Title: Did You Ever Know
Era/season/setting: Season 4, post-Something Blue
“It’s a bed.”
“Yeah, Slayer, I can see that.”
“It’s a freaking bed.”
“Heard you the first time, pet.” Spike took a step forward, and heard a splash. They both looked down, and Spike lifted his foot in surprise. “And… a fair bit of water.” He looked at the bed, and then the water again. "This is either completely intentional and abstract, or someone just forgot shut off the water line."
Buffy looked at the bed, and then back up at him. “I think… I think that’s my bed. From my bedroom. Like, my real bedroom, not my dorm room.”
“Wonderful, you got a key under the mattress or something?”
There were torches in this room too, but they were dimmer, it seemed, than the room they had just left. Another closed door stood at the far end of the room, and as before, the door they’d just come through immediately disappeared, and was replaced with nothing but stone wall. The ceiling was very high up, so high that it was difficult even for Spike to see, and would be even harder for the Slayer. Spike stepped carefully through the thin covering of water over the ground, and marched towards the bed. He ripped the covers off, and began exploring it thoroughly. Buffy stood behind him, watching as he meticulously searched through all the pillows, and under the mattress. He finally sighed in defeat, flinging the covers into a damp corner. “Bloody brilliant. What kind of girl doesn’t keep a key under her mattress?”
“Well, I don’t think it’s my actual bed,” Buffy said. “It better not be, since you just got my comforter all gross. But my bed isn't made of stone, at least not that I'm aware of.”
Spike sat on the edge of it. “So, what are we supposed to do then? What’s the puzzle here?”
Buffy swallowed, staring at the bed. “I don’t know. I’m not good at… escape-type thingies. I just always sort of bust my way out.” She shifted uncomfortably. “You don’t think… we actually have to use that, do you?”
Spike would have been lying if he said he wasn’t delighted to see a flush creep along her cheeks. “Why, Slayer,” he murmured. “What kinds of things are you thinking we’d use a bed for?”
“I’m not doing it,” Buffy said shortly. “I’m telling you right now, Spike. I don’t care if having sex with you is the ticket out of here, because I’m not going to do it. I’d rather die.”
“No need to be hurtful, love.” Spike stood up. “Fortunately I’m in agreement with you.”
“Uh… you are?”
“Already dead, ain’t I?” Spike said, smiling pleasantly. “Anyway, I like your idea of smash and grab.” He looked around, then strode over to a spot in the wall and slammed his fist into it.
“Ow!” he snarled, stepping back and cradling his hand. “Bloody hell, what’s that made of? Diamond?”
“Stone,” Buffy deadpanned, and then she snickered. She walked up to the wall and pressed it a few times. She snorted, and shook her head. “That was totally dumb, Spike. We’re not breaking through this. It’s not ancient, crumbly stone, this is like… they make tanks out of this stuff.”
“They don’t make tanks out of bloody rocks,” Spike hissed, and lifted his hand to suck his bleeding fingers.
“Oh.” Buffy turned and saw him, then wrinkled up her nose in disgust.
Spike immediately took his hand out of his mouth and stared at her. “What? Don’t you tell me that I’m disgusting, love, because I’ve seen a century of injured humans and I know first-hand that you will also lick your fingers if they’re bleeding.”
“Yeah,” Buffy said. “I know. I’ve done it. It’s just gross when you do it, because I know that’s actually food for you.” She wrinkled her nose again, and although Spike was offended, he was momentarily distracted by how much like a little girl she made herself look by doing that. “It’s like cannibalizing yourself.”
He snorted. “You licking a paper cut is exactly the same. You just don’t think of blood as food.”
“Because it’s not, I would die if I actually drank any,” Buffy scoffed. She rolled her eyes, and then lifted her head up, before tilting it to the side. “Huh.”
Buffy pointed up, and Spike followed her gaze, to see the rusty end of a key slightly sticking out from the wall. Buffy put her hands on her hips, and tapped her foot impatiently, before apparently realizing that the water made a slap slap sound as she did so, and she stopped. “So,” she said flatly. “There’s the key.”
“And how are we supposed to get it?”
“I don’t know,” Spike said. He glanced around the room, searching for anything else, and when he could find nothing, he approached the wall, and tried climbing it. He scrabbled at the stones for a while, cursing the torn flesh on his left hand, and tried finding a place for his fingers to latch onto.
Buffy meanwhile, tapped around the wall, as if trying to find a secret entrance or foothold or something. Both of their endeavors seemed fruitless, but neither was willing to stop the other from trying.
Spike finally sank against the wall, and scowled in defeat. He ran his hand over his hair and asked, “Can’t you just… jump up there?”
“Not that high I can’t,” Buffy snapped. “Can’t you?”
“No,” he fired back. “Don’t have springs for legs, you know.”
“Well, neither do I!” she snapped.
She looked at the bed. “What if you stood on it, and…”
“Do you see how high that thing is?” Spike asked. “I don’t know how you even noticed it, but no, even if you stood on the bed and I jumped off your shoulders, I’d still fall short.” He glowered at her. “And I guess you would, too.”
Buffy kept staring at the bed. “Then what the hell is this doing here?”
“I don’t bloody know!” he snapped. He started sliding down against the wall, but when his boots made a sloshing sound he remembered the water, and looked down again.
And froze. “Slayer,” he said, keeping his voice calm.
Buffy’s hands were on her hips, and she was still staring up at the key. “What?”
Spike worked his mouth for a while before he could get the words out. “Is there… more water in here than there was before?”
He saw her freeze, saw her reluctance to look down. But she finally dropped her head, and dragged her shoe through the water. “Yeah,” she said, in a ragged whisper. “Yeah, I think… I think there is.”
“Where’s it coming from?” Spike asked. “Maybe we can stop it up, or… or maybe that’s a weak section in the wall."
Both dropped to their knees, heedless of their soaked clothing, and swept along the entire edge of the floor. At one point Buffy thought she’d found a crack, and began pounding it with both fists, but she had as much success tearing it apart as Spike had. And now she had the matching bloody knuckles to prove it.
Spike wanted to make a quip, to tease her about it being the stuff they made tanks with, but his throat felt stopped up. “It’s not from a leak,” he said slowly. “It’s… just… rising. Magically.”
Buffy swallowed, and didn’t answer. She stayed on her knees, and began feeling the ground, scratching at the floor, like she was looking for something. They hadn’t checked the floor yet, and Spike dropped next to her and joined her in feeling around the bottom… but he knew there wouldn’t be anything there, either. It was also a mighty discouraging feeling to touch the dirt floor, covered by a steadily increasing amount of water, and still feel that it was perfectly dry. Not even mud they could potentially dig under, then.
Buffy was meticulous in feeling all the way over the ground, just as she had been with the walls. Spike had expected no less. She wasn’t a quitter, that one. She would keep going even after failure was trying to drag her down, and, sometimes, quite often, actually… she would still win. If there was a way out of here, Buffy would manage to find it.
He could smell her tears before he heard them. She began sniffling, quietly, though she never let it get worse than that. She finally reached the other end of the wall, having covered the entire floor, and she stopping, sitting back on her legs, staring at the water which was close to covering her knees by now. Spike slid over to her, ignoring the small splashes he made as he did so. “What next?” he asked.
Buffy’s response was to turn back, and immediately start combing over the ground again. Spike reached out and grabbed her arm, pulling her back. “Hey,” he snapped. “You tried that already.”
“Then I’ll try again,” Buffy said shortly. “There’s a way to get to the key, Spike. There has to be a way. And soon the water’ll be so high that I can’t…" her face paled for an instance, and then she wrestled away, and began pawing the ground again. “So that I can’t feel around anymore.”
“Slayer,” Spike said. She didn’t answer, and continued crawling along, sloshing through the water. “Slayer.” She sniffed in response, and he sighed, and stood up, splashing his way over to her. He hauled her up, under her arms, and dumped her onto the bed. “Hey!” she protested.
Spike dropped down beside her on the bed. “Look,” he said. “The bed is probably the solution, yeah?”
“I’m not having sex with you,” Buffy sniffed.
“I know, I know. But, maybe…” Spike spread his fingers helplessly. “I don’t know, maybe… when the water gets high enough the mattress will float, or something. And we can just ride it to the top.”
Buffy leaned over, and looked at the rising water. She looked back up at the key. “Okay, do the math,” she said. “Something which I really suck at by the way, but I mean… look. The water is definitely rising, but it’s not going all that fast. I’m still human, and I’m… I mean, I might die before the water gets that high.”
“You won't die before it gets that high, love…”
“Well I can’t hang out on a mattress until it gets up there,” Buffy snapped. “And it’s right near the ceiling, so we’d only have a couple of minutes to pull that thing out, and it looks pretty wedged in there. And the torches will all have been put out by then, so how will we find the door again? And… and I don’t know if the mattress will even float.” She swallowed. “Even if it does, it won’t hold both of us,” she whispered. “You ever see Titanic?”
He snorted. “I was on the bloody Titanic, love.”
“You… wait, huh?”
“So, what?” Spike asked. “This is it? You’re giving up? You’re going to sit in this cave, on this bed, and let yourself drown?”
“Well I was looking around the floor for an escape, but someone stopped me.” Tears started trickling down her cheeks again, and she impatiently swiped them away. “So, yeah, I guess that’s the plan.”
“Pretty bollocks kind of plan.”
“Yes, thank you so much, sit here and insult me while I die!” Buffy snapped.
Spike was silent, and then he pushed himself up against the headboard. The pillows were still there, and he leaned against one as he put his arms behind his head. “Only meant that you’ve never let death stop you before, pet.”
“Yeah, well it’s not a demon I can just kill,” Buffy said. “And drowning so far has been the only thing to actually kill me.” She wiped her eyes again.
He watched her out of the corner of his eye. He’d never seen her so… weak before, so discouraged. It made sense, he supposed, given that she’d been patrolling, and then Spike had made her trek to the woods, and now they were engaged in this bloody trial. And she’d spent a good long time testing the walls, and the floor, and now she was crying and thinking she was going to die. The Slayer had been broken, and he’d inadvertently been the one to do it. Even with the inability to strike her.
He somehow was taking absolutely no comfort in that fact. He wished he’d never brought her here.
“This is your fault,” Buffy muttered. “You and your stupid shaman.”
Spike hesitated. “I know. I didn’t think… I didn’t think this was how it would go.”
She snorted, but it sounded too much like a sob to carry any malice. “So,” she said. “Why’d you say no to the sex thing? I thought you’d be all over that.”
Spike was silent for a moment, before he thought he could pack enough snark in his voice to say, “Please, you think after that spell Red put us under that I’d want anything more to do with you? I’ve had my fill of snogging the Slayer, thank you. Don’t really care to shag one, too.”
Buffy scoffed. “You wish. Angel never had any complaints.”
“Angel only had you once."
“I meant with the… the snogging.”
“Oh, yeah.” Spike moved his arms down to cross over his stomach. “Right. If he thought you were something, he should have lost his soul every time your lips touched. Obviously he wasn’t impressed.”
Buffy’s eyes flashed, and she pounded his chest. “Shut up!”
He kicked her, and yelped as his brain fired back at him. He grabbed his head with both hands, and fell back against the headboard.
He sat that way until the headache had passed, but Buffy remained silent for a long time. When she spoke again, her voice was incredibly small. “I don’t want to drown.”
“I know.” Spike sighed, he couldn’t help it… the chit sounded so scared. “I'm not too thrilled about drowning myself.”
She sniffed, and let out a weak scoff. “Yeah, except that you won’t, cause you don’t need to breathe.”
“Maybe not, but a vampire’s lungs will still fill with water. Our skin still suffers water damage. We’ll still pass out… then revive… then pass out again. Least you’ll lose consciousness and die that way, Slayer, but me? I’m stuck here.” He thumped the headboard, and snorted. “And your sodding stone bed means I can't break it and end my own suffering.”
He looked up at Buffy when she didn’t say anything. Her tears had stopped, and were just shining on her face in the dim torchlight now. She reached into her jacket pocket, and pulled out a stake. Not a very big one… probably had made it to be “travel-sized” or what-all, but, it would get the job done.
She held it out to him, and he solemnly took it. And then she slid up next to him, and put her head down on his chest. His arms went around her without thinking about it, and he watched the water steadily rising.
She was silent, and only turned to peer over her shoulder once, whimpering when she saw it had climbed halfway up the height of the bed. Spike immediately turned her head back, cradling it to his chest to cover her eyes. “Shh,” he murmured. “Don’t look, Buffy. Just don’t look.”
She’d stopped crying, and she lay perfectly still in his arms, not saying anything. He could still smell tears beneath the surface, however, and he could smell her fear. Could feel her heart pounding, her blood rushing. He could practically hear the Slayer inside her, shouting at her to get up, to fight, to not let herself die.
But she apparently wasn’t going to listen. Spike didn’t know how long they lay like that, but Buffy finally wiggled once, and murmured, “Don’t… don’t stake yourself until I’m gone, okay?”
Oh, dear heart. Like he would ever abandon her to this fate… one she’d suffered once already… alone. “I won’t,” he whispered. “I’m right here, love. Not going anywhere.”
She gave a hum, and fell silent again. And slowly, almost imperceptibly, at least at first, he could hear her breaths slow, and fall heavy and even. She didn’t completely fall asleep, or at least not very deeply, but her eyes fluttered shut and he watched her as she slipped into a doze.
He sighed, and buried his face in her hair. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. “Didn’t want you to go out this way, Slayer.”
She didn’t answer, and he stroked her arm absently, staring down at her sleeping form, hoping it would distract him. It wouldn’t be easy, for him. It would take a while for the water to cover them completely, and even after that…
He glanced back out to figure out how long exactly it would take. The water was at the very edge of the bed now, so that meant…
Wait. He stopped, and leaned forward, mindful of the girl in his arms as he did so. He stared closely at the water, and stayed that way for several seconds.
It had stopped rising. It had definitely stopped rising.
Spike let out a slow breath, but he didn’t know what to do now. The door still hadn’t opened, so that meant they still hadn't figured out what they were supposed to do.
But then all of a sudden, the water just started draining away. As silently and peaceably as it had risen. He swallowed. “Buffy,” he whispered, and slightly shook her. “Slayer, look.”
She let out a groan, and dimly cracked her eyes open. “What?” she whined softly, but then saw the water, and sat up straight. “What… what happened?”
“I don’t know,” Spike said. “I don’t know, it just… it stopped.”
They watched as the water completely disappeared, and the door swung open. Buffy bounded off the bed, and ran towards it. She stared at it in bewilderment, and turned back to Spike. “Seriously,” she said. “What… what did we do?”
“I don’t know,” he repeated. “Honestly, we were just laying there, and all I did was watch it.”
Buffy took a shaky breath. “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “We’re getting the hell out of here.”
She darted through the doorway, and Spike looked back at the room incredulously. He took one more glance up at the key, still maddeningly out of reach, and shook his head, as he followed his Slayer.