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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 really don’t have anything to say here that I haven’t said on my LJ. The past few months have been terrible for me in terms of writing. I’d open TWotW and just stare at the cursor, and it'd blink at me until I gave up with a sick feeling in my tummy.
It wasn’t limited to TWotW; inspiration was in extremely short supply. I do apologize to my loyal readers who have been waiting for an update. I don’t want to jinx myself and say I’m out of the woods, but I do have a good start on the next chapter. Right now all seems well—just send me good vibes.
And for the two people left on the Internets who haven’t heard…I’ve been published! My novella, Firsts is available through Loose Id.
It seemed impossible to imagine he’d ever had a good night’s sleep without Buffy at his side—without her warming his skin, her soft breaths fanning his lips, the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest brushing against him. He’d only had her with him for three days, yet already he didn’t know how he’d ever lived without knowing how soft her bare flesh felt beneath his hands, or how perfectly her body curved into his. But he had her now.
For the moment.
She was so far removed from the woman she’d once been, and how she would reconcile her growth with a world that hadn’t aged left him concerned. One way or another, he would find a way out—if he’d buggered everything up by making a promise, he’d at least have the stones to keep his word. And when he did, when they emerged from this realm into the one where her friends waited, he didn’t know what to expect. The Buffy who had jumped and the Buffy who slept in his arms were different women. Buffy had aged internally, wizened beyond even his understanding, and the world she fought to see again had not.
Spike understood a person’s capacity for change; he’d experienced it, tasted it, and felt it stretch him into someone else under Buffy’s guiding light. And yet for all his talk, matching knowledge to what he saw remained elusive. The Buffy he’d fallen in love with hadn’t been so rational and understanding, and while he cherished what she’d become, a large part of him remained blockaded by fears he couldn’t explain. She’d told him things very rarely reverted back to the way they’d once been, and she stood correct. Yet he feared it all the same.
He wasn’t naïve; when they returned, tension between himself and the Scoobies would likely remain exactly as it always had. He could have whisked her back in seconds and it wouldn’t matter a lick, because he was a vampire and that was just the way it was. And that was fine. Spike didn’t need their approval anymore than he needed a suntan; the new Buffy, however, needed her friends, and her friends had a knack for rejecting any sort of change.
Buffy was not the woman she’d once been. She hadn’t left that girl behind, but she had grown in ways only the aged could identify. She’d been bright before, but now she shone, and his love for her grew exponentially with every breath he stole. Granted, he’d thought her perfect before, but he’d been wrong. Perfect was too limiting; perfect didn’t allow room for growth, and this was a woman who needed growth. A woman whose experience compiled upon itself and transformed into a thing of unimaginable beauty.
A woman who slept at his side, naked in his arms. He had her skin pressed to his, one of her legs hooked around his. She slept, and he was the one who got to hold her.
She wanted to say she loved him, but she hadn’t. That was all right. He hoped she wouldn’t. In Hell, everything felt falsified.
He supposed he would only believe her when they stood on the surface, when the battle was behind them and she didn’t need him for companionship any longer. He’d want the words then.
Not a moment sooner.
Once upon a time, it would have taken a good walloping or a loud shriek to stir him from sleep. Dru could whisper all she liked, but nothing worked quite as well as the feel of her nails burrowing into his skin or her piercing wail shaking the walls. Strange the things he remembered when sucked into the gray area between sleep and reality. Dru was far behind him, a memory cast aside, a stepping stone in the journey which had led him to the place where he now slept. Yet it was where his mind led him when the sound broke through the quiet still of night, only to be shoved aside the second his eyes flew open.
She was curled onto her side, shaking hard and practically clawing her way through the floor. “No…”
Spike bolted upright, curling a hand around her shoulder. “Buffy! Buffy, it’s—”
“No.” She swatted at him. “No! No, please…”
“God…Buffy, wake up. Wake up, sweetheart.”
“Don’t leave! You can’t leave!”
“You need to wake up. You’re dreaming, love. You’re—”
Her eyes soared open, fought through the darkness before finally latching onto his, and before he knew what was happening she’d launched her naked body into his arms, pulling him into the fiercest embrace he’d ever known. “Oh God,” she gasped. “Oh God, you’re here. You’re really here.”
“Of course I am, love.”
“But you were gone.”
Spike exhaled deeply, pulling her into his lap completely. This was familiar—this he could handle. Caring for the women in his life had always come second nature…he just wasn’t used to the women needing caring for coming in Buffy’s package, even now. Even after everything they’d been through, everything he’d seen and done, every step they’d taken together to get where they were. She was the epitome of strength and resilience; he’d never known anything to best her. It was one of the reasons he loved her so much.
“Not gone,” he murmured, thumb rubbing away a tear. “Right here. It was a nightmare, love, that’s all.”
She shook her head hard. “It felt so real.”
“But it could be.” She sniffed and pulled away, wiping her eyes. “It could be. Don’t you…I could wake up any day and you’d be gone.”
“I’ve told you, that’ll never happen.”
“You can’t know that. This world isn’t ours. It’s—”
“I got here. Not going anywhere.” He palmed her cheek and kissed her tearstained lips. “We’ve been over this, yeah? Rip me away, I come back. Bad bloody penny, love. You’ll never get rid of me. Thought you’d’ve learned that by now.”
Buffy met his eyes and conceded a small grin, though there was little feeling behind it. “It just seemed so real,” she whispered.
“Could be because this place is a bloody nightmare already. Yours, point of fact.”
“That might have something to do with it.” She licked her lips, her gaze breaking away, a long shudder ripping through her body. “I felt so lost.”
“Yes, I am. We both are, and we don’t know if we’ll get out.”
Spike grabbed her chin, forcing her eyes to his. “I know,” he said firmly. “Eternity’s a long bloody time, and where there’s an in there’s an out. We’ll find it.”
“And if they take you away before then?”
“We’ll find it.”
“What happens if we don’t?”
“Not an issue.”
Her eyes narrowed in the patented Summers look he knew so well. “Spike, get serious. We might never get out of here…and if we do, it won’t be tomorrow. We could be here for…well, I would say years but it’s already been that and—”
“I ramble when I’m nervous, and right now, I’m well past nervous. I’m terrified. The nightmare—”
“Was a nightmare. Nothing else.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Yes, I do. I’m not going anywhere.”
“And if we’re here forever?”
“We won’t be. Can’t keep me down, love.” He shrugged a shoulder. “Even so, I’d figure it doesn’t matter too much. I just know I’m not going quietly into that good night without throwin’ down for a brawl.”
The shadows playing across her face began to draw away, though not as quickly as he would have liked. “And what happens until then?” she asked softly.
“Well,” Spike replied slowly, roving a hand through his hair. “Way I see it, we start combing the town for exits during the day.”
“And at night?”
“Pork recipes, of course.”
Buffy’s nose wrinkled. “Pork recipes?”
“Well, we might be here for a while. Figure it can’t hurt to experiment a bit with what we got.” He offered a small smile but it died just as easily. “I mean it, sweetheart. Every bit. Larry and company decide to toss me out and I’ll find another way in. Doesn’t matter if it takes one year or a thousand.”
She smiled humorlessly. “Maybe not to you…I’ve already had my fill.”
“Yeah, well, that’s why I intend to have you sleeping in your very own beddy-by before they think to check up on us.” His eyes dropped to her lips, his fingers wandering across her cheek. “At least that’s the plan.”
“The plan, huh?”
He nodded, eyes still fastened on her mouth. “Until then, I’m happy just to sleep beside you.”
He’d always told himself if he was lucky enough to get close enough to touch her like this, experience her like this, he would savor every minute, every second, every flash of whatever sparked between them. And in his own way, he could visualize every move, but he wasn’t used to her lips nearing his or the gentle wonderment that embodied her kisses. How warm she was, how tender, how alive…
How perfect her tongue felt when it caressed his. How her precious little whimpers lit his insides with fire that burned too sweetly to quench. How he’d traveled miles and sat through years of emptiness to touch something so perfect. Now he was here—here with her soft kisses and her warm eyes, her words that were entirely her own but somehow still fit the mold of the dreams he’d so often entertained. It was almost a dream but somehow maintained reality, and it was his.
“All mine,” Spike murmured, his hands settling on her arms and pulling her closer to him. Her lips whispered against his, squeezing his still heart. “Mine…Buffy…”
The world shifted so effortlessly when she touched him. Time and space became meaningless; how it was he could be sitting with her, stroking her cheeks as she made love to his mouth with hers to shifting effortlessly so he lay between her legs. The heat emanating from her center nearly ripped his skin off the bone, but the burn felt so good he didn’t think to protest. She enveloped him, embraced him, made him more than what he was with every touch.
God, he loved the way she said his name. How she took such a violent syllable and made it sound like poetry.
“You’re slick,” he replied, hips jerking forward, his cock sliding rhythmically between her wet pussy lips. “Already, precious?”
Her teeth found his earlobe and tugged. “Who needs foreplay?” she asked softly, her hands traveling down his torso until she had his ass cradled in her palms. “Mmm…”
“What’s that, sweetheart?” He kissed the corner of her mouth. “Want your Spike?”
A long sigh rolled through his lips. It was the please that did it. Buffy, his warrior, uttering such a telling phrase. Asking him of anything, knowing full well it was already hers. Her voice tickled his ears, sent ripples of excitement through his skin, and made his insides spark with life he’d forgotten. His cock nudged her slippery flesh, parting her folds before beginning a slow, wondrous slide inside her tight haven. He could live a day or until the world spun toward its end, but this was something he’d have forever. The memory of Buffy. The feel of Buffy. Buffy making his skin sizzle. Buffy’s tight pussy clamping around him, drawing him deeper, sending him spiraling down a twisted path of wonder until he found himself on the receiving end of something he thought he’d never touch.
A soft gasp rang in his ear. “Oh…”
“Bloody hell,” he murmured, nuzzling her throat. “Grip me like a glove, you do.”
His lips peppered kisses across her skin until they hovered above hers. “I’m here,” he promised, rolling his hips and dragging his cock out of her just slightly before he sliding back home. “Not going anywhere, love.”
“Tell me you love me.”
Spike kissed her, his body finding a steady rhythm. He couldn’t wait. Not with her muscles strangling him to new life, not with her hot breaths teasing his lips or her wide eyes searching his. There were no secrets here. Nothing kept in the shadows, no epilogues or post-scripts. He gave what he had and kept nothing at bay.
“I love you,” he whispered, his left hand slipping down her body until he had her soft, round hip cradled in his palm, leveraging her into his thrusts. “God, Buffy, you have to know that.”
“I know.” She smiled against his lips. “I just like hearing it.”
Spike met her eyes and returned her grin. God, it felt so fleeting—all of it. Things he’d dreamt, things he’d only imagined, things locked behind a door he’d never thought he’d get to open. Feeling her surpassed anything he could have imagined—feeling her changed everything. No going back…not from this. Not from the awe of knowing how she felt, how she writhed, how she clawed and grasped and held him captive in that soul-sucking gaze of hers. The one that had kept him company for so many empty years—the voice he’d entertained in his head when the world around him fell silent.
It was enough to make hardened demons fall to their knees and pray.
“Want this,” Spike murmured, biting at her lips, body rocking hard against hers. She felt divine. Holding him, pulling at him, dragging him back inside her warmth every time he dared slip away. She squeezed him like she wanted to make him a part of her—like the only way to keep him was to lock him inside her skin.
“Always, Buffy. Can’t take it for just a test run.”
“So long…wanted you so long…”
“I'm here,” she whispered, pressing her hand to his cheek. It seemed so strange she felt the need to reassure him when she was the one who had been lost so long, but that was Buffy all over. The protector. Wrapped in strength and thinking of those lucky enough to warm her heart before she gave herself a second thought.
The wealth of words upon which he thrived seemed so trivial now, with her pussy wrapped tightly around his prick, her sweet juices bathing him in heat possessing more fire than a thousand suns. Every plunge chipped away at him, tore him apart and pieced him together again. And through each second, she remained with him. Buffy’s eyes absorbing, Buffy’s nostrils flaring, Buffy’s lips rounding, Buffy’s chest heaving, Buffy’s hands clenching, Buffy’s tongue caressing. Buffy all around him, touching him, drawing him in deeper, sucking him in and squeezing him so tight the world around him began to blink out.
The thought he might not have this one day…
“Mine,” he murmured, thrusting hard. In and out, in and out, her vaginal walls wringing him, grasping him, and driving him out of his mind. “Always.”
Buffy nodded. “Yes,” she whispered. “This is ours.”
“Ours…God, you feel…”
“Chase the bad away.”
He stole a kiss before dancing over her chin, dipping down her throat until the hum of her pulse vibrated against his lips. The monster roared and his heart clenched. “Buffy,” he whispered, the bones in his face shifting before he could help it. His fangs skimmed her soft flesh. “Buffy…I need…”
Her eyes met his, and if she was surprised to see a demon looking back, she didn’t show it. Instead, her hand found his cheek. “It’s okay,” she gasped.
The words couldn’t be real. A fabrication of desire melting the barrier in his mind so he couldn’t tell the difference between fiction and reality anymore. But with her pussy around him, her eyes shining up at him, and her blood whispering so close to his mouth, he couldn’t be bothered to care. Not now. He’d traveled so far, lost so much, and he wanted to taste her so badly. Taste her…Buffy…his slayer.
“It’s yours, Spike,” she whispered softly. “Take it.”
He buried his face into the crook of her neck and licked a soft stretch of flesh. And that was all he could manage before he sliced his fangs into her beautiful throat and drank.
And Spike exploded—he was sure of it. There was no way he could keep his pieces together for as violently as they shuddered and cracked. He felt it, felt his cells pulling apart, felt his body breaking and crumbling against her, warm ambrosia stinging his insides and gluing together everything in him that had ever been broken. He felt her tremble and gasp, felt her tighten and drench him with her release, welcoming his own into her warmth. And yet he couldn’t tear himself away from her throat—he knew he should, he knew he couldn’t take much, he knew she needed it more than he, but in that one second he allowed himself to be selfish. Allowed himself to take what he wanted, needed. Allowed him to take Buffy…because at that moment, for that wonderful instant, nothing else mattered. Not the impossible task of finding a way out or the journey home afterward. Not the fear of what would happen when they stood again on solid ground or what he would lose when the world around them was theirs again.
Nothing mattered, because right now, this was his.
“Mine,” he whispered, pulling back at last and licking the wound. His every inch tingled. “This is mine.”
A beat. She didn’t respond.
Another beat, this one panicked. Spike raised his head, shaking the demon away. “Buffy?”
She met his gaze without hesitation, but he didn’t let himself relax until he noted the strength in her eyes. The strength and…tears? Oh bugger, he hadn’t meant to…
“Buffy…sweetheart, I didn’t…I shouldn’t—”
“Oh God,” she whispered, and every inch of him stilled. There was something he’d never heard in her voice. From anyone. “Oh…God…”
Whatever was in her voice had stretched to her eyes now, and its power rendered him weak.
But there was no time to examine it. The next second, something crashed hard above them, and the ground began to shake. For a second Spike thought his head had spun into a post-coital slumber, high off Slayer juice and ready for a good week’s rest. But that wasn’t it—no, this was something else. Whatever had harvested her voice and moved to her eyes lived now in the floor, moving…moving…and sending hard tremors into the world around them.
“Oh God,” Buffy said again. This time, however, her eyes were on the ceiling. “What is that?”
Spike didn’t answer, though something inside him knew, even if he couldn’t believe it.
The ground whined beneath them, and in the distance, he heard something rip apart.
Whatever doubt was left died. He knew without question. He knew. He didn’t know how, he couldn’t fathom how, but he knew.
Something had happened. Something had changed.
The world was about to end.
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