Summary: When the weirdness fades away, all that's left is what's real.
Timeline: Season 8 comics, set immediately post-Last Gleaming Part One |#36
Word Count: ~1700
Author’s Note: Some Spuffy fans were disappointed with the small snippet of a reunion we got in #36, but I believe there's still hope since Spike's going to be attached to Buffy's hip for the remaining issues (sweet, hopeful Emmie, right?). Georges Jeanty at Dragon*Con let slip (probably as a joke, but how can I resist?): "Buffy walks in and sees Spike lying on his bed with his shirt off." My overactive imagination ran away with me and I wrote this.
Thanks to penny_lane_42 and ladyofthelog for helping to make this story shine. Your help was invaluable as always. ♥
“Stay the course, Bug One!”
Spike stepped aside and handed over the navigation controls to his spaceship, slapping the giant talking bug on its wing before he walked out of the control room. Which would’ve looked totally normal if not for the whole giant talking bugs and Spike has a spaceship deal.
Hello, Buffy’s insane life—what shocking new development will you unveil next?
Bug One rolled his—her? Its?—eyes and exchanged a silent look with Bug Three. Buffy guessed Spike had gotten their names mixed up again. It probably happened a lot, hence the need for colorcoded jumpers. Wait, weren’t jumpers dresses? So did that mean they were lady bugs? Or maybe crossdressers. Or maybe they were Scottish giant talking bugs ‘cause it’s not like only women wear skirts—American egocentrism much?
Okay, get a hold of yourself, Summers. Distracting yourself with demonic bug fashion choices so isn’t helping.
“Buffy, you okay?” Willow stood beside her, rubbing Buffy’s shoulder in small circles and giving the occasional gentle squeeze.
Wiping her cheeks, Buffy blinked back the moisture in her eyes. She gave a small nod, shrugging her shoulder under Willow’s hand. “Sure. The world’s ending and it’s all my fault.” Her smile wobbled. “Best day ever.”
“And the moral of the story, when you’re offered apocalyptic sexcapades? Just say no.” Willow sighed. “Buffy, it wasn’t you. I mean, it was you, but it wasn’t you even though it was you, you know?”
Buffy pulled away and hugged her arms tight across her abdomen. “It felt like me. I did this. I did this and I… you and Xander and Dawn and Giles…”
“We’re okay,” Willow was quick to reassure. “Sure, bruised, on edge, and kinda freaked by the lack of personal boundaries but—”
“I was happy.” Buffy’s gaze turned inward as she remembered. She shook her head from side to side. “You guys were about to die and I was happy.” She turned and at looked Willow. “What’s wrong with me?”
Willow laid her hands on Buffy’s shoulders and gave her a level stare. “There’s a force or something. Someone. It’s playing you, messing with what you feel for Angel and using it against you. You didn’t do this, Buffy—it was done to you.”
“No,” Buffy denied, shaking her head forcefully. “That’s not true.”
“You were out of control. You couldn’t control yourself. That means it’s not your fault.”
“But I wanted to be out of control. A part of me wanted to just let go and be… free.” She closed her eyes. “I did this. Oh god.”
“Snap out of it!” Willow shook her until Buffy’s eyes shot open. “Diving headfirst into the deep end of the guilt pool isn’t gonna help. You did bad. I forgive you. Who hasn’t tried to end the world when they’re having a crap day? It happens. Let’s move on so we can save the world ‘cause I kinda like it here, 'kay?”
Buffy nodded, bobbing her head a bit frantically. “Okay. You’re right. I know. I, uh, I’m just gonna walk it off.”
She slipped out of the control room, walking blindly down the ship’s dark corridor. Whenever she came to a corner, she turned and walked on, trying to shake off the weirdness, trying to ignore the siren song of bad still whispering in her ear. She kept walking until she hit a dead end.
“And I’m lost. That’s… great. Just great.” She tried retracing her steps only to find herself facing the same dead end again. Well, she thought it was the same dead end. “Hello? Bug guys? Little help here? …anybody?”
“Turn around, take two lefts, a right, and you’ll be back safe and sound,” Spike shouted down the corridor, his head sticking out of an opening in the bulkhead for a moment before disappearing from sight.
Mere seconds later, Buffy stormed through that opening to Spike’s quarters with a tart, “Thanks oh so much, Mr. Helpful Navigator. Not that I need your hel…”
Her voice trailed off at the sight of Spike’s naked back. He tossed his shirt onto the white sheets covering the mattress anchored to the wall—his boots already lay at the foot of the bed. Unable to look away, she watched the muscles of his back ripple as he lowered his arms and grasped his belt buckle.
Spike glanced over his shoulder and raised his eyebrow. “Still not satisfied, love?”
“Oh please, don’t flatter yourself,” she scoffed. “I’m here to talk and do the mature ‘closure’ thing.”
“Fine. You talk.” He whipped the belt free and unzipped his jeans. “I’m knackered and we both know I can’t get a wink if I’m feeling confined.”
Buffy whipped around so her back was facing him, then noticed the door still open and quickly pushed it shut. “Shameless as always,” she muttered, thinking how anyone could just walk by and see Spike in all his glory.
“That’s funny coming from you,” Spike retorted, chuckling. “Don’t see how what I’ve done compares. Here I thought giving it a whirl on your front lawn was pushing you outside your comfort zone, but you’ve taken PDA to a whole ‘nother level.”
Buffy cringed for a moment then firmed her jaw. “Don’t change the subject,” she ordered, refusing to turn around.
“There was a subject?”
“Yes, and it doesn’t involve you rubbing my nose in the… things I’ve done.”
Or the people I’ve done it with. No, don’t think about Angel. That way lies badness and crazy out of control destructo girl antics.
“Like boffing your beeftoy in the buff, Buff?” He chuckled to himself. “Not that I blame you, circumstances being what they are. How could you resist tall, dark and brooding with the promise of a mystical destiny where you get to sparkle in the sun together and bang out universe babies?” He shrugged. “It’s not like you really had a choice. Angel’s always been the Achilles’ heel to your heart.”
“Shut up.” Buffy glared at him over her shoulder and got an eyeful as Spike dropped his jeans to the floor. Gasping, she snapped her head back around and stared at the wall, her eyes wide.
“So what’d you wanna talk about?” His voice dripped with amusement. Jerk.
“I, uh, wanted to tell you… to ask you what…” Cheeks burning, she swallowed the lump in her throat. “Can—can you put your clothes back on?”
“Sure. Later,” Spike murmured, the sound of his voice tickling the back of her neck.
Buffy jumped, surprised to find him right behind her. “Don’t.”
“Calm down, Buffy. I’m not gonna touch you,” he whispered. “Not yet. I wanna see what you do.”
She shivered and fought to keep her voice firm. “No touching. Just talking. We’re talking about…”
“What?” he prompted, his voice low and—damn him—seductive.
Buffy closed her eyes, then took a deep breath before continuing. “You were dead. And now you’re… not.”
“Still dead, love. Always have been.”
Her throat threatened to close on her, but she forced the words out. “You came back and… and you didn’t tell me.”
“And you didn’t seem to care. Busy ‘somehow running an army’, that it?”
She squeezed her eyes more tightly shut. Shaking, she licked her lips and whispered, “I care.”
He didn’t respond for a long moment. Then he said in a neutral, controlled voice, “Do you now?”
She opened her eyes and turned to face him. The tears she’d been holding back threatened to spill over. “Of course I care.”
His eyes bored into her, questioning her, then he raised his hand to cup her cheek, but hesitated inches away from making contact. He sighed and let his hand drop.
The distance between them cut through her, a knife twisting in her gut. “I’m not the one who doesn’t care anymore,” she whispered, shaking. The admission nearly killed her.
“You think I stopped loving you?” He stared at her in disbelief. “I’ve learned a lot since I… left. Since I died and came back. I’ve changed, I know that. But I don’t know how to stop loving you. That’s something I never want to learn.”
She’d forgotten to breathe for the past minute and now she found herself gasping for air.
He still loves me. He loves me and he said it. God, why is it so easy for him to say it?
She didn’t know how to say it anymore. The words just wouldn’t come.
She couldn’t say it, so she reached for his hand and pressed it to her cheek. She closed her eyes and leaned into his touch, savoring the coolness of his palm. His callused fingers brushed against her skin, rough on smooth.
Still holding his hand to her cheek, Buffy reached out to touch his face, smiling at his bewildered expression. She stretched her fingers wide to take his measure, letting her fingertips brush against the fine hairs at his temple and press her palm into the hollow of his cheek. She traced the lines of his face with a featherlight touch, across his forehead and down the sharp edges of his cheekbones, along his jaw and the indent of his chin. She let her fingers wander up to stroke the flat bridge of his nose, then followed the line of his eyebrows, first left, then right, stopping to push down on his scar.
“Spike,” she murmured, and began again, trailing her fingertips across his brow and sweeping down his temple.
He caught her hand and kissed the center of her palm, then he leaned forward and rested his forehead against hers. “You love me. I get it.”
She nodded and licked her lips.
This is real.
Finally her throat unlocked and she found she couldn’t not say it.
“I love you.” She smiled, then bit her lip and asked, “Can you put your pants back on now?”
His eyes flicked down and he smirked. “Or you could take yours off.”
Outrageous, shameless, provocative vampire—what’s a girl to do?