Word count: 3 476
Summary: Post-NFA. This time they didn’t save the world and 5 years later there’s nothing to save but their hearts.
A/N: Don’t look for your Spike and Buffy here. These Spike and Buffy (especially Buffy) have 5 years worth of change and I just hope that I have managed to keep them the same deep inside while transforming them to suit the world I have placed them in.
Disclaimer: Own? Nothing.
The room was like all the rooms they had spent their nights together in for the last 5 years. Small, cold, bare, with unstable walls that had once been white but now barely resembled grey, with a small bed that hadn’t known pillows and sheets almost as long as them. Unsafe and temporary, and made perfect by the vampire standing before her.
Buffy looked into the blue eyes staring reverently back at her and suddenly the world existed again. There was something real in it. At times she wondered why they didn’t just grab each other and run, hide somewhere and keep that something alive as long as possible. But he’d always remind her why. He’d smile his sad smile (and she would be amazed that he even has a smile anymore) and she’d know that there would be no them if there was no him and no her. And if they stopped fighting, if they stopped protecting the world (what was left of it anyway), they would truly lose themselves, lose the him and her they love and bury that something. And they couldn’t do that because it was the only thing left alive. Even if it couldn’t last.
So she protected the Buffy that barely existed anymore, the Buffy who only he knew and who only came out in these rooms. That Buffy was, after all, what separated her from everything else, everything but him. Because the world outside wanted nothing to do with her almost as much as she wanted nothing to do with it. It wasn’t hers, at least it didn’t use to be, even if sometimes (when she hadn’t seen him for too long) she felt like she had known no other world.
She hadn’t called herself a vampire slayer in years. It was only logical since she hadn’t slayed a vampire in years. It was just that there were no vampires left. Spike liked to joke (somehow he still managed to do that sometimes, even though she was pretty certain he only succeeded because his desire to hear one of her rare and almost non-existent laughs was too strong) that now he was ‘one vamp in all the world’. After all the humans were gone (she had last found one almost an year ago and he had lasted less than a month) the vampires had turned out to be next on the menu. Now they were pretty certain there were just demons. And not the kind she had fought back in Sunnydale (and why couldn’t she remember the time she had first seen that ‘Welcome to Sunnydale’ sign which Spike had finally managed to bring down once and for all in the end which hadn’t turned out to be the end at all?). No, these demons were creatures that came from Hell itself. Or was it that she was the one who had simply landed in the middle of Hell?
It certainly looked like Hell. She didn’t remember the last time she had seen a bird but dragons were a daily occurrence. And she most definitely didn’t remember when the sky had stopped turning blue. Now it simply stayed black all the time with just the usual traces of red that looked like liquid fire that could burn her but only managed to chill her to the bone. It certainly smelled like Hell too. Death and blood and dust. Smelled like an old house which had never been cleaned after all the murders committed in it. And it certainly tasted like Hell. Not just the dirty water she forced herself to drink when she became too dehydrated or the dry food she chewed as quickly as possible, not even the blood that almost constantly filled her mouth, flowing from a cut lip or a broken nose. No. The very air tasted like Hell. Like all the hope had been sucked out of it. Because hope died last, right? And everything around them was dead.
Spike took a step closer, taking her mind off thoughts that always took the fast train through her head because she didn’t care about them one way or another (especially when she was with him). She had already shed her sweater and was standing before him in just her jeans and a top that had blood stains on at least three different places. A part of her brain registered that there had been a time when that would’ve made her feel self-conscious. It also reminded her how she had cursed the loss of her backpack and the semi-clean blouse she had been keeping in it (for tonight) for the last three months. The smallest of smiles flickered across her face before hiding away in the next second. Clothes couldn’t matter less in the world outside as well as in the one she had entered the moment she saw him.
Spike started slowly unbuttoning his black shirt (which she knew he had also been keeping but had had the luck of not losing). It fell on the ground, serving his pale skin to her hungry gaze. He was thinner than he had ever been in Sunnydale but less so than the last time she had seen him. His muscles though were more defined than ever and his arms somehow managed to send across the massage that he broke at least a hundred necks every day. And then there were the scars. Before she had never given much thought to whether or not vampires got scars. Then, years ago, on one of those nights, while she had been running her hand up and down his chest, she had voiced her question and Spike had explained. The scar on his eyebrow he couldn’t quite figure out himself though he had doubts about the Slayer’s sword. The ones that marked him all over now were simply waiting their non-existent turn. Since he hardly went an hour without receiving a new wound his healing worked for as long as it took for said wound not to cause damage anymore and then moved on to the next one, not bothering to erase the scar. He thought it was possible that if he went without any new holes, cuts and burns for a decent amount of time his healing would start on the scars. He also thought, and rightly so, that he would never get the chance to see if his theory was right.
Right now, on top of all the old ones (some of which she had seen him get, some of which she knew where he had got, some of which he had kept stubbornly silent about and some of which she had never dared ask about) was a fresh set of new scars. Weird imperfections of semi-healed skin that looked grey or slightly purple on his white skin. Different sizes, different shapes, different length. She knitted her brows together trying to decide if the one on his left shoulder looked like the shape of Superman’s sign or a heart broken in two. It was as if a very unstable and undecided painter had taken his knife rather than his brush to her vampire’s perfect skin and experimented until he figured out what he wanted to draw. She had the feeling that he still hadn’t figured it out and won’t come to a decision anytime soon.
“You’re beautiful.” her voice was quiet and calm but the awe in it could be felt as if it had physical form.
He cocked his head to the side, the beginnings of an amazed smile tugging at his lips while a question entered his eyes. Spike was damn cute when he was trying to figure her out and she was just happy that she could still surprise him.
She knew he didn’t doubt her sincerity. They had stopped saying things they didn’t mean long ago. They had also stopped saying things that didn’t matter. There was just too little time. Never enough to spare on unimportant things, on phrases they didn’t mean with their whole hearts. So the only words that ever passed their lips were ones they just couldn’t hold in.
But he couldn’t understand why she would believe something that was clearly not true. It was what she was after. That belief of his that make her heart hurt more than anything beyond the walls that surrounded them did. Because when Buffy knew that she was unworthy in the eyes of her friends, in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of the Powers or whatever was out there, she still knew that she was worthy in his eyes. There she was still strong, beautiful, loved. Her best and her worst, he had said. And nothing in the world, not even losing her place in his heart, scared her more than him not knowing how deep in hers he was.
She took a step forward. Her hands skimmed his scarred flesh (she would kiss each and every scar later, like she did every time) and stopped to rest around his neck, her thumbs barely brushing his cheeks. He turned his head just the tiniest bit to the right. It had become a reflex quickly. Of all of them she knew this was the only scar that bothered him. It started from his forehead and run all the way almost to his chin, slicing the left side of his face in two. She had never been hurt by the move. It was about taking the hell outside as far away as possible if just for a few hours. But it had just recently occurred to her that he didn’t quite grasp what it was that took the hell away.
She gently turned his face around. Kissing his chin, his nose, his brows, his scars. His hands now rested on her hips and he was breathing heavily, and she knew that he couldn’t quite understand what she was doing but his unbeating heart wanted to burst right out of his chest anyway.
Her being gentle and loving wasn’t something new. She had made certain to never keep that part of herself locked away from him again, as a matter of fact, she had set it aside years ago for him and him alone to have. The new part was the lack of fear.
The world had taught her that everything she loved would be taken away one way or another. So every time she was with Spike, she waited. Every reunion (and there weren’t nearly as many as her heart needed to learn to beat steadily whenever she laid eyes on him) he made the first step, said the first word and planted the first kiss. And then she relaxed as much as her body ever did these days and let herself give everything like he always did. It was an unspoken rule. She was the Slayer and she was scared. The time when she couldn’t or wouldn’t admit that had passed.
So she never acted first. He never called her on it, and she always more than made up for it, but it was there. Until tonight. She could probably dig up some crucial moment when her life had (as in every other second) stood on a very slippery edge in front of an impossibly high cliff, point at it and say that’s when she had realized she had to stop being afraid of the only thing that made her breathe. But there was no such moment to point at and she wasn’t quite certain if she would’ve needed one five years ago but she was positive that she didn’t need one now. There was just knowledge. Knowledge that it didn’t matter if she got burned a hundred times over because he had burnt himself many more for her. Knowledge that maybe this time when she opened her mouth the right words would come out since she let so few of them slip out at all these days. If she said almost nothing, she could hope that the little she said would be right, right? Most of all, there was the knowledge that this man was worth everything and she had to make sure he knew that.
And when she looked into the only thing that held the blue of the sky anymore, she thought she could’ve laughed (if she still laughed) because suddenly she knew she could say the right things. They were written right there in his eyes. And she had learnt to read a long time ago even if it had taken her a while to learn to read him.
“You are. You ‘re the only beautiful thing left in the world.” he opened his mouth but she would not allow this to be about her so she kissed him (to shut him up and to get that final proof that she really had what she dreamed of every night in her arms), swallowing his protest. “You’re the only beautiful thing left in my world.”
She gave a soft laugh, surprising herself as much as Spike. Of course, she would learn to laugh again in mere minutes, he was there with her, wasn’t he?.
“No, that’s not true, is it? You are my world. And I feel like I have finally won something from the Powers that Only Take because water has turned into blood outside and my world is… perfect.”
He was looking at her like he didn’t know if he should fall on his knees in front of her or think of some way to determine if she was crazy. Buffy was most certain she was but couldn’t have cared less.
“I don’t mean… I don’t mean this world.” she said and gestured toward the only miniature window in the room. “I mean this world.”
Her hand was moving between them, indicating the space where she was absolutely sure their souls were merging into one as they always did when they saw each other. And she knew that this time they won’t let themselves be separated and that was fine by her.
“I mean you. I mean the fact that I’m not supposed to be alive. Don’t interrupt!” she actually waved a finger in front of his face in warning. “I’m not. I’m supposed to have given up. I’m supposed to be dead a third and final time. Or if not, I’m at least supposed to have the biggest death wish a Slayer has ever had.”
Her voice suddenly dropped down to almost a whisper, as if her batteries were dying only they weren’t. She felt more alive than she had since the last time she had seen him.
“But I’m standing here and I don’t.” she stared into his eyes, her own wide with understanding. “I don’t have a death wish. Hell itself has wrapped its hands around everything outside and I don’t wanna die! Can you even believe that? I don’t wanna reach for peace and find out if Heaven is still waiting for me.”
She laced her fingers with his because it had become her way of letting him know that what she was saying was big and he should listen to her carefully (as if he didn’t always).
“Because, somehow, I finally figured out how life works. Now that life on the earth is pretty much over.”
Spike snorted in amusement but kept quiet. His eyes were glued to hers and he was hanging on her every word.
“It’s never perfect or normal, for that matter, is it? And it’s not about making it so. It’s about having a reason.”
She looked down at their hands and let out a little sigh.
“Life can suck. I think a whole new level or suckage has been added to life now. And bad things happen. A lot. I think the bad definitely outweighs the good. But the thing is… it’s only the good that counts. I come up with about a hundred reasons to give up every day. And then I come up with one to keep going. And it’s enough. People are easy like that, I think.”
She looked up at him, her eyes shining. She had never done this. Not ‘since Hell chose earth for its permanent summer vacation’ forever but ‘since Buffy remembers existing’ forever. She had never shared her theories about life or love or the world. And she had definitely never had anyone listen to her and look at her as if she was the only thing in the universe and what she said really mattered. Not until Spike.
Her hand reached out, stroking his cheek.
“They just need a crumb. One reason is all it takes. And you’re mine.”
The sharp intake of breath was completely unnecessary to Spike and yet, apparently the only thing holding him up.
Buffy moved her fingers lightly over the scar on his face and suddenly changed direction because talking about the world or her feelings was not where she had been heading with this. And when exactly had she started sharing so much of herself that she actually got carried away talking about her feelings and ideas? Right, Spike.
“I love the scars. I don’t love you in spite of them and I don’t love you because of them. I love them because they’re yours. And because…” she frowned in thought, desperate to make him understand, to make him, just for a second, as proud of himself as she had been of him for what now felt like longer than forever. “A selfish part of me has always wanted to keep you to myself, all mine and no one else’s, you know? But another part, growing bigger with time, wanted to make the world see and feel you like I do. Your strength and the way you give more than you have, and the way you love like I’m sure no one can ever deserve to be loved… And the scars… I like to think that they show… They show a bit of all that. They bring it home even for that blind world of ours. They show you… It’s why they’re beautiful ‘cause there can never be anything not beautiful about you.”
A tear slipped down the scar in question when she finished. Looked poetic. But then again everything about him did. His heart probably being the most powerful poem and the distance between them, while they fought this world, being the most heart-breaking one.
“And” she cleared her throat, feeling him brush away from her cheeks tears she hadn’t realized were there because she had forgotten what tears felt like long ago. “if you have to receive any more scars, I wanna be there. See every minute of your fight and let you see every minute of mine. Because the world doesn’t care about us anymore. But we do. And if we’re gotta keep fighting because it’s what we do, we can at least allow ourselves the luxury of doing it together.”
Suddenly she grinned. It was bizarre really. She hadn’t grinned in… it felt like she had never grinned in her life. But she mentally kicked herself for being surprised. It was what being around him did. Every time, without fail, he made her experience things she had thought long buried and lost. And she was tired of giving that up. A world of pain and that was the thing she was most tired of. It was only natural.
“Might even bring some fun into things.” she said, feeding words to that surreal grin.
“We always do, don’t we?” he grinned right back and it slowly softened into a smile, leaving behind fire in his eyes.
“You think we’ll go soft? If we go together?”
After all, Hell would freeze over, if she didn’t have insecurities and fears, wouldn’t it?
“No.” he shook his head. “Don’t think we will, luv. And anyway, I think it’s about bloody time we took that risk.”
No, Hell would freeze over if he didn’t chase away all of her insecurities and fears.
“So” he dropped the reality in the face of their world (it was what they did to keep themselves sane) and lightly bit his lip. “love is about loving even my imperfections, huh?”
She allowed him to nuzzle her neck a second longer, kissing the scar there that was his and the ones that weren’t. And she remembered a time when he had been the one reassuring her that everything about her was beautiful (from her hair that had stopped being shinny and soft long ago to the ugly scars that he ought to growl at, not kiss so gently). And, oh, how she knew that wasn’t true. Just as well as she knew that for him it was.
“No.” she pulled his head up, looking at the long scar that marked his face. “Love is about your imperfections being perfect to me.”
- Current Mood: excited