It almost didn’t feel real.
The fight had definitely been real. She hurt too much for it not to have been. But the man in the bed with her? Had she really found him in the middle of the battle? Alive again somehow after what had happened in the Hellmouth?
The need to sleep tugged at her, but she ignored it, reaching out to touch him. Smooth, cool skin over rock-hard muscles. Bruises and cuts breaking up the pale perfection, including the two black eyes. He was really there. He was….
“Buffy!” Willow’s voice broke into her thoughts.
She was…. Where was she? Some kind of airport waiting area? Oh, god. There was a horrible sinking sensation, like her heart was plummeting down into her guts. They hadn’t even left for L.A. yet.
“I found it!” Willow again, her voice bubbling with excitement as she hurried over.
She’d found it? Of course. That… thing they’d been looking for. What was…? Buffy couldn’t quite remember, but the other woman’s excitement was infectious. Then Willow held out what she’d found, and the world seemed to stop for a moment.
Buffy took the can and manual opener, hands shaking as she opened it. This was it. This is what she’d been searching for.
Then the can was open. And what looked like Angel and Riley mashed together rose up out of it.
Willow clapped her hands in glee. “I knew I picked the perfect one for you!”
No! No, it was wrong. So wrong. She—
Buffy jerked awake in a strange bedroom. Where? Hotel room. L.A. A man in bed beside her, her hand clutching his arm. It hadn’t been a dream. He was real. He was here. With her.
Her eyes felt scratchy and sore. She couldn’t keep them open. So tired….
No. Have to stay awake. Have to….
She was deep in the middle of the battle, fighting her way through the demonic hordes. She had to get to him. Once they were together, she knew they’d be able to get through it all. Where…? There!
He looked over at the sound of her voice. Looked over, and in that moment of distraction….
Something grabbed his head. Twisted. Ripped it away. And then there was only dust….
She jerked awake again with a panicked cry, clutching at the man beside her. He was there. He was real. Wasn’t he?
“Buffy?” Spike mumbled, shifting closer. “S’alright, love. ‘M here. You need to sleep.”
Sleep? God, she couldn’t….
He shifted closer under the blankets, sliding an arm around her. She could feel the rough material of bandages against her skin. Knew he could feel her own bandages against his. Then his leg went up over her hip.
Sleep had ambushed her twice before. What if she welcomed it? He was there. He was real.
Buffy snuggled against Spike’s chest and let herself sleep.
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