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.
Buffy wiggled with a grimace.
“If you don’t hold still, it’s just gonna hurt more.”
More wiggling, this time accompanied by a scowl. She looked too cute to be threatening.
Spike paused and chuckled at that. If Buffy were actually with him, the thought alone would have cost a black eye. As it was, he could barely keep his chest from swelling every time his eyes caught hers in the mirror. She wore nothing but the green tee he’d had on the day before, which was at least a size too large…and while the clothes weren’t his, he’d claimed them, and seeing her in something he’d worn was dangerous. It stirred urges that hadn’t been stirred in years, marking her to the satisfaction of the inner primal male and proclaiming her as his.
It was only a shirt; the wiser option, as it was either this or naked. There was no way he was putting the clothes she’d worn back on her back…not when there was a healthy supply for the taking.
Spike held her eyes in the mirror, trying and failing to suppress a grin. “Never would’ve figured it,” he mused, jerking the brush’s bristles through another tangle. “Toughest bird I know, defeater of gods, an’ you’re afraid of a little hairbrush.”
She looked for a minute as though she resented the statement before her expression melted into a whimper, effectively killing his mirth. Her hair was in an unmanageable tangle, twisted and knotted through years of neglect; making every stroke was more painful than the last. And even though he was loath to cause her pain, he found this to be the most familiar, easiest task he’d undertaken in three centuries. Taking care of the woman he loved was something he knew. Something with which he was intimately familiar…and something told him that Buffy at her worst would still be buckets better than Dru at her best.
“Not sure what you do for fun around here,” he continued awkwardly. “’m willing to take suggestions.”
Buffy whimpered and tried to duck away, only to be caught in Spike’s arm.
“Ah, ah, ah,” he chastised. “Not so fast, love. Still got a few tangles.”
She mewled again before settling into a firm sulk. It didn’t do much good. Spike smiled and tightened his grip, though he couldn’t keep his heart from melting. There was no force more powerful than the Buffy pout. “I know it hurts, love,” he cooed encouragingly. “Just look at me. Watch me.”
Her gaze locked with his again in the mirror. There was such intelligence there—such fiery wit. Sparks of the real girl thrived well within her eyes, trapped behind a barrier she couldn’t lift. It was so strange having her with him and missing her at the same time. Buffy was still far away, locked inside herself, and the one-sided conversation he pursued with her reflection only strengthened the need to touch her again.
Spike’s jaw tightened and he shook his head, turning his eyes to the ground. No. No. What had happened in the shower could not happen again. No matter how wonderful it had been, how glorious it had been. How his mind couldn’t help but drag him back to those few blissful seconds where he’d shown her a world beyond misery. How he’d felt her gasp and pant, how he’d felt her strangle and drench his fingers with her rich, tantalizing honey. It was over, behind them, and it didn’t do any good to dwell on what he couldn’t have.
Not until she was with him. Really with him.
“I miss you,” Spike murmured softly, nuzzling her hair. “Wherever you are. God, I miss you so much.”
Buffy blinked and quirked her head. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to stir him back to himself. In an easy second, he’d plastered on a smile, as the brush in his grip unraveled another tangle.
“No worries, kitten,” he assured. “It’s all right.”
One thing at a time. Right now, his attention remained with her hair. Next, it would be with catching the night’s meal. Buffy would emerge when she emerged; wishing did little more than make the girl who needed him feel inadequate, and he couldn’t bear making her more self-conscious than she was for the simple crime of having lost herself after a thousand years of silence.
None of this was her fault.
None of it.
Spike sighed, his eyes dropping to the edge of the sink where he’d placed the scissors. “Fancy a haircut?” he asked.
Buffy’s nose wrinkled.
“Bloody miracle you’re not Rapunzel,” he commented, running his fingers through her freshly-combed hair. “Don’t worry, pet. I love your hair. Jus’ gonna take off a few inches, is all.”
A foot or so was more like it, but words made little difference. Spike inhaled sharply, draping her hair between the blade wedges and keeping careful watch of her face the second he snipped her length away. Hair was important to women—even the batty ones like Dru—and though it had been lifetimes since he found himself in the position to intimately care for anyone, his hands didn’t shake, his mind didn’t set traps for him, and he didn’t second guess himself. He knew Buffy. He knew every tendril, had a mental snapshot of the way her golden locks framed her face, how her hair bounced in the middle of a fight. He knew every inch of her so well.
His hand didn’t quiver. Didn’t hesitate.
He couldn’t doubt when he knew her better than he knew himself.
“There,” he murmured, brushing wisps off her shoulders. Her hair hit her where it had when she jumped, best to his memory. It wasn’t the best style she’d ever sported, but already she looked better than she had the day before. She looked more like herself. “Pretty as a picture.” He paused when her eyes met his, her hands exploring the job he’d done. “Know it’s not what you’re used to, but I’m no bloody stylist.”
Buffy’s fingers curled in her hair, her eyes shining at him.
“Come on,” he said, ushering her toward the adjoining bedroom. “Let’s see if we can find somethin' other than my shirt for you to wear.”
Spike reckoned in all his life he’d never worked so quickly to put clothes on a woman after taking them off. Given what had occurred in the shower, he didn’t trust himself to keep her in any state of undress too long. His senses were too keen, his body starved for touch—starved for her—and parading her around in all her glory was essentially waving a willing meal before a ravenous man. In a flash, he had her covered in an oversized long-sleeved navy cotton shirt and a pair of black leggings which, much to his dismay, did little to sate his voracious appetite. If anything, a wet-haired, wide-eyed Buffy, still flush from her orgasm and dressed in men’s clothing was more lethally tempting than anything for which he could have prepared himself.
There was no preparing for this. For the wonderful torment of having her so close, so willing, yet so completely off limits.
Better to get his mind on a different track altogether. Spike whistled a long sigh and shook his head. There was nothing more he figured on doing here—the prime objectives conquered. Buffy looked brilliant and smelled divine, and while she was still far from the picture in his memory, she was closer than even he could have hoped.
“No frilly scents,” he observed. “You weren’t one to over-pamper, but I know you fancied lavender. Used to spray it on before every patrol.”
Buffy smiled, entertaining herself with her oversized sleeves.
“Time to head back, then.” Spike moved forward and took her by the arm. “See if we can find another roast for tonight.”
She nodded as though she understood and placed herself faithfully at his side, mimicking the steps he took and the curves his body made as she had when they first arrived. The empty streets appeared a shade darker, marking the maturation of the day as the perimeters of the dimension spun toward nightfall. He hadn’t planned on spending the entire day at the warehouse, but somewhere between shaving Buffy’s legs and cutting her hair, he’d lost track of the hours.
God, he’d really fucked himself over. Convincing himself he was acting on her behalf, telling himself it was what she deserved—something she needed after lifetimes without anyone to touch. Something that wasn’t at all for him.
Only of course it was. It was entirely for him. The way she smelled. The way she sighed. The way she whimpered and arched against him, her soft, silky pussy around his fingers, drenching him with liquid desire. Things he’d only imagined before—forbidden fantasies that had driven him mad in life and death. In a blink, every pang, every twist, every jerk his battered heart had ever endured, his overactive mind had ever suffered, blasted through the walls solitude had built. His sex-drive revived, his body pumped with harsh waves of crippling lust…and he’d allowed himself a touch.
He’d allowed those fantasies to take shape. He knew things now—things he could only before imagine. True, he’d always known how she smelled when she was hot; he’d sniffed her enough when they first met. From the beginning, in good ole Sunnydale High that night they first came together in battle. She’d been so warm, so fiery—her body spiced with arousal and adrenalin. She couldn’t hide from him then—not as she learned to in the years that followed. She’d been so young, virginal, unschooled in ways girls didn’t appreciate until after adulthood had seized them fully. And while, yes, she had grown up much sooner than any teenager ever should, she’d possessed such precious innocence when they first crossed paths—innocence that couldn’t be described. Innocence that once lost was lost forever. And in the early days, she’d let him know in a thousand ways how easily it would have been to take the forbidden. How he could have claimed her without any struggle at all. She might have loved Angel, but her teenage hormones left her a time-bomb that would have gone off for anyone who gave it attention. He'd enjoyed fusing and defusing her, especially knowing he could have ignited her fuse any way he pleased. She might have hated him then, but her mind was still open, curious, aroused by danger and anyone’s to conquer. She would have let him have a taste if he’d pursued it.
The fantasies had started back when she barely qualified as a pedophile’s wet-dream, and time had only strengthened his hunger. The more he knew her, the more he wanted to know her. Her beauty and allure increased with each day, flavored her life with experiences that had made her into the woman with whom he’d fallen in love. Her soft girlish skin had smoothed into a woman’s curves and the punches and kicks they’d traded were exchanged for verbal skirmishes, not to mention more pops in the nose than he cared to relive. She’d grown up before his eyes, and while he’d always been obsessed with her, while he might have loved her since the beginning, there was no match for the woman she’d become. The woman he’d braved Hell to find.
The woman he’d had only vivid fantasies to call upon, until he let his dick convince his brain that touching her when she couldn’t know what it meant was the right thing to do. The thing she needed when she couldn’t known right now what she truly needed. When she didn’t know him beyond the understanding that his presence meant she was no longer alone. He’d always had her scent in his nostrils and her taste in his mouth, and he’d known how her skin felt beneath his fingertips from the few times she’d allowed him to touch her. He’d had those things before to bolster the fantasies. And now…
Now he had everything in his imagination filled in for him. Her moans. Her sighs. Her gasps. Her honey. Her warmth.
He had everything.
Christ, he shouldn’t have touched her. He shouldn’t have allowed those fantasies to know reality.
She’d unwittingly given him the most perfect moment of his life, and he could never touch it again. Not like this. Not when the part of Buffy he wanted the most was lost among the inner debris.
And that’s the rub. Spike glanced up, absorbing her sweet face, her innocent eyes…those eyes that would follow him anywhere.
The part of her he wanted was gone, and he wouldn’t be satisfied with anything else. And he sure as fuck wouldn’t take advantage of her. Another time, another life, other circumstances…he’d been a soulless prick and proud of it, but the ground on which he now trod was paved far off the beaten track of anything he’d ever ventured. This was different. He was different. And he loved her too much to make it about him, and today, try as he might to convince himself otherwise, had been about him. Whatever he did, however he touched her, whatever boundaries he broke were so broken because he wanted them gone. It wasn’t because she needed it…no matter how hard he tried to convince himself otherwise.
He’d find her. Somehow, some way, he would pull her from the shadows in which she’d buried herself. He’d find her.
He had all the time in the world.
Spike couldn’t begin to imagine how bloody sick Buffy must be of pork. Day in and day out, for a thousand years, experiencing nothing but the mundane taste of roasted pig. She’d likely never again ask to carve the Christmas ham once he had her home.
“About had your fill, love?” he asked, wiping her mouth with the corner of his shirt. For something she ate every day, she gobbled it up with all the enthusiasm of a woman who didn’t know from where her next meal was coming. She’d exhibited surprise when he began the hunt for another animal, which led him to believe she didn’t eat every day and likewise went a long way in explaining why she was so thin. Buffy always had been a tiny slip of a thing—more so toward the end than ever—but she was similarly a girl who liked a good meal. She never starved herself for the sake of vanity; Lord knows she didn’t need to for all the exercise she got both in training and on the hunt. However, after having lost herself and all semblance of what it was to be human, the routine of eating had likely slipped into something she only did when hunger pains mounted toward starvation.
No way to evolve without others. She’d been alone, and stripped of the ability to grow.
“Ready for a bit of kip, then?” Spike questioned, nodding at the makeshift bed. “Figure today was all right, wasn’t it?”
A soft smile tickled her lips, her eyes brightening. And though it was fleeting, he couldn’t help but feel that she understood him.
“Nothing too exciting, of course,” he continued, doing his best to keep images of her hot body pressed against him, her pussy strangling his fingers, at bay. The last thing he needed was another stiffy, especially when his body was still tense from the stolen moments they had enjoyed earlier. Anything more and he’d have to sneak off for a wank, and given that it had been three centuries since the last time he’d pleasured himself, he wasn’t sure that was the best of ideas. Not at the moment, anyway. Not when Buffy could stumble upon him; not when he didn’t know how long it would take to relieve this bloody edge…
Nothing too exciting. Who the fuck was he trying to fool?
“I’ll have to go to the river tomorrow,” he said. “Get somethin’ to eat.”
Again, Buffy looked as though she understood. She even nodded.
Spike paused, his heart about leaping into his throat. While it didn’t do well to get his hopes up, he couldn’t help but wonder for one glorious second if it was possible. If he’d done more good by her than even he could have anticipated…if a sensation had triggered a memory…if she was fighting through the forest that was her mind to a place where things made sense again.
He held her gaze and swallowed hard. Such intelligence. Such strength. All locked behind those emerald eyes.
Best not to get his hopes up.
Spike inhaled sharply and nodded at the bed. “Hop in, pidge.”
Buffy just looked at him.
He sighed. So much for wishful thinking. “Here,” he said, stepping forward and taking her arm. “Let’s just—”
She stopped, shaking her head and hardening her stance.
Spike frowned. “What’s wrong?”
No response, of course, but he didn’t expect one. There was nothing until she shook his hand off her arm and seized his wrist, and by the time he realized she was guiding it to her pussy, it was too late. Her warmth was pressed against him, tickling his nose with a fresh wave of potent slayer arousal and dulling the sensors that guided him through moral gray areas. All at once the insipid line between what was right and what felt right melted into nothing.
Hard bloody words to live by when she looked at him like that.
She offered a fast, enthusiastic nod, sounds that could have been words scratching at her throat.
“No,” Spike said harshly, fervently. “I can’t. We can’t. It’s—”
The fire in her eyes dimmed.
“It’s not you, kitten,” he swore. “I want this more than you can bloody well imagine. I jus’ can’t take it, all right? What happened in the shower was a one-time thing. A mistake. A…”
If he didn’t know better, he would have sworn she flinched. Perhaps mistake was a universal term, understood only by women in whatever language it was uttered. He didn’t know; all he knew was his heart wilted when she blinked back tears. In an instant his world unraveled. The vows he’d made to himself folded in favor of the same rationalization that had possessed him before. The logic he’d used to pacify the conscience he shouldn’t command; to justify touching her the way he had. Senses dulled and reality faded. Buffy was pressed against him, her watery eyes shining up at him, a wordless plea riding her muted lips for something she didn’t know how to express.
It’s not her, his mind warned. It’s not her…
And it wasn’t. He knew it—for fuck’s sake, he’d repeated it mercilessly to himself to keep this from happening again. But when he met her eyes, Buffy was all he saw. The Buffy he knew; the Buffy he loved. There were no lines, no boundaries, no clearly marked sign labeling a wrong turn. Buffy might not be behind the wheel, but the girl in his arms was Buffy where it mattered most.
He’d told himself no. He’d sworn a bloody oath.
But she hadn’t been touched in so long…
How could he deny her the one thing she’d asked of him?
“Promise me one thing,” Spike whispered, brushing his lips across her cheek. “When you remember me, remember this, you’ll also remember I tried.” A long breath shuddered through his body, hands gently guiding her back until her ankles brushed the bed. This time when she stiffened in protest, he shook his head, nuzzling her throat and rubbing soothing circles into her shoulders as he guided her to the ground. “It’s all right. I’m here. I’ll take care of you.”
He would never understand how he could burn so brightly under her smile without dusting, especially now when his hands shook and his knees knocked and he did his best not to fumble like a schoolboy. She was so beautiful. So open and trusting, warmth beyond anything he’d ever tasted burning her eyes. And for an instant, he found himself back in his crypt, lost in her eyes as they met each other with understanding. He’d always been there for her. Even when they were enemies, he’d waved a white flag and taken a stance at her side, no matter how rigidly his demon protested. Even when his bones were at the mercy of an irate hell-god, he held his head high and asked for more. Even when he had no reason to keep fighting, his fists remained raised and ready to strike. No matter the cause, he’d always been there. Always.
He wouldn’t stop now. Not when she needed him the most.
“It’s all right,” Spike said again, cursing the hands that trembled as he fisted the hem of her over-sized shirt and drew it over her head. Her nipples puckered the second they kissed air, dragging his eyes downward and making his mouth water. Strange that she didn’t blush or turn away; Buffy might have been a woman of the world, but she was always so conscious of herself, of the way she looked to those around her, both internally and externally. He’d never imagined her baring herself with such unaccustomed openness, and though he wished he could believe this was something she gave to him and him alone, the truth wasn’t nearly as flattering. He could be anyone so long as he was with her right now. So long as he saved her from silence.
Buffy inhaled sharply when he cupped a breast, eyes falling shut and her head rolling back. And Spike was doomed to follow; his mouth falling to her throat. “You’re perfect,” he murmured, stretching out beside her. “So perfect.”
“Always were to me, love. The perfect enemy. The perfect slayer. The perfect woman. Perfect for me.” He sighed, hands dropping to her leggings. “Bloody well perfect for me. Lift your hips.” Spike tugged on her hemline to indicate intent, and she obeyed without hesitation. God, it shouldn’t be so easy. Not with Buffy. Nothing ever was. But just like that she was naked and beneath him, her body open and inviting. And completely his.
“Mmm…” Her hips rolled upward in offering, betraying womanly expertise which should have been lost to her. “Uhhh…”
Spike smiled softly and kissed her cheek, hand abandoning her breasts and tracing down her abdomen. “So lovely,” he murmured, unable to keep his head from dipping so his tongue could curl around one of her nipples. God, she tasted sweeter than he could have imagined. Every nerve in his body quivered. “It’s all right. Jus’ let me…”
The river that drenched his fingers when he slid his hand between her legs was enough to render his balls a cold, hard blue, and he couldn’t, with a good conscience, touch himself…not while he was doing this. As long as he kept his pleasure separate from hers, there was some leeway with his conscience. Blur that line and everything was lost. Not that she made it easy. God, no. One touch, one simple caress, and her hot nectar flowed over his fingers, tightened his every cell and compounded the need for release. It had been so long. “Oh, Buffy,” he murmured, gently caressing her labia before parting her completely. “So warm. So fucking warm…let me…”
“That’s it, darling,” he said encouragingly, unable to keep from licking her nipple again. “Jus’ let it go.”
He teased her gently for a few mindless seconds, penetrating her opening with a few shallow thrusts before turning his attention completely to her clitoris. Weeks could be spent enjoying Buffy’s body, exploring everything he’d only dreamt about for so long—he could stay here happily and never tire. But this wasn’t about him, and he couldn’t fool himself. She would cling and gasp, hold onto him as he introduced her to levels of pleasure her mind had forgotten, but it wasn’t about him. It could never be about him. He had to keep his distance, keep his involvement minimal. He had to make sure she understood what it meant when she returned to him.
He had to make sure Buffy knew he’d done this for her.
“I love you,” Spike murmured, drawing lazy circles around her clit. “I love you, Buffy. You hear me?”
She gasped and scratched at him, and he pressed harder.
“I love you. Remember that.”
Perhaps it was too much to ask, but he didn’t care. It was something that needed asking. Something he had to say.
He had to get the words between them so she knew. So when the day came that she opened her eyes and saw him, she would recognize what had passed.
If there was one thing he would take for himself, this was it.
He needed her to know it was about her—and always had been.
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