Title: Dream Lover (4/8/06)
word count: 2631
rating: G or PG
A little ficlet that demanded to be written one night. A short take on a possible reunion after the final battle with the Senior Partners.
She tossed in her bed, unaware of the eyes watching hungrily from her open window. She moaned and writhed, then her breathing changed and she could be heard whimpering, “No. No. Not now. Don’t leave me.” Her whispered words sent a cramp through the heart of the man watching her as she began to cry in her sleep.
(I wonder what that’s all about? The big poof, I guess. Word must have come back about the mess in LA and Angelus and the dragon. Ah, don’t cry, love. We weren’t worth it. Neither of us.)
Awakened by her tears, the woman sat up and blinked, rubbing her eyes and grumbling to herself, “You’d think this would have stopped by now. It’s not like I haven’t had plenty of time to get used to the idea that he’s gone.”
She gave a sigh and thought about turning on the light and reading for a while until she was ready to sleep again. Her eyes roamed the darkened room, idly searching for some sort of distraction from what had become a nightly occurrence. They had already slid past the window before she noticed the shadow hunched on the narrow ledge just outside. Her gaze flickered back to the figure there, noting the bright head glowing in the moonlight. The shadow flinched, prepared to leap to the ground when her voice halted him.
“Oh great. It’s not bad enough I’m seeing you in my sleep, now you’re showing up when I’m awake.”
Completely shocked and at a loss for words, all Spike could do was gape at her casual acceptance of his presence. Had she been expecting him? How did she even know he was alive?
“Well, if you’re going to keep me awake, you might as well do it from in here. What’s the idea of sitting out there anyway? Usually I find you sitting on the bed, or…well, you know.”
“Buffy?” Nothing she was saying made any sense and he couldn’t think of any way to reply. “Are you inviting me in?”
“You’re just another frickin’ hallucination. What do you need an invitation for?”
“Would make me feel wanted, pet,” he said softly, beginning to understand her lack of surprise.
“You’re NOT wanted. I wanted to get some sleep tonight. But, fine, if you’re not going to let me sleep – come in, Spike.” She threw herself down on the bed and glared at him.
The vampire quickly slipped into the room, pulling a chair up near the bed and sitting where he could easily see her face. The moonlight coming through the window was just enough for him to make out her features without using his vampire senses. For minutes he just sat beside her bed, enjoying her nearness, the sound of her heartbeat, the unique scent that he would know until his last breath. He could read the confusion in the puzzled eyes now staring at him. When he didn’t move or say anything, she sat up again and cocked her head at him.
“Well, you’re unusually quiet tonight. What’s up?”
“You know you are. Well, okay, I know you are, cause…you know, my hallucination. You’re being all weird and…and distant. Why are you sitting over there?”
“Where am I usually, pet?”
She looked at him as though he was insane.
“Where do you think you usually are? Why would I bother dreaming about you if all you were going to do is sit in a chair?” She shook her head and muttered to herself, “This is crazy – I’m arguing with an imaginary vampire about how he’s supposed to behave.”
Buffy rolled her eyes and flopped back down on the bed. “Maybe Dawn and Giles are right. Maybe I am letting this make me crazy. You seem so real.”
“Do me a favor, love?” His voice was soft and gentle, not at all like the Spike with whom she usually held her imaginary conversations.
“Sure.” She waved a hand in the air. “What do you want from me?”
“I want you to pretend you’re seeing me for the first time tonight. I want you to pretend we’ve never spoken since I…since Sunnydale. Tell me all about your life. Tell me what’s happened to you. Tell me…” He took a deep breath. “Tell me why you cry in your sleep.”
“You already know all this stuff,” she said sadly. “You’ve been here - usually when I’m asleep - but you’re here all the time. You’re the only one I can talk to about…things.” Her eyes filled with tears. “You’ve always been the one I talk to. I guess that’s why I can’t let you go.” She gave a shaky laugh, “Who would I talk to if I stop dreaming about you?”
Spike’s hands were gripping the chair so hard he could feel the wood beginning to crack under his fingers. He wanted nothing more than to fling himself at the bed and bury his face in her neck while babbling apologies for not coming sooner, but fear kept him paralyzed.
“Come on, pet,” he coaxed hoarsely, “Pretend for me, please?”
“What do you want to know?” she sighed wearily.
“Well, for starters, why are you alone? Where’s the immortal prick?”
She cast a startled look at him before saying, “Morty? He’s been gone for a long time. Seems like his ego wasn’t up to handling the idea that he isn’t the most important man in my life. Said he wasn’t going to spend his time ‘playing second fiddle to a ghost’ and took a powder.”
(Hah! Serves the ponce right! Good riddance!)
“I’m sorry, love,” he said softly.
Buffy flew upright. “Are you the First?” she demanded, picking up the lamp beside the bed and preparing to see if it would go though him.
“What? No! “ He flinched back involuntarily. “What makes you say that?”
“Because MY Spike wouldn’t have been sorry. He’d have said “ Bloody good riddance” or something like that.”
“I was thinkin’ it,” he mumbled quickly, prepared to duck if she followed through with the lamp.
“Oh. Well, that’s more like it,” she responded quietly, putting the lamp back in its accustomed place.
“So, your Spike wouldn’t be sorry if your boyfriend left you? He wouldn’t care if you were unhappy?”
“Oh, he would care. But he wouldn’t try to make me think he was sorry the boyfriend was gone. He’d just be trying to convince me that he would be better for me; that he could make me happier.” She whispered the last few words. “…And he would be right.”
He swore his heart almost started beating at her wistful statement.
“So, why isn’t your Spike here, then? With you, I mean.”
“I wish I knew…” Her eyes filled again. “He came back from being dusty and he never told me…I guess you-he didn’t want me anymore. He let me think he was dead and then, when it turned out he wasn’t…He was in LA. With Angel! What the hell was that about?” She glared at the apparition staring at her with big eyes, as though expecting him to answer her rhetorical question. To her surprise, he did.
“It was complicated, love. At first I was just a ghostie and stuck with being close to that amulet. And then I was…I was a bloody coward, pet. Didn’t want to take a chance that you didn’t mean…Bloody hell, Slayer, you were proud of me, yeah? How was I gonna top that exit?”
“Didn’t you care that I was grieving for you? Why didn’t you come to me?” she asked angrily, forgetting that she was talking to a figment of her imagination. “Why didn’t you call? You didn’t have to be with me if you didn’t…didn’t want me anymore, but you could have let me know you were alive.”
“Didn’t look to me like you were grievin’ all that hard,” he growled. “What with all the dancing and cavorting with the soddin’ Immortal!”
“What do you mean, ‘it didn’t look to you’? How the hell would you know what it looked like? You weren’t there. Except in my dreams -- which put a pretty quick end to any chance of a long-term relationship with Morty.”
She was glaring at him, her breath coming harder and faster as anger over his words pushed away any sense of how ridiculous it was to be arguing with an imaginary vampire. Apparently her imaginary vampire couldn’t see the incongruity of the situation either as he glared right back at her.
“Saw it with my own two eyes, didn’t I? Dancin’ up a storm in a club. Too wrapped up in what you were doin’ to even notice that there were two master vampires in the room!”
He glared back at her, the growl vibrating in his throat as he remembered how his joy at seeing her dancing and happy had faded when he realized she was with the Immortal.
“Oh my god! You are so irritating!” She stopped to consider what she was doing and rolled her eyes. “I’m fighting with a hallucination,” she sighed, lowering her voice. “Dawn is right. I AM going crazy.”
“I miss fighting with you, Slayer,” he said with a grin that she could barely see in the dim light. “We should do it more often.”
“I miss fighting with you, too,” she admitted in a quieter tone. “I miss the fighting and the talking and…I just miss you, Spike. I miss you so much.”
His breath caught in his throat when he heard the hitch in her voice.
“I’m right here, Buffy,” he said softly.
“Please don’t,” she pleaded, her voice shaking. “I can’t take this anymore. Seeing you every night and knowing you’re not really ...not real.”
“No! No more! I have to get over this…obsession. You don’t exist. Spike is gone and that’s that. He died with Angel in some big battle neither one of them saw fit to notify anybody about so we couldn’t be there to help.” Her voice got quiet again. “I could have brought an army of Slayers with me. He might have lived. If someone has just told me he was alive…maybe I could have saved him…”
She broke down in sobs, dropping her head into her hands as she allowed her grief to wash over her yet again. At first the dipping of the mattress under his weight didn’t register; then she felt familiar arms encircling her as she was pulled against a strong chest. For a few brief seconds she allowed herself to believe he was really there, but then she straightened, saying firmly, “No. I’m not going to do this to myself anymore. You’re not here and letting myself imagine you are just makes it harder and harder to wake up. It’s weak. And I’m not weak. I’m the Slayer and I can’t spend my life inside a hallucination. You have to go away and stay away.” She pushed feebly against his chest, surprised at the firmness and resistance there.
She felt the tendrils of hair on her neck stirring as he murmured apologies into her ear. “I am so sorry, love. If I’d had any idea you were…didn’t think you would really…I knew you cared, sweetheart, but I never thought you would really…Never meant to cause you pain, Buffy. You know I would cut off my own arm before I hurt you. I just thought…Angel said we should leave you alone to have a normal life, and I…please, love. Please say that you forgive me.”
Buffy struggled against her senses, all of which were telling her that the arms around her were very real, that the familiar voice in her ear was real enough that she could feel the movement of his breath across her skin, that the tears she could feel against her cheek were not hers. She made one last attempt to banish the vampire, sobbing into his neck, “You have to leave me alone. I have to learn to live without you. Please leave me.”
She felt his head shaking “no”. “I can’t do that, Buffy. I’m here and I’m never leaving you again. Will spend the rest of my life making this up to you, love. I swear it. If I had thought for one second that you…” He paused and pulled back just far enough to lift her chin and force her to meet his tear-filled eyes. “I love you, Buffy. Never stopped. Not for one second. I just thought you’d be better off without me and then we had the battle to worry about…Please believe me, love. I’m here and I will never leave you again.”
“S…Spike?” The frightened hope in her voice tore at his heart. “Have I gone completely crazy? Are you…are you really here?”
“I’m really here, love.” He pushed a piece of hair off her face with a trembling hand. “I’m really here.”
“How…?” She reached up and traced his cheek, running her hand to his mouth and touching his lower lip gently, shivering when he gently kissed her fingertip.
“Blue – I’ll explain about her later – she whisked us away to somewhere after Angel…” He stopped, afraid to finish the sentence.
“After Angel slew the dragon and it went up in flames with him on it. I know. We heard about that. But we heard that you couldn’t be found af…after. And there was so much blood and dust and…they said you were g…gone. Again.”
“I was gone, pet. But not dusted; just went…elsewhere for a bit. As soon as I got back, I came lookin’ for you.”
“But…” her lip stuck out as she looked at him dubiously. “Why were you sitting outside my window? Why didn’t you just come to the door and knock?’
He stroked her face with the back of his knuckles, reveling in both the smoothness of her skin and the way she leaned into his hand.
“I didn’t know what I was gonna find, sweetheart. For all I knew you were happy, with somebody already in your life, and it would have been best for me to jus’ stay gone. Wanted to scope things out a bit first, yeah? But I just couldn’t resist seein’ you while I was here. Couldn’t make myself leave when I saw you were cryin’…”
Before they could continue, there was a sharp knock on the door and then it opened and Dawn’s head appeared.
“Buffy? I heard you yelling and…are you hallucinating again? Do you want a—“
She blinked and then flipped on the light switch. As the two tear-streaked faces on the bed squeezed their eyes shut against the sudden intrusion, she stared at the vampire, mouth open in shock.
“Spike? Is it really you, or are Buffy’s hallucinations contagious?”
“It’s really me, pet.” He smiled at her somewhat timidly, not sure of his reception.
“Oh,” she said simply. “Well, you’ve got until tomorrow morning to come up with a really good explanation for why you let us cry over your dead ass - not once, but twice – or I’m going to dust you myself.”
Without another word, she flipped the light back off and closed the door, walking back to her own room with a smile on her face. In the once-again darkened room, Buffy fell back on the bed pulling the willing vampire with her. They clung together without speaking, each lost in roiling thoughts and emotions. As Buffy gradually relaxed against him, Spike realized that she had gone back to sleep her arms tightly clenched around his body. He shifted into a more comfortable position, then closed his own eyes and waited for the morning and the beginning of a new life.
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