Sequel to Manhattan Nocturne; part of The Bittersweets Series
Summary: She can't go on. She'll go on.
Author Notes: Set in season 6, following "Wrecked." This is the first story in the BITTERSWEETS series.
Dedication: As always, for Kalima first and foremost. Also for the Bitches, and Deborah M.
Completed: December 2001.
Disclaimer: Joss creates, I borrow
The TV remote bouncing off his cheekbone woke him up. Sat up to see her there at the foot of the bed, wearing that expression, her whole body humming in the crypt’s silence like a swarm of angry bees. Deja bloody Slayer. Didn’t we go through this just last week?
“I can’t do this, Spike!”
He scratched a nipple, ran a hand through his hair, stared at her. She was practically blazing—hair and eyes and mouth all aglow. Big frown on.
“You came here to tell me you weren’t going to come here?”
“What? No!” More frowning. Followed by pacing.
“I know I said I need you out of my life—“
He reached across for his cigarettes and lighter. Might as well enjoy a fag while he listened to her say whatever devastating thing was about to come out of her rosy mouth.
She paused. “Are you even listening to me?”
“Look, Tara’s left us, and Willow’s gone AWOL on me, not to mention that she’s—will you hang with Dawn so I can patrol?”
“Got her stashed upstairs, do you?” he said, nodding up towards the top part of the duplex.
“Huh? Here? No! She’s at some friend’s house, but she’ll be home in an hour. There’s no one there to look after her, but I’ve got to be out there, I can’t—”
“So you’re asking me to sit with her at your house?” Spike examined his fingernails. The black lacquer was chipped. More chipped than he liked it to be. Perhaps he and the Niblet could swap manicures. Pass the time. “The person you entrust with the care of your precious sis is the same person you awaken by flinging things at his head.” He paused. Drew a bead on her. “Even now.”
She stopped pacing and stared at him. Eyes wide. Frantic, frozen. Not an expression he loved. Well, he loved them all. He loved her. But this was not a good face.
“I can’t do this, Spike!”
“You said that before.”
“No–I mean—I can’t do this! I can’t do any of it!” She started flinging her hands around, pacing again. “I can’t look after Dawn properly, I can’t entrust her to my so-called friends, I can’t talk to my so-called friends, I can’t earn a living, I can’t manage without Giles, I can’t be doing this with you because it’s sick. And I can’t fling myself off a bridge because they’d just drag me back again.” There were tears now, big gelid silent tears, as if she didn’t know she was crying. Then she put a hand up to her face, felt the moisture, and the emotion caught up with her. She began to sob. “I just can’t do any of it! I can’t function! What’s going to happen to us!”
Spike started to get up, remembered he was naked. “C’mere, Buffy.”
“Huh?” She stared at him, that look of horror on her face that he knew so well. “Spike! Inappropriate! Jeezus!”
He held his hand out to her. “Come here, Buffy. Come.”
Shaking her head, looking everywhere but at him, she sidled around the bed. He caught her arm, drew her down. “That’s it, pet. Have your cry.”
She stiffened all over when he put his arms around her, but then she tucked her face into the crook of his neck. He felt her breathing catch, felt her swallow hard.
“Nah, you’re being too quiet. Don’t hold back on me. You didn’t the other time, and that was right. Just have your meltdown. I’m here.”
The sobs bubbled out of her, slowly at first, then more and faster. She burrowed against him and keened. He stroked her hair, and wondered what he’d have to pay for this. She’d resent him for it in a little while, for sure.
The sobbing stopped. She kept her forehead pressed into his neck.
“Why did this have to happen?” she whispered. “Why was I brought back here just to do all the things that I did before? They were so hard. I did them. But I don’t think I can anymore. Not with everything a million times harder than it was.”
Oh, her precious trembling body. He hugged her to him, sang within himself because she didn’t pull away.
“No one consulted me. No one missed you more than me, but I wouldn’t have let them do this if I’d known.”
Her hand came up and caressed his face. He felt her wonder at herself as she did it. Oh, he thought, how I shall pay.
“I hate this,” she said.
Buffy sat up, looked at him, with that quizzical, pained expression. Another of her well-known stunners. Her face was blotchy, eyelashes still glistening. “What does it mean . . . “ she whispered. “What does it mean, that this time around, you’re the only one I can trust?”
Dawn had accepted his presence in the house without a murmur; just sat down beside him on the couch as she had all summer and stared at the TV. Went to bed when he reminded her with just a token protest. Poor little bit, with her arm in a sling and that unseen hand that seemed to tug the corners of her mouth down.
He lowered the TV volume, and waited in the blue light for Buffy. Two hours after Dawn went upstairs, she’d still not come. Three, four. We were into infomercial time. How many burying grounds was she swooping through in an evening? I can’t fling myself off a bridge . . . Christ, what if—? Spike leapt up. She’d faked him out. Shitfuckpiss. And he’d fallen for it, and it was hours gone now, and she’d be gone—!
He grabbed his coat, threw open the door.
“Please tell me you’re not just walking off and leaving her alone.”
“Buffy!” He recovered, aware of the absurd grin he knew she’d seen. Fumbled in his pocket. “Just wanted a smoke. Don’t smoke in the house.”
She sighed. “I know I’m late.”
“I hadn’t noticed, pet. Watching the creature features, I was.”
“Okay. Well. Thanks.” Again, she was looking all around, but not at him. Favoring the porch swing with her long glance.
“Right. Fine. Dawn’s asleep. You should be too.” He started down the porch steps. That went all right, didn’t it? I met the expectations there.
He wheeled around.
Hesitant, he followed her back into the house. She took off her jacket, tossed the stakes from her pocket onto the hall table. Didn’t look at him. Well, he could finish out the night on the couch. Just make sure the curtains on the picture window were pulled all the way across—
But she’d touched his arm. Just one touch, and when he turned she was already starting up the stairs.
He put one foot on the lowest step. She couldn’t possibly mean him to follow her. Not up there.
Buffy paused, half way up. Didn’t glance around.
“You were gone such a time, Slayer. Kill a lot of nasties out there tonight?”
“Nope. Didn’t see a single one.”
He processed that. Hours walking around alone. Well well. He took the next step. She’d turn on him now, fling him back with one well-placed shove. Because she really couldn’t mean for him to follow her.
But she was already at the top, turning the corner of the landing.
Okay then. They were going to check on Dawn. And then he’d go finish the night on the sofa. No way this was anything else.
Right. There was Buffy at the door to Dawn’s room. Peeking in. Closing it gently. He heard the click. And then she looked up at him. She was three yards away, back lit from the streetlamp that shone in the hall window. He couldn’t really see her face. Just knew she was looking at him, in that calm business-like Buffy way. And she went into her room. And the door was open.
He pushed it shut behind him.
Of course, he’d been here before. To steal her body-scented clothes. To drag her out to catch Riley with the vamp whores. But not like this. Not when she was standing near the closet taking off her clothes as if she was alone, except that there was a primness to her movements, an I don’t care what happens here because I don’t care about anything anymoreness that he hated. This wasn’t how she was supposed to be. If she couldn’t be happy, better she be fierce.
But no, not fierce either. He knew full well what fierce covered up. In himself. Same with her.
He stepped into the room. She was standing here in just her jeans, peering unseeingly into the closet. Shivering a little. He touched her arm. She turned but still didn’t seem to see him. Let him move her around towards the bed. Stepped out of her jeans and knickers when he tugged them down. Sat her on the edge. How unlikely, that she was the same girl who’d shagged him senseless two weeks back. Impossible that she’d actually spoken to him five minutes ago. Where’d she gone? He began to undress. Tried to put a little show into it, arouse her interest. Get a giggle. She watched, but didn’t seem to see.
He knelt at her feet. Flashed on himself singing that stupid song to her, also on his knees. Well, wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for that. Tell me what it means that you’re the only one I can trust? He kissed her knees. Released from clothes, her scent was strong. She smelled sad, and warm. Alive. She was alive. Changed, broken, but . . . He kissed her thighs, wishing he’d fed more recently so he could be warmer for her. Wishing he had maybe a cup of tea to heat up his mouth at least. Wishing she’d notice he was even there. The bot had been more responsive than she was at this moment. He remembered the way the machine had smiled at him—with Buffy’s fullest, most disingenuous smile. Had he ever seen the real girl smile like that? Wanted to. Probably never would now.
A hand on either knee, he parted her thighs, working his way slowly towards her with his tongue. First good glimpse he’d had of her pussy, sweet little thing. Too dark, too frantic the other time to look. He looked now, kissing her thighs softly, a rain of small kisses. So pretty. For all that she was the mighty Slayer, just a pretty girl pussy. He spoke it out loud. Glanced up at her face. No change. Okay, too easy.
She was wet, inside. Just the barest beginning. So, not completely catatonic yet. He spread the pearly stuff up from her quim, licked it off her clit. Heard her sigh. Ah, lovely. “Lie back, pet. Be more comfortable. Give me room to work.” He took her hips in his hands, drew her nearer. Lifted one thigh to his shoulder. There, that was good. “Such a pretty Buffy,” he murmured. “Such a pretty love. S’gonna be all right. Pretty sweet little darling.” He set off slow, almost no pressure, just the tongue, plenty of wet, kissing, lapping. Held her open with one hand over the pubic bone, in the springy curls. Found hers with the other, squeezed it. She squeezed back, and the overwhelming tenderness that rose up in his dead heart poured itself forth through his lips and tongue. She’d never had this before, he was sure of it. Not this way. Angel wouldn’t have done it, that one time he had her. He was such a steak-and-potatoes guy, the bastard. Even if he’d not turned, this wouldn’t have occurred to him, giving her a languorous seeing to, all for her, not about his cock. As for Captain Cardboard—! Oh, he’d probably done his duty, and she’d have pretended to love it, wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings, he had so many of them, all standard issue. Slow, slow . . . he wasn’t going to make her come too soon . . . he wasn’t going to make her come just once . . . calling her back, he was. If she must have this body, if she must be here in it, then she should inhabit it to every molecule, feel it burst into life in every corpuscle, glad and thrumming. Let her take his head off afterwards, he’d give her this first.
Of course it wasn’t all for her. Because she had to know there was no place he’d rather be than immersed in her most delicate place . . . it was for this, the idea of this, because of course it was never going to happen, not really . . . for this he’d let Glory tear him up, risked immolation in the sun on the desert road, taken that fall off the tower. Just for the idea of her.
There! The first wave caught her; she moaned and bucked, gripped his hand. He stayed with her, increased the pressure, drew her up towards it again, up and over, and this time she said his name, and her other hand grabbed the hair at the back of his head. He knew when to ease off a bit, turned his attention to her overflowing quim, tongue and fingers there, soaked in her, lovely, and wasn’t she his chalice now. One finger, coated in her liquor, tried the ass. Would she like that? Oh,yes. She was beginning to boil along like a teakettle, wordless ah ah ah ahs that got faster and faster. Back now to the clit, all swollen and gooey, ready again for his touch. She went off in a whole cascade of foamy spendings, and her other leg was across his back now.
His cock, untouched, almost unthought of, bobbed in time with her pulse. It slavered to be into her, but he ignored it. She was talking now . . . his name, sighed, croaked, groaned. And, as he built her slowly towards the next peak, something else. At first he couldn’t make out what it was. A low rhythmic grunting. “D-d-d-d-d-d-d-d—“ He slid four fingers into her, rubbing against the good place inside as he sucked on her engorged clit. God, what she was capable of!
And she kept on, now it sounded like “Don’t—don’t—don’t—“ But he knew she didn’t mean for him to stop, so he went right on, feeling every shudder, every gasp, and it became something else as she climbed up the slope again, her whole body shaking, “Don’t—don’t—don’t leave—don’t leave—don’t leave—don’t leave me—don’t leave me—“
God, they all did, didn’t they? The miserable shits. Her grip on his hand, her thighs around his head, almost crushing. She heaved and came, chanting it over and over. He rode it through with her, and realized when she fell back that he’d come himself, his thighs and belly sticky and dripping.
She still had hold of his hair. Tugged. He crawled up her body, onto the bed, nervous of what he’d see in her face. Her eyes were closed. They opened when he loomed over her. Oh, she saw him now. He shivered with the intensity of that look. Full of the one question.
Her little hand closed around his sticky cock, and it rose up again for her like an obedient dog. It was hers, like all of him was. He tensed and groaned when she put him inside her. Drenched and yielding and so hot. He looked at her. Her eyes could be so big. He began to rock, and she clung to him, moved with him, every part of her body touching his, and he watched it in her face, what it was like for her to have him. Not pretending anymore that it wasn’t happening. She didn’t hide anything, from him or herself.
“This isn’t right,” she whispered, staring into his eyes. Grinding herself against him. “It’s all wrong.”
Oh God. I love her. It increased every hour. And he’d thought he loved Dru! And he’d thought he loved Buffy last year. Nothing nothing nothing to what he felt right this moment. Helpless for her.
“Don’t leave me, Spike. Don’t leave me. Please. Don’t. Leave. Me.”
“Don’t worry, precious. I’m not like the others,” he said, shaking with the ecstasy of being so far up inside her, so completely surrounded by her. Oh, she owns me. I am so hers. When she finally goes from me, I hope to God she leaves me dead.
She slept, and he resisted the urge to do the same, stroking her hair in a measured way meant to keep her under. It was so late when they’d started, just a couple of hours would be all she’d get. Didn’t want her to wake up and find him—dead. Which was what he was like, asleep, no breath, no pulse, no gentle rise and fall of the chest. Maybe that was why she threw things at him to rouse him. Didn’t want to go right up and touch an unmoving corpse.
Christ. He’d not thought of himself that way before. Never been less than utterly pleased with what he was.
Movement out in the hall. Thumps and bumps. Then a knock, followed immediately by a head. “Buffy, get up and help me find my—Oh no.”
Dawn, or rather, two dinner-plate-sized eyes that were called Dawn, took in the scene for five seconds that felt like five minutes. Then the door slammed, followed by a noise like an elephant being tumbled down the stairs.
Spike leapt up and into his clothes, even as Buffy started to come to.
“Sssh, nothing. Go back to sleep, pet, it’s still early. Be right back.” He flipped the clock on the bedside table around in the hopes she wouldn’t see it, would just stay where she was. Dashed down after the girl.
There she was in the kitchen. Spike stopped in the doorway. Wouldn’t do to get too close, not reeking as he was. Couldn’t imagine what he looked like. Must just brazen this through. She’d have to be off to school in ten minutes, but couldn’t let her go without some word.
“You’ve got the knocking part down, Niblet, but the waiting to be called part still needs work.”
She wouldn’t look at him. Fumbling with a cereal box. Typical 15 year old nonsense, ignore, deny.
Anyway, what could he say?
“I hope . . . you’ll be nice to your sister. She’s . . . ah, in a delicate state just now.”
Dawn poured cereal into a bowl. Poured it to overflowing.
“And I hope . . . you’ll respect her privacy. Her decisions. That’s important.” If anyone had ever told me, when I was ripping throats nightly with Dru, that I’d find myself having a talk with some kiddie whose good opinion I needed like I need fresh blood . . . “It’s time for you to get going. Just think on what I said, all right? There’s nothing for you to be worried about. Your sis is okay.”
She glanced at him then. Oh, those Summers girls and their glances.
“Really. You’re both okay. Right as rain.”
“Will you be here when I get back from school?”
He pondered this. What answer did she want? He didn’t even know what the answer was. Well, probably, seeing as how the sun was up and it looked like another blazing Indian summer day. Even if he had to spent it crouching in the cellar, waiting for dusk.
“We’ll talk later, if you want. Go on now, don’t miss the school bus.”
When she’d gone, he put water on to boil, listening out for sounds of movement upstairs. Gave half a thought to Red—might she come back at any moment? Another half a thought to his belly. He’d had nothing for a day. Rooted through the freezer to see if anything remained of the bags of blood he’d stashed there in the summer when he came and went from this house all the time. Found a few, under the boxes of Lean Cuisine. Heated one up. Drank it while the tea steeped. Wouldn’t do to bring it up to her room. Just the tea, and . . . what did the Slayer eat for breakfast? So much he didn’t know about her. How she fought, how she fucked, how she drove herself past exhaustion, yes. But not what she liked to eat, or watch on telly, or . . . she was right. This was all wrong. He carried the teapot up in one hand, two mugs in the other.
She squinched up her nose. “Buffy drink coffee.”
“Ah. Well . . . try it. You’ve changed your tastes in other things lately—“
She cast him a glance, angry, withering. And then, she smiled. Just quick, but he caught it.
Amazing. Amazing, to be sitting up in bed with the Slayer, in the Slayer’s very own girlhood room, her foofaraws all around, drinking tea at eight-thirty of a Thursday morning in November. The sun beating against the drawn shades, the air redolent of orange pekoe and her sweat and both their dried spunk and the potpourri in the dish on the radiator. And she wasn’t frozen anymore, and she wasn’t pushing him out, or staking him, or staring at him with Least-Loved Expression Number Thirty-Seven.
Somehow, we will pay for this.
“Spike. What were you like when you were a little boy?”
Oh no. Not this. “Like bleeding Little Lord Fauntleroy.”
“Little Lord Who?”
“Look, I know what you want here. And I’d like to know all about kiddie Buffy too. But we can’t be doing that. The present is all we can share, right? Otherwise this thing is going to get ugly in a hurry.”
Saw her eyes dip, and a blush ride up her neck into her face.
“I mean—“ No, the past had to be forbidden territory. Love couldn’t plant itself there, not hers, anyway, not for him. And he couldn’t say the ‘f’ word. Wanted to, but couldn’t. Because there probably wasn’t any future here, don’t leave me aside. “That’s nothing to be scared of, Buffy. It’s always the present. Every moment. I’ve lived my whole unlife in the present tense, it’s not so bad. Just don’t ask for jam every other day.”
“Um . . . right.” She sipped the tea. “That was Dawn who came in here before, wasn’t it?”
“What did you say to her?”
“Told her not to worry. Said we were all okay.”
“Could be.” He gave her a sidelong glance.
She took his hand. He started. Too many small miracles all at once. Darling little slayer hand, fingers interlaced with his. “You know,” she said, “if the others found out . . . Xander . . . Giles . . . it would be bad.”
“Yeah. But if we backed each other up . . . .” He looked at her. Buffy. This was Buffy, the actual Buffy, and they were having an actual conversation, defenses down. A conversation about themselves. As a couple. Probably this was the final sign of the end times, and in another moment the planet would crash into nothingness. “You need to be sure of what you want. If you quit me now, the Scoobs don’t need to know. Dawn won’t say anything to anybody. And I’ll still look after her when you need me to. You just come around anytime and throw something at my head, and I’ll be on the case.”
She rubbed a thumb across the back of his hand. “This really is all wrong.”
He waited. She’d have to push him away, then. Let her kick him downstairs. He wouldn’t go until she did.
“But y’know,” she murmured, “you proved it to me.”
She lifted his hand, brought it to her cheek. Which was still hot with blushes. God, what this must cost her, this alteration. Her awful resurrection, the friends’ betrayal, the ever ongoing merciless slayage. Dawn again. And him. All of it. Overwhelming. I can’t do this.
“That I came back wrong.” She looked into his palm. Traced the lifeline with her finger. “Hey . . . you told me once that a person can change. Remember? So this is what I’ve changed into. I can only be what I am. You were right about that.”
This was it. She really was going to let him do it.
Spike thought he’d blush too, if he was capable of it. Be careful what you wish for, William. You just might get it. Nothing was the same once you’d grasped it.
She climbed across him, her hair falling over his chest. He caught her face in his hands and kissed her. His mouth still warm from the cuppa. She knelt over him and kissed him back.
Certainly, they’d pay. What price, what price?