Seasons of Life
By Lara Dean-Brierley
Four stages in Buffy's and Spike's relationship. This was mostly written to play with symbolism.
NC-17 for sex
Sure, just lemme know.
Yes! Brutal is good. This is my first fic; let the next one be better!
<mumble mumble> Joss <mumble mumble>
All hail Sofia Neto, master of languages and beta reader of much wonderfulness. Heaps of gratitude to her for being willing to look over part 4, and making it into something readable. This never could've been finished without her.
She moved over him with growing urgency. She wanted to throw her head back and gasp every time his hands pulled her hips downward; she wanted to close her eyes and limit her senses to his soft moans and the feel of him inside of her. But she kept her gaze steady on his even as she raised her body above his and lowered it again, because there was a smoldering heat in his eyes that she could not gain from his skin.
Yet I am the vampire.
There would be bruises, she knew: ten of them, one for each of his fingers that dug hard into her flesh. He tried to hold onto her in such a brutal fashion because he knew that she would leave him, afterward, and break his heart--then come back, and go through the movements of their midnight dance, and leave him broken again. The pieces of his heart must be crumbling into smaller and smaller fragments, and someday it would turn to dust altogether without the touch of a stake. But she couldn't help herself. She had to return to him, drawn like some perverse moth to the dark blaze of his passion for her. Since she had come back to life, it was the only warmth she could feel.
And in taking it, I'm sucking you dry.
Dry of hope and whatever sinister joy he found in his unlife, dry of any hope of redemption. She didn't want him to become good. People who were good did things like bringing their friends to life. Her friends said they had done it because they loved her. Because they needed her. They said. She didn't, couldn't believe. But Spike, who lay beneath her and gripped her hips so savagely....
I don't doubt that you need me. That you love me.
That was the one thing she would never be able to drain from him. His love. It scorched her, and she reveled in the burns. Only he could make her body this pyre of lust and rage and confusion. And now, as he shifted her slightly before thrusting upward, she lost her struggle and closed her eyes, holding herself still as her orgasm crashed through her.
Spike, oh God, Spike, the way you make me feel--
He suddenly flipped them over so that he was on top, and he drove hard into her with several quick strokes until he too came. "You make me feel alive, Buffy," he murmured as she felt all of his muscles untense at once, and she realized that she had spoken aloud...and that he had finished her words.
She lay there, feeling the weight of him press down on her in more ways than one. His fingers lingered against her cheek and she turned her head away sharply--she wasn't used to tenderness from him. He used his other hand to seize her chin and make her face him: better. His lips parted and she waited for the demanding kiss she knew was coming.
She pushed him off of her. "Just don't," she said sharply, rising onto a crouch over his sprawled form. "Don't say anything." She stared at him hard for a moment.
He raised a brow and pushed himself up into a sitting position. "Not even, 'ow'?"
"Oh, as if you don't like it rough," she taunted.
Spike snorted. "Oh, as if you don't." Suddenly he was pushing her down onto her back, his mouth covering hers, his body covering hers. One hand squeezed her breast viciously; the other rubbed her between her legs hard.
She gasped and raked her nails down his back. He made a satisfied sound and hungrily delved deeper into her mouth. The pressure on her breast suddenly centered on her nipple, exquisitely.
And then he drew back, propping himself up so that they were no longer in contact. "Tell me," he said, "that you don't."
She couldn't deny it, not when her body spoke so clearly. She writhed beneath him. "Spike...."
He licked her throat almost lazily. "Or admit it."
She whimpered and arched upward, seeking the touch of his skin. Didn't he understand that speech should have nothing to do with this? Only flesh against flesh--she flung her head back as he nipped at her neck--and teeth against skin. But his teeth were blunt, for he wasn't the one who was feeding: an irony as bittersweet as the taste of blood.
"Like blood," she repeated her thoughts aloud. "Like the way you need blood. I need you, deep and intense." Her mouth twisted. "Rough."
He raised his head and stared at her. A dreamer's silence passed, one in which nothing had to be spoken, because they understood it anyway:
Like the way you need blood to live. You wither away, taking it from plastic bags and microwaved mugs. It's the frantic pulse of it, pounding from a person's neck. You feed on the fear as well as the blood. And so it becomes something brutal and violent. No sweet seduction for you. She dragged her nails lower, deliberately. No sweet seduction for me.
So he slammed into her, taking her hands away from him and jerking them above her head, her wrists crushed cruelly in his hands. She cried out, her hips rising to meet his as he thrust again and again, until nothing was left but a haze of pain and want that finally exploded into pure release.
Even after he moved off of her, she lay there, limp and sore. She could hear rustling and then a long exhalation, and the smell of smoke mingled with that of sex. That scent defined her nights and gave her a focus. Her days were blurred, both by distance and motion, but they were framed by what Spike gave her.
She finally curled upright, hugging her knees to herself. He had already pulled on his black jeans and was sitting on the edge of the bed, watching her, a cigarette dangling from his fingertips. And from his expression she knew that if she went to him and tasted the smokiness of his mouth, touched him with both palms, they could start all over again.
Her fingertips could already feel the texture of his lean, sweat-slicked chest, but instead she reached for her camisole. A bit of searching revealed her button-down shirt which no longer had buttons. She imagined Spike would find them scattered about his crypt over the course of the few weeks. Not pearls, but he would value them more. Perhaps he would keep them, to better remember the desperation of their mouths together as he had ripped the shirt off of her.
Her clothes were everywhere, but she was growing adept at finding them, because they were always strewn about. She needed their dance to be wild, from unveiling to merging.
He was standing next to her when she looked up from slipping her feet into sandals. He slid his thumb along her collarbone, then stroked her throat. "You'll need to wear something with a higher collar."
There were no mirrors in his crypt, because they showed a world without him, and that was something neither of them wanted. But she trusted his eyes, because every time she looked in them she could see that he loved her, and she knew that was true.
She wondered what he read in her own eyes. Do I want to know?
Vaguely, she recalled that he had said something: softly, in concern. "All right," she said carelessly. "Lucky for me, turtlenecks are the trend this summer."
Spike sighed and stepped back. "You'd best get home."
"Yeah." As much as that hollow place could be called a home. It brought her nothing but numbness. But Dawn was there, and she was the reason why Buffy had died in the first place. It seemed ridiculous not to care for her now.
They never said good-bye. Each night they both knew that she could come the next, after a brief patrol on which she never invited her friends. The lies slipped out of her throat easily now, but sometimes she would catch a sidelong glance, an anxious press of lips that subsided after even more elaborately constructed untruths. It had become a constant strain. But her single regret remained that she could meet him only under sunless skies.
Autumn / fall
She couldn't help wondering if their jagged kisses had scarred his mouth somehow, leaving him unable to speak except in the low whispers he used during sex. But she knew that the silence was hers first, and that he sacrificed speech because she had done so, and demanded it of him. It surprised her, that she missed his accent, the long release of breath when he searched for words, the catch in his voice as he said her name. The subdued version of Spike should have suited her needs, but he only left her bewildered and groping for something unnamed she had lost without even knowing she had possessed it.
He could still make her believe that her bones were melting, surely turning into glass under the lash of lightning-taut desire he unleashed along her nerves.
But spooned against him, feeling his palm rest with easy possessiveness on her thigh and his mouth wander through her hair to grant light kisses, she was still discontent enough to dare changing the pattern.
His lips paused at the nape of her neck. Then his hand shifted inward as he misinterpreted her request.
Distraction was tempting, but she knew that this was her only opportunity. She rolled away from his touch and looked at him. "I--I want you to come home with me tonight."
"What about the Nibblet?" he asked in a neutral tone.
"She went on a camping trip," she said.
He bolted upright. "And you let her?"
"She's old enough--and she deserves some freedom--" She felt as though her tongue were out of practice in speaking with him.
"She's a magnet for trouble with no way to handle it!"
Buffy flinched. She hadn't wanted this torrent of fury to accompany his words; she knew no way of answering it.
At the movement, his rage dropped down to a simmer. His eyes narrowed and the corner of his mouth twisted. "You just don't bloody care, do you. About anything."
"I care about you," she whispered.
"The hell you do," he said, almost pleasantly. "All you care about is shagging me. And now you want to do it in your home, where you should be thinking of your sister." He shook his head and rose. "Get out."
She couldn't even feel anger, only dismay that she would have to wait until tomorrow night now. She got to her feet as well, and approached him. "Spike...."
It was his turn to jerk away. He knew as well as she what even a single fingertip could ignite between them.
She sighed and collected her clothes. As they did during daytime, her movements felt mechanical: dress, walk home, open the door, climb the stairs, enter her room. He should have been there with her. She had kept the smell of him, at least, like an aura: she wanted to take it with her to her bed as a pale substitution, but it would linger in the sheets and reveal her secret to anyone who came inside. Her steps dragged as she went to take a shower.
The water scoured the remaining traces of Spike away. But memory was imprinted on her flesh. He had cupped her breasts like...this...and moved his hand right...there....
The bathroom door swung open suddenly and Buffy realized she had been so distracted that she hadn't even locked it. She pushed away the soaked strands of her hair that blocked her vision and blinked away droplets of water and possible hallucinations. He was still standing there.
"Spike! You changed your mind." The tremor in her voice almost surprised her more than his arrival.
He was already stripping, opening the sight of his pale, sleek body to her. She felt her own body tighten in expectation, embers flaring. "I had to come," he said, pulled his shirt over his head, and caught her gaze. "Just for one time." The shirt dropped to the floor.
She wordlessly made room for him in the bathtub and pulled his head down for a deep kiss after he stepped in. Then she trailed kisses down his chest, past his navel, until she was kneeling before him.
He couldn't help lifting his hips a little and pulling in a gasp of pleasure when she took him into her mouth. He was already more than ready for her, but she teased with tongue and teeth and throat until he forced her head away, unable to take any more. He dragged her up the length of his body to stand again, and she shared the taste of him with his mouth. Again he broke away, and this time he turned her so that she faced away from him.
The borders of the tiles were obscured by the fall of water. She wanted to watch him, but there was a thrill of pleasure in simply feeling his presence press against her back, trapping her between him and the wall.
He traced her spine with his tongue. His hands slid up along her flanks and then firmly captured her waist. He didn't need to hold her, she wasn't going anywhere, but then he entered her all at once, burying himself within her, and any semblance of strength left her limbs, and, oh yes, she needed him to hold her.
She clung to the tiles and he placed his own palms on either side of her, supporting himself as he slowly withdrew. His pace was excruciating, and impatiently she bucked backward.
He kissed her shoulder blade and said something that the sound of the spray washed away. And then he began to move to a steadily increasing tempo, shoving her roughly against the wall with every thrust, pulling her back as her body tried to follow his and keep them from separating.
The distance between then magnified into a sprawling desert, then collapsed into nothing, the front of his body branding her back. Small cries were forced from her throat each time he pounded into her, and one of his hands finally left the wall to travel the skin of her belly, then lower, to the wetness between her thighs that had nothing to do with the shower and everything to do with him.
She called out his name as he brought her to climax, all of it melding into one sensation: the water striking her shoulders, the hardness of his tense muscles held tight against her back, the slipperiness of the tiles she tried to find purchase on so that she would not collapse.
"So long, love," he breathed against her ear, and then he pulled away.
It took her several minutes to gather her senses together, and even then she still needed to brace against the wall for support. When he didn't turn her around to take her again from the front, as she had expected, she craned her head around. Her eye caught on the mirror, which showed nothing but steam. She turned fully, but for once it wasn't lying. He was gone. She sank into a huddle at the bottom of the tub, letting the hot water pound against the top of her head and her back.
Maybe he had heard Willow in the hallway. Maybe he had left for his crypt before they became so caught up in each other that it would be inevitable for them to be found in her bed in the morning. Or maybe he was waiting for her even now, a towel carelessly discarded at the foot of the sheets sliding under his frame.
But we never say good-bye.
Fear balled up in her chest, a painful knot that seemed to obstruct her breathing and left her gasping. Somehow the gulps choked into sobs, and some of the drops that streamed down her face and into her mouth tasted salty. She leaned her head against the wall, watching her tears and the water swirl, then fall down the drain.
Like the caterpillars who slept patiently in their cocoons, she waited. But while they had the surety of growing graceful wings and brilliant colors, a new life as butterflies, she had no such solace. Only the upward questioning slide in her friends' voices, their exchanged glances when they thought she could not see. And there was always and now her duty, of course: bleak patrols in which she faced off demons and vampires who wanted her life, when she herself didn't care for it particularly. But she clung to it, either out of barnacle's habit or the sidelong possibility that he might one day be drawn back to claim her breath with a kiss, her flesh with his own.
She sought her comfort in dreams. In some of them she lay under him, her hands pulling his head down to hers or resting on his chest or cuffed above her, and there was nothing but frenetic motion, the slide of his body into hers. Those nights left her sweat-drenched and aching, twisting on her bed in a vain attempt to let the friction of sheets take his place.
But then there were other dreams, where he only stood there in front of her, fully dressed in his trademark black jeans and leather duster. His eyes were gentle on hers, and his lips quirked into a smile. And then he crossed the space between them with a single stride and held her in his arms lightly, as though she were both infinitely precious and infinitely fragile. That was all. And yet those nights were the ones that left her feeling the most hollow.
Occasionally she had considered finding someone else to share her nights with, in case any man could kindle her body. But she instinctively doubted it, and she didn't want to risk doing anything that would give Spike a reason not to return to her.
Her most carefully guarded secret: sometimes she believed that she had learned a spell to conjure him. Anything from the smear of cigarette ash on the ground to the suppleness of leather brought him back. But whenever she reached for solid flesh, she abruptly found herself in the waking world, without him, far more lost than she had been in her imaginings.
Here, outside and alone, she closed her eyes and carefully drew his image in her mind. She began with the smaller details, building them frame by frame: the scar on his eyebrow, the color of his hair in the flicker of candlelight. The high slopes of his cheekbones. His eyes, closed; his lips, parted.
The angle of his shoulders, the plane of his chest. The alabaster tone of his skin, gleaming with sweat. The contrast of her hands upon it. His fingers twining with hers, guiding them lower.
The glistening trail her tongue left. The arch of his throat when he cried out. The sable of his lashes, lowered, brushing her collarbone as he bent to kiss the spot between her breasts. Each muscle in his arms standing out in perfect relief as he held himself above her. The rise of his chest with his sudden intake of air--
An icy blast of wind suddenly curled around her and then was gone, taking her warmth with it. She gasped and opened her eyes, and like his apparitions always did, he vanished. She supposed it didn't matter; she couldn't remember him making love to her tenderly, because they had never done so.
The chill of the night turned her sigh into fog, and she wrapped her scarf more tightly around her neck. She remembered how his knuckles had once brushed her throat with a warning to cover it, because his mouth had seared a mark there. It was long gone now, and she wished she didn't heal so swiftly. If it had remained, marring her skin, would it have meant he had marked her as his? She hoped not, for then its lack meant something else.
So she was here, the wintry cemetery not an unfitting place for her mood. She would have welcomed a fight, bringing her pulse to a pounding through at least some kind of exertion, gaining bruises from someone's hands. But as if her night had been decreed to remain lonely, vampires and demons stayed away, as they had for the past several hours. She walked between the rows of gravestones. She might as well be buried under one, now, since she didn't even have him.
She found herself drifting, like a forlorn dandelion seed, toward his crypt. She hadn't been there since that one night, and then she'd stopped at the entrance, where she had already been able to see that he had taken the most important things with him. That they were missing had only confirmed what she had known since he left her in that shower: he was gone.
Buffy paused again at the threshold, wondering what more she searched for. Months' worth of dust must have accumulated in there by now. But underneath the layers of the past, something of him remained, surely, and that lured her in, siren-like. So that she would not interrupt the song, she laid her feet down soundlessly, and moved with the same deliberate slowness that came when undersea.
She made her way to the bed. Even now it remained unrumpled; he hadn't slept in it before he had left, of course. She couldn't bring herself to disturb it, for that had always taken both of them.
So she stood there beside it, and to the echoes of his presence she spoke silently. I miss you.
But sentimentality had never been able to coax away the sardonic twist of his mouth. He might have said, If you want to say, "Wish you were here," send a bloody postcard.
Her turn to be flippant: Not worth the postage.
There's your problem, then. Too clingy. When you should send 'em off, you don't.
She faltered, knowing of what--of whom--he spoke. But I thought you wanted to be with me.
Oh, of course! It's all right to use Spike, you'll just kiss and make it better.
I had to use you, she pleaded. The world, it's like--a kaleidoscope, full of too many colors and always changing shape on me, shattering, gathering.... I know there are patterns but I can't grasp them. But you're dark and steady.
And "convenient," was how I think you put it the first time, pet.
She whirled to escape this mocking ghost of his, but something caught her eye. It gleamed palely on the floor, like a miniature moon, impossible to miss if one were leaving. She bent down to pick it up. But instead her fingers accidentally knocked it away, sending it rolling across the floor and out of sight. She straightened abruptly and hugged herself, feeling the cold seep into her all at once and expecting to find intricate traceries of frost on her jacket. She didn't bother going after the fled trinket, for she'd seen what it was: one of the buttons from her shirt, abandoned after all.
Her breath caught.
She thought about trying to uncover his trail, laying her footprints in his until she came close enough behind him to witness him making the next one. But following him would mean leaving Dawn. And although Spike gave her the semblance of living to warm its cold reality, her sister was the one who gave her a reason to take the next breath. She couldn't leave her. Knowing the taste of betrayal, she would not inflict its bitterness upon another.
She retraced her steps out of the crypt, finding that more time had passed than she had felt: hushed, tiptoeing hours, afraid to disturb her in this old sanctuary. She'd been out almost all night, but no one would be worrying, at least not any more than usual. On previous patrols she had found excuses to stay out as long, for she was never quite at ease inside the house. Eventually she would have to stop avoiding them.
The sky was dimly lit from below the horizon already, and utterly free of clouds. On her way home, the sun began to ascend, and she closed her eyes against the rise of its blinding brightness.
She had forgotten that a dance could be done to music, that it could be done with a single body and without touch, lights above and people surrounding her. She didn't recognize the song; she'd moved through the world for so long without really seeing or listening to anything. But she could nod to its beat, sway to it, let her feet move without needing a destination. Tonight, she would dance and drink and laugh with her friends.
Dimly she was aware that they had gone to find seats or drinks--she couldn't remember. They'd urged her to come with them, but she'd demurred, wanting to lose herself for a little longer. Just ride the music, watch the people, remind herself she was one of them.
A black-clad figure, pale-haired, moved at the edge of the crowd. His stride held a familiar fluidity that made her breath hitch. But she was used to this: the world had became crystalline, and in every facet she saw him.
Then his face turned toward her, and she froze, for the features were undeniably Spike's. He saw her too, and made his way toward her. Sometime during the endless moment it took him to reach her, the song had ended. He stood before her in silence, her yearnings made tangible.
It hurt to look at him: when life had seemed blurred, he had been the one thing with any clarity. Now, with everything slowly returning to focus, he stood out with painful sharpness. The rest of the Bronze reeled away into the background.
"Spike," she said, then stopped, because all this time she had only been telling herself how she would bring him back, and never what to do after he came. She mentally fanned out all the possible words and flipped through them madly, but not one of them rang true.
"Slayer." He tilted his head and watched her as if he were drinking her in.
"We can't--can't talk here," she said. She found herself leaning toward him and pulled back, hugging herself tightly to keep from betraying the sharp, raw need welling up inside her. Its edges sawed at her voice anyway, leaving it ragged.
"It's okay, pet. If you need time to say it." He shrugged with a casualness she knew was deliberate. "You know where I'll be waiting."
She swallowed at the truth of that, when for so long it had not been. Surely there were words for that, but muteness had settled heavily upon her tongue, a patient creature. And then there was the long line of his back, moving away from her, and panic welled up within her: this time she was watching him leave.
Buffy ran after him, but the crowd seemed determined to close about her and change her path into a labyrinth. She pushed away someone who bumped into her and forced her way between a couple. The man yelled something irate about her and her boyfriend, and she almost whirled around to shout a denial back. Boyfriend? The term was too vanilla-bland to describe Spike. It was a word that could be spoken carelessly instead of whispered: spoken during daytime, in front of friends, to winds that could carry it anywhere with impunity.
She didn't even know what he wanted. Her own desires were near-sighted: him. Beyond that stretched a wasteland, dry of certainty.
Even as she stumbled, his form receded from her sight, like the tide pulling away. But she needn't have worried. Blind, she could have still found her way to his crypt, not because she had memorized the path, but because he drew her: iron to lodestone. Her body hummed with the knowledge of his presence. She slowed her reckless pace to a walk, so that she would not catch him too soon. Whatever was to be revealed between them should not be granted to some cold alley. Let it be gifted to his crypt, to fill the emptiness there.
He smiled faintly when he saw her. She closed her eyes, hoping to trap the expression beneath her eyelids, so that she might treasure it forever. In case the curl of his mouth was forbidden her in the future.
"You're looking better these days."
"It's been hard, but I managed somehow," she said, and neither bother to dispel the vagueness.
He glanced about the crypt. "I'm surprised no one set up in here."
"I patrolled around here a lot." It sounded like a confession. It was. "I didn't touch anything, though."
He dismissed that. "Almost everything that I left, I didn't care about." His eyes met hers.
She clung to that exception. She didn't ask, Why did you leave? because she already knew the answer. Instead she said, "What brought you back?"
He sighed. "Ran out of places that weren't here. After a while they all turned into the same Buffy-less scene."
"Will you stay?" The question slipped out before she could stop it.
He touched her hair too lightly for her to feel, very briefly. She couldn't remember either of them moving close enough for him to do that. "Do you need me to stay?"
She took hold of his hands, remembering how they had been linked like this once upon a time, sitting across from each other. He had numbered the days until then, when she had come back.
This time, she had kept track of how long he'd been gone. A hundred forty-seven days. A symmetry fraught with hope.
His thumb rubbed against her palm, and it almost undid her.
"I need you," she said, "like blood." His hands began to slip away from hers, but she lifted them to her mouth, kissed each softly, and he stayed poised there for just a moment longer. Enough for her to finish her words, and let her offer them to him from where they had been hiding, like pearls, within the sea of her sorrows. "Like the blood in my veins. Salty as tears but warm as sunlight. Steady in its flow, always returning--" She lifted his hands and pressed them against her heart. "Here." She stumbled to a halt as his touch there released a flood of desire that drowned the rest of her words.
"Say it," he said, but he caressed the words as he caressed her skin. His expression was so vulnerable, fierce and fragile all at once. She had thought before that she could see love in his eyes, but all that time it had been muted, a mere glimmer of moonlight across the surface of water. It was a blaze worthy of sunrise now, turning the blue into the iridescent color of hope.
And she knew it was reflected in her eyes, as well.
"I love you," she said, and something within her that had been trapped far too long finally unfurled, like newly-formed wings. She said it again, flinging her voice to the stars in challenge: "I love you!" The world cracked, then opened to her in all its glory.
One step closed the space between them, and it didn't matter who took it. They both did, and melded together. They shared a tender kiss, relearning each other's mouths. His lips were unfamiliar, curved so, but all the more thrilling for it, and when they pulled apart, indescribably beautiful.
She'd never been one to admire from afar.
All at once she couldn't bear the distance between them, whether it was formed of cloth or air. "Off," she said, her hands tugging insistently at his shirt before moving under it and skimming over his chest.
"This too--" His fingers busy with her blouse.
They were ungraceful pulling off their clothes, their long pent-up desire mounting too high for them to take turns undressing each other. They tumbled to the ground on a makeshift bed of their discarded garments. One foot was still tangled in the folds of her skirt when she crossed her ankles behind him, and his belt was snaked under her, a hazy sensation compared to him. She pulled his head down to hers, and this time the kiss was hard and deep, just like his thrust.
They moved together urgently. Whenever she could steal the breath, she told him that she missed him, needed him, loved him. His voice was low and rough, but she could not mistake the way he said her name, just before he came.
After a moment, he rolled off of her and onto his stomach. His head was propped upon his crossed arms and turned so that he could watch her. He grinned when he saw how utterly replete she was. "Too much for you, love?"
She laughed. "Not enough. Never enough." Even now, they were too far apart. She gathered her strength and went to him, draping her body over his, laying her cheek against his back. He crooked an arm back to brush her side with his knuckles. Her hands moved slowly through his hair and then down to his shoulders, alighting there as gently as butterflies.