Walking in Dreams

by Sweetprincipale

Early season 6. Buffy's body comes back in one piece, her mind a little less stable. Uncertain of reality, a sleep-deprived Slayer finds one thing she can cling to, waking or dreaming. Plenty of angst and stream-of-very-tangled-thought to begin with, but it has a sweet Spuffy ending.

Author's Note: This section also picks up immediately following the last installment.

Author's Second Note: Thank you to those of you patiently waiting for more updates to Union, Timeless, and Waiting- Getting closer to posting updates! No abandoning pieces here. Just a brand new baby in the house and it takes me about four days to write one paragraph. Hang in there, and keep sending the encouragement, it does help.

Dedicated to: WriterDragonfly, AGriffinWriter, Illusera, fiz, Ginar369, Illusera, TessLouise, ginger0826, Rinso, and vampyre-lover.

Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.

Part III

When he dreamed of this moment, and it had been often, there were several variations, and he had privately categorized them. There was "fevered fucking", the earliest fantasy, the kind he wouldn't admit was really about her, it was just another dream, another mental outlet with a person his brain picked at random. Strictly physical, a fight with sex basically, hard, primal. "Satisfying shagging", the midway point of his fantasies, he knew it was about her, the body he craved, and it was about getting it, getting her. Then, in quick succession, "Sex with the Slayer", dreams about some sort of connection turning friendly and carnal, gave way to the gold standard- "Making Love to Buffy". Love was key, the sex was secondary. After those dreams he didn't wake up hard, or spent, he woke up aching like he'd been punched in the chest repeatedly. Heartache, strong enough to feel in mind and body. "I love you" was an ostinato in the background, her eyes and her face were all the scenery he needed.

Now, reality took the place of fantasies. It wasn't like any of those dreams, wasn't one of his dreams come true. Reality spins everything, but love's the constant- so it'll be all right in the end. If she's all right now, and then, and always, as long as I have her. His words rasped out between the sear of kisses, "Got you. I got you."

"I know." Her fingers dug in, latched on. Dragged down hard, left red welts and tiny open trails as heads thrashed together, nothing drastic and romance-novel-y, just this feeling of- being connected. Tethered to him and knowing he was just as desperately clinging to her. The thrashes weren't "throes of passion" just a continual checking, breaking long kisses, or short ones, to look in eyes, to speak reassurances. Dizzy. That's what it is. The world's spinning and I'm going to fall off. Falling…

She let go of his shoulders and let herself go limp, back on the mattress, but expecting to feel that weightlessness that at the same time was so heavy, a dreaded feeling of another fatal fall.

He moved with her, hips down, head swooping, hands digging in. "You're with me. Not letting you go anywhere."

That could be so threatening, or so comforting. She tensed briefly, and found his eyes. Overflowing eyes that were intense blue, a dark electricity in them, sparking two dead things back to life.

She dug her hands in again.

She tried to feel and hear, and to close herself off in turns He wasn't letting her do that, without even trying. Too much in her head and in her body. She knew she was awake, and she knew she wouldn't be going "home", leaving him, leaving this world anytime soon. It was nice to have a place to scream her frustration out and have a partner pound into her and let her pound into him, trying to make that helpless rage go away. She left him bloodied, her nails made desperate patterns over his back and arms, and he just laid his head back and took it gratefully. It was a blessing not to have to apologize.

He thought he'd be more aware of her body. The hidden parts he wanted to see, the private show he'd love to have, getting a glimpse of all the idealized parts he and his hand often considered. Couldn't remember a thing but her face, the thud of her heart and the taste of tears and sweat running down her throat. No blood, no biting. Well, no blood of hers. He was bearing plenty of her artwork, proof that she was holding on, and he loved it. When he felt warmth and dampness at his waist, he didn't look down, he looked up, watching her face.

Buffy's eyes were closed, head back, panting.

"Look at me."

She obeyed. Nodded, breath held, body stiff.

Spike shook away her nod. "Not until you breathe. It's not gonna hurt, you don't gotta- don't have to brace yourself." He petted her hair back, cupped her face. "We don't even have to do that, you know. Love's not about-"

Her hand gripped the nape of his neck and slammed her lips up into his, tongue invaded, muffling her moan as his words died a sudden death.

Buffy loved it, right then. The look on his face of pure awe, pure joy, and this- this new, unknown thing. She'd never seen it before. From anyone.

That's what it looks like, when he loves me. "I see you." She gasped when she could speak, voice low and shaking, and hoped he understood.

"I see you too." The broken, the brave, the beautiful, all in one face. Worn looking and devoid of make up and still simply the most gorgeous sight he'd ever seen. "I love you."

The fighter, the foe-turned-friend, all the sharp, smug features gone soft. "I won't make you hurt." That was the closest she could get to an expression of love.

He accepted it gladly.

Hard and instinctual, nothing too practiced or beautiful, but smoothly, steadily driving them to a finish.

I love you, he said so many times, sometimes the emphasis on I, or you, or love, trying to let her know there was love for her left, and that he could give it, and that it was for her. The last one, the one he was holding onto, was a plea that meant not to fade away from him when this was done. "I love you, Buffy." A cracked grunt as his hips hammered. She heard herself calling his name and felt her raw insides leaking warmth before receiving his, sitting halfway up with him still buried inside her.

She shuddered down, wide eyed and slack jawed, and he toppled after her, wrecked and happy to sacrifice the strength and energy on her behalf.

"You're amazing." He told her because he meant it, but the sex wasn't uppermost in his mind. Bloody hell- I just had sex with Buffy.

Yeah, but better- I gave her what she wanted, needed. She didn't let me go. No one's hurt.

I hope. "You okay?"

She swallowed. There were no words where there used to be. There had been a post-sex/ afterglow stuff/cuddling box in her brain once, and death and pain had taken it out. She just knew she wanted to do it again. The feeling, the loving, the not being lost or let go. She wanted to do it a million times again until she slept and woke up with a clear head, until the good feelings he gave her saturated her being and could stave off whatever crap the world was getting ready to aim her way.

"Can we? Again?" She murmured, fingertips clutching the sheet over her naked body, then letting it go to find his arm. His arm that was a red and white road map of her rejoining the world. With him, she didn't need to apologize- not marks of pain, marks of all he asked, all she could give, her attempt to hold on.

"Now?" Spike sounded surprised but pleased.

If anything left in the world could surprise her, she might've shared his disbelief. As it was, she just nodded in response. "Mmhmm. Until I fall asleep. Until I'm tired like this, so I can sleep for real."

The pleasure escaped from his eye, but he blinked and the disappointment vanished, masked. Now she's sure this isn't a dream, and I can help keep her steady, she's ready to rest. That's good. Needs it. And if this is just something she uses to tire her out, well- no, it's not how I'd like things to go. But it's what she wants, and I can give it to her. "Sure, Slayer." He smiled easily and let his eyes wander down her body for the first time, visual accelerant to get himself ready for another round. God, she was beautiful. She wanted him to do something, something he could succeed in giving.

"Want it to tire you out?" He gave her a gentle, crooked grin. "I could do that. If you really want it to be like that." Don't question it. You don't get to force your feelings onto her. You did that before, screwed up before, and her lot are doin' it now, screwin' up again. He twitched his smile a notch brighter, reached for her. "Yeah, we can do that. Make it intense, Luv. Have you exhausted and snoozin' away in thirty minutes or less." He hoped no trace of sadness or disappointment lingered in his eyes.

That was tempting, by definition, intense pleasure until she found herself with an un-ignorable tired brain and sleep stealing over her. But that wasn't what she meant. Or wanted. "No… I don't think I want it like - intense. Just to sleep. I want to sleep. I do. I want to fall asleep feeling that- what I just felt. It was good!" She hastily declared, watching his face go from concerned to puzzled. "Fall asleep feeling you with me. Being with me. Loving me." She swallowed a sudden blockage in her throat, voice coming out papery and cracked. "In heaven you're never tired. In heaven you always feel loved. I miss the feeling way more than I miss getting sleep."

The magnitude of her words, well, one word, hit him hard. "Heaven. Buffy…" Heaven is the ultimate reward, the final rest of all that's holy. She was my angel here, an angel for real up there.

They tore off her wings. A faint, protective growl started in his chest.

"Shh." She forestalled any comments, any further pity, even though her own eyes were damp, maybe even leaking telltale drops. Why do you think I hope I'm dreaming? That I'll wake up and be back there? Where you're always warm, and safe, and loved." Blue sapphires glinted and glossed over as he nodded. "Or I can't tell if I'm in a nightmare or not, with all- with all the stuff that's here, even the good stuff, seems pretty terrible once you- once you've had something better."

Damn his eyes, as his hard blinks failed to hold back tears. Overflowed, as they'd done too many times tonight. He didn't care. No pride left. Don't say anything to make it worse… He coughed. "Understood. We don't have to talk about it." He pulled lightly on her arm, pasting a melancholy yet comforting grin in place, "You come here, and I'll give you lukewarm, safe, and loved. For as long as you want."

She nodded in relief, and came easily to him, chest to chest, her hands stroking his sides gently this time, no longer so frenzied in her need to feel something solid. "What you give me- it's the closest I've found to what I lost. That's something right?"

She still tries so hard. To fight and give it her all, even when, by comparison, there's nothing left. "I love you." It burst out of him easily, a reflexive reaction when his heart seemed to grow as it found one more moment, one more reason he truly was in love with her.

"Thanks, Spike. I… I don't know - all my feelings yet. But I love that you're doing this." I love him for this- and that's not the same as loving him. But maybe one day it leads to that?

It leads to me thinking about days after this one and not hating the thought, so that's something. "Do it some more?"

"Of course. Yours for the asking- always."

The same, but different. More aware of each other now, of bodies and touches. It made it more real, more difficult- and the climax long, fractured and finally explosive. It's all painful, scary, and finally wonderful. Not Spike, he was nothing but pleasure and good touches, sweet, loving words. Trying to use her heart and head again, that was the frightening, intense part. She'd thought the second time would be easier, a practiced repeat of the first. Thought she'd be more asleep, but instead she found herself waking up, in several ways.

The dream-like haze fully broke. The world was here, or it always had been, and she was well and truly returned to it. Her life continued to be filled with tragedy and battles, a terrifying place of fear and duty, and she lacked the feeling of trust she'd had for the ones who used to help her through those pains and fears.

With one warm, extremely tender, loving exception, one soft haven left for her. Don't let it get away.

"Thank you." She breathed out at the end of this second round. "Spike."

"Welcome, Beautiful." He traced her shoulder to her fingers with a reverent hand, but a friendly smile.

The real Spike. The one I'm waking up to find. "Spike, I- " Say it. I should say it. I don't want this to end.

I don't think he'll leave if I can't say things, do things. This isn't normal, and he gets I can't do normal right now. "Spike…" She grabbed the hand that was leaving her side and snatched back. Held it to her cheek and breathed out shakily. Her eyes beseeched him for one more favor. Get what I wish I could give, but maybe never can. At least not say, or even think right now.

His heart was already stopped. So now it simply seemed to be restarted, shocked out of voice at her silent declaration. And her thanks. As if he should not be bowed to the ground in gratitude for every second of tonight.

He swallowed. all these long sonnets of undying love could come flooding out- and overwhelm her, and he'd said so much already. "Buffy." He smiled and nodded, patting her hand on his. "Love you. You feelin' better? Ready to sleep?"

"Mmhm. Sleepier. Good sleepy." She nodded.

"Because y'know, Slayer, I could do this again. I could do this forever." He felt a bit sleepy himself, restful. "Anyway, next time I can make it better for you." He stroked her hair, eyes moving away, then back. "Didn't really expect this- not that I'm complaining. Jus' sayin' now that I know… yeah. I can do this better next time."

"Sounds good." So it doesn't end. Like a nightmare or the good dream… all things have to end. No- change. Spike and I didn't end, we just changed, and I like it. I think. She yawned suddenly. " Sorry."

"Good sign if you ask me." He grinned. "Sleep. Mind if I join you? I'll still wake you up if you need it."

" 'Kay." Yes. Join me, hang on to me, come with me on all these head trips. Keep waking me up to wherever this is, where it's still safe, and warm, and I'm loved.

She slept, long and deep. This time there were no dreams to walk in, nothing confusing or uncertain, simply a restful oblivion, earned because the waking world had claimed her one more time, in a cruel twist of providence and well-intentioned friends.

She fell into the dark, knowing the light would find her shortly, bring her back awake, back to this life, but there was no more fear as she realized something in her last waking moments.

I did earn it- no matter what they did to me, do to me. She gripped his lukewarm forearm. At least Heaven lets you keep what you lost, what they tried to take. You just might have to get it from someplace new.

"Slayer. Buffy? It's almost daylight." Spike woke up and after staring down at her for a few minutes, taking in the sight of her lying in his arms, her breathing even, her face peaceful, he forced himself to break into her sleep. Afraid to wake her, because even after all they'd poured out in one weird, fractured, down-the-effin'-rabbit-hole of the night, he didn't know what would happen "for real" when the day dawned.

Buffy slowly opened her eyes. "Spike?"

"Yeah." He could only manage one word, throat going tense.

"What time is it?"

At least she doesn't sound panicked or confused, Spike thought as he let out a sigh. "Not sure. I can just feel the day comin'."

Yes. She knew that feeling, she could feel it now, and she'd been feeling it for the past several days. Each morning arrived with a heavier dread, more sickening sorrow and desperation.

This morning she just felt- hungry. That was new. As she came more fully awake there came a nagging sense of obligation that she'd better get back to the house before creating worry when the others realized she wasn't there.

"Can you come h- can you come with me?"

Spike almost fell off the bed in shock. "Of course I can!"

"If I'm going to get through- this," Buffy gestured vaguely all around her, indicating "the world, life itself", "you kind of have to. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not going to 'bounce back' right away. I need… someone to keep me from crashing." She whispered, imagery from last night's dream trickling through her mind.

"I told you, anything I can give, anything you need." He was already reaching for the clothes that were haphazardly discarded a few hours ago. "I can walk you home. D'you want me to stay for a-"

"It didn't feel right. Like home." Buffy interrupted, eyes focused inward, a look of concentration on her face. "It was supposed to. Like I never left- but it didn't feel that way." She trailed off. After a second's pause she lifted her head and stared into his eyes seriously. "With you- things feel better."

"I'm glad." He said softly.

"We can come back here later?"

"We will do whatever you bloody need, Slayer." He gripped her shoulders with sudden fierceness, biting off words. "Hear me on that." There's a "we". She wants me with her. Still. "I can't believe you have to ask me- you don't have to ask me. Honestly, Luv."

She believed him. She had lost faith in the others, but for some reason regained it in him, safer and stronger in his arms. "I need you to help me deal with the 'real world' out there. And maybe this place can be where I come when I want to escape the reality. As long as you're with me, I get the good feeling, kind of- kind of like what I'm missing." She ducked her head, not shy, only wary to open herself up once more.

"I'll go with you wherever. Face the real world by day, and by night, I'll walk with you in your dreams." Spike promised, heart swelling enough to release some of the poetic words trapped inside.

Buffy believed him. She took his hand and heaven somehow seemed a little closer.

Sweet dreams, Readers, and good wishes for your walks through the harsh realities of the day.