Rating: Hard R
Pairing Info.: B/A, B/S, S/A, B/S/A
Author Notes: I wanted, most of all, to be fair to each character and pair of characters, because I am a fan of every one of them, and because I think they deserve it. Anyone is welcome to tell me I did a good or bad job of it, or leave any kind of feedback or concrit they desire, in this LJ or via email.
Thank-yous: Daki for saying "wtf? that makes no sense" to the first draft, Fod for reading every line even though she couldn't care less about these pairings, and especially Lynn, who beta'd and held my hand and just generally put up with my neuroses. Any remaining mistakes are mine.
Dedicated to chrisleeoctaves whose smarts, talent and grace are a gift to fandom every day.
Once upon a time, in a kingdom now swallowed by the earth, there lived a beautiful princess.
Two vampires walk out of an apocalypse.
This is not a story, because it has no beginning.
Of course they know she’s here. In their city, in their house, creeping up their stairs, soft as the coming morning the shutters can’t keep out. The wooden boards beneath her feet don’t creak; old hotels and demons, things built to stay.
She opens the door.
White sheets on the bed, red badges of ghost bites and sharp-teeth kisses across whiter skin. There’s an ashtray on the nightstand, it’s full. The room smells like candle wax.
No one breathes.
(She’s dreamed this.)
One of them holds out a hand (it was prom and promises, he will always get there first). One of them says her name (it was sex and solace, but he always laughs last).
She’s out of her clothes before she climbs into their bed.
Two days ago in Rome, she killed a vampire disguised as a priest. She went back to her flat, and found a single strand of gray in her hair. Tomorrow, she will be twenty-nine. She hasn’t thought about heaven in years.
Buffy fit the final gold clip into her hair as he stepped up behind her.
“You look lovely,” he said, and she smiled.
The mirrors were a recent purchase, only in deference to her. He had no need for them, he’d told her once. He may cast a reflection, but being Immortal meant that it would never change.
The hand on her shoulder was large and warm. The smell of him (cognac and expensive linen, cigar smoke and her own perfume; everything borrowed, nothing was his, nothing stayed) hitched her breath. He ran a fingertip down the back of her neck.
“I’ve never seen this before.”
Buffy touched the cross on her throat, and stood up, turning to face him. “No?”
He pulled her woolen cape from his wardrobe, draped it around her shoulders, then gathered her close. She had to stand on tiptoe to find his kiss. The bed was still unmade.
“No,” he said, rubbing her bottom lip with his thumb.
“Do you really want to talk about this now?”
He smiled at her. “Not if it upsets you.”
She walked with him down the long staircase, his touch light on her elbow, and he said, “I know where they are.”
“I’m sure you do.”
“Have you ever heard the story of the Titans?” he asked. A servant opened the front door. They walked toward the car, the night air cool enough that she had to hug her wrap tighter around herself.
“Football team, 90’s movie, Denzel Washington? You probably don’t mean them.”
“The Titans used to be gods, the sole rulers of Heaven and Earth. One of them, in fact, was named Hyperion.”
Buffy slid into the back seat of the limousine, and he handed her a glass of champagne. Raised his own in toast before taking a sip. He said something to the driver in rapid Italian; she understood only “birthday” and “dinner”, then the glass separating them from the front seat closed with a soft whoosh.
“You weren’t actually alive back then, were you? Because that would be-”
“That is where they are. The Hotel Hyperion, in the City of Angels. A bit heavy in both irony and drama for my taste.”
“Says the Immortal kettle with a secret identity fetish, and no actual first name.”
“Fascinating tale- when Zeus rose to power, the Titans lost everything to him.” He traced the gold cross with his index finger again. “They were tossed out of Heaven in disgrace.”
Buffy put her champagne glass down, pulled his hand into hers. The vein in his wrist throbbed, blue and insistent. He shivered when she scratched over it lightly. It made her want to crawl across the seat, crawl into his lap, rumple his carefully pressed suit. He stared at her thigh, where her dress had ridden up to show black garters underneath. They hadn’t actually had sex in his limo, yet.
“You know how I feel about you,” she said, quietly, her mouth against his neck, her eyes drifting shut. “But you aren’t Zeus.”
She’s thought of them every day.
(147 days today, but today doesn’t count, does it)
They’ve never lived inside of her head the way missing family or friends will do. They have never sat beside her unseen over morning coffee, or whispered in her ear unheard when she lay down to sleep. They’ve remained a still and silent knowledge in her bones, the same as the trees, or the air around her; a constant and unchanging part of her landscape, just as essential, just as untouched.
But here, now, in their bed, with hands in her hair and teeth at her breast, she is full all at once with the reality of them, with the rush of memories behind her eyes and between her legs.
“Little late for the party, Buff,” Angel said, and for a minute- the voice, the nickname, she almost thought-
But his right arm appeared torn from its socket, and his left side was badly burned. She’d heard rumors about a dragon.
There were shadows under his eyes that only a soul would wear.
“I came as soon as I could,” she said, taking a step closer. He stank, like spilled blood and fire.
“Yes. Your arm-you’re hurt. Let me help.”
“Little late for the party,” he repeated, turning around and stripping off his shirt. The broken bone made his back look misshapen, the skin around his tattoo was charred; she could map most of this battle just by reading his wounds.
He didn’t make a sound while he worked to undo his boots with one blistered hand.
“For godsake, will you let me help?”
“If you say that one more time, I’ll stake you myself.” She stood in front of him, grasped his forearm, and when he blinked, shoved his shoulder back into place. There was a neat popping sound, and she could hear his teeth clack together.
He shrugged out of her grip. She wondered if anyone else was ever as proficient at hurting him as she managed to be.
“Quite an apocalypse you guys made,” she said, looking around. They were standing in what used to be a restaurant, or maybe a bar. It was hard to tell at this point. It had taken her four days to get into Los Angeles. “Very Bladerunner.”
“Well, now that you’ve seen it, you can run along and report it all to Giles. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to find out how many of us died.” He was halfway up a flight of stairs, but she was faster.
“You son of a bitch,” she said, grabbing his wrist. “Do you know what I risked by- I thought you were-”
He said nothing, letting her stumble and stutter, while the muscle under his jaw worked. She could feel him vibrating, the demon (the man) thrumming under his skin, under her hand, with the urge to hit her.
“Forget it. I don’t know why I came here.”
“Don’t you?” he said, and there was fire on his tongue too when he leaned in and kissed her.
Hard and hungry and full of teeth, even though she could peel the blackened skin off his arm, even though there was a gash in his side that bled out all over her shirt.
He tugged her shirt off. Lowered his eyes and stared.
She unhooked her bra, and let it fall to the floor.
The stairs were sharp against the small of her back, but he was on top of her, he was all around her, his mouth at her belly, then her breasts; and she couldn’t make her jeans come off quickly enough, so they stayed, knotted around one of her calves.
He tugged her hair in his fist, held her head still to watch her face. Slid three fingers inside of her, fast and deep. He looked at her like she was his holy relic; he made her dance on his hand like she was his toy. Lifted her off the stairs, then down onto his cock; bent on his knees, two steps beneath her, with her legs wrapped around his waist.
“Oh god,” she whispered. “Oh god, I thought you were dead, I thought I-”
It was impossible that they had only done this once. Impossible that the amount of times she had killed him and made love to him were exactly the same.
“Shhh,” he said, slamming her into the floor.
It was desperate and merciful and painful and (perfect), and she screamed when she came. Shouted his name and something else he wouldn’t let her finish, biting her tongue for her; staying quiet, so damned quiet, even as he shook and spilled inside of her, careful not to wake the dead.
He was still shaking, after, sweaty and pale; reminding her of poison arrows and the beginnings of ends. She wrapped him in some discarded linens, and covered the broken windows with a tablecloth.
“You need blood.”
“Mmm,” he mumbled. “Happen to bring any with you?”
“As a matter of fact.” Her hand hovered over the scar on her neck.
He didn’t open his eyes. “No.”
She sank down next to him on the floor, touched his cheek. “What else can I do, then?”
He looked up and smiled at her, and for one blink, he was Angel. The man she knew before she knew anything else, during that single autumn when she was cherished and protected, and could still sleep through the night.
He wrapped a finger around a strand of her hair, and fell asleep.
He didn’t move when she got up to get dressed, still hadn’t moved when she came back two hours later with five bags of stolen blood. She laid them by his feet.
She didn’t wake him before she left.
He is naked in front of her, unmoving and immovable, the largest presence in the room. The weight of years fills her chest when he looks at her, as if she could just close her eyes and become sixteen (nineteen, twenty-two) and stupid again.
(I’m not getting any older)
She wonders if she would make different choices.
She wonders if she made choices at all, or just mistakes.
When she kisses him, even after all this time, it is easy to believe in snow.
But she doesn’t want to be his salvation or his damnation anymore. Perfection is as heavy a burden as penance, and she can’t wrap arms or legs around holy words. She wants a god with skin.
She presses her lips against the side of his throat, over the pulse she’s never heard, scratches her nails down the side of his back, over the tattoo he’ll never see. He doesn’t make a sound. And she wants to shake him for his own stupid stoicism, but more than that, she wants to be the thing that makes him shake.
She sinks her teeth into his shoulder, holds on when he tries to pull back, draws blood and a single curse.
“Fuck,” he says, grabbing her by the hair.
Somewhere close behind her there’s a soft, dirty chuckle. She smiles.
Buffy found Spike in a bar too; the next year, the next apocalypse, the next vampire with a soul.
“Don’t you ever get tired of completely destroying cities?”
Spike turned in his seat and looked up at her, holding his hands out in a gesture of surrender. “I only take credit for Sunnydale.”
Buffy shook her head and slid into the booth across from him. At least this bar was still open.
“This one was all you and your mini-Slayers,” he added, looking around. “Most of whom apparently followed you in here like little lost lambs.”
“I don’t think half of them are even old enough to drink.”
Spike smiled, lifted his beer and took a sip. “And the last one was all Angel.”
She frowned. “Last what- oh, city?”
“Yea,” he said, pushing his beer toward her. Buffy shrugged and took a swig. It was warm.
“He’s sorry by the way. The old man, I mean.”
“About the city?”
Spike didn’t answer, just waited for her to look at him.
“He’s always sorry about something,” Buffy said, pushing the beer back to his side of the table. “What about you? Are you sorry for not calling me these past two years to mention that you were gee, say, not dead?”
“Sometimes,” Spike said. He shifted in his seat. She noticed he wasn’t wearing his coat. His t-shirt was gray. “Few more Slayers than I’m used to these days. Mind if we get out of here?”
“Where’s left to go?”
Where’s left turned out to be an abandoned motel in what used to be downtown Cleveland. Just once, Buffy thought, an apocalypse ought to take place in Bermuda.
She sat on the edge of the bed while Spike hovered in the shadows of the doorway.
“How long have you known?” he asked.
“Andrew has the biggest mouth in the history of people with mouths.”
“Right. So, the whole time, then.” He was quiet for a second, staring at the floor, and she found herself wishing he was holding a cigarette. He looked lost, without a place to put his hands. “Well, I’d ask why you didn’t call, but I suppose I already know.”
“No,” she said, standing up in front of him, “you don’t.”
The battle had left him with only one or two deep cuts, and a bruise on his left cheek; the presence of a hundred well-trained Slayers made for a kinder, gentler apocalypse. Buffy reached out and touched the purple mark on his face. He closed his eyes.
When Spike kissed her, he still used his whole body, and she still wanted to tell him the same truths which he would never believe: I did then, I do now, I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry. The taste of him, smoke and hops- salty, bitter and real, had the same flavor as her tears.
“I mourned you,” she whispered against his mouth, even though what she meant was I killed you.
“Shhh,” he told her, licking her cheeks. “Doesn’t matter now. Back like an occasionally really evil penny.”
Buffy laughed, and when Spike sank to his knees, she followed him down.
The rug was rough and scratchy under her back when he tugged her dress up. But he slid three fingers inside of her mouth, and watched her suck. Dragged those wet fingers down her breasts and belly, made her skin rise to meet his hand. He pressed his palm flat against her cunt, and squeezed. Then he pulled her panties to one side and bent his head.
The bed was too far away to bother.
After, he kissed the rug burns on her hands and knees, and grabbed the quilt off the mattress. She drifted in and out of sleep, his thigh resting against her where she was still wet and sore. It wasn’t until the red ash from Spike’s cigarette lit up the room for a second that she realized the sun had set.
She shifted under him, and he stood up.
“What are you doing?” she asked, pulling the blanket around her as he tugged his pants on.
“What d’you mean?”
“You hero types are all the same. Swoop into town, kill the bad guy, get the girl.” She ran her index finger along the side of his bare foot. “Then ride off alone into the uh, moonrise.”
Spike crouched down next to her on the carpet. She’d left scratch marks on his chest that hadn’t faded yet. They’d destroyed buildings and one another with less than this.
“Did I?” he asked.
“Did you- what?”
“Get the girl?”
He pressed a hand to her mouth. “Don’t.”
She watched him tug his shirt on, stuff his feet into his boots.
“I’ll see you next end of the world,” he said.
“You saved her,” Buffy told his back as he stood in the doorway. “The girl. Every night you saved her.”
He didn’t turn around.
His hair is longer than she remembers. Curls at the top, dark at the roots. It twists something low in her belly, something slithery and cool. Reminds her of years untouched and words unspoken.
He stares in the way that makes her naked even when she is not, even when there are quilts and pillows, and another man still sleeping, between them. He sees her, everything she is, and everything she thought she had lost.
He leans in to kiss her, and she rests her hand on the back of his neck. It’s damp with sweat. His tongue over hers raises a familiar feeling in her chest, but it’s sweeter now, an ache far closer to joy than grief, and she thinks this, this is what time keeps.
Buffy last saw them in Rome. Not that spring night in a dance club (she knew, of course she knew) but two years later, in an alleyway off the Via Aurelia. One day after the latest end of days, the ground still soaked in rain and blood.
The battle was over, but the storm kept on. The air was thick with magic and death; the smell of barely contained electricity and burned demon flesh.
Spike stood with his back to a wall. Angel had him cornered, pressed up hard against ancient brick and mortar. They were nose to nose, because Spike always did seem taller when he fought with Angel. Buffy could hear them shouting at one another; obscenities and accusations, the names of places she had never been, people she had never met. This was obviously an argument which started a hundred-some years before she’d even been born.
The lightning looked too bright and felt too close; it raised all the small hairs on the back of her neck in warning. Each time it ripped a hole in the sky, Buffy could see their faces: the rain gathering on Spike’s eyelashes, the blood drying on Angel’s cheeks. They looked tired. They looked alive.
Angel’s sword clattered to the concrete.
They’d hit each other with closed fists, but they kissed with their eyes and mouths wide open, Spike’s fingers digging into Angel’s shoulders, pushing him down.
Angel dropped to his knees on the stones (he was on his knees in front of her, with his back still scarred from five hundred years in Hell, and his eyes were closed and he whispered her name).
Spike made a soft sound (he was back to the wall when she tore open his shirt; no, he said, no, but she went down on him anyway and he whispered her name).
She stayed there in the darkness, and she watched them, and the thunder kept the secret of her heartbeat.
Angel tightened his fingers around Spike’s hips, holding him still, holding him near. Strong hands that would leave bruises the color of sunrise on bones, Spike’s cock wrapped in angry kisses, and Buffy could feel all of it from twenty feet away. Every shiver and stab sank beneath her own skin, made her bite the inside of her cheek to swallow the noises trying to skitter up her spine. The blood on her tongue was pale and bitter as winter.
Spike bared his teeth, smacked his head once against the bricks when he came, and called Angel a stupid son of a bitch.
Angel stood and dropped a kiss on Spike’s forehead. Then crushed him face first against that wall again with hands, mouth, cock. He whispered something against Spike’s neck that Buffy couldn’t hear, but it made Spike smile, made his eyes drift shut. There was blood on Spike’s cheek now, too.
The rain came down harder, sounded like bullets on the old cobblestones. Angel bit into Spike’s shoulder with blunt teeth, his wet hair covering his face. Spike leaned into Angel’s weight. Buffy thought of the ageless statues in the Vatican (Vampires, In Repose). She took a step back before they could open their eyes.
After a while, Spike whispered something, and Angel laughed. They slid down the wall together, in a tangle of black clothes and white skin, and then they sat there, in the pouring rain, sharing a cigarette they couldn’t keep lit.
There are stakes in the top drawer of their nightstand. She pulls them out, lays them in a neat little row across her lap. Runs her palm over the smooth grain of wood, presses the pad of her finger against the pointed tips.
A stake makes a soft sucking sound when it penetrates flesh, one sharp pop when the heart explodes. She’s killed hundreds of vampires this way; sidled up close, shoved something hard and permanent inside their bodies, and fucked them final.
She’s only ever let two of them give it back; let them rip her open with fangs and dick, let them make her cry and bleed. They buried her, finally, but she’s still here, and their kisses taste the same whether or not they have souls. There’s a symmetry to that she finds comforting.
The world holds a living army of girls just like her now, girls who whisper in reverent tones when she walks by. They call her the last in the line of Onlys, they look at her with awe and pity, and it makes her itch. She puts them up in her house, she shows them how to hunt, she teaches them to stay alive. But she’s far more at home in this old hotel, in a city that has no seasons, in bed with the monsters who can make both love and death.
Buffy traces each bump and ridge of Spike’s spine with her fingernails. She broke these bones once, shattered them with a chalice full of church incense and holy rage, but there isn’t a mark left on him.
Spike lays sprawled out on his stomach, hands over his head, palms flat on the sheets. He moans when she fastens her teeth around the bone at the base of his skull, and she molds her body to fit his, pressing her cunt against the smooth hollow just above his ass.
His back is straight and solid; it only curves like an archer’s bow when Angel bends him in half, or when Buffy lays under him, wrapping her legs around his waist to pull him closer.
Angel’s skin is soft under her hands too, no scar on his chest where she burned him with religion and a kiss, or his belly where she spilled his guts all the way to eternity. She left epic years back in the ruins of one too many cities, and when she climbed into this bed earlier tonight, she took off her cross before her panties.
Angel breathes, and it’s nearly impossible to tell he isn’t really human. He’s warm every place she leaves kisses, he drags in one long gasp after another as she swallows hard around his cock. The flush across his body lasts long enough for Spike to follow it down with his mouth.
Buffy falls asleep to the green glow of the electric clock on the night table, flashing midnight, over and over.
She dreams that she is bleeding two weeks early, and wakes to Spike’s tongue inside of her. His thumbs dig into her thighs, holding them apart, spreading her wide. Teeth scrape her clit just as Angel’s tongue finds hers, and she is coming before she opens her eyes.
Spike lifts his head, grabs at Angel with greedy hands and animal kisses. With a mouthful of fangs, Spike’s whispers sound like curses. Angel’s demon eyes are the same flat yellow color as the sun in cave drawings, left behind by some long-dead tribe that devoured enemies’ flesh. Campfire tales, blood-songs; where her heart lives.
And Buffy is spent, raw, but she can’t stop touching herself as the two of them roll over the messy sheets without her, tangled together in linens and history.
Then hands close around her waist, holding her up. No one breathes.
There isn’t an apocalypse.
Just both of their bodies, strong and hard against her, inside of her. She is pressed between them like a flower inside the pages of a book, like something rare and precious they would keep.
Sometime before dawn, she takes the long, circular staircase up to the roof. She sits at the edge, dangling her bare feet in the air, and pretends she can see the stars. Lays back on the concrete, lets the endless sky roll through her, lets it make her sway, tiny and unnoticed.
She doesn’t know how long she’s been gone when she hears the metal door behind her swing open.
In the dark he is a sharp silver outline, with shirt off and pants undone. She watches his feet lap up the pavement, quick and sure, hunter’s walk. From her spot on the floor, she can make out only upside down bits and pieces of him, all of them rumpled with sex and sleep.
“Got worried about you,” he says, then looks at her carefully, sprawled out and smiling, staring up at the fading moon. He motions toward the door. “Or I could…if you wanted to be alone?”
She stands up and shakes her head.
“You know,” she says, “I really don’t.”
She follows him back down the stairs, and into their bed.
This is not a story, because it doesn’t end.
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