Reviews • Rating: NC-17
Summary: There was no body to bury. There was no funeral. There was nothing but the three rules and the knowledge that a thousand years of torment was nothing compared to a world without her in it. Spike embarks on a journey through the Gates of Hell to rescue the one he loves, but in order to save her, he must risk losing himself.
Chapter Notes: I know it’s been a little longer than I planned since updating, and for that my apologies. Between birthday, graduation, a trip to Vegas, Christmas (six of them this year, three with my family and three with my boyfriend’s), my boyfriend moving in, and New Years, I’ve been fairly drained. I’m almost finished with Chapter Eighteen, though, so I figured there was no harm in updating with the chapter I’ve had in storage the past few weeks. Hopefully, you guys will forgive me.
This story, as well as others, have recently won awards at the SunnyD Awards and The Rogue Poet Awards. The Writing on the Wall won for Best Angst in Spike Pairings, Best Characterization for Spike, Best Drama, Best Original Character for Larry, Best Conventional Pairing and Best Plot for Spike Pairings. Southern Comfort also won for Best Romance and Best NC-17 for Spike Pairings. My Wesley/Faith story, Elements, won Best Unconventional Pairing, and my Willow stand-alone, Healing Crystals, won runner up for best Quickie Fic. Thank you so much to everyone who voted, and to the wonderfully kind person who nominated me. It really made for getting back into the writing spirit.
Likewise, The Writing on the Wall won Best WIP at The Rogue Poet Awards, and I won runner-up for Best Author. Thank you so much!
Spike was admittedly a man of many mistakes, and when he made one, he felt it with every fiber of his being. However, awareness didn’t prevent him from repeating his missteps. He wasn’t one for regrets—the moment was what mattered, those in the past couldn’t be repeated, and it didn’t figure to dwell on them. His life was a living piece of art; some strokes less attractive than the rest, but ever evolving into something grander than himself. The past was gone and couldn’t be rebuilt. All he had was the moment in which he lived, and all the ones to follow.
This particular philosophy had served him well most of his life. Then he’d met Buffy, and with every botched decision, every step of the path not taken, regret drilled into his brain until he couldn’t think, much less sleep for wondering what could have been had he performed just a little better, just a little quicker. If he hadn’t been such an enormous lunk and fucked everything up with a simple vow.
Buffy had changed everything.
And now here they were. Buffy so far removed from herself, sleeping soundly in his arms, warm and soft and alive, and trapped in Hell forever because Spike had made a promise.
A promise to get her out.
Spike sighed heavily, eyes tracing the contours of her perfect face. He’d waited so long to get here—to spend a night with Buffy in his arms. He’d waited so long, given so much, and within an hour of seeing her, of touching her, he’d broken what could not be broken.
He wasn’t one for regrets…except when it came to the things that mattered.
No lookin’ back, he thought, sighing heavily and rolling onto his back. Buffy fell with him, her cheek nestled against his chest, her soft breaths tickling him on every exhale. She would awaken soon enough…his sleeping angel, captured forever in a barren wasteland of misery and despair. Her eyes would shine when they found him. Her mouth would curve into a smile he didn’t deserve. Her hands would touch and he would tremble, and it would be like this forever because he couldn’t die and neither could she.
There was a kicker. Age couldn’t kill slayers. While he wasn’t terribly surprised, it was a pleasant thought. For as long as he was around, Buffy would be with him.
She would be in the world…somewhere.
“Guess we solved an age old question, din’t we?” Spike murmured, curled fingers exploring her cheek. “Knew time couldn’t do you in. You’re too much like us. You’re just like us…jus’ on the other side is all.”
He watched her a minute longer before sighing again and turning his eyes to the walls. The walls on which she’d written her story, even if the writing was twisted into hieroglyphics only Buffy—the Buffy he loved, the Buffy locked inside the girl in his arms—could decipher. Perhaps morning had brought on new realizations, or perhaps he was bargaining with himself for redemption, but even with his foul-up in the promises department, there were certain truths that sleeping had unlocked. Certain things he understood, or hoped he understood, where last night emotion had blocked rational thought from making a dent in the tidal wave of his self-loathing.
He’d made promises…to Buffy, he couldn’t keep them contained. And yet nothing momentous had changed since the words had escaped him. Their exit had disappeared, yes, but nothing else. At the very least, he would have expected Larry to pop in, flash him a gotcha grin, and disappear in a villainous cloud of smoke. The fact that he hadn’t seen hair or hide of the ugly git since arriving was the only thing keeping Spike from unleashing his fury on himself.
Even if promises hadn’t played a role, he couldn’t fathom a scenario in which Larry let him walk out the way he came in. The brute’s own words had forewarned that exiting wouldn’t be nearly as simple as entering had been; the cavern would have disappeared with or without promises.
Spike had devoured blood that wasn’t offered, so much as there. He’d made promises to Buffy, who was in Hell but not a part of it. Willow hadn’t mentioned there being any loopholes, but right now, he had to believe they existed. He couldn’t allow everything to collapse now; Spike was many things, but quitter was certainly not on the list. No matter what, there were always ways. Bloody always. If not this, then something else, and he would find it.
Buffy would not spend an eternity in Hell. Promises made or not, Spike would find a way.
He would get her home.
The look in her eyes would remain with him forever. The flash of brilliance, the joy, the hope she exuded with a simple smile was enough to cripple giants. Perhaps the night had been unkind to her, but if she’d had nightmares, they hadn’t been violent. The only thing Spike knew was, from the way she looked at him, Buffy had very much expected to wake up alone.
“Fancy a shower, love?” he asked conversationally as she picked at leftover warthog meat. The blood he’d drained was cold and coagulated, but he forced it down nonetheless. His rumbling stomach would, at the very least, shut up for an hour or so, and there were more pressing concerns at the moment than his appetite. “Can’t be too sure of anything, but I think it might make you feel more like yourself.”
Buffy wiped her mouth and grinned at him. Absorbing every word even if she didn’t understand a thing she heard.
“Not really a manual on this sort of thing,” Spike continued. “With amnesia victims…I’ve seen on the telly, anyway…they say familiar surroundings helps trigger the memory. Nothing familiar here, of course, ‘cept yours truly, but getting you cleaned up…might help a bit. What do you say?”
He could have told her anything he liked and received the same reaction. Right now, as she was, Buffy would follow him to the ends of the earth.
And he hated it.
“Finish up, pidge,” he said, nodding at the pig meat. “We’re goin’ for a walk.”
The streets were just as they’d left them. Endless, achingly empty, accented with whispers that followed them with every step. Buffy didn’t seem bothered by the whispers; of course, she’d grown accustomed to them over the centuries. They weren’t voices to her, and perhaps, eventually, they would fade into the horrid nothing that encompassed the nameless city. Spike didn’t know, and he didn’t want to be here long enough to find out.
And he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t. He would find a way home before the buildings became familiar or the streets etched paths into his brain. Before Hell became home for him—before this world became his world, as well. He would. He would find a way out, and he would guide Buffy back to where she belonged.
He had to try.
Spike didn’t know how long they had walked before he had to break the silence. She remained attentive at his side, fingers curled through his, her bright eyes meeting his every few seconds with a grin that shook his core. How long had he waited to be the reason for her smiles? How long…trailing her in the cemetery, diving into the midst of her scuffles to pretend he’d saved her life, sacrificing his body to the whims of an unstable god—so much, all to see her smile. And she had repaid him in kindness; she’d kissed his lips, granted her compassion, invited him into her home, entrusted her sister into his care, and allowed him closer than he had ever deserved.
That was the Buffy he knew; the one who had understood him in those last days, who had kept blood for him in her refrigerator, who had jumped to his defense when his presence was questioned by her friends. She might not have smiled at him, but she understood.
This Buffy was all smiles but she didn’t understand a word. And in turn, he had the one thing he wanted at the expense of what he loved most. Now, even with her smiles, with her hand in his and her body so willingly snuggled into his side, he wished for his Buffy back. He wanted her back so badly, if only to feel the sting of her fist smashing against his nose. For that smidgeon of normality that would give him the small victory that he’d at least dragged her out of the vast sea in which she’d lost herself.
“Scent’s stronger here,” Spike found himself saying. “Road looks a li’l familiar, too. Reckon this is the way I came.”
Buffy just looked at him.
“I fell into the river. Think I told you that.” He nodded at the road, his eyes fastening on a doorway that looked slightly more familiar than the others. Then again, that might have been his mind playing tricks on him. The buildings might as well melt into one—he couldn’t recall anything particularly distinguishable from the place at which he’d showered the day before, but for his own scent lingering in the air, he felt he was on the right course. “Yeah,” he murmured. “Think this is where I came. It’s not much, but I know there’s runnin’ water in there.” His brows perked upward and he shrugged. “Fancy that. Running water in Hell.”
There was no response. She just smiled her blank smile and watched him, feet following his lead when he turned to approach the building around which his scent was the strongest.
“Yeah,” he mused. The scene remained unchanged from the snapshot he’d memorized the day before. The scattering of boxes and trash, the turned over pieces of furniture, and the sense that the place belonged to someone…the sense that even in this wasteland, they might not be alone. “This is the place. Follow me, love.”
The words weren’t needed, but for the break they provided, he would keep speaking them. Buffy clasped his hand tightly, stepping over what he stepped over, twisting where he twisted, and even mimicking the small grunts he emitted when the floor groaned beneath his feet. The staircase was where he remembered, as was the bedroom to which it led. He found his discarded, blood-soaked jeans tossed into a corner and his tee draped over a gutted teddy bear. Everything looked untouched, unchanged, yet he still felt as though he was tainting a crime scene.
Strange. Things that wouldn’t merit a second thought back home weighed him down when he was in a foreign land.
“Shower’s this way,” Spike said, fingers tightening around hers as he led her through the far door. “Kinda funny when you think of it. Spent a bloody year trying to get you naked an’ now all I gotta do is turn on the faucet.”
There was no response. He turned to face her, feeling all at once timid and awkward. The words were easy enough to say—easy enough to talk about in passing while he was standing in the bathroom of a vacant warehouse with the woman he loved. And yes, he knew this was the best thing he could do for her, but there was a very large part of him only now emerging from its three hundred year hibernation. He’d always loved her—always, even when he hadn’t known it—but he hadn’t thought about caressing her bare flesh or kissing her sweet lips in longer than he cared to consider. Rotting from the inside out tended to kill one’s sex drive, even one as potent as his. Spike had only been a man remade for a day. His body remembered sex but he hadn’t felt it, touched it, or experienced it in so long he’d forgotten what lust felt like.
Oh, but he remembered wanting her. Wanting Buffy. He remembered standing outside her bedroom window, torturing himself with the echoes of her faked passion against Riley’s enthusiastic grunts, knowing full well it should be him sharing her bed. It should be him touching her, caressing her, unlocking her body’s secrets in ways no one had before attempted. Since she became a part of his life, Spike had been consumed with the want of Buffy. He’d yearned for her, craved her, and needed her so bloody badly he could hardly stand getting up each day for knowing it would get him no closer to what he desired.
But a bloke had to try, and he had. He’d tried, and he’d gotten closer than even he had thought possible. He’d gotten to her somehow, some way; he’d made her see that his love wasn’t the sick infatuation she’d labeled it. Through time and effort, he’d proved it was real. He’d proved himself to her and her friends. He’d made himself worthy, and in the end, she’d believed him. If nothing else, Spike knew that Buffy knew he loved her.
It was why she’d graced his lips with her kiss.
And that was all. A kiss. Buffy had left the world without feeling even a flicker of the inferno he felt for her. Three hundred years later—a millennia in her shoes—he stood in the bathroom of a warehouse in Hell. He’d brought her here to get her naked, and while he’d known to what lengths the suggestion could lead, he hadn’t thought about this—about being intimate with her—in so long. The days in the cave had been spent just wanting to see her face. He’d ached to touch her, yes, but his mind had long detoured from getting her warm and wiggling beneath him. He’d just wanted to touch her, to feel her skin under his fingertips.
It had been ages since he’d thought about sex. Now he was standing with Buffy—the woman he loved, the woman he craved—and for the first time in centuries, he remembered fully what it felt like to be a man. The spark, the craving, fired back through his veins with a triumphant roar, screaming it had never vanished, rather retreated until such a time when calling upon lust again made sense.
There hadn’t been reason to lust until now. His body was whole again, and he was with her.
He was with Buffy.
“Hey,” he said suddenly, desperate to get his thoughts away from her body, the body which would be naked under his hands in a few short seconds. Her body which he would not touch… No, good God, no, he wouldn’t take advantage of her like that. Not here.
And yet, for all his trying, his cock had stirred to life after lying dormant for centuries, and couldn’t be talked down. Spike inhaled sharply, tearing his eyes from hers the second they landed home. It was wrong—God, it was so wrong. Buffy didn’t remember him; she didn’t remember anything. She wasn’t even Buffy where it counted, but for fuck’s sake, it didn’t matter to his prick. His prick hadn’t been around a woman in ages, and with blood warming his veins, Buffy smiling those innocent smiles, he found himself crippled with lust so compelling it nearly drove him to his knees.
“‘m sorry,” Spike said suddenly. “I don’t…Buffy, I have no idea if you’ll remember this or anything, but I’m sorry for…” He glanced down at his irreverent cock, pressed firmly against the denim zipper. Swollen, aching…he couldn’t remember his last erection. “No. I’m not sorry for this. I love you—you an’ I both know it. And I haven’t had a stiffy since before I left to find you…so this? I can’t help this. I’m a guy, you’re a knockout, and since you’re…you…I can’t just switch this off. But I don’t want you thinking that what we’re doing in here is for this…for me, because it’s not. This is for you. I’m doing everything for you.”
Buffy just blinked at him.
“I know it doesn’t make any sense to you,” he continued, sighing and running a hand through his hair. “An’ I don’t know when you’re gonna be back…to yourself. I just needed to say it before I take your clothes away. It’s been a long time for me, pet…an’ you’re all I’ve wanted. This here is…you’re the flame an’ I’m the moth, if you catch my drift.” Spike looked at her a minute longer before breaking away, blinking hard and turning his eyes to the mirror. Again, his eyes clashed with his reflection, startling him for a second with the stark contrast in how he looked in actuality versus the memory he had of himself. His blond hair traded for brown locks, his extremely thin frame, the worn scars stretched across his skin—scars that would have already faded in a world with structure. Perhaps he would carry those scars forever.
“Oi,” Spike said, nodding at the mirror as he dragged his tee over his head. “Check it out.”
She turned in the direction indicated, a frown creasing her brow the second her eyes clashed with her reflection. She stared for a long minute, tilting her head, making faces at herself—a child discovering one of life’s simple pleasures for the first time. When she was through studying her mirror’s twin, she turned to Spike and waved a hand.
She pointed at the mirror.
Spike looked at her a minute longer before lifting his eyes to his reflection again, tilting his head and grinning when she grinned. It had likely been centuries since she’d wandered anywhere that she didn’t need to go—her days consisted of hunting, cooking, eating, and sleeping. Venturing into the city’s vacant buildings wasn’t a needed step…not after she discovered there was nothing to be taken from them. He hadn’t spotted any mirrors in the place she called home and figured it was safe to conclude she hadn’t seen herself in lifetimes.
“Remember this, pet,” he advised, nodding at his own reflection. “When we get home the mirror’ll look a li’l different. Vamps don’t reflect…not in our dimension, at least.” Spike sighed, his fingers curling around her forearm and gently coaxing her to face him. “Raise your arms for me,” he instructed gently, running his hands along her underarms until they were stretched above her head. He did his best not to tremble as he dragged the shredded clothing up and away from her body, and likewise tried not to swing his gaze downward and gawk at her exposed breasts like a prepubescent teen.
“This idea really seemed good on paper,” Spike muttered. He lowered his shaking hands to the torn slacks she had dragged around her waist, distracting himself briefly with idle speculation as to how she started dressing herself in the first place. Likely, once her name was forgotten, she observed she was already in clothing and retained that for the hunt. There was no way of knowing how long she’d been dressed like this—without others with whom to interact, growth and evolution was damn near impossible. She had the warthogs for food and the whispers for torment, but nothing tangible with which to relate.
No one to touch. No one to hold. Larry hadn’t visited her, hadn’t gifted her with a parade of spectral faces from her past. No, he’d simply left her to lose her mind in an unforgiving landscape…and she had. She’d wandered so long without anyone at her side that she’d lost what it meant to feel a caress from someone who loved her. It was why her eyes grew large every time his thumb danced across her hand—she didn’t know this. This—being touched like this—was the greatest thing she could remember.
Spike inhaled sharply as the fabric around her waist pooled at the floor, jaw clenched and eyes cast downward.
She wouldn’t want this.
No, she wouldn’t…not in the way he remembered. Yet even if Buffy snapped back to herself in a moment’s notice, too much had changed to believe her mentality toward him remained the same. She might never look at him the way he looked at her, but she wasn’t callous, and she was smart enough to reconcile what was happening and what he’d done to make it happen.
What he’d done to get here.
This wasn’t home.
Thus, with that in mind, he allowed himself to look. Allowed his eyes to trail upward, take in her bronzed flesh, linger on the thatch of dark curls between her legs before finding her breasts. And Christ, was she beautiful. Standing without any sense of self-awareness, her eyes confused but unembarrassed, her body his for the taking if he so chose.
This Buffy would allow him to touch her. To caress her. To make love to her. This Buffy would welcome him.
This Buffy wasn’t his. This Buffy was like his reflection—fleeting, a glimpse of something changed by circumstance, something alterable. This Buffy wasn’t the same girl who had jumped. Her skin was rougher, darker, her nails un-manicured, her legs unshaven. Her hair was a long, dark tangle—far from the sun-kissed shampoo-commercial blonde that had teased him with every toss. Her body was a map of cuts and scratches, some fresh and others aged. She was a vision in her own right…a reflection of herself warped by time. And while she was still the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, her appearance alone stood as a stark reminder of what had happened over the past thousand years. How she’d lost herself—how she’d regressed.
Spike’s jaw hardened. He dragged his eyes away with borrowed strength, doing his best to ignore the painful swelling of his cock. Too long. Too long. He’d been without intimacy for too long—and Buffy was the one temptation to which he could never succumb.
Not like this. He was strong enough. He could resist.
“Dru was sick for a long time,” Spike found himself saying, his mind a haze and his mouth unsure of where this train of thought was headed. His eyes landed on a razor lying crooked on the edge of the sink, which he quickly placed on the top ledge of the shower door. Further investigation produced a pair of scissors on the floor and half a tube of toothpaste in the cabinet behind the mirror.
He grinned in spite of himself. Only Buffy could conceive a hell where the terror came in her surrounding’s normality.
“Don’t know if I ever told you what happened in Prague,” he continued, kicking off his shoes and quickly shedding his jeans down his legs. His cock sprang to attention without warning, jutted proudly outward for appraisal. Spike shook his head and tried to ignore it, moving instead toward the shower. “What happened doesn’t really matter,” he said. “But I took care of her for a long bloody time. Brushed her hair, dressed her, bathed her…nabbed her all the tasty townies she wanted. It’s been a while, yeah, but I figure there’s only so much…”
Buffy wasn’t listening; Buffy was staring intently at his cock.
She frowned, confused, looked at herself and then at him again.
“Boys an’ girls are different,” he explained sheepishly, eyes darting away just as quickly. Foreign sparks of heat stretched his cheeks—he honestly hadn’t thought it possible for vampires to blush until that moment. Perhaps he’d never been well and truly embarrassed before, and considering his long career of being wrong off his ass, that was a true accomplishment. “I…urrr…well, we’re different. An’…I…let’s jus’ get in the shower, pet, yeah?”
Her frown didn’t dissolve. Of course it didn’t—he could explain the differences between men and women until the world collapsed in on itself and she wouldn’t have any idea what he was talking about. Better to turn his attention to what he’d come here to do before his cock started doing his thinking for him. “Buffy—”
It took feeling her fingertips against his prick before he realized she’d reached for him. Spike’s eyes went wide. His every nerve sparked to life. A strangled gasp scratched at his throat, and he had her wrist snatched before she could pursue her exploration. It was all he could to ignore the hard trembles tearing down his back. “No touching,” he managed between pants. “I can’t take it.”
God, he hated himself for the way she balked in shock. As though she’d done something wrong. As though there was anything wrong in touching him. She thought he was angry, and the knowledge positively unmade him. “Oh, sweetheart,” he murmured, raising a hand to her hair. “Don’t…it’s not you. You drive me crazy. So bloody crazy. You have no idea. Wanted you so bad before…before you…an’ I grew to love you after. Even after I woke up after that dream…I din’t know how much I loved you until…I just didn’t know. But now…I haven’t touched a woman in so bloody long…and now that I’m whole and with you…now…it’s you, pet. I’ve wanted you since the moment I first laid eyes on you. Outside the Bronze, remember? Wanted you since that moment, even if it took me ages to suss it out. But now, right now…I can’t…I love you more than I can…an’ I can’t have you touch me right now. Not when you don’t know what it means. What you mean to me.” There was a long pause. Spike held her eyes as long as he could before turning away and reaching for the shower nozzle. Focusing on this would do neither of them any good. He’d come here with a purpose, and the faster it was complete, the faster he could return to safe ground. “Enough of this,” he continued. “Let’s get clean.”
He felt her eyes burning through his skin with every move he made, and he had to force himself not to look at her again until twisting the shower handle. She jumped a bit when water sputtered and began to rain upon the ceramic, but she moved under the nozzle under his encouraging nod.
“Here,” Spike said, moving in beside her. “Jus’ hang tight, love…I’m gonna take care of everything.”
And he did. No matter how difficult it was, no matter that every touch of her skin made his erection stiffer and his heart ache for the ability to pound, he ran his fingers over her soft, wet skin with an ease his body envied. Dirt browned the water and raced down her legs, spiced with flakes of red here and there where wounds had scabbed over and chipped away. He soaped his hands and ran them down her arms, caressed her stomach, scrubbed her neck, washed her face, and grinned when she smiled and sighed beneath his touch.
“Showers,” he explained. “Bloody brilliant, eh, love?”
Buffy hummed her approval, stretching her arms above her head and inadvertently bumping her breasts against his chest, her hard nipples grazing his flesh. He nearly choked on a whimper. A beat—Spike swallowed hard, blinked, and moved away again, this time collecting the razor he’d placed on the shower’s edge. “Stand still for me, now,” he murmured, gathering the bar of soap and dropping to his knees. “This might sting.”
His hands weren’t going to be any help for the way he couldn’t stop shaking, and the last thing he wanted to do was knick her this first time. And yet, there was no way cleaning her up and making her as true a version of herself as she’d been before the jump could hurt matters any, therefore it was imperative he place his emotions on hold and gather control of his rampaging hormones long enough to make sure he didn’t do something stupid.
“Still,” Spike mused again, painting her legs with soap suds. “That’s my girl.”
He’d never been so careful with a blade in his life—large or small, sharp or dull. And Buffy didn’t budge. She just stood and watched, standing perfectly still under his hands as he shaved her legs clean. His eyes remained studiously on the track taken by his hands, painfully aware that her quim was just inches from his mouth. And Christ, did she smell divine. Warm, thick, feminine…and wet. Wet in ways he hadn’t smelled or dreamt in centuries. Wet with that perfect womanly honey he longed to drench over his fingers and paint over his tongue. He hadn’t done anything or touched her inappropriately…but she was wet.
Buffy was wet for him.
“Mmmm,” Spike murmured, his eyes rolling heavenward as the razor trekked up her thigh. “Buffy…”
She whimpered in response.
“Can’t make this easy, can you?” he replied. A few finishing strokes rendered her legs smooth as bloody silk, and he wasn’t done yet. He shifted behind her without a word, hoping she’d ignore the eager prod of his cock against her rear. “Raise your arms again for me, pet.”
There was no way she could follow that instruction without direction, which he provided the next second. Spike inhaled sharply, guiding her and doctoring her armpits with the razor before casting it aside completely. “Almost done,” he whispered, reaching for a bottle of unlabeled shampoo. It was the same he’d used the day before, and while it wasn’t his favorite, it worked better than nothing. There was no scent to it—nothing of the frilly girly aromas with which Buffy had so often taunted him back home. It was merely clean and there was nothing more he could ask in that regard. It was more than he could have hoped for in Hell.
With the larger tasks completed, Spike was left again desperate for mechanisms by which to keep his mind occupied. The situation was becoming real again—becoming something his starved body couldn’t ignore. Buffy’s warm flesh was pressed against his chest, his erection poking her backside, his fingers massaging her scalp. Every few seconds she would whimper her encouragement, fingers slipping over his thighs and gently scratching his skin. Showering was something so ordinary, so commonplace. Something he’d taken for granted back home—like so many other things. And with Buffy with him, touching him, moaning and teasing him with whiffs of her arousal, it was difficult to separate fantasy from reality.
So often over the past few years he’d lost himself in fantasy. Whether it be of the Buffy who had kept him company in the cave, or the dozens of different scenarios he’d entertained before the Tower, before Buffy had jumped. Things he hadn’t remembered—things he’d tried so hard to forget. A thousand different things performed a thousand different ways. He was only a man—a man with a warm, willing woman…a woman he loved, and she was whimpering under his touch.
He couldn’t touch her the way he wanted. He couldn’t feel her the way he wanted.
Buffy wasn’t really with him. Buffy was still trapped somewhere—hidden in a place he could not find. The girl in his arms was the one for whom he’d searched, but she’d buried herself so far inside her Id that identifying the real thing might take…well, he didn’t want to think about how long it would take.
But he couldn’t touch her. She could whimper and moan and…God…
Unthinking, Spike lowered his mouth to her throat, tongue tracing her perfect skin as his hands slipped up her abdomen. She was so warm. Buffy. She was so warm, so wet…and it had been so long…
Her breasts filled his hands, her nipples poking his palms. She whimpered and mewled and he sucked harder at her flesh. God, she felt so good.
He didn’t want to stop. Neither did she. Every time he tried to drag his fingers away, she hissed in protest. The fog surrounding his brain was too thick—the line between right and wrong blurred. It had been so long. So long…
“No.” Spike growled and tore himself away, releasing her harshly as his feet staggered back. “I’m sorry. Buffy—”
She whirled around, her eyes wide.
“Boofay,” she offered quickly. Helpfully. “Boofay.”
“Yes, sweetheart, I—”
“Boofay. Boofay.” She took his hand in hers and guided back to her breast, and only then did he understand. “Boofay,” she said again. “Boofay.”
She was trying to please him by speaking. She wanted…God…
“Don’t…I can’t.” Spike forced his eyes downward before he broke completely, hating the devastation wrought across her face. She hadn’t been touched in a millennium. Not by anyone—not tenderly, not like this. Where he hadn’t felt a sensual touch in generations, she’d forgotten pleasure altogether. She’d forgotten how it felt to be caressed and loved. She had nothing to measure it by…and he wanted to give it to her. God, how he wanted to give it to her. A moment of pure pleasure in a world that offered none. Cast aside protocol, ignore the boundaries of right and wrong, and give her something she couldn’t remember feeling.
She hadn’t been touched in so long…
Perhaps it wouldn’t be wrong if it was all for her. If it wasn’t for him. If he gave without taking…perhaps it wouldn’t be wrong.
“Guess I can’t go to Hell if I’m already here,” he mused, allowing his eyes to meet hers again.
She immediately seized the opportunity to try to impress him. “Boofay,” she insisted again, though her voice cracked. “Boofay.”
It hit him like a silver bullet. This was Buffy begging him.
She was begging him.
“Boofay,” she said again, sniffing and blinking back tears. “Boofay, Boofay, Boofay—”
And that was it. Something snapped, and the decision was made for him. Spike stepped forward, murmuring softly and stealing a swift kiss off her lips. That would be all he took for himself. A kiss. And though brief, it left his mouth tingling and his body weak with need. The widening of her eyes confirmed he’d taken her by surprise, but before she could move in to explore his mouth again, he slipped his hand between her legs and nestled his fingers through her curls.
“It’s all right,” he whispered, kissing her brow. “Spike’s here. Spike’s got you.”
Her breath caught and she fell silent, her eyes drifting shut. And though he yearned to explore, he forced himself to remain quiet and motionless for a second—just a second. The vision she presented made his insides shiver. Needy, desperate…he’d never imagined Buffy desperate for anything. Never. She was so resolute, so steadfast, so ferociously independent, and that was why he loved her. Well, a why among thousands. She was strong and self-reliant, confident and snappy. She didn’t tremble or beg—he’d learned the hard way that she didn’t beg—and she never asked. She was a creature of doing. A woman after his own heart.
Solitude had broken her, and she’d been alone so long.
“Don’t hate me when you remember,” Spike pleaded softly, walking her back until she was pressed against the shower wall. His lips trailed across her face as his hand began a slow exploration of the wet, silky flesh between her legs. “I just wanna make it go away. Don’t hate me when you remember.”
He began softly, ever mindful that she could change her mind in a flash. Mindful that she could feel something she didn’t recognize, experience something she couldn’t identify, and shove him away before her body unleashed secrets she had no idea how to reconcile. But even as he pressed her further, wandering fingers slipping between her drenched labia to tenderly caress her molten flesh, she did nothing but shiver and moan. A long, uneasy breath hissed through his teeth, eyes glued to her face and soaking in every sigh. She whimpered so timidly, as though afraid of being heard.
“God, you’re beautiful,” Spike whispered, brushing a kiss across her cheek. His fingers wandered deeper, thumb finding her clitoris and relishing the harsh gasp that rode off her lips. He edged two fingers inside her tight opening, not venturing far but wanting to feel her. Needing to feel her—needing so much, but made whole with this alone. “Yeah, sweetheart. That’s it.”
Buffy’s eyes fluttered open and locked on his.
“Stay with me. That’s it, sweetheart, stay with me.”
There were a thousand things he wanted—a thousand things. His mind was on record, memorizing every expression she made, every gasp she gave him, every everything, because this was something he would never have again. Outside the wondrous fantasy she gave him—this moment of pureness and warmth in the midst of the nightmare she’d created around her. She gave him so much without even trying.
“So beautiful,” he whispered again, tenderly massaging her clit. She was so soft, so slippery. His fingers were drenched with her honey, and with every breath she whispered for more. More of the everything he wanted to give her.
She asked without knowing how, and there would never be enough. Not of this. He peppered kisses across her face and held her trembling body against his, wanting more, wanting this to last forever. Wanting so much of what he couldn’t ask. And when she trembled and came around him, squeezing his fingers and drowning him with her soft, sweet cries, he knew what he had.
What he’d had here. In this corner of Hell. He’d had something perfect.
He’d had perfect. This here…this was his perfect.
And it was all he could ever ask.
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