Sometimes, she wished it would. Sometimes, she imagined that it did. Sometimes she wondered what words she would offer when the intruder would ask, in a surprised and agonized whisper, the only sane question that could be asked. The only question that anyone would ask, standing in her doorway and observing the scene, breathing in the sharply scented air.
She might have said that his lips tasted like honey, that his hair was like finely woven silk and his skin the smoothest alabaster. She might have said that his touch trailed like slow-moving, slow-burning lava when he caressed her skin, or that the words he whispered into her ear as they clutched at one another were the most beautiful poetry ever breathed. She might have said that he was a gentle and considerate lover, the only one who could truly understand her, the only one who could stir passion in her numbed heart anymore.
She might have said that she loved him, but it would've been a lie.
When she was being honest with herself, she could admit that his kisses tasted of blood, beer, and cigarettes. That his hair was coarse from abuse, usually sticky with gel, and sometimes smelled of chemicals. That his skin held the same imperfections as any man's, and that his touch wasn't so warm, not anything akin to fire, more like the cool mid-morning air. That the sounds he breathed into her ear were sometimes words but more often the snarls and growls of an animal, and that his touch was usually rough with urgency and hunger.
But those admissions were painful, so the honesty she granted herself was rare, and grudging. And in the safer, warmer confines of her imagination, when the door opened and someone -- Giles, her mother, Willow, Xander, sometimes even Tara or Anya -- stepped into the room, the lies she would craft for them would be intricate and beautiful. She would list his virtues and his strengths, and the unwitting invader in her imagination would slowly begin to understand that the bond she shared with her lover was true, and unbreakable, and that they loved one another with a strength and purity like something from a fairy tale.
Even in her mind, the lies tasted overpoweringly sweet, like the purest confection, so filled with sugar that her teeth ached with it. And no matter how carefully she crafted her arguments, no matter how quickly she could win over the visitor in her imagination, she could never quite fool herself.
Occasionally her mind would conjure up other phantoms who would not be swayed by her arguments, either. Angel would stand solid in her mind's eye, cloaked in black cloth and shadow, gazing at her balefully from the doorway. Or Riley would stand there, every line of his body stiff with tension, his eyes burning with unspoken accusation.
She always banished them swiftly, and tried not to think of them again, But they'd still slip inside, somehow, still stand and stare and not say a word. She had stopped formulating speeches for them in her mind, because they never listened anyway.
Buffy sighed, long and slow, when the dim light of morning began to push at the edges of the heavily curtained windows. She turned her eyes away from the door, glancing at the window, absently noting the arrival of another day like any other day; another day filled with sunshine that couldn't reach far enough inside her to touch the shadows hidden there.
Her lover stirred, his body shifting next to hers between the rumpled sheets, his arm brushing against her shoulder in a comfortable, casual touch. His eyes blinked slowly open, his tongue flickered out to wet his lips, and a soft, nearly imperceptible smile softened the hard lines of his face as his hand reached out to slide across her stomach.
"Morning again," he murmured, his lips grazing her collarbone. His tone made the words half question and half statement, and his voice radiated reluctance.
"Yeah," she agreed, hand automatically rising to touch him. Her fingers skimmed lightly over the fine dusting of down at the back of his neck before firmly cupping that flesh, drawing him to her for a quick, chaste kiss. "You should go before the sun comes up."
He drew away from her with the slow, lazy movements of a deep sleeper not yet entirely awake, and tugged on his clothes with an uncaring clumsiness. He seemed unfazed when his feet were caught up in a pile of her laundry, and didn't seem to mind if he looked foolish when the process of pulling on his jeans disturbed his balance, forcing him to stumble forward a step. His gaze skittered over the floor as he looked for his discarded t-shirt, and one hand absently slipped through his hair, forming new rifts and peaks in the already-mussed blond tangle atop his head.
Buffy watched him silently, filing away the unconscious gestures and little movements in her mind for later examination, because these morning times, on the sharp edge of dawn, were the only times she was able to really see him. At night, when they tumbled into bed, darkness smoothed his body and cast shadows on his faults, leaving in his place the silver-highlighted silhouette of her perfect lover. In the day, with the sun burning high overhead, it was as if he were white-washed by that blinding light, and the worst of him was exposed to her eyes.
But in the early morning, with the world cast in pooling mixtures of the blues of night and the yellows of day, in that purgatory between them both, she could find a middle ground between the lies she spun for friends who weren't there, and the harsh truths she forced upon herself. The sparkling Adonis took on the listed and exaggerated imperfections, and met somewhere in between, the blur of both lies becoming the sharply focused image of a man. Just a man, like any other, distinguished to her only by her need for him and her inexplicable affection. The vampire who knelt by her bed, digging underneath with one arm in search of his boots, was not the mythic lover that women sometimes wish for, nor a monster to be slain.
His mouth tasted stale in the mornings, and sometimes the light touch of his hand was the only thing that made sense in the world.
"I'll see you at the store tonight," he said.
She could only murmur unintelligibly in response, dragging her eyes away from the familiar curve of his shoulder, which she'd mapped a few times before with her tongue. She met his eyes -- the skin wrinkled at the corners when he smiled, and she wondered idly how old he had been when time had stopped for him -- and he repeated himself, recognizing her lack of comprehension in the slightly opened slit of her mouth.
"I'll see you at Giles' store... we're meeting for patrol, remember?"
She nodded, watching silently as he shrugged on his coat and slipped somewhat awkwardly out the window, avoiding the hallway where he might run into someone beyond the barrier of the closed door. She faintly heard a muffled curse as he dropped to the ground with less than feline grace, and her eyes turned back to the bedroom door as she listed to the rapid retreat of his feet on the pavement, and finally the hollow metal sounds of a shifting sewer grate.
The sun seeped in with a little more power, casting a few glowing strips of pale, pale yellow against the white door. She imagined again that it swung open, but it was Spike standing on the other side in this new, hazy daydream. He smiled the same lazy, satisfied smile that he often wore just before daybreak, and leaned against the door frame, watching her without saying a word.
Buffy smiled, rearranged her pillows and sank back into their embrace for a few more moments of sleep, surrounded by the smoke and peroxide smell of him.
She might've told that apparition in her mind that she didn't love him, but it would've been a lie. His mouth tasted stale in the mornings, and sometimes the light touch of his hand was the only thing that made sense in the world.