Alive or Dead
Chapter Five: Almost Certain
Spike sprawled lazily back on a heap of pillows and watched the Slayer prowl round the crypt’s lower chamber, pulling on her clothes as she went. A smile twitched at his mouth as he recalled the last few hours and he stretched, listening to his muscles creak, wondering if there were certain parts of his anatomy that would ever be the same again.
Buffy had hurtled through the crypt door and flung herself at him in a flurry of lips, hands, arms and legs that had taken all his power to combat. Somehow they’d slid down the ladder to the bed, which made a nice change and he wasn’t complaining about the sex, of course he wasn’t, but..... how weird was it that she was here and, for once, not rushing out of the door, looking both satisfied and ashamed at the same time?
“What are you hunting for, Slayer?”
“Somewhere to put my clothes.”
“You’re wearing them. Not a good idea, by the way, because...”
“The clothes in my suitcase! Why don’t you have proper closets down here, Spike? Not just these silly hooks on the wall.”
Spike gulped, realising his voice sounded a bit like that old lady from The Importance of Being Ernest.
“There’s only one. I left it upstairs. I’ll have to go and get the rest tomorrow, but I need somewhere to put things now.”
Spike swung his legs off the bed and hunted for his jeans. “You’re what - moving in with me?”
Buffy turned and stared at him as he hopped round, trying to get his other leg into the jeans. Her lips twitched, as if she was trying not to laugh, but her eyes widened in puzzlement. “Of course. I thought that’s what you wanted me to do. Isn’t it?”
Spike sat down on the edge of the bed. It had been a long time since he’d been surprised by anyone or anything, but right now all he could feel was amazement. “Us to be together - well - yes, of course. But...but...but I thought...I just meant....moving in?”
Buffy, hands on hips, frowned. “Would you rather live with me and Dawnie and Willow and Tara? I’m OK with that, but life will be simpler if I’m here.”
“But why?” The words were almost a whisper. Spike realised he was shaking - this wasn’t just about sex, making her feel something in the cold world she’d been dragged back to by Willow. This was more, much more. This was Buffy acknowledging that they shared something more than lust, that perhaps she felt as much for him as he did for her!
Then, with a shock, as if he’d accidentally opened a window into full sunlight, he remembered the genie and his wish and the fizzing bubbles of pure joy that had been fizzing round his body, died away, one by one.
He hadn’t given it another thought since - no one really believed in genies and their power to grant wishes. Well, Harmony had, but then she’d believed in the sodding Tooth Fairy. It was just another stupid bloody fable. OK, the girl had been cute, very cute in her pink bikini, but after all the blarney and chat, it was all smoke and mirrors. Any genie worth their salt would promise the world, then vanish and hey, look, no gold, no handsome stranger striding into your life, no ropes of pearls or diamond rings, but the genie would be long gone so what were you going to do about it?
So he’d wished for - Spike chased the memory through his mind - yes, he’d wished for “one perfect night with Buffy Summers” or had it been “one perfect hour” - surely he hadn’t wished for “one perfect life with Buffy Summers” or “for Buffy Summers to tell him she loved him”! Well, he could have, obviously, because that was his deepest, darkest desire, but he wouldn’t have bothered saying it to the genie because it was so impossible. A perfect night or an hour, that was what he would have requested. He was almost, almost certain.
“Are you listening to me, Spike.” Buffy was beginning to sound irritated. “You asked me why and I’ve just told you. It’s the right thing to do.”
Spike stared into her face; the blonde hair tousled and tangled from their frenetic love-making, her bottom lip swollen where he’d nipped it, his fangs slipping out at the height of his passion, knowing that made her so hot, so ready for anything he could give her. To have her here, with him, telling the whole world by her actions that what she felt for him was real - if that had been true, then this would have been the happiest day of his unlife. But there was that doubt, that knowledge that nothing that good could come his way so easily.
“So you actually want to live with me?” There had been something a little off about her answer. She’d sounded puzzled.
“I want to be with you,” she replied slowly and rubbed a hand across her eyes, as if wiping away a mist of confused dreams.
“Buffy - Slayer - listen - do you remember the genie?”
“Spike, that was only yesterday! Of course I remember the silly little ho you were flirting with. And could she have worn a smaller bikini!”
“And you remember I had to make a wish.”
She nodded. “Yes, and after she’d vanished, you told me it was all rubbish or to use your actual words, ‘sodding rot’!”
Spike shifted uneasily on the edge of the bed. “Right....and it probably is....never known them to work before, luv....but, how you feel today might - look, feelings are the easiest things to alter by magic, we know that - so what you feel might just be the wish being fulfilled.”
There was a silence. Buffy pulled a piece of old ribbon out of her jeans’ pocket and tied back her hair, tugging it back severely off her face until the skin over her temples stretched white. “So you wished for me to come and live with you?”
“No, I wanted a perfect night. Or a perfect hour. Just the two of us. That’s all. OK, it’s magic and I’m sorry, but I just...”
“Just one hour - that’s all you wanted?” For a second he thought he could detect a wealth of hurt in her voice, then, “Jeez, Spike, if you needed sex for an hour, you didn’t have to waste a perfectly good wish!”
She’d turned away now and Spike couldn’t see her face. She sounded almost bored, irritated. “So at least I now know that me moving in with you isn’t one of your greatest desires? That makes things a lot clearer.”
“Yes - no - sodding hell, Slayer. Stop making everything so complicated. I wished for a perfect hour, not just for sex, although not saying that wasn’t a good idea because you kill me when you’re hot like that. Well, you would if I wasn’t already dead, of course, but I’m just saying if the genie really could grant wishes, then you might not be yourself at the moment and if you’re not and then eventually come back to reality, you’ll probably kick me all round Sunnydale.”
“OK, so obviously the wish was granted, because an hour ago, moving in here seemed like a really good idea.” Buffy zipped up her jeans and hunted for her shoes. “Now, it’s wearing off, just as you thought it would. So you’re right and I’m going home.”
As she spoke, a thunderous knocking sounded from upstairs.
“I can guess who that is,” Spike said.
“I won’t let them in. I’ll just go out and tell them it was all a mistake. Just magic and charms. Willow and Tara will understand.”
“I...I’m sorry, Slayer. I never thought it would work.”
Buffy laughed, glad she had her back to him and he couldn’t see her face. She skimmed up the ladder, throwing back over her shoulder, “You never think, Spike. That’s your problem.”
She paused at the top of the ladder, working hard to find her Slayer face. She realised she was shaking with self-disgust and regret. God, how close had she come to making herself look a pathetic fool down there. Because of course, Spike had been right: the wish hadn’t worked. She’d just realised in the small hours of the morning that she needed to be with Spike. She wasn’t even sure why he was the one person that made her feel anything, but he was. For once in her life, she was going to make a decision based on what she wanted, not one that would please everyone else in her life.
And she’d been so sure he felt the same way. Wrong again, Buffy! Looser! Yet another guy who thinks sex with you is great but oh boy, does he not want to get involved in anything else.
“An hour! Sixty minutes. That’s all he thinks I’m worth,” she murmured as she found her suitcase and prepared to open the door to her friends’ onslaught and explain what had happened. “I wanted a lifetime - Spike wanted an hour! Idiot Buffy!”
In the lower crypt Spike was still sitting on the edge of his bed. He’d listened to her footsteps overhead, heard the door open, the babble of talking, then the door slamming shut with a dreadful finality. The Slayer had gone and although he still felt he’d done the right thing, there lurked inside him the oddest feeling that somehow he’d been given a wonderful present and thrown it away.
“Bloody Fable Demon,” he muttered at last and crossing the crypt to where the remains of the demon’s possessions lay scattered on top of a stone coffin. “If he’d paid his kitten poker debts properly, none of this would have happened. It’s all his rotten fault.” And with a bad-tempered flail of his hand, he sent everything scattering to bounce off the walls, forgetting that most demons’ possessions were charm protected.