Rating: PG (There’s not really anything rating-worthy at all.)
Summary: There are no endings. B/S
Disclaimer: Spike, Buffy, Sunnydale et al. aren’t mine. They’re Joss’ and his very own et al.
Notes: Well, this is a weird little (post-NFA reunion) fic. I’m not quite sure where it came from, but I think I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. Thanks to blond_bear - this never would’ve happened without your art, which is quite beautiful in itself. I tried to get in as much as possible. Also, thanks to fishsanwitt, whose beta job was amazing. Finally, thanks to all the Mods for organising this, because it’s such a wonderful idea. I hope it’s OK that this is for art that’s already been done and, deathisyourart, I hope you don’t mind me linking to the copy of the art in your space; I thought it’d be a useful reference.
He’d awoken in a dumpster, to the smell of rot. Behind the smell, there had been nothing, nothing but the fresh, empty sensation of clean air, dancing with its absorbed sunlight.
He hadn’t moved, convinced that any moment the lid would open and he would die. That was something to fear. Something to dread. He’d known that.
Then, minutes had ticked by, and the tension had ebbed away to the rubbish around him, unable to sustain itself in a body with no adrenaline and only conscious thought inconstantly at its helm. It was then that he had remembered that he was in LA, and that clean air was not something to be expected.
He had spent the day inhaling. The stench of humanity had slowly fouled his nose, but that was all. It had been undiluted and unfamiliar, containing no echo of demonium, nor anything of family or dark god-power.
The air had grown warmer as the day had continued, but it had frozen him, rushing through his body like wind in a tunnel, and he had become what he was: a hollow corpse. A spark of cold alone had remained in the caverns of his mind, and had buzzed around the emptiness.
Night had fallen, and the entreating musk of darkness had drawn him from his cover. He had come out into empty streets, and the drifts of humanity in the air had started to fade. A fear of some sort had been with him, and he had walked in the middle of the road, as far as possible from the faint echoes that hounded his footsteps.
A motorcycle had come round a corner, black and gleaming. It had swerved to avoid him, and then had spilled its driver from its mount, skidding towards a drain on the side of the road. He had taken the bike, not casting back a glance, and driven. Here. To Sunnydale.
Why was he here? He couldn’t be in LA, he knew that. That place had been wiped clean, and it was frightening in its sanctity. But there were other places in California, other places in the world. He’d been through most of them, not empty like he was now, but full of love and burning, boiling vitriol.
But then, he didn’t want to go anywhere else. Here, in this hole, was where it had begun, and this was where it would end. This was the end; after all, he had felt it. It would be delayed a day, but it would be the end.
A year ago, he’d had those same thoughts.
That idea remained in his mind, dropping like lead through the ocean, staying on course though he tried to push it away. Last year had been different. He had been fighting for the world he had wounded, and not for the world he wished to save. That had made a difference. And also, last year, there had been Buffy.
Buffy. It felt like just a name to him, just a word. The smell that was hers pervaded, lightly, the crater in front of him, but he hadn’t noticed until just now. What did that mean? That wasn’t how he was supposed to feel.
The spark of cold electricity buzzed more strongly in his mind, and he could almost feel it nesting in the gap between his eyes. He didn’t know what it was, but it seemed to be the closest thing to emotion left within him. That seemed strange.
Why was it that Sunnydale was a crater, yet still full of scents, while LA was as it had ever been, but without any record of his, and the others’, presence? That was contrary to how it should be. He didn’t understand, and he wasn’t sure that he ever could.
But no. Why should he? This was supposed to be the end. There would be no need for him to understand. He would be finished, and it would be others in the world who would wonder. Any moment now, he would be over. He knew it.
The air in front of him quivered, and the cold spark behind his eyes melted into something soft. This was it. He reached a trembling hand forward, focusing on the air in front of him.
Air that was wet. With rainfall.
This was no end. This was just a storm. He looked up, blinking into the pounding raindrops. Lightning suddenly scalded his vision, and its subordinate, thunder, pushed him to his knees.
The brightness in his mind was back, blossoming as it was fed by the thrumming water. It pushed forward behind the bridge of his nose, and, with a yelp, he shuddered, warm saltwater spurting from his eyes.
He was alone. And he was still there.
“Spike?” she said, into silence.
“Where are we going?” All of the road was ahead of them, and they were on a motorbike. The bike wasn’t making any noise, but she didn’t mind.
Spike looked over his shoulder and grinned at her. The dusk made him look real. She was disarmed, and smiled back.
Suddenly, her shadow fell across his face, and he was pale again. Still, he grinned.
“Shouldn’t your eyes be on the road?” she asked.
“No they aren’t.”
He shrugged, looking thoughtful. She wanted to apologise.
Turning back to the handlebars, he said, “I’ve been down this road before, anyhow.”
“Not you, Slayer. Just me.”
They rode in silence. Buffy looked around. With a start, she realised that she knew this place. There was sand, and there was scrub, and there were mountains in the distance.
She’d climbed one of those mountains, once upon a time. She’d forgotten her flag and had to come back down again.
But that was a lifetime ago. The mountains had long since fallen into dust. She’d been there; it had made the news. Well, until it had been replaced with that feature on kittens.
She looked around again, wondering why the place hadn’t changed. She had known it was different now.
And maybe it was, she realised. There hadn’t been a road before. Or a motorcycle. Or a Spike.
She smiled. The place might not have changed, but it had definitely improved.
Something nagged at the back of her mind, something that told her she was missing something. She ignored it, and decided to relax. To enjoy the ride. She put her arms around the figure in front of her and rested her head on his shoulder. He didn’t seem to react.
In the distance, at the edge of the light, she could see another figure. It looked like it was waving: both of its arms were shaking slightly in the air. Spike’s duster (Was he still wearing that?) burned her arms, suddenly letting out all the heat it had absorbed from the sun that was setting behind them.
She tore her arms away and looked back reproachfully. But she couldn’t stay angry. It was dying, after all.
She’d never seen the sun die before. She’d dreamt of it, long ago, but never thought she’d see it. The spectacle really was the most beautiful and glorious thing on this Earth.
But why were they driving away from it?
“Spike, aren’t we going the wrong way?”
“But, I always thought…” She turned back to him, though he wasn’t looking at her. “What’s wrong with the other way?”
“We’ve already been that way, Slayer. It didn’t take.”
“Oh.” That made sense. “Why d’you keep calling me ‘Slayer’?”
“Sorry. Didn’t realise.”
“It’s not my name.”
“I know, Buffy.”
“That isn’t it either.”
“Then what is, love?”
She paused. “That’ll do.”
He turned to look at her again. “Will it? Deed Polls’re expensive, you know.”
“I’ll worry about that later.”
Her shadow was travelling down his face, flickering. She didn’t want to answer.
“Am I moving?” she asked, changing the subject.
“It’s an illusion.” He turned back, leaving the rippling shadow on the back of his head. “Trick of the light. You think you are, but you’re not.”
“Oh. One of those.”
She looked down at the bike’s wheels. They were spinning, and the ground was moving beneath them. There was still no sound.
“But, Spike,” she whispered, “we’re going somewhere.”
He looked down for a second. “Yeah, well, can’t help that.”
She settled her arms back around his waist and looked at him. His back was like the darkest night, day’s end and resting place. It had a matte sheen to it. Funny, after all the blood it had seen.
She cast a glance backwards. The sun was the same as before.
“Wasn’t the sun s’posed to have set by now?”
Looking at her, he had frown lines. Like tiny vampire ridges. They were kind of cute when they were that small.
“Love, it’s high noon.”
She flicked her head around again. The dying sun had disappeared, and been replaced by it’s younger self, which was soaring high through its zenith.
“Sorry.” She frowned. (Was she a mini-vampire too?) “I must’ve been in the wrong time zone.”
“Happens to everyone.”
“No it doesn’t,” she replied blandly.
She looked around, amazed at all the things she could see in the new light. She looked up, and the sun pierced her eyes.
She had fled from this, before. Why, she had no clue. The light was bright, yes, and unforgiving. But it held no malice. It was quite invigorating, really.
“Spike?” she asked.
“Where are we going?”
Spike looked over his shoulder and grinned at her. He didn’t look real, it was too bright for that, but he looked beautiful.
“Home,” he said.
Buffy opened her eyes. It was cold. That was strange, it had been so warm earlier.
Also strange – rain was pounding in through her open window.
She brought her hands from beneath the dark orange covers and rubbed at her eyes. Black grease spread over her fingers.
Oh yeah, her eyeliner. Again, why was she wearing it? Marco liked it, but was that a reason? Putting it on wasn’t that much of an effort, she knew, but she wasn’t sure that it suited her.
Spike hadn’t worn eyeliner in years.
The rain was still pounding in. She got up and padded over to the window. Leaning on the wet sill, she tried to close it, but her hand slipped, drawing her upper body out into the rain. It felt wonderful.
She turned her head to the side and closed her eyes. The falling water washed her eyeliner away, and she felt it run, like blood, down to the end of her nose and off it, into the night.
She blinked her eyes open and caught sight of a tree, with branches just a couple of feet away from her. In the rain its foliage was dark and lush, and she reached out a hand to touch one of its leaves. It was slick and waxy, like wet leather beneath her fingers. And it felt alive.
The water on it turned warm, suddenly, like tears. The rest of the rain followed suit, and its patter sounded like weeping. She could taste salt on her lips.
She pulled back into her room, trying to shut the window. But it wouldn’t close.
A wind picked up, tossing her hair about her head and across her eyes. It pulled her up, off the ground, and then out into the storm. She lost her hold on the shutter and fell: hot, wet leaves slapping at her face as thunder pealed like bells.
Buffy snapped her eyes open.
She needed to call Willow.
He smelled her before anything. Her deep, rich scent of burning bright power struck him, overwhelming the smoulder of the thunderstorm. Then she was in front of him, at his level with her knees on the ground. He only saw her face for a moment, before her arms came around him, and his face was pressed to her wet, satin-clad shoulder.
The rush of the rainfall cloaked the sound of his sobs, but he still shook with them, and he knew that she could feel them. She clasped him tighter, a cold hand in his hair, and he began to feel the compression on his lungs. He didn’t mind.
He felt himself, with each convulsion, steal an ounce of heat from her. It rippled through him in waves of dull warmth, and then left, unable to find anything alive within him to hold onto. He was making her shiver, he knew. He could feel it. She was trembling as she held him, shaking harder with each roll of thunder in the sky.
Did he love this? This shaking body that held him? For some reason he didn’t know. He remembered fires of passion, swelling in his heart at her voice, and the warm balm that came with her touch. But now he felt no warmth except that which he stole from her, and he didn’t understand where the heat had come from before.
What was she anyway? Bones, flesh, chemicals and impulses. He couldn’t grasp why she was special, why she was different, why he had needed her.
Was this all he could feel? Nothing but an echo; a sense memory that led him to be grateful for her presence? He was grateful. That he knew, distantly. But all else was a blur. They were just two corpses, both animated by blood, each in a different way. There was nothing but cold in his mind, a cold that burnt at the top of his nose and forced tears out of his eyes.
The rain still pounded down, and their knees still rested in mud. She pressed a kiss to his neck and, for a moment, he felt something. What felt like light flushed through him, for an instant, and he grasped her tighter still. But it was soon gone, and his head was empty again.
The cold behind his eyes had made room for itself, and his tears began to slow down. Slowly, he looked up to the sky, and the rolling black storm clouds. Lightning shot through them, and a couple recoiled as if in shock. The thunder roared soon after, disturbing them further. They redoubled their efforts, and the rain fell harder.
He looked down again, pressing his nose to her shoulder and inhaling the warm, damp air that rose from it. Her smell, of spiced wine, flowed through his nose and out of his mouth. It didn’t connect with his memories of her.
And suddenly, he knew. Why. His memories of her, his feelings for her, they were all closed off, finished, sealed in a corner of his mind and held with parcel tape. He had written them down, days before, exhumed them onto grocery receipts with a scratchy biro. The Ballad of Buffy and Spike had reached an end, fifty verses through, and that had been everything.
But now she was back, seemingly trying to create a fifteen-line sonnet, while the others had been cut off after their octets. It didn’t make any sense. He’d done his couplet, made it strident and resounding, and yet he was still there. This wasn’t how the form was meant to be used.
He rested his chin on her shoulder and looked beyond it towards the crater. It was a black pit in the night, and even the lightning couldn’t breach its depths.
He’d died once, at the bottom of that. Died for all of seconds, before a year. A year which had been limbo. No. Not limbo. Purgatory. The year had been to cleanse him until he was willing to die for the world and not just for love. It had done its job, and yet he still remained, the spheres of death as closed to him as they’d ever been.
“You should’ve told me, Spike.”
The words were spoken in his ear, soft, but brittle next to the falling rain. He didn’t know what to say back. He didn’t know if he could say anything. He hadn’t spoken since he’d thought he’d ended, and the concept of a voice seemed strange to him. Distant, like everything else.
“I…” he ground out, unsure whether his growl was what speech was. “It was meant to be. Like this. ‘Til now.” It struck him that words were quite poor as a way of communicating thoughts. They were too slow, too hindered. But then, they were all he had. “I should be ended.”
Thunder cut off her immediate reply, and he wondered whether that was what he meant. It wasn’t really. The fact was that he was ended, in mind and heart. The only emotion that remained was the nebulous cold between his eyes. He was definitely cut off from the Earth, and no longer part of it. And yet, his body still kept working, the mystical force that drove it still pushing borrowed blood around his veins in a pulseless dribble.
“There are no endings, Spike. Not for you, and not for anybody.”
He wanted to throw her away from him, and beat her body into supplication.
He never left her embrace, however, and the anger soon left, bubbling over and away from him. It had been an artificial warmth, but he missed it. He began to cry again, the chill of grief, if that was what it was, swelling once again behind his eyes.
“Shh…. It’ll be OK.”
Her voice rode on a wave of rain and thunder, and pulled more tears from him. She reached a hand under his coat and ran knuckles up and down his back. Even more tears were dragged out of his eyes and, with them, he could feel the beginnings of the cold going too.
A wave of her body heat suddenly struck a spark, and warmth flared through him, just for a moment. He shuddered, and sobbed harder. Buffy’s embrace began to mean something, and the smell of damp fabric and spiced wine enlivened his dead lungs.
But just for a moment.
Afterwards, however, there was an ache in him. Everything he felt was still only a sense memory, but it was something he wanted back. Something he knew he needed, and something that was on the periphery of his mind.
His tears slowed, and he rose to a crouch, taking her chilled hands in his. He looked at her, and thought that he felt something begin to unfurl inside of him.
Sodden hair that hung in rat’s tails framed her face, which, in itself, contained lips that were turning slightly blue. It registered, and he pulled them to their feet, releasing their hands as he shrugged out of his coat. In a matter of seconds it was around her shoulders.
“LA,” he said, just looking at her. He had to go back. Find out what had gone wrong, and maybe fix it. Or maybe do something else; there was something resurfacing, at the back of his mind.
He nodded back.
Did he love this? This girl who seemed to be more than just a body? He didn’t know. But he felt, maybe, that he could.