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Is anyone else having issues with LJ telling you your posts are too large, even when you know you've posted larger things before?  It seems every fic update I end up with a "Post too large" error message lately.  Has something changed?  Anyway, I got this to post and I apologize for the small font and the stupid spacing.  I'm afraid to try and fix it before I got to sleep. I fixed the small font problem (at least, it looks that way on my computer).  Stop being silly, LJ.  Please.

Title:
Catch a Falling Star
Chapter:
7/7
Previous Chapter:
Six
Word Count:
2171
Setting:
The summer between seasons 3 and 4 of BtVS
Summary:
A heartbroken Buffy finds a bit of compassion in an unexpected place.
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em.  This fiction is not for profit and no copyright infringement is intended.
Rating:
PG-13
Notes:
This story is now complete.  Written for the Art-to-Fic challenge at spuffy_wonder.  No beta, so all errors are mine.
Banner:
amyxaphania 

 

 

Catch a Falling Star

Chapter Seven

*~*

A new lightness settled into Buffy’s chest as she stepped out of the little car, a feeling of relief, or maybe even hope.  Her world as she had known it had ended, not for the first time and likely not the last.  At the top of the wheel, she couldn’t help but see that the world was still out there, thriving as it always had and maybe she could too, even if that meant things would look a little different.   The Ferris wheel ride really had been a good thing for her wounded soul, and aside from the obvious she’d have said the same for Spike.  Whatever inner part of him needed healing — if not a soul, then maybe his heart — seemed a little less broken.  Though he was hardly the smirking, arrogant Spike she once knew him to be, there was a new strength to his stride, a new set to his shoulders as they walked along the promenade, and if she were happy to see it, well, it wouldn’t be the weirdest emotion of the night.

Buffy wasn’t surprised when the bench they slipped onto was the same one she had picked to rest on at the beginning of the evening.  The crowd had thinned out, with fewer children running amongst the more sedate groups of strolling adults and only a scattered handful of teenagers occasionally bursting into the foreground with their youthful exuberance.  Buffy watched the people and tried to pretend that Spike wasn’t watching her instead.  She could feel his eyes on her with an awareness that tickled the back of her neck and spread tingling fingers over her scalp.  Some part of her itched to face him, to study him as he studied her and figure out the meaning behind the spark in his eyes and the pensive expression on his face.

Somehow, Buffy didn’t think she was ready for the answer to that particular question.

After what seemed a very long time, Spike shifted his body to face the crowd and Buffy heard the sound of his lighter.  “Bar fight,” he said, after taking a drag off his cigarette.

Buffy drew her eyebrows inward as she turned to look at him, finally daring now that he was no longer looking at her.  “What?”

Spike tapped his nose with his finger.  “Bar fight.  Where I got these.”

The bruises.  She had almost forgotten about those, in the pleasant post-wheel haze.  “But I thought you—because of...?”

“Her?” Spike’s lips twisted into half a smile.  “Believe me, love, a fellow doesn’t get pissed blind on bourbon and provoke a bar full of Fyarl demons without a hell of a good reason.”

“Or a bad one,” Buffy said, wondering, when he clenched his jaw, facial muscles twitching, if she had said the wrong thing.

Spike sighed, relaxing his jaw and nodding tightly.  “Not worth it, right?”

"Right."  Buffy twirled the ring on her finger, the claddagh ring Angel gave her on her birthday a lifetime ago.

She pulled it off and looked at it lying in her palm, wondering how something she had once seen as beautiful could now seem so meaningless.  There hadn't been an ounce of loyalty or friendship in Angel's eyes tonight, and as for the part about the heart, well, her own had already shown her the answer to that.  She slipped the ring into her jacket pocket, certain enough not to want to wear it, but not quite ready to throw it away, either.

"He didn't even say goodbye."

She hadn't meant to tell him that.  She hadn't even told her friends about Angel's fade-to-black escape after the battle and honestly didn't even want to think about it herself.  It was an ending she'd have swooned over at the movies once upon a time, but it wasn't nearly so peachy in real life.

"She did," Spike said.  "With a bloody torch and pitchfork."

A giggle rose up in her chest and she was unable to suppress it as an image flashed through her mind, something resembling that scene from Beauty and the Beast where the villagers storm the castle, though she found she couldn't decide on who was the beauty and who was the beast.  Buffy tried to cover her mouth with her hand, but her laughter slipped out anyway and Spike scowled at her as he tossed his half-smoked cigarette away.

"That's right, Slayer, laugh it up," he said, sounding more weary than irritated as he slipped his coat off one shoulder and lifted the edge of his shirt.  "Next time you take a trident to the gut you can tell me how funny it is."

Buffy’s eyes widened at the sight of the three partially healed circular wounds dotting a line across Spike’s abdomen.  He let the shirt fall and shoved his arm back into his coat before she could look too closely, but she saw enough to know it had to have been extremely painful—in more ways than one. 

The last of her laughter died away and she looked up to meet his eyes.  “Oh, God...”

“Thing belonged to her friend,” Spike said, his jaw growing tenser as he spoke.  “Ran me through with it when I wouldn’t—” 

He stopped and tore his gaze from hers, swivelling to face forward.    

Buffy shuddered and knew the cool breeze had nothing to do with it.  “That’s...not so funny.”

Spike snorted quietly. “If she hadn’t dropped the torch and set the motel on fire, it might’ve been downright tragic.”

“If she—” Buffy cleared her throat and tried to keep her expression neutral.  “Drusilla—”

“As undead and insane as ever.”  Spike glanced at her out of the corner of his eye.  “But watching that place burn took away the sting for bit.”

Buffy wanted to ask if Spike and Drusilla had lived at the motel, or she had just met with her demons there, but held her tongue.  It honestly didn’t matter and it wasn’t worth satisfying her curiosity at the expense of Spike’s mood, which was teetering on the verge of plummeting back down. 

And no wonder, Buffy thought, mentally filling in the heartbreaking blanks of Spike’s final encounter with Drusilla and suppressing another shudder.  Maybe it made her a hypocrite, but the memory of those angry red wounds standing out in stark contrast to the pale skin around them burned hot and angry in her chest.  An intentional attack, for the sole purpose of causing suffering—nobody deserved that, not even Spike. 

For the second time that night, and the second time ever, Buffy told Spike she was sorry.  He didn’t turn but she saw him smile, and not the sort of smirk she was used to seeing on his face, but a hint of an honest grin. 

 “Me too,” he said, in a quiet voice she barely recognized.  “But that’s over now, isn’t it?  Moving forward, and all that.”

Forward, whatever it meant, seemed easier now than it had just a few hours ago.  “Going backward really isn’t an option.”

“Wouldn’t want that, anyway, now that it’s all said and done,” Spike said.

“No, I guess not.” 

The thought of it didn’t cause the knife to dig in deeper.  In fact, as Spike tapped her foot with his, she realized that somewhere along the way, the sharp little blade had vanished, leaving an aching but healing wound behind.

“Sunnydale’s still going to be there, whether he is or not,” she said, more to herself than anything.  She had a purpose, after all.  A calling that was more a part of her than Angel ever was.  “What about you?”

Buffy wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answer, and the way Spike’s smile morphed into a smirk told her he was thinking along similar lines.

“It’s not all death and bloodshed, Buffy,” he said, patting her leg with his palm.  “Even for the likes of me.”

Enough death and bloodshed to matter, but she didn’t want to think about the sorts of horrors this vampire had caused.  Not tonight, not when he’d shown her there were more sides to him than she’d ever thought possible.  Not now that she could see glimpses of the man he could have been, hiding beneath the demon.

Spike’s hand settled on her leg and Buffy’s gaze dropped to take this in.  Their knees were nearly touching and she didn’t remember either of them moving closer.  The whole thing caught her by surprise—a fluttery, adrenaline-infused surprise that sent a shiver rippling up her spine and crumpled her lungs like tinfoil.  Each breath took twice the work and she struggled to keep them even as she looked up to find him watching her out of the corner of his eye, smile having widened ever so slightly. 

“Said a lot of things, Dru did,” Spike said, tapping his finger on her kneecap in time to her suddenly racing heart, refusing to let her forget the contact.  “Ranted and raved about all sorts of rubbish gleaned from her precious stars.”

He seemed to be waiting for a response, but all Buffy could manage was a breathy, “Hmm?”

“Most of it was a load of bull,” he said.  “Insanities spewed from a mind too splintered to ever mend.  But some of it’s starting to make sense.”

The pounding drumbeat of her heart was the only sound she could hear as Spike turned to face her, that same heady gleam shining out from eyes grown impossibly more intense.  As much as she wanted to look away, as much as the tickle on her neck flared up a warning for her to get the hell off that bench and as far away from Spike as possible, she couldn’t move, held captive by his eyes and that narrowing of the universe that seemed to happen whenever they locked gazes.  She fought not to acknowledge what he seemed to be saying, struggled to pull her mind away from that dangerous heading and think about anything else.  Sad puppies or screaming babies or a soulless Angel slowly torturing her by hurting her friends. 

Spike’s hand left her thigh and he slid away, and the spell broke.  Air rushed into her lungs and she stared at him, at the side of his face as he watched the people walking by.  If not for the lingering buzz at the back of her neck, she would have thought she had imagined the whole thing. 

“Whah...huh?”

He smiled, though he didn’t look.  “Forget about it,” he said, rising from the bench.  “Probably nothing anyway.”

Probably nothing, except that it hadn’t felt that way.

She stood and followed him as he started walking, leading them away from the pier and the Ferris wheel and the place she could never visit again without thinking of Spike.  They didn’t speak as they walked side-by-side, coats swishing together every few steps.  After a couple of blocks, Buffy guessed their destination and already had her return ticket in her hand when they reached the bus station.

The last bus to Sunnydale was waiting, ready to depart in a few minutes’ time.  Buffy stepped onto the first stair, knowing without having to look that Spike had followed her to the door.  She turned and found him leaning against the bus, a ghost of a smile lifting his lips.

He brushed his thumb across her cheek.  “Take care, Buffy.”

“You too, Spike,” she whispered, and meant it.

Spike took a step backward and nodded, shoving his hands into his coat pockets.  “Never know,” he said, as the other passengers started gathering around.  “Might make it to Sunnydale one of these days.”

Buffy smiled and tried to tell herself she wasn’t just a little bit looking forward to that.  “I’ll have a stake waiting with your name on it.”

“Wouldn’t have it any other way.” He nodded, his signature smirk spreading across his face.  “Goodbye, Buffy.”

He didn’t wait for her response before turning and heading away.  By the time Buffy found her seat, Spike had vanished, disappeared into the night as vampires should.

At least this one knows how to say goodbye, she thought, as the bus pulled away from the station.

Buffy leaned her head against the window, the motion of the bus and the emotions of the evening catching up to her in a sudden wave of full-body exhaustion.  She closed her eyes and remembered the way the city looked from the top of the wheel, imagined the breeze against her face, and marvelled at the mysterious workings of a universe that would send her to Los Angeles chasing after one vampire, only to mend her broken heart with another.

Already the night was starting to feel more like a dream than reality, so much that Buffy resigned herself to having to come up with some boring tale to tell the gang when she returned home.  They wouldn’t believe the truth anyway, so she might as well keep the memories to herself.

As she settled in for the journey ahead, Buffy thought that it wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

*~*

The End

Comments

( 11 have spoken — take the speaking stick )
slaymesoftly
Sep. 5th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
It seems to be spread across the entire screen. I'll have to catch it at the BSV, this is too difficult to follow.
abelina
Sep. 5th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
I think it's fixed and readable now, but I see you've reviewed over at BSV. Thanks for trying to read it here!
slaymesoftly
Sep. 5th, 2010 11:34 pm (UTC)
I tend to read fics I'm following wherever I happen to see them first. *g* But it's always good to know what my options are.
donnamour1969
Sep. 5th, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
Very bittersweet. Thanks for the lovely tale. Hope you write another soon!
abelina
Sep. 5th, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed this story. As well as Could Be You, I have a couple of other stories I want to start working on now that this one is finished. Thanks again :)
louise39
Sep. 23rd, 2010 10:38 pm (UTC)
...she couldn't decide on who was the beauty and who was the beast

Ah, but there was something in the air that night.


I'd like to friend you. OK?
abelina
Sep. 23rd, 2010 11:28 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! Friend away and I'll friend you right back. Thanks for reading and commenting, too.
louise39
Sep. 23rd, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC)
On a previous post, it wouldn't take the comment so here goes:

Sorry I'm late. If you can use it - good scotch would be Languvulin or Macallan [18 year old].
abelina
Sep. 23rd, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
LJ's being funny today. I haven't received any of my email alerts, either. Thanks for the names :D
uncouthkitten
Oct. 11th, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)
Just got around to reading CaFS really liked that poignant, wistful quality that threaded throughout, even though at the begining it was bordering on abject melancoly and by the end curiousity and contemplation seemed to be the prevailing emotions. Thank you, I really enjoyed it.
abelina
Dec. 19th, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC)
I just found this review today! Around this time LJ was being silly and not sending out alerts, so I'm sorry I missed it.

Thank you for reading! I really like your observations about the feel of the writing and how it changed throughout, which was something I had hoped to convey. I'm very glad you enjoyed it, and again, so sorry for the delay in responding to you!
( 11 have spoken — take the speaking stick )

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