A Dying Dream – Chapter Nineteen

Summary: A decade after closing the Hellmouth and doin' time in Hell, Spike is living alone in San Francisco when he encounters Buffy unexpectedly. At a loss of what to do with themselves in a nearly demonless world filled with superslayers, they try to rebuild a life together. Unfortunately, not all of their demons have been laid to rest--not the ones within nor without. This is AU for Angel S5. S5 had not aired yet when I began writing this after BtVS closed its doors at the conclusion of S7. Is this 'verse, Spike went to hell after closing the hellmouth. Hope that clears up the confusion.

Notes: Here's a fic I dropped like a rock ages ago, many apologies. It was largely due to illness, which I am now on the mend with. Now that I've been sucked back into vampiredom thanks to Moonlight, some of my new readers are nosing through my old Buffy stuff and asking that I resurrect some of my dropped vamp plots. I did have most of this story finished back in the day, so here's my best effort at completing it. It has about six more chapters to go. Root me along! Feedback is my crack! Thanks, Sowell, for the kick in the arse.

A Dying Dream - Chapter Nineteen

by europanya

A moment of perfect happiness. It had been Angel's undoing and now Spike could understand why--when life's got you all caught up so good, got your heart filled up to burst and it feels so bloody damned good it hurts. How can a man who's been denied perfect love begin to comprehend what he feels when it is at last dangled in front of his nose. Therein lies madness--and Spike could feel himself balanced on the edge of it.

"How do we know," he whispered in the darkness. "How do we know if any of this is real?" Despite the whirl of his head, Spike still felt anchored by a familiar heaviness. Soul still good.

Buffy stirred beneath him, halfway to sleep, her fingertips moving softly across his back. "I guess if it wasn't, someone would come along any minute with sliced cheese or a satchel full of cold cream and tip us off."

Spike smiled and nosed himself under her chin where he settled in, skin to skin, letting the scent of their lovemaking retell the evening. Time was he'd need to gather up the tossed rugs and broken furniture to find some scrap of olfactory evidence that the slayer had recently been his, bruised and bloodied, spread wide and hissing. He could hardly compare the two—the Buffy that was once a flash of cold fire to the woman who now caressed and kissed him willingly and seemingly without regret.

"Well, if the night dragons don't come calling, I'll count myself lucky because somehow all of this is still unreal to me. Has been ever since you walked in out of the rain for a cup of—ow!?" Spike's hand moved to his ass to cover the pinch. "Bloody hell, you could pull back on the supergirl powers once in a while. I get your point."

"Just want to make sure you're not confusing me with a robot again."

Spike paused a moment and sighed, easing against her. "I didn't say I didn't think you were the real deal, love, but somehow this whole second chance I'm having...sorry, we're having. I just can't say as I trust it rightly yet."

It was Buffy's turn to sigh then, with another kind of regret. "I don't blame you, I know I'm not the easiest girl to..."

"No! Buffy, I'm not putting anything on you. This has nothing to do with you at all...you see...it's...well...I hope you've been to visit the loo recently, because I feel a monologue coming on."

"I'm good for the next half hour if I don't fall asleep first."

"Very well then," he said, snuggling her tight and speaking to the soft warmth of her breast. "It's just what I'm trying to say is...I didn't really know what I was signing up for when I first let Dru put her cold hands on me. But I had an idea. The thing of it was, I didn't care. I wanted a way out of my misery, out of mediocrity. She seemed the right bird to do it and I flew right on out with her. Not a look back.

"I used to think that maybe this was all just about blood and fangs, hunter and the hunted, the quick and the dead--that being a vampire somehow fit a balance. A bear will kill to eat, after all, no one blames him. Maybe I was a bear and who's to say I shouldn't enjoy it? But I was only lying to myself. A bear doesn't tie up its prey and taut it for days, frighten it senseless, deny it warmth and decency. It doesn't try to make it beg and cry--it feels the need and it kills and takes it down. I never did that. It wasn't any fun. For over a century it never occurred to me it should go any other way. I knew I'd be punished of course. All vampires know this, and whether or not they'll admit to it, we do fear it. I did for the longest time, that's why I fought so hard not to see it done--to get offed by some lucky stroke.

"That's when Angelus comes in with telling William about the slayer--that she'd do it me good if she got half a chance and I knew I'd have to get even better at my game to keep sharp. And I did, I got so good I had to go prove it and now there's two slayers who met their ends by me. Just because I wanted to and when the first one went down, I lost my fear. Immortality will do that to man, trick him into thinking nothing can touch him. Invincible. I was wrong about that, too, because I fell in love with you."

Buffy's fingers moved through his hair in answer.

"Did I ever tell you how that went down? The falling part? It's the oldest joke in the book. I had a sodding dream about you, not like I hadn't had any before except this time, I wanted you to kill me, invited you to do it and when you hesitated, took you by the neck and kissed you--and it rang through me brighter than any kill." He shrugged. "Woke up arse-over-teakettle for you, love. Pathetic, isn't it?"

He raised his head. She smiled, but looked away.

"So that's when I first began to think," he said, drawing circles around her navel with his fingertip. "Well, this is it. It's arrived. My punishment. They can't kill me, send me to Hell, so they'll bring Hell here. Torture me with a hunger I can't ever quench--and stake my heart while they're at it with your indifference. I felt that, believe it. You took it as nothing, and probably still do--but to William the Bloody, it was death. He died, went away in a puff of dust. So now here's poor Spike, sorry sack, limping about like a git trying to learn how to be good so the pain will stop.

"I got the hang of it, somewhat, being a noble vampire--as cracked as that notion is. There's not too many of us and you know us both. We weren't built for it, the suit doesn't quite fit, but we put it on anyway and do our best. I was doing my best and as you saw it, the pain got less, by just a little--so there you go, we'll kill the girl, make her take a fall and kick poor Spike in the arse again. The powers, they were getting smarter, you see. Took you away to someplace I could never follow, cheeky bastards, they know their game. This time maybe their money was on Spike taking a nice walk in the sunshine and torching himself on home already--but they weren't counting on Dawn. She needed me and I couldn't go, not until she was safe. Not until she was no longer a part of this world--that's the promise I made. But we never saw that play out 'cause the witch brought you back and I didn't know what to make of that.

"You were back, and I loved you, and I had you, and it was…beyond anything I could have imagined. I thought, how is this right? What did I do to make this right? But that was just the novice in me speaking. I didn't see what was coming, I didn't see what new pain would come--what I would do, to you, once that axe came barreling down to take off my head and drive me mad. So, I ruined it. Whatever was left, I ruined it and walked right into their trap when I took back my soul.

"It only got harder after that. My soul--connecting to the thousands upon thousands I had destroyed. I felt them as if I were down a bottomless pit all filling up with souls until you looked in and reached out a hand. I won't ever understand why. For certain I didn't deserve it. Not this time. Not after what I'd done to you. But you took me in your arms and held me because I had taken it on and I thought, again, how is this right? What did I do? If I get another chance with her, I must be certain I've earned it--so I became your champion and Hell took me at last.

"But it didn't, there's the rub, Hell spat me right back out. And what's more you came back to me and here I am, again, wondering-- What did I do? How did I earn this? Because, Buffy as hopelessly, blissfully, nauseatingly happy as I am right now, I know with utter certainty, that the other shoe has yet to drop, that the big switch is just waiting to bring it on and whip my arse good and clean. I know it. I'd be a damned bloody fool not to."

She lay still for long moments, seemingly digesting what he had at last confessed. "Buffy? Say something, love."

"I don't feel that way about you, about us," she said, staring at the ceiling. "It's not how I see it. I'm not like you and Angel, I don't think somebody's up there, or down there as the case may be, with a golf pencil keeping score. Things happened between us for good and bad, because that's just our history, what made us who we are now. I don't care about it. I'm happy, I'm safe and I feel loved. That's all I want."

He thought it over. Felt some relief in her analysis. "Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this has nothing to do with me at all. Wouldn't come as a surprise considering how damned self-centered I am. Maybe they brought me out of Hell for you. Maybe you're not my reward--maybe I'm yours."

She looked at him and laughed. "Now that is ridiculous. You're more like a case of the flu than a fruit basket. But I've caught you anyway and intend to keep you--coughs, sneezes and all."

He smiled, the large kind that made his face want to break. "Thank God for that. Thank somebody. If I had the right post, I'd mail them a card."

He settled back against her and for once his soul felt full and light. Her breathing calmed and evened and Spike felt there was no place in heaven or earth that could be more wonderful. Sleep was coming, falling over him like drapery, blocking out the light. A thought broke through just at the last, as the part down the center threatened the final shaft of daylight.

"Buffy. How did you find me?"

"Hm?" She stirred under him. "What?"

"How did you know where to find me, when you came back?" Spike could recall seeing her come into frame, the facelessness of the Rage patrons, morphing and passing and then there was her.

"There was a kid. He told me where to find you. I'd been asking around."

"What kid?"

"I dunno, some skater dude. I didn't get his name. He had a lot of tattoos. Why? What does it matter?"

Ronny. Spike's soul chose then to speak. And unbidden there was Angel, in his face, pompous arse. Last I heard she was living in a tract home near the crater.

"No, it doesn't matter, pet. Go back to sleep."