Title: Kindle in Us the Fire
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
Upolu Island, Samoa
He watched her from the shadows, careful to stay far enough back that she couldn't sense his presence.
Not that he was trying to avoid her, exactly. It simply wasn't safe enough for him to venture any closer until the sun went down.
Spike brushed aside a palm leaf and crouched a bit deeper into the shade, flinching slightly as a stray sunbeam made its was through the overhead foliage and struck his hand. He'd been there since early morning, watching and waiting, unable to move closer and unwilling to attract her attention yet.
Buffy rose, leaving her blanket on the white sands of the beach, and walked slowly into the water. She stood there a moment and stared out into the ocean, the waves lapping at her thighs, and then dove gracefully below the surface of the water. By the time she surfaced, she was about twenty meters from the shore. Spike sighed and settled back, squinting at the sun and trying to determine exactly when it would set. In the meantime, he looked his fill.
He hadn't seen Buffy in several months, not since the battle against the rogue vampire clan that had set itself up at the Hellmouth in Cleveland. He and Buffy had fought about...something, just one of their typical arguments. Spike would be damned if he could even remember exactly what it had been about. The worst part was that they hadn't been able to reconcile before the battle started. The two of them had been separated, and after the fire, Spike had been trapped underground by a massive cave-in that had brought down half a city block. He'd spent the next three days trying to dig himself out, getting hungrier and hungrier, until he'd finally been rescued. By the time the Watchers had managed to dig enough of the rubble out of the way that he could crawl out into the night air, he'd been ready to start chewing his own arm off. Buffy was waiting for him, and it was obvious from the bags under her eyes that she hadn't slept much while he'd been missing. Upon seeing him, she'd gasped in relief and grabbed him in a tight hug, her tears wetting the front of his shirt.
Then she'd hauled off and hit him across the face and took off running.
By the time he'd gotten back to their rented room, she was gone, along with all of her clothes. She'd left behind a brief note: Not now.
As it had turned out, their hotel charged a fee for the holes he'd left in the walls from his fists. Spike charged it to the Council without a second thought.
It was the signature that was his saving grace: Love, Buffy. He knew she'd chosen that word carefully to reassure him, even if she couldn't quite deal with seeing him face to face at the moment.
It wasn't the first time they'd been separated, and he knew it wouldn't be the last, what with their volatile tempers. Still, that didn't make it any easier. Spike had given Buffy the space she'd needed, and after a couple of weeks she'd given him a call. She was in Cairo, working with a couple of the Slayers that were being trained there. They'd talked of this and that, though Spike was barely aware of what he said.
"Buffy," he'd said at the end, then trailed off, not sure how to ask without sounding pathetic.
"Soon," she'd said, and he could hear the smile in her voice. "I love you."
That's the way it had been for weeks. He hadn't asked when she would be back, and she wouldn't say. He kept track of her through her phone calls, tracing her position from afar as she wandered from country to country.
By the time he'd received her last phone call from Sydney, he'd been ready to take matters into his own hands. She was going to Samoa to take care of a sea-demon that was terrorizing the populace and disrupting the tourist industry. Without a second thought, he'd called in his favors from the Council and gotten himself a private flight to Australia on one of their necrotempered planes.
That wasn't the end of it, of course. There was the small matter of sneaking into the cargo hold of a late afternoon flight bound for Samoa, and then tracking her once he'd landed. Spike had no idea if she was even on the same island as he was, but in the end it didn't take long to find her. The stories of the warrior woman who had slain the demon were still running rampant through every village. He'd easily tracked her to a small private beach on the western shores of Upolu, arriving just before the sun rose.
He'd been watching her all day, waiting for the right moment, soaking in the sight of his girl playing in the sun. She looked so young, and it took Spike a while to realize that it was the first time in a year he'd seen her truly relax. In a way, it made the long march of the sun across the sky a little more bearable.
By the time the sun finally dipped below the horizon, Buffy had returned to her fale a few dozen feet from the water's edge. Spike could see her sitting on a thin mat that had been placed on the wooden platform, the thatched roof casting deep shadows back into the jungle. Buffy was still in the cream bikini she'd been wearing all day, and Spike could see that she'd wrapped a thin sarong around her waist as well. The humid air buzzed with the chirp of insects, the water lapped gently along the shoreline, and Spike removed his boots, stepped out of the jungle and crept toward his prey.
He watched Buffy carefully, trying to see the exact moment when she finally became aware of his presence. Her attention was fixed on the ocean and the fading pinks of the setting sun, the book she'd been reading fallen to one side. Closer he came, close enough to scent her, almost close enough to reach out and touch. Just a few more steps, and...
Defeated, he strolled around the edge of the fale and sat down next to her. She wasn't looking at him, but there was a prim smile quirking the corner of her mouth.
"Oh, bloody hell. You knew I was there all along, didn't you?"
She nodded, still not taking her eyes off of the ocean. "Since about five this morning." Reaching across, she grabbed his hand and squeezed it, finally turning to give him a teary smile. "But it's nice to finally see you."
"Do you want to be alone?"
She shook her head. "I can be alone with you here."
There was nothing he could say. There was everything to say, but he couldn't quite find the words. So instead he gathered her in his arms and cuddled her close, her back to his front, and watched the sky change colors with her.
"I'm sorry," she whispered eventually. "I shouldn't have...not like that. I should have told you what I needed before I left."
Spike tensed. He tried not to show it in his body language, but he knew that Buffy was aware of it. "Wish you had," he said gruffly. "So you found it, then? What you needed?"
She didn't answer, but turned to face him slightly, reaching one hand down to play with his bare toes. "It was bad, what happened in Cleveland."
He nodded, remembering the sounds of the Slayers screaming as the supernatural fire had rushed across the cavern. A handful of them had died immediately, a few more lingering for weeks before finally succumbing to their injuries. Even Slayer healing hadn't been enough to save them. "I remember," he said.
"I was there," Buffy whispered. "I was there, and I lived and I couldn't do anything to help them. I watched them burn. Do you know how much I hate watching people burn? God, I thought you were dead too." She reached up and wiped her eyes with one shaky hand. "They were all so young. Meg...Shiri...Hannah...do you remember Hannah? The little one with the round face? She was so small when she came to us."
Spike nodded and squeezed her tighter, one hand coming up to brush gently at her tears.
"At first, I tried to hold myself back," Buffy said in a low voice. "I tried to keep from caring about them too much. I knew that not all of them would make it, all these new Slayers, and I thought...I thought I wouldn't be able to do my job if I got too close to them." She shrugged and tried to smile. "I knew that wasn't the right thing to do. I already knew it."
"You've always known it," Spike murmured. "It's what keeps you in the world."
Buffy gave a bitter laugh. "Oh, yeah. And it seemed like it was my new duty, you know? To care for them, to guide them, even to love them. They were my new family. And it hurt so badly whenever one of them died, but I took that hurt and held onto it." She gave a shaky sigh. "It was what I deserved."
Spike pulled back slightly to look at her face. "Buffy," he said slowly, "you don't deserve to hurt like that."
"I thought I did," Buffy said calmly, staring at the ocean and seemingly oblivious to the tears running down her face. "Because it was ultimately my fault that they died. It was my decision to change the rules back in Sunnydale and call them all to be Slayers. And so it seemed fair that I should make myself be close to them just so that I could hurt."
"Love as penance," Spike whispered hollowly. "Oh, Buffy...." He gathered her close again, and she curled up in his lap and buried her face in his shoulder.
"But I know now that that's not right either," she said, her breath warm and moist against his neck. "Because love isn't pain, and it's not supposed to hurt like that. It's not what I deserve. It's a gift. It's my gift." She raised her head and looked at him, her eyes shining in the dim light of the early evening. "I needed to be by myself to see it, but...you helped teach me that."
He couldn't take it anymore, so with a moan he grabbed her arms and drew her even closer to him. She sighed into his open mouth and drank him in greedily, her hands clasping his face and running over the tops of his ears. And oh, how he'd missed this, this soul-deep kissing that made his lips tingle and his bones shake. He rearranged Buffy so that she was straddling his lab, his hands kneading her sides and running up and down the smooth skin of her back.
Her body still burned with the heat of the sun she'd been soaking in all day, and he held her closer to take that warmth into himself. Her shoulders and the tops of her breasts had been tinged pink, and she hissed softly as he brushed a line of soft kisses across her skin. She tasted of salt and sunshine, her body burning his with a feverish warmth. With a quick flip of his wrist, her bikini top dropped to the floor and his mouth found her nipples.
"Spike," she crooned, running her fingers through his hair and squeezing his sides with her knees. He suckled her with a hungry grunt, his fingers digging into her hips and holding her tightly against him as she squirmed in his lap. He couldn't stop touching her after so long apart, and it was only reluctantly that he disengaged long enough to pull his shirt over his head and remove his pants. He was almost shaking in anticipation by the time she settled back onto his lap, the bikini bottoms gone but the sarong still hugging her narrow hips. He wanted to take it slow, to reclaim all of the time they had lost, but he honestly didn't think he'd be able to wait much longer.
Luckily, Buffy seemed to be in the same mood, and with a heavy-lidded smile she took hold of him and took him inside her. Her eyes dropped shut and she leaned her head forward, her mouth catching on his and breathing life into his dead body. As his hands crept underneath the sarong and cupped her ass, they rocked together fluidly. Buffy rubbed her nipples against his chest, slick and sweaty in the humid air, and shifted her position slightly to rub her clit against his pelvis with every downward grind. The sound of the sea receded, swallowed up by an undercurrent of quick pants and little moans. He lasted only long enough to feel her muscles clench around him before he was coming inside of her.
Time passed, and they cuddled together on the linen-covered mat as the sky turned black and the stars came out.
"Thank you for coming," Buffy whispered.
Spike smiled. "Always do," he said ruefully. "You can't get rid of me that easily."
"Good," she said with a yawn, rubbing her nose against his. "We should be careful not to sleep too long. Private beaches are of the good, but I don't want us to get caught here when the sun comes up."
"We'll manage," he said easily. "So, tell me: any more epiphanies I should know about? Any more psychotherapy we need to be doing?"
"No," she muttered, slapping his arm. "I'm all epiphanied out, thank you very much."
"Suits me," Spike said, rolling them over until Buffy was on the bottom and he could just see the shape of her face in the dark. "Because...what do you say we continue your little getaway?"
"With less angst and more sex, I take it?" Buffy said dryly. She let out rich laugh that rumbled through Spike's body, and he couldn't help but laugh in return. He settled back down next to her, drawing her into his arms and pressing a kiss to her forehead.
"How do you feel?" he asked.
Buffy tightened her fingers around his, bringing his hand to her mouth for a kiss.
"I feel alive."