The Writing on the Wall by Holly

ReviewsRating: 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.

 

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Chapter 21

Chapter Notes: Dedicating this chapter to dampersnspoons, who has kept me busy (and horny) at work. Thank you so much for sending me your stories.

Thanks so much to all my readers. You guys have been so wonderful and patient. I’ll have to think of a way to reward you…

And, as always, thanks to my wonderful betas.


Morning chased away the shadows night had cast, leaving him with no evidence of what he'd seen. The name was gone, twisted again into a foreign form of hieroglyphics. Spike truly hadn't expected anything else. What had happened hadn't been based in reality—not his and not even Buffy's. It was something beyond reality, and while he didn't understand exactly what he'd seen, he wasn't daft enough to minimize its significance.

Buffy was trying to tell him something. She didn't know how or what, but she was trying to tell him something. And last night, even asleep in his arms, she had. She'd spoken.

Without words or direction, she'd spoken.

Spike sighed, his eyes drifting from the walls to the sleeping wonder in his arms. She hadn't made a sound all night, at least none loud enough to penetrate the thick fog of sleep which had blurred his senses and scoffed at his meager attempts to resist. Sleep was a luxury he had long taken for granted; it had been a necessity in the cave—a way to escape the ghosts and the long endless hours between centuries. When he slept now, they were hard, dreamless sleeps. No visits from phantoms, no faux-Buffy waiting within his mind, nothing but deep, relentless darkness, and for that he was grateful.

He wondered if Buffy dreamt at all. He wondered what she saw. If anything, her dreams since his arrival were likely a confusing collage of images. Perhaps that was what had beaten on her worn brain the day before. Images of a life she'd forgotten, awakened by a face lost in time.

Fuck, he hoped so. The list of alternatives was too bloody daunting. Buffy had already proved impervious to aging…but she was still human. In this twisted, horrid place where she had never died, she remained fragile and breakable even under layers of fortified slayer muscle. There was no telling what he'd brought with him from the outside. What her cells had forgotten how to fight.

That was the most terrifying possibility, and, he told himself, likewise the least probable. There were a million things a place like this could do to the human mind. A million horrible things.

Things he truly didn't wish to consider, but couldn't help but play over and over. It was easier when he focused on the walls.

Christ, he was so sodding sick of worrying.

One thing at a time was likely the easiest way to get through the day, and carnal concerns were more pleasant, if not agonizing, to entertain. He'd already decided to take her back to the warehouse where they had washed off a few days back, which meant atop everything else, the day would be another trial on his restraint. However, they were both well past due for another shower, and he knew she wouldn't go unless he took her.

Spike sighed and shook his head, tenderly lifting Buffy's arm from where it was thrown across his chest. Might be better if he had that wank he'd promised himself yesterday. Ease the tension, get his mind off things—if only for a minute—and take the burn off what promised to be an excruciating day.

Touching her…

Another hard breath trembled through his body and, as quietly as he could, he managed to untangle himself from her arms and retreat into a secluded corner.

It had been ages since he first stole off for a wank. He'd been under his mum's roof then, perplexed by his body and horny as fuck. The stiffy in his trousers had been a consistent condition for some time, but never had he thought of doing anything about it…not until he discovered how bloody good it felt. Of course, at the time, he'd been all prim and proper and horrified with himself, but that didn't stop him from doing it three times a day, perhaps twice once he hit twenty.

Spike snickered softly and shook his head as he lowered his zipper. The last year above ground, the year Buffy jumped, he'd relied on his hand every sodding night, with or without Harmony beside him. No amount of release could ease the burn. He could pull his dick until it broke and he'd still ache for more. Every night, every fucking night…all for the want of Buffy.

Nothing much had changed—not where she was concerned. Only now he knew how she smelled when she came. He knew the sounds she made, how her eyes grew distant and hazy, how she gasped and clung and responded so wildly he could barely keep her in his arms. This was a world where Buffy was truly with him, even if she couldn't understand what he did to her or how deeply it affected him. He had her now…and he couldn't touch her as he wanted.

Fucking conscience. Three hundred years could erode a man completely, but the understanding of right and wrong hadn't faded. It wasn't supposed to be there at all yet it refused to go away.

And if he was completely honest with himself, he didn't want it to go away. There was something undeniably heady in knowing he was doing right by her. In giving her what she wanted, what she needed, without taking anything for himself. It was the right thing to do.

Spike sighed, his eyes falling on the blonde angel sleeping so peacefully on the makeshift cot. Fuck, he hoped it was the right thing. It was all he could give.

But he wasn't a bloody saint. He needed intimacy, too. He'd needed it for a long time, and if his hand was all he could get, he'd take it. Made sense it was better to touch her with a load shot rather than a cannon ready to fire.

“Like riding a bicycle,” Spike murmured. It was strange the way memories worked. How some things felt so natural, whereas others had to be relearned. The steely cool flesh against his left palm felt natural. Cradling his swelling cock felt natural. Fixing his mind on Buffy felt natural and—even though he'd never before had the chance to have off when within viewing range—watching her sleep, staring at the gentle rise and fall of her breasts as he stroked himself felt…right.

And the sounds in his ears…those felt right, too. The whimpers, the sighs, the memory of her scent, the way she'd flexed around his fingers, her slippery flesh drawing him deeper, oh yes, deeper into her body. Her pussy clamping hard around him, every muscle tensing before she finally spiraled into orgasm. Her feminine juices on his skin, her body trembling against his. Yes, God yes, that felt right. It felt so fucking right. And he'd have it again. Again and again, if she asked him. Buffy pressed hard against him, clutching at him as he stroked her clitoris and thrust his fingers into her.

An image of her pressed against the shower wall, holding his face to her pussy struck him from nowhere. Spike gasped, head careening back, hand furiously pumping his cock. If he concentrated hard enough, he could taste her. Feel her vaginal lips caressing his mouth, feel her silken flesh against his tongue, and feel her slippery clit between his lips.

She felt so good, so warm, so his…

Her scent was too strong to be an illusion. Spike's eyes flew open, locking on hers. There was no telling how long she'd been standing there watching him, and while warning bells immediately chimed, stopping was not an option. His body sizzled and sparked, his jaw tightening, his gaze steadying on her face, fist stroking his cock harder, faster. She was so close—so close—and he couldn't stop.

“Buffy…”

She didn't make a sound. Her eyes were fixed on his penis.

“Buffy…Buffy…sorry, love. I can't…I need…”

If she heard him, she gave no indication. Her tongue took a sultry swipe of her lower lip, curious eyes wide and hungry, and Spike nearly came undone.

“Yes. Like that. Feel you, pet. Holding me. Touching me. Sucking me. Wanna feel you suck me so bad. Your mouth…your tongue…your…Buffy.”

She inhaled sharply and closed another step between them. Now he could feel the heat rolling off her skin, hear the pounding of her heart, taste air thickened with the heady aroma of her arousal. Oh Christ, this was turning her on. Watching him pump his prick, watching him moan and gasp, watching his muscles flex as his blood began to burn, watching him as he grew closer…closer… He felt every beat of her body, he felt everything. Everything. Rich slayer honey rushed between her legs, and he felt it. He could nearly taste it. She was hot and he burned. He couldn't stop. God help him, he didn't want to stop.

“Slayer…”

She took a step forward, and every nerve in his body jumped.

“No!” Spike panted, pulling at himself furiously. “Stay there!”

The words meant nothing. Buffy took another step, and another. She was so close, and he couldn't take it. Watching her watch him, drinking in her eyes, her fucking closeness…it did him in. Fireworks blazing across his skin, Spike tossed his head back, shuddered, and came for the first time in three centuries. And this, this was something he had forgotten. The aching fulfillment that came from pleasure, the way his body tensed and unwound. He'd forgotten this. It was wonderful…wonderful, terrifying, confusing as hell, and his. This moment was entirely his. Buffy watching, his hand jerking, his body trembling…it was all his.

All mine.

The post-coital slump, however, didn't get a chance to set in. Reality pushed at the doors of fantasy, shoving inside and bringing all its consequences with it. Yes, he'd just masturbated in front of Buffy. Yes, he had known she was there. No, he hadn't tried to send her away. No, there was no way this was all right, even by his standards. He'd taken advantage of her. He'd let it go too far. He'd allowed himself…allowed her…

And that wasn't even the worst of it. It took opening his eyes and realizing he'd sprayed his spendings on Buffy's hands and stomach before he remembered he was supposed to catch it. And immediately, bliss was shoved aside for shame and horror. “Fuck! Pet, I'm sorry. I—”

Buffy didn't hear a word he said. Instead, she frowned and swiped a drop of his semen onto her forefinger.

“I din't mean to, sweetheart, I…”

Her nose wrinkled, and before he realized her intentions, the finger disappeared inside into her mouth.

Spike's jaw hit the floor. “Buffy—oh…oh God…”

She made a face and shook her head, and while the look didn’t inspire confidence, there was nothing to suggest she hated the taste. He couldn’t, however, imagine her thinking the flavor was anything near enjoyable. Not that it mattered. Reality was cold and barren; it left him standing in the shadows of an abandoned warehouse, hardening cock in his hand and Buffy standing bewildered in front of him, soiled with his spendings. And she didn’t know what had happened, or what it meant. She didn’t know anything but the look on his face and her name on his lips. She didn't know how much seeing her lick his come off her fingers turned him on. She didn’t know how deeply things affected him.

Nor could she. Not like this.

“Let’s go, love,” Spike murmured, tucking his erection back inside his jeans and zipping the fly shut with a hiss. “Get cleaned up.”

Her eyes remained locked on his crotch, which only made his predicament worse. Buffy noticing him as a man would be the end of his restraint. The leash he'd wrapped around himself was short enough, and with her smiling and warm and receptive, it could break under a hard glance. The line he walked was bloody fine, but it was working for them…it had been working for them. Up until now, she'd been nothing but quaint and curious, and he couldn't let her curiosity blossom. Things had to stay the way they were. They had to.

No matter what.

*~*~*



It took listening for the whispers to notice them anymore. Strange how a few days could alter one's perception. When he’d arrived they had driven him nutty within the first few minutes of crossing the city barrier; now he barely heard them. They were always there, however. Always. Faceless voices following them no matter where they went, chasing them around corners and nipping at their heels with every turn. Today, however, noticing the ghosts didn't bother him. It was better than the gaping silence.

He missed the days when he could accuse Buffy of not being chatty. Words were entirely reliant upon him now, and he had none. His mind kept flashing back to the forbidden moments in the warehouse. The bliss he shouldn't have felt, the touches he shouldn't have stolen, and the urgent drive for a repeat performance. His cock was still stone-hard and given that his thoughts kept drifting to a wet, naked, dripping Buffy, he didn't expect that to change anytime soon. The fact that her arousal was still thick and potent didn't help matters, either.

Spike sighed heavily, mind searching for something to ramble about. A thousand bloody topics in the universe and he couldn't think of anything but her quim strangling him into oblivion. After so many years of pain and misery, his mind was intoxicated by the promise of something…of something…

“What do you suppose your chums are up to?” he asked randomly, then cringed. The last thing he wanted to discuss was her friends, but it was better than nothing. It'd provide a distraction at the very least. “Last I saw them, they…” His eyes darkened. That memory didn't rest well with him. “Well, they'd given up on me. Harris had, at least. 'Course, that could've been a parlor trick an' I wouldn't've known the bloody difference. Larry wanted me to toss it in, see. I was in the cave for so long I forgot everything except you, and that was the last thing. He showed me what had happened while I rotted away. How they didn't think I was trying anymore, when I'd waited so bloody long to…” Spike broke off and shook his head, irritated with himself for caring. It wasn't as though he hadn't seen it coming. Alliances with the enemy never ended well, at least in his case…though he supposed his first truce with Buffy was what had carried him this far. There was always an exception that proved the rule.

“I thought it might be different now,” he continued softly, hardly aware he was speaking at all. “Fuck, I'm thick. But they were treating me different in the end. Your watcher might never have taken a liking to me, but I thought I at least had his respect. An' the witches…they both were so warm. Even Anya. I think I remember her speaking a piece to Harris around the dinner table right before I left. Mind might be going, though…so much time has passed…” Spike lifted his head, eyes fixing on their destination. It might not be the only building in Hell with a shower, but he didn't particularly care to look around unless it became necessary. “But it hasn't for them, has it? Bet they've barely moved since what I saw. That'd be right, wouldn't it? A day there is a hundred sodding years here. They're probably still chattin' around the table, talking about how incompetent I am an' how they better get their shit together so they can rescue you themselves.” He barked a laugh. “Right. Love to see that. Whatever Larry'd throw at them for the first trial…mine was holy water. Figure for humans it'd be acid, don't you? Somethin' compatible at the very least. Think Xander could stomach it? Think…”

The tirade ended before it truly began, the words bitten off as he forced his anger aside. There was no point in getting worked up over what he couldn't control. The Scoobies would do what they would and fuck the rest. He couldn't warn them, couldn't stop them, couldn't do much of anything other than what he was doing. As it was, he wasn't sure any of it would make a lick of difference. Hope was in short supply; while he was determined to make their escape before any outside action could take place, the idealist inside had been poisoned by reason. There were no guarantees—no absolutes. Buffy had changed, possibly forever, and their one exit had vanished overnight. He would never concede defeat—defeat was a word Spike had yet to learn—but he couldn't pretend to be the hero anymore. He had to be realistic. There might never be an escape. He and Buffy might spend eternity within the confines of her imagination's worst nightmare—always looking, always fighting—but remaining here forever.

It was a bleak but distinct possibility.

“No use cryin' about that now,” Spike murmured, squeezing Buffy's hand and guiding her over the threshold. “Remember the way, ducks?”

She met his eyes with a hesitant smile, and when he didn't move, she took the lead. The familiar twists and turns were known to her now, and by the time they reached the bathroom, her expression was so damn hopeful it was miraculous he didn't combust in adoration. “That's right,” he assured her. “Now…arms up.”

Spike made quick work of her clothing. He figured the less time he gave his eyes to appreciate her naked form the less trouble he’d be in. However, with the way Buffy tugged his shirt over his head before practically tearing his jeans off his body, there was every chance he was wrong. Her eagerness fed into desire, reviving his now-softened cock with lust that hadn’t truly faded.

“You're gonna be the death of me,” he decided, shaking his head. His erection practically leapt out of his fly, straining toward her eager, curious fingers, and he had to stop her before her skin met his. If she touched him, if he felt her hands on him, he feared he'd lose what was left of his restraint.

There was only so much a man could take.

“No,” Spike whispered raggedly, shaking his head. “No, sweetheart. Let’s just wash up, yeah? In an’ out.”

The look in her eyes told him plainly that wasn’t going to work. Good. He didn’t want anything quick and simple; his hands ached for her flesh, his fingers yearned to caress her center, his mouth…he wanted to touch her everywhere, wanted to press kisses across every inch of her body. She wanted what he wanted—she wanted closeness. She wanted intimacy. She wanted it now.

His eyes fell to the nest of curls between her thighs, his tongue massaging his lips. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispered, gaze dragging up her body at a snail’s pace. “Every part of you, Slayer. So beautiful.” He shivered and shook his head, nodding at the shower. “Better get on with it. Twist the nozzle, pet.”

Buffy was already far ahead of him. Hard water beat down from the showerhead, neither warm nor cold, and he barely felt a thing.

He couldn’t stop staring.

“Hope you appreciate this when you remember,” he murmured, absently reaching for the bar of soap. The words were empty and ridiculous; he only spoke to fill the silence as he lathered his hands and did his best to remain calm, despite the fact that she was wet, naked, and in his arms. That if he angled his hips just right, pushed her against the wall and spread her thighs, he would be wrapped in paradise. “There now…doesn’t that feel better?”

Buffy licked her lips, her eyes dropping to his erection. She indicated his hand and made a gesture he couldn’t possibly confuse but managed to ignore all the same.

She wanted to be touched. He wanted to touch her. He’d told himself he would whenever she asked.

But after what had happened this morning, could he really trust himself?

Think of something else…now.

Not fucking possible.

“You’re so soft,” Spike heard himself saying, eyes glued to the path his hands took. He watched himself wash her arms and shoulders, felt himself rub her palms. He saw her face covered in soap suds, but nothing registered…not until he had a breast cradled in each hand. She was so small—so far from the woman who’d occupied his fantasies above ground. Buffy had always been a tiny slip of a girl, but here she was malnourished, skin barely clinging to her bones, and she was still the loveliest thing he’d ever seen.

His cock ached. So did his fangs.

This was going to be his undoing.

“So soft,” he whispered again, thumbing her nipples absently, which did little to sate the desire to wrap his lips around her. “You were always soft, weren’t you? Bloody well bewitched me. How anyone could be so hard on the inside…but stay so soft?” A long whimper scratched at his throat. “I want you so much, Buffy. So much.”

She moaned and crooned against him. Her hand reached blindly for his cock, but he batted her away before her fingers had a chance to whisper across his skin. “Ah, ah,” he scolded softly. “What did I tell you, hmm?”

“Ahhh…”

Spike shook his head and shifted so he was on his knees. “Almost done, sweetheart,” he told her. “Then we can wash your hair an’—”

Buffy mewled again and thrust her hips forward, and a wave of pure slayer arousal crashed against his nostrils. The last of his feeble resistance melted away. Don’t deny the girl, he’d told himself. And he wouldn’t. She wanted something she couldn’t name, and he’d promised her—promised himself—he’d give it to her.

“God help me,” Spike murmured. His tongue plunged inside her before he could help himself, and everything else ceased to matter.

There was no sense looking back—he was lost on first taste, a fucking goner. Ta, Spike. Years of yearning, craving, months of trailing her helplessly around the cemeteries hoping she’d notice him, watching her jump and fall…fall…only to be here now. Her fingers roamed across his scalp, twisted in his hair and did their best to pull him in deeper. He needed no guidance—God, he’d crawl inside her if she let him. This was everything—this was what he’d imagined when he came. Buffy in the shower, weeping in pleasure as his mouth feasted on her pussy. The world around him vanished—everything vanished, save the warm slayer nectar on his tongue, the way her feminine folds caressed his mouth, how sweetly she moaned and flexed around him. He had dined with kings and queens, he’d sampled blood from royalty and ancient nobility, but nothing in the world could compare to this. To slurping hungrily at the Slayer’s quim, holding her flat against the shower wall as his tongue delved and explored. She was wholly woman here.

He’d wanted this for so long.

“You’re divine,” he whispered against her vaginal lips, tongue lapping at her clit. “My golden goddess.”

He knew it wouldn’t be her real eyes that found him when they opened again, but for a few seconds he could pretend. She gasped and clawed and thrust her hips against his mouth, wordlessly pleading for more, which he gave without stint. She wanted to be lost as much as he wanted to be found, and for a few wonderful minutes, they fell together. Spike devoured her, tongue lapping her opening as his fingers strummed her clit. He watched her through half-hooded eyes, not daft enough to believe in miracles, but, just for the moment, pretending they existed.

Pretending Buffy would be Buffy when she came down.

The sounds she made, the way her body jerked, the wild look of abandon that flirted with her face…yes, he could pretend.

When his lips wrapped around her clit and tugged, it was over. Buffy tensed, panted harshly, and spasmed hard, jerking, gasping, hands searching for support but finding nothing to grasp. It didn’t matter—he was there to catch her, there to hold her as her body came undone. He watched greedily, breaths nearly as harsh as hers, tongue still worshipping her clit as two fingers slid inside her quim to enjoy the way she tightened and strangled him to new life. She was bloody beautiful when she came.

She was his fountain, and he drank.

And she was still gone when she opened her eyes.

*~*~*



Something changed that night.

The rest of the day had passed uneventfully. No sparring. No visiting the blood river. No mysterious migraines. No phantom slayers carving names. After washing up and drying off, Spike walked Buffy back to the warehouse while prattling on endlessly about a variety of inane things. The journey, their plans for the following days, the sodding weather, anything he could muster to keep his mouth active. Once they arrived home, however, the need to chatter died, and he found himself, for no particular reason, watching the markings on the walls.

Nothing came of it, of course. The lines weren’t going to shift and suddenly make sense, though after what had happened last night, he felt anything was possible. Whether or not the incident was real…though it had to be, because dreams didn’t feel like that, and he’d had enough realistic dreams to be an authority.

He didn’t know. Christ, he didn’t know anything anymore.

Ultimately, day faded to night, and before he realized it, he was tucking Buffy into bed.

His sleeping angel. His fallen slayer.

Perhaps this was it. Understanding had finally dawned after three hundred years. This was Hell. Stuck infinitely in the middle of a puzzle he couldn’t solve with the woman he loved but couldn’t have. Trapped inside a Victorian conscience that shouldn’t exist, talking to himself because she couldn’t talk back. A few more days of this and his mind would start to go.

And he preferred this to home. He preferred having Buffy like this to not at all. Give him eternity touching what he couldn’t feel, an eternity of torment, an eternity of dishing out every hellish alternative to the world he’d left behind and God help him, he wouldn’t complain. He didn’t like it, but here, at least, he could feasibly be happy. There were no gravestones in Hell. In Hell, Buffy was in his arms and not in the ground.

She was with him.

She’s nowhere near you.

He’d thought he was getting close to something, he truly had. But what Hell giveth, Hell taketh away. He was no closer than he’d been from the moment he fell into the river.

But Buffy was in his arms, sleeping, and for that he was grateful.

For that he would thank God every night, even if he didn’t believe. Even if prayers in Hell were never answered.

For even though it tortured him, he could still hold her here. She would lie in his arms and sleep, and he could hold her because she was here.

She’s gone.

Something changed that night.

*~*~*



“Spike…Spike…”

Spike’s eyes fought open, blinded at first by darkness. He blinked, puzzled, and took a quick look around the room to find what might have roused him from his slumber. There was nothing. The air was still, the walls unchanged, and Buffy was snuggled in his arms, sleeping soundly. He was alone.

“Spike…”

No. Not alone. Not alone. Buffy was with him.

It took a few seconds for realization to slice through stupor. Spike’s head whipped to his girl, hope crackling but doused just as quickly by jaded realism. He hadn’t heard anything—he’d heard a wish, nothing more.

But he saw her this time. He watched her lips move, and heard the sound they made plain as day.

“Spike…I can’t…Spike…”

A blinding white charge speared through his veins. Shocks of electricity sparked off his fingertips. Spike’s mouth fell open but he couldn’t find his voice. He wanted to move but had forgotten how. If his heart hadn’t already been dead it would have stopped at the sound.

She knew his name.

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