By Minim Calibre
Story Notes: Spoilers through Chosen, set mid-episode.
Disclaimer: Belong to Fox, ME, Joss, etc. Not mine.
you will want me
to think you
and I did
and I did
—Tori Amos, Scarlet's Walk
She's there for a good minute and a half before he notices her. She's tempted to break the moment, to make some joke about the necklace he's holding, how between its scrubbing bubbles and the slicing dicing scythe, their weapons should have their own infomercials. Instead she just stands there until he looks up.
There's no turning back now, not from any of it. Slowly, deliberately, she removes her coat, taking care to keep her eyes on his face. For once, she can't tell what he's thinking just by looking at him. She thinks she sees yearning there, hope, but she can't be sure. Then his face disappears behind the fabric of her shirt as she pulls it over her head. When it reappears, he's smiling, but it looks more like mourning.
In a way, it is. What could have been, what might have been, what was. How it all ended. She takes the first step, like she knew she'd have to, closing the gap. Waits a moment before erasing it completely. Erasing. That's what she's doing. Erasing the ugliness and the pain. Taking away any advantage the First might have over them.
He lifts trembling hands to undo her bra. He's never trembled like this before, never felt unsure. His touch is familiar and yet not, like him. She burrows her nose in his shirt, smelling smoke and something she's never quite been able to define. Spike-smell. She giggles a little at the thought.
Undressing didn't used to take them this long. He opens his mouth to say something, but she can't risk hearing it, can't risk the intrusion of speech, so she presses her hand against his lips and shakes her head. Words are bad. Words are what come back to haunt you, what wind up twisting against you.
She can't say what she needs to say with words, not tonight. Maybe the Germans have a word for it, for "I forgive you, I need you, I'm sorry, thank you, please let this be enough", something long and twisted, maybe with umlauts. Buffy's not German; all she has are her hands.
On his cot, looking into his eyes, she flashes back to the first time. The startled look in her eyes reflected in his. Realization. Alarm. Connection. It feels like a lifetime ago, feels like yesterday. She reaches for his hand, clutching it like a lifeline as they shatter the walls one last time.