"I was in Heaven," she tells him.
She asked him once, how long he'd been in Hell. She asked when he was still weak, when he still had the marks from the chains around his wrists, when he still had to remember that she was the only other in the room with him and there was no reason to flinch at a touch. She asked, though not directly.
"Giles said," she began.
He looked up when she stopped, not wanting to hear, but prompting her anyway. "He said what?"
"He said that time travels differently. That you were there for hundreds of years."
"I was," he lied softly. "A hundred years." And so many more beyond that.
Even now it's a lie he sticks to, a lie he tells, even when she's not there.
He finds her there, where they'd arranged to meet, waiting for him. To think that just days ago he was mourning her death, telling himself that to keep fighting was the best way to honor her memory, that it's not an affront to it.
He stops his car. Gets out. Starts forward. She smiles at him, but it's dim compared to what he remembers it once being. He knows what just one life can cost, but it's her and she's no longer dead and he can't bring himself to care about a price. He just hopes - prays, except that he doesn't pray, not since he was turned, not since that one time a hundred and three years ago - that it wasn't she who paid it.
Still the artist, he sees her outlined with charcoal, shadowed and blurry. He drew her portrait once before with charcoal, but the face he'd sketch now would be shaded differently. Less round and full of youth. Still beautiful, but not so purposely coifed. Eyes would still be drawn closed.
She steps forward. Greets him. Part of her demeanor speaks of grief. It eases as she nears him, but it's still there like a layer of priming on a canvas. Moonlight glints off her gaze. Her eyes used to be lit from the inside.
He reaches for her, hand touching her arm. Says her name.
Sometimes when he does his voice reminds him of being in church with his family, how the people would sound kneeling beside him, murmuring their prayers and then years later when he would kill the priests and listen to confessions in their stead. He hears their voices now echoed in his. Please God.
He doesn't kiss her, though he thrums with the desire to. He does hold her, pulling her to him, putting his arms around her. That he can't resist. He barely tries to.
They - they, if there ever actually was a they - took his clothes first while he was still on the ground. Still trying to remember. Still not understanding why she had just killed him. Crumpled and confused. His chest hurt - not only the hole made by the sword - and his eyes burned.
They took his Claddagh ring last.
It's hours before they fall into this. But they do. As they always do. From their first kiss, I'm older than you and this can't ever... to their meeting half a year ago.
Does forever work for you? she'd said and he hadn't been able to turn away. Now is no different.
He doesn't pull from her when she kisses him or push her back when she shifts closer or even when she moves into his lap. She kisses him like she did when she was seventeen. After hope, innocence and ignorance and lost virginities but before acceptance, forgiveness and reconciliation. Before Christmas and snow. It's grief and regret and the knowledge that they shouldn't. But it's also warmth and a goodness and the promise of something better. It's her.
It fills him. He still loves it. Loves her.
Her hands trace his back without hesitation and her hips shift against his with experience that was not gained with him. He nuzzles her neck and groans as she slides against him. Just so. Just right. Though not perfect. He can't let anything be perfect for him. Her rhythm changes and sharpens. He can smell her, feel her heat and their clothes seem so very thin.
Her legs fit around him, clench around him, hard enough to hurt. Hard enough for his mind to go from hazy to almost gone. Hard enough for him to slip from the edge he balanced on.
He grasps her hips and yanks her back, away from him.
"I can't." Funny how though he doesn't need to breathe he still gasps for breath, his words halting.
"Just a little bit more. I need this. Plea - "
"Don't." He cuts her off. His voice is shaking. His hands are shaking. His everything is. "Please don't ask me." If you ask me we both know I'm not going to say no.
"Hot pokers? That's it?" Spike complained. "Aren't you going to step it up? I want my sodding ring. You know, he went to Hell for a bit."
Marcus looked up, interested. "Did he?" Marcus turned to him, addressing him for the first time since the LP started playing the Andante. "What was it like?"
Fewer annoying questions, he almost quipped back, but his collapsed lung made talking difficult. Instead he just looked at the other two, pulled at the chains until they cut into his wrists and didn't close his eyes.
Yes, compared to Hell this was... not as much. Though he remembers Marcus's words. Creatures with souls have something to lose. In Hell he'd had nothing to lose even with a soul. He wondered if having something now would help or hinder.
He can smell her arousal leaking from between her thighs and he knows she can see how hard he still is. Yet they sit apart and talk of endings and goodbyes and the dangers of perfect happiness. Even if it's not about white picket fences and sunshine and normalcy anymore, it's still about the curse and his immortality. Because with her it wouldn't be about something for just the next few years, it would be about the rest of their lives, or hers anyways. He doesn't think he could watch her grow old and feeble knowing there was something he could do to change that. Though only if he damned her.
He knows it's unlikely that would ever be an issue. Even if she's still likely to die before she hits twenty-five, even though she's already died twice before, he can't go into this assuming that that will happen. He can't have a life with her planning that she'll die before she's as old as he looks.
He still wants though. He wants to see her in the light, wants to make love to her. Wants to give her things he can't have himself. Children, sunlight and happiness.
He hates these conversations. He hated saying it the first time and he hates saying it now.
She shifts closer. Stops him.
"Can't we just forget that for once?" she says. "Can't we just pretend?"
Her fingertips tease up his thigh. He catches her hand. Says her name. Shaking and weak. Always weak.
"Just for a little bit," she whispers. Breath hot in his ear. He surrenders.
When she touches him his eyes flicker shut and breath he doesn't need hitches in his throat.
He can't help but think of the Sistine Chapel. Restored and once again made bright and beautiful, but only at the cost of layers that made it what it was.
His sister invited him in with innocence, misconceptions and smiles.
"I told Father that you weren't a sinner." Cathy's voice was breathless with joy. He itched with impatience to make it breathless with fear. And with pain. "I told him that God forgives. That you wouldn't be... you wouldn't go..." Cathy's words halted, unwilling to say things so final.
It excited him to see his sister like that. So naive and so sure that he was exactly what he was not. Cathy didn't even flinch at the cold of his hand.
"No, my dear," he said. "I wasn't damned at all."
"I was in Heaven," she tells him. She looks up at him as if this is a confession. Which does she expect? Forgiveness or penance?
Coming back from Hell hurt. Almost as much as going there. Not as much as losing his soul had. Or getting it back. Birth pains, always.
But his skin burned. That was all he was. Pain and confusion. So blank there wasn't even a slate to write on.
He'd always learned that Hell was supposed to have fire. Maybe that was why it burned.
Only he didn't. The moment passed. The floor was cold beneath him. He shook.
He didn't even know there were things he was supposed to remember.
He goes down on her that night. He wants to make his way from neck to hips, but really the more clothes they're both wearing the better. He brushes her shirt up inches with a hand, kisses her stomach, helps her undo her pants, slide her underwear off.
He wants to take his time, go slowly and carefully even when everything in him is screaming to go faster, press harder, take it, take her, now. But it has to be perfect because this is his only chance. Because he never thought he'd ever be able to do this at all. Because the one time he actually could and did was on a day that never happened.
He'd sketched her that day, not carefully, but with love as he caught his breath, resting. Between.
Nude art, she'd said, grinning. Shifted, breasts peeking out from under the sheets. He'd leaned down to kiss her and the drawing was forgotten and never finished.
He'd tried to recreate it the next day, but he couldn't do it right without her there. It had lacked an essence that she'd brought to it.
He'd kept all his tries nonetheless. Hidden them where no one would find them. Never looked at them again. But he'd kept them. It had been nice, knowing they were there.
He'd lost them all the same day he lost his offices along with almost everything else. He'd gone back later, looked and all he'd found were scraps. Charred flecks of paper. One picture of her face burned and hideously half gone. Only her eyes left, looking at him. He didn't take it with him.
She bucks and shifts against him and he knows he's getting it right. He tastes her finally, tongue stealing between folds he'd rather press open with other parts of himself and she's just how he knew she would be. Just how he remembers her being.
She grips his hair hard enough to hurt, parts herself wider for him and says his name as if that's what he really is.
Sometimes he feels like he's always on his knees.
First it was with Darla, show me your world and fangs. Second it was her, I feel like I haven't seen you in months and a sword. The result was the same.
The third time it was different. Still with her, still on his knees and still in chains, but that time it felt like salvation. Not happiness, nothing that could endanger his soul, but it was the thought, the hope that someday, maybe, he could be saved.
They're not Romeo and Juliet or Siegfried and Odette or Tristan and Isolde. Together in death if not if life. All they had were those two and a half years. All they have is right now. All they will have is nothing. When they die they're not going to the same place.
He draws her. Always. Again and again. Right now it's only with a bic pen on lined paper he found in the glove compartment. He prefers working with pencils, but the pen is just fine as he outlines the bend of her cheekbone, the round of her lips, the lines of her lashes. Eyes closed.
"It's beautiful," she says when he finishes and shows it to her. "Is this how you see me?"
He puts the paper in her fingers, closing them around it. It's a small gift, but he has nothing else. He presses his lips to her forehead, they both still, hands touching, warmth against his cold. It's a gesture he rarely makes.
They kiss in parting, though never really in goodbye. He wants better than this for her, but does not know how to deliver such a thing himself. He can love her with all that he is, but that's still not enough.
"When did you go to Hell?" Darla asked as they drove from Caritas to the address that the Host had given him.
Take the plunge, the Host had said. The hell and the high water.
"A couple years ago."
He looked at Darla briefly in surprise. "No one told you?"
"I tried to get the world sucked into Hell. Ended up there myself instead."
"About time somebody did." Suck the world in, that was.
"Why do you hate the world so much, Darla?"
"I'm only responding in kind." Darla's voice was scornfully harsh, but it shook. Barely, but it did. "This world hates us. It hated us before we ever became vampires."
They were both quiet for a moment until Darla spoke again. "I didn't go to Hell." A pause. "That's what I deserve. Why didn't I?"
"Maybe vampires don't go anywhere. They have no souls."
Darla said his name then. Softly and in such a way, with something so close to reverence that something soulless could not have said it like that. Please God. Darla didn't voice what could have been asked next. They both knew the question and the answer.
"I was in Heaven," she tells him.
"Of course," he says. "Where else would you go?"
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Summary: "I was in Heaven," she tells him. Missing scene during early season six BtVS and season three AtS.
Author's Note: Spoilers up to "Life Serial" BtVS and "Fredless" AtS. The main section of the story is the Buffy/Angel meeting that we never see after she's brought back. The other scenes are from the following episodes: "Beauty and the Beasts", "Becoming Part II", "In the Dark", "The Prodigal", "Hope, Faith and Trick" and "The Trial". Much thanks to dahar and cootiedoon for being my betas.