Feedback: Yes, thank you.
Spoilers: Set pre-series, so not much unless you're really observant
Distribution: The Blackberry Patch and . If you're interested, please let me know.
Summary: Spike looks at Drusilla and sees a million things: some that he loves, some that he hates, and some that he fears.
Author's Note: The title comes from the final line of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby." Fic originally written for the 2008 round of seasonal_sd
Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy. Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you. Thank you.
Boats against the Tide
He could travel around the world countless times, and he probably would, but home would always remain England. As he and Drusilla lay almost motionless on the rocky beach at Dover, listening to the sound of the waves crashing endlessly in the channel, he stared at the stars overhead and felt a sense of reassurance that, despite all the changes they had seen in their decades together, they remained in the same familiar constellations overhead.
"You're listening to them sing, aren't you, luv," Drusilla said from beside him. "They never change."
"True," he said, rolling onto his side to see her profile, the moon silvering her features and making her eyes look enormous as they reflected its light. "Are they speaking to you tonight?"
She smiled lazily, turning to look at him, and he could just make out a trace of blood still clinging to her lower lip, its color changed by the darkness to pure black. Unable to resist, he kissed her, taking the tiny drop with him, and she giggled.
"Greedy thing," she said, slapping his chest playfully, and then lapsing back into gazing at the diamond lights overhead. "I always hear them, you know, even when they hide behind the clouds or smog or sunshine. They're there, singing to anyone with ears to hear."
"And what do you hear, pet?" Spike asked.
It wasn't the first time he'd asked that question, but each time he asked she gave a different answer. Sometimes they were amazing things, filled with music and dreams of future wonders. She'd seen the airplanes overhead long before they arrived in reality, the ringing of telephones and the pictures in little boxes in everyone's homes. Other times there were darker things, bombs over London or hurricanes that swallowed cities whole, but they were good for pondering as well. But then there were times when she would tell him only half-truths, making her prophecies that were always couched in riddles and mist so impenetrable that he couldn't understand at all, and sometimes he wondered if she did this because there were things that, if he knew them, would make him as mad as she. He always held his breath before he asked that question, considering the outcomes, but he usually risked it anyway.
"Souls," she said quietly.
He waited, but she didn't add to her statement. Instead, she turned on her side, facing away from him, and stared at the chalk cliff that towered over them. Gently, he ran a finger over her spine, the tip of his nail lovingly numbering each bump of her vertebrae until it reached the nape of her neck and became lost in the thick blackness of her hair. He found he often preferred her naked, as she was now, not just for the obvious reasons but because without the trappings of fashion garishly pointing out whatever era they were in, they could be in any time at all. As they lay there, alone, not a living person in view or the light of a home or a car within sight, they might as well have been Guinevere and Lancelot gazing at the same stars overhead, or a pair of ancient Picts, or something else, something that didn't even exist yet that they would one day become. They were timeless, and here and now became every time in a dizzying sweep of air and rush of waves that sounded like time and smelled like her hair. He moved closer to her, sniffing her scent, deliberately breathing her in.
"Give us a kiss," he whispered in the shell of her ear.
But she didn't move, didn't breathe, and he was forcibly reminded that she, like himself, was really a corpse. It unnerved him and broke his reverie that they were anyone in the world and reminded him that no, they were what everyone in the world eventually became, dead, though few of them would find death so lively as they did. He reached a hand around her, not touching her skin but arcing his arm over her and resting his palm on the ground in a gesture that was half-protective, half-possessive, waiting for her to move on her own.
It wasn't long before she curved her back towards him, letting her flesh rub softly against the skin of her bare chest as she arched her neck. He let his arm grow tighter around her, burying his face in the curve of throat as she moved it sinuously. Drusilla sometimes seemed to be forever stretching and swaying, a living painting of hips, neck, and waist, a snake made human and trying to shed its skin. He found the place, just there, behind her ear, giving it a lick still warm from borrowed heat, and he felt her melt against him.
"Black sheep, black sheep, have you any wool," she chanted in an undercurrent, and whatever the words meant to him, they had some other meaning to her. Living with Drusilla, he had found out long ago, meant living with someone who, even when she was wrapped and his arms, was also in a world he could never enter but only know from afar, like a sunlit garden he had once studied from deep shadow. For him, though, it was enough to have what part of her he could and hunger eternally for the rest.
He made love to her on the beach, and when she called out Angelus's name, he blotted it from his memory, forgave her as he had every night since the bastard left, and drew her head to his silent heart. She kept her secrets, and he kept his own.
When the false light of dawn began to show at the edge of the horizon, he lifted her into his arms and stood her on her feet again. He found her dress, and for a moment he hated the sight of it: pale lavender satin with delicate pleats and lace at the hem that grazed her ankles. It was all wrong for this time, this place, an anachronism that underlined how very different they were from the people who were beginning to stir in their little homes. She drew it over her head, and he did up the buttons for her without having to be asked. Her slippers had been drawn out to sea during the night.
Almost as an afterthought, he remembered his jeans and shirt, toed into his boots without bothering about the laces. They were themselves again, though they didn't match. Drusilla was forever the past, roses pressed between pages of a book, pale as the beauties of Victorian England, a living portrait from some museum that was too beautiful to have ever been real. He, on the other hand, with his eyebrow studs firmly in place, the kohl smeared around his eyes, and the clatter of safety pins jangling with his every step, he could never have existed outside of now, and the dichotomy bothered him for a moment, made him feel as though he was seeing something he shouldn't.
"It's time for bed," she said, and her eyes, those startling eyes of daylight sky blue, seemed to search him for a moment, read him in a way he never could with her.
She turned and walked barefoot across the beach, ignoring the stones, and along the path that led to the cottage they had rented, secure in the knowledge that he would follow her. He did, sparing a glance for the false dawn along the horizon, then following in her wake, wondering what the singing of souls sounded like and knowing he would never hear it.
The sightless eyes of last night's feast seemed to follow them, accusing, until the water closed around the corpse and dragged it down into the depths.