Quiero tenerte muy cerca
-Consuelo Velazquez, “Besame Mucho”
Buffy had wanted Spain’s history, so they’d left the capital and gone south to Sevilla.
She’d been blown away.
He’d always expected she was more than a little in love with the past, her own—before being called and especially before Angelus—most of all but he couldn’t fault her. Nostalgia was a beautiful thing.
They’d holed up in an ancient hotel with narrow staircases and tiny rooms. Even the furnishings looked like they might have survived several world wars. Buffy found the worn rugs and lumpy bed charming. Even the fact that they shared a single bathroom with everyone else on the floor didn’t faze her.
He did like the faded orange paint on the room’s walls, and the enameled washbasin tucked into the corner behind the door made him feel like he’d run into an old friend.
That morning, as he’d settled down on the squeaky, metal-framed bed to rest, Buffy had set out with a couple different destinations in mind. She’d come back at noon, waking him as she’d marched into the room and slammed the door behind her.
“Luv?” he’d asked, groggy and hoarse with sleep.
“I missed you,” she’d said, her hands tugging her shirt up and over her head. Her jeans had hit the floor a moment later. He’d been wide awake by that point. “I was having fun, poking around that Spanish Plaza place and all of a sudden I couldn’t stand that you weren’t there.”
“I’m sorry,” he’d murmured. Damn it. He couldn’t even show his girl around properly when the sun was up. “I’ll take you back tonight so you can have a better look.”
Buffy had swiped at her eyes. “I don’t care about some stupid plaza or whatever time of the day it is. I just needed you.” She’d lifted the corner of the bed’s bright yellow blanket and slipped up under, wiggling over until she was flush against him. “I was looking at all the pretty stuff one second and I was fine, then the next minute I missed you so much I thought I might keel over from it.”
Spike hadn’t said a word, just bowled her over and pressed his lips to hers.
That’d been a while ago. Late afternoon sun was leaking in around the edges of the curtains, the light a buttery yellow color even though it was winter. Under Spike’s back, the springs of the bed were creaking and the headboard was rapping in an obscene rhythm against the wall as Buffy rode him into rapture.
His hands outlined her curves, caressing skin slick with sweat. Her hair was a tangled mess from his fingers and her lips were swollen from his kisses.
She was gorgeous.
He gripped her thighs as she groaned through another orgasm, but—bless her—she didn’t stop swiveling her hips until he’d joined her in bliss. She collapsed forward and lay, panting, on top of him. He snagged the blanket and drew it over them to keep her warm. The hotel’s heating system wasn’t exactly up to snuff.
They were always so good at this, speaking with their bodies. It’d been nearly the first thing they’d done after the battle in L.A. They’d both ended up in the remains of a burnt-out office building, covered in blood and dirt. He’d been trying to figure out what to say while Buffy had been standing there, glaring at him with her hands on her hips.
“You were in Rome,” he’d started lamely.
“Decoy,” she’d spat.
She’d taken a step forward and for a moment he thought she might stake him, but then she was in his arms, sobbing and sloppily kissing him. Her hands had been on his face, his back, his shoulders, his chest, his ass. Then they’d unbuckled his belt.
“Buffy,” he’d whispered. “Are you sure?”
She’d looked into his eyes. “I love you.”
Nothing in the universe could have kept him from shagging her at that moment.
The icing on the cake had been waking up later to find her dressed in nothing but his duster and arguing with Angel. She’d been livid, her posture one of fury as she’d poked the git in the chest with a finger.
“Of course I’m angry,” she said. “You knew I was grieving and you kept him from me. And you know what? I’m done. Ding! The timer’s gone off and I’m chocolate chip, or gingersnap, or oatmeal with raisins. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. Except that you won’t be the one eating me.”
She’d been too brassed off to connect the dots on her double entendre, but he hadn’t missed it, and while Angel had slipped into the shadows, he hadn’t actually left until Spike had rolled Buffy onto her back, spread her thighs, and put his head between them to demonstrate to the berk exactly who was going to be eating her goodies.
Months of bliss had followed. They’d been so high on each other that the world outside each other’s bodies had hardly existed. Giles had sent them to guard the Cleveland hellmouth, which wasn’t quite up to Sunnydale scale, and they’d done little but fight and fuck until real life had gradually started to sift back in.
Buffy had stuck a wet towel under his nose one day and griped at him. He’d snapped at her when he’d broken a glass, again, because she insisted on leaving them balanced precariously on the thin strip of flat metal between the sink basins instead of in one of them. There were bills, grocery shopping, disagreements on what TV shows to watch, just endless amounts of everyday minutia.
Minutia he had no idea how to handle. He knew bugger all about having a human life, a fact Buffy reminded him of with some frequency, most often unintentionally by simply being very human herself.
The worse part was that neither of them were great at talking things out, so little things could bend and twist until they were great big things by the time they got brought up. Or he couldn’t read her and would end up reeling from something she said, only to figure out a week later she didn’t even remember the conversation and hadn’t meant whatever she said in the way he’d taken it.
Finally, Spike had realized she was going to be done with him sooner or later, even if she loved him. Since that thought had taken root in his mind several months ago, he’d been waiting for the other shoe to drop and for her to hand him his walking papers.
Though this trip—which had been a brilliant idea, if he did say so himself—and this time together had started to give him hope.
“What ya thinking about?” Buffy asked, kissing his chin.
He nearly brushed off her question by saying “you” or kissing her again. Only he stopped himself. That was the kind of thing he’d usually do. The kind of thing that led to his gut clenching every time Buffy frowned.
“Do you really want to know?” he said instead.
Buffy put a loosely clenched fist on his chest and propped her chin on it. “Yeah, I do. I know I’m the one who’s terrible at being all talky, but I’ve been trying to do better.”
He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I’ve noticed, thank you.” Buffy looked pleased and he took a breath. It felt a bit like he was making a confession in church. “I’m still scared.”
Her brow creased. “That I’m going to leave you?”
“Yeah. I’m bloody terrified of it. I don’t know what I’m doing. With Drusilla, I was her caretaker, yeah? And she wanted the big bad. Didn’t have to worry about getting the right brand of toothpaste or putting the forks in the right place in the drawer. Now…I’m doing my best, but I seem to muck up more than I get right. I’m sorry, luv. I’m trying to figure out how to be your partner, not your servant.”
Buffy leaned forward and kissed his chin again. “I’m sorry, too. I’m really not the best at this relationship stuff. I guess I figured I’d get a few grand gestures and be in the ground before all the day-to-day part of spending a life together started. Instead, I got what I always dreamed of: a normal life.”
He raised an eyebrow at her and she shrugged.
“An apartment, a boyfriend—that’s you, if you were worried—a job I work routine hours at that I get a paycheck for. That job might be slaying, but it’s a lot more routine in Cleveland than Sunnydale. No annual apocalypse. I own furniture from Ikea and drink wine out of a box. It’s normal…and I have zero idea what I’m doing. I really didn’t think I’d live long enough to settle down somewhere with someone.”
“Technically, I’m not a—”
“Don’t finish that thought. To me you’re not just someone, you’re the someone.”
He thought his chest was going to burst from the sheer amount of emotion he was trying to contain.
“My point is we’re both muddling along and figuring it out as we go. And we both need to get better at saying what we’re thinking so things don’t get all festery.” She tilted her head slightly. “It’s actually good to know that you’ve been all weird because you thought I’d dump you. You’ve been walking on eggshells lately and I thought you were mad at me and I didn’t know what I’d done.”
Spike winced and shook his head. “I’m a wanker, kitten.”
“It’s both our faults. So no blame-y. Either one of us could have said something.” She pouted. “And I can’t guarantee everything’s going to be magically amazing and awesome between us and I won’t do anything stupid just because we’re making with more talkage. Remember when I told you that it can take me a bunch of times to learn a lesson when it comes to emotional stuff?”
“Yeah, do recall.”
“Well, even though I know better, a lot of the time I don’t want to tell you something because I’m trying to protect you, mostly from my motherlode of emotional baggage. And sometimes I probably end up hurting you more with silence than if I shared whatever stupid thing was bugging me.”
He traced the curve of her lower lip with a finger. “That does sound like the voice of experience.”
“Yup, and…” she trailed off. “I almost did it again. Tried to be avoidy girl.” She looked at the window, where the winter light was quickly fading. “How about we get dressed and go back to that plaza place and I’ll tell you about trying to protect someone because I thought it was the best thing for her when it was really the best thing for me.”
The Plaza de España was brightly lit and they were hardly the only tourists milling around, even if the air was decidedly nippy.
Buffy was wearing one of the many jackets she’d brought on the trip, but when a gust of wind still had her shivering, he stopped and pulled her into a hug and used his duster to help keep away the chill. They were standing beside one of the canals, the black water reflecting the electric lights.
“I told you that you should bring a hat,” Spike said and Buffy huffed. “Lucky for you, I snuck one into my pocket when you weren’t looking.” He pulled out a black beanie and slid it over her head. “Better?”
She let out a sigh, but it was contented rather than grumpy. “Much.” Buffy snuggled into his embrace and he felt the same elation he always did when she was affectionate in public.
“Did you know this place isn’t even as old as me?” he asked her, petting her back.
“Really? I figured it’d been here forever.”
“Well, 1929 probably sounds like forever ago to you, but I’d been turned nearly fifty years by then.”
Buffy bit her lip. “Weird.”
“Time just slides away. I keep turning around and finding everything has changed.”
“Opposite of me, huh? I’m like one of those maybe flies.”
“Mayflies? Not if I have anything to say about it, pet.”
She nuzzled against his chest. “You might not have a say, but you make me feel safe and loved, both things I like.”
Spike tangled the fingers of one hand in the ends of her hair. “I try, Buffy.”
“You do. More than you know.” She glanced up at him. “Should I tell you my story?”
“Sure.” She settled her head against his chest again and he looked out at the dark water, his eyes skating over the still surface.
“We—the slayers—had to go to Japan to get the Scythe back. The vampires we were chasing killed one of the local slayers before we even got there and strung her up as a warning.”
Christ, Buffy would have torn herself in two over that.
“I cut her down,” she said flatly.
“You’re a good leader.”
Buffy was silent for a moment as the wind rattled the bare branches of one of the trees that lined the canal.
“I like it best when I don’t have to be,” she finally whispered. “Anyway, there was a big fight coming and the Japanese slayers weren’t all ready for it. Someone needed to stay with them and be ready to defend the compound if necessary.”
“You picked Satsu.”
“Yup, I told my best warrior to sit out the mega-important fight.”
Spike couldn’t have asked for better proof that Buffy had harbored some feelings for the chit. “You did love her, then?”
“Not like you’re thinking. She just…she was someone I was with and someone else I could lose. I couldn’t watch her die. I was still having nightmares then, nearly every night, of being in that dumb cave and watching you burn and my heart along with you.”
He couldn’t respond, it was a pain he knew too well. For months, he’d had a front row seat to her hitting the ground after jumping. He still occasionally woke up barking out her name as he tried to reach her body but couldn’t because of the sun. At least now she was there when he awoke, real and solid under his palms and very much alive.
“What did Satsu do?” he asked.
“That’s what I’d do. You couldn’t keep me from fighting at your side, especially not if there was a bloody big one. I’d go barmy.”
Buffy sighed. “And, much like you, she completely didn’t listen to me. Told me to my face I was being stupid and she was coming along. She took off before I could come up with a way to argue with her.”
“Yeah, I let her go, but that was the start of the end for us. I let her fume about me being overprotective instead of doing what I should have and going and talking to her. I could have told her about you and why I was terrified of her getting so much as a scratch. I think she thought I was just being unreasonable and didn’t trust her skills.”
“She thought you’d turned into Riley?”
Buffy giggled. “She would have looked good dressed up as a 50s housewife, but unfortunately, yeah, pretty much.”
“Bit different, though, innit? I’m going to assume you at least didn’t start smelling of cow.”
“What? Riley didn’t smell like cow.”
He sniffed, to remind her of his vastly superior nose.
“He didn’t, did he?”
“Nah, just like freshly minted jerk. It’s sort of similar to new car.”
Buffy laughed again. “I don’t know what to do with you.”
“You probably shouldn’t let me out in public.”
“That’s a given.” She stepped back and took his hand before turning to walk with him along the plaza’s canal. “Later that night, after my fight with Satsu, there was a knock at my door. I thought it’d be her, but it was Willow.”
“Red’s a good friend, you should ask her to come visit when we get back.” Willow and Buffy talked frequently on the phone, but it’d been a while since the witch had come to crash on their couch.
“Totally, maybe in the spring and we can hit up the Easter sales. But that night, when she came to see me, we hadn’t been talking much. Not for a while. Actually, we sort of hadn’t been close since high school, but especially when I got kind of weird over her dating Tara. Which, looking back, was really dumb of me, Willow was still Willow. Geez, being a friend isn’t easy… and now we're back to Buffy not being good with the normal.”
He squeezed her fingers. “From my end of things, you’ve always looked like a brilliant friend. Was one of the first things I learned about you: Buffy Summers has friends and family.”
“And now you’re both.”
He grinned. “Means the world to hear you say that.”
Her expression became shy. “Back to Willow, before I melt into a puddle of goo right here because of how much I love you.”
“We’d be matching goo puddles.”
“Hush. Where was I? Willow.” Buffy’s eyes were definitely soft, so he didn’t feel bad at being shushed.
“Willow,” he agreed.
“She marched into my room and said: “We need to talk.” Which of course freaked me out. I thought she was mad at me, but she just wanted to have a discussion about Satsu, mostly because she thought I was hurting her. Which I was.” Buffy’s shoulders slumped. “It was you, all over again, only without the confusing love feelings. I was running away from grief and I was using how she felt about me to make myself feel better.”
Buffy stopped walking and let him go in order to use both her hands to grip the top of the stone railing that separated the path from the canal.
“I almost wish Willow had been mad, but instead she was just understanding. She did ask me about how I ended up in a relationship with a girl and mostly I had the same nonanswer I told you. It just kind of happened.”
“What did Willow say to that?”
“Sort of what you did. That I didn’t need to put a label on anything. I asked her how she knew she was gay.”
“Tell me this dissolved into a pillow fight.”
Buffy made a face at him. “It’s a good thing I know you’re kidding.”
“Willow said she didn’t know that’s what she was at first. That it was really confusing because she’d been with Oz and had loved him deeply, but that she was very physically attracted to Tara. Like she couldn’t stop thinking about the curve of her neck or the point of her ankle. And Tara turned out to be the most wonderful person. And now Willow doesn’t think about guys or guy parts. They don’t make her tingly, she doesn’t dream about them.”
“What if Oz came back?”
“I actually asked her that, and she said she’d want to be his friend again, but not his girlfriend, because she’d feel wrong, like she was denying a part of herself.”
“She’s not kidding around about being a lesbian, is she?”
“Nope. And it made me feel way terrible. I told Willow I felt bad because Satsu’s all girl all the way, too, and I’m just not. I mean, when I was with her in bed I wasn’t like ‘Where’s the penis?’ or even felt as if I was missing something…but I do kind of like them.”
“I and my penis are very glad to hear that, pet.”
Buffy was still standing at the rail, so Spike took a smoke from his pocket and lit it.
She was blushing neon red. “I like your penis a lot. It’s a nice penis.”
He snorted. “I love it when you talk dirty.” Though if she kept mentioning his penis, it was going to want to come out and play.
“When I told Willow I was a thousand percent sure I wasn’t like her but that I understood her better now because I had enjoyed being with Satsu, and that I really shouldn’t have been weirded out back in our freshman year of college, Willow started crying. She stayed the whole night with me and gave me some advice on what to do with a girl in bed. But we also just talked and talked about all kinds of stuff, and I realized I’d forgiven her for bringing me back after Glory, but that she hadn’t forgiven herself, and we cried over that. And then we talked some more until we were both too exhausted to say another word. It was nice. I felt like I got my friend back.”
Spike let out a stream of smoke into the cold night air. He was genuinely happy for her. She needed her friends more than she liked to admit.
“I also knew, after talking to Willow, that Satsu and I were going to break up. Willow was right. It was all kinds of not good for either of us, but I…I liked that the not good part had nothing to do with her being a girl. Like how I feel good about that when you and I have a disagreement it’s just because we’re both stubborn and nothing to do with me being a Slayer and you a vampire.”
He blinked. “I hadn’t thought about it like that.” But Buffy was right. The stuff they snipped at each other about was, well, boringly normal stuff. That once insurmountable divide between them had been worn down to nothing. He put a hand on her shoulder and had her turn so he could see her face. “Buffy, it is neat we fight about how to squeeze the bloody tube of toothpaste or what kind of bulb to put in the hallway light, but I need to know it’s okay to have those fights. That you aren’t going to get sodding tired of me bringing home the wrong brand of bagels or whatnot and be done with me. I need to know it’s bloody alright to mess up.”
She put a hand on his cheek and he flicked away the butt of his cig. He probably shouldn’t litter, but now wasn’t the moment for searching out an ashtray. “Spike, I can tell you with absolute certainty that us bickering, arguing, or downright screaming at each other isn’t going to make me not want you around.”
“Luv.” He bowed his head to kiss her, but she held up her hand.
“I need the same promise from you. I can be downright bitchy sometimes.”
He frowned at her.
“It’s not like I don’t know that. I’m aware I can be cranky and difficult to be around, but I want to know you won’t give up on me when I am. And you can totally call me on it.” She looked wry. “Just…don’t give up on me.”
He finally managed to catch her lips with his and she gripped his upper arms tight as she kissed him back.
After a moment, she broke the kiss and pushed herself away from him, but only a teeny bit. “We should just get takeout for dinner and go back to the hotel.”
“My penis approves of this plan.”
Buffy rolled her eyes and pulled her camera out of her pocket. “But we have to get another tourist to take pictures of us here first. This place was in one of those movies Andrew likes and he’ll flip knowing we got to visit it.”
“Oh, well, if it’s for Andrew.”
He chuckled. “You hate when I do that.”