Title: In the Days Still Left
Rating: PG-13 for a bad word.. As always, B/S. Angst, mush. Bubbles. Song lyrics used sparingly.
Disclaimer: It's all for fun. The song is Sting's, but I'm partial to the Eve Cassidy version.
Spoilers: The Gift. Season Six up to Wrecked.
Summary: This takes place in the Spuffy future--my version--where everything is hunky-dory. denial!Buffy has moved on. It's just a little thing about change. I hear it's the theme of the season.
In the Days Still Left
Spike drifted to consciousness slowly, still floating in that warm, heavy place between dreams and waking, dimly aware of an even warmer, heavier weight pressed against his ribcage.
Finally, he blinked the sleep from his eyes and sat up, still slightly amazed, all these weeks later, that he was allowed to sleep in the Summers living room, unchaperoned. The blinds were firmly shut against the late afternoon sunlight, another concession to his presence, casting long, slim shadows on the chestnut head snuggled into his armpit. Spike gently ran a hand over Dawn's fine, shiny hair, taking the opportunity to consider the changes a few, short years had wrought.
Teenage girls were like colts, all legs and arms and flailing stubbornness, nuzzlin' up to you one minute and ready to kick you in the bollocks the next. Dawn was a blur of motion and opinion and outraged independence these days, rarely still.
Spike wished he could freeze time, keep her in that flower world of dreams and fancies a little longer. Dawn was becoming, evolving from the child with her backpack, wide eyes, and strange food combinations, who'd been the first to extend a hand to him, a vamp without a country. He had one now, for as long as Buffy would have him, but it was strange, new world filled with verbal land mines and physical stumbling blocks. The two of them were still learning the terrain, shuffling awkwardly together, like twins suddenly conjoined in adulthood.
Everyday it got harder to remember where she ended and he began.
The house was eerily silent, a sure sign of the times. The Whelp and co. were growing up, dispersing to jobs and classes and lovers instead of huddling here, awaiting an apocalypse or sitting at Giles' knee. Oh, the work went on--white hats they came, white hats they remained--but so did life, Hellmouth be damned. In the deep quiet, Spike could almost here the voices and footsteps of all the people who had passed through this house on the way to a fate, or a destiny, or an early grave. Some stayed, a few died, others left to make their way in the world. Most returned, one way or another. Buffy Summers had done all three and lived to tell the tale.
In the hush, he listened for her, and his ears caught the faint rise and fall of music drifting from the rooms above.
"Buffy?" he called softly, not wanting to wake the Tiny Terror. "Pet?"
He disentangled himself from Dawn, who muttered something about moonlight. He wondered if she dreamed of the before time, of cloisters, and oak, and supplication, the way he sometimes dreamed of parlors, and carriages, and waistcoats.
Making his way up the stairs, Spike paused to listen. The strains of Eve Cassidy floated to his ears, a nice change from the canned, boy band drivel the Niblet promoted.
You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Among the fields of barley
The music was trickling through the bathroom door, along with the rise and fall of Buffy's voice, humming back up. Splashing sounds and the coconut-lemon-vanilla scent of some ridiculously priced bath concoction spilled into the hallway and over his senses, and Spike smiled. What Buffy lacked in talent she made up for in enthusiasm, nearly drowning out the singer. Anticipating a naked slayer behind door number one, Spike was reaching for the knob when Buffy's voice dropped into a softer accompaniment. Was it just his imagination, or was her voice more on key now?
Will you stay with me?
Will you be my love, among the fields of barley?
And you can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walk in fields of gold
An unexpected lump formed in Spike's throat and his hand fell to his side. The hollow, sick feeling in his stomach was equally surprising, and the single tear that cascaded down his pale face. He hadn't missed the daylight in, well, ever, but he wondered what it would be like to kiss Buffy Summers in the bright sunlight, to implode in her arms somewhere beyond the darkness of shuttered bedrooms and earthen homes built for the sleeping dead.
I never made promises lightly
There have been some that I've broken
But I swear in the days still left
We'll walk in fields of gold
He pressed both palms against the door and leaned his forehead into the wood. How many days did she have left before death came a third time? How long before he looked back on this moment, this normal day, and shook his fist at the sky, heartbroken because it would never come again? How long did Dawn have, or Red, or any mortal who wouldn't trade grace for time? They were souls wrapped in fragile flesh wrappers, easily damaged, not like his other great love, the mad, dark Drusilla, who carved runic symbols into the soles of her feet, then danced by the light of the moon. This, he supposed, was the pain that came with loving a human woman, a once-and-future-martyr who was filled with great pits of rage and self-doubt, like all heroes are.
Spike wiped impatiently at his poofy tears. He wasn't, by nature, a brooder. Gently pushing the door open, he stopped on the threshold for a moment, so he'd always remember what she looked like up to her neck in bubbles, golden hair pinned carelessly up. One slim leg stuck straight up while she scrubbed at the bottom of her foot with a long-handled loofah. Spike shook his head. Christ, a month ago I didn't know what the fuck a loofah even was. Drusilla lived in a bygone world of puffs, and petticoats and hard soaps that smelled like chastity, one wine-colored day flowing into the next. Here, life jerked forward in fits and starts--it was rarely a smooth ride--driven and halted by Dawn's pain, Buffy's moods, Anya's joy or Xander's fears. Not always pretty, or fair, but real.
Buffy looked over at him, lounging in the doorway and grinned over a mountain of coconut-lemon-vanilla scented bubbles.
"Are you gawking at me naked?" She batted the water, attempting to look outraged.
"No, I'm thinking about painting the bathroom." He leered at her.
"Get your ass over here, you horndog."
Spike took the few steps to the edge of the tub and leaned over for a bubbly kiss. He laughed as her arm shot out, pulling him into the tub, sending a tsunami of water onto the tile. Sprawled awkwardly over Buffy, laughing, he leaned over and grabbed the lost kiss, briefly recalling his thoughts in the hallway. He knew there would come a day when these rooms were empty, when the scent of vanilla-coconut-lemon lingered only in his memory, her laugh only in the hearts-- both dead and beating--of those who loved her. She would be pages in a chronicle, both celebrated and reviled for her unique identity as the Slayer Who Loved Vampires. The only thing he could do, until that day, was tell her five things, and tell her often. In the end, they were the things that mattered:
I forgive you.
I love you.
Dawn's strident voice interrupted his train of thought.
"Ewwwwwww. Can't you two shut the door! I'm a minor." She stood in the doorway, rubbing her sleepy eyes, a child-woman. Becoming.
"You were using tongue. Haven't you ever heard of germs? Spike, didn't you live through the bubonic plague or something like that?"
Buffy yanked Spike's head back down. "We're vaccinated," she informed Dawn, who fled the bathroom.
Dawn bounded down the stairs, two at a time, humming along with the music. We're not good, Mom, she thought. But we're okay.
I swear in the days still left
We'll walk in fields of gold
We'll walk in fields of gold