All About Spike - Print Version
The Last Summer
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By Annie Sewell-Jennings
SUMMARY: After the world is destroyed by nuclear apocalypse,
Buffy and Spike meet up in Australia for what may be the last
summer on Earth. Buffy/Spike
DISTRIBUTION: My site at
http://anniesj.net/ and at the UCSL
site ľ please request for other places. :-) Also, note that this
story will not be archived at my website until all parts of the
story have been posted to the lists and newsgroups that I selected.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story was inspired by the story of "On the
Beach" by Nevil Shute, as well as the updated version of the
story as soon on Showtime, starring Armand Assante, Rachel Ward
and Bryan Brown. The film is poignant, exquisitely shot, and
subtly moving, as it displays the end of humanity in a very calm
and remarkable way. I can't stop thinking about the movie. I
dream about it. I contemplate it. I fear its possibilities.
And I am inspired by it.
Thanks to Phillip-Morris, the unwitting sponsors of this work.
Without my Marlboros, I don't know where I'd be.
Also thanks to Alanna, for making me read "Iolokus" (XF genre by
MustangSally and RivkaT, and a truly inspired piece of work) and
therefore helping me acquire the bitterness that inspired Buffy
and Spike's dysfunctional relationship in this piece. The
Mooselet will always kick ass.
Most of all, thank you Heather, for keeping me on the right track
and keeping me writing this story, no matter what reservations I
may have had about writing two fics inspired by the same film.
This one is the fleshed-out version of what I truly wanted to
write, and I'm glad that I could take the time to write this
story in the way I wanted to write it.
The Last Summer
Lights still flashed.
Noise still echoed.
And all in all, the world kept turning...
And she kept breathing.
Silver light flickered maniacally inside the confines of the
warehouse that had been converted into a dance club by the
desperate and frightened youth of Melbourne; the factory where
gigantic fans swirled underneath the insane beat of electronica
and added to the thickness of constant bass. Christmas tree
lights decorated the poles and twirled through the club, and this
was her world now. This was her kingdom, her Hell and her heaven,
all decorated by gaudy lights and glass bulbs that flickered
frenetically. This was where she would end up dying.
It was as good a place as any.
Streaks of crimson and magenta flickered through her white-blond
hair and hung in her face as she slugged back a drink. Liquor
wasn't really hard to acquire nowadays. It was just a thing. Just
something that she could drink if need be. Something to numb the
pain. Something to take away from the fear of what was going down
around her. It's the end of the world, girlfriend, a voice from
the past murmured in her ear, and she shook it off. Shook it all
off. This was just a dance, just a ball, a millennial festival
that was planning on lasting until the end of days actually came.
It was an escape that ran nonstop, twenty-four/seven, and she was
there for most of it. Sometimes she was fucked-up, out of it
because of booze or drugs, but she was always there nonetheless.
The bar was crowded. The dance floor was jammed. Beautiful young
people wearing nearly nothing or nothing at all, fucking so that
they didn't have to feel and drinking so that they didn't have to
die. She had fucked half of them before, so that she could
escape, and it was just a fuck so it didn't really matter.
Nothing really mattered now. Not when the world was crashing
around them, on the brink of destruction, and it wasn't her place
to save it. Not this time.
So maybe she was going to drink to that tonight.
To the world that she had nearly died trying to save. To the
world that had stabbed her in the back.
A strangled laugh erupted from her coated mouth. Oh, yes, she was
drunk already. Drunk and fuzzy, like a peach. A memory floated
through her alcohol-muddled mind; it was a memory of peaches.
Their soft, lovely flavor, the texture like skin... She missed
fruit. Missed peaches. Missed bananas and apples and pomegranates
that would coat her fingers like blood. Fruit was now almost
impossible to find. Farmers had abandoned their crops for other
climates, finding no point in feeding a country that would
probably die. Yes, the fruit were the real victims of the war.
Yes, she was probably drunk.
A braid of bright red hair fell in her eyes, and she irritably
swatted at it with her hand, her skin pulsating with the colors
of the nightclub. All clubs were supposed to be closed, and
curfews had been issued, and yet she had ignored them all
carelessly. Most of the youths had, and the police allowed them
their freedom. After all, what was left? Schools were emptied and
drunkenness ensued. Liquor laws be damned - the Armageddon was
And so what if Buffy was afraid.
The flicker of a cigarette lighter sparked, and she lit the
slender Marlboro between her lips. She had once been so repelled
to smoking, hating the idea of inhaling poison, but soon the
poison would be everywhere. Fuck the lectures that claimed
smoking took ten years off her life - they were ten years she
would never see. No matter if the world made it through this
crisis; Buffy would die before she reached thirty. Such was the
curse of the Slayer.
She thought about dancing. She oftentimes did. Sometimes she
would sleep with men, but lately she found herself mixing up
their faces. Their features would shift, move and blur, until she
was gazing at the imprinted memory of a former friend, or a loved
one, or even a lover. And she would find herself fucking her
past, but it never went away. The world was crumbling all around
her, and yet it was still alive. Somewhat.
Multicolored threads of hair fell in her eyes, and she let them
hang, resigning herself to the wildness of this new world,
refusing to fight it. Why should she? What good would it do now?
Smoke curled from her cigarette, performing its own slow and
sensuous dance as it trailed toward the ceiling, and Buffy
exhaled thin, distilled smoke from between her lips. Her skin
glittered, her body displayed in a shirt that barely covered her,
and yet she still felt dead inside. Numbed with fear. Everything
was changing, and the entire world was held in suspense, waiting
for the possible horror that could be unleashed any day now.
All that she could do was finish her cigarette and start another
one, chain-smoking until the dominoes all fell.
"You know, that's a nasty habit."
The voice was familiar. Not even vaguely familiar, but
indefinitely familiar. Horribly familiar. Everything familiar was
terrible anyway, if only because it was in fact familiar. The
low, murmuring sneer. The taunting apparent under layers of North
London and bass. These were elements that she recognized
Sighing, Buffy turned around. "You're one to talk, Spike."
The vampire smiled. Seeing him brought pangs of nostalgia and
longing for others, for her family and for her friends, for those
she loved and for Sunnydale. For California. For America. It
didn't matter who this man was, or what he was, because she knew
him and recognized the world that she loved inside of his glaring
lapis lazuli eyes. Everything that she had left behind,
everything that had died, was inside of her enemy's eyes. It
pained her to see them there, to see the life that had been so
effectively and permanently extinguished, smoldering in the ashes
of the vampire's eyes.
Leather crackled as he sat down, and she closed her eyes briefly,
hurt by the lingering smell of America on his clothing. Bitterly,
Buffy turned her head, exhaling a stream of smoke from between
her painted lips. "Why are you here?" she asked, her voice low
and hollow, even to her own ears.
That chuckle... It was the sound of taunting, of old
battlegrounds and of a time when life had been complicated but
still plausible. "Looking to get drunk," Spike said, his black
nail polish chipped and incongruous, revealing the glimmering
moonstone of his fingernails. A low gaze covered her from head to
toe as the vampire inspected her. "I take it that you've already
accomplished that. You look plastered, Slayer."
Slayer... She flinched, grateful to the errant locks of hair that
fell in her face, concealing the deceitful reaction to Spike's
barb. She wasn't plastered. Not yet. She was tipsy, but not so
drunk that she couldn't remember. She could still remember the
shimmering excitement of battle, or the laughter of Willow, or
the dark passion of Angel. No, she wasn't drunk enough yet.
"There are a dozen other bars in this city, Spike," Buffy said
darkly, still smoking her cigarette and refusing to look at the
arrogant, angular face that had returned to haunt her. "Go have
your fun somewhere else."
She heard the grind of a cigarette lighter from beside her, and
smelled the scent of burning tobacco add to her own mentholated
brand. The sound of his false exhalation and the murmuring trails
of his cigarette smoke wafted towards her. "Well, you know, I
heard that this was a pretty good dive," he said. "Heard you're
here an awful lot. Shagging whomever you want, whenever you want,
and all that. So I figured that maybe I'd come here, get a decent
drink, and maybe end up getting a good shag from someone as
lovely as you." The last words were a taunt, a sneer, as all of
Spike's words were. Insults were his specialty. His talent. He
excelled at making her bleed.
Spike knew her.
Oh, and did he know her well... It hadn't taken him long to track
her down once he found out that she was in Australia, following
her from Sydney to Queensland and finally down to Melbourne, to
the warehouses and factories that the angered and confused youths
had claimed as their own. Perhaps they should have them - after
all, if there was any fun that could possibly be had in this
fucked-up mess, then it should be had. But Buffy Summers had been
having more than her fair share of fun.
And the girl sitting before him was barely her.
Heavy makeup coated her face, liquefied rubies staining her lips
and streaks of carmine marring her teased and long white-blonde
hair. Glittering jewels had been pasted carefully on her eyelids
and cheeks, so that she shimmered like a fragmented gemstone.
Black eyeliner had been applied with a heavy hand, taking away
the carefree and fresh California girl image that she had once
exhibited, and a slender strap was sliding down her shoulder as
she smoked, revealing skin that was as bronzed and beautiful as
ever. The red snakeskin dress clung to every curve, and it
shimmered as she moved, like her glittered skin. All of these
unholy children wore similar attire, from her platform sandals
revealing vermilion toenails to her multicolored plastic
And it was not just her new look that was different. It was her
attitude. Her emptiness. Her hollow eyes and her concave voice.
She was a ghost, a phantom, as though she had already died. It
was disappointing. In a city filled with urchins who were
terrified or numbed by fear, Spike had hoped to find some fire in
the Slayer. He had hoped to find something interesting. And all
he found was a shell of a girl, fragile and breakable.
Her scarlet fingernails tapped her cigarette impatiently, and she
signaled to the bartender. "Hornsby for me," she ordered, and
then she turned to Spike, giving him a long and irritated glance
underneath her sparkling eyelashes. "And a Guinness for him. Put
it on my tab." Nodding, the bartender went to get her drink, and
she sighed, crossing her legs and revealing bare thigh due to the
high slit of the dress. "Consider it a going-away present."
Spike arched his eyebrow at her. "You're planning on leaving?" he
asked, and she shook her head coldly.
"No. You are."
Two brown bottles were placed in front of the old enemies, and
Spike took a long swig of the strong beer, swallowing it and
feeling the alcohol burn down his throat, radiating throughout
his body. "And where would I go, ducks?" he asked pointedly.
"Back to the Hellmouth? In case you haven't noticed, the
Hellmouth's expanded. Matter of fact, it might just have covered
the whole bloody Northern Hemisphere." A snide and bitter grin
twisted his generous mouth. "So I think I'll just stick out here
in Melbourne, thank you very much."
Frustrated, Buffy shook her head, not believing what was going
on. Of all the people to escape a nuclear war... Of all the
people to meet her in Melbourne... It had to be *Spike*. Of
course. He seemed to survive anything and everything. "What is
*with* you?" she asked. "Does being an asshole somehow make you
invulnerable to radiation?"
Sweetly, Spike tilted his head at her. "If it does, luv, then I'd
say you've got a long life ahead of you."
Buffy clenched her jaw, looking away at the crowds of people
dancing around her. Bodies writhed and glistened with sweat and
body glitter underneath the pulsating strobe light, and a hunger
to join them seized her. If she walked away from him, if she
moved onto the dance floor and went home with somebody else, and
then packed up and left the city, she might escape. She could
move down the coast, near the places where the cliffs were rocky
and the grass shimmered like precious stones, and drink herself
into sleeping through the apocalypse. And she wouldn't have to
"Whatever, Spike," she muttered, preparing to abandon him, and he
grabbed her wrist, encasing the fragile bones and cheap bracelets
inside of his strong hands. Furiously, Buffy fought him,
struggling against his grip, glaring at him venomously, as if she
could poison him with her eyes.
"Now, you're not going to get away just yet," Spike sneered.
"I've got quite a few things to say to you, Summers, and you're
not leaving until I've gotten my way through it. So don't think
that you can run off somewhere and ditch me in the middle of this
pisser of a city like I'm one of your ninnies, because Spike's
not exactly neutered anymore." With that, he growled at her, low
and primal, guttural and visceral, and she glared at him, hating
him with a vengeance and a passion. "So sit your ass down on that
stool before I rip your bloody throat out." With that, he threw
her onto the stool, watching with a twisted glee as her wrist
bruised from the raw brutality of his grip. It was as though his
fingerprints had been tattooed on her skin.
Silence hung between them, though the noise in the club was
almost deafening. Someone three chairs down had taken out a
slender plastic straw and was snorting cocaine freely. Another
girl was giving head to a young boy. Nothing mattered. No
privacy, no public law. It didn't matter now. And she was sitting
here with a vampire that she hated, her wrist bruised and her
blood boiling, as Spike calmly resumed smoking his cigarette and
took a long drink of his beer. "Do you think that just because I
left Sunnydale I'm not the Slayer anymore?" she said coldly, a
ruthless note entering her voice.
"No," Spike said, his words slicing into her like a dagger. "I
know you're not the Slayer anymore."
The impact and intention behind his words wasn't lost on her. So
what if she'd changed? How could any of them possibly expect to
stay the same when the world had changed around them? Environment
influences the individual, and consider Buffy Summers a victim of
atmosphere. Buffy flicked ash from her cigarette into a chipped
glass ashtray coated in the remainders of dozens of other smokes.
She then leaned in close to him, so remarkably close that he
could feel her breath on his mouth. It was the first time that
someone had breathed that close to him in ages. "I could kill you
if I wanted to, Spike," she said lowly. "I could take this
barstool and stake you right here in this club, and everybody's
too fucked up to notice or care. So if I were you, I'd leave
right now before you really pissed me off and go somewhere that's
else. Got it?"
There was a smoldering look in her seafoam eyes, as though dead
ashes were still simmering, waiting to be extinguished. "I'm not
leaving," Spike said. "I don't fancy being alone right now, pet,
and judging by your bed-hopping lifestyle, neither do you. It was
a real pisser to get out of America before the shit hit the fan,
so I'm planning on enjoying myself here down under. And pissing
you off was always enjoyable." He flashed one of those devilish
and predatory grins, so conceited and arrogant, so egotistic and
self-assured that she envied him, and then took her cigarette
from between her fingers with remarkably sharp reflexes. After
taking a hit off of it, he exhaled it into her face and grinned.
Furiously, she took her cigarette back and ground it out in the
ashtray, refusing to taste anything that had touched his wicked
mouth. "You said you wanted to say something to me," she said,
pulling out her pack of Marlboros and procuring another
cigarette. After lighting it and exhaling a stream of smoke in
his face, she arched her eyebrow. "Are you going to bullshit
around it or is there actually a point to all this verbal
Satisfied, Spike leaned back in his barstool, gripping his beer
in his hand and taking a good long swig before resuming smoking
his own Marlboro Reds. "You fucked up big, Slayer," he said,
chuckling to himself. "Abandoning Sunnydale for Australia the
first chance you got, robbing Giles blind so that you could run
away... You know, they all died back in California, on the
Hellmouth, and you managed to survive this all, just to die here.
I think that's rather funny. Makes me respect you a little,
Selfish... It had been selfish. But the nightmares... The
screaming of sirens, the rockets blasting through the air while
streams of smoke fluttered behind them, and then the crashing of
screams followed by an everlasting silence - all had haunted her
dreams. She had prophesied it, knew it from the sensation of
dreaming of the future rather than the past, and she'd had no
choice but to run. Run to the place where all would be safe. Run
to the coral reefs and the endless party, the ball to last them
through the apocalypse, and she'd *tried* to warn them all. Tried
to get them to safety. But they didn't believe her... None of
them had *believed* her...
"I couldn't save them," Buffy whispered, her voice soft and
hushed with the guilt of surviving. "I couldn't save any of them.
I tried, tried to warn them, tried to get them to leave the
country, but none of them listened to me. And I got so scared..."
She cut herself off before she revealed too much, before he knew
what lay beneath the girl clad in glitter and snakeskin, the
betraying serpent that she was. "How did you get out?"
Spike exhaled and shrugged his shoulders at her. "Drusilla. She
contacted me. Told me that the whole thing was falling to pieces
and that Miss Edith was going to have a tea party in Sydney, or
something of the like. You know Dru - always garbled and great."
Buffy might disagree with him on the "great" part, but she
understood. Drusilla had also dreamed of apocalypse. The two had
always been bound together somewhat by their prophesies and
power, something that semi-disgusted Buffy. "So I followed her
down here." He shrugged. "She never came. The bombs dropped and
Drusilla was still in Brazil when it happened." He shook his
head. "She's probably still out there somewhere, wandering
around, but not for long."
"Why?" Buffy asked, and Spike smiled snidely at her.
"Radiation might not hurt vampires, but it does hurt people," he
said. "In fact, it pretty well knocks out anything left living.
So that means that the restaurant's closed to us bloodsuckers -
once you people go, our time's limited. Maybe we'll get by
feeding off of each other for a while, but it's dead blood.
Borrowed blood. So you can add vampires to the endangered species
It was a thought that had never even crossed her mind - the fate
of the vampires of the world. They were as doomed as their human
counterparts, damned by the mistakes of mankind, all because a
couple of military men had decided that a war was worth killing
off the entire human race.
For a moment, even just a glimmering of a moment, Buffy felt some
sympathy for Spike. It was camaraderie born of being survivors in
a world where no one could really survive. The feeling of having
to watch the world die...
"I'm sorry," Buffy said in a hushed voice, tapping her cigarette
on the ashtray. "No one should have to do this. No one should
have to watch all of this."
The music throbbed, beating and moaning, and Spike turned his
head away from her briefly to take in the life that she had
decided to lead. It was a maniacal life, one born of anger and
despair, one where life was an emptying glass and the liquid had
spilled over into strobe lights and enraged music. He caught
sight of a young girl and her lover passing by, their bodies
moving in synchrony, crying in a melange of bass and soprano.
What once would have pleased him now only gave him pause - for
the same thing would happen to him soon.
"You want to know something about your old enemy Spike?" he
asked, not taking his eyes off of the despairing couple. "He's
terrified of dying." The irony in that statement was evident and
thick, and she didn't comment on it. "After all I've done, after
dying once myself, I look at this all and think 'I don't want to
die like this'." His voice softened. "I don't want to die like
Softly, her hand brushed over his, and he was startled by the
whisper of fingertips coated in scarlet. "Neither do I."
The loose possibility of fingers entwining remained; she cupped
his hand in hers and looked at the world around her. It wasn't
fair. Not for any of them. No one deserved this sort of heinous
fate, doomed to walk the earth until the mistakes of others
claimed their lives. The soft whisper of a cigarette being
extinguished in glass interrupted the silence between them, and a
slower song began to pervade the atmosphere, taking over for the
hyperactive beats and rhythms that had been set up.
The Slayer turned her head and looked at the vampire sitting next
to her. Impossibly dark and luxurious eyelashes covered his
penetrating blue eyes, and she saw in his face the etchings of
weariness and fear, his lips slightly parted and his other hand
holding his head, black fingernails digging into lightning hair.
Empathizing with him was strange to her, but he understood how it
felt. How it was to lie in wait for the inevitable, knowing that
the world had crumbled and would continue to deteriorate until
there was nothing left but the Earth.
And yet when she looked into his angular face, those dramatic
cheekbones and the straight, aquiline nose, she saw her old life.
Saw the days of impassioned fighting and battle, of love and
laughter, rather than panic and desolation. Saw the friends who
had died for nothing. Saw her lovers and her dreams, her
extinguished fantasies and hopes. It was like looking into
immolation, and rediscovering memory. All of her efforts to bury
her past were exhumed by this villain that she had once sought to
Now all she felt was the desperate need to autopsy her life
Hushed breath hung between them as the song continued, with
nothing but low piano and the voice of Nick Cave. "Why did you
try to find me, Spike?" she asked, and he opened his eyes
"Because I thought I might kill you," he said. "But there's no
point in it now. No point in being enemies when the world's going
to end." He shrugged a little, and took another swig of beer. "I
don't know, Slayer. Maybe you had the right idea coming here.
Fucking your misery away. It's not like there's a lot of high
No, there wasn't.
Her fingers wrapped around his, twining through the tapering
porcelain. "This is a good song," she said, and he knew what she
was asking for. What she was inviting. And why the hell not? It
wasn't as though there was any reason to hate her now. Burying
the hatchet was easy when she'd be dead within months anyhow, and
he would follow her to her grave soon. And so he nodded, and
followed her to the dance floor.
The rapid pulsation of light had stilled to nothing more than
ethereal and eerie blue, drowning the teeming crowd in electric
cerulean, moths and dust shimmering in the light. Dancing slowed
to a quiet rhythm, the youths of Melbourne falling into a silence
as they all began to think of what was approaching. The storm of
radiation, the winds pushing downward to the south, bringing the
foolery of the Northern Hemisphere to extinguish the last candle
Slowly, awkwardly, the two came together; she linked her arms
around his neck and his fingers splayed across the frenetic
snakeskin fabric coating her back. It was strange, foreign,
unlikely and otherwise impossible, and the enemies refused to
look at each other as they formed an unusual embrace. Slowly, she
began to dance with him, the coolness of his body heartbreaking.
Her skin would soon be that cold. That dead. That lifeless. All
for nothing... "What a waste," she whispered, and he reached up
to touch her hair, a frantic mess of color that didn't
necessarily make her alive.
Sighing, she pressed her cheek to his chest, listening to the
silence of his dead heart, and her eyes closed, fear suffocating
and swallowing her. She had warded off death a thousand times,
avoided Apocalypse and diverted disaster. But this time there was
nothing to stop it. Nothing to fight.
Fingertips drifted shakily to the base of her skull, and Buffy
wondered how it had come to this. How it had come to a dance with
her enemy in an abandoned Australian warehouse after nuclear war.
Yet it felt relieving to dance with Spike, to partake of pleasure
and refuge with someone who had lost as much as she had and had
shared her memories. He understood her, perhaps. She understood
him. Luxurious slowness propelled her to him, and Buffy's fingers
curled underneath the lapel of his leather duster, aching for the
girl who had died in Sunnydale.
Aching for herself.
Piano and aching bass murmured through the club, and Buffy looked
up at him, watching as he looked down. She saw everything that
she had once loved about herself inside of his fathomless eyes,
touched by centuries. The entire history of man and its madness
was etched in Spike's piercing and intense lapis eyes, forever
engraved in blue. She wondered what would happen if she tried to
tap into that. Tried to steal the memories of man. Slowly, she
closed her eyes, and craned her neck forward, and pressed her
mouth to his.
The velveteen of her ruby-coated lips was soft and warm,
inviting, memorable. He hungered for her as well in spite of who
and what she was, or perhaps *because* of who and what she was.
She was the Slayer. She was his enemy. But she was also familiar.
She was all he had left in the world, and whether it be love or
hatred, he kissed her back and felt the memory of what life had
once been like in her mouth.
The kiss ended softly but quickly, nothing more than a whisper of
passion suffocated by a scream of sorrow, and they pulled away,
looking at each other with startled expressions. Fearful
expressions. They were the looks of those who had sinned, of
those who feared the possibility that stretched between them, and
of those who were going to die.
The song ended, and silence ensued, not a single person in the
club speaking. They were all that was left of humanity, these
crowds of youths frightened and afraid, haunted by their memories
and by all that was destined to come for them. It would be their
last summer, their final season in the sun, before the years
would end with a stunning swiftness. The end of days was coming,
and there was no avoiding it now.
It was time to leave; people were beginning to head for home,
even though the party would continue without them. Buffy was
tired, exhausted from being confronted by her past, and she
pulled away from Spike, looking at him underneath eyelids painted
and bejeweled. "Where are you going?" she asked, her voice husky
and slightly hoarse from smoking too much too soon.
"Don't know," Spike said, his voice low and equally raspy. "Where
should I go?"
Uncomfortably, she took his hand in hers, and swallowed
reservation. "With me."
And the party was over for her.
(end part one)
They didn't make it home.
Slow creeping of fingers, a dance of hips, brushing multicolored
hair out of eyes that were coated in jewels and heavy with
lust... She had started it, not him, the kiss that had made him
pull over on the cliffs leading to her house on the beach, the
Cadillac that she had stolen filtering moonlight through glass
and somehow making the outside world even more surreal than it
had become. Slow, sliding, needy in spite of how much she wanted
to be alone and dead. Passion still existed inside of her, fire
and heat, and he tasted the sparks and embers on his tongue when
she slid her mouth across his. She was still alive.
And so was he.
Crashing waves from the beaches below collided onto the rocky
cliffs, but Buffy wasn't concerned with these nighttime noises.
She yearned for his touch, for touch in general, for his
fingertips that contained the whorls and spirals of Sunnydale to
etch themselves into her body until she bled American blood.
Creating passion of a dead world here in this slowly fracturing
remnant of humanity was important, and she kissed him with all of
the breath in her body. Kissed him until his mouth hungered for
other places, for the juncture of her neck and shoulder, for the
sweet hollow of her throat, and then she would allow him her
body. It wasn't like her body mattered anyway. Not anymore.
Hunger fueled his descent, his slow assault on her senses,
escalating passion and heat emanating from her slender snakeskin-
sheathed body. She was stretched out across the driver's seat,
slender legs propped up on the steering wheel, ankles beaded with
jewelry and feet strapped to platform sandals. The thin straps of
her snakeskin dress were beginning to slide down her shoulders,
revealing inches of skin that seemed to stretch for miles. Pale
in moonlight but toned by summer light... He hungered for her
beyond reason and craved to feel her skin on his.
The Cadillac's seats reclined far into the backseat, and Spike
took advantage of that fact as he positioned himself over her,
shedding his leather duster as she chuckled and reached to her
side, unzipping the sheath of snakeskin that coated her petite
form. It was insane, doing this on this cliff, but the world had
gone crazy anyway. One brief excursion into insanity wouldn't
complicate matters any more than they were already complicated.
Fucking the Slayer when there was nothing left to slay wouldn't
And not when she was all he knew in the world.
Multicolored threads of hair spilled over the seat as she tipped
her head back and arched her hips, the dress sliding down her
body and to the floor of the car. Her breasts were round and
sweet, full enough but not in a voluptuous manner, like a
Victorian woman painted in light. Silk panties remained, colored
black, contrasting harshly with her skin. These slid off easily,
down her thighs and pooled on the floor. The shoes were left on,
those ankles so slender he thought he could break them with his
bare hands. They glittered on the steering wheel, her legs
slightly parted, and her fingers went to remove her panties when
he stilled them. He wanted to touch them. Wanted to slide the
silk off of her and reveal all that should be revealed.
Chipped black fingernails, bitten to the quick with worry, began
to move down her hips. That was Spike, all right, wanting to
polish his nails one minute and then tear them to shreds in the
next in his unfocused lack of attention and thought. Haste and
hormones propelled his actions, and now his fingernails slightly
dug into her skin as he removed her underwear. "Draw blood," she
murmured. "I don't really care."
Chuckling, the platinum vampire scratched behind her knees, and
she moaned, feeling her blood rise to the surface of her skin.
"You know, Slayer, I always knew that this would happen," Spike
said lowly. "Knew you'd give in sooner or later."
A ghost of a smile flickered across her blackberry lips. "May as
well be now then," she said softly. "Because there's really no
later left." Time was filtering through the hourglass at a
frightening pace, spilling to emptiness, and then the world would
stop. And her fright consumed, her cloistering fear of death
impossible, and she kissed him to drown out the screams of the
Black cotton followed her clothing as Spike pulled off his shirt,
and he hastily unbuckled his black boots, abandoning her body to
strip himself. She watched him, watched his elegant fingers and
his taut, muscled abdomen, hard and contoured so well that she
thought of scratching him to mar the perfection of his skin. The
worn buttons on his black jeans complied easily with the
vampire's demands, and she smirked when she saw that his pants
were the last article he had to remove. "Living dangerously,
Spike?" she asked, referring to his lack of underwear, and Spike
grinned at her wickedly.
"Well, I'm here, aren't I?"
A moan escaped her lips as she felt his weight settle on top of
her, silver and gold clashing and fighting underneath the light,
as the waves from the sea screamed below them. Far, far away...
The world was so far away, gone to her, disappearing underneath a
cloud of haze and radiation. Black nails dug into her shoulders,
and crimson ones grabbed his. She wasn't here in this car to have
him make love to her. Nothing slow or possibly sweet. He would
fuck the past into her, ramming memories of what Sunnydale had
been into her body and her mind.
Harshly, she kissed him, a burning and smoldering one, wanting to
light his dead skin aflame and set him on fire with the heat that
her body emanated. She was fucking death right now, and Spike's
long cock pressed between her legs, hesitating briefly.
Understandable, this brief pause, as they both suddenly
remembered the hatred and the battle, the past simmering and
smoldering. How many times they'd tried to kill each other, only
to be found preparing to screw each other into oblivion.
But Buffy knew. She knew what she needed. What she wanted. She
wanted to remember Sunnydale and California, the Hellmouth and
her friends, and Spike could give her that.
Forcefully, Spike entered her, and she screamed from the contact,
from the length and the power of him, throwing her head back in a
shower of rainbow-colored silk. He was sheathed in her heat, in
the fire and hell that was her, coupled together in a mixture of
frost and flame. It was better than he wanted it to be, her body
glistening with sweat and brocaded in silvery light, as though
she had been kissed by fairies rather than by a vampire. The
Slayer's fingernails dug forcefully into his back, urging him to
drive deeper, to forage everything, to push into her until she
And that was exactly what Spike wanted.
Greedy fingers scoured his back, and he kissed her as he pushed
into her, his cool tongue colliding with her heated one, battling
for dominance in a war that neither one of them would ever win.
One hand tangled in her hair, the chipped fingernails devoured by
her mass of multicolored hair, shining like a shattered prism in
the strained silver. Faster and faster, the tempo built, and all
the memories came flooding back to her in a deluge of drowned
The way that Willow smiled, really smiled, with all of her
happiness curving her mouth in a matter that was absolutely
charming. The constant courage of Xander, strong and capable, and
how he could always make her fight laughter. A perfume of books
and paper clinging to Giles's clothing, so that he always smelled
beautifully of libraries and history, and Riley always smelled of
honeydew and wheat. She felt a rush and mistook her impending
orgasm for the power of battle.
And Angel's hands...
With a scream, she came, shattering into a thousand pieces, as
though she had exploded like one of those dreaded disasters that
had destroyed the world. He came behind her, not noticing that
she was starting to cry, and not noticing that he was starting to
cry as well. Both of them disintegrating from the hard shells
that they had created into melted glass, frail and brittle, ebbed
away by the wave of radiation and hell. "Oh, God," Buffy
whispered, and they didn't separate.
They just remained there, silently weeping, tears streaking black
eyeliner down her face as her mask melted.
Kaleidoscopic threads of hair fluttered behind her as she sat on
the damp rocks, a cigarette placed carefully between her fingers,
watching the tide come in. The cliffs were dangerous and deadly;
she had read stories of cars veering off the winding roads and
falling down on the rocks, some accidents and some suicide
attempts, and yet the ocean was tranquil and beautiful to behold.
Like liquefied gemstones topped with frills of lace, the waters
lapped at the shores, waves crashing and exploding like fractured
glass. The former Slayer contemplated life and death as she sat
there, sandals abandoned but bejeweled in her fake glitter none
the less, as the vampire sat next to her and smoked.
The wind blew his leather duster into a frenzy of black, dramatic
and harsh around his elegant face, and Buffy leaned her body
slightly into his, legs together except at the knees, spread
apart for balance. Slender snakeskin fluttered in the sea breeze,
and Spike found that he now saw the girl that he had once
despised and grudgingly respected from before. Contemplation and
sadness moved across her face in a fashion that made her
difficult to hate, as Spike had always had something of a soft
spot for her in pain. Not enough to spare her life, but enough to
make him quiet. Perhaps it was just watching the majesty of her
beautiful agony - like looking at fine art.
Sparks flew off of her cigarette as she flicked ash off the tip,
and Spike turned his head to hers. "When did you begin to smoke?"
he asked, and she shrugged slightly.
"Before the bombs," she said. "Waiting for the war to escalate to
that point... I don't know. Too stressful, I guess. Everyone was
smoking, watching the television set nonstop, on pins and needles
or something pointy. And I was so afraid, so frightened of what
could happen, that I started to smoke along with the rest of the
world." A dry smile curved her mouth, the blackberry color
smudged and swollen by kisses. "Of course, there's no reason not
Wryly, Spike smiled. "Point taken."
Smoke was tossed on the wind as he falsely exhaled, his dead
lungs expelling the cigarette smoke and throwing it at the mercy
of a soulless breeze. These were the winds that would eventually
bring hell and radiation down on them, the traitorous breeze
tasting of saltwater and coconut. She flinched slightly, fearful
of her silent murderer, and wondered what it had been like for
her family and friends in Sunnydale. She wondered if their deaths
had been silent. Wondered if they had been sweet.
"Did they know?" Buffy asked softly, and Spike shook his head.
"No," he said. "I got out of there pretty late in the game, and
they were all still certain that it wouldn't come to this. Guess
I was right all along about your team of imbeciles, wasn't I?"
Harshly, Buffy whipped her head around and glared at the vampire,
and he tilted his head, acquiescing to her point. "Well, I never
said I was going to bloody well be *nice* afterwards." He
grinned. "Drusilla and I would always-" His voice was interrupted
by a waver that he didn't want to think of. Drusilla, draped in
her outdated finery and old-fashioned mind, addled by the past
and by their sire, was gone. Dead forever, annihilated by the
dropping of the bombs on Rio. "She never had a chance."
Shortly, Buffy laughed. "None of us have a chance, Spike," she
said. "We're all royally fucked. Up a creek without a canoe."
"Without a *paddle*, you ninny," Spike said, and Buffy glared at
the vampire. "Well, if you can't use an expression properly, then
don't use it at all."
Rolling her eyes, she turned her head, deciding not to argue
semantics with him. It was pointless anyway. They were screwed,
no matter how it was said. They were both lost in separate
memories unified by their clash in life, and then she spoke, her
voice hushed. "You remember the strangest details, don't you,"
she said aloud. "Like scents or favorite foods, or watching
movies while eating burned popcorn."
Wistfully, Spike smiled. "Yeah," he said, a dreamy note in his
voice. "I remember how Dru always liked to steal her dolls from
the children she killed and then name them after their owners.
She had the greatest sense of humor."
Wryly, Buffy stared at him. "You have strange memories."
Spike snorted sarcastically, picking up a coil of highlighted
magenta and twirling her own hair in her eyes. "You have strange
hair," he said.
Buffy arched a honey-colored eyebrow in his direction, eyeing his
lightning-colored hair pointedly. "And *you're* one to talk,
Roughly, the vampire tugged on the stolen curl of magenta while
her scalp ached. "Fuck you," he said obstinately, and she
laughed, a little insanely, a little drunkenly, a little
strangely. She was feeling all of those things. Mad, sloshed, and
bizarre. Everything was disoriented and fucked beyond belief.
Like glass was inside of her veins instead of blood. Perhaps that
was why she had done what she had done - fucked Spike in her
stolen Cadillac, and then cried after it was all over.
But she didn't know why he had fucked her and then shed post-
"You're still daft, you know," Spike said, and Buffy hated that
she was mildly charmed by his British slang. Spike could be
charming, if a girl liked his brazen wit that was honed and
sharpened like a scythe. He could be charming like broken glass
was charming, dangerous but beautiful nonetheless. "We both are."
"I think that the real morons out there are the ones who started
this whole mess to begin with," Buffy countered, and Spike
laughed shortly at her.
"Yeah, and of what nationality are they again?" he reminded.
Buffy flinched. It was true. America, home of the free and land
of the brave, had fucked up royally as they were prone to do.
Freedom and independence might have meant something before time
had stopped so rapidly and ruthlessly, but apparently the
definition had waned somewhat over the past few months. "You
certainly didn't see the Brits getting involved in all that
nonsense. It was you stupid Americans who had to go all John
Wayne and step in."
Buffy bristled, her eyes flashing dangerously at him like
electrified seawater. "You know, you're awfully quick to judge
for someone who hasn't even been *back* to London since the
Beatles broke up," she said snidely. "Come on, Spike - let's not
lay the blame on the country. Let's blame the *men* and their
testosterone-fueled politics that fucked the whole world up
beyond any and all recognition. If they could just keep their
penises out of their politics, then maybe I'd still have a home
and a family and you might still have Dru!"
A fist connected solidly with her face, and Buffy took the blow
easily, returning it harshly and cruelly. It didn't matter that
he had just slept with her; she wouldn't take the blame for the
end of the world. Not when she had saved it too many times to
count. Not when she had given up everything that was her and had
to suffer through a year of numbness because of her birthright.
She had done her job as mankind's protectorate and no one had
remembered that - and it was worse to hear it coming from someone
who knew that she was the Slayer.
Even if it was a peroxide-blond vampire who needed to ash his
Menacing eyes glared into hers, flickering like obsidian, and
Buffy grinned at him malevolently and violently. The voice of
Faith whispered inside of her head like a devil, low and sexy,
predatory and cruel. Go on, B, Faith said. The violence is the
best part. And somehow, it was good. Tenderness had just weakened
her defenses; Spike tore them down and then tossed them back up
at regular intervals. Now was a good time for those defenses to
be fucked to hell, and it was also a good time for Buffy to get
fucked to hell with them.
"You don't know anything about Dru," Spike said, his voice
growling like hot velvet. Like a tiger in heat. "She was
everything. Damaged, a little deranged, but still innocent and
pure in a lot of ways. She didn't deserve what the world did to
Frustrated and furious, and oddly aroused by the anger inside of
Spike's eyes, Buffy glared at him coldly and threw her cards down
on the table. "Willow. Xander. Giles. My mother. Riley. Angel."
Her voice could have frozen icicles on that last one. "Those are
the people that care about me. Those are the people that love me.
And you don't know *shit* about them, Spike, so don't think that
your nutty girlfriend is the only victim of a cruel, cruel
It wasn't nice when it was over; Buffy knew that now. It didn't
always have to be cuddles and kisses and pillow talk. It could be
rocks and cigarettes and harsh barbs. These things were
satisfactory as well. And they could also make her burn with
anger and arousal in a way that was something as harsh as a
nuclear blast, an atom bomb, or something as poetic and
blistering as the war that had wrecked her mind beyond belief.
He looked into her seemingly sweet face for a second and saw
nothing of the girl who had once giggled like a ninny and worn
pastels at night. He only saw a girl in running mascara and
snakeskin, a girl whose slender body was a little too thin, even
thinner than she had once been, and a girl who was waiting for a
death more physical than the one she had inflicted on herself.
Buffy Summers was suicidal in a way, like one of those idiot
cutters that they made bad television movies about, slicing into
herself because she couldn't stand who she was. Resentment was a
But there was also something about this girl that was just as
infuriating as the one from before, and something raw from her
periods of numbness that had lifted just for tonight. Special
occasion and all that - fucking good old Spike. "We're all
victims, is that it?" Spike asked, tossing his cigarette in the
rocks in a fashion that made her angry. Littering was a pet peeve
of hers when the Australian beaches were so brutally beautiful.
"I don't think I'm a victim."
Buffy laughed cruelly. "Well, duh," she said. "You hunted mankind
for centuries. That would make you the predator, you shit."
His smile widened considerably in the dark, the moonlight
glinting off of silver-white teeth that had killed thousands.
Teeth that could sink in the ripeness of her slender neck and
drink her dry if he wanted to do it. "Yeah," Spike said lowly,
his eyes beginning to glow with burning amber. "I guess it
The sound of a growl broke through the air as his face changed
and the demon possessed him, hunger and rage fueling the desire
for her blood. But what he didn't expect, what he didn't foresee,
was Buffy tilting her head to the side and exposing her neck,
multicolored strands of hair clinging desperately to her sweaty
and glittery skin, offering him her blood. She wasn't begging for
death as some had done, not whining or pleading like a simpering
schoolgirl. She just didn't care if he killed her. "Whatever"
said the bend of her throat.
And, well, that wasn't any fun at all.
Irritated and somewhat saddened by the figure of this hollow girl
who didn't give a rat's ass if her mortal enemy on, Spike
swallowed his hunger and reverted to his more familiar fašade,
eyes dying from burning gold to a softer blaze of blue. "Oh,
hell," he muttered, and Buffy looked at him with empty eyes as
clear as the Australian sea, a haughty but meaningless smirk on
her blueberry mouth. "You're not worth it anymore anyway."
A snide remark whipped from her tongue as she spoke. "Nope," she
said. "Neither are you."
None of them were worth anything now, but she still thought that
she might screw him again. He had been wonderful, exactly what
she needed, pounding into her with the coldness of death and
reminding her that she had once been someone. Reminded her of the
Buffy who had worn pretty little designer outfits that revealed
what others couldn't have and made smart-ass comments that others
had wet dreams about. She liked that Buffy. She didn't know who
this one was.
Maybe Spike could teach her.
So she kissed him again, wet mouth sliding over wet mouth, both
tasting of burned tobacco and of each other. She thought that she
tasted her kiss on his tongue as it tackled hers, and that she
tasted of menthol and madness. It wasn't a bad flavor, but it
wasn't as beautiful as she had once been. Her hands slid around
to embrace the nape of his neck, fingers curling into the ends of
his white-blond hair, too artificial to ever be real, but that
was Spike in a nutshell. When she finished kissing him, her
fingers stayed there, touching his hair that wasn't damaged by
bleaching. Vampire perk, she supposed.
"I'm not done with you," Buffy said softly, and Spike shook his
head. He wasn't done with her either. Not finished with the woman
who had once tortured him both sexually and physically. He had
plans for her, if only because it didn't matter whether or not
she was the Slayer now. In months, they'd be corpses and dust,
So Spike kissed her again, ferociously, using the teeth that
she'd bowed to earlier and nipping playfully at her tongue, until
she took him off the rocks and drove him to her place.
And she reminded herself that nothing mattered anymore.
(end part two)
It wasn't a bad place to die in.
The sound of waves crashing followed them from the winding and
rocky road to her house, which perched over the precarious and
dangerous cliffs with a mammoth size and spaciousness. It was a
condominium that had been abandoned by any and all vacationers,
as there weren't too many people deciding to run away right now.
There wasn't anywhere to run to. Large, modern arches and a
pretty garden that was dying of neglect and running wild were
bonuses, as was its large loft of a bedroom decorated in black
sheets and its spacious bathroom with a Jacuzzi that she rarely
But she did like the glass wall.
The downstairs living room area, which jutted out over the
cliffs, possessed a wall made of glass. Nothing but glass,
separated by thin metal that kept the individual panes from
shattering at the first gust of wind. They sloped upwards,
leaving part of the ceiling exposed to the sky, and the first
thought that Spike had was that if he stayed down there too long,
he'd incinerate and ruin the glass. Placing his hands behind his
back, the black fingernails threading through and through,
slightly covered by the cuffs of his oversized duster, Spike
looked out the window and contemplated leaving.
Leaving might be the best idea for him, though not for her. If he
left, she'd probably go back to her old way of living. The way of
living that had gotten her this far and this fucked-up. It wasn't
his concern. Her problem, not his. But Spike was thinking about
it, his hands fidgeting somewhat anxiously with the lack of
attention that he was prone to. Ritalin probably would have
helped, but Spike wasn't into drugs like she was.
She was upstairs right now; he heard her ruffling in the loft,
maybe tidying up or maybe trying to find a bottle of some sort of
strange medication that could numb her to the impending end.
Didn't matter to him as long as she had a flask of something and
an ashtray for his ubiquitous cigarettes. Shrugging off his coat,
Spike turned away from the windows and placed the duster on a
footstool the color of wine, a little worn for the wear and not
in her style. The place had probably come furnished.
Spike sat down with a sigh, his body slightly bruised from their
rough tumble in her Cadillac and then the post-coital sit upon
the not-so-cushioned rocks. Groaning, he shifted, his long limbs
never finding comfort, and then placed his hands behind his head,
looking out at the Australian beach where he would soon die.
Spike smirked when he thought of asking the Slayer to stake him,
to spare him his misery when the day ended. Maybe that was why
she'd so vacantly offered him her neck earlier. Not much to live
Music began to pump through the stereo, an expensive system that
must have been looted from somewhere in Australia. Stealing had
never bothered Spike; it had once bothered her but not anymore.
He didn't recognize the voice or the melody, but it was slow and
sweet, with a bass line that throbbed like a bleeding heart.
Arching the scarred eyebrow upwards, he watched with a slow
calculation as Buffy descended from upstairs, her face freed of
makeup and her hair bound back in a large tortoiseshell hair
clip, piled high on her head in a kaleidoscope of frenzied color.
She had changed out of her snakeskin dress into a simpler pair of
flared blue jeans that frayed and tore at the cuff. Bare toes
painted scarlet curled down the stairs as she walked, and she
fidgeted restlessly with the strap of her red satin camisole top,
a black bra strap rebelliously sliding down her shoulder.
She looked like a girl strung out on too many drugs, but she was
It was Sheryl Crow that she was playing, something strangely
different from what played in her clubs, as Sheryl sang about
rivers and tides. She was an indulgence of Buffy's, and she
played this song a lot. It was calming, tranquil, and the bass
line often coincided with the rhythm of the crashing waves on the
cliffs. Sheryl murmured on and Buffy walked down the stairs, her
eyes scouring the shores for some semblance of hope on the
horizon, like a ship sailing in from America to tell her that she
could stop worrying and that everything was going to be okay.
Instead, she heard the silence of Spike's nonexistent breath and
Wearily, Buffy leaned her head against the glass, errant threads
of magenta and ruby spilling down from her poorly-restrained mass
of variegated hair to crowd her face. Her reflection glinted back
at her, and she didn't recognize herself in her glass wall. "Sun
will be rising in an hour or so," Buffy said lowly. "There's a
spare bedroom if you want it. Or you can always..." Her voice
trailed off, and Spike read her implications until she turned
around and smiled viciously at him. "Stay here in the glass."
Spike scowled at her and turned his eyes to the view that was
painted in the first lightening of blue. The sea glinted like a
knife underneath the partially-full moon, and he walked to the
glass, his eyes glimmering coldly and malevolently. The eyes of a
murderer - Spike had taken many lives over the years, but none of
them could compare to the lives that men had taken themselves by
pressing that stupid little red button. Tilting her head, Buffy
pressed her head against the glass and watched him. "What's it
like to be a murderer, Spike?" she asked. "What's it like to
Shrugging, the vampire continued his languid seduction of the
sea. "Fun," he said. At her rather disappointed look, Spike
laughed shortly. "What did you expect? Some long, flowery sonnet
on how you hold human lives in your hands? It's not playing God,
not for me. It's just plain *fun*." His eyes smirked at her in
synchrony with his mouth. "Maybe you should ask Angel some time.
When he's soulless, he's got a whole different viewpoint on
killing. With him, it's like that. Like taking life and
possessing it, or some bullshit. He always went off on it in the
early days. I think he was trying to write a book for a while,
the bloody wanker talked so much about it."
Her voice was practically Arctic. "Angel's dead."
Spike's smirk didn't falter. "So he is."
Still chuckling over this latest barb, a barb that didn't even
cut her cooled skin, Spike closed the distance between them by
claiming her mouth as his, possessing her as though she was a
vase or something ornamental. Sheryl continued to sing as she
kissed him back, fingernails digging into the nape of his neck,
something that she increasingly liked. Spike had a wonderful
neck, long and slender, and his Adam's apple bobbed hypnotically
as she kissed him with her eyes wide open. Red tangles of hair
fell in her eyes as she kissed him with a ferocity that she
thought she'd lost, and Buffy was happy to see that it still
When she surfaced from the kiss, still gasping for breath, she
began to tug insistently at his shirt, ordering that it be
removed immediately. "You do know how fucked up this all is,
right?" she said, her voice hoarse and breathless. Spike saw her
carmine-tipped fingers wrapping through the cotton of his shirt
and groaned, wanting her more than he wanted to live.
"Oh, God yes," Spike said roughly, and she slipped off her
camisole, red satin flying on the floor near her flared and torn
jeans. Breasts encased in black silk that glinted in the
moonlight were beautiful, and Spike felt a sudden urge to do what
he couldn't comprehend. He felt the urge to touch them, but
slowly, to graze his fingertips over the juncture between silk
and skin, to caress instead of crush. And so he did, reaching out
a fingertip so that half of his finger traced the thin line
between fabric and Buffy. She moaned, arching her back so that
his breasts poured into his hands, and Spike greedily took
advantage of her want and need. Roseate nipples pressed
insistently through the silk, and his thumb rotated one over the
silk, soft and almost sweet, and Buffy hissed in a breath.
"You're..." she started, but was interrupted by a moan low within
herself when Spike trailed his fingers lower, barely grazing his
skin, until he was lining the juicy crevice underneath her
breast. She was going to tell him that he was being too nice, too
soft, until she decided that she wanted this softness. Wanted
Spike to go slow. To tease instead of pound. "Oh..."
The heat of her skin was an inferno encased in velvet, and Spike
was obsessed with it, infatuated to the point of absolute madness
and insanity. Buffy's reddened skin was magnificent to behold, as
though a spark glowed in every pore. She then pulled him apart so
that she could pull his shirt over head, never ruffling his
slicked blond hair. Acres of skin the color of bone glimmered,
and Buffy dipped her head down to taste his nonexistent sweat.
Her hot little pink tongue flicked across his nipples, and Spike
groaned, feeling himself harden in an instant, lengthening and
swelling at the promise that she was giving.
Chuckling slightly, Buffy began to undo the buttons on his faded
black jeans, and he instantly took off hers in response, feeling
the concave smoothness of her stomach and her thin, jutting
hipbones underneath the slightly baggy jeans. She'd thinned,
hardened in places that he didn't think possible, wasting away
along with the world that she'd left behind. Hardened so much
that she'd become fragile in the process.
Grunting, Spike whipped her jeans off of her so fast that she
felt denim scrape along her skin, burning in a fashion that
wasn't entirely unpleasant. She was left in nothing but her
underwear, and she stripped him down so that he was naked, thus
upping the ante. Swooping gracefully, the girl who had once been
known as a Slayer licked seductively and devilishly at his taut
nipples, and Spike sucked in a breath when she scraped his
sternum with her sharp little teeth. Vampiric tendencies --a
lesson learned from stalking her prey. "Christ," Spike muttered.
"I don't think He's out there anymore," replied the Slayer, and
he couldn't argue with her on that one. As she licked a trail
down his abdomen, Spike reached around to her back, undoing the
clasp of the black satin bra and releasing her from its bindings,
his hands instantly gravitating to her breasts, groping her
harshly and roughly, and she nipped naughtily at his shoulder, a
The sky was beginning to lighten outside, birds singing, but
Spike didn't care. Let the sunrise incinerate him. Let it all go
bad. He didn't give a shit anymore. Turning to ash on the
Slayer's skin would be a fitting way to die. Another crime for
her to commit - it would add guilt to her conscience, and he'd
always thought her beautiful when miserable. She was exquisite
now, sensual and dead, and he forcefully took off her matching
panties, revealing her tight little body that he picked up and
slammed against the window, hoping to break the glass and send
her to the rocks below. A merciful death compared to what was
The clip fell from her hair when Spike entered her, and a rainbow
of magentas and rubies spilled down across her shoulders,
threading through the thick gold that was too long for her own
good. Trickles of color and silk were splashed across his
starlight shoulders, and she rocked back and forth, wrapping her
legs around him as he pounded into her against the glass,
challenging fragility and delicacy with the dominance of his
cadences and rhythms. Moaning, she whispered words of nonsense
and beauty as she felt her climax building, building from nothing
but the brutality of their sex. The angle of his thrusts shifted
slightly, exploding with cool collision with her clitoris, and
she sparked like a fire, embers burning bright and brilliant
inside of her veins, like coals heating up after a long death and
When she came, it was violently, fingernails digging into the
luxurious skin of his back, and her feet scraped and clutched at
the backs of his thighs, clutching him desperately as he followed
shortly thereafter, falling into the blistering heat and moisture
And then the sun was beginning to crown the horizon, a worse heat
filling his body. //Face it,// a part of him whispered, //and die
like this rather than whatever's coming ahead.//
But he couldn't.
Gasping with fear, Spike pulled backwards, nearly dropping the
thin girl who'd wrapped herself around him so gracefully.
Irritated, Buffy turned her head around to look at the window,
and when she saw what he saw, she sighed and relinquished her
hold on him, understanding. "Sorry, Spike," she said, her voice
carrying little apology. "The loft will be safe. Go upstairs and
close the blinds on the door. Go to bed."
Spike was ashamed. Ashamed of not being able to kill himself. Of
not being able to face the sunlight. How was he going to cope?
How was he going to handle it when the world finally claimed him
in the coming months? Immortality was a bitch indeed, if only
because his seemingly unlimited time was running out.
Irritated, he walked up to the loft, glancing briefly at the bed
with its red linen (so trite for her) and then roughly pulling
the blinds closed, not bothering with dressing. Let him see if
she cared - and at this point, he doubted that she did. He didn't
care if she did. He hated her for bringing him here and revealing
his true cowardice, and he hated her for being so glassy and
cold. Hated her for changing along with the rest of the world. If
she'd been sunny and sweet, pure as the fucking daisies, then at
least she'd be familiar. At least she'd be something.
But then again, he might have changed too. Apocalypse could do
that to a person - or a vampire.
"Hell," Spike muttered, moving sluggishly and wearily to the bed,
"maybe you can teach an old cat new tricks after all."
"Dog," she said, emerging from the downstairs in all of her
glorious and precarious nudity. "If you can't use a metaphor
properly, don't use it at all." He actually barked a laugh at
that, her remembering his earlier words, and lazily covered
himself with the sheets, closing his eyes to hear her rather than
see her, lit in slits of dangerous dawn. Drawers opened; he heard
that, and he also heard the rustling of sheets without feeling
her getting into bed. He guessed that she was covering up the
door to the balcony to protect him from the light, and almost
wished she wouldn't. Maybe he could kill himself if he slept
through his suicide.
Cowardly way to go, old man.
She didn't want another day. Didn't want the time to continue
moving. It was like a journey with compressed mileage, a drive
through never-ending countryside that would eventually stop with
a tragic car accident. That was what life was nowadays. It was
waiting for morning and wishing that it would always be night. It
was looking for death and fearing it.
It was sleeping with the enemy because he was an enemy and not a
Sanity through insane acts, she thought to herself, climbing into
the summer sheets and looking at the way the black bed sheet
covered the light. She could trick herself perhaps into thinking
that it was still nighttime when day had actually dawned, but she
could never fool herself into thinking that she hadn't just slept
with Spike. No lies there. She only wished that she had pretended
the night away, back into the blind embrace of pills and booze
and make-believe, but it had happened.
It would probably happen again.
Lying as far away from him as possible, turning her back to Spike
so that Buffy could pretend that she was alone. Folding her hands
in mock prayer, Buffy slipped into a troubled sleep, the last
line of the song filtering through her head and leading her into
"Time watches everyone cling, honey now, don't bail on me..."
(end part three)
The lyrics belong to Sheryl Crow, and are from her song,
"Riverwide", which can be found on _The Globe Sessions_ LP.
With a scream as low and keening as a widow's wail, the sirens
began to call, their screeching a knell tolling the funeral of
the entire world.
Wonder painted the faces of children as the rockets shot off,
missile silos in Oklahoma opening to allow their masters of death
to streak across the sky, flying to attack the enemy and
inadvertently kill the righteous and innocent along with them.
Towns froze. Traffic stalled. Everything stilled, silencing
voices so that all could be heard was the massive ignition of the
missiles being launched. It was a moment that no one should ever
have to witness, a harsh pill to swallow.
It was a moment that interrupted the joy and painted a scene of
exquisite anguish on the faces of those manning the Hellmouth.
The missile fell in Los Angeles, encompassing the city in
darkness and exploding in a shower of angry radiation, sucking
the electricity out and into the bomb itself. This swift blast
was followed by a stray bomb, missing its target and following
the path to Sunnydale, California, exploding on the land and
painting a fiery wall across the city, encompassing it in death's
A streak of vermilion whipped backwards as Willow tipped her head
back to scream, wailing with anguish as the fires came, screaming
Buffy's name and lamenting her horrible death. Pain and anguish
painted Xander's hazel eyes a murky black as he covered her with
his arms, tackling the ground in a futile but poignant final show
of courage. No struggle, no bravery, only a sad bow of the head
and removal of glasses as Giles accepted their fate, and then
glass shattered and walls caved in, as Sunnydale was ripped to
Skeletons reached out in suffering, bones where fingers had once
been, caught in a fragile repose, horribly beautiful, like
dissected angels, before the second blast came with the sound of
And it screamed her name.
Eyes flashed open and alert, Buffy Summers woke, whole and
unscathed, scar-free and undamaged physically, twisted in tangled
linens in Melbourne. Not in Sunnydale. There was no Sunnydale
anymore - it had exploded in a pile of ash and hellfire, swiftly
destroying lives in a mess of nuclear blast. Or it had passed
away quietly and painfully in a phenomenally strong wave of
radiation drifting off of San Francisco and Los Angeles. She
didn't know which one was accurate.
She only knew that her nightmares were fantasies painted in a
melange of bone and blood.
The dawn had risen; soft light bled through the black sheet that
she had tacked up over the windows, filling the room with a quiet
unlike twilight, no matter that the clock informed her in its
lime green electricity that it was three in the afternoon. She
had slept only partially soundly, not kicking or flailing, but
still writhing in the bedsheets. It was a habit. A habit like the
heroin she occasionally smoked or the booze she liked consuming.
Yes, Buffy Summers was addicted to nicotine and nightmares.
The colors in the room were muted by darkness, melded into
shadows and indistinguishable from each other. She was ashamed of
her shaking fingers, combing them through her tangled mass of
multicolored hair and feeling sick from what she'd done to
herself and to the world. She hadn't saved them. They'd perished
there, all of them, the people that she loved and needed, and now
she was plummeting into a spiral of escalating hell in one of the
most beautifully doomed places on Earth. The image of Willow's
magnificently miserable face tipped back in a kiss of death
refused to abandon her mind, so poignant with her charred halo,
like Christ's crown of thorns.
Carmine fingers swept tendrils of magenta and maroon away from
her face, never smoothing and never calming the flyaway locks,
frizzed somewhat from humidity and heat. Air conditioning was a
luxury, but Buffy could afford it. Blood money, money stolen and
money thieved, and she hated what she'd done to get away from
Sunnydale. Hated how she'd robbed Giles blind and not been able
to save him.
Hated that she had fucked Spike the night before...
Startled, Buffy turned around at the memory of her rough
encounters with her peroxide enemy, expecting to find him in bed
next to her, undisturbed by her fit. Like he'd care anyway. But
her bed was empty; she was the only one sitting in it, and that
bothered her more than she'd like. Quietly, she tiptoed to her
closet and wrapped herself in a black silk robe embroidered with
vines, glimmering slightly and softly in the light, sheathing her
copper body in the finery of it. She carelessly tossed her
multicolored locks across her shoulders and padded softly down
the stairs, expecting to be blinded by the light of the glass
Instead, she found sheets tacked up, protecting the house from
poisonous sunlight, and the vampire she'd fucked sitting at the
kitchen table, eating Rice Krispies.
The sight of him was admittedly endearing. Wearing his black tee
shirt and black jeans sans expensive steel belt, Spike had his
bare feet propped up on the oak table and was reading the morning
paper, the bowl precariously perched on the end of the table, a
cigarette halfway turned into ash in the blown-glass ashtray. For
a moment, she just looked at him, drinking in the slim and built
lines of his body, stretched out underneath black cotton and
denim, skin as pale as bone exposed. He was a spare creature,
economical in design, like a piece of modern art architecture.
Slender feet that weren't tipped with black like his chipped and
bitten fingernails, long legs, taut abdomen that she had licked
last night, strong, capable arms, and a face that was strikingly
And he was a vampire, a killer, but if one were to judge on the
basis of species, she was a member of a race of murderers as
Sighing, Spike looked up at her, letting her know that he had
seen her the whole time, and flashed the front page of the
Melbourne Times at her. "AMERICA DAMNED". "Not a good time to be
an American, luv," Spike said, and the Slayer shrugged,
descending down the stairs as her bare feet sank into the plush
"Not a good time to be alive in the first place," she countered,
"so I'll deal with my nationality."
Point conceded. Spike tilted his head in her direction and she
walked across the room to the table. He took his time to drink in
her body wrapped in the black robe that fell around her knees,
revealing her thin calves. Her mess of hair looked even more
ridiculous now, when all of the lights were on and her
multicolored hair shimmered like oil mixed with water - rainbows
liquefied. "According to this, Melbourne's reached Stage Two,"
Spike announced, tossing the front page at her. The paper had
slimmed quite a bit, once the sports section had been deleted.
Not a whole lot of rugby going on nowadays, Spike supposed.
"Which means that we should get royally pissed in celebration of
that." A snide smile curved his mouth upwards. "Not that you
don't get royally pissed to celebrate the sun going down."
Absently, Buffy gave him the finger as she read the headline,
scanning through the article. "I think that the media might be
biased," she murmured, reading the diatribe about America fucking
the whole world over.
"Well, I doubt that anyone's going to fine them for it, pet,"
Spike reminded. "In any case, you Yanks did start this whole
mess, no matter what anyone tries to tell me about Taiwan being
invaded by China. Using the nukes - *smart* move." His voice
dripped with sarcasm, though it usually oozed such a high level
of sardonic cynicism that he could fill an ocean by now.
Arching her eyebrow at him, Buffy put down the paper. "Well,
since you're so willing to pass judgement on the good old US,
what should we have done?"
Spike grinned. "Well, not what you did, luv. That's for bloody
Distance clouded her eyes rather than the black eyeliner she'd
taken so foolishly to, and Spike watched her with curiosity,
seeing liability in motion. It was almost beautiful, the way that
she took the weight on her too-slender shoulders and tried to
balance it enough to walk. Almost ethereal, if one liked pain,
and Spike had a thing for tortured women. Drusilla had been a
muse of misery, and Buffy was a goddess of guilt.
It snapped suddenly, and she stood up, wrapping her arms around
her and walking to the windows, expecting a better view than the
black sheets that she was met with. Sighing, she peeked through
them, and Spike ignored her, turning back to his soggy cereal and
craving a better meal. The blood pumping through her veins would
be a delicious feast, but he wasn't for killing her now. Not when
there was a wave of pain coming right for them both. "You know,
you Americans seem to have this whimsical attitude towards life
and death," Spike said, continuing torturing her with words and
guilt that she really didn't deserve. "Kind of funny, really. You
people just think that if you hit a button, you can win a war.
Too many spaghetti Westerns or some rot like that."
The beach was beautiful... Seas lapping at rocks and devouring
stone, white foam topping it like floating doilies. Her skin
ached for the sun, longed to stretch out on the sands and never
return to the land. Maybe she could float on the waters, turn
into driftwood, and float off to somewhere where she didn't have
to feel so bad. Feel so empty and yet so full all at once.
Emptied happiness, drunken guilt... She was a bottle that was
always being consumed.
"And I really don't know why China invading Taiwan was such a big
bloody deal in the first place," Spike said in the background,
droning on in a fashion that was grating on her nerves. "The Cold
War was a stupid sodding idea to begin with. Who really cares
Irritated, Buffy sighed, fogging the glass window with her
breath. "Spike, I actually paid attention in foreign relations.
We care about communism because it's wrong."
"Well, it's none of your bloody business if a nation of idiots
decide to make themselves pillocks," Spike said. "And you people
*certainly* didn't have to start pressing random buttons and
firing missiles everywhere. I was quite content without impending
Anger flooded her veins as she snapped, storming across the room
in a maelstrom of embroidered silk and coppery skin. Fury blazed
in her eyes like a building tsunami, and Buffy slammed her fist
on the table, threatening him with a cut of her eyes. "You know,
I'm *really* tired of your bitching and moaning," Buffy said, her
voice as harsh as the craggy cliffs outside of her home. "You
accuse and accuse, and yet you never stop to think of what *I*
did for a living. I saved the world. On a regular basis. I think
that you could put it on my calendar. 'Go shopping, write
chemistry paper, save world.' And did anyone ever thank me?
Anyone ever go, 'Hey, Buff, thanks for adverting Apocalypse'? No.
Instead, they go do exactly what I've tried to protect them from
- they destroy the planet."
So there it was. There was her anger, laid neatly out on a table
for all to devour and dissect. She had been betrayed, deceived,
and for a moment, Spike understood her. She had spent all of her
young life saving the world, being man's salvation, its Christ in
pastels, and it had spit in her face and thrown a knife in her
back. No gratitude from the world that she had endeavored to
protect. No care or regard to the girl who had once killed her
lover to save them all from Armageddon. It wasn't fair, not at
all, not for her.
Awkwardly, he stood up, not certain of what he was going to do,
and he surprised them both when he wrapped her in a soft embrace,
his fingers smoothing through her mass of multicolored hair,
trickling down over her shoulders in a tropical waterfall of
color. Cool arms bound around her back, hands splayed out across
her shoulder blades and lower back, and he moved one hand upward
to bind through her hair. He said nothing, not having any words
to try to comfort her. He just held her, pressing her face to his
chest, his cheek resting on the top of her frenzied hair.
The embrace surprised her, stunned her even, if only because it
was Spike, the vicious and the dangerous, and not someone who
cared. Not someone who would hold her, or love her, or thread his
hands through her hair like he was holding gold. "Not right,"
Spike murmured, his voice low and deeply appealing. "Not right
what they did. What they did to you... Wasn't right." She
supposed that this mumbled apology was the best she would ever
get from a creature like Spike, in all of his complexity and
cruelty, and she took it for what it was.
What she didn't expect was to want to cry because someone was
finally holding her. Because someone finally understood.
Slowly, carefully, she wrapped her fingers around the back of his
throat, claiming the nape of his neck as hers for the rest of her
life. Pale skin where paler hair met, as though he'd tried to
bleach himself albino. Red fingernails covered him, taking him
into the mess of color that she'd created, sensing a hurt there
that she'd never sensed before. Sensing vulnerability in someone
who'd never been vulnerable in such a way. Yet Spike could be
vulnerable in an incongruous way, a contradictory need that only
surfaced in times of emergency or anguish. When his world spun
off its axis, turning on the wrong poles, Buffy sensed a fear and
a fright that she never noticed when he was his wisecracking,
Softly, Buffy kissed the place where his neck met his shoulders,
that sweet juncture where vampires usually preyed. Destruction
wasn't her folly when she kissed him there, suddenly wanting
nothing more than to wrap herself in this predatory creature who
had made her feel like herself again. Made her feel gentle
instead of harsh, like velvet instead of cut glass. "You don't
have to go," she murmured. "I know that you thought that this was
a one-night affair, a brief encounter, and that's not..." She
cleared her throat. "Not what I want anymore."
He battled on whether or not to scorn her or embrace her. To
humiliate her or to accept her. In the end, he took the better
man's route, and it was an honorable decision rather than a
lecherous one. "All right," Spike whispered. "I'll stay."
As they moved upstairs and back to her beckoning bed, she shed
her robe, so that she ascended in the nude, and he admired the
strength and fragility of her, like a contradiction cloaked in
summer skin. Buffy was heartbreakingly beautiful, her hair
trailing down her back in a mess of ruined sunlight, and there
was no such thing as wholesome beauty anymore. It had all been
destroyed effectively, so that everything was tainted by the
fingerprints of the world. She was stained, and so was he, but in
different ways. Ways that made them fit together at last. She was
jagged, hard at the edges, slightly fractured and embittered by
the world, and he was softened by it. Their different pains made
them work together.
Softness replaced cruelty, barbs fading away to nothing more than
whispers or moans, as he peeled off his clothing and carelessly
tossed it on the floor. With a gentleness foreign to the both of
them, he laid her on the bed, murmuring words into her neck
rather than draining the lifeblood out of her. Leaving her alive
had become less of a taunt to her eventual death through
radiation poisoning and more of a need for her to be around. A
need for his only link to the world he'd lost.
The lovemaking was slow and sweet, something harshly different
from the rough sex against vinyl and the frenetic coupling
against glass. Claws turned to whispers, and she moaned as he
laid her gently on the bed, stretching her palms outward as he
kissed them, the calluses healing after her long absence from
holding splintered stakes. Slowly, he drew one finger in his
mouth, nipping slightly at her fingertips, and she took in a slow
breath, the pace of their previously hasty encounters slowing to
a soft lull. Lullaby instead of heavy metal. She threaded her
fingers through his hair, loving the bleached beauty of him, so
harsh instead of sweet.
She kissed him with a slowness, tongues moving back and forth,
sweeping across teeth and colliding in a mixture of frigidity and
fire. Copper skin moved underneath porcelain, both of them worn
to a brittle fragility in an ode to the cruelty of the world
around them. She parted her legs in acquiescence to his need,
thighs opening for him to enter. Spike moved in, gently, an inch
at a time, and then his fingers moved between them, softly
coaxing her towards climax, a spiraling sweetness unlike him. It
was gentle. It was forgiving. Redemptive and almost healing. He
forgave her for what she'd done, for what her entire nation had
done. He forgave her for leaving, for running away from
Sunnydale, and when she finally came, it was in a kaleidoscope of
relieving ecstasy, a thousand different colors shimmering instead
of the achromatic shades of black and white that she was
Groaning, he came inside of her, cool quietude invading her
heated skin, and they laid there, curled up into each other,
clinging to the last thread of Sunnydale and America. The land of
the free and the home of the brave - this coupling was the last
remnant of it.
Slowly, languidly, she fell into sleep.
(end part four)
Soft lips caressed hers, never asking, never demanding, only
giving. Smiling happily, she kissed him back, her hand moving
across his chest, never able to record the broadness of it or
scale the landscape of his body. Lovingly, she caressed his
cheekbones with her mouth, clinging to him and all of his beauty.
"You know that I've never loved anyone the way that I love you,"
he murmured, his voice dark as velveteen midnight. "You're
everything that the world needs."
Chuckling softly, she wrapped herself inside of him, passing her
hand absently over the spiked mass of his hair. "I'm not the
sun," she said, her voice light and carefree, a smile in her
voice. "No one should be expected to be a galaxy."
Laughter poured so freely out of his mouth that she wanted to
drink it to see if it would get her drunk, like a dark red wine
with a bouquet of fresh fruit. Cranberries and apples... That was
his laugh. "But you are a savior," he said, and she tipped her
head back, hoping to catch another kiss from her darkly beautiful
lover. She loved him like the moon and stars, like he was
celestial and silvery, someone beautiful and rapturous. He always
tasted the same, like plums and faint coppery blood. Life, she
thought while kissing him. He tastes like life.
Softly, he pulled away and murmured in her ear. "You're a
Pain, deep and pungent, exploded inside of her chest, and she
pulled away, shocked and destroyed by his harsh words. Hurt, she
craned her neck away and looked down at him, and what she saw
took her breath away.
A face ravaged by disease looked at her with accusing and
bloodshot eyes. Teeth were missing from his mouth, blood seeping
out of sores that had exploded on his pearly mouth. Patches of
his spiked brown hair were missing, and sores were erupting on
the surface of his scalp. The face of her lover... The face of an
Glass slammed shut as she closed the door to the medicine
cabinet, and her reflection stared back at her incriminatingly.
Bereft of makeup, her face was fresh and yet like a ghost to her
- she didn't recognize herself. The strraight nose that flared
like a flattened star at the end, the soft cheekbones rounded by
baby fat that she'd never lose, and the thick eyelashes covering
eyes the color of the Great Coral Reef's water. Frowning, she
took in her expression, hair slicked back so that the colors
didn't show, and she thought for a moment that she caught a
glimpse of her old self in the mirror.
The girl who liked lilies and springtime, and wore the scent of
freshly cut peaches behind her ear. The girl who would dance like
a live flame and laugh while she did it, who stole hearts on a
regular basis but loved her collection dearly. The girl who saved
Whorls of color sat inside of the makeup chest, bowls of
shockingly dark lip colors, sticks of blueberry violet and whore
red, and Buffy stared at herself with the dull glare of a girl
who's lost everything, and then picked up the lipstick.
A stirring from the bed interrupted her slow dissection of
herself, and Buffy turned her head, seeing a naked back covered
halfway by vermilion linen. Spike... His peroxide blond hair
turned on the pillow as he slept, the broad muscles of his
shoulders pale and bright in the evening light. Black fingernails
clutched the sheets to him, but they dipped low enough in the
back to see the rise of his taut buttocks. He was exquisite.
Memory flashed and interrupted her gaze, showing her a vision of
dark hair printed over the blonde, of larger muscles and darker
breaths, and Buffy flinched, stumbling backwards, propelled by
the ferocity of her remembered dream. Angel... So accusing and so
The cigarette lit in the darkness of the shaded loft, and Buffy
took in a deep breath of mentholated tobacco, exhaling a cloud of
smoke into the misted bedroom. It smelled of sex, but so did
Spike. He always carried the heady aroma of utter sensuality,
misted slightly with the soft aroma of spent cigarettes. Quietly,
Buffy walked to the bed, not making a sound as she padded across
the carpeting, bare feet sinking into the soft rug as she
crouched by his side, the wings of her robe folding around her
arms and legs as she sat there.
Moaning softly in his sleep, Spike turned on his side, facing her
now, black lashes closing over startlingly blue eyes, mouth
pouting boyishly in slumber, as his black fingernails clutched
his pillow and he dreamed of the past. The mouth that spat harsh
insults to her earlier was now closed in his fitful repose, and
Buffy stroked her fingernails through his hair. She wondered
briefly what it would be like when he died. Would he explode into
dust, dissolving into nothing more than a remnant of the man he
used to be? Would be just fade into oblivion, turning into a
corpse in the cruelest of deaths?
Bitterly, she closed her eyes, listening to the silence of his
dead breath. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered anymore. No
matter how he tried to ignite the dead fire, no matter how
harshly he taunted her or how softly he held her, she was still
dying. They were both dying. They were *all* dying.
The whisper of her ghost came murmuring on the wind, his wine-
flavored voice carrying to her across the wastelands of the
Northern Hemisphere and down to her doomed sanctuary in
Australia. "You're a failure..."
Mouth twisted in an empty sneer, Buffy answered him softly, her
voice murmuring inadvertently in her lover's childe's ear. "No
one should be expected to be the sun."
And with that, she dressed and left.
And she was still in the club.
Vodka was her poison tonight, a substitute for the tasteless
radiation that would later choke her to death. A temporary
reprieve from the promise of her oncoming death, and a better way
to drown the guilt than... Heavily, Buffy picked up the shot
glass and tipped her head backwards, swallowing the liquefied
fire that burned down her throat in a clear potion of potency.
Her many bracelets jangled as she drank, glowing with the
fluorescent light that flowed through them.
Leather coated her body, from her flared carmine pants that rode
low on her hips to the matching top that tied in the small of her
back. Glitter covered her shoulders as usual, so that she
sparkled to hide the tarnish that no polish or love would ever
remove. Her fingers shook slightly on the glass, but not from
drunkenness. No, whispers of the past had done this, from the
slow murmurs in her ear in her dreams to the peroxide blond
vampire sleeping stilly in her bed.
Spike... The burn of the liquor wasn't enough. It was a
conflagration inside of her body, what he had done to her,
burning her to a holocaust until she was an immolation of a girl,
and then softly kissed her with a gentleness foreign to her as
far as he was concerned. Taken away the guilt, taken away the
pain, and yet he couldn't see that that was what she needed. She
needed to take the blame and wear it like the glitter covering
her skin. She needed to fill herself with the misery or else
she'd be empty and frail. Hollow and worn. But in so many ways,
Buffy was already vacant and barren.
She was already dead.
Loud, pulsing music pumped through the warehouse, and Buffy
somberly turned her head, her hair falling in her face in its
multicolored mass of braids. The dance floor was full, bodies
twisting and turning in time with the rhythm, beautiful youths
clothed in rags of designer clothing, easily accessible for
whoever cared about what they wore. Everyone wore jewelry that
glowed tonight, given away outside by some teens who'd found the
box in an abandoned nightclub. Bracelets, necklaces, and anklets,
so that everyone was artificially incandescent. Buffy had woven
luminescent pink and green through her hair, like a halo made out
of false fluorescence, and she was radiant in her own harsh way.
Wincing, Buffy felt the first glimmerings of a buzz coming on,
and tapped her shot glass insistently, calling for another shot
of vodka. The clear liquid was poured into her glass, and she
threw her head back with a vengeance, intent on drinking herself
into a frenzy tonight. She was insistent upon losing herself in
liquor and lust tonight, intent on losing the past that she'd
only hours ago demanded from Spike. God, even thinking his name
hurt. It hurt because she knew him, and tonight she needed
something foreign to steal her memories from her.
The voice was Australian, distinctly so, and unfamiliar. Slowly,
Buffy turned her head to find a man sitting next to her, a young
man, with blond hair the color of crystallized sand and eyes that
were indistinguishable in the pulsating lights. Fluorescent
bracelets twined over his wrists, and he wore a cream-colored
jersey shirt along with khaki cargo pants, reminiscent of
Xander... But she wasn't going to think about Xander tonight. She
was going to smile at this boy and forget the ruin of the world.
So she *did* smile, and she put the shot glass down on the table,
pulling a cigarette out of a slightly crushed pack of Marlboros.
"Isn't it always a rough night?" she said, injecting coyness into
From the shadows of the club, amidst the dancing bodies, he
watched her with the boy, glaring at her with the anger of seeing
someone intent on destroying themselves. No matter how he loved
chaos, he didn't care for its taste anymore, not after all of the
ruin that he'd witnessed. He looked at her ridiculous appearance,
with the leather clinging to her legs and the glowing necklaces
threaded through her hair and twined around her wrists and
ankles. Beautiful but stupid - what with her glittering eyeliner
and lip gloss. She was a fractured gemstone.
The boy was stealing her smiles, basking in her artificial glow.
Silently, he moved through the shadows of the club, the dark
wings of his trench coat fluttering around him in an incognito of
darkness. Nothing glowed about him, disintegrating into the
shadows, with the possible exception of heated blue eyes,
drinking her in like the vodka that she was consuming. Did she
think that she could keep him tied up in her crimson sheets?
Tangled and twined inside of the vermilion... Oh, Spike wasn't a
fool. He knew that she had panicked, run away to her foolish
nightclubs and her lifestyle of fucking and drinking. Her death
before death... Oh, Buffy was truly screwed up now.
However, the voyeur inside of him fed off of her, watching her
heavily lidded and drunken eyes flirting with the foolish boy
wearing khaki like the whelp the world had killed in California.
He was basking in the ray of her lying sun, of the nonexistent
light that radiated off of her. Some people would think that
there was a fire underneath her skin, but Spike knew otherwise.
He knew that she was running off of fumes and nothing else.
Crossing his arms, Spike leaned against the doorframe, watching
the lights flicker and flash across the dance floor. The former
Slayer stood up and took the boy's hand, drawing him to the dance
floor as her braided hair glowed with the luminous neon lights
she'd carefully woven through her hair. Slowly, she sidled up to
him, running her hands through his spiked hair, styled in a
fashion similar to Spike's old sire's, the great and fabulous
She'd screamed his name when she woke up today, and only he knew
Languidly, she ran his hands over her hips, purring in false
satisfaction, and Spike watched as their dance continued, feeling
a strange ache to be the object of her affection and attention.
That was his dance. His tease and taunt, his seductive smile lit
by missing kerosene, and Buffy was giving it all away to the
whelp that she was dancing with. The whisper of a leather-clad
girl ran her hands up the sides of her body, and Spike watched
with building anger as she took the boy off the dance floor. She
had other plans for him.
Fog curled through the back alley, sheathing her in thick smoke,
and the distant sound of sirens could be heard from miles away.
He followed her out there incognito, careful not to reveal his
surveillance of her. Braids fell down her shoulders in a cascade
of decorated color, pouring over her slim and glittered back, and
she wrapped her arms around the boy, pulling him to her in a
rough and volatile kiss. Anger surged through him, not jealousy,
but rage at the fact that she could be so absolutely useless and
worthless. She possessed nothing but her thin sensuality, using
every trick she knew to make herself forget. To lessen herself so
that she was as villainous as she wanted to be. To make her a
worthy vessel for her cargo of guilt.
This was what she needed, she thought as she undid the boy's
leather belt. No pity, no empathy, no reminder of who she had
once been. That girl had died with the rest of them in Sunnydale,
an escort to their unwilling and innocent cadavers. She was
another victim of the nuclear war, another shadow to be cast on
the sundial of the world. Time was running short... Desperately,
she kissed him, her fingernails digging into his shoulders and
insistently propelling him towards her. No words, no clever
repartee, no soft lovemaking. Just this rough and tumble coupling
against the brick wall of the warehouse...
Sharp cries echoed against her teeth, probably from his drug-
addled ecstasy, and Buffy kissed him anyway, undoing the fly on
his khakis and keeping her hands fastened to his hips, and she
could sense danger in the air. Could taste it with a tangibility
that was marvelous to behold. And then...
The boy fell, fell to the side, blood dripping down his neck in a
cascade of crimson, and Spike stood above her, eyes glowing an
iridescent gold, face disfigured to reveal the demon within. The
boy was not dead; he'd live, but only for a short period of time
before the world claimed his life. "You *bastard*," Buffy
growled, shoving him with her hands before going slightly mad and
beating him into a frenzy. "You piece of *shit*!"
Easily, he blocked her rage-induced fighting, his face shifting
back to normal as he cornered her against the wall, placing his
hands insistently on her shoulders, not caring for her discomfort
or possible pain. "Is this what you want, Slayer?" Spike asked,
his voice rough as gravel, low and predatory. "Is this what you
think you deserve? You don't want someone to understand you, you
just want a good rough shag."
Grinning predatorily, the leather clinging to her skin in a
fashion that was decidedly appealing, Buffy sneered at him.
"You'll never understand me, Spike," she said viciously, lashing
out at him with words rather than fighting. "You'll never
understand anything at all. You're worthless."
He met her smile with an arrogant smirk of his own. "Ah, is that
the pot calling the kettle black?"
Growling, she kissed him, brutally assaulting his mouth with her
own, heat boiling inside of her belly in a mixture of anger and
carnal arousal. She wanted him, wanted him to pound into her, to
make her into something that she suspected she already was, and
she insistently rubbed her hips against his, feeling him harden
and ready for whatever she was willing to give him. "Just fuck
me," she said into his mouth, her hot breath panting onto his
lips. "Don't do anything else but that."
Spike pulled away from her roughly, his fingers bruised from
holding the powerful girl so closely, and he glared at her
coldly. "You're not worth it." With a final push, he slammed her
slender body against the brick, and she grunted with the force of
his hands. Disappointed, Spike turned away, leather coat covered
in mist, ready to leave her...
And a gunshot interrupted the scene.
Stunned, they both turned, Buffy running towards the point where
the gunshot had first rose from, only to hear two more join it.
Eyes widening, lips parting in an expression of true horror and
dismay, she ran, braids unfurling like a thousand serpents behind
her as she ran. He followed, startled by the sound, only to see
the results resting behind a bright orange dumpster.
Three bodies lay there, painted in an effigy of blood and blue
light, like holy statues tipped over and abused. A woman, her
dress ragged and worn, a gunshot clear through her head. A small
girl, golden hair stained crimson with spilled blood, held
tightly in the dead arms of her mother, blood splashed on the
woman's dress. And a man, a gunshot wound straight through his
graying temples, the weapon still warm in his loose fist.
Gasping, Buffy fell to her knees, her hair shimmering behind her
in a tapestry of braids, choking on her own breath and tears as
she looked down at the three. Shaking fingers hovered over the
three, but she couldn't bring herself to interrupt the picture
that they painted. "Oh, God," she whispered, realizing what had
happened. "Oh, *God*..." They were a family, the wedding bands
matching and glistening in the cool streetlight, the daughter
still clutching her mother and a stuffed bunny animal for
protection. There was no murder here, nothing but a desperate
attempt to flee the inevitable in a fashion more merciful than
what was coming. "Oh, Jesus, oh no, oh God..."
Sobbing wracked her body, and Spike stood numbly behind her,
looking at the defiled angels with an expression of stunned
horror on his face. Swiftly, he covered up his unexpected pain
and reached a hand down to touch the quivering Slayer as her
fingers floated over the dead child helplessly. "Buffy, this was
their choice," he said, his voice sharpened to try to make her
understand. "They made this decision... You can't do anything;
Horrified, she shook her head, her braided hair tossing over her
shoulders as her eyeliner ran down her cheeks like stained oil
paint. "No," she whispered. "No, they're *not* dead; I can still
help them. I can still save them, just go for help *now*..."
Roughly, he pulled her to her feet, looking at the expression on
her face as she was caught in an insane spiral of grief and
terror, and she hit him with useless fists, screaming
incoherently at him for interrupting her impossible salvation.
"There's still time!" she screamed, and he slapped her,
ruthlessly, yelling back at her.
"No, there's *not*!"
With that, she dissolved into incomprehensible weeping, crying
for the family that lay beneath her in a tangled pile of limbs
and blood, and crying for her own damned future. She wept for
those who had no other way out, for the world that had tumbled to
its knees, and for the haggard and ruined girl that she had
disintegrated into. Covering her face with her hands, heavy
makeup staining her palms like stigmata, Buffy leaned against her
former enemy, clutching at him as she wailed, and Spike held her,
wrapping his hand through her hair and another one across her
lower back. All the while, he looked down at the family that had
taken their own lives, hypnotized by the way the dead daughter's
hair fluttered in the soft breeze like a white-gold banner of
There wasn't any time left.
(end part five)
The mirror dissected her, quartered and drew her, leaving her a
girl staring at herself with an image of ruined purity and
destroyed joy. There she was, placed on the mirror, her hair
flooding down her back in a mass of magenta, red, and newly dyed
blue. It was all there, a multitude of color and frivolity, of
something that he considered terribly stupid and she considered
her. She couldn't return to the past. She never would be able to
do that. She would have to find joy in who she was now, in the
warehouse girl that she had become. The girl who danced under
flashing lights and had a particular fondness for chain-smoking
and screwing vampires - that was what Buffy Summers was now. The
old girl who'd quipped her way out of situations was dead,
leaving a stoic and sour girl in her place.
"Better," she proclaimed, and Spike stalked behind her, frowning
at her hair.
"You look bloody stupid," he said, and she rolled her eyes at him
in the mirror.
"Kiss my ass."
Slowly, Spike dragged his eyes away from the slender girl with
the spill of frenzied hair and looked in the mirror, seeing only
her reflection and not his own. It hurt to know that in many
ways, he did not exist. He had died years ago, but he was still
here, still in existence, and yet the mirror refused to give him
any evidence that he was still alive. Death frightened him more
than he confessed to the revivified Slayer. The notion that he
was dead before he had even succumbed to the starvation that
faced him was disturbing in a profound manner.
He'd wreaked havoc on the world for over a century, damning
whoever crossed his path to a lifetime of absolute misery and
chaos. Spike's reign of terror had been notorious, something to
be written and recorded in the Watcher's Diaries, and now he
would fade away into nothingness with nothing to remember him by.
A whisper of a man, something unnoticed and unmemorable. Just
another statistic to record, but no one would be around to count
the masses of people who would die when the winds brought the
radiation to Sunnydale.
She had become slightly nocturnal during her week with him, but
she still woke an hour or so before he stirred. Whenever he did
finally climb out of her bed and descend down the stairs, the
daylight was oftentimes still strong and deadly. He oftentimes
stood in front of the darkened sheets and windows and dared
himself to part the sheets that she had so carefully hung,
exposing himself to the blistering rays of the light. She would
remember his death then, carry the memory of William the Bloody
with her into her grave, but he found himself unable to end his
own unlife. It was pathetic - a vampire who couldn't even kill
A vampire terrified of the coming storm...
Shuddering, Spike scowled at the deceitful mirror, and she caught
onto his sudden flinch. Frowning, she turned around and looked at
him with the serious intensity that she possessed, furrowing her
brow and looking at the arrogant man who'd somehow made it into
her bed. "What?" she asked, and he shook his head, still looking
past her at the mirror that refused to show him for who he was.
"Nothing," he said darkly. "Fuck, I need a cigarette."
The Marlboro Reds lay on the nightstand beside her bed, next to a
glass ashtray blown in an unusual shape, something resembling a
fish or another aquatic animal. She had acquired a collection of
eclectic and unusual ashtrays, something to do in her idle time
between the morning and the frenzied night, though Spike didn't
understand the point in collecting when the collection would soon
be nothing but a lingering menagerie of junk. Spoils of mankind's
culture and creativity would be left as remnants of a society
Sighing, Spike looked in the pack of Marlboros and saw that only
five remained. Enough to get him through the remainder of the
night, but he'd want them when the next twilight fell. "Bloody
hell," he muttered under his breath. "I'm almost out of sodding
She frowned and checked her own pack of cigarettes. "So am I,"
she said. "Fuck. I'll run into Melbourne tomorrow and scrounge up
a couple of cartons."
Arching his eyebrow at her, Spike gave her a look. "You actually
want to go into that mess?" he asked. "You've seen the news
reports, pet. Melbourne's shot to hell."
Dryly, Buffy smiled. "Is there anywhere left in the world that's
He didn't have a good answer to that.
When she'd first bought her plane ticket with Giles's stolen
money, the travel agent had given her a pamphlet describing to
her the beauties of the Australian city. There were luscious
landscape shots of the beaches with their crags and rocks, the
cliffs that delved into the edge of the sea and the swaying
palmetto trees that reminded her of the beaches near Los Angeles.
Aerial photography captured the essence of the city at night, lit
up with a thousand different lights that twinkled with the
bravado of a Christmas tree. Everything was clean and modern,
with lush beaches and magical possibilities. It was a salvation.
Now, she saw only destruction.
The streets of Melbourne were bereft of cars, as hardly anyone
had any petrol left with which to fuel their automobiles. Cars
were being pulled by horses, brooding mares sullenly toting their
masters and mistresses wherever they chose without any hope of
ever being released. Faces that were haggard and almost skeletal
from starvation and despair refused to meet her eyes, thinking
that she was nothing special, just another girl without any hope
for the future. And in a respect, they were right. Because Buffy
had no chance or opportunity now.
The taunting words of Angelus floated back to her across a sea of
memory. "No friends, no family, no hope... Take all that away,
and what's left?"
She knew the answer now as she knew it then: She was all that was
And it wouldn't save her this time.
The smell of burning glass and metal wafted down to her, and the
Slayer craned her neck upwards, looking at a skyscraper as it
blazed without any control. Smoke curled up to the sky in wafting
grains of gray, dissipating into the lackluster blue of the sky,
hazy with clouds that blocked out the sunlight. Broken glass
alerted her attention next, and Buffy jerked her head around,
watching a crazed young man with a baseball bat break a window
and steal a bottle of Jack Daniels from the window display.
Alarmed, the former Slayer approached the boy.
"There's no need to do that," she said. Upon hearing her American
accent, the boy's face distorted into a snarl, and he spat
furiously on her shoes.
"It's all your fault," he said contemptuously, and took the
bottle, running away from the situation, leaving Buffy stunned
and heartbroken. It wasn't safe for her to be here. It wasn't
safe for her, with her California eyes and voice that could only
be a product of the United States. Bowing her head, she looked
down at the spittle running across the heavy Doc Marten she'd
worn, and closed her eyes briefly, allowing the boy's saliva to
stain her shoe. She deserved it. She would shoulder the blame for
this, be a walking target, because no one was more innocent than
these anguished citizens doomed to death because of another
Miserably, she continued walking, trudging down the streets among
with the rest of the bedraggled city. Some were bleeding from
attacks, others were weeping, and some, like her, were numbed to
the entire situation. Melbourne was in a state of absolute chaos,
of wreckage and apathy, like a fallen angel who'd been left to
bleed to death. Carelessly, she stepped over broken glass,
hearing it crunch and fragment further underneath her boot, and
she felt numbed and hollowed by the city's massive descent into
It was a reminder of all that had happened. The world had changed
around her, suddenly and painfully, reduced to nothing more than
tumbled towers of glass and fear, and the eyes of the Australians
around her were numbed and terrified. They'd lost their world as
certainly as she'd lost hers, no matter that hers had been killed
by a wave of radiation and theirs was destroyed by the rest of
the world's thoughtless atrocities. Silence was a common factor
in the city, as words were useless now.
City Hall stood like a crumbled mammoth, like a temple ruined and
ravaged by the Nazis' Kristelnacht, littered with citizens who
had nowhere else to turn. A small string quartet played a low and
mournful song on the building's steps, musicians with a song left
in them who could express their emotions and terror through the
stroking of strings, and Buffy stopped for a moment, watching
them play. The violinist stroked his instrument with an
expression of absolute resignation, eyes quietly grieving, and
the cellist sat on a small stool, her hair brushing her shoulders
in a paintbrush of burnished copper as she added low harmony to
the violin's weeping.
Above it all, this scene of helpless despair, a large blue banner
hung, proclaiming a statement that was awful to read:
"THERE IS STILL TIME."
The Australians of Melbourne knew otherwise. They knew that the
hourglass was slowly emptying, sands falling through the narrow
funnel in a constant gush of precious seconds and minutes, and
that time was slowly running out for them. Time was of the
essence now, not because there was any time to save them, but
only time left in which to live. And her time was running out as
Shuddering, Buffy walked away, her shoulders heavy with the
burden of being a citizen of the country that had fated them all
to an early death.
The convenience store's windows had been effectively shattered,
and the clerk tending the counter was holding a rifle to prevent
from any looting. He lowered it when he recognized Buffy, and he
sighed, scratching the side of his head with relief. "I'm telling
you, Yank, there's nothing worse than today," he said, and Buffy
smiled wryly at him.
"Feels that way, doesn't it?" she said softly, and the clerk
smiled at her in return, with the camaraderie of being sentenced
to death. "Can I get two cartons each of Marlboro Reds and
Marlboro Menthols?" The clerk nodded and turned behind him,
unlocking the glass doors that contained his stockpiled
"You know, I didn't start smoking until the bombs started
falling," the clerk said conversationally, putting the cartons
into a brown paper sack for her. "I figured that if I started now
and smoked until the radiation hit in Melbourne, maybe I'd die of
lung cancer instead of poisoning." Buffy grinned at him in
"I started smoking because I knew that it wouldn't ever happen,"
she said, and the clerk grinned at her.
"You're a smart little bugger, you know," he said, and then a
wolfish grin spread across his face. "Even if you are one of
those bastard Americans."
Snickering, Buffy took her cigarettes, resigning herself to the
fate that she would always be a target, no matter if she herself
was falling to pieces from being the target of too many arrows
and knives. They deserved the opportunity to spit on their
murderers, and she had been designated the martyr. If she
couldn't be a savior, then she'd be on the cross - if Buffy were
religious, she'd be drawing parables left and right, though she
knew that she was just a flawed parody of Christ.
After all, Christ saved the world. Buffy had failed. Quite
miserably, in fact.
She remained in the city until the sun set, watching it descend
between two obelisks of glass and metal, the swollen globe of
lush vermilion falling slowly and sensually in between the cradle
of skyscrapers and technology, into the distant seas. She
wandered the streets in twilight, opening up her carton of
Marlboros and procuring one pack of cigarettes, absently packing
the box as she walked down to where the warehouses were.
An addict always returned to the scene of the crime, and Buffy
had quite cheerfully been addicted to the warehouses and their
endless fun and games. The parties, the drinking, the easy
lifestyle of coming and going whenever she pleased and not
thinking about the future or the past, of screwing whoever was
there and of returning in pieces of herself...
Shuddering, Buffy turned away, the wind tugging at her rainbow-
colored hair and throwing it around her face in thin tendrils of
wispy magenta and blue. The strap of her shoulder bag ached
against her skin, and she shifted it anxiously, resisting the
urge to walk inside and rejoin the festival that she could hear
beginning. Electronic bass and throaty vocals poured from the
club, too loud to possibly be contained in the concrete
warehouse, and she sat on the steps outside, frantically reaching
for her cigarettes, substituting tobacco and nicotine for the
pulsation of the club.
Accusingly, Spike's cartons of cigarettes dug into her hipbone,
and she was reminded of the viciously vibrant blond vampire she'd
abandoned in the glass house on the beach. He would have wakened
by now and found her missing, his white-blond hair endearingly
rumpled by his day sleep, the red linen clinging to the svelte
and sinuous lines of his slender body, clinging to him with the
addiction that only he could inspire. She was an addict in so
many ways now, addicted to nightclubs, cigarettes, and a peroxide
vampire. She was succumbing to two and battling the first,
wanting what she knew would destroy her.
She'd been close with the boy that he had almost killed. She'd
been on the brink of damnation, on the edge of hurting herself
and killing what she was, and she needed that sort of
conflagration. It was nothing in comparison to the immolation of
the world. Just a spark dying. She would have crushed herself in
the boy's drug-addled fucking, and returned to her life before
Spike, the life of taking shots of tequila and firing bullets
into her soul.
Painfully, Buffy flicked ash from her cigarette, her other hand
stroking her hair angrily. She needed to get home, get back to
the train station before the last train left, and he would be
waiting for her at the train station with a snide remark waiting
on his arrogantly beautiful mouth. She stood up, preparing
herself to return home and sighing, when a hand struck out and
clamped fingers against her mouth. Shocked, Buffy struggled, eyes
widening and cigarette falling to the ground, and a steel-toed
boot reached out, gritting it to the concrete.
An Australian voice whispered in her ear snidely and spitefully,
like acidic smoke. "Give me the bag and I'll let you live," the
voice said, and she trembled in the boy's arms, a shivering hand
reaching upward to remove the bag...
And then she bit him.
Crying out, the boy released her, pushing her forward, and Buffy
whipped her head around, clutching her bag protectively while
smiling dangerously at the boy who'd captured and tried to rob
her. Her sea-colored eyes flashed at him like electrified liquid,
and her scarlet-tipped fingernails gripped the shoulder bag,
preparing to defend the cigarettes like a pirate guarding its
loot. "You *really* picked the wrong girl to rob," Buffy said,
and the boy narrowed his eyes, still clutching his bleeding hand.
"You're a bloody American," he said hatefully, and Buffy smiled
at him with an innocence so false that it was malevolent.
"No, I'm Canadian," she said. "And I'm *really* pissed that
there's not going to be any hockey this season."
When he snarled and charged at her, brandishing a switchblade,
Buffy took the bag from her shoulders and slammed it into his
head, kicking him in the stomach with a beautiful synchronicity.
It felt *beautiful* to return to the battle, to fight again. She
was an artist when she fought, and she felt relieved and reborn
to battle this boy who'd wanted to steal her bounty. He stumbled
backwards, and Buffy whipped the bag over her head like a sword
and lashed out at him again, her hair flying around her face in a
flashing halo of crackling color. Smiling, she ducked her head
when he attempted to punch her, and she swiftly lashed out a leg,
catching his knees and effectively bringing him to the ground
with a thud.
Triumphantly, Buffy tossed her hair out of her face with a
haughty nod of her head, and put her hands on her hips, settling
her shoulder bag back across her shoulders as she stood over the
groaning boy's body. "Never come between a smoker and her
cigarettes," she scolded. "It just gets ugly."
Shockingly, suddenly, the boy growled at her, and Buffy's eyes
widened with surprise as the boy's face shifted and changed,
revealing amber eyes and long, glittering fangs. "Wrong," the
vampire leered, rising from his position on the ground. "*This*
is when it gets ugly."
Its golden eyes gleamed in the darkness, penetrating the shadows
with its liquefied glare, and Buffy felt her past creeping up on
her like a cloak, deliciously familiar. "You know, I'm *really*
happy to see you," she said, smiling at him cheerfully. "I think
it's been at least a year since I last killed a vampire. I know,
I know, you're wondering if I'm a little rusty at the whole
slaying thing, but I think I can still manage killing you without
breaking a sweat *or* a nail, for that matter."
The vampire smiled at her, bangs of dark brown falling in his
blazing yellow eyes that glowed like glycerin. "You're the
Slayer," he said, and Buffy rolled her eyes.
"Well, state the obvious, why don't you," she said, and the
vampire rose from the ground, pulling out the switchblade and
jabbing at her with the weapon. Effortlessly, she skirted to the
side, avoiding the sharp weapon, and her eyes darted around the
alleyway, looking for any object that could be transferred to a
weapon. A discarded mop caught her eye, and she smiled, removing
her bag from her shoulder once more. She slammed the vampire in
the face with it, disorienting him briefly, and she raced across
to the mop, breaking it in half over her knee.
He saw it and snarled at her, and she shrugged. "Nothing
personal, but it's pretty much my job," she said.
"You were supposed to be dead!" the vampire said, and Buffy
smiled, tilting her head to the side, her fingers clutching the
stake with blessed familiarity.
"I've got a couple months," she said. "May as well make the best
And with that, she charged forward, kicked the vampire in the
face, and slammed the stake easily into the vampire's chest,
watching with a marvelous relief as the vampire shattered into
nothing but dust, falling to the ground in a shower of ashen
Slowly, a smile spread across her face, lovely and wonderful, and
Buffy closed her eyes briefly, the stake's splinters cutting into
the healed calluses of her hands with a delicious bite. This was
her element. This was her expression. No form of poetry or
painting could ever fit her as well as this moment, the joy and
adrenaline of battle, the feeling of being masterful and
talented, and the knowledge that this was truly what defined her.
She was the Slayer, whole and qualified, the champion of the
But there was no earth anymore. There was only this last
continent, these huddled masses of ruined people, waiting for
their death, and she couldn't protect them from that. Only one
Australian vampire who had already been vanquished by her
The sounds of a scuffle came from nearby, and she felt a tingling
sensation low in her belly. The sudden twisting of muscles, the
heightened senses, the feeling of sensing the preternatural...
Arching her eyebrow and lifting her stake, Buffy slung her bag
over her shoulder and crept down the alley, towards the signs of
struggle, embracing her old duties...
Only to find Spike, her lover and enemy, holding the limp body of
a warehouse girl in his arms.
(end part six)
The scene was destructive. Painted in the cool lime of a
streetlight, his mouth berry red and glistening with ripe
moisture, face shifted into the immortal and distorted visage of
the demon that she had ignored since his arrival, Spike held the
young girl limply to his body. The girl was dead, blue hair
glimmering around her face like a pixie, her slender body clothed
in tight zebra pants and a sequined top. Death had already stolen
her - she was gone. Absolutely gone.
Pained, Buffy staggered backwards, and Spike threw the body to
the ground, his snarling face shifting back to its more human
visage, if anything about the bastard of a vampire could ever be
considered human. The very sight of her anguished expression
infuriated him, and he stepped closer to her, knocking the stake
out of her hands with his bloodstained palm. Caught red-handed,
Buffy thought dazedly. She had caught him red-handed.
"So what!" he shouted at her, an inhuman snarl catching his
words. "Yeah, I killed her. I'm a bloody vampire! It's what I do.
You didn't think that fucking me would change that, did you?
You're not *that* na´ve!" The angular cheekbones stood out
gauntly, and his eyes flared with a mixture of cerulean and
amber, so passionate that she felt burned just by looking at him.
Rage flooded her body, pure and uncontrollable, and she slammed
her fist into his face, hair flying around her face in a fury of
multicolored gold. She was a portrait of danger, of death and
destruction, in her black tank top and flared jeans, the Doc
Martens heavy and her hair a frenzied mass of fragmented gold.
She smelled of cigarettes and hormones, and he knew that in this
state she'd kill him just for the adrenaline high that would
follow. "I know what you are," she said harshly, her face clean
and unmarred by her heavy hand and eyeliner, flushed the color of
exploding roses. "You're a pathetic bastard of a man who's
terrified of death and kills to make up for it." He was floored
and she knew it. "Yeah, Spike, I know that you're scared of it.
You tiptoe around the windows during the day and you can't bring
yourself to actually kill yourself. I've watched you and waited
for you to go Nike and just do it, but you wimp out every single
time." She twisted her face into a sneer. "Loser."
Rage uncontrollable. Lust undeniable. Anger irrevocable. He had
never hated her more than in that singular moment, with her self-
righteous sea eyes and her dusted clothing, her hair a myriad of
ridiculous colors and her chin tilted in the lift of the arrogant
and stupid. Outraged pulsed along with the lights inside of the
warehouse, and Spike grabbed her by her hair, his chipped
fingernails sinking into the raging rapids of her blue and gold
hair, and she hissed at the pain, never giving him the pleasure
of whimpering. "You're a ripe one to talk about fearing death,"
he hissed. "You with your bloody warehouses and little whelps,
your sodding *stupid* hair and your badgering. You're nothing,
you know. You're just a good shag and that's about it. Everything
that was decent about you died in America with the rest of your
friends, and now you're worthless."
With that, he tugged once more on her kaleidoscopic hair, the
strands flying out like parrot's feathers when he released her,
and she stumbled briefly, regaining her balance and approaching
him with a voice like cut glass and barbed wire. "I'm *not*
worthless," she said boldly, and Spike arched his scarred eyebrow
at her. "None of us are worthless. That's something that you
don't understand and something that you never have understood.
We're all worth something on this planet, and everyone thinks
that we're just nameless bodies. Statistics." She glared at him
as though he had pressed the button and started this mess. "Well,
I'm not a fucking statistic! I'm Buffy Summers!" Her voice was
becoming mangled by tears that she shattered before they could
fall. "I'm the goddamn Slayer! The Chosen One! The one who saved
everyone's asses but still got screwed in the end because no one
knew who I was!"
Furiously, Spike yelled at her, his mouth inches away from hers,
gesturing emphatically as he spoke. "Yeah, well what about me?"
he demanded, his voice broken and dark, like hard candy. "You
think you know everything that there is to know about old Spike,
don't you? That I'm just a bad-ass, chain-smoking, murdering,
bad, rude man? Well, I've got a little confession for you,
Summers - it just so happens that I *like* this planet. I like
its style. I like living my immortal unlife and I don't fancy the
idea of giving it up any time soon. I'm supposed to be bloody
immortal, and I feel a little cheated on that whole end of the
Thunder rumbled in the distance; lightning the color of his
bleached hair and just as malevolent flickered in between the
spires of glass and metal. Wind whispered, and the entire world
seemed electrified with the violence rippling between the vampire
and the Slayer. Desperately, desolately, Buffy threw her hands
up, her wrists seemingly chained and shackled by the myriad of
black bracelets that decorated her gold skin, eyes brimming with
the emptiness that came from being sentenced to death. "Don't you
get it, Spike?" she said, her voice hard and brittle all at once.
"We were *all* cheated. Every single one of us. We all got
screwed over because of this."
Lightning blistered through the skies, and the clouds exploded
over them, showering them with pelting rain. The world had turned
on her again, a storm unfurling and unleashing a devastating
assault of liquid and electricity, and Buffy closed her eyes,
tipping her head backwards, feeling the rains falling on her. It
made her feel like crying and it made her feel like killing
someone. These were the rains that would one day kill her. Maybe
they were killing her now. The rains sweeping in from the
Northern Hemisphere, weeping tears of radioactive liquid,
bringing damnation and precipitation in a flood that not even
Noah's ark could survive.
Oh, fuck, they were all so screwed.
Descending in a whirlwind of impassioned destruction, Buffy felt
her emotions spiral in an earth-shattering tornado of tumultuous
discord, falling into despair, and she fought tears with a skill
less sufficient than her abilities as a Slayer. She wanted to
weep, wanted to scream, wanted to do something rather than remain
in this state of helpless anticipation. Waiting for death was a
long and drawn-out process of anguish, and she felt useless, felt
worthless, just as he'd said that she was.
Slowly, terrified of seeing the whorl of death's cloak in the
twist of storm clouds above her, Buffy opened her eyes, looking
at the storm that was pouring on her in a torrent of ruining
rain. Palms outstretched, waiting for the nails to drive through
palms and feet, Buffy let it rain, and he watched her silently,
wanting to draw her into himself, to swallow her wretchedness and
digest her despair. He understood it. Understood the feeling of
absolute uselessness, the desperation of knowing that death was
knocking and there was nothing that he could do to stop it. They
were bound together now. Tethered by turmoil - it was a bond that
they would never have experienced if the world hadn't destroyed
Leather licked at his legs as he walked to her, and she opened
her eyes slowly, looking at him in his exquisitely defiant
beauty, water sluicing down the carved angles of his cheekbones,
catching on the incongruous pout of his lower lip. That mouth,
soft and luxurious, was the antithesis of who he was. Such an
oddly soft mouth for a man who was so malevolent and sharp. She
reached her fingertips out and touched him, and she crushed her
body to his in an embrace too brutal to be kind or sweet. Water
poured down on them as she kissed him, her hair a drenched mass
of color and design, never colorful enough to hide how achromatic
and numb she had become.
"I don't know who I've become," she confessed in a hushed murmur,
and her murdering priest threaded his hands through the tangle of
reds and blues that had swallowed the purity of her hair.
"Neither do I," he said, and it wasn't as comforting as she had
wanted it to be. Didn't matter. She would kiss him anyway, make
love to him here, because she could understand passion better
than she could understand herself.
Water poured down in a constant timpani of percussion, soft and
hard all at once, and that was him as well. Shaking fingers
pulled his duster off his shoulders, and it fell to the ground in
a puddle of leather and liquid. She set herself to work on his
mouth, tossing her hair back in a fan of magenta and cerulean,
the gold as white as his peroxide hair. Hooking her arms around
his neck, she felt his hands ascend her spine, fingernails
digging into her skin with a pain so pleasant that it was
delectable. Scratch the surface, she willed. Remove the scar
It was too thick for her to ever deal with.
Crying out into his mouth, she arched her back, edges of
flamboyant hair tickling his wrists, and he grabbed the skin of
her back, wrenching a throaty moan that was mixed with agony and
ecstasy from her mouth. Coarsely, he kissed her, holding back
nothing, lusting for her in a thousand ways, and it was a
heartbreaking want that propelled her to a mouth that tasted like
melted pennies, coppery from the blood that he had stolen.
Pennies from heaven, swallowed by hell - that was the flavor of
his mouth, and she was addicted. Hooked. She was hopeless.
Rain slammed down on them both, coursing down the lines of their
bodies, painting them in opaque waters. Safe, clean, supposedly
redeeming; these na´ve rains. She was filth that required more
cleansing than one thundershower, and yet she took this for what
it was. She took it because it temporarily filled her. Sad, that
the only time she felt alive anymore was in the embrace of the
Bodies separated for a whisper of a moment to remove clothing;
she commandingly and brutally tore off his tee shirt and revealed
his milky skin to the rain, as though it were some sort of
twisted sacrifice to the gods. The gods were silent these days.
Perhaps they were ashamed of the foolishness of their creation;
she didn't know. The black tank top that revealed a sliver of her
taut abdomen slid off of her slicked body with less ease,
stubbornly clinging to the moist curvature of her svelte figure.
Spike couldn't blame the article of clothing; he wanted to remain
plastered to her skin for the short remainder of his life. She
was the best thing left on earth, even if she thought herself
hollow and criminal. It was criminal for them to do this, but
Spike had never been one for rules in the first place.
Black satin clung to her breasts, shimmering with the rainwater
that dampened it, and she felt so heated from arousal that she
thought she'd exude steam from her body heat. He was so cool that
he personified rain, and maybe that was what flowed through his
dead veins. Water instead of blood. Precipitation instead of
pulse. She tipped her head back as he caressed her, and the
street light died suddenly, plunging them into darkness. The
power had gone out, the lights slamming them into pitch, and the
lightning increased with an intensity comparable to a natural
strobe, flickering and giving images in flashes and spurts.
Percussion matched with thunder, creating a synchrony of arousal
and storm, and she was as taut as an electric wire with want.
And the lightning revealed it all in fragmented glimpses:
Scarlet fingernails scraped up his back, a sharp contrast of
crimson and porcelain. Flashes of magenta and blue, dark and
damp, fanning in the air as she tilted her head back from
pleasure. Her face a mosaic of desire, eyes closed and lips
parted, a symphony of sensuality pouring from her mouth in an
operatic score. Breasts round and ripened, chipped black
fingernails tracing juicy underside and sliding underneath satin
to caress coral nipples. Hardness straining for soft warmth,
navel hollow and filled with perspiration and precipitation.
Magnetic cerulean eyes underneath fringes of black, lost with
lust and impossible to surface from, deeper than tidal pools and
oceans. A mouth too soft to be his, exuding shaking rasps of want
that were incomprehensible to anyone but her, sculpted in a
fashion that rivaled Adonis.
Fingertips delved inside the waistband of her ebony pants,
tracing the line down to the soft rise of her satin-covered mons,
and he slid his fingers inside of her panties, tracing the
swollen and moist folds in a fashion that made her strangle a
scream. Taunting, like silk scarves cooled and poured over muscle
and bone, and she clawed his shoulder frenetically, not caring
who saw them or who knew. No one to tattle on them now. No one to
damn them for their tryst, this affair between vampire and
Slayer. No one to care.
No one to stop them.
Brutally, his fingertip slid inside of her, and she moaned, her
head flying forward and resting against his chest, gasping into
the soft skin that seemed so hard, like marble, but was as gentle
as milk and cream. Slowly, he pumped one finger inside of her, a
second one joining the first in a rhythm that seemed to delicate
to undo her, but she was being unlaced anyway. Hissing in a
breath, she begged for more, thrusting her hips against the palm
of his hand, and he teased her with an agony. She would make him
go faster; she kissed the juncture of his shoulder and neck and
nipped at it with her teeth, scraping at the skin, and he groaned
loudly and suddenly, aroused beyond control.
He was losing it. Losing his sanity, losing his cool, losing the
malevolence that kept her away from him and kept him effectively
away from her. Desperation replaced taunting as her daring little
teeth swept at his throat like a kitten's, her tongue and teeth
undoing him in a thousand different ways. She knew what he was
and instead of loathing him for it, she turned the tables on him.
She embraced his vampirism and used it against him, turning him
into a raving lunatic, mad with desire. He'd never wanted anyone
like he wanted her, if only because she was the most original
creature he'd ever known. More magnificent than Drusilla - and he
was almost afraid of thinking that.
Raspberry lips stained his throat with her juices, coloring his
throat a soft mulberry with her lipstick, and Spike actually
whimpered, hating how she could make him lose himself so easily.
His fingers circled her clitoris, so hard and so aroused that he
almost felt warm with the stolen blood that pumped through his
veins. He was shocked by the heat that flooded through him and
around him, as though he was borrowing blaze, and she was burned
clay in the sculpture of a beautiful girl. She lavished attention
on his jugular, and she cried out when he finally touched the
swollen berry between her legs, her head tossing back an arch of
colors, and her teeth nipped the underside of his chin. "Oh,
Christ!" Spike cried out, his other hand grabbing her hair in a
needy attempt to still his arousal for just a few moments longer.
The downpour of water continued, showering them both with
liquefied diamonds, and Buffy thrust her hips in rhythm with his
fingers, feeling herself nearing orgasm, nearing climax, all from
the combination of the taste of his skin and the way that his
cool fingers rotated the bundle of nerves that demanded his
touch. She was going insane, and his fingers flew with a frenzy,
as she bit down on his hardened male nipple, deriving a hiss from
the vampire she'd grown so attached to in the course of a couple
Suddenly, in the flash of lightning, he'd pulled his hand away,
roughly turning her to the wall, and her hair trailed behind her
in a banner of blues and reds, like a tarnished flag. "Now," he
said, his voice broken and shaking from the power of his desire.
"Right *now*." With that, he undid the fly of his jeans, and she
followed suit, yanking down her pants and panties, smelling the
salty aroma of her own arousal like a marsh in summer. She was
shaking, quaking from arousal, and her lower lip trembled as it
only did when she was on the verge of tears or climax. White
light flickered again, and she saw the look of frenzied need in
his eyes, and she kissed him as he lifted her up against the
bricks. Threading her arms and legs around him, Buffy kissed him,
soaking strands of dyed hair clinging to both her skin and his.
A scream shattered the air and was swallowed by thunder when he
entered her, hard and thick, cool skin underlined with the heat
of his borrowed blood, and she gasped, eyes wide and alert with
the force of his thrusts. The angle of his cock hit her clitoris
as he pumped in and out of her, and she suddenly felt his cock
slide inside of her, brushing the sensitive spot inside of her
that made her want to melt with arousal. Elusive and real, a
place that only she knew about and Spike had almost instinctively
found. The satin that bound her breasts heightened the heat that
had been released, and she arched her body against his, drowning
her screams in his mouth as he thrust in and out of her. She
suddenly came with a fury, biting down hard on his lower lip as
she climaxed, making them both taste his blood.
Frenetic pulsing surrounded his cock as her orgasm hit, and the
spasms tugged at him insistently. The pleasure-pain of her bite
brought him over the precipice, and he followed her swiftly,
merely seconds behind her hard orgasm. Groaning with a strangled
insanity, Spike threw his head back when he came, hips pulsing
inside of her, and he came so hard that his knees trembled under
her meager weight. Rain shot down the hard angles of his razor-
sharp face, and she cupped the nape of his neck with her
fingertips, softly massaging the nape of his neck as he emptied
himself inside of her, sighing out a nonexistent breath from
Slowly, tremulously, he pulled out of her and lowered her to the
ground, both drenched beyond belief, and she was nearly panting
with the exertion and unabashed passion of their coupling. Water
clung to her eyelashes as she looked up at him, and he braced
himself against the wall, his lungs panting dead breaths in a
parody of respiration, pressing his forehead to hers. She found
herself locked in the tired eyes of the blond vampire, usually so
dangerous, now exhausted and tired, and she did what she thought
she'd never do.
Sweetly, she kissed him, dragging her lower lip against his, and
her carmine fingertips traced the sharp line of his jaw, smiling
a little at him with the old innocence of who she once had been.
Startled, Spike looked at her, and he found himself almost
laughably mad when he thought that he might be falling in love
with her. "You know, I hate you too much to let you go," he said,
and Buffy just chuckled at that breathlessly, her mouth twisted
in a cynical smile.
"Well, if you can't spend the end of the world with someone you
love, you may as well spend it with someone you hate," she
finally decided, and he laughed at that. She ducked down, picking
up his black tee shirt and handing it to him, soggy and drenched
from the steady flow of rain. "So don't leave me."
When he spoke, it was with a strangled earnestness. "I don't
think I could leave you," he said, and she shivered at that, at
the frightening prospect of actually falling in love with this
"No," she whispered. "I don't think I could either."
And they stared at each other, helpless in the idea that they
were all that was left.
(end part seven)
A week passed, revealing a night glazed over with the remnants of
thicker cloud cover, draping the million stars with fine gauze of
cirrus clouds, filtering the light into an opaque glow. The
sliver of a moon provided little illumination, and cool light
poured softly through the glass wall, casting a cobalt paint onto
the two wine glasses filled halfway with dark red wine, sitting
on the rosewood table and slowly warming to room temperature.
Raspberry lipstick stained the slender rim of one glass, and the
other glass was a little more full than the other, not thirsting
this particular brand of crimson liquid, but it was a nice
dessert wine to follow the meal he'd devoured earlier.
Two figures with skin stained boysenberry from the distilled
light sat on the sofa. One figure, lean and strong, clothed in a
black that had become uniform with him, was sprawled out in a
careless scattering of limbs, legs spread and arms splashed
across the sofa. The head tipped backward, shadows descending
from his sharpened and cutting cheekbones, mouth pursed in
thought, eyelashes closing over nighttime eyes.
The other figure was hunched and drawn, wearing a black tee-shirt
that coated her body like his sheathed his, revealing a small
sliver of gold skin between the edge of her shirt and the
waistband of her slim black skirt. One slender arm crossed
protectively across her abdomen, the other holding a cigarette
thoughtfully, shapely legs pressed tightly together as she sat up
straight and tense, smoke unfurling and staining her hair with
its scent. A black clip held back half of the wild, peacock
threads, and the rest floated down her slender back in a lick of
color and silk.
Neither one spoke, neither one touched, and they simply looked
out the glass at the gilded world, listening to the distant
crashing of the waves on the sands, thinking of how quickly time
The slender green neck of the wine bottle sat accusingly on the
surface of the rosewood table, bereft of its contents, though she
had consumed more than he had. She was constantly trying to fill
herself, and he often wondered if her plan to make herself whole
through drinking, smoking and fucking was any better than his own
plan to lengthen his life through borrowed blood. Thus far, it
hadn't done a very good job. He would kill and she knew, and it
was just another indicator of how she had died in that she didn't
try to stop him. There was no point now. No need to fight a
battle when the end was drawing so near.
The first cases had been reported in Queensland, and it was only
a matter of time before the first died in Melbourne. For her own
sake, for the sake of cowardly mercy, she hoped to hold that
honor. Celebration, she'd ironically suggested, and he took her
up on the idea, devouring a girl with multicolored hair in the
hopes that it would someday make it easier for him to lose her.
And losing Buffy was suddenly frightening.
It wasn't that Spike loved her. Not in the traditional sense. He
would never buy her flowers or bring her trinkets, not as he had
done with Drusilla, but he loved the fire that she invoked. Loved
the inflaming arguments that sparked every day, loved the
violence of her that had been unleashed with the end of the
world, and almost loved how destructive she had become.
Destruction was something that Spike understood and loved, and
even if she only inflicted chaos in herself, Buffy was a master
of ruin. Watching her tear herself to shreds was as alluring as
it was heartbreaking, and she was a complicated mixture of self-
possession and emptiness. Like a broken glass slowly spilling
And screwing her had evolved. The sexuality between them was
blistering, and it was the only heat that he felt nowadays. He
had been living life in slow motion before he met her, with her
bruising remarks that she threw like daggers and her searing
kisses that left him feeling like lava, and he couldn't return to
the achromatic unlife where he waited for his demise with a
mixture of impatience and dread. Waiting was the worst. They were
more damned than their counterparts scattered across the world,
because they knew and were forced to wait.
Of course, she had known before the rest of them, and she still
refused to tell him about that.
Ash trickled down in a slow shower of whitened flame, clinging to
the slender tee shirt that clung to her skin, and she didn't move
to brush it away. She had been in Queensland a month ago, dancing
in a rave packed with youthful bodies strung out on an
innumerable variety of drugs, laughing and dancing with her hair
up in greens and golds. She had met a boy there and slept with
him in a hotel room, tasting his sweat and the remnants of
marijuana on her tongue, and now he was probably dying. Another
narrow escape, another life to regret. She had no more narrow
escapes now. Melbourne was the last.
The filter of her cigarette burned her fingertips when she
inhaled, and the taste was distorted and sour, but she inhaled it
anyway, smoking the filter until she winced and stubbed out her
cigarette in the ruby glass ashtray. Her black-painted
fingernails tapped the rim of her wineglass, polished and
lacquered where his were chipped and bitten to the quick. She
picked up her glass and took a cautious sip, letting the flavors
roll in her mouth and erase the flavor a cigarette that had been
smoked for too long and a life that hadn't been lived long
enough. "To Queensland," Buffy said darkly, and tipped back the
glass, her hair showering her shoulders in a cascade of china and
carmine. "May they rest in peace."
Spike scoffed at her from beside her, and she didn't want to look
at him and see the callous disregard etched in his face. "Ha," he
said. "Rest in peace - that's the last thing I plan on doing when
my time comes."
Arching her honeyed eyebrow that was fresh with a new piercing,
Buffy turned her head to Spike and looked at him. "Well,
considering the fact that you're pretty much already dead, I can
say that you certainly haven't been the calmest of guys," she
offered, and Spike grinned maliciously at her, the familiar smirk
unfurling on his mouth.
"Well, practice makes perfect," he said. She shook her head and
took another sip of her wine, slowly relaxing on the couch,
sliding off her chunky black heels and resting her bare feet
dangerously close to his lap. "But I plan on going to Hell,
looking up the guy who tortured Angel for that century he spent
there, and giving him a little present. Maybe a gift certificate
Rolling her eyes, Buffy swallowed a smirk. "Never took you for a
suck-up, Spike," she said, and he glared at her when she grinned
wickedly at him in reply. The glass bracelets she wore on her
wrists chimed like bells when she tipped the glass back for
another drink, and she felt husky wine cling to her mouth as she
reclined against the arm of the couch. "Well, while you're
kissing Satan's fiery ass, put in a good word for me."
Spike snorted, lifting up his head and giving her a long look.
"Oh, *right*," he drawled with trademark sarcasm. "You're
*really* going to the big underground barbecue, Slayer. Saving
the world and all that - the angels will probably give you a
Quietly, she gazed into the liquid pooling inside of her glass,
feeling oddly compelled to stir the wine with her fingertip, if
only to disturb the surface. "I don't think God exists," she said
softly, and Spike rolled his eyes at her, stealing her glass and
taking an alarmingly large gulp of her wine before finishing off
his own glass.
"What a shock," he said sarcastically, his scarred eyebrow
arched. "You're only figuring this out now?" The vampire shook
his head and swirled the wine around in his glass, creating a
miniature vortex constructed of maroon liquid. "I stopped
believing in God a *long* time ago. Thought it might get me out
of that whole crucifix-repellent thing, but apparently even a
good dose of atheism won't stop it. Big disappointment, let me
Buffy ignored him, flicking ash from her cigarette into the
ashtray, and he picked up his own pack of smokes, starting a
Marlboro with his Zippo. There was something comforting in
smoking, even though he didn't need the nicotine that the
cigarettes packed. It was just the passage of time, measuring it
in hours and cigarettes. Watching her had become another way to
pass the time, hypnotized by her departures from reality, and how
elegantly she would jettison herself from the world and flee into
the depths of her mind. Distance grew in her eyes, and she would
forget where she was, her cigarette snaking into ash, and her
hair a troubled volume of rainbows. She sat there in the china
lighting, her eyes wide and empty all at once, like a well that
had dried up and become useless.
Irritated, Spike shook his head at her. "Go to bed," he said, and
she shook her head, her voice soft.
"Not interested," she said. The nightmares would follow her
there, hunt her down and stake her as their prey, before they
plagued her with memories of how she had effectively abandoned
her friends and loved ones in a world where their lives were over
before they knew it. She hadn't slept in two days, not since
she'd dreamed of Riley standing in a cornfield that was golden
and rich with fertility, sweat glistening off of his sculpted
body, watching the missiles fly over his family's farmhouse. He
whispered her name softly, and then the bomb hit, and he was
gone. "Sleep's not all it's cracked up to be."
"Well, you look like hell," Spike said, and she clenched her jaw
in frustration, hating his honesty and wishing for lies instead.
"Sweet talker," she said coldly, and ground her cigarette out in
the ashtray. He absently flicked ash onto the suede sofa, and she
glared at him. "See that ashtray? It's there for a reason."
Furiously, Spike kicked the ashtray with the heavy sole of his
boot, sending it to the floor with a crash. The ruby glass
shattered into pieces, the fragments glittering brightly and
catching the violet light, sparkling as though they had been
coated in diamonds. She sprang up from the sofa, crouching by the
glass, her hands reaching out protectively, hovering helplessly
over the broken ashtray. He rose from the couch in a flurry of
black leather, grabbing her shoulder roughly and pulling her to
her feet. "It's just *stuff*," he said maliciously, spitting the
words in her face. "It's not going to matter. Anyone who'd ever
appreciate it is going to be *dead* in a few weeks."
Jutting her jaw at him contemptuously, Buffy slapped him, her
hand stinging across his face. "It's *mine*!" she said. "Don't
fuck around with *my* things. This is my house, and my ashtray,
and my goddamn life!"
He sneered at her. "Not *really* your things, are they?" he
asked, and she flinched, turning away from him, her hair flying
behind her. Satisfied that he'd gotten to her, Spike followed
her, grabbing her waist and holding her back to him, leaning down
and whispering into her ear. "Who did they belong to, Buffy? The
last bloke who owned this place? Or do they *really* belong to
your Watcher?" She stiffened at the mention of him. "After all,
it *is* his money."
"Shut the *fuck* up," she whispered, but her voice was too
fragile to contain the venom she'd tried so desperately to
inject. "You don't know anything about that. I had no choice; I
couldn't stay there-"
"Too much of a coward to die with your own friends?" he asked,
breathing in the smell of peaches and old cigarettes that clung
to her hair. "Couldn't bear to stick it out with them for the
last days? Not very courageous, *Slayer*. Oh, but I forgot - you
"Shut up!" she screamed, whirling around and pressing him to the
wall, her fingernails clawing at his shoulders as she pressed
them there. Tears were welling up in her voluminous green eyes,
and yet she wasn't crying. She wouldn't cry, not in front o f
him. Not because of him. "You bastard, you have *no* idea-" Her
voice caught on her last word, and she couldn't help but cry
because of him. Tears streamed down her face, and her voice
hitched as she wept, crying because of how he had incited her
into thinking of her ultimate betrayal. She fell against his
body, fingernails digging painfully into his skin, and he ignored
the pain, uncomfortably responding when she wrapped her arms
around him, clinging to him as her uncertain anchor as she felt
the weary pain of mourning pass through her body.
Riley's golden smile... Willow's small hands... Xander's impish
eyes... Giles's warm arms... Angel's hushed murmurs... The
memories of the dead bombarded her and waged war on her, and she
accepted the responsibility for them all, taking the guilt and
allowing them to lay the blame at her feet. She wept
uncontrollably, resting her cheek against Spike's chest and
allowing the cotton of his tee shirt to absorb her tears.
"Spike," she whispered, and he suddenly felt guilty for this,
uncomfortable and awkward guilt, hating that he'd reduced her to
"Sorry, baby," he muttered, and she sobbed until her tears ran
The sound of liquid pouring into glass was soft and comforting,
and he listened to the quiet noise as he poured her another glass
of wine, the dark liquid lukewarm and no longer chilled or
comfortable. She watched as she sat on the sofa, a cigarette
between her fingertips, bracelets catching the violet light and
releasing it in small prisms through the cut glass beads. A stray
braid of blue, magenta, red and gold fell in her eyes, just that
singular bit of braided hair, and he brushed out of her eyes as
he passed her the wineglass. "I'll steal you another ashtray," he
offered, and Buffy chuckled lowly, figuring that it was the best
that the vampire would ever do.
"Doesn't matter," she said. "You're right. It wasn't my ashtray
to begin with, and Giles would be upset if he found out I was
spending his money on cigarettes and ashtrays. Not good for the
Slaying, you know."
Spike scoffed at that. "Are you kidding? Rupert would be pissed
that you were smoking because the chap had a thing for you." At
her startled glance, Spike shook his head. "Not like *that*, you
ninny. He loved you, but he wasn't in line to get in your
knickers like the rest of them were." He snickered. "I think Red
might have wanted a go at you."
With a spark of her old mischief, Buffy flicked ash into his
wineglass, thus ruining the wine he'd poured for himself.
Irritated, Spike stole a sip of hers, and she smirked
triumphantly at beating him in one minor battle of wits. The
brief moment faded, and she flickered back to the old days, when
she'd had the world wrapped around her finger. "He trusted me,
you know," Buffy murmured, gazing out past the thin layer of
glass towards the ocean. "He trusted me and I betrayed him to
save my own ass, and I couldn't even get that right."
Spike tilted his head towards her, looking at the girl bound in
bracelets that served as plastic chains, her hair falling down in
a shimmering array of colors that increased with the passing
weeks. It was as though her frenetic chaos threatened to swallow
the purity of her gold hair, and he wondered if she would have a
trace of herself left by the time that she died. "I want to know
what happened," Spike said, and she narrowed her eyes at him
suspiciously, vivid green covered by thick mascara and outlined
by too-thick eyeliner. He knew that she didn't trust him, and so
he shrugged his shoulders. "Luv, who am I going to tell? It's not
like I have a wealth of friends left or a lot to gain from it.
You may as well tell somebody, and we've got another bottle of
wine to finish off."
She weighed the option. Her burden had been hers for so long that
she didn't know what would happen if she exposed it. Didn't know
what her life would be like if she exposed the depth of her
betrayal to Spike. She sighed and took another hit off of her
cigarette, grinding the remainder out in the ashtray. She picked
up her pack of Marlboros and opened the box, looking down at the
thirteen remaining cigarettes. "Okay," she murmured. "Fine." A
little desperately, she laughed. "What do I have to lose now?"
And when he couldn't provide her with an answer, she began to
(end part eight)
The wind whispered through the trees with calmness, softly
rustling the summer leaves and gently loosening the blossoms from
their boughs, bringing down a gentle rain of pastels onto the
green grass of the cemetery. Gravestones carved from marble and
angels sculpted of stone were dusted with minute pastels in
violet and in pink, beautiful and gentle. It was a scene that
seemed almost holy in its ethereal light, and there was a
perfumed sweetness in the air that seemed projected by the calm
inside of her body. She stood before a gravestone, looking at the
antiquated scripture that marked the body of a Sunnydale
resident, and felt a sudden eerie shiver up her spine, as though
she was walking on her own grave.
A voice startled her from behind. "What are you doing, Buffy?"
Startled, Buffy turned around to see Willow standing there,
dressed in a long pink satin skirt and a white tee shirt, her
slender throat decorated by a candy necklace. Sheepishly, Buffy
shrugged, a little embarrassed. "Enjoying my own morbid
fascination with how pretty tombstones are," she confessed, and
Willow gave her a quirk of her mouth, threading her arm through
her best friend's.
"And your mother says you have no appreciation for fine art."
Grinning, Buffy joined her friend, eyes still lingering on the
tombstone that had unsettled her with its very presence.
The two girls threaded through familiar tombstones, Willow's
satin skirt swishing back and forth with the percussive sound
that only water and satin could ever produce. "So how's living
with your mom working out?" Willow asked, and Buffy grinned,
stuffing her hands in the pockets of her light suede jacket,
shrugging her shoulders a little.
"Working out well," she admitted. "Mom's been on the June Cleaver
bend, with the exception of the fact that she's not baking
brownies 24/7, which I'm *very* grateful for. Otherwise, I'd
never leave the house and vampires would run amuck."
Willow frowned and shook her head. "The absence of chocolate is
actually a good? I think that Satan just put on mittens."
Grinning, Buffy lightly elbowed her friend and Willow giggled.
"Seriously though, I think that Mom's grateful to the fact that
I'm home during this time, what with all the stuff going on in
Taiwan. I don't know who told her that someone was going to press
the button, but they deserve some major slaying, ASAP." Joyce's
concerns over her daughter's safety and the general safety of the
world had been bothering the Slayer, as though her mother's
paranoia was an inherited trait that could be transferred over
A shiver passed through the redheaded witch's body, and Willow
wrapped her arms around her, visibly disturbed by the whisper of
a mention of the politics going on around them. Buffy understood
her fears, understood the eerie sensation of lying in wait, and
it was what propelled her to Slay with such frequency.
Helplessness and hopelessness were two states of mind that Buffy
didn't want to cope with, and she had been feeling increasingly
useless as the standoff between America and China intensified.
Televisions were turned on everywhere, and even the Bronze had
started to show CNN all day and all night on a TV set to keep the
Sunnydale citizens updated on the situation. Someone had
whispered of sirens being strategically placed in the town in the
event of an emergency. Just in case...
//Ring around the rosy...//
The child's nursery rhyme flitted through her head with a
suddenness that was disturbing and upsetting, and Buffy snapped
her eyes open, shuddering and wrapping her arms around herself as
she walked with Willow in the cemetery. The slabs of stone and
molded marble gazed at her forlornly, and Willow turned her head
to her best friend, tilting her face to the side with worry and
concern. "You okay, Buffy?" the girl asked, her red hair flaming
around her face in a conflagration of red, and Buffy suddenly saw
a flash of the girl dead, skeletonized and reduced to nothing but
a bone structure where a girl had once been. It was brief,
fleeting, but it was still there.
"No," Buffy whispered. "Just..." She shook her head and turned
away, refusing to linger on her rampant and paranoid imagination.
The slideshow of morbidity wasn't going to get her down. Not
today. Not now. She had a life to live and a job...
A scream broke the air, and Buffy snapped her head up, eyes
darting across the cemetery. She removed the stake tucked into
the waistband of her fashionably frayed blue jeans and raced
across the graveyard, her hair flying behind her in a banner of
pure gold, speeding toward the sound of the cry.
The source of the cry was a young girl in a colorful dress being
attacked by a vampire, black hair fanning across his face and
still in his burial garb. He snarled and dropped the girl, blood
splashing out from the sloppily-opened jugular, running for her
with the stupidity of the newly risen. Instantly, Buffy rolled
underneath him as he lunged for her, gracefully rising as Willow
ducked behind a gravestone. The Slayer pulled the stake out and
stabbed him swiftly, cleanly in the back, watching as the vampire
spun around with a stunned expression, startled at his sudden
disappointment with immortality, and fell to pieces.
Buffy took no time to gloat over her victory, turning instantly
to the girl who had been attacked. Dashing across the grass,
Buffy leaned down and looked down at the girl, realizing with a
numbing horror that the girl had been drained to the point of no
return. "Willow, go get help!" the Slayer called, and the redhead
sucked in a sharp breath upon seeing the awful wound on the young
woman's neck. When the witch didn't move, Buffy whipped her head
around and looked at her friend with a desperate glance. "Now!"
Startled back into motion, Willow stumbled away, running through
the graveyard for help.
The girl gasped as she lay there, her eyes wide as a doe's,
smudged with shadows of embracing death, and Buffy smoothed the
girl's hair with her hand, pressing her other palm to the slowly
dying fountain of blood gushing from the girl's destroyed throat.
"You're going to be fine," Buffy soothingly said, not believing
the lies that she had concocted to protect the dying girl, and
the girl shook her head slowly, wearily, gazing past the Slayer
towards the stars.
"Not gonna be fine," the girl murmured, razors of brown falling
down her brow to cover her eyes. "None of us gonna be fine."
//Pocketful of posies,// the childlike voice sang insistently
inside of her mind.
Disturbed, Buffy frowned, feeling her skin crawl across her bones
at the girl's dreamy despair. "Just hold on, stay with me," she
urged desperately, watching blood spill forth from the girl's
mouth to stain her lips the color of disemboweled strawberries.
The color was passionately beautiful, as though death was always
colored so brilliantly and boldly, and Buffy felt her stomach
twist in knots while she held the dying girl in her arms.
"Please, just hold on..."
Slowly, the girl's mouth trembled, not out of fear, but out of
utter desolation. "Doesn't matter," she murmured. "Doesn't
matter... I'll just die later on... Anyway..." Her voice lowered
to nothing more than a murmur, and Buffy had to strain to hear
it, lowering her ear to the girl's mouth, feeling the liquid silk
brush her ringed earlobes. The words that she spoke combined with
the sensation of the girl's spilled blood made Buffy feel as
though she had been turned inside out.
"We're all gonna die now."
And with that, the girl's breath hitched in her chest, and she
gasped loudly, startling Buffy so that she jerked her head back,
looking down at the brunette as the life slowly ebbed out of her,
eyes glazing and breath stilling. "No," Buffy whispered, removing
her hand from the girl's throat, looking at the red staining the
palm, and she felt like crying for the loss of this innocent
victim. "Oh, no..."
It was too late.
The water was clear carmine, transparent and translucent, as the
blood slowly poured from her hands and thinned in the plain tap
water. Furiously, Buffy rubbed her hands underneath the faucet,
her fingertips wrinkled and pruned from soaking, and her skin
smelled heavily of peaches and bananas as she tried to clean her
skin of the girl's blood. Streaks of it were found in her hair,
and her palms were stained with borrowed stigmata. Numbly, she
looked in the mirror, seeing the brunette's despairing, hopeless
eyes reflected back at her in her own seafoam-colored orbs.
Startled and hurt, Buffy turned away from the mirror, fingers
dripping blood-tinted droplets of water onto the tiled floor as
she walked out of the bathroom.
Her mother stood in the hallway, hair tumbling to her shoulders
in piles of fallen curls, lines marking her face with gentle
etchings of time and worry. Concern pinched her soft mouth, and
Joyce reached out her hands to touch her daughter, smoothing
Buffy's hair away from her shoulders in a gesture of concern.
"Are you going to be okay, honey?" her mother asked, and Buffy
slowly wrapped herself in her mother's embrace, touching her
cheek and noticing the ashen color of blonde that Buffy had
inherited. United by their hands and their hair, by their
stubbornness and smiles, and by their joint love of papaya. "I
know how it must have felt for you..."
Softly, Buffy shook her head, resting her cheek on her mother's
slender shoulder, inhaling the familiar scent of jasmine perfume
and coconut oil conditioner, and Joyce soothingly stroked her
daughter's hair as Buffy clung to her. "She said that there
wasn't any point," Buffy murmured, remembering the words that the
dying girl had whispered to her on a breath of final air. "That
it was sooner or later for us..."
"Oh, Buffy," Joyce said softly, hugging her daughter tightly to
her. "It's not going to come to that, I promise you. There's no
need to worry about it." Gently, she pulled away from her
daughter and Buffy saw the gentle waves of the Pacific in her
mother's eyes. The eyes that she had inherited, only her eyes
would never be so clear and tranquil. There was always a storm
brewing inside of Buffy. "There's no point in thinking about it.
Everything's going to be fine, sweetie. Go to bed and get some
sleep - you need that right now."
//Ashes, ashes...// the frail soprano murmured, and Buffy saw her
mother, hands clasped in prayer to a God that knew no mercy, eyes
closed with utmost benevolence, falling to her knees in the wrath
of a God that fell in radioactive clouds. She bit down her lip to
keep from flinching, to keep from screaming, and Buffy closed her
eyes, exhaling deeply, loosening the thought from her mind and
releasing it from her imagination.
When she opened her eyes, she saw her mother again, soft face and
gentle ashen hair, beautiful and tender, and Buffy smiled a
wavering smile at her. "Right, Mom," she said softly. "You're
right." After giving her mother a soft kiss on the cheek, Buffy
turned around to walk in her bedroom, the blood of the girl still
imbedded in the whorls and spirals of her fingerprints.
June breezes blew in from outside as Buffy slid her window open,
the curtains billowing and dancing across a canvas of stars and
winding branches. The perfumed scent of the outdoors in humid
summertime wafted through the open window, and Buffy let it drift
inside of her room, mulling and turning like the bouquet of a
good wine. She leaned out the window, looking down at the world
in its sweet lull of night, in its quietude that was deceptive
and traitorous. Quietly, she looked down at her hands and read
the misfortune of the girl still sunken into her fingers. She
still heard the whisper of the girl's voice as she got in bed and
pulled the covers over her body, turning on her side, away from
the open window.
//We all fall down...//
Red, carmine pure and malevolent, pulsated thickly and angrily.
Lightning descended from the sky with a fury so thick that it
encompassed rather than struck, surrounding all who witnessed it.
Dead grass crackled, broken slabs of marble and stone tumbled and
crumbled to the ground, and blackened branches clawed to the
ground before disintegrating into nothing but rotted wood.
Barefoot, she walked through the ruins of the cemetery, naked and
crowned with a halo of thorns that dug into her skull and poured
blood down her body in rivulets of red. The sky was stained the
color of blood from the masses that had been slaughtered, and she
walked on a carpet of skulls and soot, blackening her feet and
cutting into her heels, leaving a red trail wherever she walked.
She was bleeding everywhere, draining herself, and she continued
to walk through the scarred angels and the charred cherubs.
Nude as well, her skin a soft wash of light vermilion, the
vampire sat in a circle of tumbled tombstones, scattering runes
on the grass with absent grace, the runes falling with a sound
that was likened to a porcelain waterfall. The runes cascaded
down from her outstretched palm, her raven hair shimmering with
the light of the bloodied skies, and her mouth moved without
making a sound. Complicated twists and curls flickered and
flashed like a live being, a Medusa made of silk. Red rose
blossoms threaded through her hair, the petals descending from
her dark locks in a soft rain whenever she moved, like she was
unfurling and shedding.
Slowly, the girl crouched down by the vampire, entering the
circle and dragging her bloodied train behind her. Slowly, the
vampire looked up at the girl, luminously empty eyes smiling
serenely at the blonde crowned with thorns. "Ring around the
rosy, pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down," she
sang softly, slightly off-key, like wind chimes. Slowly, the girl
looked down at the runes that the vampire had scattered on the
ground, and found them all blank. No inscriptions were written on
"These runes are blank," the girl murmured, and the vampire
smiled at her, rose petals falling from her thick mane of twists
"What good are runes when we have no future to foresee?" the
vampire said absentmindedly, and she slowly began to bury the
runes underneath a pile of dried earth, creating a makeshift
grave for her fortune-telling materials. "Bury it all, no need
for it now..."
Clouds moved overhead with the speed of comets and meteors,
passing the scorched earth by for better pastures, and the girl
tilted her head backwards to drink in the sight. "Who stole our
future?" she asked, and the vampire shrugged her slender
shoulders, shedding rose petals like a beautiful thing left to
wither and die.
"Miss Edith and I aren't staying for the ball," she said
absently, her voice light and airy. "We're going to go be sharks
in the reefs. We're going to swim and survive. We're going down
under and wait until it's all over, and then we're going to paint
new toys and cast the runes again."
Images of blue skies unmarred by the violence of red, of bridges
and reefs that were visible from underneath clear layers of
water, of cliffs that glittered like emeralds and a city alight
with possibility. A city safe from the world's insanity, a city
with painted runes rather than the horrid ghosts of fortune, and
a city where she could be protected. Not this horrible, ruined
place where all life ceased to exist.
Quietly, the girl and the vampire stood and faced each other, one
shedding rose petals from mahogany lit with flame, the other
spilling blood from her pure golden hair. They examined each
other, the vampire and the human, and the vampire smiled slowly,
placing her hand on the other girl's shoulder. "The world is a
silly place," she said. "I don't fancy it."
The bleeding girl, the martyr crowned with thorns, shook her head
as a blackened angel looked on. "I don't understand..."
Bombs falling from the skies like a rain of fire. People
screaming and falling to their knees, blasted apart as the bombs
hit. Cities crumbling like houses of cards, death and disease
sweeping the lands, the winter approaching with its blanket of
nuclear fallout, and the world dying a slow and miserable death.
Her lover wandering the world dressed in black before stepping
into sunlight. Her friends standing in the middle of red bombs.
Her mother bowed in silent prayer before being shattered apart.
And with that, the vampire darted out her hands and crushed the
thorns to the girl's head, the thorns digging into her scalp and
wrenching a strangled cry from the girl as blood spurted down her
face and stained her hair.
Drusilla smiled. "Wear them *well*."
"The world is going to end," she said to them, and silence fell
as she stared out the window.
Daylight felt like an intruder on her skin, something unnatural
and unreal, the world so whole and complete as she walked
outside. Sunshine and butterflies, summertime kids laughing and
playing in sprinklers, wearing neon-colored bathing suits as they
frolicked in wet grass. Innocently, beatifically, beautiful
little children with their hair of gold and hands like tiny
cherubs. Chasing each other and pretending at war, when they had
no idea of the threat that faced them with utmost certainty.
But she did.
Softly, she pushed the curtain back with her fingertips, letting
the linen descend as they stared at her. She felt their eyes on
her, felt the shock and the horror as it pressed down on her with
an intense suffocation. Numbed, Buffy spoke with flat
intonations, a monotone devoid of the emotion that she had
swallowed in order to carry this to them. "I dreamed of it last
night. I dreamed of Drusilla in the graveyard, burying blank
runes, talking about how she and Miss Edith were going down under
and that we were all fools."
"And if Drusilla calling us fools isn't a perfect display of
hypocrisy, I don't know what is," Xander quipped, and no one
replied. She couldn't do anything but look out the window at the
children playing in the sprinkler, watching the water flood on
their smooth skin.
"The war will escalate," Buffy continued, and all attention was
lavished on her once again. "Peace talks will fail. The President
will assure that everything's fine, but no one will back down.
Taiwan will press the button first, and we'll retaliate.
Everything goes. The whole world goes up in flames." Darkly,
despairingly, she turned her head out to look at the others in
the room. "And there's nothing we can do to stop it."
The scene was an assembled mass of shock. Giles stood in his
cranberry sweater, a handkerchief pressed to his glasses that
remained smudged in lieu of what she had said. Willow's fingers
threaded through Tara's with an intensity, the two girls looking
fearfully at Buffy. A head of strawberry blond rested on Xander's
shoulder as Anya closed her eyes, and Xander looked at her with a
sudden seriousness, realizing that there was nothing funny about
anything Buffy was saying.
"Good God," Giles finally said. "Buffy..."
Her eyes lifted up to her ex-Watcher's, seeing the familiarity
and the warmth, the trust and the respect looking back down at
her. "There's more than that, Giles," she said. "We have to get
away from here. We're not safe here; nobody is. We need to go to
Australia before it all goes down. It's where Drusilla said she
She was met with silence, silence as they stood there, looking at
her with worry and concern tinted with palpable fear. Startled,
Buffy looked around the room, realizing with horror that they
didn't believe her. Desperately, Buffy walked to Giles, looking
into the eyes of the man she had grown to love and trust more
than anyone else in the world. "Giles, you have to believe me,"
she whispered. "I know that it sounds crazy, but it's true."
Softly, Giles shook his head, placing his hand on her shoulder
gently, looking into her eyes without ever seeing the truth.
"Buffy, I understand that you're afraid," he said. "We've all
been having these nightmares. They aren't necessarily prophetic,
what with the influences of the media. And witnessing that poor
young girl's death last night must have been quite traumatic..."
Frustrated, she shrugged his hand off, her heart racing when she
realized what was happening around her. They thought that she was
overreacting, that she was insane with fear, and they thought
that her visions were merely flights of fancy and not of any
portent. Pleadingly, she walked to Tara, looking into the demure
blonde witch's gentle blue eyes and hoping for some sort of
refuge or confirmation. "Tara," Buffy said, picking up the young
woman's hand and threading it through her own, "you're in touch
with the spiritual realm more than any of us. Don't you see
things? Don't you dream?"
Uncertainly, Tara looked out the window, her eyes clouding over
with what Buffy thought was hidden knowledge, but Tara closed her
eyes, bowing her head so that a braid of fine gold fell in her
eyes, tied with a small peacock feather. "N-no," she said. "I
don't... I don't see anything like that, B-Buffy."
A hand with painted fingernails swept sweetly through Tara's
hair, and Buffy looked up to see Willow soothing her lover, her
eyes darkened and clouded with worry and fear. "Buffy, I
understand," Willow said, looking in her friend's eyes and trying
to make her understand that her dreams were lies. "It's terrible
what's going on in the world around us, but you can't just tell
us that we have to pack up our lives and move to Australia - it's
A flash of remembered lightning crackled through Buffy's mind,
bringing visions of Willow descending to the floor in a pile of
ash, her head tossed back in a disarrayed flurry of vermilion,
clutching her lover's body to hers as the women were destroyed by
a blast of nuclear proportions. Hissing in her breath, Buffy
turned her head away from her collected friends and looked at
Xander. "Xander," she whispered, and Xander shook his head, eyes
stormy and thick.
"Buffy, I think that you're starting to scare everyone," he said,
and Buffy groaned, walking away to the center of the room,
pleading with everyone to listen to her.
"I know you think I'm crazy," she said, "but I know what I saw. I
*know* that there's not going to be some happy-ever-after ending
to this. I see things in daylight, in waking. I dream of them at
night. The whole world's falling apart right now and I'm giving
us a solution that no one wants to accept! Please, just listen to
me..." All that she saw was Giles's sadness, Willow's fear, and
Xander's anger. She heard Anya whisper to Xander about the Slayer
finally having lost it, and she saw Tara's fearful eyes, and
Buffy knew then and there that it was hopeless.
It was over for all of them. They were living on dying time,
waiting for the sands to filter through the hourglass and the
glass to then shatter. She could see it all, knew the truth, and
knew in her heart that there was nothing that she could do to
convince them. Fear twisted her stomach and destroyed her
insides, making her sick from the hellish notion that they would
all be dead in weeks, and she closed her eyes briefly, hearing
the sound of sirens that only she could hear. Like Cassandra, she
was cursed to know the future, and no one else wanted to believe
"Fine," she whispered, opening her eyes to look at the room.
Buffy gave a wavering smile, and walked to the door, her fingers
shaking from the force of the terror freezing her veins. "You're
all probably right. I'm just... Upset. I need to go home and get
some sleep, and not watch the news for a while. I just need to
get myself under control and... I'll be okay."
Giles approached her, and she looked into the familiar, worn
lines of his face, the softness of his eyes behind glass, the
stray strands of hair that were slightly grayed with silver
falling across his brow, and she wanted to cry. "I think that's a
very good idea, Buffy," he said softly, and she had to look away.
Had to shut out the visions of him dead. Had to.
Softly, she smiled, and walked away, not looking back. Never
The night fell slowly, achingly slowly, and until then, she sat
in the graveyard, in a circle not of blank runes, but of fallen
greenery, of boughs of wildflowers that had grown up around a
grave. Her legs were crossed Indian-style, and she felt the
twilight move in, deepening the sky to an almost violet hue, wind
murmuring through the trees and ruffling her hair. A dead calm
had befallen her as she waited for midnight, the wooden stake in
her hand as she waited for the time to pass.
And when the night finally came, when the hour was late enough
and the world was asleep, she began to walk toward her Watcher's
Her choice was difficult. Her world was dying. The duffel bag
filled with her belongings weighted heavily on her shoulders as
she walked, dragging her back in time to the last day she had
left Sunnydale in such a fashion. Remembering the feeling of not
being good enough to stay, of sinning so heavily that she could
never return, and knew that her crimes this time would outweigh
even murder. Betrayal was her greatest burden.
The garden outside of his house had flourished in the summertime,
and Buffy stood in the middle of it, inhaling the various
perfumes of oleander and lilac, and looked at his house with the
heartbreaking knowledge that she would never return. There would
be time to regret later on, but never an opportunity to redeem
herself for what she was going to do. She knew what sort of life
she was condemning herself to for this, and she accepted it with
a shrug of her shoulders and a tilt of her chin as she walked
into his house in the middle of the night for the last time.
Darkness surrounded her as per usual, as she had never been meant
for daylight. Silently, she tiptoed through his house, almost
praying for him to walk out of the bedroom and find her, and
Buffy walked to the small aluminum box in his laundry room,
lifting the lid and looking at the cash that she would need for
her escape. Green paper stamped with the faces of dead presidents
looked at her forlornly, at the product of this country that was
damning itself to death, and Buffy resignedly reached inside and
took it all. Over three thousand dollars disappeared from Giles's
emergency cash, and she robbed him with unwavering hands.
She didn't leave a note. She didn't leave a calling card. All
that she left was a stake, a sign of her resignation and
retirement from her fated trade, because where she was going
Slaying wouldn't matter. She closed the lid slowly and locked it
up again, and when she turned around, she saw Drusilla again, the
black-haired vampire nude and showering dying rose petals on the
ground, as the thorns bit into the Slayer's skull. Instead of the
rest of Giles's laundry room, Buffy saw that the vampire was
gesturing to a world of dingy streets and sullen fog, beckoning
Buffy to walk with her into the desolation of her future, the
blank runes carving a path of white porcelain.
Quietly, Buffy stood, the duffel bag heavy on her shoulders, and
(end part nine)
Her hair moved as though it were a live being, consuming her,
flashing around her face, writhing like multicolored snakes as
she danced. Blue threads fell in her eyes as she slowly dipped
her head back, eyes closed in the lull of melody and breathless
soprano, hips swaying hypnotically back and forth, hands
stretched up towards the ceiling in a pulsing flash of color and
light. Dark cranberry leather pants rode low on her slender hips,
and a matching leather top that revealed her bejeweled belly
button clung tightly to the curve of her breasts. She was decked
out in her usual massive amounts of jewelry, beaded bracelets and
plastic necklaces, her skin dusted with a glittery lotion that
smelled like boysenberries, and her hair was wild around her face
in its long multicolored locks. Heavy eyeliner hid her eyes from
the world as she danced, and the sound of Portishead filled the
"Cause nobody loves me, it's true... Not like you do..."
The glass filled with scotch was cool against his hand, never
warming because of his own cold skin, and he slugged back his
drink, mulling over the alcohol and the girl all at once. She
danced alone, slender limbs flashing in the lights, and she
looked excruciatingly exquisite. The belly button piercing that
she had gotten accentuated the slender perfection of her taut
abdomen, and he'd watched as she'd done it, even when she'd
punched him for smiling during her pain. Odd, how the world could
be ending and yet there were still tattoo artists and piercing
parlors doing good business. Perhaps permanence wasn't so
It was why she'd gotten the small circlet of thorns tattooed into
the small of her back, after all. The ink was still fresh and
raw, plain and black, but the small crown that forever made her
the failed martyr was visible in the low pants and leather
midriff. She'd made it sparkle tonight, bidding him to rub the
glitter over the small of her back, and he'd acquiesced. Now his
hands smelled of boysenberries and Buffy, and the faintest whiff
of cigarettes. The tattoo shimmered along with her hair, and her
fingernails were like molten cranberries.
He watched her and thought that he was insane for living with
They'd returned to the warehouses out of boredom, out of the
acknowledgement that there was nothing better to do, and only one
thing had changed since her last visit - she was with him.
Neither one of them talked about it, not wanting to admit it or
confront it, but they both knew that neither one of them was here
for anyone else anymore. She wouldn't revert to her pattern of
fucking randomly, and Spike wasn't interested in picking up some
young girl to shag and drink. They worked well together, in their
dysfunctional function, and they were enough to make each other
It was better to hate her than to be empty.
She had wanted to dance; he had nothing better to do. So he
claimed an ashtray and sat on the end of the bar, watching her
dance, watching her hair move. She had told him about the first
time she had dyed it, how she had painstakingly tried to cover
her old self in case anyone looked for her once her plane landed
in Sydney. She'd also told him of going to the warehouses for the
first time after arriving in Melbourne, of finding a torn flyer
on the street and seeking escape from the pressures of the world.
She had told him everything, confessed her sins, and Spike
refused to redeem her. Even if he knew a way, he wouldn't.
They worked better if they were both destroyed.
His freshly polished nails tapped the glass thoughtfully, and
Spike watched her, the silent figure alone on the dance floor,
dancing with a sensuality that radiated from every pore of her
lithe, leather-clad body. What they'd had between them in the
beginning was merely sex, and yet it had evolved into an odd
relationship of fighting, chain-smoking, passion and an odd sort
of understanding. She was coming alive, different from who she
had been in Sunnydale, and yet different from the girl he had
seen slowly numbing herself at the bar almost two weeks ago. He
refused to love her, and she refused to love him back, but the
fact was that he loved irritating her, loved provoking her and
annoying her, and loved being irritated and provoked by her.
It would do until the world was over.
Slowly, her head lifted upward, her eyes glinting at him
dangerously underneath layers of heavy eyeliner and glittering
eye shadow, like sparkling jewels, and she put her hands on her
hips, fingers dipping underneath the waistband of the leather
pants that hung low on her slender hips. Amber eyebrow arched
provocatively, Buffy smiled at him invitingly, shrugging her
shoulders from side to side, her mouth glossed and breathless as
she crooked one finger at him, the carmine nails glistening like
flames in the dark red lighting.
"Cor, I must've lost the plot," Spike muttered into his glass,
and he finished his drink, shrugging out of his coat and
abandoning it on the bar top, walking out to the dance floor and
to the wild woman who demanded his company.
Lights flickered as he walked onto the dance floor, and she
watched him approach, lean muscles and lithe body encased in
black, his freshly lacquered black nails glistening dangerously
underneath the light, and his hair shining with the malevolent
seduction of a razorblade. He was walking suicide, and she was
addicted to him. His ripe mouth curled into a smirk, eyes wicked
and wanting underneath a thick layer of eyelashes, too dark to
distinguish the deep lapis from his dark pupils. Shadows clung to
his cheekbones as he walked, a swagger in his step and a sneer on
The tempo was low and pulsing, throbbing as the song changed to
project Shirley Manson's velveteen purr. "You look so fine, I
want to break your heart, and give you mine," the singer
murmured, and Spike wrapped his hand around one slender wrist,
toying with the beads that twined around her bones. She flashed
her eyes at him, placing her hand on his hip, thumb moving
teasingly over the joint, eliciting a shiver from him.
Dancing with him was simple and sumptuous, and she brushed her
hips against his, tipping her head back so that her hair fell
back in a shower of multicolored locks. She looked into his eyes
as he danced with her, one hand splayed across the sparkling span
of her slender, taut abdomen, fingers brushing the undersides of
her breasts in a manner that made her blood accelerate through
her veins. Slowly, she lifted her arms over her head,
crisscrossing her wrists as though they were tied together by
sparkling chains, and she swayed her hips back and forth, never
letting her gaze leave his. To do so would be a surrender, and it
would break their contact.
Necklaces twined around her slender throat, accentuating the
inviting slope of her neck. Spike looked at it with dangerous
eyes, wanting to drink her and consume her, to swallow her taste
and let her flavor mull inside of him. But destroying her would
leave him alone with the greedy consumption, and enjoying her had
expanded from killing her. Merely killing her would be temporary
ecstasy - now Buffy-induced bliss was arguing with her, fighting
with her, taunting her and dancing with her, and fucking her
until he thought that he was going to die. It was drinking wine
with her and watching her steal his cigarettes. It was watching
her shower through misted glass, and listening to her breathing
when she slept during the daylight.
And he was going insane, but sanity wasn't a necessity when the
rest of the world was crashing down around him anyway.
The inviting curve of her jaw tilted, and she looked into his
eyes, seafoam eyes covered with a fine fringe of black lashes,
the amber freckles dotting the bridge of her nose with a childish
innocence that she no longer possessed. Hair trailed down her
shoulders, spilling over with false rainbows, and she slowly
wrapped her hand around his cheek, her fingers brushing the
erogenous area behind his ear, and Spike felt arousal slam
through his body like a freight train at her whispering touch. He
hissed in a breath and arched his hips slightly, and she chuckled
until he got his revenge.
Sleekly painted black fingernails pushed upward and underneath
the cranberry leather encasing her breasts, and Buffy felt
Spike's cool fingertips trace the rounded slope of her breasts,
heavy and warm. Her fingernails suddenly dug into his shoulder,
throwing her head back with momentary ecstasy, eyes widening and
breath quickening inside of her. "Jesus," she tried to whisper,
but he had swallowed her words by crushing his mouth to hers,
filling her mouth with his tongue and sliding his hands upward to
cup her breasts completely. She arched against him, begging him
for more, and he fastened one hand in her hair, bunching up the
multicolored locks in his fist like a handful of confetti.
Red and magenta flashed over her cheek, and she looked like a
portrait of ecstasy as he danced with her, slowly teasing her by
brushing his hardened cock against her, and she snaked her hands
down his back, reaching underneath his tee shirt to rake her
fingernails down his spine. The pleasure-pain send him into waves
of ecstasy, and Spike moaned, reaching his hands down to squeeze
her firm, leather-clad buttocks. She released her moan into his
mouth, reaching up to snatch a kiss from him, and while he was
distracted in the warmth of her inviting little mouth, her agile
fingertips reached downward to stroke the hardened length of him
with her fingertips. The former Slayer smiled a wicked smile when
he hissed into her mouth and thrust against her.
Slowly, she pulled away from his mouth, licking his lower lip
with the tip of her tongue, and she looked at how easily she'd
made Spike, William the Bloody, dissolve into a mess of want in
front of her. Not that he hadn't gotten in his own blows; she was
fighting to keep from thrusting against the tight crotch of her
leather pants. Sparring through sex had replaced their old
physical battles, and it was much more pleasurable to take him on
in this manner.
"Never thought I had it in me, did you?" she asked tauntingly,
and Spike grinned lecherously. She thought that his arrogance was
so thick that it was almost palpable, and it tasted like Jack
Daniels and sweat. He leaned in close to her, trailing his
fingers against the frail bones of her clavicle.
"Well, Slayer, you don't have it in you yet," he said, the denim-
clad hardness pressing suggestively against her thigh, and she
laughed like bells chiming, wrapping her hand through his and
gesturing with her head to the door.
Smirking, Spike followed her, stopping by the bar to pick up his
coat and cigarettes. He shrugged into the duster and lit up a
cigarette, passing her the Marlboro Menthols that she smoked. She
picked up her own deep red leather coat and slipped into it, a
cigarette resting between her lips. A slender flame sparked in
front of her, and Buffy inhaled as Spike lit her cigarette for
her, inhaling the flame and exhaling slender tendrils and wisps
Just as they were preparing to leave the club, a gunshot sounded
and a scream ripped through the club.
The music continued for a beat before the deejay silenced it, and
the club fell into a dark, haunting quiet. The party had stopped
for the first time since it had begun, and Buffy dropped her
cigarette on the ground, extinguishing it as she ran into the
melee, red leather flying behind her like a cloak. Spike followed
her out of sheer curiosity rather than her concern.
In the middle of the dance floor, a young woman stood, her hair
dyed a frenetic lime green that twisted in a multitude of insane
braids down her back. Her right arm was outstretched, bracelets
and armlets spilling down her slender limb in a tumble of
multicolored cuffs and chains, and a plain revolver was in her
hand. A young black man lay on the floor in a pool of blood, the
dark liquid spreading out. A circle had parted around the young
girl with the grass-colored hair, and her eyes were dead, vacant,
as she unflinchingly held the gun in her palm. At the gasps and
cries of the terrified youths, the girl smiled at them all
maliciously, mindlessly. "We're all dead," she said, a low smile
on her face. "None of this matters anymore."
Slowly, carefully, Buffy stepped forward into the light, her
knee-high black leather boots stepping into the blood. She tossed
back her brightly colored hair and spoke cautiously to the girl
with the hair like poisoned limes. "Of course it matters," she
said softly, raising her hands upward to show that she wasn't
going to hurt her. "It always matters."
There was a silence as the girl looked into Buffy's eyes, gray
eyes glittering, and she spoke with a smile in her voice. "No, it
With that, she lowered her arm, aimed at the leather-clad Slayer,
Screams. Shouts. Cries. Pleas. She heard them all as the girl
fired the weapon at her, and prepared in that moment for the
bullet, for the final blast into eternity, when she felt weight
thrown on her and was knocked to the floor of the club. Her hair
flew around her face and blinded her, and her cheek was splashed
into the blood of the dead. She heard a cry of pain from behind
her, sudden and hissing, and she felt cold hands grabbing her
arms. Startled, she sat up, brushing her bloodstained hair out of
her eyes with her fingers, blinking as she realized that she had
survived. She had lived.
Because of Spike.
The vampire rose from the floor, blood coating his leather coat,
and she didn't have time to ask if he was okay. She scrambled to
get up and get the gun away from the girl with the braided green
hair, but didn't have the time to do it. The girl lifted the gun
to her temple, smiled viciously at Buffy, and pulled the trigger.
Blood spurted from her head in a fountain of vermilion, spewing
to the ground, and the girl fell to the ground, her green hair
stained with splashes of red like a ruined Christmas.
Numbly, Buffy sat on the floor, her hands sticky with still warm
blood, looking at the girl who had tried to kill her. The lights
were hit, flooding the club with plain white light, and the sound
of crying was audible in the crowd. Buffy felt like vomiting.
Smooth fingers wrapped around her upper arm, and Buffy looked
behind her to see Spike looking at her with absolute exhaustion.
"Let's go," he said, and she closed her eyes briefly, accepting
his hand up, her leather crackling like the tension and fear in
the room. Still shaking from the experience, Buffy allowed
herself to lean on him slightly for support, and he carelessly
gave it, wrapping arm around her waist and passing her her box of
The crowd parted around her, and Buffy looked around, confused,
until she realized why they were looking at her with such fear
and shock. She had said something. She had done something. She
had tried to save herself, and no one else in the room cared.
They were more terrified of her and her desire for living than
they were of the hellish death that had been played out before
their eyes tonight. Panic bubbled up in Buffy's throat as she
looked at these colorful clusters of dyes and glitter, realizing
how close she had come to being another member of their sick
collection. She had been so numb, so futile, so helpless and
hopeless. Dead on the inside and anticipating her outer death.
These children were nothing more than brightly colored fragments
of fun, snorting coke and smoking pot in the hopes that they
would die in a drug-addled haze.
They were all cowards.
And then she looked at her lover, her lightning-colored lover who
had saved her life in spite of the fact that they were sworn
enemies, and realized that he was as terrified of dying as they
were. As she was. He cut glances at her underneath a fringe of
ebony, and in his eyes was the same wonder that she had tried to
save herself, even though he had ducked and saved her
Slowly, she stopped him at the door, resting her palm square on
his chest, feeling the silence of his heartbeat. Softly, she
reached her hand back to cup the base of his neck in her palm,
looking into his sapphire eyes that glinted like confused jewels.
When she saw his terror, his agony over dying, she reached up and
kissed him with a softness that was foreign to them, unusual and
exotic. Their kisses were always predatory and prowling, not
gentle or understanding. But hers was, her mouth nipping softly
at his, tasting the cool flavor of wasted cigarettes and the
remnants of coppery blood.
When she pulled away, she looked up at him, and murmured to him
words he was surprised to hear. "I'm never coming back here," she
said, and he nodded his head slowly, closing his eyes and
swallowing in relief.
"Yeah, luv," he said. "There's no point in coming back here."
With that, she linked her hand in his and turned her back on the
vacuous youths who stared at her like she was a foreign creature,
and walked out of the warehouse, abandoning that world forever.
(end part ten)
The lyrics mentioned in the story are from Portishead's "Sour
Times" and Garbage's "You Look So Fine", respectively.
She sat on the balcony in a portrait of light, leaning against
the wooden rail and looking out at the beach that spanned out in
a landscape of flourishing violet and blue. Damp hair still wet
from her shower scattered along her back in a coiling mass of
multicolored highlights and bared shoulders, dotted lightly with
freckles. The cream-colored nightgown that she wore was simple
and almost pure, like flawed innocence, and that was appropriate
for her. It fell to the floor in a shower of simple elegance, and
smoke from her cigarette furled around her face in a blossom made
of gray. Tilting her head to the side, she looked at the ocean,
and he watched her, admiring the beauty that she had suppressed
and hid underneath skimpy clothing and dark eyeliner.
Images flashed through her mind as she watched the ocean, the
waves crashing with a consistency that was remarkable. The chorus
from an old Peggy Lee song came to mind, something that her
mother had always played. "Why does the sun go on shining; why
does the sun seem to shine? Don't they know it's the end of the
world? It ended when you said goodbye." Frail moonlight fell
through the skies, so frangible that she thought it might break
before hitting the surface of the earth. Yet the moon kept
shining, kept rotating around the earth in a slow circling, and
the sun would rise tomorrow in a dazzling display of gold.
Turquoise waters glistened like a still gemstone, and she heard
the constant percussion of waves hitting the sands in the short
distance. The thought of drowning came to mind, the possibility
of losing herself in the aquamarine waters and ceasing to breathe
underneath tons of liquid... She could become driftwood, hollow
and forgotten, and perhaps she'd eventually crash upon the shores
of California again. Maybe she'd one day return home...
Cool fingers slipped over her shoulders, tiptoeing across the
canvas drawn on her skin, and Buffy turned around, furrowing her
brow in confusion. It was Spike, obviously, his chipped
fingernails absently sketching shapes on her skin. "What are you
doing?" she asked, and Spike shrugged his shoulders, the black
tee shirt a sharp contrast with his white skin.
"Drawing constellations," he said. "Drusilla does that sometimes.
I'll wake up and she'll be drawing on me with a razorblade. Scars
me up for a few hours, but being a vampire is the best plastic
surgery out there, no matter what anyone else tells you."
Chuckling, Buffy trailed her finger across the scar that branched
across his dark eyebrow, the white skin soft and shining as scar
tissue often does. "Is that how you got this?" she asked softly,
and Spike shook his head, grinning at her a little.
"Before I was turned, I had a fondness for robbery," he said.
"Turns out that some people don't like robbery so much."
Wryly, Buffy smirked at him. "Wonder why," she said, and he
kissed her fingertip, resuming his absent doodling on her skin.
She took another hit off of her cigarette and exhaled into the
night, the smoke curling upwards to the heavens, dissipating
before it hit the star-painted atmosphere. "Willow had this dream
once about painting on Tara. She was writing a Sapphic poem on
her back. I always thought that would be beautiful to see - I
wonder if she ever did it in reality."
Spike's snide voice answered her. "If she did, I hope that there
Buffy considered elbowing him for being a pig, but she decided to
let it go. It was nice, this old banter assumed between them, and
it was relieving to be able to talk about the past without
wanting to scream. She could remember the good memories, such as
Willow's love with Tara, and he could remember Drusilla's
fondness for sadomasochism - if that was a fond memory in the
first place. Their memories were decidedly different, sharing
different sets and different personalities, but she was calming
down. She was able tonight to remember without feeling guilty.
It was a step.
Child's laughter wafted to her ear, and Buffy looked down off the
balcony to the beach below. A child was dancing on the sands, her
father standing nearby, holding a kite in the shape of a Chinese
dragon, exotic and vividly colored, the tail of the kite tied
with different colors that shone in the light like satin. The
child was blurred by shadow, but Buffy could see the joy in the
way that her shadow ran and skipped. Smiling softly, she bowed
her head, until the memory of the dead little girl clutching her
dolly and held tightly in her mother's arms came to mind.
Her skin stiffened underneath his touch, and Spike shook his
head, knowing what she was thinking of. "I don't know why you
keep blaming yourself for that," he said. "It's not like there's
anything you could've done. It was their choice." //Good for
them,// some little part of him whispered. //At least they had
the courage to go on and do it instead of being a big poof.//
Brokenly, her head shook from side to side, and she felt the
distance grow inside of her, as though her soul was being
stretched out by pain. "I know that they did," she said softly.
"But what a choice..."
Spike snorted a little, irony and bitterness heavy in his voice.
"Rather ironic, isn't it, that suicide is usually considered to
be an act of cowardice?" he asked, looking at the slope of her
neck, and wondering what it would look like if torn open. "And
yet I rather admire those blokes for having the wrinklies to do
it." Troubled, Spike snatched the cigarette from between her
fingers and took a long hit off of it, the menthol unfamiliar and
only mildly soothing, before attempting to pass it back at her.
Tilting her head at him, she acquiesced and gave him the
cigarette, pulling another one out of her pack and lighting it,
the alabaster silk rippling across her bronzed body.
"You're afraid to die," she said, and he glared at her
"Well, there's no need to broadcast it, now is there?" he said,
taking an angry hit from the borrowed cigarette. "So what if I
am? I was promised immortality and now I'm fucked. So yeah, I'm a
little hacked off that I'm dying, and I..." He swallowed a
little, lowering his voice to dark, embarrassed tones. "I never
thought about it before. I've tried to kill myself, waking up and
trying to throw the curtains aside, or carve a stake for myself,
but I can't. I can't work up the bloody nerve to off myself."
Angrily, Spike tossed the cigarette off the balcony with a
flourish, watching the spark sail through the night and then
tumble down the cliffs, disintegrating into black.
She turned around, smiling at him a little sadly. Lowly, Buffy
rubbed his shoulders with her fingertips, and she leaned across
to rest her cheek against his chest. "Then don't be afraid," she
said lightly. "Don't think about it. So what if we're all going
to die? So what if we're scared? Our time hasn't come up yet.
We're still alive. I know that it might not feel like it or seem
like much, but maybe we should just make the most of what we've
Live to the fullest... It was a nice idea. A welcoming idea. To
embrace the world that was left, to laugh and be filled with joy
before the end of the world came... She smiled, thinking of
running through the tide pools that collected on the beach in
front of her house while holding a kite, just like the little
girl on the beach right now, or lounging in a chaise with a glass
of wine while reminiscing over the good old days. To think of the
past without pain, to remember instead of torture...
Buffy arched her eyebrow at the peroxide blond vampire who was
intent on drawing a map on her skin, and she lightly caressed one
angular cheekbone. "It's a nice thought," he finally commented,
and when she smiled at him, he scowled at her. "Don't think I'm
going all soft on you," he said in warning. "I've never been one
of those fluffy kitten types. That was Angel's job, and he
handled it quite nicely."
The memory of her lover's face came to mind, with his beautifully
soft mahogany hair and his skin that was like brocaded porcelain,
cool to the touch. She thought of thinking of him with pain, but
instead she remembered him with a fondness. She remembered making
love to him in their single sweet coupling, of touching his mouth
and knowing that he was the one who would always understand and
embrace her, and it was a good thought. "Angel was a good man,"
she murmured. "He was a good person, no matter what demons
haunted him. I love him." She didn't say it for his benefit, but
rather for her own, and Spike bit his tongue and choked back a
"You know what I miss?" Spike said. "I miss peaches." At her
confused look, he rolled his eyes. "Not *your* Peaches, but
actual peaches, you ninny."
Arching her eyebrow, Buffy looked at him strangely. "You like
Spike grinned at her. "Yeah, I do," he said. "Vampires have a
fondness for fruit. Good substitute for blood. When this bloody
chip was still functioning, I ate fruit by the truckload.
Something to sink my teeth in, you know. It's like chewing gum on
a non-smoking flight. But I always fancied peaches above the rest
of them." At her look of curiosity and almost fondness, Spike
shrugged and turned away. "Too bad that it's not peach season
Smiling a little at him, the first real smile she'd given him in
a while, she raked her fingers through his hair. "The real
victims are the fruit," she said, and he snorted a little laugh
for her, amused by her random thoughts. She had always been such
a strange woman - wearing platform sandals with daisies
embroidered in the leather while kicking his ass from Sunnydale
to Cleveland was just one of her many quirks.
Sighing, Buffy leaned back over the rail and looked down at the
beach below. It was unfamiliar terrain to her, Australia, a place
where spiders could kill in a second rather than the more unusual
(but more familiar for her) vampires and demons. A place where
cliffs and jagged rocks signified beach area rather than sand
dunes or boardwalks. She ached for California, missed its sweet
softness and its smooth sands. She yearned for the good old days,
and was suddenly struck with a sharp pang of homesickness.
"There was a road stand in Sunnydale that Riley used to stop at
to get fruit from," Buffy murmured, her voice low and cool, like
a sea breeze. "Fresh apricots and great apples, and figs. He had
a thing for figs. When he found out that Giles had a fig tree in
his courtyard, he was giddy for the rest of his day. Free fresh
fruit - he'd feed it to me sometimes when we were in bed. But the
orange peels got the sheets sticky, so I banned those." Sensible
and smart - Spike bet that she'd done it with the little pout
that she often utilized to get her way.
"Dru liked bananas," Spike said thoughtfully. "In Brazil, they
fry them for breakfast. Fresh off the vine, allowed to ripen
there, and they were bloody amazing. Nothing like them in the
Bonding over fruit... She was actually about ready to laugh at
the absurdity of it, discussing their lovers' fruit preferences
with each other like they were old chums instead of mortal
enemies thrown together in the ruins of Earth. It was almost
nice, this civilized conversation between the Slayer and a
vampire, and she tilted her face up to kiss him softly on the
mouth, lingering slightly on the curl of his lower lip.
"Peaches are my favorite fruit too," she said serenely, and left
him in a state of surprise as she walked off the balcony and into
the house, her long white nightgown and crimped colored hair
trailing behind her like a punk bride.
When he walked inside, following her with an odd compulsion,
Spike saw her stripping off her white nightgown so that she was
only clothed in a pair of black silk panties, her breasts ripe
and rare in the nightgown. She opened up the closet doors and
revealed a massive wardrobe ranging from casual to slutty, and
she picked something out of the more comfortable genre. She
pulled on a turquoise spaghetti-strapped top and a pair of blue
jeans that were cut off below the knee. Clamdiggers - he'd stolen
her fashion magazines while she was sleeping earlier in the day,
before turning to the morning paper. Her slender feet slid into a
pair of simple platform sandals and she smiled at him
appealingly. "I need to take a walk on the beach," she said,
shoving a pack of cigarettes into the waistband of her denims.
"You're free to join me."
Spike considered it, weighing the option carefully. Stay here in
the Slayer's house or see how amazing her hair looked while being
caught on the wind... "All right," Spike decided, and he picked
up his own pack of Marlboro Reds, jingling his gold Zippo lighter
in between his hands, tossing it back and forth out of boredom.
"Let's go have a romp by the sea."
A boardwalk led from the house to the beach, long and sturdy,
enough to survive a storm and possibly the end of the world.
Stairs crawled down like spiders' legs to the rocks, stretching
down the sands and across vivid green sand dunes. Seashells
coated the railing in an artistic fashion; whoever had previously
owned her house had a flair for decorating. The tide was low,
revealing a long distance between the boardwalk and the sea, and
she stood there for a moment, watching the waters wax and wane,
washing on the shores like soft fingers made of foam and aqua.
She seemed clad in sea, in the turquoise top that she wore, as
she bent over to fight the impossible battle of lighting a
cigarette on the beach. The ocean winds were always moving, and
Buffy cupped her hand around the white Bic while frowning, a
cigarette hanging between her lips. Sighing, Spike pulled out his
own Zippo and lit her cigarette for her, bending his own head
down to light his Marlboro Red. Menthol was for sissies, no
matter how good it tasted.
Manicured fingers slid the Zippo out of his hands, and she looked
at the inscription, smirking when she read it from the shadows.
"Roller Racer?" she asked, and Spike snatched the Zippo out of
her fingers, pocketing it in his jeans.
"Present from the giant poof when I was still wheelchair-bound,"
he said, his mouth twisted in an irritated sneer. "Pillock
thought that he'd make a ninny out of me because I couldn't walk
around. Stole Dru and made fun of me whenever he could." The
bitterness in his mouth was sour and irritating. "Guess he did
make a fool out of me in the end."
One slender gold eyebrow arched at his statement, and Buffy shook
her head, taking her cigarette out of her mouth and holding it
between two fingers. "You're not a fool," she said, sparks flying
off of her Marlboro as the wind blew in from the water's edge. "I
used to think that you were, but you're not." She flashed her
eyes at him mischievously. "You're rash and impulsive, and
probably in need of a little Ritalin, but you're definitely
smart." Before he could give her his patented arrogant smirk,
Buffy spoke again. "But you've got an ego the size of the Empire
State Building already, so don't think I'm going to stroke it for
He gave her the smirk anyway, eyes flashing in a primal manner
that had always managed to shake her to the core. "Something else
you'll stroke?" he asked, and she rolled her eyes, stepping away
from him, hiding a smile. She wouldn't let him know that his
brand of smug sensuality charmed her, or else he'd never stop
using it on her.
Groaning, Buffy kicked off her sandals and let her feet sink into
the plush and moist sands near the water's edge. Tidal pools had
collected in the wake of the receding tide, revealing miniature
kingdoms of sea life. Hermit crabs crawled in and out of the
waters, carrying swirling shells on their backs, and schools of
minute fish swam eagerly through their newly carved surroundings.
They scattered quickly when the former Slayer stepped into the
tidal pool, the waters lapping serenely at her slender ankles. He
watched in amusement as she was careful not to flick ash from her
cigarette into the pool, not wanting to disturb the serene
landscape that had settled over the hours.
"Tidal pools are the neatest things," she said, her voice and
words sounding almost giddy. Maybe the drunkenness hadn't worn
off from their stint at the warehouse from earlier on in the
night. "They're like little outdoor aquariums."
"Except that you don't have any of those little skeletons to put
in the bottom of the tank," Spike reminded, and she ignored him,
bending down to pick up a conch shell that was pearly pink and
lustrous in the light. A few scattered barnacles clung
desperately to the shell's polished surface, but she thought that
they only added to the peculiar beauty of the seashell, and
considered stealing it away from its resting place in the tidal
pool. Considered taking it and putting it on her mantle like a
Instead, she replaced it in the waters, and turned her head out
to the sea.
The tumultuous motion of the water was something that had always
fascinated her. Tides never ceased or slowed, no matter what
happened to the rest of the world. Nature did not depend on
mankind for operation. Towns and civilizations would die, were
dying now, in fact, but the waters would still bestow beautiful
gifts of the sea on the land, even if no one ever saw them.
Narrowing her eyes, Buffy gazed out at the distance, looking down
a stretch of beach. It was abandoned on that side, the houses
darkened and lights extinguished. For a brief moment, she felt
the suddenness of their impending death. This was how the world
would feel when humanity died. This was the desolation and
destruction that would soon descend upon them in the most
impenetrable of nights. They were in the twilight of the world
now, that heavy and rich period of time when the sky glimmered
with a cerulean glow and the stars just barely twinkled, sun
descending and moon stealing its place. They were suspended in a
state of extended dusk, before the night rose and they all fell
into an everlasting slumber.
Sweet humidity coursed through her blood as she stood there, bare
toes murmuring through the waters, and Buffy realized in that
moment that they were experiencing what would be the world's last
summer. There would never be an autumn, with its resplendent and
showy foliage, or a winter that shimmered like endless vampiric
skin on the landscape, and spring would never blossom and unfurl
in radiant colors and perfumes. This was their last season on the
planet, the last months that they would ever be able to grasp.
Perhaps this was their final opportunity to taste the saltwater
on their tongues, their last chance to wade in water, and their
terminal try for happiness.
It was a better way than living like the dead.
A wavelet rippled out and touched her calves, and Buffy grinned,
looking down at the lacy waters with mischief and joy brewing low
inside of her chest. Wicked ideas were stewing inside of her
head, culminating and combining with the feeling of absolute
freedom on the strip of sand. Quickly, Buffy shot Spike a
mischievous glance, and flicked the cherry off of her cigarette,
watching the ash burn and sizzle into darkness in the wet sands.
After she tucked the butt away in her pocket, careful not to
litter, Buffy winked at the peroxide vampire and tore her tank
top off of her head, peeling the fabricated ocean away from her
skin in favor of the actual sea. She wriggled out of her
clamdiggers and panties, and took off for the waters, streaking
the short distance into the cool waters, laughing like a madwoman
and leaving the vampire shocked.
Peals of laughter fell from her mouth like wind chimes as she
dove gracefully in between the waves, letting the seas swallow
her. She disappeared underneath the darkened waters, and Spike
ran out to the water's edge, gaping at the girl who had decided
so unusually to act like a child and not an emptied whore. She
emerged from the waters in a pool of multicolored hair, sleek and
sweetened by seawater, and Buffy laughed as she took in the
expression on his face. "Get your ass in here!" she yelled, and
Spike groaned, bending over and putting his cigarette out in the
wet sands, not caring enough to think of the litter.
"Angel was right," he muttered confidentially to the hermit crab.
"I *am* a big ninny."
And with that, he peeled off his clothing, shedding black to
reveal alabaster, and dove in after her, graceful as a dolphin,
cutting through the waters like a blade. For a moment, being
surrounded by the waters was like being encased in the womb,
nurturing and kind, and Spike remained there, floating calmly,
briefly contented to be immersed in something as familiar and
liquefied as the ocean. Breath was not an issue for him; he could
remain in the water for as long as he liked, and yet he surfaced
with a flourish, droplets of water flinging away from him as he
shook them off. A high-pitched cry of absolute joy sprung up from
Buffy's throat as she yelled with bliss, and she laughed with a
happiness that was almost insane.
"What in the bloody hell are you *doing*?" Spike yelled, and
Buffy grinned impishly at him, her wildly colored hair floating
on the surface of the water like mad seaweed.
"I'm having fun!" she yelled back, splashing water at him with
her slender hands. "Instead of moaning or weeping, I'm having
fun!" And with another banshee-like scream, she dove underwater
and surfaced next to him, her fingers climbing up his bare torso
and wrapping around his neck, a wild grin on her face that seemed
barbaric and utterly charming, like an eight-year-old about to
put a whoopie cushion on the teacher's seat. It was enough to
make him almost smile.
"You're a loon, Summers," Spike remarked, and Buffy just
continued to flash him that winning and adorable grin, mouth wide
and eyes dancing like the waters that she was surrounded in. "An
absolute loon. You've lost the plot."
"Well, then why don't you help me find it?" she drawled, and she
ducked her head under the water, manicured nails tickling his
feet in a fashion that was irritating and endearing. Yelping,
Spike dove underneath the waters and felt warm limbs, liquid and
smooth, and small and young breasts underneath the embrace of the
waters. She was laughing outright when he pulled her out of the
waters, saltwater entering her mouth and forcing her to spit in
an utterly unladylike fashion.
Spike smirked at her, and she slapped him, not cruelly, but
playfully, grinning as she did it. In response, he shoved her,
and she cackled with laughter, leaping on him to try and dunk the
offending vampire. As she wrestled with him, her smooth copper
skin beaded with water and sweat moved gracefully over his body,
her slender shoulders and smooth, aquiline figure caressing his
body in an inviting caress. The cool water did nothing to deter
his arousal; it stimulated him instead of crippling him. She was
exquisite and easy with the waters, avoiding the waves that
threatened to knock her over, gracefully flowing in the tides,
and her Slayer training taught her how to bring him underneath
the waves with ease, until he was submerged in seawater and salt.
Grinning wolfishly, the bleached blond emerged with water
clinging to his slightly wavy locks and trailing down the forked
scar in his dark eyebrow. "You know, Slayer, I haven't been
skinny dipping in aeons," he said, and Buffy arched her eyebrow
at him devilishly, scouring his bare chest with her eyes,
drinking in the beads of water that clung to and poured down his
abdomen in a trail of moisture.
"Well, this is my first time, so I guess we're pretty much prudes
together," she said wickedly, and then pressed her body up to his
in a crush of coppery skin, binding his mouth to hers in an
enchantment of saltwater and sensuality. A battle of cool and
warm took place as their tongues fought for dominance, a minor
parody of their own constant war that neither of them would ever
win. She slid her hands down to the small of his back, swapping
positions with him, and he bunched his hands in the soaking silk
of her hair, kissing her slowly and contentedly. She tasted like
saltwater and tobacco, and he tasted the same way.
Grinning, she flashed her eyes at him, like pale seawater ringed
with darker circlets of jade, hidden underneath flared dark honey
eyelashes. She gravitated the ripe plum of his earlobe, flicking
her tongue against the lush droplet of flesh, tasting the salt of
the sea on his skin. His voice was like honey fermented in
London, so beautiful that Buffy wanted to taste his consonants
and vowels, to gorge herself on his vocabulary of mysterious
slang and curses so exotic that they were almost quaint instead
of coarse. "Remember tonight for me," Buffy murmured. "You're
going to be around a little longer than I will at least, and I
want someone to remember how wonderful this feels after I'm
Tangling her fingers through the fine hairs that hit the nape of
his neck, Buffy fastened her mouth to his again, arching her back
so that the tops of her breasts, tipped by fine nipples the color
of coral were exposed from the depths of the ocean. She was
exquisite, so magnificent that he wanted nothing more than to dip
his head to her and take her pert young breasts into his mouth.
When he saw the look on his face, the former Slayer smiled in a
coquettish fashion and acquiesced to his unspoken demand. The
feel of her heated skin covered in the cool waters was ravishing,
like fire that could never be extinguished, no matter how much
water was poured onto its flickering flame. Smiling beatifically,
Buffy bent backwards and let herself float in the waters, as
Spike lowered himself to her body and dunked his head beneath the
waters. She could not see him, not even a flicker of lightning
hair exposed by the waters, but she felt the track of his mouth
as he descended low on her body. A kiss landed in her navel, and
another one made its way on the inside of her thigh, until she
felt him part her legs, like he was diving for pearls.
Ecstasy clouded her vision and thoughts as she felt his lower lip
brush over the intimate and heated folds in between her legs,
that generous mouth pleasuring her in a fashion that was less
brutal and more loving. A teasing tongue slid inside of her
briefly, and she jerked backwards, a low moan erupting from her
throat that was instantly stolen away by the wind. A sweet
symphony of sexuality building inside of her, reaching for its
crescendo, and he played her body magnificently. She should have
known that he could be so good at this, with his infatuation with
constant motion and the way that his body radiated sex with every
Throbbing, pulsing, her body floating buoyantly on the surface of
the water, Buffy cried out when his tongue whispered over the
aching bundle of nerves covered in her secret folds. A sharp gasp
was ripped from her mouth, and she opened her eyes, looking at
the stars that flickered in the midnight sky. Everything was
still for that moment, as though time had stilled for her, giving
her this moment of bliss in water. She was living in the funnel
of the hourglass, sands shifting all around her, but she refused
to move from this capsulated portion of time.
Frenetically, Spike's tongue moved over her, and Buffy arched her
back, her body on fire with the joy of being consumed, and she
came with a furious joy, laughing instead of crying, and the
rapture of being so filled with happiness. It didn't matter in
that moment that the world was coming to an indefinite and
horrible end; she was happy then. She was content. When he
surfaced from the waters, liquid sluicing down his high and
haughty cheekbones and pooling on his lower lip, Buffy kissed him
with a smile and tasted herself on him. It was the first glimpse
of who she was in months.
"Come back to the house," the former Slayer said to the vampire.
"I've got a new perspective on life."
Spike grinned at her. "And what's that, luv?"
She winked. "I'm alive right now, and I'm going to make these
final days into one hell of a party."
With that, she kissed him heartily, and then dove underneath the
waters, leaving him no choice but to follow her.
(end part eleven)
Smoke unfurled from the cigarette, rising up from the slender
cylinder of burning and dying ash, curling and creating shapes
that seemed perfect for a woven blanket from Egypt. It rested in
the crook of the green crystal ashtray, scattering bits of ash
like incinerated snow onto the bottom of the glass. Slowly,
thoughtfully, Buffy picked up the cigarette and took a hit off of
it, contemplating her next move. She exhaled a stream of silvery
smoke, and then carefully decided. A choice painstakingly made,
difficult to part with...
With a wicked grin, she placed the Queen of Spades down on the
pile, and waited for Spike to make his move.
The peroxide blond vampire scowled at the hand that he'd been
dealt, and cut his dark blue eyes at her disapprovingly. "You're
cheating," he accused, and Buffy arched an eyebrow at him
teasingly, fanning through the selection of cards with a wily
expression on her face.
"I would never cheat," she scoffed. "You're the one who would
cheat at cards, o soulless one." With that, she kicked him,
stretching one pajama-clad leg across the bed and hitting him
right in the kneecap, smirking when he yelped and swatted at her
thigh with his hand. The strong lines of his shoulders gleamed
like pearls stretched across bone as he lounged across the bed in
nothing but his reliable and well-worn jeans, belt undone and
jeans riding low on his slender hips. She admired the lines of
his body over the fan of cards in front of her face, impishly
scouring his lean and muscled body with her eyes.
He caught her staring at him, and arched an eyebrow at her,
amused with her appearance. She sat Indian-style on the bed,
carmine fingernails tapping the patterned back of the playing
cards impatiently, scanning her hand for moves. Streaks of blue,
red, and magenta ripped through her light gold hair as it spilled
over her slender shoulders, and locks of it dipped invitingly
into the cleavage of her tank top. Embroidered dragons and tiger
lilies in different shades of green and violet shimmered on her
blue silk pajama pants, and her scarlet toenails were bright
splashes of color on her simple dark green bedsheets. He'd
convinced her after a week to ditch the trite red linens, and she
decided that he was right.
A smirk flowered on his mouth as he watched her, and he drew an
ace of diamonds from the deck, instantly placing it on the
discard stack. "For your information, Summers, I don't cheat," he
said haughtily, and Buffy arched her gold eyebrow, taking a hit
off of her cigarette before picking up Spike's discarded ace and
adding it to her hand. The vampire inwardly cursed; she naturally
had to take whatever he didn't want. "I always fought you quite
She rolled her eyes and tossed hair off of her shoulder, no
matter that it was all pulled back into a frenzied ponytail so
that her colored highlights shrieked across her scalp. "Sure you
did," she said dryly. "And the Ring of Amara was completely fair.
Or attacking me when I was helpless that Halloween. Yeah, Spike,
you always fought fairly." She frowned at him as she discarded a
seven of clubs. "I always did wonder why you never used a gun on
me. Darla did once, but you never did."
Spike shrugged at her, frowning a little as he contemplated the
card that she had thrown out of her hand. "I once went to a gun
shop and picked up a weapon," he confessed, leaning back a little
and remembering the day with much glee. He smiled a little
dreamily and gazed off at the curtained glass door. "A rather
nice little handgun. Held it in my hand, fired off a couple of
rounds, but you know, killing you with it would just be too
quick. Too easy. What would I brag about later on to Dru or to
the other demons at Willy's? That I killed the Slayer with a bee-
bee gun?" Spike shook his head, flipping through his cards and
looking down at the spread of diamonds, clubs, spades and hearts.
"Besides that, I had all these great plans for killing you."
Arching her eyebrow, Buffy took another hit from her cigarette
and exhaled, exasperated with Spike's rambling remembrances.
"Really?" she said, her tones flat and disinterested.
Spike didn't notice her rampant disapproval, and if he did, he
didn't care. "Yeah," he said, a half smile on his ripe mouth. "I
was going to carve you up and feed you to the dogs, or maybe
stuff you and give you to Dru as a present... They were nice
little plans. A gun would just be... Boring." He shrugged, and
Buffy looked at him with flat, disbelieving eyes.
"And if that wasn't the most charming speech I've ever heard,
then I don't know what is," she said drolly, and Spike threw a
cracker at her head, watching when she burst out into gleeful
"Sod off," he said, taking her card and discarding a three of
hearts. She picked up his card and slammed down a seven of
diamonds, a proud smile on her face.
"Gin," she announced, fanning out her cards on the bedspread to
display her triumph over him. Spike scowled at her, leaning over
to look at her cards.
"You cheated," he accused, and Buffy grinned lecherously at him,
shaking her head and pointing out the sets to him. He threw down
his hand in irritation, disgruntled with himself for losing to
her, and Buffy grinned wickedly, crawling across the bed, the
silk dragons on her pajama pants glistening with a dozen
multicolored threads. Lithe muscles flowed like water underneath
the shimmering dragons, and Spike watched her warily, feeling
himself want her just from the expression on her face and from
the motion of the embroidered dragons on her legs.
Impish eyes sparkled like California waters as she nuzzled his
nose with her own, brushing her lower lip against his in a
whisper of a kiss. "Now, Spike," she murmured, moving her tongue
to just barely breeze between his lips, "if you keep that up,
you're going to be a *really* sore loser." Impishly, Buffy
grinned and ducked her head back behind his ear, softly licking
the sensitive area that always made him shiver. Spike hissed as
arousal shot through his body, grabbing for her and digging his
nails into the tattooed small of her back. He growled at her and
flipped her on her back, and Buffy grinned at him beguilingly,
drawing up her knee and wrapping it around his waist.
Slowly, she drew her tongue down his cheekbones, tasting the
sharpness of bone underneath taut skin the color of the moon, and
she saw the way that his eyes liquefied when she did it. She
smiled, draping her hands down his back, feeling the rich
coolness of his skin, kissing the juncture of his neck and
shoulder, licking the pronounced clavicle and then nipping
playfully at his throat, eliciting a moan and a chuckle from him.
Her hands dipped lower as she suckled on his neck, dipping into
the waistband of his jeans, and she felt the silken coolness of
his hardened cock, stroking it with her thumb. Spike hissed a
breath out, and stopped her hand with his. "But you were the
winner this time," he said, and she arched her eyebrow at him
"Winner takes all," she said, squeezing him slightly and causing
him to suck in his breath shortly before hastily agreeing with
"Oh, yeah," he said, and when she unbuttoned the fly of his faded
denims, she smiled mirthfully at him, claiming the prize that she
had collected from her skillful game of gin. "You know, I
still... Still think that you cheated..."
A false pout landed on Buffy's ripe little mouth, and she arched
her eyebrow haughtily at him. "Spike, it's not my fault that I
was dealt a good *hand*," she said, emphasizing her last word by
giving his hard cock another squeeze. Spike groaned and then
finally shut up, arching his hips and giving her the opportunity
to remove the one article of clothing that he wore. "Now, you
just lay back and tell me if you think I cheated..."
And with that, she flipped him on his back, lowered her mouth to
him and Spike hoped that this was the afterlife he got when the
Molten honey surrounded him slowly, a warm tongue descending low
on his erect cock, gliding around the tip before slowly
descending on him, brushing her plump lower lip against the
sensitive underside. Multicolored locks of hair spilled down on
his thighs, magentas and mulberries spilled with boysenberry
threads, all with the occasional natural honey gold shade.
Fingers lightly cradled his balls, and he felt like he was
sinking into her, moaning and arching, and if his heart could
beat, it would have been with the chaos of a timpani.
Thought disappeared as she slowly descended on him, moist mouth
taking him in and inviting him inside of her. Groaning, Spike
arched his hips and she assaulted him with her tongue, taking him
from the hilt to the tip, and her hands slowly, gently rotated
his heavy, aching testicles. Buffy was a master at oral sex,
something that he never would have suspected of the Buffy of old
days in California. The girl who wore prim little skirts and
dainty handbags would never have thought messing herself with the
dirty business of blowjobs. But the woman in leather and black
eyeliner, the woman who had stripped her hair of its innocence by
tainting it with a myriad of different colors, was a champion of
"Oh, Christ, Slayer," the vampire moaned, and the Slayer moved on
him with an increasing rapidness, her hands following her mouth,
and he felt himself near the verge, approaching climax, moaning
and clutching the emerald bedsheets for dear life. His orgasm
built and he fell into it, throwing his head back and groaning as
he came, and she slowed her motions, coaxing him and moving with
him, swallowing his seed effortlessly.
He didn't want to think of how much she must have practiced since
her jaunt to Melbourne.
Sleepy bedroom eyes lifted from his lap, and Buffy arched one
dusted gold eyebrow at him, her hair a mass of shimmering colors
as it fell down her back like a distorted rainbow. "I told you
that I never cheat," she said archly, and Spike watched her as
she rolled elegantly off the bed and to the bathroom, the dragons
on her pajamas glinting at him wickedly as she left him on the
Water splashed on her face in droplets of crystalline liquid,
clinging to the delicate planes of her face, and she washed the
taste out of her mouth, never being one for the taste of semen,
replacing it with mint and the promise of burned tobacco. She
glanced behind her, not expecting to see his reflection, but she
did see a cigarette burning in the ashtray, smoke filtering
around the room and staining the sheets with its charred perfume.
She looked at her eyes in the mirror, peering at herself, trying
to find what had changed inside of her and realized that what had
changed could be seen in no mirror or looking glass.
After all, he didn't have a reflection.
She wasn't sure what had happened. She only knew that playing gin
with Spike and winning/losing (and occasionally cheating, though
she'd never admit it to him and fuel his nasty fires) had begun
to mean more to her than her old jaunts to the warehouses.
Colored lights and cocaine were no longer necessary, not when
she'd shifted her addictions over to the peroxide blond smoking
in her bed and trying to stack the deck in his favor. She
wouldn't lecture him - she wasn't a hypocrite. That was his job.
Her makeup drawer almost beckoned, begging her to put on her face
and go dancing, go fucking, do something other than sit here and
play innocent games with him as he stroked her hair or touched
her face, or argued with her until she wanted to kill him. It was
frustrating, infuriating, hateful and spiteful, and yet it was
all that she had left in the ruined world. She was fractured and
fragmented into a thousand pieces, but he was slowly putting her
back together by grinding her into a powder and pouring her into
a glass, instead of scattering her to the winds like he should be
doing. This tug of war relationship was the best thing that she
had going for her, and so she kept it going.
She didn't have the time to be alone anymore.
Suddenly, a scrap of paper flew in her face, and Buffy spun
around, startled. It was just him, of course, a wicked smile on
his face while his black fingernails contrasted sharply with the
party. Just two weeks since he'd painted them and they were
already chipped. He bit them when he was bored, and sometimes he
bit her. Just playing though. He wouldn't kill her, and she knew
it. After all, he didn't want to be alone either.
"You've been invited to a party," he said, and she scowled at
him, snatching the piece of paper away from him while tucking an
errant strand of magenta behind her ear.
The little piece of paper was inscribed with the American flag.
The old Star Spangled Banner, in all of its glory, twinkling at
her with the tarnished pride that it carried now. Just seeing it
made her heart ache. Buffy quickly looked past it, and read the
engraving on the note. It was, indeed, an invitation to a party.
A banquet, actually. A dance to celebrate the Fourth of February,
a sort of joke to the fact that they'd never have what they all
wanted to have - Independence Day. They were inviting any
Americans that may have escaped the United States, trying to
celebrate their dead homeland one last and desperate time.
Quietly, Buffy took the little piece of paper over to the sink,
turning her back on Spike, looking down at the invitation.
America... To see it assembled in its broken pieces one last
time, to talk to others who felt the burden and the guilt of
loving a country that had destroyed the Earth, was something that
she dreaded and desired all at once. She hated her homeland as
much as she loved it. She remembered the liberty and idealism,
the history painted in a wonton need for independence, and how
awfully that history had ended.
The Stars and Stripes shimmered at her with the boldness of the
crimson colors, and Buffy traced over them with her fingertip,
hungering for the country that had been blown to smithereens.
Impatiently, Spike took the invitation from her, and she didn't
turn around, keeping her slim back to him. "You aren't actually
thinking of *going*, are you?" he asked, and her silence
irritated him. Celebrating the cause of their misery was foolery,
and she was contemplating going.
"Yeah, Spike, I am," she murmured finally. "I want to go."
Snorting, he threw the piece of paper in the air, and she stared
at him coldly as it fluttered to the floor like a dying bird.
"You can't be serious," he said, and she rolled her eyes, arching
one ashen blonde eyebrow at him.
"Quit telling me what I'm thinking of," she said, and he clenched
his jaw at her, looking at the obstinate little mess in front of
him. "I'm an American. Plain and simple. I loved my country."
He arched his scarred eyebrow at her as well, the white scar
tissue glistening dangerously. "Even after what it did?"
Harshly, she closed her eyes, blinking out his assaulting image.
"Yes," she spat, and she looked away, at the little piece of
folded invitation in his fingers. "Being an American is something
different now. It's not about pledging allegiance to a goddamn
flag or singing Bruce Springsteen songs. It's about bearing the
burden of sentencing billions of people to death. I carry that
responsibility, and I do it because these people deserve someone
to blame." She sighed then, wearily and tiredly. "But it's
exhausting. It's agonizing. It's horrible to stand there while
people spit on your shoes and blame you when you lost everything,
too. My family's dead. My friends are dead. My lovers are dead.
I'm all that's left, and no one can understand that. No one
should have to understand that."
She lifted her eyes to him and then snatched the invitation away
from him, crushing it in her fist. "But *these* people understand
that! They lost everything too, and they're going to die in a
foreign country alone and afraid, and if they want to have a
party for everything that they used to have, then fucking good
for them. And I'm going."
And then, brutally, he kissed her, because she had been angry and
she was incredible when she was angry.
Furiously, she resisted him at first, and then he pulled away
enough to calm her nerves so that she would agree to what he
wanted to give her. "Fine," he said, looking into the angry eyes
of the former Slayer and American. "Go to your party. But give me
They fought as they made their way to the bed, scraping
fingernails against skin and clashing teeth and tongue before he
stretched her atop the sheets, the dragons shimmering on her legs
with the fiery blues and greens. He removed her pajama bottoms
with his teeth, pulling them down around her ankles and revealing
the magnificence of her small blue panties, silk, hugging her
hips and revealing a small inch between her navel and the edge of
her panties. She hissed when he touched her, as though her veins
were electric wires, and her back arched as he dragged his
fingernails lightly up her thighs, arcing when she moaned.
Teasingly, Spike flashed her a crooked grin, and she smiled
"You think that's the way to apologize to me?" she asked, aqua
eyes flashing at him. "By fucking me?"
Spike smirked at her. "Well, of course not," he said. "But it's a
With that, he took off her panties and said that he was sorry.
Afterwards, as the light crept in through a crack in the curtain,
slivering down the room, she brought her hand up to it and let
the morning light dissect her fingers and palm. The sunlight
crucified her and her lover nuzzled into the crook of her neck,
watching the bright light cut through her hand and impale her
with dawn. He envied her absentminded ability to move her hand up
to the window with such languid grace, never minding the fact
that she could do what he couldn't do. Envy filled him, and he
wished that he could just walk so easily to the light and let
But he was tethered to the world, and he was also bound to her.
So he stayed in her bed and watched her draw and quarter her own
hand with the innocence of the living. A greater death awaited
her, he supposed, and maybe his envy wasn't so warranted after
Sighing, she turned her head to the side and looked at the full-
length mirror that hung on the closet door. She saw herself
painted in the colors of afterglow, the generous golds and
glistening sweat running across her exposed body, her hand
divided by sunshine. Buffy looked at the colors she had placed on
herself, and began to speak. "You know, half the time I look in
this glass and I don't see myself. And then I think that maybe I
understand a piece of you. What it's like not to have a
reflection. Not to see yourself in the morning when you wake up,
or after you've lost everything that you thought you had."
It was, quite possibly, the quietest confession she had ever
given him. Just the murmur that she didn't know who she was
anymore, and frankly, he didn't know who he was anymore either.
It was impossible to grasp one's self in a world where everything
had turned topsy-turvy all of a sudden.
Slightly, she tilted her head at him, and captured his eyes with
hers. "Come with me," she said. "Come see the last of America
And so he sighed, and watched her take her hand out of the light,
placing her sun-warmed hand on his chest, and knew that it was
only a matter of time before her skin couldn't interfere with the
inevitable. But until then, he may as well take what he could
(end part twelve)
The sun had descended into the seas, the oceans swallowing the
fire and sending the moon spinning into the sky. It hovered over
Australia like a heavy pendant, silvery and pure, filling the
skies with luminous light. A faint breeze had started in from the
hall's close proximity to the ocean, and it blew the vivid blades
of grass into blurs of kelly green. Music pushed from the hall,
adding to the percussion of the waves crashing ashore, and the
sky was the color of a darkened robin's egg. Clouds were
stretched across the sky like whitened cotton candy, light and
fluffy, and it looked like what heaven might look like if this
weren't already hell.
Grass whispered as she walked up the path, her hair blowing
around her face in a mass of curled blues, reds, and magentas.
Soft tendrils of bright gold twisted with cerulean and vermilion
brushed her bared shoulders, and he watched her walk up the sandy
path in twilight. The white spaghetti-strapped tank top clung to
her body, and she wore turquoises around her throat and wrists. A
bright aquamarine and cerulean sarong was wrapped around her
waist, knotted at the hip, and her slender calves walked with the
precision of slim scissors atop white platform sandals.
Spike scowled briefly, looking at the brightly colored beauty
that she wore so easily. It wasn't the cheapened finery that she
wore to her warehouses, though there were bright colors and fine
fabrics that she wore around her body. She looked like California
and America embodied, past and present, with her wholesome
destruction. Copper skin, melee of wild hair, and too-bright
colors that seemed perfect for her. And he shook his head, shoved
his hands in his pockets, and followed her into the hall.
And inside was America.
A flag hung from the rafters, wavering with the open windows, as
Christmas tree lights were strung around poles with their
twinkling white. Hamburgers sizzled on the grill, and children
ran about laughing, holding hot dogs and balloons, as old music
pumped from the speakers. Bob Dylan, the great American
songwriter and poet, sang old anthems as she walked into the
hall, looking at citronella candles burning brightly and children
holding sparklers on the back porch that overlooked the cliffs.
Couples danced on the dance floor, holding hands and spinning
each other about, laughing as they did so, reviving the old times
and remembering the freedom of their old America.
It was delicious.
Grinning, Buffy walked through the dance hall, holding her
invitation in hand, taking in the smells and the images. There
were about sixty people in attendance, all laughing and holding
ice cold beers. People smoked if they felt like it, eating slices
of pizza and hot dogs with relish. It was everything trite and
cliched about the good old U.S.A., and she loved it.
Swaying her hips back and forth, Buffy walked through the dance
floor, her jewelry glinting, smiling as she saw America assembled
here in spades. Picnic tables lit with citronella candles were
assembled outside, and she walked to the three gas grills working
furiously to cook enough food for the partygoers. The American
flag shimmered proudly, and underneath it stood a woman in a
checkered blouse and a plain denim skirt, grinning broadly at
her. "The Californian, right?" the woman asked in a blissfully
American accent, and Buffy nodded, extending her hand to the
"Buffy Summers," she introduced, and the woman nodded, smiling.
"I'm Dorothy," she said, shaking Buffy's hand. "We got your
address from immigration. I hope you don't mind us invading your
privacy, but we just wanted to get as many people as we could to
come. One final bash for the U.S.A., you know." Her smile
faltered a little. "After all, we've all lost so much."
Buffy's smile remained steady, but she felt a pang for those that
had been left behind. "Right," she said. "It's fine. I'm glad
that I could come."
Dorothy led her out to the railing, wrapping her arms around
herself. "Most of us were residents of Melbourne for business
reasons when the bombs fell, but there are also vacationers like
yourself who left family behind in the States," she explained,
and Buffy flinched. This had never been a vacation for her. It
had been a ruin of strobe lights and snakeskin dresses. Dorothy
didn't see the pained expression on the ex-Slayer's face and
continued speaking. "We all lost our home, and after we heard
that Sydney starting to report radiation cases..." Dorothy's
voice trailed off, and she cleared her throat. "Well, we realized
that this would be the last chance we'd have to remember our
Bowing her head, Buffy looked down at the waves crashing ashore,
and she rested her arms on the railing. The beaches were
different here, with their perfectly clear waters and their
dramatic cliffs and rocks. Everything was vibrantly and vividly
colored, as though God had used a brighter palate of colors when
painting Australia. From the hall, she heard strains of Joni
Mitchell waft out to the back porch.
"California, I'm coming home, will you take me as I am, strung
out on another man..."
A half smile pulled at Buffy's mouth, surrounded by the refugees
of America, and Dorothy smiled at her in return. "Where are you
from?" she asked, and Buffy smiled, pulling out her pack of
cigarettes and lighting one.
"California," she answered in a breath of expelled smoke. The
smoke traveled out across the sea like a failed smoke signal,
pleading for any ships and knowing that there would never be any.
She was from California, land of free love and impossible dreams,
of demons and dreams, and Buffy smiled. "I was from Sunnydale,
California, right outside of Los Angeles."
"I'm so sorry, hon," Dorothy said, patting Buffy's arm
reassuringly. "It's hard to deal with losing someone, let alone a
whole world full of people, especially when people think that
it's your fault." She shook her head, and walked away, leaving
Buffy alone, as Joni Mitchell sang an anthem to the Sunshine
State in the background.
Turquoises shimmered down her arm as she thought about the legacy
left behind in the ruins of the United States. Perhaps there
would be another civilization that would one day inhabit the
earth that humanity had foolishly wasted and abandoned, and they
would return to her homeland and find a history rich with
aspirations and dreams, with human arrogance and human beauty.
Maybe they'd have better luck. It was almost comforting.
Black fingernails pinched the filter of her cigarette, and Spike
sidled up next to her, stealing a hit from her cigarette before
passing it back to her. "I don't know why you wanted to come so
badly," he said, shrugging at the partygoers. "All a bunch of
ninnies if you ask me - having a party in the face of the end of
the world. That's why humans are idiots." She rolled her eyes and
turned to him, her face plain and honest in its fresh earnesty.
"I wanted to come because these people understand something about
me that you never will," she said, and Spike arched his eyebrow.
"And why is that, luv?"
She didn't smile when she spoke. "Because they're human and
you're not." It was a simple statement, and it would have hurt if
he cared about humanity or possessing enough to understand her
innate desire to celebrate a dead country's independence on the
wrong damn date. She sighed then when she saw the look on his
face, and she lifted her hand to the side of his face, tracing a
thumb down the long angle of his cheekbone. "But you understand
The music changed inside of the hall, shifting from Joni Mitchell
to another American classic. Soft piano and lulling voice, and
slowly, Buffy turned her head away, her vision shifting the
sparklers and watermelon to Giles's living room, her Watcher
sitting on a stool, strumming his guitar and singing. He used to
sing this song. She teased him about the irony and he told her
that it was one of the best rock compositions ever. He would sing
it in its entirety, while Willow pored over his books and tapped
her foot underneath her long skirts.
"Long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to
make me smile..."
Softly, Buffy smiled, remembering how well Giles could cover Don
McLean. "I love this song," Buffy confided to Spike, and he
rolled his eyes, slugging back a beer that he'd picked up
"Decent song," he commented, and she turned her head to him, an
electric smile flickering over her face. Instantly, he shook his
head, looking out at the ocean. "No. I'm not dancing with you
tonight. Not to this damn song."
Eyes flashed at him with their glorious seafoam spark, and she
tugged at his arm. "You *are* going to dance with me," she said.
"I need to dance tonight. Giles used to sing this song and I want
to dance to it. Besides, the radiation hit Sydney, and there's
not much time left. I'm going to dance while I damn well can,
whether you want to join me or not." With that, she took a swig
of his beer to repay him for stealing her cigarette and flicked
the remnants of her Marlboro over the side of the porch, and left
for the dance floor.
Americans milled about, laughing and dancing, and she joined the
fray blissfully, twisting her body and shaking her hips, her hair
flying around her face in a melee of color, as sparklers threw
off bright stars of fire and the American flag loomed overhead.
It was the dance of a woman enthralled with her own homeland, of
a woman celebrating the old dream. The dream of independence, of
liberty and justice for all, even if it had all ended so
disastrously. People joined her on the dance floor, limbs flying
and laughing cheers filling the hall. Her hips turned with the
music, and she danced with whoever she saw, with everyone, for
the ghosts of the past that had been America for her. "And do you
believe in rock and roll; can music save your mortal soul?"
It didn't matter in that moment that she had destroyed herself or
that the world had fallen around her. It didn't matter that time
was running out or that death was imminent. All that mattered was
the sheer joy that had once reverberated throughout her country,
the energy of being young and American, of inheriting the Earth
and rapture all at once. Laughing, Buffy tipped her head back and
danced wholeheartedly. It was all okay in that moment, while Don
McLean sang and the last Americans on Earth danced around her.
Then black fingernails clung to her hip and dipped in the
waistband of her sarong, and Buffy grinned when she saw Spike
reluctantly dancing with her, a beer in one hand and her hip in
the other. Impishly, she linked her arms around his neck and
danced with him, forcing him to twirl her around until she was
dizzy with remembered glee. She was okay, she was fine, and even
if it was only temporary, it was here for now.
It was okay for now.
Then the music slowed, quieted, and the people on the dance floor
stilled along with them, listening to the lyrics that a dead man
"I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
She just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred storev
Where I'd heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn't play
The last Americans were lit by Christmas lights, by dying
sparklers and darkening twilight, trapped in a foreign land where
they would be forced to die, haunted by the memories of old
American joy and new American damnation. Empty, endlessly
sorrowful expressions were cast on the Americans' faces as they
listened to the music of their dead country, forever bound by the
misery that their homeland had caused.
"And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
Buffy broke apart from him, and she looked around her, seeing the
hollow hurt in everyone's eyes, and she felt like crying. Felt
like weeping. Felt like shedding remorse and regret for
everything that humanity could have been if they hadn't destroyed
themselves. These were the ashes of the flames, the final few
cinders left to fizzle out of existence. She bowed her head and
wished that she could pray, but had no faith to offer.
Not when nothing could save her now.
"And they were singing bye-bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry
And good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing, 'this'll be the day that I die'
This'll be the day that I die"
The crowd began to sing, unified and whispering, some voices off-
key, but most knowing the lyrics to the song and therefore
joining in with the chorus as the song died and the verse
"And they were singing bye-bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry
And good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing, 'this'll be the day that I die'"
She didn't sing. She didn't want to sing. She just wanted to
escape, and that was what she did, walking off the dance floor as
her top rose up to reveal the lower half of her thorny tattoo.
The porch was empty, and Buffy bowed her head, clenching her
hands into fists, gripping her hair as she thought of the
haunting portrait of doomed mankind. She shouldn't have come here
tonight. Not to witness this last celebration before death. It
just made her want to despair for all of the people who deserved
joy, who deserved giddy rapture, and were instead dealt sorrow.
There was no way to cheat at this card game.
His hands moved through her hair as he walked up behind her, and
he looked at the black ink circling her lower back, forever
branding her with her decision to martyr herself as the failed
savior of the world. "You were right," she said coldly, her voice
frozen over with a thin layer of ice and snowflakes. "I shouldn't
have come here. It was a mistake to see this."
Spike traced her tattoo with his fingertips, and Buffy wanted to
shrug off his touch. She didn't want to be touched. Not now.
"That's life for you, Summers," he said in a hushed voice. "May
as well deal with it now, right?" If she didn't know him better,
she thought she detected a tremor in his voice. "After all,
there's not much time left now."
As if to confirm this, the wind blew softly in from the seas, and
a chill passed through her body. Images of choking, of drowning
in dust and death, of disease and poison flashed through her
mind. She swallowed a cry, a desperate scream, for she knew what
she tasted on the air. It was the flavorless breath of radiation.
It was the call that she didn't want to receive.
Shuddering, she looked out at the water, and knew that it was
happening. It was all happening. Dry-mouthed, she turned around
and looked at her lover, his blue eyes stormy and turbulent as
always, and she wrapped her arms around him, looking out toward
the ocean. "Take me home," she whispered. "I want to go home."
Suddenly, he received the same flash, that same chill and lulling
calm, that same flavor of frightful inevitability. "Yeah, baby,"
he murmured, and this time, his voice did shake. "Let's go."
As they left, her sarong fluttering in the wind and his duster
flapping around his legs, the wind blew ominously and the
American flag rippled like a dying bird.
(end part thirteen)
The lyrics enclosed in this chapter are taken from the wonderful
Joni Mitchell song, "California", and Don McLean's masterpiece
and classic, "American Pie".
The city was falling with such an incredible grace that it barely
seemed like falling at all. A divine splintering, a magnificent
crumbling, like watching stained glass windows in a cathedral
break into a thousand multicolored pieces. The towers of metal
and glass that had once scraped the skies above Melbourne were
now topped with fire, burning slowly in effigy. Smoke unfurled
with gracefully intangible whirls of gray, blanketing the
bedraggled citizens with a premature death shroud of soot and
Crumbling stars of ash hit the windshield of the Cadillac as
Buffy drove over the bridge, a pair of sunglasses perched on her
nose and music blasting from her stereo. She refused to
acknowledge the sights that she saw, the huddled masses of people
crowding hopelessly on the steps of the City Hall while the navy
blue banner rippled in the wind. "THERE IS STILL TIME" it
proclaimed, and Buffy had to believe that there was. She had just
reclaimed her life. Just discovered hope. She couldn't lose it
Not while she still had peaches in her front seat.
The small globes in varying shades of tangerine and darker dusk
rolled in the passenger seat as she turned, and the plastic bag
that they were encased in rustled as Buffy rolled down her window
and lit a cigarette. She had managed to buy the last two dozen
peaches in Melbourne from her cigarette dealer, all for her
vampiric lover. The only one who could make her forget that the
winds were coming. The one who could keep her from drowning.
So she bought him peaches and cigarettes and gave him herself for
Flickers of fiery red tickled the bridge of her nose, and Buffy
wiped them away with her hand, driving down the winding road that
stretched and curled through rippling green grasses and over
steep, rocky cliffs. She was driving furiously away from the
city, refusing to acknowledge anything that she saw, denying all
that displeased her. It was the best way to live her life right
now - ignore the future. Dispose of the idea that she *had* no
With a twist of her slender, rosary-decorated wrist, Buffy
cranked up the dial on the radio, playing Placebo loudly on her
CD player. Music blared from the speakers in the old Cadillac,
and the wind rushed through her hair, playing with the fine ends
of her dyed magenta streaks. Houses were perched on the edge of
the colorful Australian coast, glass windows lined up to view and
display the natural jewels of the ocean and sand. Her own house
was nearby, with her own lightning-colored lover still sleeping
in their rumpled bed. A glint of mischief lighted her eyes as she
thought of how she'd wake him up, squeezing a peach's juices into
his mouth. They'd make love and stave off the inevitable, and
smoke cigarettes afterward in bed.
She exhaled smoke and inhaled another helping of tobacco and
nicotine, craving the addictions that had sustained her:
cigarettes and Spike. She was a junkie for death, whether she
could smoke it or fuck it. Ironic, now that she thought about it.
She was obsessed with death and terrified of it.
They both were, because she thought that she might be dead
underneath her false joy.
Beads on her rosaries jangled as she turned her turn signal on
and turned into her driveway, the peaches rolling in the bucket
seat like a solar system of tangerine fuzz. The sun was setting,
and she took her sunglasses off, revealing bejeweled and darkened
eyes, covered in her layers of mascara and eyeliner, her mouth a
boysenberry pair of silk. She was velvet sheathed in blackberry
juice, decked out with rosaries wrapped around her wrists and
wearing a silk violet dress that slid around her body like a
snake's skin. It fell around her knees, and her feet were bound
in sparkling violet sandals that had lilies embroidered across
the slim straps. Armed with a bag of peaches, a cigarette, and a
coy smile, Buffy walked up the steps to her house and into it,
ready to share her fruit with her lover.
Her smile fell when she saw him.
Face pressed to the glass, surrounded by a scene of twilight
falling on ocean waves, like a jewel had been cracked and left to
dye the skies, he was bent over the window, surrounded by the
beach. If the glass hadn't been there to shield him, he would
have tumbled to the cliffs below. Sheathed in black as always,
the leather duster covering his lean, spare body, he looked like
a hybrid between a widower and a punk. His shocking blond hair
was sleek and slicked back, pushed away from his face, and Spike
looked dangerously sensual. He wasn't the only one with a love
for all things sad and lonely - he was often never more beautiful
than when he was in mourning.
His white palms were spread across the glass, black fingernails
flashing like obsidian against the clear window. Silently, Buffy
watched his hands, feeling horror crawl beneath her skin like a
languid predator when she noticed that he was shaking. He was
shaking. Trembling. He showed no reflection, this vampiric
creature with a face so sultry that it should be committed to
canvases and preserved throughout all time. Immortality should
have done that, but...
And then she knew.
Her voice fluttered to him like the noise of a frightened bird's
wings, fragile and desperate. "When did it happen?" she asked,
tears strangling her words. He saw her in the glass, saw the
silhouette of dark shadows poured into the slender shape of a
"Yesterday," he said, his voice dark and empty. "Diagnosed at the
medical university. Sick since three days past. Dead now. They
The first. The first case. The first case in Melbourne had been
reported. As if to punctuate this statement, the wind fluttered
in, blowing her hair around her face in a tumble of colors, and
plastic rippled, until a noise hit the floor. Spike turned around
to see peaches rolling around on the floor in a scattering of
deep orange and vermilion, the fruit scattering around her feet.
The wind of the dusk sent her dress fluttering around her slender
knees, and her hair was a mess of magenta and blond.
Blackberry lips trembled as she whispered, clinging to the
doorframe for support. Shattered green eyes looked at him
pleadingly, begging him to lie to her for once in their brutal
relationship. "No," she whispered, her fingers clutching the
doorframe. "No, no, no... It's not true... Not so soon..."
Bitterly, he cocked his head at her. "It's been three months,"
Spike reminded, and she shook her head emphatically, refusing to
"But there's not enough time left," she whispered, choking on her
own terror. She felt like she was trapped in a nightmare where
she was trying to scream and only breathless pleas would come out
of her mouth. She couldn't scream for help. "There's not enough
time left before..." She choked on her own words, and felt like
she was going to stumble. "No, no..." Delirium rattled and shook
her, and Buffy wobbled on her feet, unsteadily and uncertainly.
She felt like choking.
Roughly, Spike walked to her and grabbed her shoulders, spinning
her around to face him. "What's wrong, Buffy?" he sneered, never
delicate, never sweet, even when delivering her death sentence.
Brutal as always. Harsh and cutting. "Didn't have enough time to
cope with that fact? You had a head start on it all if you don't
remember." His voice was cold and biting, like a blast of cold
air, and she refused to let herself shiver in the arctic
bitterness of Spike's voice.
Instead, she fought his cold accusations with heat, fire drawn up
from the rage and despair that she had bottled underneath globs
of mascara and eyeliner and multicolored shades of magenta,
carmine, and cerulean. Furiously, she pushed him backwards,
raging emotions coursing through her veins. "Fuck you!" Buffy
shouted, her mouth twisted in her anger. "You had over a hundred
years to live your goddamn life, and I had eighteen! Eighteen
years and..." Her terror overtook her, strangling her, until she
was barely able to speak. "It's not enough..." she choked. "Not
He looked at her and saw a girl stumbling on platform heels,
irises that no longer bloomed crisscrossing across her feet and
dark violet turning her into the color of a plum, a fruit that no
one would ever enjoy again. She was a relic of a world that was
dying around her, mascara streaking down her face as everything
that she had become melted into rivulets of black ink. And he was
a man who had seen centuries pass with the assumption that he
ruled the world, only to fade away into the scenery along with
"You think a hundred years is enough?" Spike said, approaching
her and crushing a perfect peach underneath his boot. She winced
at the fruit's disintegration; she couldn't swallow her flinch in
empathy for the fruit's death. "It's *not* enough. Not when
you've spent those years assuming that immortality was yours. Not
when you never had the opportunity to prepare for something like
this. Not when you never thought about it." Enraged at the
thought that his eternity had suddenly been stolen from him, that
there were weeks left to his existence instead of centuries, he
crushed the peaches underneath his feet, stomping on the delicate
fruits until their lovely-colored insides were scattered and
smashed into the carpeting. "So don't you assume things about me!
Not when there's days left and I can't..." He choked. "And I
can't bear to even *think* about dying!"
With one snarl, one inhuman and demonic roar of indignation and
rage, his face changed into the mask of the demon that was him,
that possessed and fueled him, eyes glowing with amber
desperation and anger, and he kicked the wall, crushing the
forest paint. And then he braced himself against the wall,
refusing to cry, refusing to be weak and stupid and human like
she was. Refusing to weep over something so stupid and useless as
his own death.
Gentle hands washed over his shoulders, and Spike sighed, his
face shifting from demon to human again, eyes fading from
incandescent gold to a tumultuous sapphire, as tumbled and
disturbed as the oceans outside. Slowly, she wrapped her arms
around his waist, pressing the warmth of her body to his cool
solidity and leather, and inhaled the smell of cigarettes and
centuries that permeated his skin.
Neither one said anything. Apologies never accompanied them. He
would never apologize for who he was, and she never said that she
was sorry for the hurt. They simply remained in their tumultuous,
hollow, despairing embrace, her eyes wide open and blank, staring
at the peaches scattered haphazardly on the floor. Peach juice
soaked into the carpeting, the remnants of her gifts to him
absorbed by shag. She didn't pick them up. She just watched them,
destroyed presents, some still whole and ripe, others ruined and
"There's never enough time," she murmured then, and it provided
neither one of them with little solace. Comfort was unnecessary.
She didn't speak, just moved away from him slightly, kneeling
down to the crushed peaches as though they were pieces of broken
stained glass from a cathedral. Her fingers dipped into the cool
juices, coming away sticky and sweet-smelling. The aroma of a
world gone by clung to her fingerprints, embedding itself into
the whorls and loops that defined her, and she felt like weeping
for everything that had been destroyed.
Buffy was hunched over the crushed peaches like a battered wife
picking up the pieces of her favorite vase, her hands slender and
shaking as she gathered up the remaining fruits and placing them
in a small pile, their bright and gay color ripe and lush in the
twilight. Purple satin shimmered in the indigo lighting, and her
hair spilled down her back in straight lines of rainbow colors
that seemed brighter than she was. He felt sorry about the fruit.
"Sorry," he apologized, and she murmured something that was
inaudible until she repeated it.
"Fourteen left," she said in a hushed tone. "Seven for each of
us. I had two dozen. But there are still fourteen left." She
turned around, a peach in each hand, and passed him one with
great solemnity. "One for each night, Spike. Seven days, seven
peaches. We'll give ourselves a week and then..."
She said nothing, let the sentence dwindle into oblivion, and he
understood her anyway. Seven peaches each until the day that they
ran out, and then they would let themselves die by their own
hands if death hadn't taken them by then. It gave them a limit,
gave them certainty, and he nodded, taking the peach from her
hand and cupping the small fruit with his fingertips. Spike
looked at it contemplatively, and then reached out his arm,
threading it through hers as newlyweds did when eating wedding
cake. But there was no joy or mirth in this impromptu,
bastardized ceremony as they sank their teeth into the relics of
the Old World, and taking a large bite out of what could have
Skins moved with the slow joyless sorrow of what had once been
fucking and had evolved into some sort of lovemaking. Raw,
anguished, pained and destroyed, her fingernails raked up the
column of his spine, drawing blood that wasn't his and staining
the forest sheets with the stolen essence of him. Strong, slender
male fingers drew her hair into his fist and crunched the colors,
crumpling the myriad of reds and golds into a ball of silk before
he cried out a groan and thrust into her. Muscles moved, juices
flowed, kisses swiped from mouths that tasted like forbidden
Peaches, to be precise.
The night reflected on their moving, entwined bodies through the
glass wall, painting them with the splendid indigo of the
Australian night. Throwing back her head, she released a primal
sort of scream, a wail for pleasure and a noise of despairing
ecstasy. She was rapture in ruin, beautifully tainted goods, and
he was a dagger with a dulled and useless blade. Danger lurking
inside of his veins that had no purpose except to tear him to
shreds. He was surrounded in her heat and immolated by her
burning. Everything was afire.
Everything was already dead.
Juices from the peach stained the sheets, and she drew her knees
up around him, toes curling as she pulsed near the precipice of
absolute ecstasy, of releasing orgasm. Violet violence surrounded
her and impaled her on a slender, cool blade, and she screamed
for the absolute meaninglessness of it all, beautiful and broken,
battered and bruised, but flickering in the way that broken glass
catching sunlight used to do.
It was starting to rain, the water streaking the glass and
painting them with reflected water, and he tilted his head as he
pounded into her, seeing the tumult of a storm brewing. He wanted
it to take him away with it, away from the harsh reality of
making love to her. He wanted to disappear. Wanted something else
to kill him so that he didn't have to. She craved suicide and he
hungered for murder. They were damned indefinitely.
"Please, please, please," she pleaded into his ear, her mouth
opening and closing with the illusion of kisses. "Please..." She
begged for redemption, begged for death, but she was just begging
for release. And so that was what he gave her, sliding his cock
harshly across her swollen clitoris, watching her face contort
with the painting of bliss. "Oh..."
And he reared his head back and roared with rage as he came
inside of her.
Afterwards, when she fell into fitful and exhausted slumber, he
stood up and took the peach pits from the pillows, placing them
on the coffee table next to the wicker basket filled with
peaches. There were two now, twelve to go, and six more days left
before the end of them.
Disturbed, the vampire folded his hands over his eyes and refused
to look at them.
The peaches slowly disappeared over the turning days as the city
fell to its knees in the face of the radiation wave. Buildings
burned like bridges, and hospitals were crowded with the
suffering, who were released with cyanide into a better and more
forgiving place. Radio waves slowly dissipated, and the tight
unit of communication was slowly released into the wind like a
And every night the peaches were eaten.
Six peaches rested in the nest of black wicker with silent
imminence, ominous and foreboding. They gleamed slightly in the
warm lamplight and candlelight that smelled of exotic fruits and
mulling spices, like cinnamon or mulberry. The dawn was going to
rise soon; the skies were brightening into lighter shades of
blue, and the heat was rising as well. She plucked two peaches
from the basket and refused to acknowledge that there were only
four left. Two days.
He stood out on the balcony, dressed in nothing, body bared and
sleek like a lynx's underneath the descending moon. She looked at
the silver of his skin, the cool tones of cream and coldness, and
ran the peach between his shoulder blades in hopes of making him
shiver. He did, turning around with hungry and consuming eyes,
bright like cut sapphires. "They're shutting off train service
tomorrow," he said, and Buffy ignored him. It was an
acknowledgement that the end was nearing, this slow shutdown of
services and humanity. "People are dropping like flies in the
streets. It's violent." He sighed. "Not a good place to be,
She watched as Spike took a bite from his peach, tearing off a
large bit of the fruit while juice sluiced down his chin. He ate
with brutality, like he did everything else. She thought that she
loved him. She could have been just desperate. It didn't matter
though if she loved him now. There was nothing to be ashamed of
and nothing to pretend. She was in love with a murderer, a
soulless savage, someone who could smirk and throw cutting wounds
on her skin and then whisper about his history with peaches and
"I wonder if it's a worse place to be than in Sunnydale when this
all first happened," she said, rolling the peach between her
palms thoughtfully. "I wonder if I should have spared myself the
trouble and stayed." Her voice lowered. "I wonder if I'm a
All that he did was kiss her slowly, letting her taste the juices
on his cool tongue, mingled with the coppery hint of blood that
she never questioned him about anymore. Nothing she could do to
save anyone anymore, even herself. It was the most genuine,
kindest kiss she'd ever received from him, and it made her want
to cry. Everything had changed, even him. Everyone was tired,
winding down, bowing to the blade. "Don't think," Spike murmured
when he pulled away from her mouth. "Just eat your peach and come
to bed, luv." And then he turned around, the muscles of his body
moving like a sly god as he moved back into their bedroom.
Wind blew in from the ocean and tossed her hair into a tumult,
painting the skies with the multicolored dyes of Buffy's hair.
The angel's wing sleeves of Buffy's white silk nightgown
fluttered gently, flaring around her hips and moving around her
slender legs, and she thought of dying with her friends. Perhaps
holding Willow's hand when the blast came, or maybe curling in
her mother's lap when the radiation waves filtered through the
city. The worst was not knowing what had happened.
But her destiny was sealed. She had certainty as to her end. She
was just terrified of accepting it as truth.
Sighing, Buffy lifted her peach to her mouth and let the juices
flow through her lips, expecting to taste the sweetness of the
fruit travel across her tongue and saturate her senses. Instead,
she tasted horrible bitterness, decay and death, and her stomach
lurched, weakness encompassing her body, dizziness consuming her.
Buffy lurched forward, gagging on the taste of the peach and the
horrid sickness that moved through her like a freight train, and
vomited over the side of the balcony, throwing up peaches and
something that seemed red in the light of the brightening dawn.
Blood. She had vomited up blood.
Weakened and still nauseous, Buffy stumbled backwards, grasping
the wall of the balcony for support while clutching the guilty
peach in her palm. Her hair flew across her face as a sweat broke
out, and she tasted her own vomit and bitter peach in her mouth.
Gasping, she felt the waves of nausea slowly dissipate, and she
lifted a shaking hand up to look at the peach with a horrified
expression twisting her mouth.
It was rotten.
Panicked and despairing, Buffy looked up at the sky, seeing the
stars revolve suddenly at a speed that was rapid and frantic.
Time... She was watching time move with the speed of a thousand
angry birds, and she felt tears spring to her eyes while her head
and the stars spun in synchronicity. Buffy slowly slumped down
the wall until she was sitting on the floor, and the peach rolled
out of her trembling fingers. "Oh," she whispered, her voice
ragged and worn, and she knew that the fruit was not the only
thing rotten. She was rotting, decaying, disintegrating. She was
The peach just rolled absently on the planks of the balcony, its
spoiled insides glistening in the rising light.
(end part fourteen)
The skies opened up like a fresh wound and bled rain onto the
city of Melbourne, dampening the city's streets and its huddled
masses with water from heaven. It was as though God was crying
for the foolish demise of the people He had created, grieving in
the last days of humanity, and the rain was a slow, gentle
weeping instead of a thunderous sobbing. Gray skies blanketed the
city, reflecting granite in the rivers that ran through the city,
and coating everyone with moisture.
Including all those standing in the line in front of the steps of
the Capitol building.
People lined up slowly, a string of humanity waiting, all dressed
in torn gray and wearing despair on their hopeless faces. There
were mothers in battered coats holding children with sores
crusting their cherubic mouths, and a man stroking the back of
his wife as she bent over to vomit on the streets. Another man
had to be escorted out of the line when he started screaming when
a tooth fell from his mouth, loosened by the radiation poisoning.
The line moved slowly, forever moving, and the rain refused to
She stood there and prayed for sunlight, but was still pounded by
the incessant raining. Multicolored brightness streaked down
around her face, dampening her slender cheekbones as she walked
in the line. Troubled, she crossed her arms over her chest, her
gray sweater dampened and tame for her. No heavy eye makeup hid
her seafoam eyes. No glitter graced the tarnished gemstone. She
didn't wear anything revealing or dark. Her eyes, plain and
desolate, were revealing enough. After all, they revealed that
she was dying.
She had hidden her illness well from him, laughing while he made
love to her even when it hurt so badly to orgasm that she wanted
to die. He had no idea that she was dropping weight so quickly,
as they only made love in nighttime and the shadows concealed her
ribs when her skin no longer could. And if he noticed a tremor in
her hand when she held a cigarette to her mouth, he didn't
Shivering, Buffy wrapped her arms around herself tighter, wishing
for the humidity and heat that had once made this a summer, and
hating the fact that the season was finally over.
Slowly, a car pulled up beside the line, and Buffy turned her
head to look at the bright red Mustang that idled next to the
massive line of dying. A man rolled down his window and stared at
them with a horrified expression on his face, terror apparent and
gleaming in his eyes like sharpened blades, and she stared back
at him, realizing that he was repulsed by what he saw in her. The
death in her eyes. The gray of her skin. The sores that were
beginning to erupt on her mouth. The smell of sickness that
radiated off of her. And all that she could do in return was
smile sadly at him, feeling sympathy with someone who saw death
and recognized it as his own.
With that, the red Mustang drove off, leaving Buffy back in the
Gray mist drifted by her as the wind blew, and she hated the wind
more than she hated anything else in the world. After all, it was
the wind that brought the radiation to her. It was the wind that
infected her and made her vomit at night. It was the wind that
had cost her a molar the other night, and the wind that made her
mouth bleed when she kissed her lover. It was the wind that was
taking her life from her.
But it was the line that would give her control again.
The couple in front of her walked away from the small folding
table set up at the crux of the steps in front of the Capitol
building, and she was next in line. A woman with grayed skin and
a sour-looking mouth sat in a folding chair, and a stack of white
boxes with blue crosses imprinted on them stared hopelessly at
Buffy. She remained still for a moment, looking at the boxes with
the horrible knowledge that this was how she was going to end her
life. For inside of each of these boxes were two pills and a
syringe, all quiet, painless, and lethal. They were the
Australian government's final gift to its citizens.
Death in a box.
Biting her lip, Buffy stepped forward, avoiding the woman's dead
eyes as she picked up a box embossed with a blue cross with
shaking fingers. The cardboard simplicity of the box was cool and
damp, and Buffy tucked a lock of magenta hair behind her ear as
she took the box and quickly tucked it in her shoulderbag. "Um,
is there anything I need to sign or..." she asked, fidgeting with
her sweater and hair, uncomfortable as the woman stared at the
radiation sore blossoming like a rotten lotus on her lip. "I
brought my, um, passport and birth certificate, and I..."
"No," the woman interrupted, turning away from the sight of
Buffy's scabbed mouth. "There's nothing you need to sign. There's
not enough time to register. Just go."
Not enough time... Buffy stumbled as she walked away, losing her
balance briefly, trembling terribly from the horror of having to
deal with her own suicide in such a forced and brazen manner. But
as she left, she heard a fluttering from behind her. She turned
around to see the blue banner with the words "THERE IS STILL
TIME" imprinted on it in bold white lettering loosen from its
tethers and fall to the ground, rippling like a dying bird.
She had to get out of there.
She didn't return to her car quite yet. Instead, she walked the
streets with her head hung low and her hair blowing in the wind,
the cashmere sweater stained with raindrops and damp with her own
sweat. Broken glass hung limply in the windows of looted shops,
and smoke fizzled from fires that were dying underneath the rain.
People rested in sodden cardboard boxes, run out of their homes.
But the worst was seeing a man keel over with vomiting and fall
into bloodstained upchuck. Holding her hands over her mouth,
tears brimming in her eyes, Buffy ran into the first building
that she saw, desperate to shelter herself from the falling
world, and found herself in a place that she didn't want to be.
It was the same warehouse where she had danced in leather and
eyeliner, fucked men and done lines of cocaine off of broken
cosmetic mirrors. The same warehouse where she had first seen the
bombs fall on television and heard the news that Los Angeles had
been destroyed. The same warehouse where she learned that her
father, mother, Watcher and friends were all dead. The same
warehouse where she had been smoking a cigarette in a snakeskin
dress when she'd heard a familiar British voice murmur in her ear
words that she'd never forget.
//"You know, that's a nasty habit."//
And it had started an even nastier habit: him.
Shaking, Buffy walked into the warehouse, seeing no lights
glitter, no noises sounding, except for a soft piece of Chopin
playing while scattered couples danced slowly, dazedly on the
dance floor. Whether their hazed expressions were induced by
drugs or just by the sheer impossibility of their reality was
impossible to discern, and Buffy shivered as she sat down at the
bar. She pulled a pack of cigarettes out of her shoulderbag,
feeling awkward at dressing so casually in the club, wearing just
a pair of tattered blue jeans, Doc Martens and a gray cashmere
sweater dampened from water. She needed her protection. Needed
her men and her leather, her glitter and her makeup, and instead
she just had her cigarettes, her hair, and a white box of suicide
in her bag.
The bartender approached and offered her a drink, and Buffy
smiled a little sadly at him, revealing her scabbed mouth, ashen
complexion, and the small gap in the back of her mouth where a
tooth had fallen out last night. "God, yes," she said, and the
bartender smiled back, exposing that he had lost seven teeth
whereas she had only lost the one. "A red wine. Best Merlot that
you've got." Her smile faltered. "After all, there's not much
more time left."
The glass of wine came accompanied with a bottle, a gift from the
bartender. "Not much use for them, eh?" he said, and she took it
gratefully. It would be a nice thing to down the pills with after
telling Spike goodbye. A final present to the lover that she had
so oddly grown to love and loathe all at once.
A cigarette slipped from the soft pack of Marlboros onto the
floor, and she hissed, ducking down to retrieve it when another
hand took it instead. It was the boy, the Australian boy that
Spike had almost killed the night that the family had killed
themselves. The boy that she had almost fucked. He smiled at her
and took the cigarette. "You know, there are rumors floating
around that these are bad for you," he said, and she smiled a
little softly at him, looking at the torn gray tee shirt that he
wore along with his blue corduroy cargo pants.
"There are also rumors that breathing is bad for you," she
countered, and the boy laughed, actually laughed. "I remember
you, you know."
He grinned. "I remember you, too," he said. "Hard to forget an
American whose boyfriend bit me. Weird kink, you know." She
smiled a little, remembering her fury at his drinking him, and
the shadows that only he understood. Odd, that only Spike knew
who she was now, understood her history as a Slayer, understood
her Hellmouth and her friends, when the rest of humanity
couldn't. She'd fought him, hurled insults and cuts at him, tried
to destroy him for knowing her, and realized then and there that
it wasn't wrong to love him. Not when she had one day left and
one peach left to consume. It wasn't wrong to love him at all.
It was wrong not to.
She asked the bartender for a glass and poured the Australian boy
a glass of her Merlot, a present and an apology for what Spike
had done to him. He sighed and lit the cigarette for her, and
then pulled out a little white box from his cargo pants. It was
the same box that she had, the suicide kit, and she looked at it
with a heartbroken expression on her face. "Do you know what I'm
supposed to do with this?" he asked, and then he coughed a
horrible cough, wretched and shuddering, and she wanted to cry.
"No," she whispered, her voice dry and sandpapery. "No, I
don't... I don't know what to do with it either." Slowly, with
trembling hands, she opened up her shoulderbag and placed her own
kit on the table next to his, exposing to him all that he needed
to know and could have seen etched in her papery, ashen skin, her
sores and her missing tooth, and her shaking hands. "I don't..."
And then a seizing nausea ripped through her, turning and
twisting her stomach into dying hummingbirds, and she gagged,
until the bartender raced over and placed a tin bucket in front
of her. She threw up into the bucket, retching up blood and
stomach lining, her sores stinging from the stomach acid.
Moaning, she opened her eyes to see that she was throwing up into
a bucket already thick with other patrons' vomit. "This is the
worst," she whispered, blood dripping from her mouth. "This is
the bottom. This, right here, is it. And I still have one more
day left." She smiled a faltering smile, staring at the bucket.
"You know, I think that this is the first time that I've not
wanted that other day. I think I'm... I'm finally ready."
The bartender took the bucket away, and she closed her eyes,
taking the box off of the bar top and replacing it in her
shoulderbag. She leaned over and touched the young man's hand
with sympathy, and whispered in his ear with her sour breath.
"Take the pills when you know that there's no more time," she
advised, and then she stood up, watching him cry.
She walked through the club as Chopin's somber piano concerto
played throughout the club, gently washing through the patrons.
Young women with sores and missing teeth cried on lover's
shoulders. Others wept for the senselessness of it all. Some
stopped to vomit in between dances, and she knew that there was
no more time left for her. The last peach was senseless.
She was ready to die.
With that, Buffy walked out of the club, her fingers clutching
her shoulderbag and her suicide, and went back home for the last
His voice was ragged even to his own ears as he said it, and he
didn't care. He didn't care what she thought of him, if she
thought him weak or if she thought him cowardly, because he
refused to listen to it. There was still another day left. She
couldn't possibly want to do it this way. Couldn't possibly...
She stood before him in her gray cashmere, her hair streaming
down her shoulders like a polluted river of gold, and her eyes
were clear and sad. "I do want to do it this way," she said, her
voice soft and sweet, lulling almost. She was set against a
clearing sky, standing in front of the glass wall, light pouring
down from a full and ripened moon, while the dunes whispered
ancient secrets from outdoors. The box was in her hands with all
of its accusations and possibilities, the slender white rectangle
containing the way that she was planning to end her own life.
Pills and a syringe for the children... Christ, what a useless
way for these idiots to kill themselves with. "I'm ready, Spike.
I saw what was happening today, and I'm ready." Buffy swallowed.
"And I'm sick."
Sick... Furiously, he flung the box out of her hands, his voice
strangled and choked. "That's a lie!" he said, and she kissed
him, swallowing his words and his rage with her mouth. In it, he
tasted blood, tasted resignation, tasted the bitter coppery
sourness of vomit and erupting sores. And he could smell the
sickness radiating off of her, like a perfume of baking bread. It
was true, he thought in a daze as she kissed him with frail, dry
lips. She was dying. The radiation was taking her away, claiming
her, and she wanted to end her own life.
And he didn't want her to die.
Shock filled his body when he realized that he didn't want Buffy
Summers, the vampire Slayer, the tart in leather and snakeskin
with hair streaked like a chameleon to die. He wanted her to
live, wanted her to stay with him to flirt and wink and hurt him.
Reeling backwards, Spike backed into the glass wall, and she
cupped his neck in her hand, her thumb caressing the nape of his
neck with a gentleness that was almost benevolent. The tumultuous
sin that he'd seen in the warehouse at first was gone, replaced
with a woman who was tired and dying, fading into oblivion. "It's
true," she whispered softly. "I wish that it wasn't. But I'm
sick. It hurts to breathe. It hurts to cry. It hurts to..." She
swallowed. "It hurts to live. And I don't want to live this way.
Not another day, not another hour. I want to go." She smiled
falteringly at him. "There's no more time left."
Panicked, he shook his head, imagining dying. The demon inside of
him screamed, and the part of him that would always be him
rebelled as well. "You can't be bloody serious," he protested,
and Buffy kissed him again, her mouth sweet and trembling with
tears. "Stop," he whispered, parting from her. "Stop kissing me
like you love me."
"I do love you," she said, and he was appalled by the revelation.
She smiled a little at him. "Didn't know until the other day. And
I hated that I loved you. I hated that I could ever love someone
as horrible and evil as you. But there's no one else who knows
me. No one else who understands me. No one else that I understand
and know. And you cut where everyone else ignores. You always
have. So there's no point in being ashamed of it. Not anymore. I
love you, Spike. So let me die."
Torn, he turned away from her, the wings of his trench coat
fluttering behind him like a crow. Sickened by everything around
him, by the words from her mouth, by the confessions and
resignation, by the notion of losing her and caring about the
fact that he'd lose her, he looked out the window. What he saw
was a world made beautiful and tragic by neglect and nature, a
world dying and dwindling, and she was a part of that world. So
was he. She had days left on her without tonight, and he had
little time after that. Meaningless time. Time would be
meaningless without her, and her days were numbered.
"You can't do it that way," he murmured, looking at the
reflection that she cast and that he did not. "It's a coward's
way. A lame fucking way for anyone to die, with some sodding
pills or a needle. It's worthless to..." He choked on his words.
"Worthless to go that way."
Her words were bittersweet. "Didn't you always say I was
Slowly, he revolved to look at her, this girl with hair that made
up for the death inside of her, now refilled with a soft glow of
resignation. She had direction now, even if it was a compass that
pointed towards suicide. She was finally content. How could he
rob her of that? He had stolen everything else from her - he'd
give her the last hours in a wrapping of solemnity and peace.
"You're not worthless," he said quietly, and he hated that it
almost made her cry.
"How else should I die?" Buffy asked softly, gesturing to the
little white suicide kit.
Slowly, through eyes that were almost drunken with grief, Spike
smiled at her. It was an exhausted, grievous smile. Joyless and
yet almost tranquilized. "Your boy Angel once said something to
be right after he lost his soul and his plot," he said, and Buffy
dryly ignored the comment. "He said, 'To kill this girl, you have
to love her.'" His voice shook when he said "love", but she still
Her smile trembled when she looked at him, eyes despairing. "Can
you kill me yet, Spike?" she asked, and he took her in his arms,
his hands shaking when he swept up locks of her soft hair and
felt multicolored strands fall out at his touch, loosened by the
"Yeah, baby," he murmured, closing his eyes and brushing his
mouth against hers. "I can."
The night passed with quietude and gentleness, the rainwater
softening outside and clearing the glass window so that it was
easy to gaze out at the Australian beaches below. The rocks
glistened with damp moisture, and the tide receded to show
stretches of white sand and turquoise waters. They had waited for
dawn, indulging a final night of lovemaking and wine drinking.
Cigarette butts rested in cut-glass ashtrays that caught the
morning light and glistened like amber. The emptied wine glass
remained next to the two glasses stained with the mulberry
Merlot. Candles burned gently until she blew out the cinnamon and
vanilla, and walked upstairs.
Darkened shadows were lurking in the corners; she had turned off
the electricity a while ago to keep the house from burning down.
Everything was shutting down, and she felt a soft benevolence
embrace her as she dressed for her death. Simplicity was the key,
none of the wild outfits that she had donned for her warehouses.
She selected a white silk dress that fell to her knees and dipped
low in the back, revealing her tattoo that rested at the crux of
her spine. It was appropriate to forever be marked with a crown
of thorns. Slayers were always martyrs.
When she saw him, he was sitting on the bed, holding two peaches
in his hand. They decided to leave the other two in the basket to
rot as a memento of the world they were leaving behind. She
studied his face as he contemplated the peaches, feeling terrible
at the notion that she was going to kiss him for the last time
tonight and then give herself up to whatever fate awaited her.
She would miss drawing her fingernails down his spine, consuming
his lower lip, or licking the scimitars of his cheekbones. Didn't
matter, though. She needed to do this tonight, with her regrets
and her desires still fresh inside of her.
Softly, she spoke, not wanting to interrupt the quietude that he
was enjoying. "You know, I'm not that afraid anymore," she said.
"It doesn't matter what lies beyond. I'm cool with it." She had
made her peace with whatever God ruled the world. She'd lived a
full life, a rich and bejeweled life, and she'd be okay. She was
"Good," Spike said, turning to her. "Are you ready?"
Slowly, she smiled a little, and nodded. Somberly, he passed her
a peach, and threaded his arm through hers. In synchrony, never
tearing their eyes from each other, they bit into the fruit, and
she closed her eyes, savoring the flavor of culminating sweetness
as it unfurled like a flower on her tongue. It tasted too good to
be heaven, and so it could only taste of Earth. Of history and of
humanity, of freedom and of summer, of the things that had been
stripped away in ripping explosions. It tasted like everything
To him, the fruit was bittersweet, tainted with the knowledge
that his world was never going to be his again. Spike had no
choice but to do what he was going to do. Everything that he had
loved, the violence and the mayhem, the power and the pleasure,
was all ending, dwindling down into nothing, and the world that
he'd once ruled was rolling into oblivion. Tomorrow wouldn't give
him anything but soured memories and rotting fruit; tonight was
all that he had left.
The wizened peach pits were the only remnants when they finished,
and they both placed the pits on the nightstand next to the bed,
soft mementos abandoned for the possibility that perhaps someone
would know what humanity had once been.
Gingerly, she leaned back onto the bed, wincing as her sore body
rested in the cushions, her hair piling around her face in
streaks of crimson, gold, and china. Strips of dyed dynamo, of
borrowed bravado, all made real in these last moments. She was
prepared, and she felt the soft comfort of knowing that she'd
wake up without having to bear burdens or bare brittleness. She
would just... Fade. Slowly, Spike looked down at her, this girl
who'd once fired off beatings and barbs like they were second
nature, this woman who had stripped herself down to leather and
sex, and now this creature glowing like candles were lit in her
veins. She was a memorial made of skin and seafoam eyes, with
fire glowing underneath her closed eyelids.
"Do you regret anything, Spike?" she asked, and Spike grinned at
her with the mischievous heat that had always been a part of him.
"I regret not bedding you earlier, Slayer," he said, and she
smiled, eyes dancing at him. But then he shook his head, moving
away a stray piece of hair from her eyes. "But I don't regret
She smiled. "I regret a lot," she said, "but I think that I'm
forgiven for it."
And that was what she needed anyway.
Blush light began to permeate the heavy cloth, still protecting
him from the daylight but lending the room brighter hues. He
looked at the dawning lights, and she looked out there as well.
He slowly sat up, and she watched the shadows fall from his sharp
cheekbones, carved out of everything that should be beautiful.
"Time, luv," he said, and she nodded, swallowing the last vestige
of fear and consuming any lingering worry. Nothing to be worried
about, after all. Nothing that she could stop now.
She blinked back tears and stroked his cheek. "What are you going
to do?" she asked, and he smiled a little, certainty secure in
"I have a plan," he said, but wouldn't share more. She accepted
that - it was his right and his way.
"I'm not going to tell you that I love you," she said softly.
"Those aren't going to be my last words." She swallowed again,
her throat dry and parched. "I just want... Want to say that
everything was good." She smiled a little. "Everything was good."
Shortly, he laughed, but it was earnest and not mocking. "Yeah,
baby," he said. "It was good."
And with that, Spike sank his teeth into the ripe curve of
Buffy's neck, and began to drink, killing her in the way that a
thousand women with her power and passion had been killed before.
He gave her the finale of a fighter, of a warrior, of a savior.
He gave her the death of a Slayer.
The pain was fierce at first, but it slowed when he drank, the
life flooding from her and leaving her with emptying sweetness.
Gasping, Buffy arched her back into his bite, and then turned her
eyes to the side, feeling the life wane from her body with the
blessed slowness of his thirst. The curtains moved slightly,
revealing the world to her in a thousand flashes of memory.
Cherry blossoms raining as Giles shone his glasses. The kisses
that her mother bestowed upon her when she skinned her knees or
made a mistake. The trust of Willow. The understanding of Xander.
Everything in that small sliver of light. After all, what she saw
was the world that had nurtured her, the world that she'd grown
up in, finally revealed to her in carnelian and tangerine, in
carnation and cerise.
"Ah," she murmured, her voice weary from sickness. "Dawn."
And with that, Buffy died, eyes half open, drinking in the world.
For a while, he didn't move. Didn't speak. Just sat there on the
bed, holding her loose neck in the palm of his hand, frenetic
streaks of color racing over his hand. She looked quiet in
repose, wrong, blood pouring in small rivulets from the wound in
her throat. Eyes that were empty of the life she'd once had, a
soft, sad smile forever imprinted on her lush mouth, and bones
loose and limp rather than strong and able. She was his third
Slayer, and she would be his last. After all, Spike had made up
Gently, he lowered her head onto the pillows, tilting her face to
the side so that her halfway open eyes would never see the
daylight, and the vampire moved off the bed, leaving his victim
atop the sheets in the shift made of white spun silk. Her hair
gently spilled in its myriad of colors, and he could still feel
her inside of him, the power and the passion, the flavor and the
ferocity, throbbing through his veins. It gave him strength that
he'd always used to kill. He'd use it again for murder this time,
only the victim was predetermined.
The victim was standing in black, lightning hair shining, before
the door to the balcony, curtains still drawn tightly, and
therefore inches away from the daylight that he had always
He could still taste her memories on his tongue, the pleasure and
the pain, and he smiled a little rakishly at his nonexistent
reflection. Didn't matter how history remembered him now. Didn't
matter if he was written up as the king of broken bodies or the
vampire who'd once loved a broken Slayer. All that mattered was
that he was ready, that the world was finished, and he was about
to step into everything that had once terrified him. He had the
strength do it now. The acceptance and the courage. With that, a
grin tugged at his mouth.
After all, it had been one hell of a ride.
"Yeah, baby," Spike repeated again, still smirking. "It was
And with that, he tossed the curtains apart and let the daylight
Thank you *very* much for reading this story - it came from a
dark place and maybe ended with a little light. Thank you again,
Heather, for being the fine beta reader that you are, and for
supporting this work from its conception to its ending. You're
the most supportive editor I could have ever possibly known, and
a damn good friend, too.
Feedback would be *greatly* appreciated :)