Until the End of the World
"I know you'll never love me."
The words—so soft, so incredibly humble it didn't seem possible they had come from Spike—made Buffy freeze. Although she didn't want to look, she couldn't quite keep her eyes from turning to where he stood staring up at her from the foot of the staircase.
He flinched a little beneath her gaze, his blue eyes darting from side to side in the same awkward and strangely endearing way they had when she first invited him inside. He seemed shy; he seemed to be struggling to find a way to express himself. And for just a second, she thought she caught a glimpse of the man he had once been.
Shit, she thought desperately. Don't do this now. Not now, Spike…
It wasn't that she felt unwilling to hear what he had to say; she just didn't want to hear him say it tonight. Things were just coming together—or falling apart, depending on how you looked at it—for her battle with Glory. In only a few hours from now, she would be struggling to defeat a god, and she knew that what she had said to Spike earlier was true: they weren't all going to make it. Maybe most of them weren't. Maybe both she and Spike were going to die tonight.
Which meant that this would be his last opportunity to tell her how he felt, and she had to let him take it. She owed him that much.
She gripped the banister tighter, wondering if he could hear her heart as it suddenly began to slam against her breastbone. If he did, he gave no indication.
"I know that I'm a monster," he continued in that odd, bashful tone, "but you treat me like a man. And that's—"
I treat him like a man? Buffy thought in astonishment. When's that? When I'm waling on him or using him for information?
Of course, he'd spent plenty of time waling on her, too. Just not lately. And he'd only been a source of information for her when she was willing to be a source of cash for him. The abruptness with which they had come from that point to this was almost unbelievable.
Buffy was so preoccupied with those thoughts, it took her a full five seconds to realize that Spike hadn't finished his sentence. She started to open her mouth and ask him to continue, but he made an impatient movement away from the landing and cleared his throat.
"Get your stuff," he muttered. "I'll be here."
He was trying to be gruff now, trying to summon the arrogance and attitude she was used to seeing in him. A curious weakness seized her when she realized how completely he was failing. Although his head was turned a little to the side and she couldn't quite see his face, Buffy could feel his disappointment. It startled her to realize how vulnerable he was willing to make himself, how open he wanted to be. He was ready to give up everything for her without complaint, without fear, without remonstrations about the injustice of saving Dawn at the expense of the rest of the world. Standing in her foyer with a battle-axe in each hand, he was prepared to wade into his own painful end, and he wasn't asking for anything in return.
For an excruciatingly long moment, Buffy stared at him without moving, stared at him with her uncertainty plain on her face. Then, she slowly turned around and descended the few steps it took to reach his side.
"Spike, look at me." Because he still wasn't, not fully. When he finally dragged his eyes back to her, the expression in them was so naked it made her heart ache. Her hands trembled as she reached to pry his fingers from the handle of a battle-axe, letting it drop heavily onto the wooden floor. She repeated the gesture with the other axe, carefully avoiding his confused and questioning gaze as she did so.
And then, she gently grasped his hand in her own, turned, and led him up the staircase.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Spike's fingers felt rigid laced with her own. Buffy could feel the tension vibrating down his arm from his spine, the anxiety of being guided by someone whose touch almost always brought him pain. Yet, he followed her without hesitation, without question, and when she took him into her bedroom, she heard him suck in his breath. She knew, then, that he was beginning to understand.
"Nobody can find out," she whispered when they reached the center of the room and she released his hand.
The moonlight filtering through the window made it easy for her to see his face even from several feet away, and when he looked at her, she could see how hungry his eyes were. Desperate and not quite believing. Buffy felt her face heat beneath that steady gaze, her determination faltering briefly in a fit of awkwardness.
"We…we've got enough on our plates with Glory," she continued in a whisper. "We don't have time for another intervention about my irrational decisions."
He gave an almost imperceptible nod.
Buffy's heart was hammering against her chest so hard she was starting to feel sick, dizzy, and her legs were quivering. Although not exactly regretting her course of action, she was beginning to feel a little bit like a barroom tramp. Maybe if Spike had not been so passive, maybe if he had grabbed her instead of just standing there politely listening, then she would have been a bit less self-conscious. But he looked more anxious about the situation than even she did. When she finally reached out to touch him, he flinched as if anticipating a blow.
"It's what you want, right?" she asked hesitantly. The muscles in his shoulder lay taut beneath her hand, twitching in what might have been nerves or desire; it was impossible to tell which. "I mean…this is…okay?"
Then, "Why do you want it?"
His question surprised her, but she wasn't upset by it. After her "the only chance you had with me was when I was unconscious" speech, she didn't really blame him for being suspicious of her intentions. She was surprised, however, by the answer that came out of her own mouth. Rather, she was surprised by the ease with which it came.
"I want to because you love me." She could feel his muscles quiver against her, jumping just a little as she leaned up to kiss him on his jaw.
"You don't love me."
He tried to sound nonchalant about it, but Buffy could see the agitation in his eyes, the hope. She wished she could say the words that would make him happy, but she knew that she couldn't. She wanted to send him off to battle with a pleasant memory, not a lie.
"I do tonight," she murmured and sincerely meant it. A second later, she tried to prove it to him by nipping his earlobe, tracing the outer edge with her tongue, something she had never done for anyone and couldn't quite resist doing for him. The groan that followed was so raw it made her shiver.
"Tonight," he echoed in a tight voice. "Just tonight."
She nuzzled the hollow of his throat—God, he smelled good—and answered, "Well, you can always ask me again tomorrow…if we have a tomorrow."
He made a sound like a chuckle, which quickly turned into a hoarse moan as her fingers crept beneath his t-shirt to trace the smooth, hard lines of his abdomen. His skin was slightly warmer than room temperature and softer than a predator's skin had any right to be. Gooseflesh followed the trail of her fingernails, and when she reached his chest, a quick glance downward showed her that his nipples weren't the only thing that stiffened in response to her touch.
"Is it that good?" she asked playfully, amused by how unabashedly he displayed his desire: head dropped back with his eyes half-shut and mouth half-open. She cupped both palms over the bulge at the front of his jeans so he would know what she meant.
He made an indistinct sound and thrust his hips up, pushing his erection deeper into her hands. It was a reflexive reaction, not a premeditated one. She could tell by the startled and slightly embarrassed look he shot her afterward—an uncertain expression strangely at variance with what she held in her hands. She rubbed him through his jeans and smiled a little at the helpless writhing that followed, the way he almost pulled away and couldn't quite manage to do it.
"I never thought of you as the shy type, Spike."
His sarcastic snort became lost in a strangled moan as she gave him a little squeeze. "Not shy," he grunted. "I just don't want you to do anything you'll regret."
"Because you love me."
"Well…yes." He said it in his patented you-must-be-even-dumber-than-you-look tone of voice, and Buffy figured she should probably be offended by that. But she wasn't. Instead, she found herself fighting back a smile, amused that he would still be trying to play it tough.
The firm grinding of her hand on his fly ceased and for a minute, he looked worried, clearly thinking he had done something wrong. But no, because in the next instant her hands were at the waist of his jeans, manipulating the belt and buttons as quickly as her trembling fingers would allow.
"Don't worry," she whispered. "No regrets tonight."
"Oh, yeah?" he asked. Then, "Oh…yeah…" as her hand slipped inside his open jeans.
Beneath the folds of worn denim, he was throbbing and greedy, not even remotely as hesitant as he tried to pretend. She wrapped her hand around the length of velvety skin, stroking and squeezing, gauging his reactions until she knew she had finally found the right rhythm. He gave a strangled cry and began squirming again. Spike, the Big Bad, reduced to a writhing, lovesick puppy. Somehow, it wasn't as surprising to her as it should have been.
She nuzzled the side of his face, her lips brushing the flexing muscle of his hollowed cheek. "Tell me what you want, Spike."
His hips rocked, moving in a rapid counterpoint to the fondling of her hands. "You," he panted. "I just want…you."
Buffy hadn't intended to kiss him. Somehow, it seemed even more personal than the other did; it seemed to promise too much. But his lips were trembling an inch away, forming some of the sweetest words anyone had ever said to her, and she couldn't stop herself from brushing her own mouth against it. It was a light kiss, brief, but when she began to draw away a moment later, his arm came across her back to hold her to him.
"Don't," he whispered. "I want…"
Wasn't she supposed to be giving him what he wanted?
She kissed him again, this time tracing her tongue along the curve of his bottom lip. It was full and unbelievably soft, dropping open eagerly so that she could insinuate her tongue between his teeth. The inside of his mouth was famished and lonely, flavored with blood and so cool that her own felt unnaturally hot by comparison. When their tongues finally touched, Buffy shivered. She liked the feeling of his arm around her, the heavy weight of it against her back…the feeling of being held by a man. Not weak but feminine. It was something she hadn't felt since the early days with Angel. She pushed closer to him and his arm followed, wedging her body comfortably against his chest.
He whispered something she didn't understand. Three, maybe four words mumbled directly into the kiss they were sharing. Curiosity wasn't enough to cause Buffy to draw away, but she managed to utter a muffled, "What—?"
"Better not wake up," he repeated, more clearly this time. His mouth left her lips to attack the flesh of her ears and neck. His kisses were cold—or maybe they felt that way because her skin was so hot—and Buffy shivered.
"I…I didn't know…I was asleep…" she said stupidly, drunk off his mouth and his hands, the woodsy, masculine smell of his body.
"No, not you sleeping," he explained, lifting his head. "Me…I must be dreaming. This would never happen in the real world."
"You call what we're living in 'the real world?'"
His laughter had a ragged edge to it. She could feel his hands at her waist, tugging at her shirt, fingering the bottom of it longingly.
"Buffy—?" His mouth dropped against the hollow of her throat, kissing and nibbling through his words. "Can I just…?"
The sweetness in his voice—the mere fact that he would ask—
The steady heat that had been building between her legs suddenly became a blaze, throbbing and slick and needy. She dropped her head back, pushed herself against his eager hands, and moaned a vigorous, "Yes."
He didn't undress her the way she'd imagined he would. And since she'd already gone the whole hog, she might as well admit to herself that she had imagined him doing it long before tonight. Always, it had been a passionate close to a brutal fight, a fantasy of him taking her against a wall, ripping off her clothing like the animal she'd always thought he was. Instead, he carefully eased the shirt along her torso, following the widening swath of bare flesh with kisses and soft bites. Buffy could feel his restraint in the rock-hard muscles of his arms, and she knew that part of him was longing to do just as she'd imagined. But something else was holding him back, leashing him. Making him gentle. Something that had absolutely nothing to do with the military computer chip in his brain.
"I love you, Buffy," he whispered. "God, I love you so much…" He pressed his mouth against her throat so that she could feel the rumble of the words as well as hear them, and she pushed her body into him almost possessively.
Tonight, you're my vampire—
The shirt slid smoothly over her head. Underneath it, she was not wearing her prettiest underwear—well, naturally one wouldn't want to take her Victoria's Secret best into the midst of battle—and her bra was very plain. Nevertheless, Spike's dazed, dreamy expression didn't falter in the absence of satin and lace. His gaze dropped down to small, tender breasts chastely clad in white cotton, and Buffy thought she heard his breath catch.
"Well," he said hoarsely, his Adam's apple jerking in a peculiar way she found terribly sweet. "Well…look at you."
The adoration in his eyes suddenly made her want to cry. Don't look at me like that, she wanted to tell him. I'm not a hero; I'm not good. I'm taking advantage of your love. I'm going to get you killed.
But saying the words aloud hardly seemed necessary, because she had a feeling he already knew.
She closed her eyes and tried to force the thought from her mind, tried to focus only on his touch, the reverent way he reached out to trace his fingertips over her collarbone. He looked uncertain, almost boyish, and when he moved his hands down to the curves of her breasts, Buffy could feel him trembling.
His movements were so slow, so soft, that she hardly even felt it as he eased down the straps of her bra, popping the front-clasp with an expertise that completely belied his innocent expression. Maybe she should have felt shy standing there half-naked—maybe, in a way, she did. If so, that emotion was completely overwhelmed by the feeling of his cool mouth nuzzling its way down the valley between her breasts, his fingers kneading her back and hips as he sank down almost to his knees. He whispered something into her flesh, something indistinct and almost musical, but Buffy didn't ask him what it was he said. She was too lost in the sensation of his lips on her aching nipple, the way she seemed to feel the caress of his tongue all the way through her body and down between her legs.
When his mouth moved lower and he began fumbling his way into her jeans, the very last thing Buffy wanted to do was stop him. But time was running short and, anyway, this was supposed to be about what he needed, not about what would make her feel good. Gripping his shoulders, she gently shoved him, sending him tumbling backward onto the floor. He looked stunned, a little worried, but when she began to take off her jeans he gave her a silly smile.
"You forgot about your own clothes," she said as she straddled him. His dilated eyes looked so foggy she wondered if he was even capable of registering what she said. Certainly, his answer gave no indication.
"By that, I mean…you're still wearing them." Even as she said it, Buffy was slipping a hand to his open jeans, pushing them down his hips a little to expose his erection. He jerked when she touched him, making a sound like a man being tortured and enjoying every second of it.
"Jesus Christ, Buffy—"
As ready as she was for it, Buffy hadn't expected discomfort when she finally eased down onto him. The burn of her body stretching itself to accommodate him, the sudden pressure inside, made her hiss in surprise, and Spike's half-shut eyes snapped open.
"Yes," she breathed. "I'm…"
After a moment of waiting, her muscles relaxed around him enough so that she began to rock her hips gingerly, testing for more sources of pain. Finding none, she increased her pace.
Satisfied that he wouldn't hurt her now, Spike wedged a hand between their bodies to the place where they joined. He caressed her with the pad of his thumb, following the rhythm of her steady rise-and-fall. Buffy could feel him watching her as he did it, could sense him smiling at every small display of pleasure.
"I love you, Buffy."
And that was the end of her; that was all she could stand. She felt him seize up under the assault of her orgasm, the relentless wringing of muscles around his cock forcing him to a finish she suspected he would have liked to delay. Because he knew, of course, that this was likely all he was ever going to get.
Again, there came that insane desire to cry. The tears stinging at the back of her eyes should have been for Dawn—for herself—for the world that might be about to end. Instead, they were for him, for those blue eyes that followed her as she stood up and began to dress. For the way his knees trembled as he climbed to his feet—for the unneeded breath that sawed unevenly for minutes after her own had returned to normal.
For the heart he'd so readily laid on the chopping block for her.
Oh, why in God's name had she thought this was a good idea? This wasn't sending him off to war with fond memories, it was giving him unrealistic expectations of what would happen once the battle was over.
Buffy longed to meet his expectations. She wanted to walk over to where he stood fumbling with his belt buckle and wrap her arms around his waist. She wanted to tell him that she might easily fall in love with him, someday, if she got the chance. But she couldn't. She needed to turn her thoughts back to her duties, back to Dawn. Spike's moment was over.