SPOILERS: Season 7, includes spoilers through episode 18.
DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. GO team! Theirs, not mine.
DEDICATION: For Annie Sewell Jennings and Wisteria, who make me laugh my ass off, and then make me cry.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I thought that I'd said all I wanted to say about the Spike and Buffy relationship. Apparently not. The sonnet quoted within is Shakespeare's Sonnet 116.
DISTRIBUTION: Ask, and ye shall receive permission.
FEEDBACK: Sure, fire away to firstname.lastname@example.org
Every night, with one less filled pallet, one more vacant sleeping bag, we all waited to die. The darkness before dawn was the worst, the sounds of talk and preparations traded for tense silence. From basement to roof the house was scented with fear and despair. The taste of it filled my mouth, thick as mud. I slipped my hand underneath the cot and pulled out a bottle of whisky. The warm liquid burned down my throat, and just as I began to unclench, to let go, I swallowed the last of it. I'd have to slip out again, risking death from the Bringers and racing the rising sun, but it beat the pain of this interminable, wracking waiting.
I slipped silently through the basement, the sounds of Andrew and Giles' snoring echoing off the cement walls. My steps made no sound as I crept up the stairs and through the kitchen. As I reached the door, a strong hand closed around my shoulder. My body buzzed, filled with the static that was only produced by the presence of the Slayer.
She spun me to face her, and I looked down into a beautiful face. "You know you're not allowed out, Spike," she said in a singsong, her glossy lips forming a smile. Disappointment filled me: if I was going to get roughed up by a Slayer, this one wasn't my top choice.
"I have about as much respect for rules as you do," I reminded Faith. "I'm heading out."
I turned towards the door, but in the blink of an eye she was in front of it, barring my way. "What would I tell Buffy, if her boyfriend got in trouble on my watch?"
"I'm not her boyfriend," I snapped, wary of her knowing eyes, her flirtatious edge, and the smell and feel of a Slayer, emanating from this girl. It was like receiving porn all of a sudden on your favorite channel: disconcerting, jarring, but arousing all the same.
"You know what they say," the Slayer purred. "If you can't be with the one you love...." Her hand slipped inside my coat, skimming across my chest. I shivered at her touch, the warm feel of her seeping into my skin, burning me like napalm.
"What would you know about love?" I hissed back at her. "Anyone looks in your eyes sees you've never experienced that particular weakness."
Her nails sliced into my chest, the thin cotton of my shirt ripping. "Don't you judge me," she said harshly, her brow furrowed. I felt her fingers press around my heart, and for a second I thought she would punch it right out of my chest.
"Stop screwing around," said Buffy, her voice calm and clear in the quiet of the kitchen. She stepped forward out of the shadows, and the moonlight illuminated her hair, making her glow in the dark room.
"Nobody's screwing yet," Faith replied, her voice as smooth and slick as oil.
"Nobody's screwing at all," I corrected.
Faith smirked, the corner of her mouth turning upwards. "Apparently you haven't heard the little mewls in the night from the lesbo twins-"
"'Night, Faith," Buffy said cheerily. She opened the refrigerator, and the bright light was a shock to my eyes. By the time that my vision recovered, Faith was gone, and I was alone with Buffy.
"We weren't doing anything," I said quickly, and then felt like the world's biggest git when she looked over at me with a smile.
"I know you weren't," Buffy said mildly, as if the thought had never occurred to her. She rinsed off a clump of grapes and set them on a plate.
Ego got the best of me. "Could have been," I said defensively. Just because she didn't see anything worth wanting in me, didn't mean no one else did.
"But you wouldn't," Buffy said softly. She turned towards me, but she stared down at the plate in her hands.
"What makes you so certain?" I asked. "Since your darker half came to Sunnydale, you haven't said a word to me that wasn't a order or a criticism."
Buffy looked up at me, biting into a grape. She looked thoughtful as she chewed and swallowed. "I know that you don't want her. I can tell, by the way you look at her, the way you move, that she's not the one for you." She looked up at me, her eyes shining in the moonlight. They were softer then they had ever been, soft as they were when she looked on Xander, or Dawn, or the way she'd looked at Joyce, long ago. "I'm still the one, for you. I will be, until we're both dead."
She looked down again, her fair hair covering her face. It reminded me of a shroud, the way it had fallen when Giles had lifted her lifeless body into his arms. "I wasn't sure you still loved me," she whispered, so quietly that I barely heard her. "I thought you would have stopped, a long time ago. I thought I would make it easier for you. The harder that I was on you, the less I saw it in you, the need and the softness." She swallowed hard. "Which was what I wanted," she explained, but her voice sounded so uncertain.
"Love is not love," I whispered, "Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove." My hand sank into the soft strands of her hair. I heard her sharp intake of breath as I pulled her locks away, baring her neck. "Oh, no! it is an ever-fixed mark, That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken."
Buffy looked up at me, her eyes wide. I felt the spark flare between us, as powerful as it had ever been. "That's Shakespeare, one of the sonnets. I remember the end." Closing her eyes, she stood there, her hands clenching the plate of grapes. She looked like some medieval saint, dressed in shining white, holding her sacrifice before her. "Love's not Time's fool..." She faltered, her brow furrowing as she wracked her memory. "Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom." Recitation done, she set down her plate. "The edge of doom. That's what made me remember that one. I liked the edge of doom part."
"Catchy," I agreed. "Old Will knew how to turn a phrase."
"That's where we're all living now," Buffy said. "Right smack on the edge of doom." Her eyes flashed, fear and something else.
"Don't say that," I protested. "You'll win. Somehow, you always win. It's what you do."
She shook her head. "Not this time. I can feel it coming, the end of everything. I always knew, that it would come to this. Last time, I refused to believe it would happen. The time before that, I didn't even see it coming. But now I know it's time. I still have some time left, to say goodbye."
I opened my mouth to protest, to spit out some rousing St. Crispin's day speech for her, but I stopped short when she put her hand on my neck, and pulled my mouth down to meet hers. God, it was sweet. We'd never kissed this way before, slow and soft and gentle. It went on for a long time, her arms around my waist, my hands sliding over her back. The embrace ended and without a word, she closed her hand around mine and led me through the minefield of sleeping Potentials to her room. She opened the door, and Faith turned to see us, a lit cigarette in her hand. With a smirk, she tossed it out the window and closed the sash. Buffy lifted a sleeping Dawn from the bed and passed her into the arms of the other Slayer. After we pulled a few girls in sleeping bags into the hallway, we were all alone. Buffy closed the door to her room, and locked it with a loud click.
Buffy straightened the covers and fluffed the pillows of her bed. After sliding inside, she patted the pillow next to her. "Get in." In a matter of seconds, I had a warm Slayer wrapped around me, her head resting on my shoulder. Buffy felt- odd. It took me a moment to realize what it was; she was soft and yielding, her muscles free of the tension that had never really left her before. Her lips pressed softly against my neck, and I stroked her back. "I'm in love with you," she said. "You should know that I love you."
Something burst open inside me, a liquid font of happiness that would never stop flowing. "Your timing is for shit," I informed her, the words tumbling from my mouth.
Buffy looked up angrily, nostrils flared. "You're a pig," she said, clearly on the razor's edge between playing and meaning it.
"And you love it, don't you?" I asked her, and bit the tip of her nose.
"Yeah, I love it. Never a dull moment," Buffy replied, and leaned forward to nip at my carotid artery.
"Minx," I whispered, and she giggled against my throat and bit harder. Soon after that, neither of us were saying much of anything. Anything intelligible, that is.
Sometime later, I heard the banging of pots and pans, the groaning of the plumbing, and the tinny sound of a radio. I leaned over and grabbed Buffy's pillow, pulling it over my head. It smelled like her, the tang of sweat and the clean scent of soap. I recognized the song that was playing downstairs. "It's The End of The World As We Know It", and as the chorus began, I heard a voice rise in song. It was Buffy, her voice a clear soprano, full of joy.
It was going to be a very good day.