Summary: Buffy comforts Spike in the basement of her house. Set during The Killer in Me. Angst.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Just having fun.
Word Count: 1054
“Do you still miss it?”
Kneeling next to the cot in her basement, Buffy paused in dabbing the damp cloth against Spike’s forehead. She frowned. “What?”
“Do you miss it?” Spike’s pain-filled gaze entreated her to answer.
Buffy shook her head. “Miss what?”
Spike looked away, staring down at the floor in shame. She was used to this new posture of his, had seen it for months, yet it never failed to unsettle her. She gently touched his shoulder, whispering his name softly, letting him know it was safe to speak. Being gentle with Spike was easy somehow. Easy and also new.
Spike ducked his head further down, shrugging away from her touch. “Nevermind,” he muttered.
“Miss what, Spike?”
He sucked in a deep gust of air and turned to her, eyes weary and…what? Yearning? Yes, yearning. She recognized that look, too. It was the way he’d looked at her. The way he still looked at her when he dared to overcome his shame and meet her eyes. Except this was different. He wasn’t yearning for her, he was yearning for-
“Heaven. Do you still miss it?”
Buffy froze. Her gaze unfocused. She forgot to breathe, just sat at his side, mouth gaping, chest tight. No one asked her about heaven. Not even Giles. She’d sometimes wondered how her ever-curious watcher had resisted the urge to question her about the afterlife. Not that he’d been around much to ask, but for a guy who strove for encyclopedic knowledge, it was pretty crazy that he’d managed to resist. Her friends not asking was easy to understand – guilt. If they didn’t ask her about heaven, it was easier to pretend they hadn’t taken it from her. Even Dawn didn’t ask and she was nosier than an ace reporter on the trail of a front page scoop.
Trust Spike to be the one with the guts to prod her. To go where no one else would dare. Taboo read as ‘Welcome’ in his twisted mind. He was always pushing her, forcing her to face things. No. No, he wasn’t. Not anymore. That was the old Spike. Spike with a soul didn’t pierce her with his gaze and steal away all her secrets. He was too busy trying to hide his own to go greedily searching for hers. Lost in the puzzle of why Spike would ask such an out of character question (well, out of character for him nowadays), she barely noticed his grimace and the flash of self-loathing that crossed his face.
“Sorry. I shouldn’t have…” Spike closed his eyes in disgust. “Sorry.”
Buffy shook off his apology, still caught in her own tangled thoughts. Not finding an answer, she blurted out, “Why would you ask me that?”
Spike silently laughed, his lips curving in bitter irony. A vicious shudder coursed through him as the chip misfired, his eyes slamming shut and teeth clenching down so hard she thought they might shatter. Sweat beaded on his brow and Buffy automatically wiped it away with the moist towel in her hand. She watched his closed eyes continue to flinch, waiting for the pain to subside. His body went limp finally, the brief reprieve between the violent episodes. After a hard swallow, he opened his eyes and uttered hoarsely, “Figured it’s the closest I’ll ever get to it. Hearing what it was like for you.”
Now it was Buffy’s turn to look away, glancing up at the ceiling. She’d hoped to hear from Riley. They’d parted on good terms last year. If anyone could help Spike, it was him. How long could this go on? Could a vampire die from too much pain?
She’d seen Spike laugh at broken bones and gleefully lean into her hardest punches, shaking off the pain like an afterthought. But this was different. Every time the chip misfired, he looked a little bit paler. The slightest bit weaker. More tired. More broken. She imagined this – his suffering – going on for days, weeks even, and then her mind flashed to him lying on the dirt floor of a basement, his hands pulling back his jacket and offering her an easy target for the broken wood clutched in her fist.
Would he beg her to kill him again? Could she bear to do it? Could she bear to stand by and watch him suffer if she didn’t?
Spike shuddered again, his arms shaking as a slight aftershock ran through his body and forced his eyes to roll back into his head. Buffy bowed her head, biting her lip. Her hands fidgeted with the frayed threads of the towel now resting in her lap.
“It was warm,” she whispered. “I remember how warm it was.”
Buffy could feel him looking at her, the hairs rising on the back of her neck. The cot creaked as he turned towards her. He didn’t speak, didn’t interrupt the silence between them. If a pin had dropped, it would have been louder than a gunshot firing in the dark quiet of the basement.
“I was happy. It was more than just feeling happy. I was happy. I was happiness and joy. There wasn’t anything I wanted or needed. I was complete. I was everything I was meant to be. I was surrounded by-” Her voice hitched and she swallowed the lump in her throat. “By love. Deep, powerful love. It…it was like…” Her eyes closed in frustration, struggling to speak. “I’m not good with words. I don’t know how to explain it. It was…it was…”
“Effulgent,” Spike whispered.
“Huh?” Buffy turned to stare at him, confused.
“I can see it now.” Spike smiled softly. “Thank you.”
Buffy shuddered out a deep breath, the corners of her lips turning up slightly. She blinked back the moisture in her eyes, regaining her composure. “It’ll be okay,” she reassured. “Riley will call any minute now and we’ll know how to fix this. We just have to wait. Be patient.”
Spike closed his eyes, nodding. His forehead wrinkled in pain and Buffy laid her hand across it, her fingers smoothing out the rumpled folds. She breathed deeply, measured and controlled the way Giles had taught her, watching as Spike matched her rhythm, his chest rising and falling in time. Riley would call any minute now. Everything was going to be okay.
“We just have to wait,” Buffy whispered to herself.