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scared of what’s behind and what’s before

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The world is harsh, and cruel, and loud.

They take it slow.

Buffy spends two weeks just rediscovering Spike’s hands, specifically in relation to her own. Touching, brushing, holding. Maybe her preoccupation with normalcy hasn’t faded as much as she thought, she muses as she takes his hand for probably the twenty-third time that day. What could be more white-picket-fence than walking around, fingers intertwined?

Of course, his hands aren’t human hands. They’re cold, naturally. Not so cold that they couldn’t be passed off as a particularly cold-natured human, especially once she’s been holding his hands and warming them with her own mostly-human heat. But more than the cold, she’s struck by how unnaturally smooth his hands are. No calluses or scars, despite his physicality.

She studies his hands while he watches her. She keeps expecting him to get bored or frustrated or even weirded out by her singular interest. The Spike of yore couldn’t stay still while his nails dried; this Spike lets her turn his hand over and trace every line for what must be an hour.

Or maybe her Spike was always this Spike. Maybe she was the one moving while he was staying still.

They talk more, now. They actually talk – not the terse banter of their uneasy alliance, not the rambling conversations of their post-sex exhaustion. Not even really the heart-to-hearts of last year, at least most of the time. They just talk, about music and the weather and childhood memories and what’s coming on TV tonight.

It’s funny, he probably knows her better than anyone else at this point. He’s seen her laughing at her own jokes, crying over nothing, fighting for her life, coming so hard she swears she’s seen through time and space. He knows how to push her buttons, how to calm her down and rile her up, how to turn her on until her eyes are cloudy with desire, even how to make her coffee the way she likes it.

(“Can barely taste it,” he grumbles, emptying another sugar packet. “American coffee’s so bloody weak to start with. You wouldn’t be able to drink this shite if you’d been around in Italy in the 50s. God, you would have loved it. Or maybe you would have hated it, I don’t know. At least you would have picked up how to drink coffee properly.”

But he’s smiling as he says it, and she catches him sneaking a sugar packet into his own cup not two minutes later.)

Anyway. He knows her. But he doesn’t know-her-know-her, in the Willow and Xander kind of way. It never would have occurred to her before to tell him about the worst Halloween costume she ever wore or the first album she bought with her own money or the secret cat she’d had for a week when she was seven. She tells him now, and she shouldn’t be surprised by how delighted he is.

She doesn’t know she’s smiling until he reaches forward to trace the shape of her lips. It feels almost foreign, to realize how naturally the expression has spread across her face.

 

They take it slow.

Of course, for them, taking it slow might just mean not fucking in the first abandoned building they come across. So it’s not surprising they end up here a little sooner than her common sense would suggest they should.

As she strips off her dress, Spike falls to his knees. It’s an echo both beautiful and painful, and for a second she’s not sure how to react. His expression isn’t hungry or lustful or even tender as it was before. If she had to pick a word to describe it, it would be intense, like he’s staring straight into her soul.

Then, a moment of clarity. She sinks to her own knees, face close to his. Something like awe colors those blue, blue eyes.

They’re silent for a moment, then she has to ask. “You get what I’m doing, right? Like, as a gesture.”

“I get it, love,” he murmurs, looking somehow both amused and overwhelmed.

She sits back a little and traces a line down his naked chest. Buffy watches in rapt fascination as his muscles twitch, flesh straining toward her touch. He notices her gaze but seems unembarrassed by the extent of his desire for her.

Slowly, like he’s taming a lion, Spike reaches for her, brushing first her cheek and then her breast with the same careful touch. She sighs into him, the heady rush of his touch contrasting with the heavy heat pooling below.

She stands and shimmies out of her panties. His gaze becomes hungrier. “Get on the bed,” she says, voice betraying just how very turned-on she is.

He quirks an eyebrow. “Doing things the old-fashioned way?” he asks, but his voice is shaky and quiet too. He settles onto the bed like a cat, watching her naked figure with dark eyes.

She doesn’t respond as she climbs onto the bed with him. She sweeps her hair up into a ponytail and turns, exposing her naked back. His sharp intake of breath indicates something other than arousal.

She freezes, confidence melting away, and realizes what he must be thinking. Even that first time, they had looked into each other’s eyes. “No, that’s not it,” she says immediately, twisting to meet his gaze. “I just want to…”

Buffy can’t find the words. She’s not sure what she wants, or why she wants it, if it comes down to a matter of certainty. For the first time in forever, she’s just following her blood, as Spike would say.

His expression softens. “I understand, love,” he says, and she’s not sure if he’s just saying it or if he really understands. Both seem equally plausible. He did always have a way of understanding her when she didn’t understand herself.

She scoots back and settles into him. Onto him? Into him? Against him, for now. His hands come up instinctively around her, caressing her, shaping her like a statue. She’s barely touching him in return but it’s already almost more than she can handle. He’s always been overwhelming that way.

Exhaustingly slowly, she rocks forward, then back, setting the rhythm against his waiting body. Spike’s muscles are tense against her, and he’s uncharacteristically quiet. It gives her a little thrill, to know how focused he has to stay to keep this just “this”, to keep from straining forward and pushing into her.

“I’m not teasing,” she says, and this time she doesn’t turn and look at him. She doesn’t break the rhythm, either.

A pause, then, “I know, love.” He chuckles, the sound a little hollow. “It’s a lot, innit?”

She’s not sure if he means what they’ve been through, what they’ve done to each other, what they still want to do to each other, any and all of the above, but, “Yeah, Spike. It’s a lot.”

No more talking. She focuses on the rhythm, slow but not exactly easy. Every time she brushes into him he makes a half-sound that she only hears through some combination of Slayer-ness and Buffy-ness. But she took two weeks on his hands, so she’s going to take her time with this, too.

It’s been less than two years since she last took him inside her, but as she finally moves against him it’s a greater revelation than that first time. She closes her eyes, grateful he can’t look through her with that dizzying gaze. It’s more than she could take, now. She’s not as strong as she was.

She loves him, now.

 

After, the world is gentle, and kind, and quiet.

It scares her more than any monster.

But the monster-man next to her, with his fire and his coldness, has fallen asleep. She borrows a little of that peace, winding her arms around him and breathing in his scent. There will be time in the morning.