Summary: She wants to give him the morning after he deserves. Buffy/Spike. Takes place during “Chosen,” starting after her nighttime talk with the First (i.e., this is not a FitB of the fade-to-black). 6,000 words.
A/N: This is for lutamira, who requested 'Anything Spuffy' almost four months ago when I was requesting prompts. This was supposed to be short and sweet, but as with most things I write, I got wrapped up in Buffy's headspace, and it became very long (but hopefully is still sweet). This was not my original seasonal_spuffy fic (I'm just posting it on my SS day because I only finished writing it a few days ago, so it seemed appropriate). My original SS fic is a WIP, and I'll be posting the first chapter of that later in the day.
“We’re gonna win.”
He stares at her for a beat before one corner of his mouth lifts. “Didn’t ever doubt it, love. This is you we’re talking about.”
For a second she wants to smile back in embarrassed pleasure, a girly, flirty smile, with a blush and lowered eyelashes so he knows his words have made her melt inside. It’s an instinct she can’t recall feeling since the early days of Riley’s courtship, before they learned each other’s secrets, and yet it’s so natural that when she quashes the reaction she feels momentarily disjointed. In the back of her mind she can’t keep from marveling at how Spike’s compliments, rare though they are since the soul, increasingly make her feel this way, when it’s not like the feelings behind his words are anything new.
Enjoying the curl of warmth in her stomach he’s elicited even if she won’t show it, she clarifies, “I figured out how we’re going to win.”
His eyebrows rise at that, and his expression grows more serious.
“What do you mean?”
She glances automatically at the empty space beside her as she says, “The First was just here.”
He sounds so alarmed that she hastens to the cot. “Nothing happened. It just wanted to taunt me. Probably sore about losing Caleb. And don’t worry, I’m not it-”
Without thinking she reaches to caress his cheek, prove her tangibility. Such a simple act shouldn’t make her breath catch, not when she cupped his cheek so unhesitatingly a few hours ago, but it does; she could have touched his shoulder or his arm, but she went right for his cheek, like that was natural, too.
His eyes are dark and unfathomable as they bore into hers. After a several seconds he places his hand over hers, holds them there for a moment so brief she may be imagining it, and lowers them to the cot. He doesn’t remove his hand from hers, but his grip is loose, allowing her to snake free if she wants.
Buffy turns her hand over beneath his and sits next to him.
“Who was it?” His tone is businesslike, but she thinks she can detect an undercurrent of worry.
“First Caleb and then me,” she says quickly. Not you.
He looks relieved. She wants to tell him that he doesn’t need to be, that she cares too much about him for a Spike-look-alike First to influence her feelings, but she’s honestly not sure that’s the truth. She’s grateful the First doesn’t know the details of their past, because if it did it could probably trigger a whole lot of bad memories using his image.
The thought makes her feel guilty, since she knows the First used her form when torturing Spike and it didn’t affect his feelings toward her at all. Her thumb rubs his automatically, seeking and giving reassurance. She can remember all too clearly the bile that rose in her throat when he told her of the First’s appropriation of her visage.
“And you had a light bulb moment?” he asks.
Excitement rises in her again, displacing the ghost of impotent fury. “Yeah. I know how we’re gonna win this war.”
She tells him her plan.
He’s quiet when she’s done, but his face is mercifully expressive, calming the nerves inside her that started doing the Macarena as soon as she began speaking. He’s curious, she can tell, probably wondering if Willow can do it, let alone if the spell is even possible in the first place. Reassuringly, there’s no doubt mixed in with that curiosity; he might not know if her plan is metaphysically feasible, but he doesn’t see any flaw in the idea itself.
She definitely recognizes the awe in his gaze, having been the recipient of it often enough. The thought of so many slayers in the world should make a vampire, even a souled one, uncomfortable, but Spike looks more impressed than anything else.
She wonders how he would have felt before the soul, if thousands more slayers suddenly populated the Earth. She suspects he would have been impressed then, too, or at least not overly worried. Heck, he probably would have rejoiced at the increased opportunities to fight a slayer. Months ago the thought would have disgusted her. Now, she’s almost grateful for his fixation.
It brought him to her, after all.
“What do you think?” she asks.
“’S brilliant,” he says without hesitation. “Don’t see why it can’t be done. It’s the way it should have been all along, yeah? No reason for there to be only one. Never was practical.”
She squeezes his hand. “I hope everyone else agrees. We need Willow, and the potentials have to be okay with it, obviously. The magic is a long shot, but I don’t see what other choice we have, and if we pull it off-” She imagines all the other potential slayers in the world awakening, not being alone anymore, and words fail her. She can feel herself grinning like a lunatic.
Spike squeezes her hand back, wearing his own premature smile. He understands completely.
It strikes her, not for the first time of late, how happy it makes her to see him smile. It’s been so long since she’s seen it- a real smile instead of an of-course-I’m-fine-that-you-have-a-date smile or a the-chip-is-killing-me-but-I’m-facing-it-b
“When do you want to do it?”
She considers the logistics of her plan- her plan is viable enough to have logistics!- and says haltingly, more musing aloud than answering definitively, “The day after tomorrow? Tomorrow we tell everyone and Willow gets her mojo ready. We can attack at daybreak the next day.”
“That’s soon,” he says, but it’s not a criticism.
“The sooner the better,” she replies grimly. “I want to end this. There’s no reason to wait. We have the Scythe, we have the amulet, and Caleb’s dead. Better to act now before the First can find another demented psycho to take his place.”
Spike shrugs. “Makes sense to me.”
No response is needed to that, and Buffy finds herself glancing around the room, looking for the clock. It’s not even four-thirty yet, which is a disappointment; there’s so much excited energy pumping inside her, and she wants to tell everyone her plan now.
Spike follows her gaze and guesses her thoughts, as he usually can. “Gonna wake the whole house, love?”
“No,” says automatically, and sounds a bit grumpy even to her own ears. “I’ll let them sleep.”
“For the best. Might start a fight if you disturb their beauty sleep now, and then we’ll be short a few slayers come two days.”
“Fine, but they don’t get to sleep in,” Buffy warns, adopting his playful tone. “I’ve got a toughass general persona to maintain.”
“And you do it quite convincingly,” he says innocently, and she smacks his shoulder with her free hand. He anticipates the movement and catching her hand, slowly makes to draw her down. She doesn’t resist, even though lying down is one of the last things she feels like doing.
She faces the ceiling, too absorbed in thoughts of tomorrow and what she’ll say to the others to think about curling against him into a more natural sleeping position. She can feel him studying her, though, and after a moment he says lightly,
“You didn’t sleep, did you.”
It’s not a question, and Buffy glances at him, feeling guilty for no rational reason. No, she didn’t sleep. They got into bed a little before three, and though he fell asleep within minutes, she lay awake, thinking about the amulet and the First and the uber-vamps and wondering if she still had Angel breath.
And wondering why she minded and wondering how much Spike really minded and trying to figure out exactly what she felt inside.
Which at the time had been kind of scarier than thinking about the First and the uber-vamps.
But of course she’s not going to tell him any of this. She hopes he won’t see her restlessness as a comment on his snuggling skills, though, because those are-
Something I should have tried ages ago.
She turns into him without thinking, releasing his hand so she can slide her arm across his torso, drawing him nearer. An hour and a half ago she had to inch all the way up next to him before he took the hint and wrapped his arms around her, but now he embraces her immediately, his freed hand settling firmly on her side. In fact, it’s more on her hip than on her waist, and heat flares through her suddenly- though not unexpectedly. These little jolts have been happening more and more frequently of late. As usual she ignores the tug in her belly, even though a little voice in her head is screaming, You’re already in bed, just go for it! In response, a more familiar, though softer than usual, voice pipes in, What about last year?, and tonight a third, quieter and sort of hesitant voice adds, What about Angel?
Buffy shuts out the voices before the guilt-tripping about her duties and how she has no time for a boyfriend anyway can start in, too.
His eyes are dark, colorless pools in the dim light, but it’s easy to see them studying her. She smiles, hoping to reassure him that she’s neither patronizing him nor going anywhere, whether or not she can sleep. Sleeping may be one of the last things she feels like doing, but lying in his arms isn’t.
“Good night,” she says softly.
“Night,” he whispers back, and his eyes blink closed, as though obeying an order.
How strange it seems to say such a simple thing, she muses. Good night. It’s not something she ever said last year, and yet now it, too, feels natural.
She listens to his breathing slow until it stops, her signal that he’s asleep. She ponders her plan while idly tracing the muscles in his back. She looks at the clock and thinks ruefully that she’ll regret her restlessness tomorrow. She tries to amuse herself guessing how the girls will react, with excitement (Kennedy, no doubt), or nervousness (Vi, definitely), or cynicism (Rona, as usual).
She doesn’t think about Angel. She does think about how resting in Spike’s arms makes her feel safer and more cherished than she has in years. Languor spreads through her, soaking up her excitement and leaving calm contentment in its place.
Buffy’s last thought before sleep washes over her is that everything about Spike feels natural these days.
* * *
She’s discombobulated when she wakes, without sunlight streaming through the windows to orient her. There’s no confusion about where she is or who’s holding her, though, even though she rolled over in her sleep and can’t see Spike. He’s spooning her, pressed against her chest to toes, and his left arm wraps around her loosely and comfortably. Her am covers his and their hands are clasped, and the fact that they did that unconsciously sends a shocked thrill down her spine that she’s sure he would be able to feel if he were awake. She turns her head and listens to make sure he isn’t awake, and indeed there’s no telltale breathing or stirring sounds.
She’s groggy enough to know that time has passed, but she can’t tell whether she’s been asleep for one hour or several. The ambient light seems brighter than before, though, and if she strains her ears she can hear the soft movement of someone in the kitchen. An early bird, she thinks, when she looks at the clock and sees that it’s just after 8:30. Early relative to this house, anyway, with all its teenagers who would gladly sleep in until noon, given the chance.
8:30 is early enough to call a war meeting, she decides. Give them a chance to attack the coffee and cereal and glower at her first, and she can be sharing her plan within an hour.
Buffy looks at their interlaced hands and feels no little regret at the thought of letting go. For a second she thinks wistfully about how nice it would be to be the kind of girl who could lie in bed in her boyfriend’s arms as long as she wanted and not have to worry about getting up to avert an apocalypse. She squashes the thought as soon as it’s born, though, before she can think too hard about how they could have had these quiet moments last year if she had let them.
At least she can let him have peace and quiet. He doesn’t need to put up with a bunch of teenage girls this early in the morning.
She’s about to lift his arm off her when she realizes how she just thought of him.
He’s not her boyfriend.
If he were her boyfriend there would be- there would be kissing and- and love-making-
More heat races down her spine-
-And a big flashing neon sign to tell her.
Okay, maybe there’s no sign, but there’s cuddling and loyalty and unwavering support and while she wouldn’t advertise it to Willow or Xander, he has kinda sorta almost definitely become her best friend.
And she doesn’t know anymore what she would do without him.
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…
The introspection is as terrifying as it usually is (didn’t she fill her introspection quota for the year when she thought of her cookie dough metaphor? And what happened to being doughy and single and perfectly happy about it anyway?), and suddenly she can’t get out of bed fast enough: go upstairs into her normal, sunlit kitchen, start the day, and she can ponder labels again tonight when they’re back in his cot.
Guilt streaks through her before she’s even finished the thought. Is that what she’s going to do, take comfort in him at night and run from her feelings during the day? That’s not as bad as last year, but it’s still using him, of a sort.
No, she won’t run from her feelings. She’ll just rethink being cookie dough where there aren’t strong arms and Spike scent to bias her decision, so she’ll go upstairs and leave him here-
“I can see why a girl would ditch a fella for one of these.”
She remembers the hesitation in his expression and tone as he fished for an apology- for plain acknowledgment that she had left him again- and guilt sears her.
“It doesn’t matter.”
She had walked away without waiting to see his reaction, but she knows he was covering. He had to be if it really was-
“It was the best night of my life.”
Her eyes burn suddenly, and her hand involuntarily clutches his more tightly, as though he were the one planning to let go.
It probably wouldn’t even surprise him if he woke up in an hour’s time alone, her space already cold beside him. She keeps managing to leave him, even though that’s so far from what she wants now; hell, just a few hours ago he woke from his weird shoe dream alone in bed. He must be resigned to it, though she doubts that lessens the sting. Her blanket refusals to sleep beside him or cuddle after sex last year were bad enough, but yesterday would have been worse if he had understood her absence to mean she didn’t consider him any more worthy of a morning after with a soul than without one.
And that isn’t true at all, she thinks fiercely. He does deserve a morning after and not just because of his soul. At least once he deserves to wake naturally, with her still beside him. He deserves knowing smiles and languid kisses and pancakes and coffee-
A flush heats her cheeks at the picture she’s painting in her mind. It’s not a scenario she’s considered before and it’s…nice.
More than nice.
If the others approve of her plan, this may be her only chance to give him the morning after he deserves; there certainly won’t be any time for lying around tomorrow, and who knows if the world will even be around the following day. There aren’t going to be pancakes- may not even be coffee if no one went shopping yesterday, and he’d probably prefer blood anyway- and there probably aren’t going to be kisses of any kind either- her blush deepens- but there can certainly be smiling and the implication that he’s worth sticking around for. Her war meeting can wait a few minutes.
Hopefully he’ll just wake up soon.
She cranes her neck, sure that he’ll have started to stir by now after all her fidgeting, but sees no change in his placid expression. He looks so peaceful and content, so unlike the sullen, tough-guy persona he wears in front of everyone else, that she half regrets hoping she’s disturbed him.
That was partly why she didn’t wake him yesterday morning: he looked so serene in that stranger’s bed that she didn’t want to recall him to their depressing world.
Though if she’s being honest with herself, that was only a small part of her reason.
Another part was purely mercenary: she didn’t want to deal with the hassle of figuring out how to get him out of the house in broad daylight, not when she had regained her vigor and itched to fly to the vineyard.
Her other reasons are less shameful, if still discomforting. She didn’t know how she would thank him if she woke him. Words haven’t been her strong suit in years, and he’s so good with them-
“I love what you are. What you do. How you try.”
-that anything she said would have sounded paltry in comparison. Last night in a fit of pique she’d managed to describe how his belief in her had given her the strength she’d needed, but she’d been at a loss a minute later when he wanted to know what the night had meant.
And that was the crux of the matter. What did it all mean.
When she’d been trying to think yesterday morning of how to express her gratitude, all she could think of, all she really wanted to say, was I love you.
She loved his courage and loyalty and his honesty and stubbornness. She loved that he had found her. She loved his resilience and gumption and his growing belief in himself and his unwavering belief in her. She loved his soul and his words and his conviction.
But she was terrified of telling him because she didn’t know if it was enough.
She loved him, but was she in love with him? Sometimes she thought so, and sometimes she thought she didn’t even remember what being in love was like. It didn’t feel like it had with Angel.
Considering their enthusiastic hello, it’s probably a good thing she didn’t confess any of her feelings to Spike. If she had said she loved him, any bit of him, and he had then seen her kiss Angel twelve hours later-
A shiver ripples through her.
She doesn’t want to contemplate how much that would have hurt him.
She rubs her thumb against Spike’s hand, as though he needs reassurance. After seeing Angel and sending him away…
Well, she’s still not sure if what she feels for Spike is love or in-love. Memories of last year still occasionally become raw when she least expects them to, and she suspects the end of the world is not a good time to trust her emotions.
But if there’s going to be any more kissage in her near future, it’s going to be with a different vampire.
Buffy shivers again, but in pleasure this time.
Any kissage has to be prefaced by words, though. Serious, meaningful, heartfelt words.
She puts that on her to-do list for the day, in between explaining her plan and assuring everyone she’s not bonkers.
Speaking of her plan, it is now 8:45, and her introspection is threatening to become overwhelming, and Spike is still sleeping. She wanted to let him stir naturally, but at this rate she’s going to have to wake him. At least she can do it gently.
Buffy tilts her head back toward him. “Spike.”
She’ll probably succeed in her goal a lot faster if she talks above a whisper.
“Spike,” she repeats, a few decibels louder.
He doesn’t twitch.
Buffy contemplates raising her voice more, but she doesn’t want to wake him by barking at him.
She finally lets go of his hand and rolls over to face him.
Her breath catches. There’s so little space between them that if he breathed, if she could breathe, they’d be sharing air, recycling it in that should-be-totally-disgusting, intimate way that would have her fretting about morning breath. If he opened his eyes she’d be staring directly into them, and his lips are…
She forces herself to exhale. You’re being silly, she mentally chides. You’ve been this close together the whole time.
But whether it’s rational or not, there’s something different about facing him than spooning back to front; facing him, his lips are only centimeters away, and kissage suddenly seems a lot less like idle daydreaming.
Before she can follow that train of thought, she gently squeezes his bicep. “Spike.”
“Mm.” His lips purse, and his arm, still slung over her middle, twitches. After a second his face goes slack again.
She feels a stab of incredulity and then remembers trying to wake him that night Willow took Dawn to Rack’s, the night after-
Her fingers curl around his bicep of their own accord. Breathing steadily is suddenly much more difficult than it should be.
They’re really developing a pattern for game-changing nights in abandoned houses, aren’t they.
Well. Anyway. Admittedly, back then she hadn’t tried to wake him nearly as hard as she pretended, since shaking him would have necessitated touching his naked body and hitting him with a candle seemed like something he deserved anyway, but she had yelled (well, called his name above a speaking voice, anyway) and he had slept right through it.
So in the grand scheme of things, his refusal to wake up from good (hopefully) dreams in a comfortable (kind of) bed in an affectionate (very) embrace is not actually surprising.
Buffy can’t help the small, exasperated smile tugging at her lips. Even when sleeping he’s the most stubborn guy she knows.
She could shake him harder, but she doesn’t want to wake him so abruptly, and at this point that seems almost too easy anyway. Feeling slightly amused now despite herself, she rolls back over. As she instinctively burrows back into the curve of his embrace, her bum presses against something that’s both startling and achingly familiar.
Without thinking she presses harder, shifting slightly to rub. She can tell from the size of him that he’s only half-hard, and irrationally, she feels insulted, given their proximity. She knows how to fix that, though, and if she moves just right he’ll wake up…
Buffy freezes, mingled shame and horror sweeping through her as she realizes what she’s doing, her longing for him to wake turning to panic that he will.
Oh God what’s wrong with her? What would Spike think if he woke to her grinding against his unconscious body? He’d think she was using him again or toying with him, and all the comfort that’s grown between them would evaporate-
How could she-
Memories assault her, so bright and alive in her mind’s eye that the basement seems to disappear: stealing downstairs after a boring patrol and slipping silently beneath stolen silk sheets to caress him to wakefulness, usually with her hands but sometimes with her tongue; sheathing him while he slept and swallowing his wakening noise of surprised pleasure with a kiss; letting him fall into a doze before taking him in her mouth so that he came alert again with a yelp, looking giddy and reverent and beautifully vulnerable all at once.
She had been playful with him so few times last year that each night stands out starkly in her memory, all of them both gladdening for the brief joy they recall and bittersweet for their rarity.
She wants that playful feeling again so badly she can taste it, taste him, his kisses, hear his husky, delighted voice urging her on. If she squeezes her eyes shut tight, she can see his boring into her, unrelenting, and unapologetic in their rapture. A few hours ago she thought she wanted him, but that spark of desire was nothing compared to how she feels now, like her whole body is electrified. It’s sudden and a little overwhelming, but she knows it’s not mercurial; it’s not a feeling she’s going to be ashamed of later in the day, like last year.
And if he wants to be playful, too, why shouldn’t they be? Enough else has changed between them in the past few days that taking things one step further to physical intimacy doesn’t seem inappropriate or even strange. It’s the next logical step, right?
A soft sigh escapes her, and it’s as though she can physically feel her body deflate. No matter what his body’s reactions, she knows Spike wouldn’t want a morning quickie. Rationally, it’s not what she wants either. She doesn’t want fast and needy sex, even if it is physically satisfying. She doesn’t want anything reminiscent of last year, but anything else requires transparent, clear-cut, well-explained intentions.
And those are exactly what I’m not sure of, she thinks ruefully.
She really can’t have sex with him if she’s not even sure about kissing him. And why does the idea of that inspire more butterflies in her stomach than the idea of sex?
As she slowly relaxes her body again, even more hyper-aware now of him behind her, she marvels at the how much their relationship has changed in such a short period of time. A few days ago they were just friends- or as good as “friends” as they could be with their complicated past; certainly they were on better terms than she could ever have imagined this time last year. But the night before last they slept in each other’s arms like an old married couple, and now she wants to jump him like they’re a normal couple that can have a morning quickie any day of the week, at the drop of a hat.
They’ve been accelerating, and really, it’s not just in the past few days. They’ve been accelerating the whole year, from thinking she should stake him after what he did, to everything changing in an instant in the church, to slowly realizing that she had forgiven him without ever meaning to, to realizing in another instant, while staring at the empty manacles in her basement, that she couldn’t bear the idea of him dying, no matter what he had done, to trusting him without the chip, to choosing him over Giles- so many moments that should have been impossible after everything they’ve been through and yet really, when she thinks about it, could have had no other outcome.
How strange it is to think that last year there were days when she wished he didn’t exist at all and now she can’t imagine what she would do without him. Her stomach knots painfully at the thought.
If her plan works and they save the world again, the acceleration isn’t going to stop. Cookie dough or not, she doesn’t want it to.
She wants him, more than she can remember ever wanting someone. It’s a different sort of wanting than it was with Angel or Riley. Riley she first wanted for what he represented, what he was: wholesome, human, and normal. Angel was the elusive thing she couldn’t have, and that made the wanting both exquisitely painful and impossible; she could file it with the other things she could never have, like her parents being reunited and happy; she could love and want Angel from afar.
She doesn’t want Spike for what he represents, and she can’t want him from afar. She won’t. She wants him to be hers.
Spike’s the impossible made possible. And he’s her friend, which is far better than normal any day.
Wanting him to be hers and wanting a relationship are two different things, though, Buffy knows; one is selfish and one isn’t. She doesn’t know what she wants long-term, and she doesn’t know if he could settle for anything less than long-term, but maybe if they talked about it after the apocalypse, really talked about it, could hash out the technicalities and their intentions like normal couples, without pending doom or gossiping teenagers around every corner, just maybe they could reach a compromise.
Thinking about anything in terms of after the apocalypse seems like tempting fate to strike them down, but Buffy can’t help it. The idea of asking Spike, “Will you be my boyfriend?”, all official-like, after everything they’ve been through, makes her stifle a giggle. Maybe it’s just that she’s still in the basement, “asleep” as far as everyone else is concerned and still in that liminal state where it’s easy to daydream fancifully at the expense of the upcoming day’s reality, but the idea charms her. It’s such a grade school concept, but when she pictures Spike’s reaction, that doesn’t matter.
Truthfully, she doesn’t think they need labels after everything they’ve already been to each other; as long as they’ve been explicit with each other, they don’t need to give a nice, tidy definition to everyone else. If labels matter to him, though, if they help him to trust her intentions and his own, then they’ll matter to her, and she’ll give him one, gladly.
Thinking of acceleration and their night in the abandoned house makes her think of one last subtle trick in her arsenal to tempt him from sleep. Yesterday morning she hadn’t tried to wake him, eager as she was to get to the vineyard, but she had given him one chance to wake on his own, while showing her gratitude in some small way, the only way she knew how: she had kissed his cheek.
Which totally shouldn’t seem like a big deal. She had kissed the top of his head several times while caring for him as he recovered from the First’s torture, and she’d kissed his forehead, on impulse, after his surgery to remove the chip; she could still feel the judgmental gazes of the Initiative men boring into her back as though it were yesterday.
He’d been unconscious all of those times, though, in the deep sleep of the very wounded or the very drugged. There hadn’t been any possibility of him waking and realizing the tenderness she had shown, of him wondering what it meant.
So it was a big deal that she had doubled back from the doorway of the bedroom and kissed his cheek while he slept normally. She hadn’t given him a fleeting peck, either, which would seem cowardly and like cheating. She had pressed her lips to his cheek for a good three seconds, breathing in his scent, an incongruous mixture of clean shampoo and old leather. It was an unexpected comfort to smell the second, after so long without his duster. She missed the smell of cigarette smoke, too, to be honest, but she told herself it was a comfort her lungs could live without.
When she’d pulled away his expression was as unmoving and peaceful as it had been before. She had straightened quickly, worried now that he would wake and she’d have to deal with it, checked that her note was in plain view, and left.
The memory stings again as Buffy rolls back over to face him again. Her heart is pounding much faster than her supine position warrants.
Like yesterday, she considers kissing him on the lips, and like yesterday (though it’s harder now), she resists the urge. Kissing him on the lips, even chastely, is so intimate; it’s not that she doesn’t want it but that he deserves to be wake for something like that.
Buffy doesn’t give herself time to fret over what she’ll say if he does wake. She props herself on her elbow and for the second time in as many days, presses her lips to his cool cheek, inhaling the same shampoo-and-leather scent.
His eyes are still closed when she withdraws, but his lashes flutter. He inhales steadily, his abdomen expanding under her palm, and she waits to see the blue of his eyes.
His lips curl in a small smile. His eyelids still, and his chest doesn’t rise again.
She stares, nonplussed and flummoxed, half-certain that he’s playing with her now and any second he’ll crack and smirk at her. But he doesn’t.
The soft, unknowing curve of his mouth is both the most obnoxious thing she's ever seen and the sweetest.
Well, that’s it. She’s tried every subtle trick she can think of. Short of doing exactly what she doesn’t want to do and shaking him, she’s just going to have to let him wake up naturally. It’s already nine o’clock (she groans inwardly), so that has to be soon, right?
He had better appreciate this morning after business, because goodness knows she’s starting to regret not just shaking him away from the get-go. It’s more of a test of her own willpower than anything else at this point: can she be patient enough to see this through to the end? She settles her head back on the pillow with a defeated whumph.
Surely this waiting is a good opportunity of some sort: to meditate; to just enjoy the peace and quiet and the lack of people expecting something of her. Goodness knows she hasn’t had enough of any of that this past year. She breathes deeply, trying to clear her mind of impatience or anxiety about the upcoming fight.
His lips are near her temple, which she likes the idea of, even if he won’t dare to kiss her. She rubs her thumb absently against his cotton tee shirt, her fingers trailing random shapes on his side.
The sounds of footfalls from above are louder and more frequent now. Are most of the girls awake? Have Willow and Kennedy descended from their love nest yet? Are Dawn and Andrew already up to something, being catty one minute and conniving together the next?
Is anyone wondering where she is? Well, they probably know where she is. Are they wondering what she’s still doing down here, maybe exchanging smirks or commiserating looks as they do? It would have mattered to her a few weeks ago, maybe even a few days ago, but it doesn’t anymore.
It’s not actually that bad, lying here and knowing others are up and about and maybe waiting for her. She can’t remember the last time she lingered in bed for more than a few minutes. Might as well be lazy one last time if the world really is going to end, right? There are far worse ways she could be spending her morning than to wait for Spike.
Buffy’s still tracing patterns on his side when he stirs again, and she’s so accustomed to these false starts that it’s a moment before she realizes her skin is prickling from someone else’s gaze and looks up.
She starts at the sight of his blue eyes, clear and bright, a little confused, and finally open. Her fingers pause on his side. His arm slides halfway off her, as though he thinks he’s supposed to move it but isn’t completely sure.
He stares at her, obviously uncertain about what’s going on, and she stares back, uncertain of what to say. God, all her nervousness yesterday morning was justified. Forget meditating or enjoying the peace and quiet; she should have been thinking about what to say. Look, I’m still here! I didn’t go all Cinderella on you at daybreak!
“Hi,” she says, a little breathlessly.
He cranes his neck, and she sees his eyes find the clock. They widen perceptibly, and his head jerks back toward her, his eyes meeting hers.
A huge smile spreads across his face.
And the last hour is completely worth it.