Sequel to First Time
Summary: "Spike, when we were under that spell . . . we were both pretty silly, weren't we? But I felt things . . . "
Set: Post Lovingkindness, and after First Time.
"Were you married?"
"What, to Dru? Nah. No marryin' or giving in marriage among the dead, pet."
"That's not what I meant. I meant—were you married, before."
She would have said, despite the complete absence of a pulse, that his heart skipped a beat. Maybe he gave a slight start and that was what she felt, her head resting on his shoulder.
"No, sweetheart. I was a single man."
"Not even engaged? I thought people married younger back then."
"Girls did. The working classes always did—never thought twice of marrying on nought. A gentleman with his living to earn had to hold off, though, 'til he'd made his fortune, such as it was going to be. Marrying meant an establishment, children. Unless he could snag an heiress, had to have something to his name before he could think of it."
"So, were you . . . thinking of it?"
"Why're you thinkin' of it?"
"I want to know about you, that's all." She traced the areola of his nipple with her fingertip, then brushed her hand down his ribs. Spike rippled at the touch—he was ticklish. Capturing her hand, he moved it away.
"It was so long ago, Buffy."
"That means yes. Tell me about her."
"There's nothing to tell. I didn't know her."
"You wanted to marry someone you didn't know?"
"Happens a fair bit, doesn't it? Well, even more so when I was young."
"What was her name? What was she like?"
Spike was quiet. Quiet, and absolutely still, giving her time to think how it was that she was cuddled up in bed with an animated, unbreathing corpse.
"She was a Miss Addams. She was . . . costly. In every way." He shifted. "Do you want anything before you go to sleep? Glass of orange juice, maybe?"
"Don't go, Spike. I get the message."
"What about you? Ever thought about marryin' soldier boy?"
She let out a nervous laugh. "Uh, no. Anyway, slayers . . . slayers can't marry. They pretty much told me that when I started. You know, no pay, no benefits, and very very early retirement."
"Yeah . . . well . . . no use dwellin' on what'll never be, then . . . ." He sat up, plumped the pillow, stretched out again. "Reckon you should get some kip now, Slayer."
"Do you remember that time you proposed to me?"
He was silent for a moment. Then he said, sounding cautious, "Yeah . . . Remember I was under a spell at the time. Remember how bloody appalled I was when it was broken." He paused. "Remember you never gave me back my skull ring."
"Do you want it back?"
"Don't tell me you've still got it?"
She slipped out of bed. Turned on the small lamp on the bureau, opened her jewelry box. "Here." She held it out to him.
Spike didn't move to take it. "Why'd you keep it?"
"I . . . I don't know. It's probably the ugliest thing I ever saw in my life." She got back into bed.
"So that's why you hung onto it?"
She folded her hand around the chunk of silver. Spike ran his fingertip softly over her knuckles, but still didn't try to take it from her.
"Well . . . I didn't know when I might ever get another engagement ring. Probably never. So."
" . . . I'd give you one."
"A proper one. In the proper way. If I thought for a second you'd accept it."
She let out a stunned laugh. "I . . . I thought you just said vampires don't—"
"God Buffy, do you know what it would mean to me, to be your husband?"
"No, I— I mean . . . what are you saying? We can't—"
He moved; the light came on. His eyes were shining, and he looked at her with such an intense, hopeful, adoring expression that she felt embarrassed. She couldn't possibly live up to what was beaming from his gaze.
"Buffy, would you—would you marry me?"
"I—oh my God. Spike . . . ."
"No, don't say it. Forget I spoke. God, forget—"
He was up out of the bed, he was at the door. She threw herself after him. They were both naked, but this added no leavening of humor to the situation—she felt suddenly as if theirs was a primal nudity, that they were Man and Woman, going through a scene that had been played before, over and over through time.
Except that he wasn't a man, and she wasn't a woman. At least—that was only the very beginning of what each of them was. She caught his arm.
"Stupid of me. I'm always so bloody stupid when it's about you." He laughed. "Anyway, what'm I thinking? Slayers can't marry. Vampires can't—they're dead. Especially can't marry each other—absurd. So there's no way this could be anything but my sick fancy—"
She dragged his hand off the doorknob, pulled him around to face her. Her heart was thumping so hard she could barely hear herself speak, yet she was sure of what she was saying. Her body was hot and cold, trembling, full of apprehension and desire. She remembered how she'd felt that other time, in the grip of the spell that she'd not known was a spell, and it was like that again, but different, because this time it wasn't the same sort of surprise. It was the surprise of meaning to give something that though meager, was all you had, and then finding that, in the giving, it had turned into gold.
She felt herself shimmering.
"I'm glad you agree." His face now was frozen into the no-expression that made her heart sink.
"That's not what I meant—! I meant, yes. I'd marry you, Spike."
His expression dissolved, reformed. He blinked, incredulous. "You— What?"
"I don't know how we could do it. Maybe not in a real legal way, because you're not a real legal person. We'll have to see about that. But I will marry you in front of everybody we know."
He didn't touch her. His eyes searched her face. "Buffy. Don't tease me now. Don't—"
Beneath his gaze, she felt her features might melt; her smile, and the edges of her nostrils, fluttered. "Say it again, Spike. Ask me."
He blinked. "Buffy . . . would you . . . would you be my wife?"
He broke into an ecstatic laugh, grabbed her close.
"But—!" she said.
"I have to know your name. Your real name, Spike. If I'm going to take it—" She giggled. "I hope it's Peel. I've always wanted to be Mrs Peel. I could wear a catsuit—"
It wasn't Peel. But when he whispered William's name to her, asking if she really meant to change hers, she wasn't displeased, and nodded. "I want us to be as . . . as normal as we can. There can't be children . . . and we won't be taking our honeymoon at the beach . . . ." She trailed off. "Spike, when we were under that spell . . . we were both pretty silly, weren't we? But I felt things . . . I didn't like to think about it afterwards. Because it was the only time I was ever so certain in my life. That I was loved, and that I was safe . . . and then afterwards it was just a sham. And you were my enemy again and it was awful."
"Do you feel that now?"
"No. Loved and safe."
"Yes. Do you?"
They were in much the same posture as when the spell held them—he'd put on his jeans and she her pajama bottoms, and she sat on his lap at the foot of the bed, an arm around his shoulders. Spike nuzzled one of her bare breasts, his tongue flickering out to tease the nipple.
"Loved? Yeah. Safe . . . Buffy, I still dunno how it is I deserve this, or why it doesn't all get snatched away. I ought to be sufferin' torments, not, not . . . ."
"It's for me. Because I need you, Spike. The powers that be arranged this for me. What I deserve, right?"
"Bloody hell." It came out as a whisper. He stared past her then. "You deserve . . . you deserve someone real. Who can give you—"
"Please." She cut him off. "Spike, don't. Don't make that speech. I've . . . I've heard it before."
Angel was back, inserting himself between them as he had the other night when she'd wanted to play that sweet simple little 'take my virginity' game with him. Nothing between them was going to be allowed to stay simple.
"All this so-called real stuff—I can't have it. I'm never going to be a mother or have any other career than this, and in five years I'll be dead—and I don't want to be brought back again. But I will be a good wife to you, Mr Vampire, and when it's all over, you'll . . . you'll remember me. You'll tell the other slayers about me, long after I'm gone. And maybe you'll fall in love with some other woman . . . or man . . . I hope you do, because I don't want you to be lonely . . . but you'll think about me, okay? Okay, Spike?"
She clung to him then, and cried, feeling sad for her own death and how he'd be abandoned, but enjoying it too, this unchecked rush of sentiment. She knew he'd kiss the moisture from her eyelids, and he did.
"Don't think about dying," he murmured, "not now, not tonight. We just got engaged. Gonna get you a big rock for your hand, an' we'll have a pretty wedding, and we'll be happy long as we can. No use thinkin' too far ahead, right?"
"No, no use." She smiled through her tears. He curved a hand around her breast, and she shifted in his lap to bring them near to his mouth. He kissed them very slowly and thoroughly, while she watched him, abstracted and glowing with pleasure.
Then he lifted his head. "Want you to go to sleep now, Buffy. Be no good if you're yawning later when you tell the Scoobies what we're up to."
"I don't think I could sleep."
"Tell me a story."
"Don't think any of my stories are quite appropriate to the occasion, love."
"Tell me . . . " she murmured as she crawled over him, and under the covers. ". . . tell me the story you'll tell to them—the ones you'll know . . . the one you might love . . . after I'm dead."
"Won't be no other—"
"Don't say that. Your memories, what you say about me later . . . it's the only way I'm going to live on. I want to know you'll tell my story, Spike."
"Christ, Buffy . . . ."
"Tell it, Spike."
"I will. I promise."
"Let me hear it now."
He smiled, caressed her cheek. "Gonna amend an' correct me, love?"
"Let me hear it."
"Well, lessee . . . when I was hundred an' seventeen, came to a place called Sunnydale, on the hunt for the Slayer . . . ."