“I didn’t think you wanted this,” Spike muttered, trying to understand the reason why she had come to him, tonight of all nights, after weeks of telling him there was nothing left for them.
Buffy studied his face. She was tempted to tell him that everything that he had thought or guessed or believed about the two of them was perfectly true. It would have been the most honest thing she could have admitted in a relationship that had no future.
“Does it matter, now?” She said finally, trying to keep the annoyance out of her voice and the slow, growing hunger from her body. Dropping her eyes, she looked away from him, “How I feel?” Alone. Foolish. Faithless. The words rose up and threatened to choke her, and she pushed them away. She had no excuse or defense. She was all of those things. But after tomorrow, it might no longer matter. There might be nothing that mattered.
“I just want to forget for a while. For tonight.” She sighed, looking at his troubled expression. He should know the truth, he deserved that much. “I’m tired of always being alone. And you’re…”
“Here. Available.” Spike’s chiseled features looked closed and hard, but Buffy could find no sympathy for his resentment. It was a lifetime of being second-best; there were no words she could say that would change that. “A substitute, and we both know it.”
Silence hung between them for a long moment before she finally spoke, her voice low and strained.
“I miss him,” she whispered softly, the memory of sending the object of her affections away too recent and too painful to recount. But it was what she had to do. It had been the only choice. “It’s so hard sometimes, to pretend…”
As he considered her words, his emotions were at war. At base, he understood her need and her emotions. How many years had it taken for him not to feel the same desperate craving? How often had he longed for even the smallest touch, all the while knowing that more often than not that it would be sadistic and brutal… yet so fiercely addicting?
He crossed the room then, coming to stand directly in front of her. Reluctantly, he gave voice to his thoughts, “I miss him too, sometimes.”
“I still love him,” she said quietly as Spike traced one cheekbone with his fingertip.
“I know.” He nodded, lowering his head to kiss her. “So do I.” The whispered words were barely audible against her lips.
Buffy drew back from the kiss and began to unbutton her blouse. “Are you afraid?”
Spike drew his t-shirt over his head. “Of what?”
Her shirt and bra fell to the floor, and she unzipped her pants. She pushed them down her hips along with her panties, and stepped out of them. “Tomorrow.”
Shed of the rest of his clothing, he stretched out on the bed next to her.
“No,” he said, gathering her in his arms again, the length of his naked body pressed to hers. “There is nothing worse than what I have been, what I’ve done. I know I cannot escape the damnation of hell.”
Buffy rolled on her back, Spike coming to rest over her, braced on his elbows. She slid her hands along his shoulders, coming to rest on his biceps.
“Neither will he,” she said, her voice sounding strangled. Her eyes closed, a single tear escaping the corner of her lashes to roll down her temple.
“Look at me,” he urged after a moment.
Buffy opened her eyes and scrutinized his face. Angular and sharp, made more so by the suffering he had endured, Spike had a certain handsomeness. A strength of character. And tonight, his eyes held compassion, understanding.
“I thought once that I was lost. That I was beyond redemption,” he whispered. He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “But then, I met you. You changed my life. You gave me hope. You gave him that as well. You put him on the path to redemption. He has a chance now. You gave him that.”
He kissed her then, his lips cool and dry. No other words were spoken as he moved down her body, his hands cupping her breasts. He suckled each nipple as his palms drifted down, stroking her taut stomach and thighs. His touch was almost reverent, as if he were trying to memorize every line and curve, every detail of her silky skin.
Buffy closed her eyes, the beat of her pulse drumming in her ears. She closed her mind to any and all thoughts, wanting only in this moment to feel something; wanting desperately to forget everything, just for a little while. When his cool, callused fingers moved between her legs, she lifted her hips and ground against the heel of his hand. The sensations built steadily until a sound, almost a sob, escaped her lips as she reached that first, exquisite peak.
He entered her then, hard and fast. Buffy wrapped her legs around his thin hips, urging him on. Freeing her mind, she imagined then that the man pumping his hips against hers, filling her was larger, stronger. The hair brushing her cheek as he lowered his head to press a reverent kiss against the scar on her neck, was dark and thick and spiked. Soon she was coming again and never wanted to stop. A name escaped her lips in a hoarse cry.
Spike’s teeth clenched. He had known that she wasn’t with him. He had always known it. And when he cried out his own pleasure a short while later, he didn’t care. In that moment, the past disappeared along with the future. The sharp furrows in his face were smooth as the feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and resentment vanished from his face. He wanted what she wanted; he just wouldn’t admit it. It had been, perhaps, one of the reasons that he initially sought her out. She had brought him closer to the connection that he still wanted, still craved – but would never have again.
It was nearly dawn when Buffy rose from the small bed and quietly dressed. She knew if she touched him again she would cry and hate herself for the weakness that had led her there in the first place. No matter what he had been to her, he had never been the one thing, the one person, that she had always wanted, the one that she had pretended him to be.
When she reached the stairs, she stopped and looked back. Spike slept on the small cot, his hair nearly silver in the sliver of moonlight that shone through the small window. She had a vision then, a clear image of the true purpose of the amulet. The pain of knowing of such a sacrifice made her stumble and nearly fall. Instead, she kept walking.
It was what she had to do.