“There’s a fine sight to wake up to,” Buffy heard Spike say as she puffed out sixty-three. “Makes me feel all decadent though, lying about and watching you work up a sweat.”
Decadent wasn’t quite decadent enough a word for it, Buffy thought as she looked up and took in the way he was lounging on his side, all rumpled hair and mostly unclothed goodness. Not that she would tell him that; he had ego enough as it was. She bounced to her feet and stretched from side to side. “I’m surprised you’re not still comatose. Looks like you had quite the party without me.”
Spike rubbed his bloodshot eyes with the backs of his hands and sat up cautiously, fingers to his temples. “Found myself needing a bit of help falling asleep. It was a hell of a day.”
“And there’s wasn’t anything much good on the lack-of-telly, either. Needed something to distract me from the merry-go-round in my head.”
“I’d ask if it worked, but I think the answer’s obvious.”
With a grunt, Spike propped himself upright against the back wall, and tugged the sheet across his lower body so only his chest showed.
It was still a really nice view. Not that she was noticing.
“Seems like you’re handling this whole resurrection thing okay though, minus the boozefest. Better than I ever did, at any rate,” Buffy said.
“Ah, but I didn’t lose Heaven, love. The last decade was just a big fat nothing of non-existence. One minute I was burning to ash in the Hellmouth, and the next, the amulet’s spitting me out in Los Angeles. I won’t say I’m not going to have some adjustments to make, but if Captain-bloody-America can do it, so can I.”
“Sure,” Buffy said, relieved he had made the comparison to Steve, and not her. She hoped he was right in his assessment, because she wouldn’t wish the readjustment issues she’d suffered on anyone, never mind Spike. “And you won’t be doing it alone - well, unless you want to.” Taking the chair, she said, “Did you have any time for thinking about what you want to do when you get out of here? In between trying to drown your liver, that is?”
“Hire myself out as an attraction?” Spike shifted, and thunked his head back against the wall. “What’s a proper aspiration befitting the last of demonkind?”
“I have no idea, but let me know when you figure it out. Maybe it’ll be something fitting for a Vampire Slayer with no vampires to slay.”
“Aren’t we the pair,” he said with a small smile. “The last vampire and the last Vampire Slayer. Is there really no place for the likes of us in this new world?”
Buffy shrugged. “As long as you don’t mind being a square peg in a round hole. I hunt down HYDRA members with Steve. It’s close enough to the real thing. Most of the time.” She looked around, then leaned closer and dropped her voice. “Don’t tell anybody, but I’m sort of hoping for another alien attack sometime soon.”
He snorted. “Poor, bored Slayer,” he said fondly. “It’s hard to believe the world is really demon-free. There aren’t any left?”
“Besides the ones human enough to have souls? Though I’m not completely convinced on the soul thing, because I sincerely doubt the Kardashians have a single soul between them.”
“Think Harmony if she ever got fame and fortune.”
Spike shuddered. “Now there’s a terrifying thought. Poor Harm,” he added, and seemed to mean it.
“Poor Harm? Seriously?”
“Well, yeah. It’s not like I wanted to spend eternity with the chit, or even another single second, but… I knew her, you know? Feels wrong, her being gone. All of them.” Spike shook his head, gaze trained on the edge of the cot. “Clem?” he said, looking up sharply.
“I’m sorry,” Buffy said. “I looked for him, but…”
“Bloke was harmless to everyone but kittens and Cheetos!”
“I know,” she said quietly. “It’s not just the Slayers who paid the price.”
Spike fell silent, face clouded with memories. Buffy let the silence rest for several minutes, in honor of Clem, before saying, “Sometimes we get a few demons who stumble through a portal, but they don’t last long. The banishment ritual kills them. Or maybe it sends them back to where they came from; I’m not too clear on the actual process. If I know some have managed to find their way into our world, and I'm nearby, I’ll hunt them down. A demon can cause a lot of damage in a very short amount of time.”
Plus it was just fun, and how screwed up was she that finding a demon or two to kill was the highlight of her year?
“That, we demons can,” he said wryly. Gaze turning inward, Spike scratched at his bare chest, contemplating. “Suppose I’d like to travel for a bit,” he said finally. “Take some time to adjust. Get a feel for the way things are these days, and how I fit in. Catch up on the telly shows. That Game of Thrones looks like it should be good entertainment.”
Travel? Buffy’s heart sank. She’d assumed he would want to be with her in form or another; after all, this was the same Spike who’d declared his feelings ten years ago for her, but only days ago for him. And maybe she wasn’t sure if she wanted him to stay, but the thought that he might not want to - she’d paid lip service to the idea, but hadn’t really considered it. Spike and not want to be with her were two things that hadn’t gone together in a very long time. It was selfish and self-centered to expect Spike to always want her, Buffy knew that, but the memory of his steadfast love and devotion had gotten her through many an awful night. To lose that now...
And then she realized - Spike was the exactly the same, literally, but she was ten years older and wrinklier, with ten years more baggage to her name. And that was a lot of baggage. More baggage than the Winchesters combined. Suddenly confronted with a much older, much baggage-ier Buffy, maybe not want to be with her wasn’t so unlikely after all.
Determined not to show her dismay, she smiled brightly. “I don’t know about Game of Thrones, but the traveling part sounds like a good idea.” And she meant it, or would if she could get over being so wrapped up in her own ego for half a second. Traveling was a fantastic way to rediscover who you were and your place in the world. She’d done some of it herself, after Sunnydale.
Maybe she needed to do it again. Except not with Spike, because that would defeat the whole letting him find his place in the world purpose.
“I don’t know that you’ll find the world all that different, though.” Buffy stopped and thought about that for a moment. “Well, regular people wouldn’t. You might, I guess. No more demon bars, no more kitten poker, no more virgin sacrifices…”
“If there are still half-demons in the world, I’m sure I’ll find something.” With a waggle of his eyebrows, he grinned and tapped his nose. “I’ve got a nose for iniquity, or did you forget, love?”
Buffy grinned back. Now that the first flush of disappointment had worn off, she was grateful for the lack of pressure Spike’s decision to travel rather than stay by her side put on her. It had been less than a day since he’d fallen back into her life, and she still didn’t know where her future lay with him. If it did at all. What if it was only nostalgia that was making her think she wanted to be with him? What if she brought him into her life, full stop, and it just didn’t work?
No, better to keep a distance and take it day by day. See whether the feelings were real, or if the Spike of her past could fit into her present, assuming he even wanted to.
And besides, it probably would take him a while to figure out just where he belonged in this new demon-free world. She still hadn’t, and she’d been living in it for years.
Buffy gestured at the empty bottles. “It’s pretty hard to forget your ability to find trouble no matter where you go, what with the proof scattered about your cell. How the hell did you even get any alcohol, never mind that much of it? Wait, don’t tell me, it was the girl scientist, what’s her name? Jemma? She just couldn’t resist your sinister attraction.”
Spike drew himself up. “I’m offended, I am, that you think I’d try to manipulate -”
“Oh, she’s immune to your charms is she?” Buffy said, snickering at him.
With outthrust lower lip, he said, “The woman looks at me like I’m a science kit waiting for her to open me up and stir my innards about. She only wants me for my body, and I’m no object, I’ll have you know.”
She stifled a smile. “So if Jemma’s not your supplier, who is?”
“Willow might be feeling a mite responsible for my situation,” he said, gesturing to the cell walls. “It was part of her reparations for this Indexing bollocks they want to put me through.”
Buffy clapped a hand to her mouth. “Indexing. Crap. I keep forgetting.” When Spike narrowed his gaze, she said, “Phil asked me to talk you into it. I was… disinclined, but I did promise to try. Sounds like Willow already spilled the beans.”
“She did. And I agreed to it,” he said shortly.
“Well, that was easier than I expected.”
“Not like I had much of a choice. Willow said it was that or a permanent cell. Did she exaggerate?”
Buffy hesitated. “I don’t actually know. I want to say they wouldn’t do that, but…”
“About what I figured,” Spike said.
They sat in silence for a while, Buffy in the metal chair with her elbows on her knees and her chin propped on her hands, and Spike on the cot with his back to the wall and his legs akimbo beneath the cotton sheet. When he yawned repeatedly, she smiled. “Looks like someone needs a nap time already.”
“I could sleep,” he agreed. “But then I’d miss out on your company.” His gaze held hers, soft and warm, leaving Buffy awash with memories long-forgotten.
Suddenly dizzy, she swallowed and stood up quickly, refusing to let her legs betray her. “How about I let you catch some more z’s while I go shower and grab some breakfast, and see what’s the what upstairs. I’ll see if I can find you some breakfast too, and meet you back down here in an hour or two”. Buffy felt like the worst person ever, running off on Spike again, but she couldn’t face the memories right now. Not without making a fool of herself and asking him to stay with her, and that would lead to nowhere postive for either of them. And besides, he really did need more sleep, from the look of him. “Sound good?”
“I’ll try to be here,” Spike said dryly, his expression more of a grimace than a smile.
Buffy made for the stairs, but paused at the foot of them. “I don’t think I’ve said it yet, at least not in so many words, but Spike?” Swallowing back the lump in her throat, she looked up, and met his eyes. “I’m glad you’re not dead. Really glad.”
HIs entire face softened, and he gave her another of those smiles, the gentle, real kind that left her trembly and weak. “Thanks, love. Me too.”
“I -” I, what? She didn’t know. Well, she did, but he wanted to travel the world, and she wanted him to feel free to do so. Buffy gave him her brightest, most confident smile. “I’ll see you soon.”