Post-The Girl In Question (This replaces Power Play and Not Fade Away-- that is, those events happen a little differently.) R Joss owns 'em, I just love 'em up when he's too mean to them
I make him stand up and come back to bed, and he doesn't resist this time. He just wanted to keep me from learning the truth, and now I know, all the fight's gone out of him. Once he's in the bed, he just lies there staring up, and I sit down next to him, jam my hip against his, and get my head between him and the ceiling. "Now you look at me," I demand, and he does, and it just about breaks my heart, that look.
I suddenly remember some movie, some Crusade thing, and something cruel the Saracens do -- I think it's the Saracens -- and my stomach kind of plummets. They wouldn't -- he's a vampire. Wouldn't it grow back? No, I realize. It would just... heal. The wound.
I push my finger between his lips, trying not to hurt him, but I have to know. His tongue is right there where it's supposed to be, wet and cool, and it curls automatically around my finger, and along with the relief I feel feelings that are seriously inappropriate to the moment. He has the most talented tongue, and it would be really bad if --
But I don't have to think about that now. I withdraw my finger, all wet and tingly, and wipe it on his shirt. "Okay," I say. "It's okay. We'll – we'll work it out." And then I kind of collapse, and I put my head on his chest. "I'm just glad you're back, okay? I don't care about the rest."
His arms go around me slowly, and he's cool and solid and Spike, and I rest there for awhile until I finally remember the blood and make him drink it all.
Really. I don't care about the rest, just like I told him. But when I wake up early the next morning, my head still on his chest, I sit up and give him a good look-over and decide he's sufficiently healed for some questions. His eye is circled in purple, but it's open now, and the cut on his mouth is closed up. I pull the curtains across the kitchen windows and call him out. He sits across from me at the table, and I reach back to the counter and pick up the message pad by the phone. I shove it and a pen over to him. "Just write me a note. Tell me what happened."
He looks down at the pad and back up at me, and there's this hopeless despair in his face, and I say, "Just pick up the pen, Spike. And write to me. You don't have to talk if you can write."
So he picks up the pen in his left hand, and stares at it, as if he's willing it to move on its own.
"You remember how to write, don't you?"
And he moved his hand up and down, and the pen scratches on the pad, and then he stops and looks at what he's done. He pushes the pad over to me, and there's nothing there but lines and angles.
"Spike–" I take a deep breath. Then I walk over to his side of the table and sit down next to him. I take his left hand and move the pen on the pad underneath the scrawl. I write Hi, Buffy and then Hi, Spike. It looks way more like my handwriting than his.
He pulls his hand away, rises abruptly, and goes back into the bedroom, and I sit there for awhile, gazing down at the lines and angles. Has he lost his mind as well as his voice?
No. I remind myself that somehow he managed to find me, and acquire that lot, and build that garden, which meant buying plants and wood and stone. And he managed to transfer the deed to me. That took money and skill and thought. And he planted my mother's favorite flower, and he connected the pond's mechanism to the city utilities. And he remembered I liked that Coldplay song.
He can still think. He just can't--
I follow him to the bedroom and hear the shower going in the adjacent bathroom. I don't give myself anytime to think this through. Want, take, have. Well, I know what I want. I push the door open and step over his discarded clothes and pull back the shower curtain and get in with him.
I kind of forgot to take my own clothes off, but it's worth it to see that look on his face, half-astonishment and the other half desire, because the water is plastering my blouse right against my breasts, and I'm not wearing anything underneath. And so I don't mind that the rose color of my linen slacks is now running right down the drain.
He's all naked, of course, and slick with wet, and I press up against him. "You're mine," I say fiercely, and he puts his arms around me, and we stand there under the water until it goes cool. And then I pull him out of the shower, and he helps me strip off my sodden clothes, and we fall on the bed all wet, and I am frantic to have him. But he's having none of that. He settles me on the bed and lies beside me, and kisses me slowly, achingly, like it's been a long time. A long, long time.
And it has. It's been... years. Hard to believe. Years since we last kissed in his old crypt -- the one I destroyed with Riley a few hours later. All that time we lived together in my house, those last months of Sunnydale, I didn't let him kiss me – he didn't even try. Not even those three nights he held me as I slept– the only way I could sleep, with his undemanding arms around me. The crypt is gone, and my house is gone. Sunnydale is gone. Riley is gone, and Spike should be gone too, but here he is beside me.
This time, maybe the only time, I let him decide. And that's what he decides, a long slow kiss, his hand moving slowly up my hip, over my side, to my breast. All so slow, so sweet. This is the way he always wanted to make love, and I hardly ever allowed it, but now I let him, though every nerve in me is thrumming, though his erection is pulsing patient against my thigh.
He's the one who always used to talk during sex. I kept my mouth shut, well, I mean, I didn't say anything. I was afraid of what I'd say if I got started. Mean things, or sweet things, I don't know. Dangerous things.
But he is silent, so silent, and so I say what he can't say. I start out in a whisper, because this is new to me. And at first I just say, Oh, and oh, yes, and that's good, and right there, and more. And then I say what he would be saying if he could-- you're so beautiful, and please let me, and I love you.
When I say that last one, he stops what he's doing. He looks up past my breasts at my face, and I'm glad he can't talk, because I'm afraid he's going to tell me again that I don't. But instead he gives my belly button a little lick, and goes back to pleasuring me, and so I say it again, and it's like it scares him, because he comes up and silences me with a kiss. And then he enters me, and I can't do anything but moan anyway.
Afterwards, I tell him, "I meant it." And he sighs -- a sigh with no sound, just his breath moving against my shoulder. And I say, authoritatively, "I love you, goddamnit, and you better believe it this time."
I shove up his chin so I can see his face, and he's trying to hide a smile, and I smile back at him, and I say, "I love you. I missed you. I'm glad you're back. Don't leave me now."
We manage another shower together, and finally emerge from the bedroom more or less dressed-- Spike in his muddy clothes from last night, me in some old sweats I have stuck away in the spare bedroom closet. There in the kitchen is Taylor. She's not wearing old sweats she stuck away, but Armani shirt and Versace jeans. (I recognize them because, like I said, we get a lot of catalogs. Not like I get to shop Saks, even with my new salary.)
I forgot about her. I forgot that she'd probably get herself some lunch before leaving for her afternoon class. I forgot the kitchen is adjacent to the spare bedroom.
I guess maybe I was sort of preoccupied.
Spike nods to her and heads for the refrigerator, just like it's any other morning and like he owns the place anyway. I decide to copy his nonchalance, so I join him at the refrigerator, sliding my hand into the back pocket of his jeans -- take that, Nosey Parker Taylor -- and say, "You still like bacon? I can fry some up."
Maybe Spike can't talk, but he still has that expressive face, and he looks at me like he's the luckiest man in the world. Buffy, and bacon too. I can't help but smile, and I'm still smiling when I glance over at Taylor to ask if she wants some bacon too.
She's regarding me with respect. I mean, real respect. Like I'm worthy now that I've had some hot sex with a cool vampire.
I don't want to tell you how she's regarding Spike. I'm just glad he is still staring into the refrigerator in that way guys do (human or vampire), like somewhere in there is the key to eternal happiness, and they can find it if they just let out enough expensive cold air.
"Did you guys sleep okay?" Taylor says, real politely.
I fix her with an alpha stare. "Yeah," I say. "Until we woke up."
I'm not really sure what I mean by that, except I am a whole lot hotter than you, bitch, just ask Spike. She mutters something that might have been "yeah, I heard", but keeps it deniable by saying it into her coffee cup. I narrow my eyes, and she pretends that she's suddenly gotten real interested in the newspaper.
As I get out the skillet, Spike is still looking in the refrigerator, the door blocking her view of him, and I suddenly wonder if he's embarrassed. Or ashamed. You know, because he can't talk. I say pointedly, "Aren't you going to be late for class?"
Taylor glances up at the clock, and admits that she's pushing it, and gathers up her bookbag. "Bye, Spike," she calls out as she leaves.
I see his shoulders go rigid, and I put the skillet down on the stove and go over to him and pull him away from the refrigerator. He turns his head away, but I wrap my arms around him anyway. I hold him until he finally relaxes, and then I give him a quick kiss on the unbruised cheek and get back to making bacon.
While I cook, I chatter. About everything and nothing– about school and the local demon population and Dawn. "I have to call Dawn and tell her about you coming back," I say as I lay the nearly perfect bacon strips out on paper toweling.
When I set the plate down on the table, he's standing with his back against the refrigerator, his face tight. Oh. Dawn.
"Come on, Spike, you know she'll want to know. And she'll kill me if I keep it from her," I say coaxingly.
Nothing. No yielding of his expression. No sitting down. No bacon snatching. "Spike," I say more sharply. "This is Dawn. She loves you. She's missed you. She feels terrible that she never made up with you. She still cries about that when she talks about you." I grab his arm and pull him over to the seat next to mine, and sullenly, he sits. I keep hold of his wrist "It's just -- just selfish of you to think about yourself instead of her. You know she'll be so happy to see you."
Moodily he draws the plate towards him and picks up a piece of bacon in his fingers. He regards it grimly, then takes a bite. I guess that's a yes.
So before I leave for class, I call Dawn down at OSU. She is predictably excited and insists on coming home tomorrow. I get Spike settled in with ESPN and tell him sternly not to leave. He doesn't answer. It's a moment before I remember that he can't.
It's raining a few hours later when I get home. And he's gone.
Furious, I make my way to the garden. He's there, in the dimness of the afternoon, rainwater dripping down his face. He's on his knees in the mud, planting something purple in a raised box. He doesn't look at me when I enter and slam the door.
So I have to stalk up to him and grab his shoulder and turn him around, and that puts his mouth way too close to my breast, and there's a minute or so there that we forget that we're mad or estranged or whatever we are. Then he pushes away from me and stands up, and holds out a cold, dirty hand.
I take hold, and he leads me out that side door into the cemetery. The ground is spongy, and the wet seeps into my sneakers. "Do you like it here?" I ask, gazing past him to the leaden sky. "In Sunnydale, you never could go out in the day. But here– lots of overcast days. Even in the summer."
He looks back at me and smiles, and I think maybe I can do it. Read his thoughts from his eyes. Speak for him. Love him without hearing his voice.
"Where are we going?" I ask. And he leads me past the gravestones to a crypt.
Well, duh. Did I think he'd taken the penthouse in Armstrong Towers downtown? Of course he's been living in a crypt.
As crypts go (and I've been in way too many of them), this is pretty nice. He's got thick rugs on the stone floor, and a space heater, and a spindly bookcase filled with paperbacks, and-- and a closet rod with hangers with neatly folded jeans (oh, be still my heart– one pair is blue instead of black) and a few long-sleeve shirts and--
You know, I don't really care about his wardrobe and I'm not sure why I'm going on and on about it. What really draws my eye is this sort of bed in the corner by the pedestal. Not a real bed, just heaps and heaps of comforters and blankets, and some big fluffy pillows, and it's all so luxurious I get suspicious. "You have a lot of girls down here? Making them comfy?"
He gives me this look, his brows drawn together, like I'm nuts. And then he tackles me and I fall back onto the bed, and we strip off our wet clothes, and again I can't remember why I'm mad at him.
"You know," I tell him, "this really shouldn't work. You know, having sex instead of -- " Instead of talking, I am going to say, but then real quick I change it to "working through our problems."
He kisses me, lots of tongue, and I decide working through isn't any more important than the wardrobe, and anyway, what problems? So he can't talk. He can kiss.
I am so easy. It's really embarrassing.
But ... but... but I know he loves me more than anything. He's proved that a thousand times. And now (I think) he knows I love him. Things aren't perfect -- I want to hear his voice, and there's something bothering him, something that makes his eyes sad when they're not happy. But he's back with me, and I have a chance to make it right with him finally, and I'm not going to waste too much time worrying about -- about problems.
The next morning I wait after psych class until the professor is free. He's a nice guy, not much older than I am, and I get the idea there's nothing he likes better than students hanging around and soaking up his wisdom. So he takes me to the campus coffeehouse and we sit down and I say, "Uh, I'm thinking of writing a paper." I panic, worried that he might actually expect me to turn this paper in. "Or maybe a book. A novel. Or maybe a short story."
He sips his latte and observes, "And you want some psychology in there, I bet."
"Yeah. Yeah. I want to have a character -- a guy – with, umm, hysterical dumbness. I mean, muteness." I add, "He can't talk, I mean."
The professor nods. "That's a good ailment, as psychological ailments go."
"Yeah, well, I'm wondering if it's also possible if I can have him not be able to write, or do sign language. I mean, it's not just that he can't talk. He can't --"
"Communicate." He looks interested. "Well, obviously that's more rare. Mere muteness, see, can be attributed to spasms of the vocal cords or something like that, something stress-induced but still physical. But an inability to communicate even with other forms of language – writing and signing -- that would indicate a cognitive block of considerably more comprehensive proportions."
"A -- a cognitive block."
"Yes. You see, the basis of language, written or otherwise, is symbology. Language is all symbol -- a word is not the thing, but stands for the thing."
I get this. Maybe I am college material after all. "So whether it's written or signed or spoken, a word is a symbol. And if the brain can't make symbols --"
"It can't express."
"But --" I think of Spike. I left him asleep in his crypt early this morning, curled around two pillows that substituted for me. On the floor next to the bed was a book of Pablo Neruda poetry. He'd showed me a poem last night, after we'd made love, and he gazed at me with such intensity that I knew this poem meant something to him. To us. In the flickering candlelight I'd read it aloud to him, and realized this poem had given him the idea of making me a garden. I read it silently after that, several times, and some of it lodged in my memory --
In the night we shall go in, we shall go in to steal a flowering, flowering branch.
We shall climb over the wall in the darkness of the alien garden, two shadows in the shadow.
Spike still makes symbols in his mind. The garden is a symbol of his devotion. The flowers are a symbol of his passion. I know it.
"But what if -- what if I need him -- this character -- to, you know, still be able to read and think, just not able to communicate?"
The professor frowns. "Well, that would be intriguing. You see, we can't really know how these people think. They could have rich inner lives, full of symbols, but just lack the ability to convey them to us." He gives me a crooked grin. "You know. It's like when you sit down to take an essay exam, and in your mind is all this brilliance, but when you write it down, it's not brilliant at all. It doesn't mean that you aren't thinking well, only that you can't put that thought into words." He adds hastily, "I don't mean you in particular. I just mean us in general."
"I understand. No offense taken." I brood into my latte for a moment. "You say we can't really know what he -- what this guy in my story, I mean – would think, if he can't tell us with words. But there's still his face, right? His eyes? And his smile? The way he moves?"
"Well, sure. See, those are instinctive. Automatic. We smile when we're happy. We don't say, oh, I'm happy, I should convey that with a smile. And body language – we call it language, but it's really more organic than that. We hunch up when we're scared because our body wants to protect itself, not because we want to convey fear. And so on. Symbolism is always one step distant. But what you're talking about is direct. Emotion to body. It doesn't go through the mind, really. But..." He regards me curiously. "But not everyone is empathic enough or intuitive enough to read that. Not everyone can tell the difference between fear and anger in someone's face, for example."
That isn't a problem with Spike's face. It's as open as a book -- at least to me. I don't need language or symbology or any of that to tell me what he's thinking. "Thanks," I say, standing up and tossing my cup into the trash. "This has been really helpful."
"I hope you'll let me read the story when you're done with it," he says, and I nod, and decide I probably shouldn't take his course in the fall semester after all. Just in case he really means it.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep. Pablo Neruda