Author’s Notes: 1) This story is based on a short story, which I wrote a long time ago (1995, I think) called “Dreaming of the Darkness.” One passage that I particularly liked was pulled from the story and put in this one. The 1995 story was supposed to be novel length, and I only wrote the prologue and first chapter. The plot is similar, and the ending is the one I planned for my other story… Hope you enjoy it! ;o)
2) Assume for the sake of this story that Spike knows how to play the piano.
Prologue: Part 1- 2007
“But when the sun in all hisstate
Illumed the eastern skies,
She passed through Glory’s morning-gate,
And walked in Paradise.”
As per our routine, my mind stirs awake before he even thinks about moving. My senses reach out beyond the hidden wells of my dreams to languidly test the environment around us. The first thing I notice is how firmly his strong lean arms encircle my ribs and waist to hold me on his lap…the way he’s held me since I left him the first time. The corners of my mouth upturn slightly because I haven’t been away from his side for at least six hundred years.
Inhaling his familiar scent of cigarettes, fresh soap, and the mints he’s so fond of sucking before he kisses me, a quiet growl unconsciously rises in the back of my throat as if to say he’s *mine* and no one else better dare draw near. At the sound of the noise in the back of my throat, his body shifts under me, and the coolness of his bare torso presses against the length of my body. He returns the shiver that suddenly runs down my spine with a small shudder and deep-throated groan of his own, and I use the moment to reluctantly untangle myself from his jungle of limbs.
Balancing shakily on my sleep-cramped legs with my naked toes curling slightly at the iciness of the space ship’s floor, I gaze at him as if I have never before seen him. He takes my breath away every time…even after centuries. His tousled curls have been the color of chestnuts as far back as I can remember although I acknowledge a vague recollection that his hair was once bleached blond, garish auburn, and honey brown at various points in our journey.
Sometimes I still cannot believe this gentle yet proud vampire…man…is mine.
In those moments as now, I reach out a single finger and trace the contour of his cheekbone so that he instinctively nuzzles toward my palm. I trail a feathery touch down his neck, over his collarbone, and down his arm to where my path ends at his left hand. While he is lost in the oblivion of the unconscious realm, I am not subjected to the intensity of the blue depths of his eyes and can marvel at his long fingers, which usually reach toward his chest when I am not snuggled next to him.
Hands and fingers fascinate me. One can learn so much about a person by what he does with his hands.
I marvel that hands, which can maim and kill the demons we’ve fought over the decades, can be so tender and loving with me. In awe again by the humanness he still attempts to hide on occasion, I notice the tears rising up to mar my vision. Breaking contact with my lover, I wipe the salty, warm cascade away and swallow in determination.
Today is the day that our fate will be determined, but first, I want to remember the defining events….
* * *
Slipping into the house as silently as possible, I keep my ears perked for any sign that Spike is awake. Only the quiet hum of the dishwasher and the air conditioner fills my mind as I slip off my winter coat and pumps, groaning at the dull ache in my ankles and joints that I now know comes from more than just slaying and wearing heels. Quietly padding up the stairs in my now bare feet, I use the handrail to prevent my footfalls from being too loud. After all, Spike has his acute vampire hearing.
I usually try not to wake him during the day, so he is fresh for demon slayage with me at night. Sometimes, if I’m feeling feisty, I will pounce on his prone form and startle him out of his dreams. If he is really far-gone to reality, he switches immediately to his vampire face, complete with fangs and ridges that he patiently lets me explore with all the tingling nerves in my fingertips and lips.
Today, after the news I received, I just want to be near him, snuggled up in the cool comfort of his arms.
I approach our bed cautiously, my senses on hyper-alert for the slightest hint of movement. In the darkness, he lies unmoving on his side with one hand tucked underneath the pillow, and his face is the picture of peace that comes in a boneless sleep. My scalp tickles a little in the nearness of his presence, and in slow motion, I lift the sheets, feeling the rolling air drafts that roll past me before I slide dress and all into the place where my whole world rests. I ease my back and hips against his chest, wiggling my hips slightly to find our familiar comfortable position. In his sleep, his free arm snakes around my waist, pulling me closer to him as I inhale his scent and making me wish for a moment that he were awake.
My wish comes true.
“Kitten?” His voice is hoarse and low from disuse, and the breath from his speech laves over my earlobe, sending goose bumps flying across my skin.
I don’t feel like talking about what happened just yet. “Ummm.”
“What did the doc say?”
Twisting in his embrace, I face him with a shy smile and peer into his eyes from wide lids. “I love you.”
“Love you, too, pet,” he returns, kissing the tip of my nose. “But you didn’t answer my question.”
He knows me too well…how I like to avoid telling him things that scare me. He has always been patient and persistent with me. That’s one of the characteristics I love most about him.
“Can we talk about it later, and,” I run a finger down his chest seductively, “do other things now?”
He grabs my hand with his free one. “No,” he insists. He can tell something is wrong.
Tears brim over my lashes and spill in hot trails over my cheeks. His fingers immediately are there, wiping away the liquid that is stinging my face. His lips sweep over my skin, which only makes me cry harder.
He sighs softly, “Please tell me, love. I want to know, so I can help.”
I bury my head in his chest so that my voice is muffled. The truth sound better that way. “Leukemia. A-adult lymphocytic leukemia. I-I have a pamphlet d-downstairs.”
Stroking his hand down the length of my spine, he lets me sob openly.
After several minutes, he finally asks, “W-what does that mean?”
“Are they sure? I mean, the docs? How do they know you’re dying?” His tone is desperate for a small hope.
“I’m too far along. And with my body producing more white blood cells than most people because I’m a slayer, the growth of the damaged white blood cells is more rapid. Hence, there’s nothing they can do.”
Tears fall unbidden down his cheeks. Reaching up to cup his face in my palm, I smile in the realization that I love how he can display his rawest emotions with me. He’s the first person I’ve ever known who feels so deeply and isn’t afraid of his feelings.
He scowls suddenly and pushes away slightly. “Stop smiling. There’s nothing to bloody smile about. I’m losing you all over again.”
“Damn slayer healing powers. Never thought I’d be saying that one,” I jest mildly, trying to soothe him in my own fashion. “And you haven’t lost me, yet. I’m still here. Not going anywhere. I love you.”
His muscles stiffen as his mind wars with the swirl of emotions that are painted in his eyes. In one motion, he leaves my side and our bed, causing me to gape at him in shock. “I gotta go. I gotta have some time to process this.”
He pulls on a pair of jeans and is striding toward the door as I call after him, “It’s sunny outside, Spike.”
“I’ll be all right,” his voice echoes back to me.
* * *
2007, two weeks later
“Love?” Spike whispers in my ear as I lay half-dozing on the living room sofa.
I painfully open one eye at him. “Yeah?”
He sits down with a sigh next my feet and picks up one leg gently. He massages my calf muscle, careful not to press too hard because too much pressure bruises me. “I made sure Dawn left for uni for her night classes this evening. She didn’t want to go, but I thought it’d be good for her to get out for a bit.”
Wincing as one of his motions on my leg sends a sharp shoot of pain up my body, I manage to smile, “Good.”
“Did you manage to eat anything?” He switches to the opposite leg.
“No. A little,” my volume fades toward the end of my brief utterance, and I leave my eyes shut, relishing his touch on my bare thigh beneath my nightgown.
I know he’s studied the still full soup bowl on the coffee table before he speaks again, “Are you sure you don’t want to go back to the hospital, love?”
Spike, Dawn, Xander, and Willow forced me to go to the hospital emergency room last week after I fell down the stairs and received a nasty cut on my face and almost broke my arm. The bleeding refused to stop, so I relented and went to the emergency room.
“No,” I state adamantly. “No tests.” The doctors at the hospital had run what seemed like an infinite number of tests on my blood. I know I must appear to be a junky with my arm dotted with unhealed needle holes, my hair limp, and my skin pale.
Spike is silent but pensive as he finishes massaging my legs, and then, he softly picks me up and cradles my body in his lap.
“Ummm…loving the holding,” I murmur weakly. His body is cold against the constant fever that I’m running.
A heartbeat later, he asks, “Have you thought about what we discussed?”
“No. Need more time to decide.” I press my forehead into his neck.
“Buffy, we don’t have more time. You could go any moment. The doctors know what they’re talking about, love…this time, at least.”
He says nothing. I let several minutes pass, and he brushes his hand back and forth over my shoulder blade rhythmically. Aware of the magnitude of what I am about to do, I draw up as much energy as I can, lift my head, and open my eyes. For the first time that evening, his sapphire eyes shine into my own.
“Yes,” I declare clearly so that neither he nor I can mistake the meaning of my word.
“Are you certain?” He is hesitant because the turn of events is not what he expected.
I make up for his uncertainty, “Yes, I am sure.”
He lays me gently on the sofa and balances on his arms above me, taking steps not to smash my frail body. “Feel free to stop this at any time. And remember how much I love you no matter what happens.”
Too fatigued to reply, I smile and tell him to continue with my eyes. He sweeps my hair away from my neck and licks the scar where Angel, the Master, and Dracula have bitten me in the past. He growls as he shifts to vampire face, and I shiver as I feel two tiny needles of pain dig into the surface of my flesh. His teeth remain in place as he allows the implications of the decision I made to become real in my mind. I feel something wet on my neck, and I recognize the source is not my blood but tears falling from my sweet lover’s eyes.
With that, I make my decision final.
Inhaling so deeply my chest hurts, I bring my neck forward so that his teeth fully enter my neck and my bloodstream.
At first, the injury aches acutely, and my natural instincts encourage me to fight the bond as my lover drinks. I push my palms against him almost desperately. I comprehend that this experience is going to be nothing like the bond I shared with Angel when I allowed him to drink from me to save him. This time, someone is saving me because neither of us has had enough time together. We are defying nature in the most selfish way possible.
Slowly, the distress of the initial merging eases like a raging river that is dammed off to a gentle stream, and I relax as he empties my body’s life force as if he is a man dying of thirst in a dehydrated desert. We make no audible sounds although the flames from the fireplace roar like we are drowning in the fiery sea of hell.
My body becomes lighter and lighter until I feel weightless, and I know that if I let loose his arms, I will undoubtedly soar up into the heavens and leave the planet forever. I do not fear whatever is to happen next, and I do not resist when he comes to his feet and races me from the intense blaze of luminescence into the cold shock of night.
He runs, it seems, faster than the deadly winds of a hurricane, and I manage somehow to turn my head against the abrading force. I tremble as the remainder of the heat in my limbs dissipates into the wind and is reabsorbed by the energy of the living earth.
Am I dying? I do not feel dead. Although my soul is slick with sticky blood, life holds onto my fingertips with fierce concentration.
I hardly notice when the atmosphere changes, and the gale ceases. My vision is blurry as he carries me into the shelter; the only clear object my mind registers is a row of long, pearl-white teeth that glow against the gulf of shadows. My mind grasps the purity, and the whiteness grows to fill my entire consciousness.
He settles down with me curled despondent on his lap, and his fingers reach out to caress the ivory planks. The diaphanous notes swirl around my desiccated muscles and allow them to unearth and gather small puddles of oxygenated blood. Instinct guides me slowly up the wall of his chest and over his rising and falling shoulder to reach his broad neck.
My eyes focus on a pulsating artery that cries out with the richness of life…my life. My entire body is scraping up the last of its vitality, and I want what lies beneath the gossamer layer of skin. As if the blood vessel registers my desire, a thin stream of red liquid erupts with a will of its own through the barrier. My tremulous tongue reaches to catch the flowing drops.
My senses are immediately overwhelmed and intoxicated. Every cell of my being is consumed with a need for more. With renewed strength, I reach up and up to suck and suck, joining his powerful essence with my weakened one.
The music drives on with increasing complexity and potency.
His life force plays and dances through my blood vessels in time to the notes that erupt forth from his fingertips until suddenly I reach the bottom of his soul. Afraid to resume my original velocity, I hesitate.
The urgency of his movements forces me to continue.
I meet with raw, unadulterated pain that sweeps forward and mingles with the naked motif. The mournful melody permeates every inch of the atmosphere and soon fills my own soul until I am intricately and permanently connected to him.
Deliberately, the music begins to fade into the obscurity of the piano’s memory. Vainly and feebly, his shaking hands try to force me away. Stalwartly, I cling to his neck, passionately trying to regain the euphoria I have just experienced. At last, I feel him summon all his mental energy and hurl the force directly at me.
We tumble apart.
I am aware that he stands unsteadily. I attempt to imitate his actions, but in the strangeness of never felt inebriation, I collapse to the smooth ground. Drowsiness washes over me.
He arrives at my side, and with a struggle, he lifts me onto a soft, cushioned plane. As I sink down, my fingers run lightly over his forearms. How very odd I feel. With keen awareness of my body, I listen for the sound of my heart, but I cannot hear anything. I am so tired. The newness can be explored later.
He falls in exhaustion next to me, and he draws me close…closer than he and I have ever been. I still have my soul; I can feel it, wrestling around inside of me, fighting the newly born demon. I know who will win. That’s my last thought as I fall asleep, dreaming of the darkness.
And I have never been happier in my life.