A Silver Thread
By Devil Piglet
Disclaimer: All characters of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ are used without permission.
Author’s Notes: missmurchison: "She's the chosen one, but he chose to be what he is." For Miss M -- because of the million ways in which she's wonderful -- a few missing scenes from 'Touched'.
Feedback: Reviews are welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fragile body curled upon strange sheets, face marred by bruises she hasn't the energy -- or desire -- to tend. How many times has he held her like this, pulled her close to him and waited for her breathing to even and calm? Sad, tired girl. And yet so much more.
"Not gonna end badly for you this time, Buffy," he murmurs. His lips move against her temple, stir the fine golden hairs there. He's not fool enough to think that she needs him to triumph over the First -- she's the one, after all, and he has a sinking, terrible fear that in the end she'll be alone as always. It breaks his heart, imagining that.
But he also figures that the First will do a bit of damage before it slinks off back to its foul hole. Spike knows better than anyone that they're not dealing with an amateur here; it's brought death to their door already and it will again. And he's determined it isn't going to be Buffy taking one for the team one last, final time. Nor her precious pals, nor even those phenomenally irritating Potentials. No, everyone was going to remain intact -- as intact as they were now, he thought, remembering Xander with a queer feeling of regret despite his rage at the lot of them, and a whisper of what if I'd gotten there sooner...
"Fucking soul," he mutters without rancor. "Other fellows go to Africa, come home with ostrich eggs or a set of marimbas. But nooo, that's not good enough for Spike, he's gotta get sodding ambitious --"
Beneath him, Buffy stirs. She nestles deeper into his shoulder, then blinks up at him sleepily. "Marimbas?" she asks.
"Sorry, love. Just whinging. Go on back to sleep."
She brushes the hair out of her face and props her elbows up on the pillow. "What's on your mind?"
Her lips curl into an almost-smile. "Sure. Apparently it's 'Beat Buffy With the Stick of Brutal Honesty' Day. Go for it."
"Was wondering...was wishing, for half a minute, I'd not gone to get it. The soul." He waits for her to glare in contempt, push him away with those powerful tiny hands.
Instead she nods. "Well, it's definitely got its drawbacks. And I'm hardly one to criticize, what with wanting to trade my Chosen status in for a set of ginsu knives, or at least the chance to see thirty."
His throat constricts, and his arm tightens around her. He tries to keep his tone light. "Ah, but think of it. You a regular girl, me just another soulless vamp -- why, there'd be nothing extraordinary about us at all."
She makes a choking sound that's supposed to be a laugh but comes out a sob. "And wouldn't that be terrible."
He gathers her up closer, so that her tears soak through his shirt. She's clinging to him fiercely now, arms and legs twined around his as though she's reluctant to let him go. I don't want to say goodbye either, love.
"I'm afraid," she whispers into his chest. "I don't want to die anymore."
He shifts so that she's beneath him, small and sheltered even if just for the moment. "You won't. I swear to you, Buffy." She begins to protest but he continues. "I swear to you." He senses her conflict, icy hard loneliness warring with the desire to fall into his promise and take comfort. And he's relentless, the same killer instinct that has defined him so long now focused on keeping her alive.
"Have faith in me, Buffy."
Her eyes open impossibly wider at that. Suddenly her hands are all over his face, dancing across his features, brushing his lips and jaw and lashes. Her movements are feather-light, fingertips never resting for more than an instant before blessing some other inch of flesh. She's desperate now -- frightened? He curses himself as he grabs her wrists. It suddenly occurs to him that she can read as much in his gaze as he can in hers.
"'S all right, sweet one. It's okay. I'm right here."
"Stay," she commands him fiercely, none of the hesitation that marked the word earlier. "Don't go, Spike, stay..."
"Shhh..." He's trying to soothe her but she'll have none of it; her hands have moved downward now and slipped beneath his tee.
"I -- I can't --" She's frustrated by something, some fundamental inability to express herself. Her eyes are pained as they search his. "Don't, Spike..." More tears falling, and they're his now because every plea gets him in his gut, tempts him to make vows he can't keep.
So all he does is lay the barest of kisses to her brow. "No death tonight," he whispers. It's all he can give her.
When her mouth covers him, there's an awful yearning but not the kind they shared last year. She doesn't want to forget, he thinks dimly. She wants to remember. And there's no frantic shedding of clothes, either, or sheets kicked this way and that; it's enough that they're kissing (as if the world might end) and she's welcoming him, pulling his tongue into her, across her teeth, along her trembling lips.
"You...you...oh, God..." she's saying, shakily but with such unnamed intensity. He hushes her again, drinks her up with another sweep of his mouth. He's overcome abruptly, and buries his head into the arch of her neck. When he does, she wraps those slim arms and legs around him again, this time pressing him so close that he wonders if she can breathe. But she's not letting go and soon he's clutching at her the same way. She holds his head to her breast and he watches his tears trail down the hollow of her throat, before he's lost to her completely.
He feels strange when he awakens, like he's been washed clean and raw and new. It doesn't take him long to realize she isn't there. The crisp white paper catches his attention and he unfolds it before his suspicious mind can really process all the not-so-pleasant instructions it might contain. Spike -- please leave me alone. I want you out of my life. Spike -- I can't trust you. Spike -- pair up with Kennedy for the remainder of the current apocalypse. But he's too bleary to consider all that; starts reading without even wondering what it says.
I don't use words the way you do. They never seem to work properly for me. I tried last night but they wouldn't come; there weren't enough to tell you and they all seemed so weak compared to what I felt. But then I figured that even the lamest were better than no words at all. I think. Damn it. See what I mean?
You fill me with love. You, Spike. I saw your journey, finally -- all the fights and the failings and the incredible strength that turned you into the amazing person you are. I'm not just talking -- um, writing -- about the whole soul-deal. That's huge (what's bigger than huge? enormous? enormous) and for a while it terrified me. But it started long before then. When I watched you make my mother laugh at our kitchen table. The way you've always got Dawn in the corner of your vision, keeping her safe even when she can't stand the sight of you. Your smile when I run my hands through your hair, and the look on your face after I shoved you away, that night in the bathroom.
All of it was love, Spike -- for me and my family, but also for something you couldn't define yet, something you'd eventually give up everything for. I watched you sleep tonight, and I tried to trace your changes in the curve of your nose and the line of your cheekbones. And I hoped, hoped, hoped that you could feel the love bursting inside me, that it seeped into your skin. I kept some of it with me, wrapped tight in my heart because, well, love? Scary. But I left most of it here with you.
I love you, Spike. I'm not with you now but those words -- the only ones that don't sound stupid to me right now -- they keep us joined, a shimmery silver thread that stretches across Sunnydale and lights up my dark town. Which, speaking of, I have to go save, again. I know you were planning to go all self-sacrificey on me but it's not going to happen this time. You get first dibs on the next apocalypse, though (after battling six I was determined to learn how to spell that word).
See you on the other side of the Hellmouth.