Title: And Take My Waking Slow
Author: snickfic / snickfic
Setting: post-NFA (hence icon!)
Words: 5400 on the nose!
Rating: PG-13 (for a wee bit of language)
Genre: shanshu!Spike, post-apocalyptic, lots of hurt/comfort
Summary: The world is broken and Buffy is broken and Spike is fixed, kind of, possibly more than he ever wanted to be. He doesn’t know what to do about any of those things.
A/N: This is another fic in the post-apocalyptic universe with the Spuffy mpreg, although (as some of you will rejoice to know) this fic is a prequel and therefore has no mpreg in it. As of now, this is the earliest fic in the chronological sequence, so no prior knowledge of the ‘verse is needed, but other entries in the universe may be found here.
I meant this to be the Spike-deals-with-being-human fic, but I think that theme is going to span more than one fic. Call this the first installment, then. Enjoy. :)
Spike was lying on something hard, not the bed in his apartment nor any of Angel’s couches. There was murmuring all around him – live voices, not the long-dead ones who whispered to him sometimes on sleepless nights. People. Girls, mostly, chattering. If he could just get the water out of his ears, he could hear what they were saying, maybe.
One of them was speaking to him, he realized. His eyelids felt crusted with the dust of years, but finally one slid open. He squinted against the painful enveloping light. A hazy shadow towered over him.
A sound like a word bubbled up from his throat, but he wasn’t sure which word it was, and in his mouth it was only a croak.
“Spike,” said the shadow above him. “You’re awake.” The dark form dropped until he thought he could almost see the features of a face, and then it was gone.
There were still voices, more distant now, barely audible at all. Not important, he thought.
Everything about him was heavy, bound by too much gravity.
His eyelids moved better now, though. He opened one, then the other. There was a face; he could see it, though blurrily. It was a familiar face, all golden with glints of green. He had a name to put to it, he knew he did…
She smiled. Her hand was on his face, cupping his cheek.
She was so cold.
He tried to cry out at the realization, but he could only choke. His involuntary lunge towards her ended some quarter-inch off the floor, and then he fell back, elbows aching.
“Hey,” she said. “Hey.”
“Cold,” he stuttered out. “You’re—”
“Just a minute,” she said, and she was gone.
Had she killed them all yet?
The Potentials. The Scoobies. They’d have let her into the house without a second thought. She’d have murdered them all. Dawn and that dozy Amanda bint that was always wanting to play speed with him and the ridiculous little boy with the crush.
Involuntary, Spike remembered the old familiar crimson gleam of blood.
Also involuntary, he gagged on the thought of it.
That was not familiar.
Before he could roll over – supposing that was even in his repertoire of motion anymore – he was choking on his own spew, the acid burning his windpipe.
“Spike!” It was Buffy again. She tugged him upright and leaned him back against her until he’d coughed through the worst of it. “Better?”
He nodded, not trusting his open mouth.
She lowered him back down and wiped at him, cleaning the stink of vomit from around his mouth. “I brought you another blanket,” she said, draping yet more weight atop him. Did that explain the heaviness he felt in every limb?
Not that a blanket’d do anything for him. It was a natural mistake, a misunderstanding by a fledgling with no sense of temperature anymore. He looked up at her, his beautiful golden girl, his sunshine now condemned to the dark. A tear trickled from his eye and down towards his ear.
“Hey,” she said again, thumbing it away.
“You’re cold,” he managed to say, because you’re dead was too vast an emptiness to voice.
He thought she looked surprised, and then she held that icy palm against his forehead. “Sorry,” she said, offering him what looked like a smile. It was chilling, that careless cheer of the newly risen. He knew it well enough. “It’s because of the fever.”
“The what?” Somehow he’d lost the plot.
“You,” she said. “But Willow says you’re getting better.”
Willow, he thought. Not dead, then – unless Buffy’d already gotten to her. He’d threatened her with turning once. Bitter irony, how the thought of it pained him now.
But there was something in Buffy’s movements, in the casual tenderness of her expression, that didn’t feel right. Or didn’t feel wrong, rather.
He could see her chest rise and fall with a breath – another thing common to fledglings. Still. And high in her cheeks there was a flush like no fledgling ever had.
“You’re not dead?” he said. It felt like his heart paused to hear the answer.
She smiled wide, bemused, not cruel. “Not dead.”
His head swam with the relief of it – a fair trick, considering he was still flat on his back.
She flicked a hand in some direction he couldn’t lift himself up to see, and she added, “Your blue friend is still kicking, too. And how.” She rubbed at her sternum.
Blue. Illyria. Rain demons dragon Angel end.
Not the Potentials, he remembered. Not Buffy’s house. That last view came back to him, all the demons whose asses he could ever want to kick all striding towards him at once. Blue on one side, Angel on the other, Gunn crumbling somewhere behind them. Rain coming down in buckets.
And then a full-throated feminine cry and women battling at his side. They’d come, he remembered thinking. The Slayers had come.
“Good on us,” Spike said, eyes falling shut again. “Saving the world and all.”
He was almost gone already, but distantly he heard, “Not so much.”
“What’d you mean?” he asked, next time he found her leaning over him. “About the world.”
She grimaced, a smile pulled tight, and said, “Didn’t make it this time.”
“Oh.” He couldn’t fathom that. Didn’t know how to begin.
“Had to happen sometime, right?” she said. “So many times, so close…”
“Wonder it didn’t happen sooner,” he agreed, his mouth running while his brain stood still, like old times. Must have been feeling better, then. He peered up at the ceiling of the warehouse he’d been lying in for how long now? It felt like weeks. He thought, a little uneasily, that it might have been a lot longer than that. “But we’re here?”
She gave him that pained smile again. He wished he had the strength to sit up and kiss it away.
Wished, hopeless, that she’d have let him.
“Some of us,” she said.
It took him a moment to remember what question she was answering. “Who?” he said, words harsh in his throat like they hadn’t been in days. “Who’s gone?”
“Andrew,” Buffy said. “He shouldn’t have even been here. I told him to stay behind, but he wouldn’t. He said…” Tears gleamed in her eyes, though if he knew her, he knew she’d never let him see them fall. Wouldn’t let anyone. “He said it was for Anya.”
Spike wondered if anyone else had seen even this much of her. Then again, could be she cried for everyone now. A year’s a long time, Spike. What do you know of her anymore?
I know, he thought, clinging, uncertain. “Others?” he asked.
“Some of the girls. You wouldn’t know them. Um, Vi. Kennedy.”
He got a full smile this time. “She’s okay. Both arms in splints, but she’s okay.” She could see his lips forming the question, and added, “Another time. I’ll explain.”
“And…” He couldn’t think what other names to ask. Who’d been alive, last he knew? “Xander. Giles. Um, Faith?”
“They’re alive. They’re all alive.”
With every affirmation he felt the looming tragedy grow. “Who is it, then? Who’s gone?”
“That would be most of the rest of the human race,” Buffy said.
He tried to think about that, and couldn’t.
Anyway, that might weigh on her – did, he reckoned, as maybe nothing ever had – but that wasn’t what she wasn’t telling him. “My people.”
“Illyria’s, uh, fine. Or whatever she is. Your guy Gunn, he didn’t make it.” She bit her lip, watching him.
Wasn’t like he hadn’t known it. Even through the downpour he’d smelled the man bleeding out. Fucking injustice. He’d liked Charlie.
But Spike knew now what name she wasn’t saying. “Angel,” he whispered. He saw the answer in the crack of her face. “Angel,” he said again, vision blurring.
“There was a dragon.”
“He get it?”
“What?” Her eyes were more than gleaming now, and if he could bear up under the weight of this grief another ten seconds he’d have seen tears. But it was crushing him, putting him under again.
“He get the dragon?” he rasped.
“I think so. Yeah. He got the dragon.”
That should have been something. Should have felt like something, some last glorious hurrah.
There were dreams then, weird long epics full of blooming onions and sunlight that seared and a black void shaped like a great roaring flying beast. It flamed and gorged, and was never sated. It wanted to swallow him, too, or maybe it already had. Maybe that was why it felt like the world was missing.
He dreamed of deserts. Sometimes, he dreamed of oases with water chill as ice.
More than once he dreamed a person all glowy and precious, and he called her his green girl, although it seemed to him that that was wrong and he shouldn’t say it.
He woke to someone gripping his hand.
He felt better. Still aching and heavy, and a headache still lurked behind his eyes, but better.
He was somewhere else now. He remembered a hard pallet and a ceiling impossibly high above him, but this was an ordinary room: a window with a thick curtain over it, pale green walls.
When he turned his head, he saw that the person holding his hand was Buffy. “Hey,” she said. “Thirsty?”
He didn’t know how to answer. The one thing he ever truly thirsted for didn’t appeal now. But while he was blinking at her, she lifted a cup to his lips, and he guzzled down what was in it. Water. Delicious, like the water of his dreams.
There was something wrong here. He’d known it before, but there’d been so much wrong that he hadn’t been able to sort this from the all the other. “Buffy?” he croaked, and grimaced.
“Yeah.” She squeezed his hand.
The weight he felt on him everywhere, even though he could see now it wasn’t the blankets he felt. How he felt heat and cold all at once. How thirsty he was. It was all wrong. “What’s happened to me?”
Her smiled was pained, but fond. “I told you before.”
He felt unaccountably shamed. “Don’t remember.”
She slipped her hand free and rose. At the window, she reached for the curtain.
“Buffy!” He was dreaming still, and she was his glorious fury, come for vengeance. She pulled the curtain back so that sunlight spilled across the bed, across his arm before he could move.
It didn’t burn. The light poured into his eyes like molten fire, but it didn’t burn.
“I don’t…” he said, and came to a stop. He could just see his fingers, curling in the warmth. There was no smoke.
Buffy stepped back into the gloom and came around to sit on the bed. She took his hand again and pressed it flat against his ear. He opened his mouth to say he didn’t know what, and he heard it: the dull solid roar of blood. A moment more, and he felt the tickling of a pulse in his wrist.
He dropped his hand to stare at Buffy. She was still there; she was certain.
“You’re alive,” she said. “One hundred percent human.”
“How—” he said, and his voice cracked as he realized.
“Willow says it’s craziness, that she’s never seen anything like it. Figures that you’d be the first.” There was warmth in her voice, but Spike couldn’t focus on it.
“It was supposed to be Angel’s,” he said. “The Shanshu – it was always about Angel. Do his bit and he’d be a real boy at last. I never wanted it,” Spike whispered. “Said I did, but what for?” He lifted his hand into the light again, watching the shadows hiding behind his knuckles. “What for?”
His first sob surprised him. It convulsed deep in his chest, gripping him so tight he felt like he was choking. Then another. His throat ached with grief; his eyes burned with it. He couldn’t see.
Distantly he felt a hand prying his open to slide between his fingers, and another rubbing up and down his arm. He leaned into the touch until it became an embrace, and he clung to it, the only thing real enough to keep him from drowning. He gave himself to it, a whole ocean of grief he couldn’t begin to plumb. He sobbed.
A long time later he realized he’d run out of tears, that the reason he couldn’t breathe wasn’t the sobs that had wracked him earlier, but the heavy congested thickness of his sinuses. He opened his eyes.
Buffy was still next to him on the bed, red-eyed herself, her tiny hand folded in his. “Hey,” she said.
“Hey,” he says, his voice harsh from the tears.
He couldn’t talk about it. Not now. Maybe never; he couldn’t tell yet. Fearful, he glanced up to see if she meant to ask, but she looked like she’d sit there silently with him until doomsday – supposing doomsday hadn’t already come – if he asked.
There were other things he ought to say, but he couldn’t think what they were. Finally he gave up and just held onto Buffy’s hand.
It was coming on to dusk, Spike thought. At least, the light through the curtains was weaker than it’d been. He’d mostly recovered from his crying fit yesterday. He thought he might even be a bit stronger than before; sitting up didn’t feel quite so tiring as it had.
To his right, the doorknob turned squeakily. Buffy’s head ducked around the edge of the door, and then her eyes widened and she pushed it open. “You’re awake,” she said. “I brought food.”
‘Food’ was oatmeal, which Buffy said was Willow-approved for Spike’s new human stomach. What Willow had to do with it, he wasn’t quite sure, but Buffy had moved on before he found the energy to ask.
There was a part of him, buried so deep he could barely hear it, that pointed out the humor of Buffy bringing him room service. Or playing nursemaid, for that matter. Things out in the world must be all right now, he thought, if she was spending so much time on him.
Her watchful eye on him, he ate as much he could manage – more than he’d have thought, given what the stuff looked like, but apparently his stomach knew better than he did what was supposed to go in it now. When he’d finished, there was an emptiness filled that he hadn’t even realized he had.
“So humanity’s the reason, is it?” he said, setting the bowl aside. “What’s wrong with me. Forgetting things, can’t hardly push myself out of bed…”
“You were sick,” Buffy said. “Pneumonia, we think. You’ve been kind of out of it. You were getting better, and then… not. Willow didn’t know if you would make it.”
He remembered that, the fever dreams, the feeling of being pushed under by a weight only partly physical. “How long?”
She licked her lips. “Eighteen days. You’ve been human eighteen days.”
“All right,” he said, because he had to say something. “All right, so I’m alive, that’s the game, is it?” He swallowed. “And the world…” He remembered that, too, what she’d said before. “How’s it holding up?”
“Come and see,” she said. She folded back the covers, slipped her arm around his back, and shifted him upright.
His vision dimmed. “Wait,” he said. Not gonna faint, he told himself. Not. He clutched her until he could see again, and then he nodded. Gently she lifted him to his feet. She was carrying more of his weight than he was, he thought, but slowly they shuffled to the window. A hand shielding his eyes from the afternoon sun, he peered out.
It was a ruin. Cars and the scattered bones of architecture lay everywhere, tossed by a giant. Scorch marks licked up the sides of nearby houses, every one of them broken, their roofs missing and their walls pushed askew. A block down Spike could just see the massive hulk of something organic. It looked dead; probably it was rotting.
His body’d already had enough of being upright. His knees began to buckle, and Buffy dragged him back and sat him on the bed, arm still looped around his back.
“I don’t understand,” he said. “What did this?”
“Do you maybe remember some demons?” she asked.
“They didn’t stop,” she said. “They just kept coming and coming. Some of them had weapons, and they fought us. But a lot of them were like… like really grumpy cows. And they stampeded. And the demons, they got bigger and bigger. If I went to Jurassic Park and tried to slay something, it’d be like that. And there was, there wasn’t anything we could…”
The shock of the scene out that window’d woken some key thing in him, and now he could see the way her chest hitched with every breath drawn – broken ribs, he thought. A gash ran down her neck and over her shoulder, ragged and only half-healed. Now he saw how thin she was, how shadowed her eyes.
She looked as broken as those houses outside, and as desolate.
“Buffy,” he said.
Her voice low, she said, “Dawn closed the portal they were coming through.”
“Dawn did,” he repeated. “How—”
“But there were so many already here. And they were like a demolition crew. Kill and destroy. That’s all. Leave nothing standing. And finally we pulled together and we ran. We found a warehouse underground. Do you remember?”
“And there were still demons. Everywhere. Killing everything. We couldn’t… Well.” She shrugged stiffly. “We couldn’t anything.”
He could hear it, the particular tremor in her voice that came just before breakdown. She must have heard it, too. She stilled until she was rigid against him, near enough that he couldn’t pull back and see her face. He felt her careful, controlled breaths.
“And now we’re here,” she said finally.
As dull as his nose was now, at this distance even he could smell the oils of her hair and some generic shampoo masking them. It must have been another lapse in memory, or just the nearness of her against him that made him lean over – careful, careful, don’t fall on the girl – and kiss the top of her head.
She stiffened even more, if that was possible, but she didn’t pull away. After a moment she leaned further into him until he wasn’t sure whether it was her or him keeping them upright.
Maybe that’s how all the scenes ended now, he thought, staring through the window into the glazed afternoon sky. Maybe this gaping absence, inside them and out, was all there was.
The next time Spike woke, there was no Buffy. He waited for a while, wondering if she’d exploit her new super power of the moment of popping up the instant he was awake, but she didn’t appear.
He found himself thinking impatient thoughts of oatmeal, which probably meant he was hungry. He considered going and finding some himself, but just the memory of walking to the window yesterday made him dizzy. Lacking an emergency, some demony thing about to gut his Slayer, he thought he’d just as well stay in bed for now.
Finally, disgusted, he called out, “Hello?” Then, because it seemed like the sort of thing he’d said once, he added, “What’s a bloke got to do to get some service in this place?”
He heard dainty feet running on carpet, and then his door opened and a head poked through. It belonged to a female, curly-headed person with hazel eyes that reminded him of Buffy’s and freckles as numerous as stars. He didn’t recognize her.
“Oh!” she said. “You’re awake!” And before he could get a word in, she was gone.
“Well, that’s brilliant, isn’t it,” he mumbled. He thought again about getting out of bed, and again decided against it.
After a few more minutes, during which Spike had almost decided that a nap was the better part of valor, he heard more footsteps. They were heavy ones this time, and he thought they might be familiar.
“Hey, look. It’s liveboy!” Xander followed his own voice into the room. He was carrying a bowl of something that Spike very much hoped was edible. “And hey, now he’s conscious, just like real people.”
The words could have been snide, but Xander was grinning. There was still some goodwill there, then.
“So,” Xander said, “We can offer you oatmeal, oatmeal, or our special of the day—”
“Actually, no.” Xander grimaced. “All I know is, it involves canned asparagus. It was Dawn’s idea.”
Spike grimaced with him. “Think I’ll take the oatmeal.”
“A worthy choice, my friend.” Xander handed him the bowl and spoon.
Yes, it turned out, Spike was hungry. He was halfway through the bowl before he realized Xander was still in the room, seated on a chair by the door.
Once upon a time, Spike thought, he could pay attention to more than one thing at a time. He bloody well hoped that skill would come back to him; otherwise he’d be a demon snack the first time he walked out the front door. Not to mention it was bloody embarrassing.
“Buffy about?” he asked.
Xander started, his one-eyed gaze slipping from the window. It occurred to Spike that once upon a time, Xander could see more than one thing at a time.
He pushed the thought back into the dark from which it’d come. That was an old guilt, and he’d other things to worry about just now.
“Out for groceries,” Xander was saying.
It took Spike a moment to remember what he’d asked. Well. So she hadn’t got tired of him, then; just other things on her mind. “And you’re the relief, are you?”
Xander grinned. “Cushiest job in the house. Tend the ex-vampire. It’s gotta be a Scooby on the job, though; none of these teenage girls we’ve got running all over the place.”
Spike felt as if he’d been left out of a joke. “Is that right.”
Xander must have seen his incomprehension. “She, ah, doesn’t trust the newbie Slayers with you. ‘Cuz they might not notice if you had a heart attack or something.”
“But she trusts you to tend the ex-vamp? Could have been some bad blood there.” Spike said this carefully, aiming for nonchalance. Things had been civil between him and Xander, last he checked, but that was last year, a death and several apocalypses ago.
If Xander heard the question for what it was, he played it a lot cooler than Spike suspected he had. “Hey, mine is the voice of mature responsibility. Or so Buffy seems to think. Her mistake, huh?” He grinned again.
Spike thought of how she’d looked the day before. “She not healing?” he asked.
“She busted some ribs during the end of the world? Got some apocalyptic scratches?” He made a clawing motion down his arm to demonstrate.
“Oh. Uh, no, I think that’s from the medicine run a couple of days ago.”
Spike blinked at him.
Xander shrugged. “Some kind of big and ugly. And Buffy’s always got to take point. You know how she is.”
“Do you mean…” Spike licked his lips. “Are they still out there? The demons?”
Xander looked startled. “Well, yeah. I mean, that’s what Buffy’s out doing now, guarding a supply team.”
“You said she was going for groceries.”
“I guess Buffy didn’t tell you.” Xander looked away. “We’re in pretty bad shape, Spike. There’s not much left in L.A. but buzzards and demons. We’ve got water figured out for now, but you know what it’s like feeding a bunch of teenage girls – and they weren’t even Slayers then. Talk about metabolism.”
“Oh,” Spike said. “I didn’t…” Xander waited patiently while Spike searched for the words. “Buffy showed me the wreckage, but I didn’t think…” At all, he realized. The view out the window might as well have been a painting. Buffy’s despair he’d understood, but only the fact of it, not what it meant.
“What about Buffy?” Spike said. “She… all right?” Stupid question, but he didn’t know how to ask if that desolate glimpse he’d caught yesterday was the truth of things.
“Not really,” Xander said. “I mean, I don’t see her much. If she’s not out running missions, she’s in here with you.”
“With me,” Spike said blankly.
“Damn it,” Xander said. He was on his feet and out the door before Spike had even finished processing the words.
Spike sat there for a few moments before establishing to his own satisfaction that the problem wasn’t something he said. All right, then. He sat a little while longer, trying to work out probable causes, and finally it occurred to him that the sharp, distant noises he was hearing were voices. Angry ones. One of them, firm, insistent, was Buffy’s
Some demony thing about to gut his Slayer, Spike thought. There’s your emergency, Spike. He shoved the covers back and swung his feet over the edge of the bed, which brought on dizziness edged with panic. Not going to panic, Spike. Got to save the girl.
Adrenaline, thank God. It wasn’t the same as the old familiar demon urge of fight-flight-fuck; he’d forgotten what it was to have it running through him like liquid steel, like pure will. It was what got him to the door without even stumbling, down the stairs – though he was gripping the railing like all life depended on it, which maybe it did – and around a corner to front door, gaping open. There were people huddled around the inside of it, he realized, a few girls the right age to be Slayers, but others, too, and at least one demon.
Spike didn’t care. It was what was outside that mattered.
There she was, his Slayer, her back to him as she faced a small horde of truly ugly creatures with the mass of gorillas and the complexion of toads. At Buffy’s back were other girls, younger – other Slayers.
There wasn’t any gutting, though. Not so necessary as all that, was he, after all? Especially not the way his legs were trembling. He grabbed for the doorframe and held on.
“Horace!” Buffy called without glancing behind her. “Get the hell down here and talk to these… guys.”
For a moment, nothing happened, and then someone pushed Spike aside and crept down the stairs: the demon from inside. Little guy, bipedal, face like a horned toad. Raxon demon; mostly harmless. None too excited about his ambassadorial status, from the look of it.
Spike didn’t quite follow what happened after that. Negotiations; some sort of initially mutual display of strength that ended with Buffy throwing ten of the warty blokes over her shoulder, one after the other. The horde all went hulking away then.
As soon as the last of them turned its back, Spike saw the mantle of leadership fall off Buffy’s sagging shoulders. She turned to the house, leaving others to filter past her and pick up the boxes and cans fallen from the back of a small SUV. When she saw Spike, now frankly leaning against the doorframe, and picked up her pace.
“Spike!” she said when she got close. “Did something happen? Are you okay?”
“Fine,” he said. He’d savor her concern later. “I heard the ruckus, and thought you lot might need a hand.”
“Oh.” She blinked at him. “No, we got it. It’s okay.”
“So I see,” he said. He waited for elaboration, another question, anything, but she shifted him aside to make room for the supplies being carried in, and then she just stood there looking at him, not intently, but like she’d forgotten there was anywhere else to look. Like she hadn’t an idea in the world what she was meant to do next, and was waiting for someone to tell her.
That, he could do, sod it all. “I’m still a little shaky on my pins, here.” Which was to say, another two minutes of standing there and he expected to be sitting flat on his arse. “You suppose you could give me a hand inside?” he said.
She shook herself loose from whatever thoughts gripped her, and said, “Yeah, sure. Come on.” She slid under his arm – he’d never get over it, how nicely she fit there – and eased him back into the house. “Upstairs?” she said.
What he wanted to do was figure out who all these people were, but lying down was beginning to feel distinctly necessary, and so he nodded. Up in the room he now thought of as his, Buffy got him settled under the blankets, and then she sat there at the foot, looking blankly down at her hands.
“Squirrely bunch out there?” he asked, because it felt important to ask, to say something.
Buffy shrugged. “No worse than usual. Didn’t lose any of our people. Didn’t even have to kill any of theirs.”
Words were failing him now, fleeing the unconsciousness rolling in, but before it overtook him he grabbed at Buffy’s hand, and she let him hold it. It felt momentous somehow.
It must have been just a temporary relapse of total incapacitation, because he woke up sometime after dark on what he felt sure was the same calendar day. Buffy was there. He understood less than ever why she was playing personal attendance on him, but no answers came to him – none that weren’t bloody impossible – in the time it took her to go downstairs and return with what looked gloriously like a sandwich.
“No veggies,” she said. “Supply is… tricky. But a warehouse we raided today still had refrigeration, so there’s meat, and we have lots and lots of mustard. I hope you like.”
He did. “It’s good,” he said, surprised. He didn’t remember liking mustard much as a vampire: too bland. But Goldilocks, this was just right.
“I want to talk to you,” Buffy said. He looked up from his sandwich and then put it carefully down on his plate. She wasn’t looking at him at all; she was twisted the edge of the top blanket between her fingers. “You didn’t ever call me.”
A hundred years of lie-downs couldn’t prepare Spike for this conversation. He took a deep breath. “Buffy, I…”
“And I figure, well, maybe that means it doesn’t matter what I say. So I can’t make it worse, right?” She looked at him then, her lips quirked with something that looked nothing like a smile. If she didn’t look like her whole soul hadn’t been parched dry, he’s certain there would have been tears. “Because maybe you don’t care that way anymore.”
“And even if you did, I know this is too soon, because you’re not really healthy yet and you’re human now and maybe that’ll change, you know,everything. And I swear I won’t bother you about it anymore if you say no, and we’ll still help you figure out this whole human thing, but…” Now there were tears pooling in her eyes, he was sure of it. “Can we be together, Spike?”
He had no words at all. His tongue had gone stupid.
“I just… The world kind of sucks, you know? We’re talking suckage on a global apocalyptic scale, and I don’t know what to do.” She swallowed. “But I can’t lose you, too, again, not without…” She gave him a tiny smile with a ghost of her old perkiness. “So, be my guy?”
She peered at him as if testing his sincerity. “Yeah?” she said, hesitant.
“Bloody hell, Buffy, yes.”
“Okay,” she said. The smile came again, a little bit broader. “Okay.” Her hand stole into his. He clutched at it; as long he could hold onto her, this was real, right? He didn’t know how to process this. Couldn’t think what to feel.
Finally, he had a thought and words to articulate it with. “Buffy?”
“It be all right if I kiss you now?”
Her eyes still looked hollowed out, and the lines of her face, too, but with all his fervor, she said, “God, yes.”
So he did.
The rest could wait.
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/322180.html