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[start of fic and notes]

'I love you' is a thing you say to people who are dying

by Quinara


Season 7. Buffy/Spike. Some Watchers survived, because sometimes people do.

[breakfasts I]

breakfasts II

Patrol was… Well, it didn’t really happen. Buffy did the route around the cemeteries, looking for nests she could bring the girls to, but like everything else in Sunnydale these days it seemed the usual demon pestilence was running at half-staff. She found nothing. Obviously she still staked a few fledglings and she stalked one guy who looked older – but he led her to the Bronze and it quickly became a choice between staking him or letting this evening’s drunk co-ed get killed.

The bouncer was there, the one she’d talked to about Spike before, when he’d been killing again. Buffy thought about asking him if Spike had been by that night, if going to the Bronze was what it meant to seek out the dragon. She didn’t want to look pathetic, though, so she just acted it and went home.

Spike was still gone at 4am, when she gave in and retreated to her rest.

The next morning, Buffy was up early, ready for another school week. The Potentials were outside with the Watchers while she and Dawn had breakfast.

At least, Dawn was having breakfast, chowing on her Wheaties. Buffy had OJ.

“So,” Buffy asked after a swallow. It didn’t taste particularly good, food, but she knew that was a thing that happened to her when the stress came. “What’s the plan for learning stuff today?”

As she also swallowed, Dawn shrugged. She clattered her spoon back into the empty bowl and pushed it away on the counter. “Kit’s super sure that Mr. Figueira’s gonna give us a pop quiz,” she said. “She thinks he has a tell.”

“Really?” Buffy replied. Mr. Figueira was… Geography? OK, when she even worked at the same school it was embarrassing she couldn’t remember. She was a lousy sister. “What is it?”

“Oh, you know those stupid clip-ons that make his glasses sunglasses?” Dawn continued as though Buffy actually did, which was sweet of her. It had been months now, but Buffy still found it creepy to go into the teachers’ lounge. She preferred spending lunch at her desk or off campus. “When we have class at the end of the day he always snaps them on, but Kit thinks he plays with them more when he’s planning something, like he’s enjoying himself.” She gestured. “Flickety-flickety-hmm-I’m-gonna-set-a-pop-quiz-click.”

Revelling in evil? It sounded like Buffy’s type. She raised her eyebrows, “And have you studied for this pop quiz?”

In the glow of the morning sun, Dawn looked angelic. Also, guilty. “Not exactly,” she began slowly, before she quickly sped up, “but I spent all of last night reading this monk’s account of evil’s manifestations during the middle ages, and that was in French and Nigel helped me with the vocabulary, so I figure when Mr. Fig asks me about the political system I can wing it? Le Conseil des ministres est l’organe exécutif…

Buffy blinked at her. She’d forgotten Dawn was taking AP French.

I guess the Watchers are doing that part of my life better too…

The back door opened at that moment, and Buffy was extremely grateful for the save. “Hey! It’s Xander…” she said as she saw who came through the door. He looked – weirdly intense for a Monday morning. Anya was trotting behind him, pulling on his arm, which was extra weird. “Dawn, go get your stuff,” Buffy said, with a glance for her sister, mostly because it was the end of the sentence that started with heying Xander, but also because it seemed like she should be out of there.

Mostly looking grateful to escape Buffy’s inquisition, Dawn slipped down from the stool and left the kitchen.

“Buffy,” Xander said, inevitably. “We need to talk.”

All this time Buffy had been standing, so now she slipped into one of the spare counter chairs. “What about?” she asked warily, setting down her half-empty glass of orange juice.

“I’m telling you, lackbrain,” Anya interrupted as Xander opened his mouth. The insult was bizarrely affectionate. “You’re not gonna wanna hear it.”

Buffy tried to look quizzical, while Xander looked sheepish – before he glanced at Anya and the frown was back again. “OK,” he said, before he sighed. “So this is hard for me to tell you, but I’m your friend and friends tell each other stuff like this. I want you to know that this comes from a friendly place and we’re here for you.”

It was not clear what he was saying. Glancing between Xander’s earnest expression and Anya, who was rolling her eyes, Buffy wasn’t really sure what to think. “OK…”

“I know you’re probably gonna say it doesn’t matter,” her friend continued, raising his hands in a conciliatory way. “But I know you, and Willow said… And what I’m hoping is that it’s not something we have to worry about, you know, danger-wise – but…” Again, he looked to Anya, who gestured impatiently as if to say, go ahead, as if she still thought the whole conversation was ridiculous. “But we were driving home last night, from the hardware store –”

“And the supermarket,” Anya butted in. When Buffy looked at her, she started busying herself by putting the milk away.

“– and we saw Spike.”

Really, Buffy was confused. She looked back to Xander. “OK…?”

“He was…” Xander set his jaw, like he was waiting for the backlash, sympathy in his eyes. “He was with a girl,” he finished. “They were… They were making out.”

“Wait – what?” Buffy said, before the words had sunk in. “Did you say…” Shock. This was shock, she was feeling. “Spike? And a girl?” It had better not have been…

“Oh, no,” Xander interrupted her immediately. “Not a Potential. I don't think, anyway.”

She hadn’t seen Spike since last night, was the first thing Buffy thought. She didn’t know where he was or if he’d even come home. Maybe he’d got impatient with her; maybe he’d been wound up and…

In an instant, she was imagining it, how she’d sat in this very kitchen with a glass of apple juice (trying for variety), while he’d been out. Maybe – maybe even at the Bronze – he’d picked up some girl and she’d taken him home. Only they hadn’t made it back all the way; he’d been so hungry for her that he crowded her up right on the street, grinned that wolfish grin he got before he…

In Buffy’s head, this girl looked a lot like a certain Watcher, which made her realise she was actually losing it.

“Hang on a second,” Buffy interrupted her own thoughts, while Xander remained silent, the pity still in his eyes. “You were driving home from SuperSave?”

Anya snorted, banging cupboards. “Yeah,” Xander confirmed, his voice soft with sympathy. “But Buffy…”

“But SuperSave closes at ten,” she pushed on, pointing at herself. “I was with Spike until eleven.”

Oh.

It was precisely the same moment, as far as Buffy could tell, when she and Xander figured it out. Her eyes widened as she watched his do the same and she knew, she knew she couldn’t accuse him of doing anything he shouldn’t have been doing.

“Seriously, Buffy?” was what Xander said. He looked so disappointed. “You and Spike?” For a moment, he looked speechless, just like Buffy felt, and then, “The guy tried to rape you.”

Everything in Buffy’s body seized up, the way it always did when she remembered. At some point, it was going to stop happening, at least Buffy figured so, but it turned out that that day was not today.

Nearly a year afterwards, at least, she was strong enough not to break Xander’s gaze. And so Buffy saw it, the split second when he said it, how the look crossed his face like he’d just pulled a particularly effective weapon. The look was gone a second later, chased away by regret, and Buffy couldn’t be sure Xander even knew what he was doing. It hurt, though, maybe more than the memory, which at least was not a present concern.

“Really, Xand?” was how Buffy’s mouth fought back, though, before the rest of her had even caught up. She was so far behind it. For this instant, the rest of the kitchen was an uncanny, disassociated soundstage around her. Xander’s face was like a picture, coming into focus; Anya a shimmer of movement. “Are you sure? ‘Cause, gee,” she spat, “you know, I think I might have forgotten otherwise, with so much suckiness to choose from last year.”

Standing over the table, but not quite over her, Xander had the grace to look embarrassed. Anya yanked on his sleeve once, catching Buffy’s eye. From the expression on her face, she’d seen this coming. More than that, she knew and could recall just as well as Buffy did that there had been no cry for vengeance from the bathroom that night.

God, she could remember it. The shock, the fear, the rage that had then wrapped her up in its warm, shielding burn. By the time that had died and Xander had appeared, all Buffy had had was acceptance and this weird sense of loneliness. Partly because Spike had just finally proven himself to be everything she’d said him to be but never quite managed to feel – at least so she’d thought at the time – but also because she’d recognised even then that no one was ever going to get just how screwed things had got between them, to take them to that point.

“I’m sorry,” Xander said, finally, breaking into Buffy’s thoughts. He eased himself up onto one of the other stools, casting a glance towards the noise in the hallway before he spoke again. Someone was coming down the stairs, maybe Dawn, but they paused halfway and turned back like they’d forgotten something. “I shouldn’t have said that.”

Xander looked at Anya, who widened her eyes like she was reminding Xand of something. In any case, from what Buffy could tell it they had talked about her, about this, which was just swell.

Ultimately, Buffy didn’t trust herself to say anything.

“I…” Xander began again, awkwardly. “I guess I never know how you can be so forgiving. I mean, Spike is…” He glanced at Anya before, earnestly, he looked at her again. “Even without everything going on with the First, the guy’s… He’s dangerous, Buffy.”

“I… I guess he is,” Buffy replied easily, eventually. She felt it burn inside her as Xander looked surprised. As a relationship prospect, she wasn’t entirely sure what she felt about it, but as far as they apocalypse was concerned? “I say that’s a good thing.”

He reeled back, her friend. Anya remained still, a frown on her face as she looked at the mess on the counter.

Buffy felt defensive, and it made words bubble up out of her. “You wanna know what’s going to beat this thing? It’s not safe. It’s not reasonable. OK,” she conceded, tapping her fingertips on the tabletop as she searched for words, “this thing with Spike, I didn’t plan it, but all of us, we should –” she shoved forward, into her hands, trying to make Xander see. “We should be dangerous.”

This time, though, for once, Xander didn’t rise to the bait. As grim as he’d looked before, he frowned, pausing a while before he replied, “I get that, Buffy, you know? I hear you.” For a moment he smiled, but then that quickly faded. “The thing is, I worry about you, and we’ve been here before. The undead comes back with a soul and you keep it a secret from your freiends. And then you…”

“It’s not the same,” Buffy interrupted, keeping eye contact. Her voice was soft, though. Not least because if Spike was downstairs, she didn’t want him to hear this. “Spike’s not…” She swallowed, unable to resist looking away. “By the end of it, he wasn’t a threat to anyone but me. And even then… It’s not the same.”

“So sue me,” Xander replied, with equal and welcome gentleness, “but it wasn’t the rest of us that took the brunt of it the last time.”

The stairs clattered again, right at this moment, and seconds later Dawn was running into the kitchen, “Sorry! Sorry!” she breezed, panicking, hauling her shoulderbag with her. “I’m ready!”

All three of them reacted, turning to stare at her.

Dawn paused, looking between them. “What?” she asked nervously.

It was a big sister’s responsibility, Buffy realised, to tell a little sister things like this. Otherwise somebody else would. “Dawn,” she said, as straightforwardly as she could. Her sister’s eyes were wide. “I guess I should’ve told you, though it’s only really been a couple days and nobody else knows and it wasn’t a secret anyway – but…” Buffy confessed, “Spike and I may or may not be a thing.”

Seriously, this was ridiculous. Buffy hadn’t even talked to him about announcing it. And, crap, he’d been so pissed off about the thing with the soul that maybe…

“A thing that’s more of a thing than the thing you already were?” Dawn replied, interrupting Buffy’s thoughts. It made no sense, but it also did, and even without the sceptical look on Dawn’s face it made clear that this wasn’t entirely news. “Wow, TMI. Thanks, Buffy.”

Rolling her eyes, Buffy hopped down from the counter and raised her hands in surrender. “OK, whatever.” She scowled; Dawn smirked. “Let’s go.”




It went fine, that day. Most of it. The sky didn’t fall in and everything was going fine until she came home. The girls were on a break before whatever ridiculous entertainment Andrew had planned for the evening, so they were everywhere. Picking through the crowd room by room, it seemed as though nothing eventful had happened while she was gone, so Buffy eventually wound herself up in the dining room – where Willow and Althanea were working on the house wards.

Buffy sat down and they caught her up. Yes, the First was stronger than they had hoped. Yes, they were working on it. Yes, they had a few ideas about using the Hellmouth against its latest spawn, given how they were tapping into that dark energy anyway.

It didn’t sound altogether sensible, but that was where they were these days.

Eventually, Althanea left to make a cup of tea. That was when Willow glanced around, shuffled her chair forward and leaned in to whisper in a whisper that was probably meant to joke-angry, but mostly came across as pissed off, “How could you not tell me?”

“What?” Buffy asked in an equally low voice, though she was sort of able to guess. She leaned in as well; glanced around to check no one was paying attention.

Willow scoffed, “About you and Spike, duh?” She actually appeared annoyed. “What, you’re all ‘why do people in this house’ to me and then Dawnie gets this whole speech?”

“I…” Really, Buffy didn’t know what to say. She shrugged helplessly, trying to make sense of what Willlow wanted from her with her needy eyes.

It had been a long time since the morning, but apparently not long enough. All day Buffy had wondered what would happen when she came home, and this wasn’t anything like the worst scenario – but she still wasn’t sure how to react.

“Xander was flipping out, OK?” Buffy tried to explain, hoping this could all blow over and they could all get back to talking about the books in languages Buffy couldn’t read – all stacked hallway down the table. “I think I reassured him, but then Dawn was there and it seemed easier to…”

“Oh, Xander’s way past flipping out,” Willow informed her, like this conversation was far from over yet. The Rosenberg Codex was well abandoned. “You can’t shut him up. He’s been hitting his hand with the hammer all day – which is kind of funny the first time – but…”

Just great.

As Willow trailed off, settling into a frown, Buffy waited. It wasn’t completely clear that she knew herself what she was complaining about, and Buffy wasn’t about to prompt her.

It kind of hurt, this whole reaction – from Xander and from Willow. Maybe it made sense, because there was baggage, of course there was, but as far as Buffy was concerned she hadn’t really kept a secret. What was, so far, a fairly chaste weekend fling was not any kind of deal that needed an announcement in the Revello Drive Gazette.

“Why are you asking me this stuff, Will?” Buffy eventually found it within her to say, aiming to make peace. “I mean, you didn’t tell me about you and Kennedy.” There had to have been flingage there, right? Before the semi-public holding of hands and the full PDAs? “It just, you know, came out naturally. I didn’t plan on keeping it a secret this time, I swear, I…”

“But that’s the thing,” Willow replied sadly, her voice still close to a whisper. “This time. Me and Ken don’t have the history you guys do, Buffy. And things are so up in the air, you should’ve –”

Buffy interrupted dully, “I should’ve what?

Willow didn’t say anything, not immediately, and Buffy wanted to have an argument about it, get it all out in the open, but she also really did not.

Sighing, she looked around. There was a group of girls loitering in the hallway, chatting about something Buffy couldn’t hear. It was a sixth sense or else plain paranoia, but Buffy was convinced they were talking about her. Maybe her and Spike, maybe just her and her failures.

“Look, we’re only gonna get this thing if we trust each other,” Willow said eventually. “Right?”

Buffy glanced back her way. Honestly, she didn’t know if that was true. “Sure,” she said anyway, forcing a smile.

“We can… We can still talk, you know?” The sympathy in Willow’s eyes was heartbreaking. Buffy didn’t know how to tell her that she didn’t need it, that this wasn’t about her feelings. This was about… Something else.

Even so, that wasn’t the answer Willow wanted to hear, obviously. “Of course we can talk,” Buffy said. “I love it when we talk.”

The girls in the hallway laughed. The sound of it made Buffy’s insides curl up.

“I love it when we talk too,” Willow agreed, smiling.

The thing was, after that, it didn’t seem as though either of them could think of anything to say.




People started making dinner pretty early in Casa Summers. There was a rota, but mostly it was Andrew and Dawn and whoever wanted to help out that day. For some reason Anya seemed to enjoy it: she was in charge of the food budget anyway, so it made sense for her to be involved with the actual meal preparation.

This was when Buffy checked out. If she ate anything, it was later; usually she made do with the lunch she’d had in town that day. She didn’t like the crowds, really.

Usually Spike was awake, around dinnertime, smoking or hanging out where the hungry mortals wouldn’t bother him. Today, though… Today it turned out, when Buffy went to find him, he was asleep.

Clearly he had come home, at least, no matter how late. He was out for the count in the basement, sleeping like he always had: flat on his back with his limbs spread out at angles. One arm was hanging over the edge of the bed, where Buffy could only assume his magic, vampiric, supernatural circulation was saving him from pins and needles.

He did wear pants these days, which was different – and probably a good thing. Even with them, the sheet had slipped almost to waistband level, scoring a diagonal line across his abs. They could put a soul in him, it seemed, but they still couldn’t quite make him teenage girl appropriate.

It had been a long time since Buffy had been a teenage girl – and even longer since she’d felt like one. Nonetheless, she admired him. He looked peaceful. Quiet – but in a hot way…

There were options here. Several. The obvious one was to go back upstairs and leave Spike to it. The other was to wake him up, with no better excuse than that she wanted him to entertain her. Then there was the third.

Slipping out of her boots, Buffy approached to take a closer look at what she had in front of her. By her judgement, there was a Buffy-shaped gap, just about, between Spike’s chest and the wall, and it looked as inviting as heck.

She’d had a shitty day, dammit. A really shitty day which had mostly been normal, but also pretty shitty. She was tired, like she was always tired.

With every ounce of slayerly co-ordination, then, Buffy sat on the end of the bed, avoiding where she could see Spike’s foot through the sheet. Holding the wall for support, she scooched backwards, turning so that she could slowly, carefully settle into the gap between Spike’s chest and his arm and tuck her head into the hollow of his shoulder.

Spike was a heavy sleeper. It was just how he was. Somehow he managed to wake up if there was a threat, but most of the time when he was out he was out. It was no surprise to Buffy, because of that, when he didn’t seem to notice how she lay her head on his chest, how her arm wedged between them came to rest with her fingers grazing his ribs, when her other arm relaxed across his abdomen.

The last time she’d touched his naked torso for this length of time had been when she’d been rescuing him from the First, so it was a new and different experience, really – but she was fine to have it on her own. She was fine to let her eyes fall shut, just for a little while.

This was different between them, she promised herself. They were different people.




“…ffy? Buffy, love, wake up. You can’t hide down here all day.”

Later, however much later it was, Buffy woke up to find that she’d moved. Spike was still pretty much in the same position, so she doubted it was him, but she was very much on top of him now, one of her legs between his and one of his legs between hers, her upper body sprawling over his ribs and – other parts. It was definitely a Spike arm that was looped around her back, though, so he wasn’t entirely innocent.

Refusing to open her eyes, in any case, Buffy just groaned. “You’re comfy,” she complained.

Spike sighed. Buffy figured it was mostly a response to her stroking his pecs like he was a pillow. The side she was touching up had a remarkable lack of scars, too, so it was nice to feel. Mmm, pointy nipple…

“You’re insufferable…” Spike muttered when she fingered it again. He did move his hand from her back, though, knocking on the crown of her head like she was supposed to let him in. “What’s happened now?” he asked bluntly.

Pouting, Buffy opened her eyes and raised her head to look at him. She was awake again, it seemed, but even as she dug her chin into his sternum, Spike didn’t seem all that sad about it. “What makes you think something’s happened?” she asked, fisting up her groping hand so it couldn’t keep fiddling. Dangerous, she heard herself say in her head.

With his fingers now tangling quite happily into the hair around her shoulders, Spike looked at her down his wrinkled chin. He raised an eyebrow.

“Xander saw us together,” Buffy decided to admit, cutting the charade. She looked up to the wall, so she wouldn’t have to deal with Spike when she said it, just cobwebs. Then she rolled onto her side, back into the crook of Spike’s arm to say the rest of it towards his chest. “He thought I was someone else, like you were not-cheating on me. So like a good friend he told me about it.”

“And…?” Spike asked, his ribs marking out his breaths.

Buffy shrugged, as much as she was able. “We got things straight, in the end,” she said.

“Right,” Spike acknowledged.

It was kind of underwhelming, his reaction to this news. As the silence grew, Buffy found herself a little annoyed about it. “Don’t get, you know, overexcited about it or anything,” she said eventually.

“Sorry, love,” he replied, not sounding it, more sounding tired and grumpy. “Didn’t realise it was a reward.”

Annoyed for real by that particular line, Buffy sat up. Even though his arm had never dropped its hold on her, he was looking away right now, out into the darkness of the basement. “What the hell is your deal?” Buffy asked him. “No, it wasn’t a reward.” It was too soon for him to start blowing cold on her, surely? At least, Spike never really had, so…

“Is this what we have now?” Spike asked morosely, turning his head back to look at her. “I wait down here in the dark; you come and find me?” He rolled his eyes. “Only this time with the sanction of Scoobies…”

“You wanna go upstairs?” Buffy asked, not comprehending. She knew Spike got bad dreams sometimes, so maybe this was that. The look on his face was as though she wasn’t really there, or like he expected her to vanish any second. It left Buffy completely unsure what to say.

Spike swallowed, shaking his head. “No,” he told her, “I…” Then he sighed, as if he was scattering away some particularly troublesome thoughts from his head. “What do you want?” he asked seriously.

It was difficult. Buffy wasn’t sure what she was supposed to say, whether she was supposed to keep pressuring him to tell her what was up or whether it was better to do what he wanted and give him something of her thoughts. If that would be better. “Well,” she began, hoping that she could at least get them back to where they’d been the night before. “I was kind of hoping for my reward. I mean, I’ve been so good…”

Even as she said it, as her eyes dropped to Spike’s sexy chest, Buffy didn’t really see it coming. In one burst of action he had her flipped over, so her back slammed into cotton and the wind whistled out of her. The mattress squeaked and the bedframe creaked, but then a hundred and fifty pounds of half-naked vampire was shoving itself roughly down her torso, so most things in the world were OK.

“Hmm…” Spike breathed when their faces were aligned, his eyes somehow still bright in the murk. There was a smirk on his face. Everything in Buffy was made of butterflies. “A reward you say?” he murmured, touching four fingers gently to her cheek.

“Yuh-huh?” Buffy whispered back, daring him as much as she could.

Some babbling brook of relief swelled inside her as Spike lowered his head. He nudged their noses together, murmuring something into her lips that Buffy couldn’t make out. Then he was kissing her, his hand sprawling so the pads of his fingers pulled slightly on the roots of her hair.

It was slow, this kiss, and somehow steamier than the others they’d shared. It felt like the early evening, which they were in, and for some reason Buffy felt like she had all the time in the world, to snake her arms around Spike’s neck and remember exactly how they did this best.

Of course, the way they’d landed wasn’t entirely comfortable – at least not for Buffy, because her shirt was caught all funny and dragging on her neck. Because of that, and because it was fun, there was a certain amount of tustling around. Languid between moments of roughhousing, Buffy got herself settled a little higher in the bed, Spike’s hips between her thighs.

That brought the rest of him as well, obviously. The thing was, Buffy didn’t quite have enough shame not to wrap her legs up behind him and squeeze. Spike was already in her mouth, so it made all the sense in the world to have him butt right up where it could make her gasp again.

When he did so, something hummed along the edge of Buffy’s senses that she hadn’t felt in a long time. It felt pretty good. So good, in fact, she didn’t gasp so much as whimper.

“You feeling rewarded yet?” was what Spike asked as their mouths broke apart.

There was something in his eyes, but Buffy just nodded – tremulously. She squeezed him against her again until he dropped his head back to the kissing.

It was obvious what was happening, after that. Spike shoved into her again – then again – while Buffy’s every finger clung to his scalp and her tongue dove as far back under his as she could reach. The mattress squeaked like the supercouple’s in the dorm back above hers and Willow’s. Buffy had always thought the sound was like some sort of donkey in distress; she and Willow had never talked about it, for reasons of ick, so that was all she had. It definitely fit this particular bed.

Had Spike overheard, Buffy wondered, what she and Xander had talked about? He was in a weird mood, no question, even as he took her hands and squeezed. Overhearing her and Xander was the only explanation she could think of. Either that or something really had happened on his night out, though probably not with another girl.

Buffy hoped it didn’t matter. She hoped it wouldn’t matter to Spike that the sound of the bed wasn’t classy, just like it didn’t matter to her. Back when it had been bad between them, Spike had brought her off like this at least three if not a dozen times, maybe with more rubbing, in various graveyards around town. It was always when there’d been a lull in patrol, a moment of feeling lost, but when there was still the possibility she would have to fight at any second.

It was kind of the way they were living now, with the First. It made this part kind of suitable. OK, it was crazy to go this far – crazier than kissing him had been. All the same, Buffy knew she wanted it; she could feel the desperation crawling up inside her with every moan that left her mouth. More than that, everybody knew about them, it seemed. At least the people who mattered. They were expecting this. They wouldn’t have been shocked if she’d slept with Principal Wood.

The both of them, they were starved for this. It wasn’t long, after all, before they were gulping air practically as much as they were kissing, sweating into each other’s hands and pressing sniggers into each other’s faces. Buffy’s eyelids flittered between open and closed and she was hot all the way through to the middle of her. It was the thing, the problem; she was holding on for dear life and Spike’s cock was hitting into her. Steady, blunt nudges of it was sending shockwavey ripples right through everywhere she had no defences.

Really, she was shivering a lot, eventually, and she was almost grateful for the reprieve when Spike broke from her lips with an, “Mmpfh!”, thudded his forehead slightly too hard into hers and refused to rock back from where he had rocked forward.

Gasping for any sort of oxygen now, Buffy let herself shiver.

Spike’s eyes were big circles she had difficulty making sense of, filling her vision. When he muttered, his voice seemed distant. “Right,” he said. “Any more of that and… I am bloody sick of that washing machine.”

It was all about the journey, really it was. They didn’t have to get anywhere and they didn’t owe each other anything. Nonetheless, Buffy couldn’t help but whisper, “Don’t stop.”

She could feel herself growing cold, steadily – clammy with it. It had to be that Spike felt it too, yet he shook his head against hers, gulping so hard she could feel it through her hands on his jaw. “Buffy…” he breathed her name, sounding desperate.

There was a move in him to pull away – Buffy felt that too. Before he could, however, she returned an old favour and flipped him over onto his back. Her shirt was plastered to her spine; as she sat up she reached down to take it off.

In that instant, though, Spike’s hands smacked onto hers, just shy of her wrists. “Buffy,” he said more seriously. The whole of his face was visible to her now, and looked like he meant his words. “Don’t do this.”

It was almost conciliatory, really, the way he said it, like she could be embarrassed. Almost like she should be embarrassed.

“Don’t do what?” Buffy asked him directly, feeling it as the looseness in her limbs started to stiffen up. “What am I doing that’s so wrong?”

“Nothing,” Spike replied, but of this particular thing he didn’t sound all that convinced.

For a moment, Buffy didn’t say anything – but then she realised there wasn’t anything to say. Nodding once, she swung off of Spike’s hips and back onto the ground, which was hard and cool through her socks.

“I got us an in with your dragon,” was what Spike said as he sat up, watching as she put on her boots as though this was normal and fine.

It was good news, of course – useful news. Right at that moment, though, Buffy wasn’t feeling it. “You know,” she told him when she had her shoes back on, when she realised there was actually something for her to say after all. “Xand gave me a real hard time about us.”

Spike raised an eyebrow. It was stupid, Buffy knew, to use her words as weapons, to make everything she experienced a way of wounding him. Sometimes, though, it felt like it was all she had.

“He said you were dangerous,” she continued. There was no reaction on Spike’s face, just some sort of calculating gaze as he took her all in, like Buffy was the one behaving irrationally. “I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was wrong.”

Still sat on the side of the bed, a bulge between his hips and both hands clutching at the sheet underneath him, Spike was infuriating. He looked at her with pity, like she was inevitable. It was though all of this had happened before and was going down exactly as he had expected. “I’m not trying to hurt your feelings,” he told her bluntly. “You should ask yourself why you’re here.”

“So, the dragon, huh?” Buffy replied, ignoring that line of attack. It was insulting. “You’ll enjoy that, I guess,” she added, looking him up and down. “I mean,” she added, taking the memory and turning anyway, “the part where it’ll burn you to touch me – I’m sure it sounds great.”

For a moment they stared at one another, a wide, aching thread of the unspoken drawn between them.

Then Buffy had had enough. Leaving Spike behind her, she stalked purposefully back across the basement, quite ready to find something else to do with her evening, no matter how lonely she felt. Before she could make it back to the basement stairs, though, Spike was up on his feet. He came up behind her, one hand on her elbow so that he could pivot around in front of her.

“Oi,” he said, his eyes burning. “Don’t talk rot.”

It was enough to make her burst into tears, really it was. How was anyone supposed to handle all of this, to know what was going on with someone who acted this way? “Why don’t you want me?” she asked, because she was weak and tired and sticky.

Spike immediately dismissed her question, “Fuck off.” As he said it he gathered her close, two naked arms around her back so he could cradle her waist and the back of her head, press her face into his throat. Buffy went willingly, shutting eyes against her own weakness. He kissed her hair. “You know it’s not you,” he said like she should have known it. She did – she really did – somewhere deep inside. “I’m still…” Spike continued with a sigh. “You don’t know what it means for me to want you.”

“I wanna understand,” Buffy replied into his chest, because she did, actually. “I want us to be…”

She didn’t finish. Spike didn’t reply, and neither of them said much of anything, didn’t really move, until the basement fell into absolute darkness and they knew it was time to go.

.

[breakfasts III]

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Quinara

December 2015

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