the world was about to go to hell. They’d wasted so much time.
Since then, they’d been on a slow journey to nowhere. If they couldn’t escape it, at least they could delay the onset of the inevitable, relentless cold. Dawn had come with, of course, but they didn’t get far before she’d gotten sick, and then sicker by the day. Spike had carried her in his arms the last night they traveled with her, and every step he took hurt her, though it was he who had cried, not Dawn. The worst was when her hair had fallen out, in handfuls, laying there like a Halloween wig on her pillow. She had cried for her Mommy at the end, and Spike had told Buffy that he was sure that Joyce was there to take Dawn to heaven, and that Buffy would see them both again some day. “But please don’t go yet,” he’d begged her, burying his head in her lap. He still didn’t think he’d ever end up there. And he knew her so well; if he hadn’t been there, she would have tried to join them.
Except that at this point, she wasn’t sure if she could kill herself even if she wanted to. Buffy had gotten ill right along with Dawn. She’d watched Spike care for them both with his terrible haunted eyes. She knew he wouldn’t last long after they were both gone.
But then she’d gotten better.
As a matter of fact, she thought she was stronger now than she had ever been before. She wasn’t sure what would happen when the food ran out, but the radiation didn’t seem to touch her. “I am Mutant Ninja Buffy!” she would sometimes tease Spike, placing her hands on her hips in a super hero pose.
“You’re bloody beautiful is what you are,” he’d say, pulling her in for a kiss.
On the rare occasions she let herself think about it, she wondered what she would have become if it wasn’t for him. What would she have done with all the hurt and anger and misery, with nothing and no one to relieve the pain? Mutant Ninja Buffy didn’t seem so funny then.
So they kept moving, stopping here and there when they found a good place, until it wasn’t good anymore. The world was changing around them, and soon they wouldn’t have to worry about traveling during the day, though that wasn’t exactly good news. The sun had been nearly obliterated from the sky, and they could no longer see the stars at night. It was as if heaven itself had abandoned them.
But for right now, things were good; as good as they got, at least. They had a house with a generator and a tank of propane, and there was still food left in the pantry. They’d probably stay until all that ran out. Spike had taught her to play poker, and she’d become an expert at that too, taking thousands in worthless dollars from him. She could bluff like nobody’s business. And every once in awhile, he’d put a CD in the player and pull her to her feet, and they’d slow dance for a few songs before falling down on the sofa to make love.
But sometimes, on the bad days, the fantasy would fade away. The glaring truth, that they were simply living a parody of domestic life that was doomed to end in tragedy, punched her in the gut, nearly bringing her to her knees, and she would turn away from him. But he always brought her back, with soft words and soft kisses. And he told the truth, always the truth, because he knew she wouldn’t buy anything else.
This is real, he told her. We are real. We are here and now.