My eyes are clear.
That’s what he said in the hallway earlier that day, and it seemed true. But they weren’t later, when he saw her in the restaurant, eating from another man’s fork, letting another man feed her, wine her and dine her, in a way she’d never let Spike do. They were never allowed in public, not him, not them, not ever. And there Spike stood, watching her, all dressed up for a new man, and his eyes, she was almost certain, became filled with a haunting sadness before he blinked and locked it away.
Then, on the sofa, so confused by what Giles had said, so aware of Willow and the others wanting something new and happy for her, she had not been open with Spike. She had just said robotically, “I’m not ready for you to not be here.” Not ready. Implying that someday she would be ready, which was a total lie.
She wanted to grab his hand and explain. Giles wants something better for me. Everyone wants something better for me. Wood could be that. Someone human, someone handsome, someone strong and brave and… not Spike. And therein lay the problem. He was just not Spike.
Buffy shakes her head at the bottom of the steps, then crosses into the room. She can make out his platinum blonde head but that’s all. There is no telltale sign of even breathing to let her know he’s asleep. It is the absence of breath while he sleeps. She listens carefully, then slowly crosses to him.
Her long robe is soft and warm, so she is not quite sure why she is shivering as she kneels next to the cot. She can make out the lines of his face now, the hollow shadow of his cheeks, the curve of that lower lip. He looks really, truly dead lying there, and she lets herself imagine it, him truly being gone from her. This is the one place she does not let mind ever go. She has joked about it for years, making him dust, making him disappear. But tonight, here, in the dark stillness of this cold hard room that he stays in because Buffy wishes it to be so, she tries to imagine life without him.
It is too much. Her body tenses and she suddenly can’t breathe. She has to touch him to stop the rising panic. Before she realizes what she is doing she has climbed onto the cot and wound herself around him, burying her face in his neck. She breaths in the scent of him and when she feels something wet on her face she realizes she is crying.
I’m not ready for you to not be here. What the hell did she say that for, so cold and ambivalent? Why couldn’t she tell him? Why couldn’t she face the truth?
“Don’t cry, Buffy. Please don’t cry.” His voice is so sad, so resigned, but so full of tenderness that it only makes her cry harder. He lies still next to her, his hands clenched to his sides. Why won’t he hold me? Maybe because if he tried you’d shove him away. Jackass.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispers brokenly into his neck. “I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I’m supposed to be strong… and I’m supposed to move on… but I can’t let you go.”
She feels him swallow, hears his ragged sigh. “You don’t have to,” he says, wearily. His arms tentatively reach around her, and he pulls her close. “It’s all right.”
“Don’t be kind to me,” she rasps, her voice raw from crying. “Why are you so kind to me?”
“Don’t be daft,” he replies, stroking her hair. She clings to him, long minutes until her sobs abate.
“I’m so selfish,” she says. She tries to draw strength from the solidness of him. Her hands cling to the muscles of his arms and she squeezes them to reassure herself he is still here.
“We all are. ‘Sides, you’ve saved the world how many times and died how many times? You’re entitled to being selfish.”
Buffy leans up on one elbow and looks down at him. The mattress creaks under her shifting weight.
“What am I doing to you?” she sighs as tears trickle down her cheek. Spike puts one arm behind his head and with the other reaches up to wipe away her tears.
“You’re not doing anything to me. Nothing I don’t choose for myself. You got that? You want me to stay, I’ll stay. For as long as you want me to. And I’m here. For whenever you need me. That’s all.” His face is sad, but when he gives her a supportive smile, her heart seems to break inside her chest, break and repair itself and pound until it hurts her ribs. She reaches her hand up and traces the planes of his face. He watches her as she seems to discover him, truly see him, see what he has become. She shakes her head in wonder, and then she lowers her head and kisses him, slowly, softly. He does not respond, although she knows he wants to, she can feel his erection pressing against her leg that she has wrapped over his lower body.
“I want to love you, if you’ll let me.” There, she said it. The words seem to float over them and disappear like mist. He does not respond. His eyes are clenched tightly shut, and he has turned his head away.
She moves the kiss from his lips to his cheek, tracing his jaw, then down his neck, tasting him as if for the first time. Here was the spark, the fire, the longing she had denied for weeks, months even. She shifts so that she is on top of him, her hands on either side of his head as she stares down at him. Her hair falls in a curtain around them, and he looks up at her. Fear, joy, agony, confusion, longing… he seems to mirror everything in his gaze that she too is feeling. She answers the questions in his eyes with a small nod, and then she reached down and opens her robe, pressing her naked form to him, covering him with her skin as smooth as silk. Still he does not move.
“Please,” she says, kissing him again. “Please.”
“Oh, God… Buffy…” he mutters, letting himself kiss her back. He puts his hand behind her head and draws her to him, kissing her deeply, his tongue tasting, testing… “This isn’t real.”
“Yes, it is.” Her hands roam over his naked chest, and when they reach the wasteband of his pajama bottoms he jerks away. “I love you. Let me love you.”
“Don’t love me,” he says. “You don’t have to love me. I love you, that’s enough.”
“Well, I seem to love you anyway,” she says. She moves down and pulls the sweatpants off him, and then he is naked, as naked as she. She kisses his smooth chest, his nipples, teasing them with her tongue. When he gasps she smiles.
“Let me,” she says again, slowly, softly, her lips moving down now. God, he smells good, tastes good, feels so good and she wants him to feel good too, needs to show him that without him she’s lost. Her small hand circles his penis, softly stroking, and whole body tenses before her as she brings her lips down. She tastes the tip of him, circling him with her tongue before she brings him all in to her warm, moist mouth. He is so hard, and God she has missed this, missed making him feel this way. He is whispering her name like a prayer and the heat between her legs spreads out, floods her. She licks the length of him, her hand wrapped around the base of his shaft as she begins to suck again in earnest. She loves the feel of him bucking beneath her.
“Stop… please…” he mutters, hands in her hair as he pulls her up to him.
“Why?” she whispers hoarsely.
“Need to be inside you,” he says. She nods, shifts her weight and his hands are on her hips as he guides her. In one swift motion he is inside her, and Buffy almost screams but she covers her mouth in time to stifle it. It has been so long, and there is a blissful pain that she welcomes. Every inch of him is inside her, and she can make out his expression, that same expression he had when they first made love in that ruined building, so long ago. Awe, and love, and passion.
“Let me,” she whispers, and begins to move on him, up and down, slowly, watching his face. No one has ever looked at me like this, she thinks, stunned. The love, the worship evident on his face no longer makes her look away in shame. Instead, she welcomes it, smiles the same love back to him.
His hands are now on her waist as she rides him. She uses her strength to stretch out each movement so that he is left gasping. She arches her back and his hands cup her breasts, and she cannot help but moan.
“Jesus… Buffy… Oh, fuck…” His hand moves between them, feeling the wetness between her legs, rubbing, probing, moving on her in the way only he can, and he pulls himself up, sits up to face her while she presses down on him, and his kiss is searing. She gasps against his mouth, feels it coming, starting, the release, the explosion. She grips him to her, nails in back, and the move in unison toward ecstasy.
They slowly come back to earth, still wound around each other, she in his lap as he rocks her slowly back and forth, back and forth. Sweat clings to their skin and the room smells like sin. He is kissing the side of her neck.
“Buffy,” he says. “Buffy.”
She kisses him, one, twice, soft little kisses that make him smile.
“Come upstairs with me,” she says, standing up and putting on her robe. She holds out her hand to him. “My bed is bigger than this, and I have TV.”
Spike leans his head against the wall, staring up at her. “But the others…”
“I’m ready to deal with them if you are.”
Spike nods slowly. He takes her hand and she pulls him up. He hugs her to him, tightly, and kisses the top of her head.
“I’m ready,” he says.
Together they go upstairs.