Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters and I do not claim to own them.

A/N: Written for Fag End's Halloween 2014 Zombie Uprising challenge for the prompt "Silence."

Months ago, he'd asked her to help him be quiet. He'd been crouched in the basement, huddled in on himself, hurting from the noises in his head. She'd left him there.

Now he's curled up on the cot, semi-conscious, nose bleeding, and silent except for the occasional grunt that could also be taken for a whimper. The hurting is still in his head, but the noise is outside now. Even with Giles and all the girls gone and Willow upstairs also playing nurse, there's still Xander making repairs, the banging noises from the kitchen (probably Andrew), and every so often she can hear the automatic and mechanical laughter from the television (probably Anya or Dawn). Spike flinches at each of them.

Different basement, different headache, same need for silence.

Buffy tries to be as quiet as she can. Tries not to speak, not to breathe too loudly, tries even to will her heartbeat to be quieter.

When she touches him, to wipe away the blood from his lips or the tears from his cheeks, she tries to keep her fingers and the cloth feather-light, brushing only enough to accomplish the task and to do nothing else.

She folds the washcloth again. It's getting pretty stained and she should probably wash it or swap it out the next time Spike's really unconscious.

Spike seems to float back into awareness for the moment and his eyes focus on her, screwing up slightly even with the lights off. "Buffy?"

"Hey," she keeps her voice to a whisper, a breath. "I'm right here." She leans in closer so he can see her face more clearly and notices a splotch of blood she'd missed earlier. She'll get it when he's less lucid, though, and for now she reaches out and holds his hand.

He relaxes a little, and despite the red smear and the teary eyes and the pain that's very plainly written on his face, he looks a little more content. His fingers move against hers without actually squeezing.

She's in her basement, holding Spike's hand, trying to make him feel better, and actually worrying about what could happen if she can't. (Even though she will. She has to.)

Last year their relationship was loud. Even though it was secret and hidden, tucked away in shadowy corners, it was all about the panting, the slap of skin on skin, the moans, and the growls. It was angry and violent and yet somehow, somehow, they're here.

They're still Spike and Buffy, no matter how much they've changed in the last eight months or so. And they're still down here, in the dark and dank with the lights off.

But it's so different. So incredibly, sharply different. If she thinks on it too much, on the idea that the she and Spike that last year tore down a building with their misery and their hate and their lust are the same she and Spike that are here, she might end up with a headache too.

Now it's safe, it doesn't hurt, it's really caring. It's solid and comforting. It's what they both really need, what they've been needing.

Now it's gentle, as she cleans his face and runs her thumb over his fingers.

Now it's quiet.