A Little Death Before the End

Love seeketh not Itself to please,

Nor for itself hath any care;

But for another gives its ease,

And builds a Heaven in Hells despair.

So sang a little Clod of Clay,

Trodden by the cattles feet;

But a Pebble of the brook;

Warbled out these metres meet.

Love seeketh only Self to please,

To bind another to its delight;

Joys in anothers lose of ease,

And builds a Hell in Heavens despite.

-William Blake

The world was going to end tonight, one way or the other. Buffy had warned Spike that not everyone was going to live to see the sun rise, or to feel its warmth creep into their bones. She knew he thought she was asking him to die for her; he never guessed she meant it was her own death she had seen. And he had been right, damn him; the slayers he had fought had all died when they wanted to, when they could no longer stand the thought of fighting another day. She could hear the beat of her own heart, counting down into the end. It was so loud to her own ears, she wondered why he didn't hear it himself. She was getting tired now; the end of the night couldn't come soon enough for her.

If this was the end, it wasn't the one he wanted. Too much was left still to come, too much that he couldn't just let go undone or unsaid. He was starving for the taste of her skin, parched for the burning fire of her blood, dying to feel himself surrounded by her just one time, just enough to remember in all the cold days in hell that were sure to follow this night's work. He wanted to taste his name in her mouth, wanted to hear her crying for him in her need. Instead, there was only his dreams, and the sure knowledge he was losing her before he could ever have her. He was a fool, and he was weak in ways he never dreamed, because he could not let her go.

Exhaustion burned in all her bones even with her fabulous slayer strength readying for one last fight. Soon now, it would be soon, and she couldn't even be scared of the end, she wanted it so badly. But that was Spike standing at the foot of her stairs, and all the truth that she'd been pretending she couldn't see was in his face. She could only wonder what he saw in hers, that he was telling her these things. He said that she would never love him; he didn't know anything. Love was nothing, a passing thought in the night, something that ends almost as soon as it begins. Whatever this was between them, it could never be love, it could never even be named. But she could feel her own blood calling out for him, and she was running out of time to say no.

Her back was to him now, that long line of spine he could feel against him in his fantasies, her elegant bones so close under her flesh. She hadn't said a word as he spilled his heart at her feet, but he fancied her saw her eyes burn for him. So this was it, then. There would never be truth between them. A fight to the end, but he would have never wanted it any other way. His thoughts had run over these ideas until they were as worn as pebbles by the sea, and in all his dreams, she had never come easily to him. She was violence wrapped in weak skin, hot blood just under the surface. She should be poison to his touch, but he had never needed anything since he died the way he needed her now.

She turned her back on him; even now, she wasn't strong enough to let him know the truth. Was this the end she had seen, was this the death she had been having visions of? The stairs had never felt so steep. She could feel his eyes on her, and she had never craved him as deeply as she did now. Her knees were weak with imagining all the dark possibilities they could have had together. But he was death and she was dying and the night would be over soon. The touch of his skin would be the prequel to the end she so desired. The creak of a stair behind her; a whisper of a sound that still had the power to destroy her. The sound of Spike climbing the stairs, climbing after her, waiting to take what he knew was his. It was all she could not do to slow her steps, all she could not to turn and let him take her there, in whatever way he wanted. She wouldn't be easy for him, no matter what else. It didn't matter that her body was singing her need of him to her, there was nothing in their history that would let her turn around and offer herself to him.

A liar to the end, Spike thought as he came closer to every wicked dream he had been having for months. The tension between them was so strong, it was hard for him to believe that they weren't touching, that she wasn't already in his arms, wasn't already a blazing brand against his body. She wouldn't be soft, he knew that; there was nothing gentle about her body, but he wanted the sleek muscled strength of her, the power that coursed through her every vein. She was still walking away, even though he knew she could feel his eyes against her body. Closer, he was coming closer. Her skin was perfume, the scent of her making him hard, making him dizzy for her.

When he spoke her name, his words were a growl, the demon very close to the surface now, drawn by want, drawn by need. They had no time, the both of them knew that. There were hours left at most, but there was so much between them that they could never let it lie. There could be no more pretending, the time for deception was over. She swung around when she heard her name, and her face was angry but her eyes were desperate. No more refusals, no more words; there was nothing left to say. Her body was answering clearly enough for both of them. Anything she said now would be pointless. He could read every muscle, hear every cell of her blood thrilling to his presence.

She was still, caught by the look in his face, held by his intensity. So this was what it felt like to lose herself. Her self control had never allowed for it before, but she was disarmed just by looking at him.

"I dreamed you would kill me." Her voice shook with the effort to speak; she could think of better uses for her mouth.

His smile was feral, full of promise. "Only for a little bit. Only a little death."

"Glory." A final protest, fooling neither of them.

"If you think I can last much longer, you haven't been paying attention." Not what any man would care to admit, but he was dying for her, in nearly as much pain as when Dru's clever little teeth had closed over his throat for the first time. He would go berserk if he didn't get her soon. He was more monster than man now, and the monster knew very well what it wanted.

In the end, they moved together, pulled towards each other against all common sense. When they finally touched, it was electric, it was a lightening strike. He was cool and hard against her, strength barely contained, darkness unleased. She was fire in his arms, liquid sun sliding over him. They were rough in their need, desperate for as much as they could get. When he kissed her, she bit him, was startled by the taste of old blood in her mouth and he groaned her name, tightening his fingers against her arms, calling bruises to the surface of her skin. He pulled his mouth away from her teeth, his fangs glinting as he ran his tongue over the blood she had drawn. It should have hurt, but instead, he just laughed. Safer places then, and he moved his mouth to her ear lobe, and then down her neck, nipping gently at first but quickly losing control. Her blood was so near the skin; he could imagine the taste of her in his mouth so clearly that he feel the chip in his head protest. And there was a question: would it let him hurt her when she so clearly wanted the pain? Was it hurting her when all his teeth against her elicited was her voice whispering his name and her body moving against him in an unmistakable way? A fine line, the one between pleasure and pain. He grabbed her hair, pulled her head back, the better to get at her throat. She moaned then and fought back, pushing him away, and then it was her mouth against his skin and she was so hot she was going to leave burns. If this didn't scar him, nothing would. Her hands were at his waist, pulling his shirt up and over his head and then her scalding mouth closed over one nipple and he jerked.

"Who's leading this little dance, Slayer?" he muttered from deep within himself, as he fought to find her skin, ripping her clothes in his need to feel all of her. She just chuckled wickedly, no other answer needed there. Her body was more perfect than he could dreamed of and he had thought his dreams had been more than explicate. He couldn't touch her often enough, or hard enough. Each time he thought for sure he must of gone too far, she just arched closer to him, pressing herself into him, and he pushed harder. He had wanted to hear her call his name; she was begging him now, her voice demanding more, demanding everything.

He wanted to make this last; there was never going to be any other time, he knew that. This would be the only time, and maybe she had been right when she had said this would kill her. Her need amazed him, humbled him. If this was what she wanted, well, he was the demon for the job. And then her strong fingers were at his jeans, and her hand had closed over the hardest part of him and there was no more waiting. No more time for thought, or patience or restraint. He roared his need for her and when she just gave a cruel little giggle, he pinned her against the wall and snarled, "Now!" against her skin, knowing she could feel it all the way to her bones.

The smooth wall had nothing on the living marble that was Spike's cold skin against her. He was everything she had dreamed he would be, strong and eager, wild for her. She was almost past all reason now. Her body was throbbing for his touch, begging him to take control and end this the only way he could. His mouth left blood trails against her, his need for it only slightly sated by licking his own off her. When he told her he couldn't wait any longer, it was already too long for her. This was like nothing she could have pictured. Angel had been gentle in his strength, Parker had been submissive to her touch, and Riley patient in his desire. Spike was just Spike, hungry and demanding, ready to take what he was promised.

She struggled against him, not trying to fight him, instead urging him closer. When he was finally inside her, she was past words. When she screamed out, it was only mindless pleasure. She knew her fingernails were raking down his back, drawing blood as they went. He didn't seem to mind, only pushed harder against her and she rose to meet him. Her name was rough in his mouth, muffled against her body as he dragged his mouth over every part of her that he could reach. His tongue left cold trails against her body; against the contrast of her heat, it was bliss, a chilling joy. She couldn't touch him enough; she needed to feel every inch of him against her or inside her. She couldn't hold herself up anymore; the only thing that kept her on her feet was Spike. There was nothing else in the world but him, and the way he made her feel. When he took her mouth again, she could only moan, and try to draw him deeper.

Buried in her, Spike fought to remember every piece of how she felt. Smooth and slick and silky, and hot, so hot. Their movement against each other was ancient, timeless. His body had been dead for generations, but it had never forgotten what to do. She was tight around him, holding him so close that he could feel everything she felt. She cried his name, shuddering in her release, quiet against him at last, and that was all he needed to push him over the edge. At the last moment, he dragged his mouth away from her kiss and sank his teeth into that tempting blue vein on her neck, drinking deep. The chip fought him then, a sudden burst of pain, but mixed with the joy that was this woman wrapped around him, even the pain felt good. She cried out as fangs slid into her, a breathless sound that had him ready for more. Her blood was the same powerful kick he remembered from other slayers, but he had never had them like this. He wanted to drink her down whole, wanted to fill himself with her but the monster was pulling back, sated now, and he could fight the urge to take her totally. Against the roar of fresh blood in his ears, he could hear her whimpering his name softly. Her hands were tangled in his hair, her body heavy against him, beginning to move again, a slow rhythm that called to him to rock back against her. He licked at the marks he had left in her, tasting the last few drops of blood that were left on her flesh.

When she felt his teeth breaking through her skin, it was like fire running through her blood. That was when she knew she was ruined for anything human, because she had thought she was done, and the sharp feel of his mouth drinking her had her ready again. She gripped his hair tighter, holding him against her, willing him to take his fill. Maybe this was the death she had seen, maybe this was the end she wanted. His mouth was so cold against her, his fangs piercing her neck and all she wanted was more. She could hear herself saying his name over and over again, helplessly. How was it that she could live through this? How did anyone survive this sort of ecstasy and anguish? She could feel him lapping the blood off her neck and she wanted to moan again. Alive. How could she still be alive? In all her dreams, she had been dead by now, and Spike had been left to drink her cooling blood.

"Pet?" he whispered against her skin, and she murmured something inarticulate in reply. "C'mon now, answer me."

She pushed back at him then, not near her true strength, just a gentle reminder of it. Her eyes looked drunk with rapture, her mouth curled with a satisfied glow. "Am I dead, then? Was that heaven? " she asked in a shaky breath, and he just laughed.

"No, darlin'. I'm not some child, too young to control myself. You're still kicking." He looked smug at her weakness, pleased with himself, with her response.

"It wasn't like that when Angel drank me." She trailed her fingers over the holes that he had left, expecting blood but finding only her own skin. The sight of her touching the marks that he left made Spike's attention catch on her again, his eyes rapt on her lazy movement.

"I don't think this is really the time to be mentioning his name, do you? Little tacky." His words were light but they couldn't disguise the pain or the anger. Not the first, not the only, and when he had gotten so desperate for her that he wanted be the only one she ever touched? The only one who had ever tasted her? There were scars on her neck; he wasn't even the second. He could only hope he'd been the best.

He turned his back to her and then froze as he felt her tongue on the scratches she left in his back. That was her own blood she was drinking through him and the thought made his knees go weak.

"Did I hurt you?" he heard her say, and managed to shake his head slowly.

"Nothing you did hurt me, Slayer. Hurt is somehow not the word you're looking for." A final warm drag of her tongue and then her mouth was gone, and her hands slid mortal soft against his skin. He shuddered at her touch; her gentleness was almost harder to bear than her violence.

"Spike..." and this was it, this was the denial he knew would come and he could not bear to hear it. He knew how she felt down to her very bones, knew that if she said she didn't care, it would be the worse lie she ever told, but that didn't mean he wanted to listen to it. He pulled away from her, almost angry, and pulled his jeans up.

"Don't say it. Don't ruin it." There was his shirt, amazingly not even ripped. He couldn't say the same for her clothes; his need had gotten the better of him. She hadn't been complaining though, he reminded himself. She had wanted him just as badly as he had wanted her. Her own blood was on her neck, streaks of his on her body. His fingers had left bruises on her arms and her legs; there were bruises on her hips and he knew it wasn't his hands that had left them there. And she was still smiling at him; he could see his- or was it hers?- blood on her lips.

"I can't say anything," she murmured, and, willing himself to stop looking at her, he turned and became motionless. "I can't say anything 'cause there aren't any words." There had been something in her face that he couldn't put a name to, something that almost scared him. It was easier to look somewhere else.

Still looking away, he managed to ask, almost casually, "Did I satisfy you, then, luv? Was that what you wanted of me?"

She moved suddenly against him, a swift reminder of the fact that she was barely more human than he was. Her lips were by his ear, her voice so low it was like she wanted to keep a secret even from herself, "You more than satisfied me, Spike. I..." her words fell into a stutter and she couldn't finish. Her human heat caressed him and he thought he knew what she meant when she told him that there were no words. He rested his head back against the wall, wishing he had forever to luxuriate in her touch, her warmth, her beauty.

"That's alright, pet," he heard himself say to her finally, the words seeming to come from some part of him he had never known before. "You'll tell me someday."

Buffy turned quickly away from him, went in through an open door. She was in her bedroom, now, trying to find new clothes. She had no answer to him, no answer at all. The air seemed filled with all the things they weren't saying. He heard the shower down the hall, pictured her wet and the water tinged pink with their blood. He groaned again. When did he ever get the idea that once would be enough? Her blood in his body brought new life to him and he couldn't think of anybody he wanted to share it with more. Bloody shame about that apocalypse that was planned for later, a pain that the end of the world would stand in the way of him having her again. If he hadn't had a grudge against Glory before, this night would do it.

When she came out again, her face was carefully blank, the bruises he had left on her painstakingly covered. No one would know how deeply he had marked her, how he had made her his finally. But he would know, he would know that he had loved her once, that he had made her as happy as anyone could these days. She started down the stairs again, leaving him behind. He watched the sway of her body, the poetry of her motion. Once was going to have to be enough, but he wanted her again already. Slowly, he trailed after her, words of love tasting like sweet blood in his mouth, but he had already told her how he felt. Maybe it was for the best that she couldn't say them back, maybe it was for the best that she didn't feel the same way he did. He didn't want to think of her hurting if he didn't live to see the morning. He stayed silent as they walked. The time for words had passed them by, everything had passed them by. The future rushed towards them with silken speed and he thought he knew how this night would end.

Buffy walked down the stairs, astonished that she still had the energy left for anything. Life was catching up with her, she couldn't keep this up for much longer. She could feel every mark that Spike had left on her, and it was just as good as she had fantasized. Despite all that, she almost wished the had been strong enough to say no one last time. It would hurt him all the more when she was gone, and she was swimming in remorse for that. She couldn't bring herself to look at him again; she knew if she saw his face one more time, she wouldn't have the strength to go on. She would want to spend what was left of forever here with him, but that wasn't allowed. She would want him to be the one to kill her, wanted him to drink her dry and that couldn't happen. Her death was promised to someone else now. And Spike, she needed him to survive, needed him to keep the promises he made, and her death would be his as well, if she let him take her down. One more prophecy gone wrong, one more demon to face. With a sigh, she picked up her weapons and went out the door to face her own mortality. This would be her final death, the one no one could bring her back from. It was the end of time, the end of her stay on this earth. There was just enough dark left to do what she needed to. The last fight was almost finished, and then she could finally lay down and rest.

The world was going to end tonight.