Buffy leaned against the edge of the veranda, watching the sky pensively. One way or another, it was all going to be over tomorrow. She could hear the others inside- the slightest buzz of activity and conversation almost tangible through the walls. No one could sleep; barely any of them had stopped moving since she’d told them her plan. She’d explained her plan to the Potentials after her friends had agreed to her idea, and they’d all met it with mixed reactions. She suspected that her friends had too, despite their support.
One of the youngest potentials had even called her insane. Faith had very politely told her to shut her mouth.
Buffy sighed. She honestly wasn’t even sure if it was going to work or not. But it had to. She was just so tired. It was like nothing was ever over. It was never finished. Night after night, it was one battle after another. Giles, Dawn and Willow had spent hours poring over books to give them any kind of edge, while Faith and Kennedy had tried to drill last minute skills into the Potentials.
The only person she hadn’t seen was Spike.
Her eyes moved towards the front door. He’d disappeared into the basement shortly after they’d explained the plan , giving her a small, warm smile that hung somewhere between sheepishness and encouragement. It was one of those rare, genuine smiles she never got to see. One that made her heart ache with longing for something simpler.
Rubbing her arms, she took one last glance to the night sky before she turned and headed back into the house. She spared a look towards the dining room table, giving Giles a wan but amused smile as he looked up at her helplessly. Andrew was demanding something about mystic portals, and even Xander looked genuinely bored. It had been Giles who had suggested that they try and do something else and get their minds off things, and Andrew had insisted that they play a board game he’d managed to find when he’d gone for supplies.
She wasn’t sure how Dawn had gotten out of it, but Buffy had told him that she was too busy. Apparently Giles was wishing he’d done the same thing. Xander offered her a shrug and a smile while Anya slept beside him, and Buffy returned it, moving on before Andrew could offer her a place at the table.
She meandered through the house pointlessly, looking in on each group of Potentials and friends in each of the rooms. Kennedy moved past her and up the stairs towards Willow’s room. When she finally stopped, she found herself facing the basement door.
She barely hesitated. She simply opened the door and stepped inside, closing the door with a quiet snap behind her. She made her way down the stairs slowly. Spike looked up almost immediately, his eyes lingering in the talisman in his hand for a few moments longer. She wondered how long he’d been sitting there like that.
His face didn’t show any expression, but he stood up and faced her as she came to the bottom of the stairs. It was like time stood still for a long moment as they watched each other, and Spike’s eyes were the only show of his concern. It was still amazing to her that he could show so much in his eyes while there was nothing on his face. She offered him a smile. A small, half-felt smile.
That was all it took for Spike to move forward. And she did the same until they met in the middle of the room. He didn’t embrace her or touch her in any way, but feeling him that close offered her comfort, just like it had when she’d explained her plan. He gave her confidence. Strength.
“You alright, Slayer?”
Buffy’s lip curved upward slightly. “You ever get sick of asking me that?”
Spike smirked. “Never.”
Buffy ducked her head before looking back up at the stairs, her arms folded across her chest. They were standing so close together that her arms almost brushed against his torso. He could smell her hair. “I don’t think anyone is going to sleep tonight.”
“Wouldn’t think so, pet.” Spike’s gaze moved towards the ceiling. “Not with the big battle looming and all.”
Buffy looked back at him, before her eyes fell to jewel still clutched in his hand. She hesitated a moment before reaching down and taking his hand, turning it over so she could stare at the shining gem. Spike followed her gaze, focusing on the sight and feel of her hand against his. His eyes closed briefly.
“Are you nervous?” Buffy asked quietly.
Spike paused, wrapping his other hand around hers, hiding the talisman from sight. She looked up at him, and he met her eyes, giving her one of those smiles. “So, what are you doing down here in the dark, Slayer? Another night of comfort from your resident vampire?”
Buffy smirked half-heartedly, letting her hand slip from his. Crossing her arms against her chest, she stepped past him, further into the room. “Well, it’s either you or Andrew in a homemade cape, so...” she shrugged, sighing like she’d made a begrudging decision.
Spike’s smirk grew as he turned to follow her with his eyes. “Better keep you entertained then.” He clapped his hands determinedly and rubbed them together, grinning at her when she rolled her eyes. “What’re you in the mood for?”
Buffy turned to face him. “You wouldn’t have a pack of cards, would you?”
* * * * * * *
“Got any threes?”
“You know, love, when you said you wanted to play cards, I thought you meant something a little more adult.”
Buffy wrinkled her nose at him. They were sitting Indian style, facing each other of the cot. Her knee was leaning against the cold wall, and there was a pile of cards balanced precariously on the rumpled sheets. “There is no way I’m spending what could possibly be my last night on earth playing strip poker with you.” She told him. “I’d rather spend it with some kind of dignity.”
Spike raised an eyebrow at her exasperatedly. “That’s not what I meant. Regular poker was more along the line of my train of thought.” His expression melted into a smirk. “Although it wouldn’t be the first time we played.”
Buffy leaned forward and punched him in the arm. His smirk grew, his tongue curling behind his teeth. She pursed her lips at him, and he threw her a card. A three of clubs.
“’Course, even then, you couldn’t play the bloody game.”
“I won, didn’t I?” Buffy protested.
“’Cause I bloody well let you,” Spike shot back. “Knew you couldn’t resist me if you got an eyeful, so it made sense to pretend you knew what you were doing.” Buffy gasped, offended, and Spike looked up idly. “Got any sevens?”
Buffy wrinkled her nose again, pouting at him. Spike bit his bottom lip tauntingly, and Buffy threw a card at him dejectedly. “I’ve kind of missed talking to you like this.” She admitted quietly.
Spike arched a brow, “Sexually inappropriate?”
“Pig,” Buffy rolled her eyes at him. “No. I mean... just.... like we’re normal.” Her gaze lowered, falling to the cards in her hand. King of Clubs. Queen of Hearts. “Like we haven’t got a problem, and we’re just... us.”
“When have we ever been without a problem?” Spike asked sceptically, watching her. He had one leg bent and hanging over the side of the cot, his foot planted on the floor. His finger tips danced restlessly across his thigh.
Buffy glanced up at him for only a second, offering him a wan smile, “Never. But... I don’t know. I could just... forget the outside when I was with you.”
Spike smiled ruefully at her. “Couple of dozen orgasms will do that to you, love.”
Buffy scoffed, her head falling back so she could look at the ceiling before she faced him again. “We don’t talk anymore. Not in the same way. I...” Her expression turned shy. “I’ve missed it. Missed you.”
“Been right here, love.” Spike told her softly.
Buffy nodded, sighing. Spike threw his cards into the pile in the centre, turning to lean back against the wall. He looked at her. Buffy did the same, their shoulders barely touching. “Really brought the mood down didn’t I? Buffy the Buzz Kill, that’s me.”
Spike chuckled lightly, “Thorn in my bloody side.”
Buffy smiled at him, before stretching her arms out in front of her languidly. She’d shed her jacket and shoes during their card game, and she wrapped her arms around her knees, drawing them up to her chest. “I could really go for a burger right now.”
Spike gave her a sidelong glance. “Think it’s safe to say that the burger joints would be closed this time of night, love...Especially with the world ending and all.”
Buffy stuck her tongue out at him. “A girl can dream can’t she? A burger with cheese—“
“—Bacon, and extra mayo. And curly fries?” Spike finished for her, smiling.
“Of course,” Buffy grinned at him. There had been a couple of times where she’d sent him off for food after they’d spent hours of nakedness together, but she was still a little surprised that he remembered her order. Food wasn’t usually the first thought on their mind back then. Testing him, she asked, “And to drink?”
“Usually a diet coke,” Spike answered easily. “Sometimes a chocolate shake.”
Buffy smirked at him, nudging him in the shoulder. He grinned back, leaning his head back against the wall. “And for me?”
“Whatever you could steal off my plate,” Buffy shot back, giggling at his offended expression. That halted her for a moment. It had been so long since she’d laughed. She looked up, concentrating. “Curly fries, with way too much ketchup.” He looked at her and she rolled her eyes. “Come on, you have more ketchup than potato, usually.” She argued. “Cheeseburger with bacon and extra beef, but you never eat the bun.” She considered that for the moment. “It’s like you’re making fun of the vampire stereotype.”
“Don’t like the seeds,” Spike replied with a shrug.
“That’s what makes us so much fun,” Spike commented jovially, giving her one of those goofy, lop-sided smiles. She rolled her eyes at him and he chuckled throatily. “Can never say we’ve had a dull moment, can you?”
Buffy bit her lip, looking over at him. “I don’t know,” she said slowly, tauntingly. “This particular moment could use some livening up.”
Spike held a hand to his chest and his mouth fell open in mock offence, and he stood up. Buffy made a small noise of complaint as the springs in the bed shifted and she lost her balance slightly, and Spike held out a hand. “We’ll have to fix that, won’t we?”
“What are you doing?” Buffy asked him, brow furrowed. He didn’t move, his hand still outstretched in an offer. It was amazing how that hand, harsh from battle but soft to touch, seemed so innocent just hanging there in empty space, open and inviting. He raised a brow at her though.
“Making the night more interesting for you, pet,” he told her slyly. “What’d you think?”
“And how are you gonna do that?” Buffy asked warily. He’d made those kinds of offers and declarations before.
Okay, so he’d never made that offer before.
“You want to dance?” Buffy’s voice turned disbelieving. His hand still hung there.
“I always offered to show you knew things, didn’t I?” Spike asked teasingly.
Not bothering to point out the usual nature of those ‘offers’, Buffy just cocked an eyebrow at him, her next phrase sounding somewhere between challenging and confused. “There’s no music.”
“Do we need it?”
Buffy watched him sceptically for another few minutes before she shrugged and took his hand. He gripped it firmly and pulled her off of the bed and towards him. His free hand came to rest on her waist, and Buffy found herself standing barely two inches from Spike, her hand still clasped in his, level with her shoulder. Her other hand came up to rest on his shoulder.
They didn’t move, merely watching each other as they stood there, adjusting to the new, more personal position. She’d slept in the same bed as him the last two nights, but this felt different. More... intimate for some reason. Maybe it was because of his eyes. Those blue eyes that looked at her like they knew every secret in her mind...
Buffy swallowed, hesitating for a moment before she interlaced her fingers with his. Spike looked mildly surprised, but his lips twitched in the smallest of smiles at the gesture, and his hand slid hesitantly around to rest of the small of her back.
“How can you dance if there’s no music?” She asked quietly.
Spike shrugged, flashing her one of those half smiles. “You should know that by now, Buffy. It’s all we’ve ever done.”
Buffy couldn’t help the little smile at that, mocking at the memory, but genuine at the use of her real name. His smile widened and she shoved him with her shoulder lightly. He moved into it, leading on that leg to pull her towards his body and turn, spinning her around. Buffy couldn’t help but laugh, and Spike echoed it, and she let him lead their bodies into a gentle sway to some kind of internal rhythm.
“This feels strange.” Buffy noted.
Spike chuckled, rubbing the small of her back softly as he began to hum. She didn’t recognise the song, but the sound was soothing. The beat sounded a little strange, like he’d slowed down the song. Buffy felt his fingertips brush underneath her shirt and she forced herself not to shiver. His hand moved in time with his humming.
“Is that a good or a bad thing?”
“I’m not sure yet.” She smiled slightly.
“Come on, love. You know you can’t resist me.” Spike smirked, curling his tongue against his teeth.
Buffy cocked an eyebrow at him challengingly, before shaking her head at him. He started humming again, and they moved in a slow circle. She let him lead, but they still seemed to move in tandem without any real thought. “Don’t flatter yourself.” Her tone was teasing.
She bit her lip for a moment before she let go of his hand and, ignoring his confused expression, slowly brought her hand up to rest on his shoulder like the other one. Spike’s face warmed despite his surprise, and he placed his free hand on her waist. The change in their stance brought them closer together, and both of them closed their eyes for a moment as they caught the other’s scent.
Breaking that second, Spike turned them again, dipping her, and Buffy laughed out loud. She gripped his shoulders tighter for support, wrapping her hands around to band behind the nape of his neck. Spike grinned at her, moving her in a round, sweeping motion before bringing her up again.
She giggled, shaking her head at him. “You are so weird.”
“’Told you, pet: Never a dull moment with me around.”
“I better keep you around, then.” Buffy said, her eyes widening a little as she realised what she’d said. They hadn’t talked about what would happen when the fight was over. Sure, she wasn’t sure if they were even going to survive, but still, what would they do? He’d said it himself, he was there to help her with the big evil. What would happen if they won?
Spike didn’t seem to share the same thoughts. At least, not that she could see. “Sounds like a good idea to me.” He turned them again, and Buffy’s hand slipped to his forearm. He took her by the hand and spun her. Buffy let out a surprised squeal when he released her hand, and her knees hit the side of the cot. She lost her balance and landed butt-first on the bed.
Pouting, she threw the pillow at him. He caught it as it hit his chest, laughing. He threw it back, moving forward so he fell onto the bed next to her. She hit him with it and he kept laughing at her, so she continued to pummel him with it.
“Oi! Lay off, Slayer!” Spike yelled, covering his face. “Bloody hell!”
Buffy giggled as he tried to force her off, cutting off suddenly when he managed to pull it out of her grip and pin her against the wall. Both of them were breathing heavily, and Buffy swallowed hard.
“Spike...” She tried to calm her body down as she looked at him. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“What was that, love?” Spike sat back slightly, like he suddenly realised how close they were. Even after the last few nights, he was still wary.
“Are you nervous?”
Spike ducked his head, pushing back and sitting back against the wall. He shrugged, but Buffy could see the tension in his shoulders. “You know me, love. ‘m always eager for a rumble. Wonder if Andrew’s up to it.”
Buffy watched him for a moment before rolling her eyes and shaking her head. “Yeah,” she said bitterly. “I know you.”
Spike looked at her quizzically. “Yeah...” His confusion grew as she folded her arms over her chest. “What’s the matter, love?”
“I thought we’d gotten past this, this lying and hiding.” Buffy told him. She didn’t sound angry, just tired. He raised a brow at her, and she turned away.
“No.” She faced him again. He was watching her, his hands twisting the corner of a sheet restlessly. He’d barely been sitting for two minutes and already he could barely sit still. “You said it yourself, Spike. I know you. And I know when you’re lying. I can’t fool you, you can’t fool me. Not anymore.”
“You haven’t answered my question. You keep evading it.” She gave him a hard stare, but her tone was softer when she spoke again, despite the authoritative tone still present. “Answer the question.”
Spike stopped. His hands stopped moving and he looked down. There was silence, for what seemed like a long, long time, before he looked up again.
“Yeah, Buffy. I’m worried.”
Buffy leaned forward, pressing the softest of kisses to his mouth. Her lips moved gently against his, the slightest pressure, before she felt him relax. She moved a little more certainly, and his hand came hesitantly up to touch the side of her face. She sighed at the touch, and pushed forward again, coming to straddle his thigh, his back against the wall. She was raised above him on her knees, and Spike’s free hand gripped her forearm lightly. She had a hand touched to his side, and she let her tongue brush just barely against his lips.
This was the most intimate they’d been since she’d told him it was over, since before he’d gotten his soul. Strangely, despite everything they’d done together, it also seemed the most intimate... the most touching. She felt his tongue touch hers and she let them slide against each other for a long few moments before she pulled away again, letting her forehead rest against his.
“For what, love?”
“For being honest with me.”
“I need you to promise me something.” She told him quietly as she moved down into his lap.
“Anything, pet. You know that.” Spike looked down at her, those blue eyes genuine.
“Take care of Dawn.” Buffy said, swallowing. “If I don’t—“
“Buffy, I’m not gonna let that happen.”
“I... I know. But I need you to promise, alright? Promise me you’ll take care of her. She still thinks of you like a big brother, you’d be the only family left and I need someone to be there for her. To make sure she’s okay.”
“Buffy, nothing’s gonna happen to you.” Spike told her earnestly. “I’d rather burn than let anything happen to you. You know that.” Buffy opened her mouth, and Spike nodded. “I promise, pet. Like I said, ‘til the end of the world.” Buffy relaxed, resting her head on his shoulder. Spike stiffened. “Did you just call me family?”
Buffy just shrugged and smiled at him, pressing another kiss to his lips before settling deeper into his embrace. She rested her head against his chest and his arms banded around her— she entwined her fingers with his. She felt this warmth there that seemed different. She felt him press a kiss to her hair before resting his chin there, and she kissed his chest once before closing her eyes.