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Heart And.... by Sigyn
Heart And....

    I’m sorry, William.

    Buffy’s parting words were still burning in his head. Why, why, why did she have to use that name? Spike rolled over, praying for sleep he couldn’t find, the bright California sun mocking him through the frosted windows of his crypt. He couldn’t sleep in the burnt out shell of his lower chamber, stinking of explosives and demon ichor, his bed a wreck of ash and splinters. Everything was gone. His repaired record player, his vintage punk albums – all his vinyl was shot right through, as if someone had fired a gun directly at it. His bookshelf. His bar. His carpets...

    After Buffy had gone he’d salvaged what he could, drank down the last dregs of his bottles, sieving the shattered glass through his teeth, unworried about what a splinter of glass might do to his vampiric system. Once he’d taken as much alcohol as he had left, he’d gone back up the ladder and tried to return to the cushion on his sarcophagus in the upper chamber to sleep. He’d found Buffy’s scent still on the pillows. It made it even harder... but he couldn’t bring himself to put them away. He knew the scent wouldn’t last, and he wanted every second of it. He usually preferred to sleep downstairs during the day, so the sunlight wouldn’t taunt him, but... here he was. Taunted.

    He wasn’t trapped – he could enter the tunnels, head down to Willy’s, or the Magic Box, or a hundred other demon haunts – but the sunny day still felt like a prison. Because Buffy was out in it. He knew she was. She’d come to say this goodbye once the sun had risen, so she could retreat into it where he couldn’t follow. She had walked into the sun, and left him in the destruction and the shadows, alone.

    And bleeding.

    There was no blood, of course. He was hale and whole on the outside. But inside... inside... he felt awash with his own blood, as his heart split, again and again, causing actual physical pain in his chest.

    He’d thought longing for her in an unrequited passion was the worst thing he’d ever feel. Then he’d thought grieving for her was worse. Sometimes, when she’d beaten him and been cruel to him, calling him a soulless thing, he’d felt as if she was trying to find something that could possibly hurt him worse.

    Now he knew she’d found it. There couldn’t possibly be anything worse than how he was feeling right now – or how he was going to feel soon, when it really sank all the way in. He’d rather be tortured. He’d rather be under Angelus’ thrall again than undergo this. But there was no way to ease it unless Buffy magically opened that door, and fell into his arms, declaring she’d made a mistake and she couldn’t live without him.

    A pleasant daydream, but not one that made the pain any less.

    In a way, he’d known it was coming. She’d never wanted it to happen between them in the first place. She’d opened to him only because she’d needed him, never because she wanted him. Her body wanted him. And her heart – he was so sure there was love there, or something so close to love it made no odds. He’d seen it. He’d felt it. But something was blocking her, something he couldn’t control, something he couldn’t even touch. She wouldn’t let herself feel it.

    And to make matters worse, the night before was haunting him. Not her disappointment, not her anger, not how she’d turned and stood beside her ex with determination and dismissal of Spike and all he was. That was just her, the Slayer, inside her shell, her armor of self-righteousness. He knew that about her.

    No. It was how she’d come to him earlier that night. No armor. No defense. Not even really the slayer. Just... Buffy.

    “Tell me you love me,” she’d demanded.

    Spike had stared at her in wonder, and something like hope. She never wanted that. “I love you,” he said. “You know I do.”

    “Tell me you want me.”

    “I always want you,” he breathed, melting under the thought. “In point of fact–” he began, trying to take a more active role in whatever was happening.

    “Shut up,” Buffy said. She grabbed him around the shoulders and pulled him down to his cushioned sarcophagus, deliberately unbuttoning his shirt so she could reach his cold chest.

    He gazed down at her, trying to read her eyes. Something was wrong. He couldn’t think of what it might be, but something was wrong – not the bloody Doctor and whatever excuse Buffy had for why she was here tonight. He’d talk to her about all that later. Right now, this was more important. She was a thousand times more important than any demon or any mission or anything else in the universe.

    She kissed him, sensuously, and he undressed her slowly, undoing the buckles and hooks in her pseudo-military uniform – why was she wearing that? – to reveal her warm flesh. He poured his fingers over her skin, raising gooseflesh, waiting for her to grab him and push him down, bring in the violence that had always been theirs to share.

    She didn’t.

    She wasn’t exactly loving, but her desperation tonight wasn’t for violence. It was for something else; contact, sharing, something that she’d never asked from him before. Usually she only let him make love to her gently after they’d beaten each other about for a while, and the gentleness was mainly exhaustion. He was okay with that – he too was built for violence – but this was different, and heady, and he hadn’t realized how much he’d been hungering for it. Anything she wanted to give him was all right by him – violence, pain, degradation – just so long as she wanted to give him anything at all. If she was there, he was alive.

    But this... this was something so frightening, and so beautiful.

    He was naked before her, as was she, stripped down to only themselves. She pressed him close, his cold breast against her warmth. The heat of it poured through him, not only her body, but the fires she lit inside him, that had caused such pain for so long, and now filled him with more pleasure than he ever knew how to cope with. “Buffy,” he whispered as she pulled him inside.

    “Say it again,” she whispered.

    “I love you,” he said.

    “Say it. Keep saying it.”

    Spike gazed at her for a long time, moving within her, feeling her warmth, her openness, but there was something dangerous in her eyes. He knew her darkness. He knew her need. He knew her lust. This was something else. He wished it was love, but it wasn’t. Not yet. But whatever was in her eyes was something powerful, something he wanted. “I love you,” he said deliberately. He could see her swallow the words as if they were water, and she was dying of thirst. “I love you. I love you, Buffy. I’ve loved you so long.” He did not kiss her. He did not break his gaze. “You’re all I want. Just let me. Let me love you. That’s all I’ve ever asked. Let me love you, Buffy.”

    He hadn’t felt anything as intense as this in his life. She was so close to it. He could feel her, feel her right there, all but with him, not drowning in lust, not laughing at his hunger, not disappearing in sensation. She was there, looking into his eyes, looking at him, and she was almost there. There was still something between them – he wasn’t sure what – that kept her from being completely with him, but whatever it was, tonight she had found some reason to try and breech it. She was looking over it, maybe through it, and she was so close to getting past it. One step away from loving him, he knew it. Just one step. There was something she needed from him tonight, and if he could provide it, he knew she’d be his – properly, and completely his. She would let herself love him.

    Sweet dreams of contentment brushed at him like feathers. Being let into her home, to make her tea in the mornings. To be there at night, her curled up in his arms watching the telly. To have her come up behind him and hug him, even for the briefest moment, her arms around him in a sincere embrace. To be able to surprise her with flowers or chocolates, just a single rose on her pillow. To rub her back when it was sore, sit and read with her feet on his lap. Even without eternity – eternity didn’t last, he knew that now. Drusilla had proven that to him. Even without the domestic bliss of till death do us part, just the freedom to walk down the street with her hand in his, or to touch her shoulder in comfort before her friends, or to send her off with a kiss before she left, and smirk in defiance at what he was sure would be Xander’s disapproval. To hold her, really hold her, truly have her in his arms.

    To really be hers. To have her really be his. His girl. His love.

    Just to hear her say she loved him, even once.

    She was only one step away.

    “I love you,” he said again.

    “Love me,” she whispered. She was getting close. So close – he could feel it in the heat of her, in the fluttering as she gripped him. Her eyes were rolling back in her head, and she was losing control of her breathing. It was beautiful – she was beautiful. There was no violence in this. There was something wrong – it wasn’t pure, wasn’t love – but it wasn’t that dark need he’d been fulfilling, either. “Love me.”

    “I do,” he breathed. “I love you completely. Every inch of me. Every breath. Every movement. Every drop of blood in me is yours. You hold my heart.”

    “Heart and soul,” she whispered, almost a moan, and he knew she was so close she didn’t know what she was saying.

    “All of me,” he said, rather than repeat her. “All of me. Buffy. I love you. I love you with all my heart.”

    She came then, and he went with her, letting her passion carry him over the crest. He bent his head to kiss her, and found tears on her cheeks. “Buffy?”

    “Just make love to me,” she whispered, her eyes closed. She shifted beneath him, not letting him leave her, trying to squeeze him erect again. “Don’t stop. Don’t stop.”

    Make love to me, she’d said. Not fuck me, not take me, not do it. Make love to me. Flickers of hope drifted in him like embers, burning sparkles inside him. Spike worked in her, sliding pleasure into her even if he couldn’t make himself erect immediately, pouring kisses into her mouth. “What is it, love?” he murmured.

    “Shut up,” she breathed, her eyes shut tight.

    Spike kissed her eyelids, her cheeks, nibbling sensuously on her lips before kissing her tears away once more. He was soon hard again – the salt from her tears had warmed him through, made him her strength, and he made love to her firmly, deliberately, every movement hers. When she opened her eyes he gazed into her, trying to ground her. “I love you,” he whispered to her. “I love you, Buffy. I love you.”

    She stared into him, searching for something, he wasn’t sure what. He hoped against hope she could find it in his eyes, because he was desperate to give it to her. He could give her his love, his devotion, all his heart, all his blood, every thought, every part of him was hers. He prayed to a god he naturally stood in defiance of that he could even begin to be enough. There was such depth in her eyes, so much space, so much need. He wanted to be enough to fulfill it. What was it that had driven her here tonight, driven her into his arms with such yearning? It wasn’t the rage and depression he’d been battling with at her side – as both pell and partner. This was something else. This was something that was part of her, not grief or despondency layered over atop her slayer nature, but something innate.

    Something out of her soul.

    The thought pierced him like a blade, and he immediately shunted it down into the darkest corner of his mind, hoping his blackness could drown it. He didn’t need thoughts like that. He could draw the fire up out of her body, build the pleasure through her, cherish her heart and nurture her strength. All of that he could do. What else could she need?

    Everything in him wanted to be everything she could possibly need. What was man in him adored her, and longed to be her love. What was demon in him wanted her, wanted to be both her master and her slave. Everything about Buffy was perfection to him; her hair, her scent, her weakness and her strength, her kindness and her violence, and she owned him completely.

    “Let me be what you need,” Spike whispered to her. “Tell me what you need, I’ll give it to you. I’ll give you everything.”

    He’d only started her crying again. “Oh, Buffy, Buffy,” he kissed the tears away, his heart aching for her. “Just feel it, Buffy. Let yourself feel it. Feel how much I love you.” He kissed the salt from her cheeks, from her jaw line, nuzzling her throat. “Oh, my darling girl. My pet, my beloved. Feel me.” He placed his lips against her ear and barely breathed the words, so they could only belong to her. “I love you.”

    She clutched him tightly then, a hint of her violence, but it was from a very different place. He could not understand this. He did not know what this was, or where it was coming from. Whatever it was, she was claiming him as hers, if only to herself. All he could do was be there, act the role she was laying out for him, and be ready for that final step when her last lock finally snapped, and her heart was opened for him. She kissed him fiercely, though without teeth, without pain, and he opened for her. She pulled away and opened her eyes, gazing at him again. She thrust upwards, and she came again against him, almost an afterthought, a single grunt of release. He let her roll aside, then, more than sated himself by the taste of her tears.

    He wanted to hold her, but she didn’t let him. “No,” she said, putting his arms away. She turned on her side, pulling the sheet and blanket up around her to stave off the chill, and stared at him in the candlelight.

    “Buffy, what–”

    “Shh,” she said. She lay with him, refusing to touch him, on the cushioned slab beside him. Alone. And she stared. She just stared at him, stared into his eyes, as if she were still looking for something. Sometimes she’d reach up and touch him, touch his brow, his cheek, but she always pulled her hand back, and she cringed when he tried to reach for her. Spike folded his arms and let her gaze into him. Something was wrong. Something had gone wrong. He just didn’t know what.

    Spike knew there were things to talk about. He knew he’d have to explain this Doctor business she’d come to ask after. He knew something had happened to her tonight, and he needed to know what, so he could know what he was supposed to be doing. He didn’t want to do it wrong. But she wanted him quiet, and he wanted her. Whatever it took to for her to take that final step, unlock that final gate between him and her heart, he’d do it. He lay there and let her gaze into his being, staring back and drowning in her eyes. But he was terribly afraid he’d already missed some vital opportunity, that something hadn’t happened when she was beneath him, something that should have. He couldn’t imagine what.

     Sometimes Buffy would look away, searching for something inside herself, then turn back to gaze into Spike’s eyes. He couldn’t fathom it. He wasn’t even sure she knew what she was doing. The intensity between them smoldered, dragging them both deeper and deeper. Spike wasn’t sure exactly when it dragged them into sleep – or a meditative trance, he couldn’t tell the difference. What woke them, though... that answered a lot of questions.

    It made perfect sense, Spike thought as he laughed. So soldier boy had returned, and had driven Buffy fully into Spike’s arms. It was hilarious, in its way. But the look of horror and chagrin on Buffy’s face upon Riley’s discovery of them poisoned the beauty they’d just shared, and it got his back up.

    He wasn’t even sure her actions had anything to do with being caught.

    Their poisoned moment chewed at his heart, and he got defensive. He wasn’t going to confess or explain anything in front of Riley and his hypocritical judgement. To profess devotion and then sneak behind Buffy’s back with a bunch of skanky trulls, and then to claim the moral high ground? But Riley did, and to Spike’s disgust, Buffy let him.

    He could see that barrier between them thickening even before she went downstairs.

    Everything crumbled. Those glittering embers of hope inside him burned to ash as Buffy turned on him, side by side with her former human lover, and told him, “No more games.”

    She never even let him try to explain.

    He couldn’t stay, and let Riley watch his heart breaking. To be so close, and have the promise ripped away by a man unworthy even of Spike’s hatred. Buffy was worth ten of Riley, a hundred of him, and Riley knew it, too. That was why he hated Spike. Whatever else Spike was, amoral, evil, all but castrated, he was Buffy’s equal, and they both knew it.

    Or he had thought he was.

    I can’t love you. Those words the next morning had scraped against him like serrated knives, as he stood in the ruin of his bombed out life. She sounded so certain. She’d run away dozens of times, and come back to him again and again, disgust in her voice, conflict in her eyes, but she’d never sounded so certain before.

    What had she been searching for last night? What had she tried to find in him, failed to find in him? What did she want from him that he wasn’t able to provide? He couldn’t think of what it could be. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for her, no sacrifice he wouldn’t make for her, nothing she needed that he wouldn’t have torn himself apart to try and supply.  How could that not be enough? How could love and devotion and passion and arousal and understanding and acceptance still not be enough? Yes, he’d been a cruel and vicious murderer, but he hadn’t been one for years now – and she’d been willing to accept all of that in Angel. Hell, even Riley wasn’t exactly free of all sin.

    He knew Riley wasn’t enough for her, either. Riley knew it, too. But what was it? What had Riley sparked in her that made her miss something, search for something in Spike that night which Spike hadn’t been able to give her?

    He was so afraid he knew what it was, and he wouldn’t let himself think it. It was a raw spot in his head, a blackness and pain as pervasive as the chip, and he wouldn’t let himself touch it.

    I’m using you. And it’s killing me.

    She’d rendered him speechless, then. He didn’t have a glib phrase to turn it on its head. He didn’t have a seductive turn to change her mind. When it came to life and death, he had only his heart, and it belonged, every atom, to Buffy. She made him so alive, every time she came near him. He was okay with her using him, abusing him, beating him senseless, because she was the only thing that made him alive. Could it – could it really – be killing her? He wasn’t sure she was wrong. There was only one other thing that had ever made him feel alive before, and it had killed everyone else.

    The shock had started then, as he realized there was nothing he could say or do that would change what she was going to say next. And sure enough, she said it, and she meant it. She was gone. All he’d been able to do was simply let her go.

    The shock was wearing off now, and the pain was really starting to hurt. He knew he’d have to go through it for a bit before he could even try to find the rage to stave it off. Why did he still have to be a weeper, after one and a quarter centuries? He’d have thought he’d have grown out of it by now. He shoved the pillow under his face and wept into it, annoyed with himself, but unable to even think about trying to control it. He hadn’t cried like this since...

    Since the last time she went away.

    God, she made him so weak. Why did she have to come back to life, and come to him? He’d accepted her death. It tore him completely asunder, and he’d only stayed alive because of Dawn – because of the promise he had made to Buffy about Dawn. But death he understood. Death was part of life. He could mourn her in his way, weep for her in the dark, speak to her at her gravesite, in the shadows, in bed at night. Dead, he understood.

    But this.... He could have withstood an unrequited passion – he’d done it before. It left him with damning hope, after all. He had adored the companionship they’d found before they’d started sharing their bodies. That could have kept him happily conflicted for ever, wanting her back, and wishing she’d go away. Even listening to her bitch was a joy to him. But this.... Why did she have to turn to him, only to tear herself away? What more could he have done? The thing about the demon eggs was a trifle – it wasn’t the real reason she’d left. He knew it wasn’t, and she’d about said as much. In truth, he knew she’d left even before Riley had come to his crypt that night. She was gone before they’d sat up. She’d searched for something in him last night, and hadn’t found it. He had been weighed, he had been measured, and he had been found wanting.

    But why did she have to use that name? Why his old name, his human name, why reduce him down to his lost humanity as she ripped his heart out and left it in the sun to burn? Why couldn’t she have left him some semblance of strength as she walked away into the sunlight, where he could not follow?

    Did she know what kind of state he was in, now? Did she know how cruel last night was, when bound to this morning? Did she know this was worse than her death? This wasn’t just the shape of the world, the life and death of all things, this was personal. She wanted him. She needed him. But she wouldn’t let herself love him, despite how close she had gotten.

    Maybe she’d come back? Maybe it was just another twist in her mad addiction, and she’d be back in his arms again in a day or so. But somehow, he knew that this time she meant it. Why did she have to get so close, only to pull herself so far away?

    Another spasm of pain shook him, and he almost screamed into his pillow. What was it that she needed that he could not provide? She deserved everything, and he would give her anything, so what was it that was missing? Why would she let herself love them despite their sins, and not him? What the hell was he lacking that Angel and Riley had, and he had not?

    He lay there, the question burning in the corner of his tattered heart. But something in him already knew what it was. It was in how she’d said goodbye. I’m sorry, William. William. The man. He knew what he lacked. He knew what was missing. He knew what it was that she needed, but he wouldn’t let himself answer his own question.