Summary: Post-Showtime. A time for healing.
Author Notes: Thanks to PlanetJess, Hesadevil and BuffyX for the betaing.
She'd found him trussed and hanging from the cave wall. Scabby holes
through his wrists, arms stained with rusted red, skin raw beneath the
leather bindings. Standing, watching, Buffy had been so hit by such an
intense sense of unreality, of relief, that for a spare moment she had
been unable to move. Instead, she had stared with fascinated horror at the
carvings of intricate and agonizing beauty that were etched into his chest
and stomach, and then at marks of a less artistic nature that marred his
delicate face. Black and bloodied eye, cracked lips, chipped bones, broken
jaw. Another litany of pain and damage, heightened still more when his
swollen tongue had formed fearful, defensive words of bluster and denial.
In that uncertain moment, frozen and waiting for the inevitable flood of
motion and emotion, Buffy had recalled a childhood memory. She had seen
herself standing in a darkened church, gazing up at the image of a
tortured man, watching flickering candlelight dance across a calm yet
tormented face. Her small hand had been clasped tightly in her nanna's
withered fingers as she listened intently to a tale of sin and suffering
and redemption, about a saviour who had been crucified in order that she
But the allusion had been fleeting. Spike wasn't suffering for someone
else's sins; not when he had so many of his own to grapple with. And while
crucifixion may have been a punishment of criminals, as well as sons of
God, Buffy knew this torture had not been about justice, that it couldn't
even the score. It was a sick, twisted parody, designed by a creature that
Buffy had immediately determined, with doubtless certainty, was going
Her procrastination had lasted but moments, before she'd remembered the
knife in her hand, the purpose in her being there. She'd cut him down,
helped him walk out of the eerie basement, through the silent school
halls, into the cool night air. She'd been acutely aware of her arm around
him, of the proximity of their bodies, of her skin against his. He'd been
so cold, much colder than the crisp night air, his body empty of the blood
that gave a him a kind of life.
The journey had been painful and utterly silent except for the occasional
gasp of pain and the jarring, vaguely sickening sound of crunching ribs.
Shell-shocked and battered herself, Buffy had been unable to find even
words of comfort, afraid that once she started, she wouldn't be able to
stop, that the walls that protected her heart would come tumbling down
beneath the whirlwind of released emotion.
So much to say, but nothing to be said.
Yet, as she'd looked into the face of her rescued vampire while she
helped him climb painfully into the passenger's seat of her mother's Jeep,
Buffy had seen such relief and adoration and love reflected in his silent
countenance that her own dampened with tears.
The walls around her heart had shuddered, but still held.
The rescue had been Buffy's crusade alone. She had driven to the school
herself, unable to ask her friends to join her, unsure of how they would
even respond. But, when she met his gaze beneath the pale streetlights,
felt the intensity of his emotions, Buffy had been glad she was alone.
What transpired in that carpark had been a special moment for the two of
them, a private confirmation of their tentative and painful friendship.
"I knew you'd come for me," he'd said then, his voice cracking but
"And I knew you'd wait," she'd replied evenly.
She had smiled slightly at him, reaching up to tentatively brush his
cheek. He'd leaned into her touch, eyes closing, drawing comfort from a
gentle, tangible connection. Perhaps the first he'd ever known with a
soul. Finally she'd broken the contact, closed the passenger-side door and
climbed into her side of the vehicle.
"Come on Spike," she'd said, throwing the car into drive, "We're going
Half an hour ago, as they drove back along silent streets, it had all had
seemed so easy, the distance between finding him and coming home
calculable in mere miles. But now, standing on the threshold to her house,
her arm still firmly around Spike's narrow waist, Buffy understands that
the journey can not be measured with such precision. The barriers between
the then and now are less tangible, more mutable. And yet, oh, so very
Reality hits harder than a Fyarl Demon's punch.
Dawn stands before them in the hall, eyes narrowed, arms crossed, her
stance defensive. Sentinel and guard against vampire corruption. Xander's
"What is he doing here?" she asks, voice petulant.
"Dawn, I don't have time..."
"You never do."
"I can't do this Dawn. Not tonight." And Buffy wonders if she can do any
of this. She's never been a quitter, but sometimes it is just all too
much. The angry, resentful little sister, the wounded, lost vampire
clasped in her arms, the inexperienced and vulnerable Potentials, the
friends who expect too much of her. All are in her home, her life,
invading her sleep as she tosses and turns and looks for answers that
always elude her.
"Please, Dawn," she says tightly, trying to keep the aggravated edge out
of her voice, "not tonight. I want him here. It's my choice. Okay?"
"Well, I don't." Her voice is cold and sharp as ice. "And I have to live
here too, you know."
Buffy almost laughs at that. As if she needs reminding that everybody
lives here now. Her mother's house has become home to more and more, even
as it falls down around them. Smashed windows, busted doors, fried
microwave and shattered television; the ruined trappings of the
not-quite-suburban life she had clung to after her mother's death.
Too tired, too emotionally drained to start a fight now, Buffy settles
for the easier alternative. "Dawn, it's really not any of your business."
Instantly, she knows she's hit a sore spot. Dawn's eyes narrow even more,
and the explosion follows. "How can you say that? How can you think I
shouldn't care that you're letting your attempted rapist into our house?"
Too late, Buffy feels Spike stiffen beside her, muffle a groan, and begin
to shrink back. Her instinct is to tighten her grip on him, but she stops
herself, fearing she will only hurt him more. Instead, she lays her free
hand on his bicep, moves herself even closer, though space is already a
premium between them. He's still stiff as a board, but he halts his
retreat. Her hold on him remains, and she hopes that it is enough to keep
him from falling.
Still standing on the threshold, Buffy feels the first stirring of
something unfamiliar and discomforting. Desperation, the need for peace
and to end this now. The sudden need to protect Spike from her sister's
words is startling, but she sets the feeling aside, stores it where it can
be examined in more reasonable times. Forfeiting words, she catches Dawn's
gaze, and a new, silent contest begins.
Spike watches the battle of wills with distracted and blurred
disinterest. So hard to focus, so bloody painful. He can't bring himself
to even care who wins, isn't sure he even knows who is right. What is he
doing here, where he is so clearly unwanted, being comforted by the woman
whom he has hurt so profoundly? Oh, he had known she would come; he had
clung to that belief with every inch of his being. But this kindness, this
apparent desire to heal him, this was unexpected, and brought its own form
Smuggled in the cargo hold of a jerky cargo plane, newly soulled and
barely cogent, Spike had taunted himself with visions of his unwelcome
return to Sunnydale. Had girded himself to face his love's hatred and
anger, planned to watch from afar, to do what he could to help, until she
caught him and drove a stake through his heart. He had never expected that
he would again be so close at her side, her hip resting against his, her
scent engulfing him. Could not have prepared himself to walk the fine line
between gratitude and desperate, unwanted hope.
A hope that terrifies him, even as it is the one thing in his life he
Spike is acutely aware of Buffy's small hand on his bicep, another on his
waist, the places where her skin touches his own. Her touch is hot, almost
burning, but it's comforting and real, and tendrils of heat radiate beyond
the limits of her small handspan, lighting and enlivening where he is
darkened and dead. He is leeching the warmth and life from her, and he
knows it is wrong. He should leave, save her from his tainted existence,
but being away from her again is unthinkable. Not while the cold and
despair recede in steady beats, timed to the rhythm of her beating heart.
He's a selfish pillock, a right bastard. But maybe, with Buffy beside him,
he can stay here, get better, get it right. Prove he has a soul, just as
Finally, without another word spoken, Dawn grudgingly stands aside, her
resentment palpable in every stiff-limbed movement. He should probably be
relieved that she is letting him in, but he can't summon up any kind of
pleasure beyond the relief that, with Buffy victorious, the yelling has
probably stopped. Hates, now, this kind of conflict, where once he would
have loved being the center of such dramatic attention.
He looks briefly at Dawn, trying for a "thank you," but the hurt, hatred
and anger in her expression is too raw to bear. He looks away. Coward. But
too late, the image is filed away, to be sought again during the long
hours of daylight, when self-flagellation is his pastime of choice.
Thankfully, Buffy's arm tightens around him and she murmurs a gentle
encouragement as they take a tentative step toward the stairs. Together.
And suddenly, it's good. This comforting togetherness. Almost too good.
It's closer to her than he's ever been. A bloody miracle, because this
time she is holding him. But then he remembers that together means two,
and he is less than one.
He wonders whether he'll ever be complete again, and if she'll want him
if he is.
She releases him when they reach her room and he hangs limply against the
door frame, not sure what to do as he watches her turn down the sheets on
her bed. Of course, he knows what it looks like she is doing, but then he
thinks he must be delusional again. Probably back in the cave, about to
wake up and face the music. Because he can't be back here, in her room,
the place that has haunted his dreams for a year, surrounded by her things
and witnessing her bedroom ritual. It would be too much to wake up now,
with his feelings this high. It would break him. He might just let It win.
But this looks real, smells real, feels real. He knows his Buffy, can
sense the life and goodness in her, the strength and beauty. This is she.
It has to be.
He notes, then, the tawny color and circular pattern of the sheets.
Startling, jarring, to realize that she'd changed the bed coverings during
But of course she did. Life goes on without him. Always has.
"How long was I gone?" he asks, and she jumps ever so slightly at the
sound of his voice in the silence.
"A while. Weeks," she replies without looking at him.
Weeks. The word hits him hard. He'd lost track of time, moments
registered only in the catalog of pain and torture. Did she search for him
all that time? The gash on her cheek, the shadows under her eyes, were
they because of him, too? He knows he shouldn't want that they are, Slayer
should have better things to worry about that a kidnapped vamp. But there
is that hope again, that painful longing for confirmation that she cares;
that she did this for him; that he somehow matters. To her.
He looks again to the bed, wishes he'd taken more notice of how the
sheets used to be. Recalls a time when he'd known everything about Buffy's
bedroom: the arrangement of her girlish possessions-- and her warrior
ones, the color and brand of her sheets, the days she did her washing, the
scent of the detergent she used, the noise of her bed as it creaked
beneath her slight weight. He dreamed of being allowed to hold her here,
surrounded by her things, to pull her slight body against him and revel in
the embrace of her private life. Once, he'd known every little detail, and
now he can't recall what was on her bed the day he was actually in this
room, the day this nightmare began. When did he stop noticing?
His musings are interrupted as she comes back for him, the answer to his
confusion in her eyes and on her lips.
"You can stay here, at least for tonight," she announces.
He knows that she expects some reaction, wonders what. Happiness,
perhaps, or gratitude. Maybe a lascivious comment, a dash of the old
Spike? But he can think of nothing to say, struck as he is by the irony
that he is being offered what he always wanted, but for reasons that are
the worst imaginable. He wants to collapse on the bed, he wants to leave
with dignity, he wants to fall to his knees and lay kisses on her feet.
Unable to reconcile his conflicting emotions, he instead stands and
stares and tries, tries so very hard, not to burst into tears.
Only upon reaching her bedroom does it occur to Buffy that tying Spike to
a chair is no longer an option. Marvels that she had thought until then
that it was. Or not thought, maybe. Leaving the wounded vampire standing
against the doorframe, she busies herself preparing the room, all the
while wondering what to do with him, and whether she can do what her
instincts tell her to.
She hides it well, but guilt has an iron grip on her heart. Spike's
painful, awful love for her has broken and destroyed him. He'd found a new
definition of pain and suffering since falling in love with her. She
replays those words and never doubts their truth. The physical pain of two
years of bruises and breakages, torture at the hands of Glory and the
First, and from the force of her own fists as he lay prone in that filthy
alleyway. Then the emotional agony, her use and abuse of his body, the
isolation, the loneliness and the seclusion that resulted from their cruel
relationship, and now the maddening curse of the soul, the result of a
desperate quest in search of an impossible love.
And now he is back here, at her side, again waiting for her move. He is
patient and quiet now, a new look for this once frenzied, emotional
creature. But Spike's will has been crushed and he expects nothing, would
likely accept whatever she offered. Should she ask, he would mold his
broken limbs into position on the chair, surrender his broken and bloodied
arms to the grip of coarse ropes. Or lay his beaten and battered body on
the floor and cling to consciousness to guard her bed. The intensity of
his love and faith terrify her. She thinks she doesn't want that kind of
responsibility. Knows she doesn't deserve it. Wonders if she has anything
to offer in return.
So she offers her bed.
"You can stay here, at least for tonight," she says.
When he doesn't move, Buffy almost rolls her eyes, momentarily affronted
that he seems unaffected by her offer of admittance into the one sanctuary
she has left to offer. Thinks he should look happy, gratified, something
other than broken. But she refrains from comment, keeps her gaze steady,
looks at him and tries to understand. She's been working on that lately,
the patience and empathy, the whole respect-for-others thing that single
childom and being the Chosen One seemed to undermine. She thinks she may
have got the hang of it as she witnesses the interplay of emotions across
his face. Grief, love, pain, confusion. And fear, fear such as she's never
seen on the face of this once cocky vampire.
She sees the water glisten in the corner of his open eye, and she
understands that he is lost and waiting for her lead. A gentle smile, and
she moves beneath him, tries to take his slight weight on her shoulders.
He is stiff, edgy, and his good hand remains on the doorframe, trembling
slightly. His eyes dart between her and the bed.
"Buffy," he whispers in alarm. "Not sure this is such a good idea."
"No arguments, Spike. You can hardly even stand, and I need you well
again, which won't ever happen if you don't get some rest. Get in the
"...is indefensible. I don't want you taken again." She tries to capture
his gaze, make him see the resolution in her face. Instead, she witnesses
the vivid flickering of fear pass across his features, feels the quiver of
his body. He pushes it down fast, but it's too late. He is scared and he
has let her know it.
Her voice is steady as she makes her vow. "They're not getting to get you
again Spike. Not the First or those creepy harbringers things or anything
else. I promise."
She hopes her words are reassuring, that he hears the truth in them and
believes her, draws much needed strength. This comfort thing was never her
strong suit. Not even with her friends, let alone with a tortured and
broken vampire, a creature toward whom an inclination to be harsh still
rages inside of her, tempered only by a jumble of other emotions she is
not yet ready to examine.
He nods then, believing in her words. Moves toward the bed suddenly,
slipping out of her grasp, surprising her. But he gets only a step, and
she is there, catching him when he begins to fall. He accepts her presence
easily, as always, and she leads him to the bed, helps him to sit down
slowly, notes with concern his agonizingly slow actions and his grimaces
of pain. Once he is seated, her curiosity gets the better of her and she
flicks on the lamp to take a better look.
She cannot help but gasp.
Close up, under the harsh glare of artificial light, Spike's injuries are
even worse then they had appeared in that cave. Worse, Buffy concludes,
then when that hell-bitch had him. Worse, probably, than the injuries he'd
sustained in that awful fall from the tower, although she is relying on
the memory of Dawn's version of events there, which is always far from
The cuts in his chest are deep, and it is likely that only dried blood
and swollen tissue obscure her view of white bone beneath. One hand lies
limply in his lap, fingers apparently shattered, nails ripped off. He
cradles it now in his other hand, which is pale and fine, the bones
standing in sharp relief again sunken, sallow skin. She looks away, her
eyes tracing his forearm, the curve of his elbow, his biceps. The muscles
are smaller now, withered beneath paper-thin skin. His warrior body
tortured and faded into that of a prisoner of war.
Buffy swallows, pushes down the rising nausea and a sudden, overwhelming
sense of panic and distress. She focuses on the practical, because that's
all she can do to keep herself from fleeing, lest she collapse under the
weight of her emotions.
"I think...I think we need to clean the wounds," she finally manages to
He smirks softly, a flash of his old self that sends a wave of warmth
through her despite his teasing tone. "Vampire, luv. Nothin' lives in me.
Not even infection."
"Yeah, but...I still need to clean the wounds." She's firmer this time.
Authoritative Buffy, that's what is needed. "And I need to strap those
ribs. We don't want your bones mending all wrong. I'll go get...stuff. And
blood. You need blood."
"Yeah. Blood would be good."
She helps him get comfortable, or as comfortable as can be. Arranges the
pillows, lets him lie back against them. He's still in his blood-crusted
jeans, and she fidgets a bit, wondering whether she should offer to remove
them. Tells herself she could do it, be objective and nurse-like even.
Nothing she hasn't seen before. She looks up at him, a silent question,
and sees his good eye is lit with a combination of merriment and something
sly and sexy. A beat passes between them, both contemplating the
possibilities, hesitation and temptation. But he saves her.
"Pass up the sheet, 'luv," he says, beckoning to the edge. She hands it
to him and he awkwardly pulls the covering over his lap and part of the
way up to his chest.
Jeans left on it is.
The moment should have passed, but the need for contact still tugs at her
heartstrings. Without thinking, she gently reaches out, again runs the
back of her hand along his sharply defined cheekbone, her fingers gliding
down the ragged skin of his cheek. He sits frozen, watching her with his
intense blue gaze, adoration blending with confusion and a little
wariness. Unspoken emotion stretches between them in the silence of the
Suddenly, she withdraws her hand with a quick shake of her head. Stands
up, perhaps a little too fast, avoids his eyes. But her voice is soft.
"Be back in a second," she promises.
She leaves him then, goes downstairs in search of pigs' blood and the
first aid kit. Dawn is thankfully gone, although the television hums dully
from the living room. She glances in, sees a row of curious eyes staring
back - all black in the dim light. Potentials, curious to see what Buffy
has stored in her bedroom. She wonders briefly what Dawn has told them,
decides it doesn't matter. Shakes her head in answer to their silent
questions. It's not the time for explanations now. Maybe later, when she
has worked out what to say.
Buffy makes her way into the kitchen, takes what she needs without
thinking. Such a waste on a vampire, but again it's about the symbolism.
She's not looking for the clinical cleansing found in bottles of ointment
and bandages. Spike needs something more holistic. They both do.
Maybe, in healing him, she'll heal herself.
Back upstairs, supplies in hand, Buffy is almost disappointed to find her
would-be patient already asleep. She places the kit and blood by the bed,
then retreats to the doorway, careful not to wake him. Bandages can come
later, along with talking.
Watching Spike as he lies in her bed, sheets strewn carelessly over his
ragged body, Buffy can no longer contain the feelings of relief, or sudden
release. He is home, and safe. They all are, for now. Another chapter of
her life is finished, and she can turn the page and begin the next one.
Standing there, unobserved, unguarded, Buffy feels those walls crack a
little. Exhausted, she doesn't fight, but allows herself, for one moment,
to gaze upon her former lover with fondness, to revel in feelings that are
strong and real, if too complex to dissect.
"Sleep, Spike," she whispers into the darkened room, even though she
knows he cannot hear her. "Get your strength back. We need you. I need
"And I'm okay with that."
"He's not getting any better."
Giles' rich baritone seeps through the floorboards from the Scooby
meeting below, as Spike's realization that he is the topic of discussion
drags the weary vampire back to the world of the living.
"Maybe he needs more blood." The higher, earnest voice of Red. Perky and
helpful. How bloody ironic that it is so often she who comes to his rescue
in moments such as this. She, who, Buffy exempted, he has probably hurt
the most. He doesn't deserve this from her, not when her mind should be
filled with images of the night in the factory, the attack in her dorm
"More blood?" Xander, his tone disgusted and resentful. Only to be
expected. "We've already exsanguinated half the cows in Wisconsin. How
much of the stuff can one scrawny vamp swallow?".
"Yeah," Dawn's voice now, rising from a position near Xander. "And how
are we gonna afford it?"
"My question precisely." Demon-girl, always practical. "Saving your
vampire is all well and good, but you need to eat, and money doesn't grow
A long pause, and he waits for her words, her defence. She doesn't
"We'll find a way. I promise you guys, we'll find a way."
Lying in her bed, eyes fixed on the beige ceiling, Spike lets Buffy's
voice wash over him, feels her words sink through his skin, warming,
calming, balm to both the physical ache and the deeper, more crippling
pain that tears at his heart and mind. Always, he believes her, that
she'll find a way to save him. She never fails when it's about the people
she cares for, and he now knows himself to be one of them. But oh, Buffy,
don't you know that you shouldn't care? That this will only hurt you? That
you should let me go? That I need you so much and can't let you go.
Closing his eyes, he feels the warmth recede beneath a rising tide of
self-loathing and guilt, which crashes over his ragged sanity. It's
easier, he's learnt, to indulge such feelings than to fight them or ignore
them. Tried both, he has. First, not listening, blocking out the voices by
concentrating instead on his uneven, unnecessary breathing. Then
strengthening his resolve with images of himself, strong again, fighting
at her side. He'd succeeded in neither. The seductive lure of
Scooby-discontent, soothed by his Slayer's words, had won. And now he
hangs on every word, loves that even as they smother her with words of
truth, Buffy still defends him.
The downstairs discussion has drifted now, from the damaged vampire
upstairs to the house that also needs mending. Xander and Giles are
discussing handyman priorities, considering means of fortification; Anya
advises Buffy on the insurance, while Dawn listens as Andrew blathers
about the benefits of combining the cheque for the telly and VCR and
purchasing a Ti-Vo. Spike snorts softly - not a bad idea. Elsewhere, he
can hear the chattering voices of the SITs, gossiping about Joe
Millionaire and American food, until one speaks up and requests that they
be more careful about wasting food.
Wasting. Now that's a word he rightly owns. He's wasting away. He's
wasting resources. He's a waste of space.
He stares down at himself, at the sheet covering what is left of his
body. His hand, lying in rest on the white sheet, has shrunken back to its
normal size, bones almost mended, but now stark and defined against his
shrunken skin. His wrist is as narrow as a girl's. He should do something
about this, get up, go downstairs, buy his own juice using his own dosh.
But instead he stays here, in her bed, surrounded by her. Damned if he
would be move, even if he could.
His musings are broken by the sound of the door closing below, loud and
firm but not a slam. Not Dawn, then. Still, a Summers. Buffy, probably off
to patrol. Listening intently, he can overhear the distant murmur of
voices below. The whelp is accompanying her, probably bitching about him.
Good, at least she isn't alone. Xander may be useless, but in his newly
soulled state, Spike can not but feel admiration for the boy, brave as he
is. All those years, side by side with Buffy, lending his heart but unable
to touch hers. Spike understands that, respects it even.
Wishes he could join her, considers it briefly. Do him good, some hack
and slash, a spot of violence. But the old rush isn't rising, his demon
too broken and put to care, and the brownish-red on the sheets warns
against it besides. His gaze is drawn to another small red stain on the
sheet, right above his hollowed abdomen. He's bleeding again, the wound
having likely come unstuck during his troubled sleep.
Another thing that touched him, rightly stained in blood.
It's all about blood. Always has been, from the moment he clawed his way
out of his coffin and into the dark London night. Born to slash, and bash,
and bleed. Dru'd told him that, and oh, he loved her for it . Taken her
lessons to heart, every one of them, and every one of Angelus' tortured
teachings too. Excelled at this new form of expression, this beautiful
poetry written in red, lyrics he owned completely.
But now the slash and bash holds little attraction, and the only blood
that he intends to spill again is his own. Funny, how slight his desire to
replenish it. He should be worried; no matter how sharp and cruel the
Harbinger's knife, his wounds should long since have healed. But instead
he feels only numbness while he watches with morbid fascination as the red
begins to spread across the tawny sheets until he again drifts off into a
chaotic, restless sleep.
She's a warrior, made to fight. Kicking, punching, slaying, staking.
Instinctive, controlled, precise. It's what she understands, what she's
good at. The rush, the power, the knowledge; unique, special,
extraordinary. And all so totally her.
She thinks she's almost happy now, in this graveyard, fighting off a
gaggle of Satreach demons. Icky, creepy, scaly things, they are, the
adults a particularly unflattering shade of orange, but she knows from
experience that they are tougher on the eye than on the wits and body.
More typically found curled up over a cheap beer at Willies, or maybe
enjoying someone's Siamese on a spit than picking fights.
But too bad for them that they'd wandered into the Slayer's path tonight.
The term feels comfortable, finally. Once again it's something she is,
rather than a burden to carry. Unasked for, yes, but no longer unwanted.
She wonders, now, how she could have been so resentful of her calling last
year, while she was so oblivious to everything else?
Or almost everything. Swirling leather, flashing eyes, a cocky smirk, the
smell of tobacco. She remembers the intensity with which he fought and
fucked and drank and snarked, the tender way in which he listened, or
moved his callused, knowing hands over her body. The instant recall sends
an unbidden shiver down her back, leaves a tingling in her limbs. Adds to
the adrenaline and turns her lips up into a wide, almost feral smile, as
the first of the strange demons comes at her with a drunken bellow, and
launches at her in its strange, vaguely kangaroo-like hop.
Buffy stands and waits for a fraction of a second, stepping neatly to the
side at the last moment, her smile growing still broader as the Satreach
gets several steps behind her before realising its mistake. The second, on
its tail, receives a foot in the stomach, followed by a surprise as Buffy
drops and throws it backward, into its friend. The collision makes a
satisfying crunching noise.
Easy, natural, fun. If only it were so easy to put the rest of her
troubles behind her.
Out of the corner of her eye, Buffy sees Xander make an appearance,
moving out of the trees with a speed that belies his size. She springs
back to her feet, turns her attention back to the remaining handful of
demons, secure in the knowledge he'll take care of Dazed 1 & 2, while she
handles their friends. Being Xander, he'll probably just knock them
unconscious. Brutish and stubborn as he can be, he isn't usually into the
unnecessary euthanasia for the terminally stupid.
Unless they are vampires who get where he can't.
The thought comes unbidden to her mind, but she ducks away from it,
leaving it standing as she quickly, releasing a high roundhouse that
connects with demon temple. The impact drops thought and beastie alike.
Yet, as she sweeps her leg out in a trip, she thinks again how she, at
least, misses him. His flashy moves, crafty skills, his running commentary
and ill-placed jokes. She wants him back, her vampire companion. Her one
partner; her only equal.
Xander's voice, shouting a warning, brings her back to battle as another
demon leaps to attack.
Spike wakens with a start and a strangled gasp. A kaleidoscope of images
flashes through his mind, brutal and erotic at once. Flying fists, ripping
fangs, long white necks, heaving breasts, nails tearing at skin in fear
and passion alike and blood. Blood everywhere. Then Buffy, rising from the
red before he pulls her back into it. A horrible nightmare, yet no
different from his dreams for a century past. Sleep is a seductive enemy
now, and he almost wishes insomnia would fight for him as well.
Panting quietly, Spike wonders how loud his cries where were, doesn't
know whether to be relieved that no one comes to him. Closing his eyes, he
extends his senses through the house. The flock of new birds must be out,
the giggly resonance of their voices and distinctive signatures of their
scents not evident to his senses. Dawn is gone, too. Must be Friday then,
Buffy'd not allow her to go prancing round with her mates on a weekday.
Might have taken the other girls, too, or maybe they went with Red. Giles
is here, somewhere below. Likely in the dining room, studying in what is
left of his library. Andrew, too, sleeping downstairs on the couch.
He is alone upstairs, then, surrounded by silence. Once a curse of his
alienated life, the quiet is now almost a blessing. No words to cut him,
but also nothing to distract him from picking at his wounds.
The scent of blood still engulfs him, and as he opens his eyes again he
sees that there is a mug of it beside the bed. The handle is still
slightly warm, he'd only just missed whoever it was who brought it. He
drinks it down rapidly, the bland taste on his tongue doing nothing to
improve his mood, but the thought of anything else would surely bring a
wave of nausea. Notes with interest that his wounds have been cleaned and
re-bandaged as well, although the sticky sheets are still the same. Best
to use them as long as possible, anyway. They'd be useless after this.
Stained and filthy. Yet another waste. Another reminder that he doesn't
belong here, in Buffy's bed, indulging in her protection even as he
further stretches her scarce resources.
So very selfish, he thinks. Shouldn't the soul have put a stop to this,
wasn't it meant to make him a better man? A hero, like bloody Angel?
Someone who, at the very least, wallows alone? But apparently not his
soul. Just his luck to get the defective one. Makes him pathetic and
weepy, even as every part of him demands that he take what he can from
her. He revels in being here, lying naked beneath her sheets, breathing
air heavy with the tang of sweat, leather, the detergent of her cheap
shampoo and the lingering sweetness of her mock-label perfume.
Exactly what he wanted. Too much to give up.
He can count on one hand the number of times he'd had her in a bed. The
night she was invisible, that was the first. She'd come to him intent on
re-living the glorious release of that night in the wrecked house. No
thought of repercussions, no fear of Scooby intervention, no inhibitions
or shame. The whole thing had been a riot to begin with, until he'd
realized what she was really about. Next, the cuffs, when he'd chained her
hands as she lay amongst the lush rugs on the floor of his crypt. She'd
trusted him to tease her, but had protested and threatened, eyes strangely
fearful, when she'd realized he was carrying her to the bed. Scared,
perhaps, that the softness would break her where stones and dirt and metal
could not. Still, once he'd deposited her on the bed she'd turned the
balance of power as she always did, making sure the both of them gasped
and cried and screamed.
That had been a good night and his cock swells at the memory. A moment's
guilt, and he allows his good hand to wander across his chest then down
his stomach as he pictures her as she was, laid out before him, golden
skin, glistening with sweat, luminous against midnight blue sheets as she
writhed beneath him. They'd fought and shagged and played for hours that
night. So clear, that memory, pleasant and perfect and unbearable in its
sweetness and promise of hope.
But that memory is too sweet for his melancholy mood, and he finds inside
that his mind travels, unbidden, to an encounter more suited to his honest
mood. He remembers with glee the spot of patrolling, their dance of power,
the allure of her sweat soaked body as they laughed over the scattered
dust. Such twisted images of sex and violence are too much, and Spike
gives into his need, moves his hand to his burgeoning erection, stroking
hard as he remembers the way he'd kissed her, and she'd kissed him.
Thrusting tongues, grasping hands, the connection of superstrong bodies.
The way she'd tripped him, landed on him, then the desperate grinding
motion that had brought them both off.
Lying in the grass, beneath the sparse light of the quarter moon, he had
taunted and cajoled her to stay with him. He had thought then he was
charming, of course, but knows now he was right pathetic, begging and
pleading, and she'd seen right through him. She'd taken off for home, to
her little sister and welcoming friends, and he'd gone home to his
darkened crypt. Drank some, smoked, then drank some more until, with no
expectation of company, he drifted into a restless sleep, a fitting end to
another night of vowing that things would change.
Only she'd returned. He'd woken to find her surrounding him, ripe,
reddened lips making a path down his neck and chest and her hot little
body wiggling against his. His hands had clasped the sheets as she'd
traced his nipple with her tongue, zeroing in and biting down with such
force that he'd felt a ripple of agony. At the memory, his hips lurch off
the bed, a gasp escapes his mouth and he almost comes. Pleasure and pain,
sex and violence, right and wrong. Messed up, fucked up, all blending
together in his exquisite, golden goddess.
Eyes squeezed shut, he summons the image again. Buffy, moving down his
body, hair falling over his chest as her nails leave pale pink marks
across his skin. Remembers how she had paused when she'd reached his
straining cock, hazel eyes meeting his from beneath darkened,
mascara-thickened lashes. He'd known at that moment that it wasn't about
love or fun or even pleasure. She was getting off on the power, the
freedom, the knowledge that he would do anything, expect nothing. He was
hers, body, heart and absent soul. But as her hands had traced his thighs,
and her lips had closed around him, he'd not cared a bit.
The bittersweet memory of her games is enough to bring him off. A few
quick spurts, easily cleaned up, mess disposed of quickly in the trash. A
fitting end to his reminiscing.
Reality's a bitch.
"That was possibly the lamest demon attack ever," Xander says as they
make their way onto her driveway. His hands are buried in the pockets of
his baggy fatigues, his gait a little tired but still steady.
Walking at his side, Buffy recognizes the feeling and has to agree.
"Uh huh," She groans, "A handful of Satreach demons isn't my idea of a
challenge. And hog-tying them and keeping them for the girls
seems...wrong. I can't believe there are so few vamps. Usually that'd be a
good a thing, but how am I ever going to get the girls used to combat if
we never get a decent fight?" She throws her hands in the air, a picture
of righteous frustration. "Vamps. Never around when you need them."
Xander shakes his head. "Love to, Buff, but diet, remember?" He pats his
stomach. "Single man, now. On the prowl. Must look...prowl-like."
She giggles at that. "I think you look fine, Xander. But if you insist on
losing a few extra pounds, I totally support you."
"Thanks, Buff. If I look fine now, I'll look even finer when I'm trim,
taut and terrific. Maybe snag me the woman of my dreams."
His mirthful brown eyes meet hers, and something passes through them.
There are moments between them, moments like this, when Buffy wonders if
Xander is hinting at the possibility of something more. They share a
comfortable trust, an admitted love. Companionship, reliability, security.
Isn't that what romance is meant to be about, what sensible people choose?
Not the short-lived passion found in novels, but an enduring friendship
built on foundations of stone?
She's thought about Xander, especially over this summer, contemplated the
ease with which they fell into being a 'family'. Dawn would approve, had
all but said so. And she believes that Xander would take her up on any
offer, despite whatever may linger between he and Anya. But such thoughts
were fleeting. A three-bedroom bungalow and a man with a nine to five job
are not for her. Xander may fall into adventure, but his priorities in
life are increasingly mundane. House, car, job - no, career. She, Slayer,
Chosen One, can't fit into that mold. She's not even sure that she ever
wanted to, and knows she doesn't now.
So she responds as best she can, a gentle smile, a pretense of ignorance.
"She's out there, Xander. And when you find her, your weakness for
twinkies won't mean a thing".
He takes her brush-off in his stride. Probably used to it, if he even
meant it as she feared he did. "Here's hoping. Anyway, have to be on-site
tomorrow morning. Might actually get some work done. Marvel at that
She smiles a little wider. So easy, this relationship. "So, I'll see in
He nods, fishing car keys out of the letter box, along with the requisite
junk mail. He'd learnt the hard way it wasn't clever to leave sharp metal
objects in a pocket when on patrol.
"Bright and early. Or dim and late. Either way, I'll be there".
With a jaunty wave, he turns to unlock his car, it's silver coloring
darkened in the night. A nice car, symbol of success, the comfortable
mundanity she rejects. She stands and watches as he swings open the door,
as he starts the care engine and backs into the empty street.
A sigh escapes her, and she briefly scans the advertising pamphlets.
Can't see much in the dark, which she is vaguely relieved about. Money is
short, and a sale at The Limited would do her in. Still, she squints in
the darkness as she wanders up the driveway to the porch, reaching the
steps before she remembers that the front door is boarded shut, repairs
still not completed. Yet another item on Xander's extensive to-do list.
She'll have to remind him tomorrow, beg yet another favor. Or maybe she'll
just put Andrew to work. Little weasel needs to start earning his keep.
Rounding the back of the house, she carefully deposits the junk mail in
the garbage. No sales, no temptation, she thinks, and feels remarkably
proud of herself as she approaches the back door. So proud, she almost
misses the petulant undertones of Dawn's voice as it wafts softly across
The words are muffled, but Buffy knows what they are about. Dawn is
rarely reticent with her thoughts, and her opinions on Spike know no
restraint. Yet there is a difference between actual discussion and verbal
sparring, and conversations about the vampire invariably become the
latter. Buffy wants Dawn to understand, but knows she fails to explain.
She has tried for the rational, the sensible, the 'we need him to fight'
and 'he has information'. But the arguments are weak and Dawn, possessed
of their mother's insight, and a hardened heart more similar to Buffy's
own, is not so easily fooled.
So Buffy finds herself perversely interested in this seemingly bitter
conversation. She stands at the kitchen door, hand on the knob, listening
to her sister's complaints, hoping to find insight from words not spoken
"I still don't get it. Why's he still lying around, hogging Buffy's bed?
Aren't vampires supposed to heal fast or something?"
"Yes, Dawn, they usually do," Giles replies. "Spike's injuries are
grievous, yet even that can not account for such remarkably slow healing.
I am beginning to question whether he is making progress at all, whether,
indeed, he will get better."
"Good." Dawn's words, more vicious than a Harbinger's knife, and Buffy
almost winces as they slice. "I hope he doesn't.".
"I don't want to hear it, Giles," Dawn cuts him off. "Not if you're going
to defend him, too."
"Far be it for me to 'defend' Spike, Dawn." Giles' tone is steady, with
perhaps a slight undertone of irritation. His patience, too, is wearing in
places. Still, Buffy holds no illusions that Giles is protecting Spike. He
has always treated Dawn with a certain indifference and confusion,
uncertain as he is about her place in the world, her value. "But he has a
soul now. A soul he fought for. It is a remarkable thing. Spike deserves
our help and compassion, Dawn, if not our trust. My advice is that should
try to give them to him."
This is the first time, Buffy realizes, that she has heard one of her
friends enunciate such an opinion. Words she needed to hear, even if they
are not said to her. She lays her forehead against the door, feels the
relief wash over her.
Yes, Giles, thank you.
She is disappointed, but not surprised, that Dawn is less than impressed.
"I can't, Giles. Not after what he did! You do know what he did?"
"I know what he did, Dawn. I know what Buffy has told me. But it is for
her to discuss with you, not me."
"You think I'm too young."
"No. I think it is none of your business." He pauses, and Buffy can
imagine him removing those glasses, serious eyes boring into her sister's.
"Dawn, I have learnt that one can advise your sister, offer good counsel.
But you can not rule her. She makes her own decisions, and now more than
ever we must trust that she knows what she is doing. Can you do that Dawn?
There is a pause, and Buffy uses the opportunity to push open the door.
"Do what for me?" she asks with feigned indifference.
"Buffy," they chorus. Both look surprised, Giles a little guilty, Dawn
more than a little annoyed.
Her sister's blue eyes dart to the door, then back to her. "That was so
lame. I know you were listening. Borrowing stalking habits from your
rapist boyfriend. You really need help." She turns, storms out, and Buffy
knows that something has happened her, something beyond the conversation
she had just overheard.
Giles sighs, rubs a temple, then fixes Buffy with his intense blue gaze.
"She's been petulant all night, Buffy. Not to mention loud. I think...I
think you probably need to go and talk to Spike."
Buffy quietly pushes open the door to find him standing against the bed,
half-dressed, battered jeans slung low on narrow hips, but back still
bare. Even in the dull light of the bedside lamp, she can make out the
greenish smudges and darker, blue-tinged stains the that sully the expanse
of pale, smooth skin. He stands awkwardly, right arm raised at an odd
angle as he tries to pull a black t-shirt over his head and shoulders.
"What the hell you do think you are doing?" her words startle him, and he
shudders and tilts a little, coming close to falling before gaining
control. It scares her to see him like this, so battered that he doesn't
detect her presence, that he sways like a sapling in the wind at the sound
of her voice.
"What's it look like I'm doing?" He responds gruffly, voice muffled by
cloth. "Getting dressed, aren't I?"
And yes, he is, except that 'getting dressed' is a generous description
of the awkward, painful movements, many of which seem dedicated more to
staying upright than pulling on clothes. The sight is absurd, and were it
not for the warning from Giles, and simmering anger, she likely would have
"You can't be serious," she says.
He struggles a little more, pulls the t-shirt over his head. He turns to
face her, revealing a stomach and chest still bandaged, white skin and
whiter gauze stained with red. Impossible not to notice how frighteningly
slender he's become, gapping clothing and jutting bones. He looks
vulnerable and fragile, but the sharp lines of face are settled in
determination and when he speaks again his voice is steady.
"Bloody serious. Gettin' out of here."
"And going where?"
He is still fighting to get the shirt all the way down, and she quickly
moves to help him. He guesses her thoughts, steps back jerkily, as if
afraid of her touch. Collides with the dresser, scattering a picture
frame, pens, the empty mug. They both stand shocked for a moment, like
deer stuck in the glare of their own high beam emotions.
"Sorry," he begins to lean over the to collect the mess, but flinches
painfully. Broken ribs mean he can't bend down. Another moment, searching
for what to do, then he seems to abandon the idea of cleaning up, decides
instead to finish dressing. "Boots," he mutters, moving further away
She kneels down to pick up the discarded items herself, watches his bare
white feet shuffle across the room as he moves away from her. Long toes;
she remembers how sensuous they feel against her calf. Feels her color
rising, like the drops of left-over blood had spilt from the fallen mug
and now stain the carpet. But it's ruined already, what's one more mark?
As she collects the pencils, she asks, "Spike, please, what brought this
"Nothin'. Nothin' but a sudden burst of dignity."
"Spike..." She stands, replaces the discarded items on the dresser
without taking her eyes off him.
"I won't have it, Buffy. Everyone talkin' 'bout me, like I'm a cripple or
a waste. Need to get outta here. Let you sleep, here."
From his words, she knows. Giles was right. Dawn, the conversation
outside, the one in the kitchen, he heard them all. Still proud, her
Spike, despite the raging insecurities, his finger-tip grip to on sanity.
Proud, but easily wounded. Having let her and her sister pierce his armor
once, he's now defenseless against their incessant attacks. She hopes she
can repair the damage.
He's holding onto the bed-head now, shaking a little from exhaustion.
Likely not going anywhere, whatever his bluffs. The temptation to point
this out, to say something more, is strong. Reason comes naturally to her,
and she can think of a million reasons that would make him stay, solve
this problem now. You're being controlled by the FE. I don't want you to
leave because I can't watch you. You're a danger, a menace. You need
But suddenly it's important to her that this be his decision, not a
She lays a calming hand on his arm, gently pushes him back. "Just stay
tonight. I'll work something out tomorrow." Touching him like this, with
gentle caresses, is still strange to her. Does it feel as awkward to him
as it does to her?
"Spike, please, stay."
Head tilted, he absorbs her words, eyes heavy with confusion. Finally he
nods, deflated, moves into her grasp. As she helps him back beneath the
covers, the she wonders again at this magnificent creature, killer of her
kind, who conquered his inner darkness even as she succumbed to hers. That
he still has such faith in her astounds her; just the power she has over
him excites and terrifies her. Only this time, she knows she's not going
to misuse it.
The solution to the Spike-problem presents itself the next morning, when
Buffy retrieves an old sick-bay cot from the high school basement. She'd
vaguely recalled seeing it on one of her previous trips into the bowels of
the school, had even thought about setting it up for Spike then. But her
priorities had been elsewhere and her emotions still jumbled from the soul
revelation and the aftershocks of the bathroom and the church and she'd
left him to lie amidst the dirt and rats.
She's ashamed of how she acted then, when he was so fragile and in need
of her help. She's listened to the counsel of her friends, agreed with
them that it was only to be expected. He had hurt her badly and wasn't she
supposed to stay away from men who did that? But the words exchanged with
vamp-boy Holden in the graveyard echo in her head. Spike had loved her,
really loved her. They had hurt each other, but it was he who had done the
extraordinary to make amends, while she ducked and weaved and ran.
How different would things be, had she been there for him, had she stayed
and helped him be quiet? Would the First have gotten its claws in so deep?
Would all those people buried in that house still be alive? Would Spike
still be so broken?
Buffy puts the cot in her car, then pays her usual visit to Xander on the
construction site. Notices, with some pride, that she still attracts
glances and soft whistles from the men. Notices, too, that Xander gets a
couple of pats on the back, overhears the teasing words:
"Harris, it's ya missus' checking up again."
"...under the thumb..."
"How'd a kid like you get a chick like that?"
She suspects that Xander doesn't correct such assumptions about their
relationship, but doesn't mind too much. She understands the need to hide
beneath a pretense of normalcy, if not success. She smiles broadly as he
makes his way down the scaffolding and toward her, even plays up a little
for their audience.
Once she explains her plan to Xander he wastes no time in heading home at
lunch. Sets to work boarding up the basement with scrap found on-site.
"Not exactly Helm's Deep, but it'll do," he says as he puts the final
touches on the reinforced timber that stretches across where the basement
window had been.
Safe as houses, Buffy thinks, standing amongst the ruins of her own. She
knows nowhere is really safe, not when their enemy is intangible and
omnipotent and controls the gateway to hell.
Xander is obviously proud of his work, even if not entirely satisfied
with its purpose. He's still not pleased with the idea of Spike in the
house at all, but she supposes the basement is a step up from her bed on
"Well, I'm finished here. Want me to come around later? Help take the
Undead English Invalid downstairs?" he asks.
Buffy shakes her head, declines his offer. Spike is clinging to what
little dignity he has left, and involving Xander in the moving process
seems wrong, perhaps even cruel. Besides, she has no need for buffering or
human security blankets, not anymore. She wants to do this alone, to heal
and trust together.
"Nah. We're good," she says.
She really, truly hopes that they are.
Giles watches as Xander's car disappears down the street, ferrying the
boy back to his blueprints, raw timber and tools of trade. The young man
is spending more time at his job every day and even the tasks he completes
for Buffy have an increasing tendency toward the mundane. Giles knows with
a certainty born of experience and age that Xander will be the first to
leave Buffy's world, to build a wall between his reality and hers that
will eventually be insurmountable.
Buffy lingers in the kitchen, nibbling slowly on a thin sandwich as she
gazes into nothingness. It pains him to see it, but that blank,
thousand-mile stare has become as typical of his Slayer as her quips and
high-spirited antics use to be. As infuriating as she was, Giles misses
that bouncing, happy girl in her colorful clothing and impractical shoes,
but he doesn't have the faintest idea how to coax her back. But then, he
also knows that she can never again be that same girl-the harsh realities
of the world have taken their toll on her, and some things can never be
The former Watcher makes his way into the kitchen, leans back onto the
counter with a sigh. Is shocked to see her jump noticeably at the sound of
his voice. She must have been far away indeed.
"I assume you spoke with Spike?" he asks evenly.
Buffy finishes chewing before she answers. Chooses her words with unusual
care. "We talked. He's moving into the basement again."
Giles nods. The situation is still far from ideal, but better the
basement than an upstairs bedroom. The Watcher in him had accepted,
reluctantly, that Spike had changed, that he deserved help and
forgiveness. But no amount of rational acceptance of the uniqueness of
Spike's soul could calm Giles' revulsion at the thought of the vampire
lying in Buffy's bed, his dead, corrupted flesh touching her sheets. The
vampire may have done an admirable thing, but his relationship with Buffy,
and the trust she placed in him, remained of continuing concern.
"Giles, I need to know what's wrong with him."
Giles sighs deeply, runs his hand over his face. What indeed? Despite his
best efforts, he doesn't quite know. To his mind, there are better things
to research than cures for injured vampires, but he nonetheless looked
into things as best he could and now offers up what little he can.
"It would seem that the Bringers' knives are in some way enchanted. A
single wound from such a blade has proved deadly to many a potential
Slayer, where an attack from a regular weapon would not. I assume that the
knives have a similar effect on Spike."
Buffy takes this in quietly, face inscrutable. "Which means what,
"It means that in all likelihood, he will heal. But the process will be
slow, much as it would for a human."
"How long?" She has placed the sandwich back on her plate and is again
watching him with that frustratingly unreadable expression.
"It's impossible to say. Weeks, maybe. Months. He is living on a diet of
pigs' blood, Buffy. Healing may be slow." Giles pauses at that, considers
his next words carefully. Buffy's faith is Spike is curled and any
broaching risks an explosion. "I also can not discount the possibility
that the problem is psychological."
A flicker of something crosses his Slayer's face, but it is gone so fast
that he wonders if it was just his imagination. Instead, her determined
hazel eyes catch his.
"I can," she says firmly. "Giles, if Spike could be up and helping me, he
would be. I know it."
Giles sighs. Another reminder that Buffy's faith in Spike is only to be
expected these days. He pinches the bridge of his nose, debates the wisdom
of tackling this head-on. He doesn't want to start a scene like the one
the night before, but cautionary words are in order, even if she does not
want to hear them.
"Buffy, what Spike did for you, in getting a soul, it is a remarkable
thing. Unprecedented. I am rather stunned myself, and I imagine it is
overwhelming for you. But, soul or not, Spike is still a vampire."
He pauses, meets her eyes and tries to reveal the love that he doesn't
have the words to express.
"Buffy, I want better for you than that."
She looks back to her half-finished sandwich, dark lashes falling against
her cheeks as her eyes close briefly.
"It's not like you think."
He wants to believe her. Watches her carefully, but has no way of knowing
whether he can. It has never been easy for him to comprehend her emotions,
but the reasons for his confusion are so different now that what they
were. The teenager he'd taken into his care had been open, eager,
impulsive and petulant, never reticent in expressing her emotions. He knew
what she was feeling, thinking, even as he struggled to understand how and
why she could act like that. But this woman before him is a different
creature altogether, and he can not even guess at the depth of sentiment
that lies behind her closed faade.
"Are you quite sure?" he asks.
She takes her time in answering, and he imagines he can hear the cogs
working in her brain. Wonders if she is searching for the truth, or
perhaps only for a version of truth she thinks will satisfy him. When she
finally answers, her voice is controlled but firm. "I do care for Spike,
Giles. I don't want him to hurt anymore. I...that's...that's all I can
tell you now."
Giles nods and sighs deeply. "You've done what you can, Buffy. The rest
is up to Spike."
Buffy takes another bite of her sandwich, and doesn't answer for a long,
long time. When she does, her words chill him to the bone.
"We'll see, Giles. We'll see."
She collects him shortly after sundown, when she no longer has to worry
about stray sunbeams peeking through fractured walls and the remains of
windows. He's awake and waiting for her as she enters the master bedroom,
already sitting up on the edge of the bed. He fixes his intense gaze on
her and raises an eyebrow. The gesture elicits a shiver down her spine,
memories of old Spike with bedroom eyes and seductive words and
quicksilver movements that electrified every nerve in her body. How
difficult this must be for him, a creature of boundless energy and vigor,
to be confined like this, lying listless and pained in the care of the
people whose calling it is to destroy him.
"Basement's boarded up again, so we're moving you back downstairs," she
He accepts this with a nod. That was surprisingly easy. Likely he
realizes that's it's a compromise all round, one that takes him out of
Scooby wrath, but keeps him under her care.
"Ready?" she asks as she moves beneath him, arm settling around his
waist. He nods, and they stand up slowly. She hears cracking as stiff
joints move into place. His arm slung across her shoulders is heavy, but
she likes the weight. Spike never hesitates to lean on her; he trusts her
strength in ways that Riley and Angel never had.
Spike is still wearing the black t-shirt he'd struggled into the day
before. The material is corse and rough beneath her fingers. Worn, much
like its wearer. She feels a slight disappointment at the lack of skin
contact. Another barrier between them, undermining the intimacy of what
should be a familiar posture. Everything feels more clinical and detached
than it did the night of the rescue. They have rebuilt their walls and the
space between them, and the air is heavy with uncertainty.
"This'll be a barrel of laughs," Spike mutters, legs wobbling in almost
Buffy glances at him, tries to smile. "Hey, your idea to move, not mine.
You want to stay here, that's fine..."
He cuts her off with a shake of his head. "Let's get this over with,
Spike makes a brave and silent descent, but Buffy can sense his pain. He
has neither pulse nor heartbeat by which she can judge his exertion, but
he takes deep breaths despite the broken ribs, a subconscious revelation
of the effort of walking down two flights of stairs.
They both breathe a sigh of relief as she helps him onto the cot.
"Well, that was a picnic," he says, wincing and grimacing as he lowers
himself onto the cot. Its metal frame squeaks beneath his slow, painful
movements. "At this rate, I'm sure to be helpin' with the girls sometime
'fore they're in nappies a second time."
It was, she supposes, an attempted at humor, but it falls flat in the
ominous darkness of the basement. The injuries should be healed by now,
and both of them know it. She wonders how scared he really is, beneath
that strange combination of bravado and depressed resignation.
She hands him a cup of blood that is resting on the ironing board. "Drink
this. You need it."
He tilts his head, smirks a little. "That I do."
Their fingers touch lightly as he takes the mug and Buffy feels a rush of
prickly ants run up her arms and into her stomach. Not desire, she tells
herself firmly, stamping hard on the lingering caterpillars in her belly.
She withdraws her hand quickly, obviously so, but if Spike notices her
haste he hides it well. He downs the blood in a single swallow, face
remaining neutral. Holds the mug out to her again with a slightly shaky
She's amazed how Spike accepts everything so willingly these days. He
used to complain so much; "Fills you up, but it's right disgusting,"
"Worse 'n charred and weeviled porridge and not half as nutritious," "I'd
rather be buggered by a centaur than down the stuff in public." But now
it's another thing he accepts almost gracefully, thanking her for its
meager benefits with his crackly voice and haunted, liquid eyes.
She takes the empty mug cautiously. "I'm sorry it doesn't seem to be
"Pigs' blood may be good for the soul, luv, but it's not doing much for
the body," he replies as he lays back painfully, eyes blinking closed.
No, it isn't. Even Giles has admitted as much. His current diet is not
doing a thing, and she needs to change it.
She places the mug back on the bench, and turns to face him again.
Watching him lie beneath the thin blanket on the narrow cot, she realizes
she'd forgotten how small he is. When was the last time she even noticed?
Soulless, Spike's physical size had been irrelevant. Clothed in that
billowing coat, possessed of the strutting swagger, his presence had drawn
the eye as he seemingly filled the room, his small frame hidden beneath an
aura of bravado and fearsome accomplishment. Even naked and exposed in the
rubble of that decrepit house, he'd still seemed so much larger than life.
Larger than death even.
Strange, that he's so much more complete now than he was then, and yet he
appears so very diminished.
Small. Tired. Kinda broken.
Buffy's eyes pan up the bed-ridden vampire's body, drawn again to his
face. The contrast of light from the single bulb and the deep shadows
emphasizes the sharp definition of his nose and his hollow cheeks. Where
the brightness hits his skin, she can make out a lattice of fine lines,
deepening around his eyes and across his forehead. The youthful smoothness
of his once-timeless beauty is gone. Like Angel before him, he is aging,
withering beneath the weight of guilt and the strain of near starvation.
How old was he when he was turned? She'd never asked him that. Never
asked him much at all, really. Hadn't been particularly interested in his
life or history. Sure, she'd listened to what he had told her that night
in the Bronze, but in a typical display of self-absorption, she'd filtered
out the parts that had not been related to her. He'd spilled his
life-story to her - or a version of it - that night in the Bronze, and yet
he is still so very much a stranger.
Suddenly, she longs to have that night back again. Drink beer and eat
buffalo wings and play pool amid the pungent odor of cigarettes and
leather and whiskey. Crack jokes and flirt and share a grin at the snide
looks from the ignorant college kids mocking the freaks by the pool table.
Smirk with self-satisfied glee at the over-endowed slut-bombs who made
eyes at Spike as he lined up a shot with his effortless grace. Laugh and
relax, talk and listen. Listen. Care. Enjoy.
They would leave only after the last call for drinks. Wander outside
together to replay that alley scene beneath the setting moon. Only this
time the foes would be real, and she and Spike would fight side by side,
on equal footing. She imagines the exhilaration of a hard won battle;
feels the coiled adrenaline that longs for release. Fangs and fists and
stakes, blood and dust, their partnership on display for all to see and
admire. How beautiful they would be together beneath the dim glow of neon
lights - fluid limbs and fancy footwork, two pale dancers, cloaked in
black but lighting the darkness. Then, afterwards, their enemies
vanquished, catastrophe averted, they'd head home, where they'd drink hot
chocolate and watch awful television until the sun peeked over the
horizon. And the next night, they'd do it all again.
But such dreams are a fleeting indulgence, a sinful pleasure followed
rapidly by deep and bitter anguish. For the image in her mind is not of
the tragic, tortured man who traveled to the ends of the world and back to
give her what she wanted, but rather of the old Spike, bedecked in his
trademark duster, with his wicked grin and flashing eyes and hint of
deadly fang. He's so different now, so calm and quiet, restrained, almost
timid. It's difficult to imagine the sunken man before her bouncing with
Tigger-like glee at the thought of a hunt and she wonders if it is wrong
to resent that. To not want what he has sacrificed everything to get for
Only he has been hunting, Buffy reminds herself, and there's an empty
house and a basement covered in dust to prove it. He's far from harmless,
even now, and she can't help but fear that curing him will hand an
involuntary weapon over to the First.
She twists her hands, shuffles her feet nervously, wonders if she can do
what she has planned. Wonders if she even should. What she has in mind
goes against every fiber of her being. But it's Spike, and he's different,
and she cares. She wants to care. So offer it she must.
Spike's tired voice interrupts her contemplation. "You got something to
say, Slayer? Out with it."
The slight snark in his words causes a flame to rise within her, a small
reminder of what she misses, what she wants back. She bites her lips,
takes a breath.
"Would human blood help?" she asks quickly, the substitute words falling
free with minimal forethought.
He snorts at that, as if she were asking if his fangs were sharp or
whether he liked wearing black. "Course it would help. But I won't be
"You could, you know. From Willy's... or, um...the hospital..." And again
with the foot shuffle.
When he doesn't answer immediately, Buffy studies the pointed toes of her
mock leather boots intently as she draws patterns in the dust on the
basement floor. Notes distractedly that the very fact she can do that
probably means the place needs a clean. Like much of her life, really. She
hides so much away in the darkness, out of sight and out of mind, until
catastrophe forces an airing.
She hears him sink into the pillow, can sense his indecision. But when he
finally speaks, his resolve is clear.
"No," he says firmly. "No, not after what happened the last time. I
can't. I won't."
For a moment, she can not help but be pleased with his answer. She is
giving him permission to drink, to quench the demon she knows is raging
inside him, to heal fast and thoroughly and be rid of the pain. And he is
rejecting it. This is real change, and pride swells inside of her.
Then the contrary frustration hits. Like all things Spike, this is
becoming a drama she hasn't the time for. Morals are all well and good,
but she needs him up and fighting by her side, not withering away amongst
the discarded refuse in her messy basement. He's useless like this. And
more than that, he's painful to watch.
For a stretch of seconds, Buffy feels emotion and sense warring within
her, until her pragmatic nature wins out. He needs the blood, and she's in
no mood to be patient.
"Angel used to-" she begins, but Spike cuts her off.
"I don't care what Angel used to do. I'm not having no more soddin' human
blood. Had enough already." His voice catches on the final note. He averts
his eyes hastily, as if searching for something on the floor, the sheets,
the walls. Searching for something that isn't her.
Buffy sighs, swallows, then cautiously, as if reaching out to a wounded
bird, she covers the short distance to the cot and sits gently on the
edge. He doesn't move.
"Spike, it's blood from a hospital bag. No one gets hurt...."
He growls, a ferocious sound from somewhere deep in his chest. Does she
imagine it, or do his eyes flash yellow? Certainly, his voice is filled
with anger and frustration that cuts deep into her sensitized skin.
"You're not gettin' it, are you? Where the blood came from won't make a
bleedin' inch of difference to me or my overworked conscience! No
drinking, no biting, no needless brawling, no leaving this bloody
basement. No nothin' that'll add to this...to this misery..." His hand
paws at the shirt above his heart, and he looks at her with liquid eyes.
"I can't stand anymore of it. I won't have it. Not even for you!"
His voice collapses to a whisper. "I don't want to hurt anybody, Buffy.
Please. Never again."
She silences him with a finger on his lips. She's gone about this the
wrong way. Roundabout routes and blurry watercolors never worked between
them; she should have been open from the beginning.
"Problem solved," she says softly, "Drink from me."
He starts at that, a sudden movement which clearly brings him pain, then
looks at her like she has suggested he take a midday bath in holy water.
His eyes grow wide as saucers, his mouth opens and closes, clearly lost
for words. Imagine that. Spike speechless. She almost smiles.
Finally, stammers out a single, strangled word. "What?!"
"I want you to drink from me."
She reaches out to touch him, but he jerks out of her reach. The cot
squeals beneath him, a harsh noise that cuts through the thick, still air
and grates like sandpaper on her already raw, exposed nerves.
"Are you out of your bleedin' mind? If I won't drink blood from a bloke I
don't give a toss about, what makes you think I'd drink from the woman
I..." His voice catches violently, and after a moment he rephrases,
She lets her hand drop gently to the sheets beside his thigh, deciding to
wait a few moments before she tries to touch him again. Instead, she
imagines the walls built around her heart collapsing, tries as hard as she
can to channel the escaping fervor of sentiment into her eyes.
"Because it's different," she replies. "Because I want it."
Please, please understand.
"Oh, you want it? Well, that makes all the difference!" He laughs loudly,
refusing to meet her gaze. "Buffy, this isn't Anne Rice. If you want me to
bleed you, I have to rip your skin open with my teeth and suck. It'll hurt
like a bitch. It'll probably scar."
"You won't hurt me, not really."
Of that, she is less certain. Everything between them is fragile and
potentially painful. Like walking over fine crystal and feeling it shatter
beneath your feet and then cut deep.
Gently, cautiously, she reaches out and takes his hand where it is still
grasping his shirt. His fingers are limp in her grasp, and tremble
slightly at her touch. She smiles gently, meeting his gaze.
"Spike, touch me."
He blinks, tilts his head as confusion clouds his eyes. "What?"
She guides their hands to her lap, lays them across her thigh and her
open palm across his. "I said, touch me."
She feels his fingers tense and twitch, but he makes no immediate move to
close his grasp. Instead, they stay like that for a moment, gazes frozen
on their touching hands, the air around them heavy with anticipation. Skin
on skin isn't new, not even since the soul. Back to back in battle, a hand
grasp to pull him to his feet, her arm on his waist as he limps beside
her. But touching him like this, voluntary, unnecessary, gentle, this is
different. He hasn't touched her like this since last year, before the
soul, when a gentle caress usually resulted in a scorching burn. She has
never touched him like this at all.
Then, slowly, his hand curls around hers, until their fingers intertwine.
She closes her grasp too, their hands tied. She watches their union, the
details compelling. His skin is white against her gold, his fingers
thicker but similarly callused. Warrior's hands, both. His nails are
square, male, bitten to the quick. She remembers when he used to paint
them black. Kind of misses that, too, the old costume, even if the punk
thing did make him look kinda gay. She can't help but smile a little at
Swallowing, Buffy looks up from their interlocked hands to his face,
capturing his wary gaze. She squeezes his hand gently and watches as his
eyes light up. In the depths behind them, she witnesses something stir,
something deeper, darker, richer and intense. Her body responds instantly,
fingers tingling and heart jumping. Her hand feels, still in his grasp,
grows heavy with sweat.
Yet still, he makes no move to touch her further. Makes no move at all,
other than the irregular, unnecessary rise and fall of his chest and the
slight tremor of his grasp.
"Close your eyes, Spike," she orders softly, and he does, long smoky
lashes falling obediently against his pale cheeks. "I think, maybe, you
don't believe me. That I mean this. That's okay, you know. I get that you
have doubts. I've said a lot of things, asked a lot of things to you, that
I didn't mean."
He begins to respond, but she raises her hand, finger lingering close to
his lips. He must sense her motion, because he falls silent again, allows
her to continue.
"But that's over now, Spike. It really is." She lets her other hand to
fall gently onto their already clasped hands. Watches his eyes flutter
beneath the lids, his expressive face flitter from surprise to pleasure
and back. "I don't have your way with words. I'm more one for action. But
I understand sensation, hearing, sight, feel. Can you feel me, Spike?"
"Yeah...I feel you, luv." His voice is but a whisper. He is breathing
more and more heavily now, chest rising in and falling in an animated
parody of life. His hand, still holding hers, is shaking more violently,
too, and she's transported back to that moment of on her couch on the
night of her return. Remembers how he tenderly held her bleeding hands as
she sat frightened and confused, an anchor in a sea of fear and pain,
quiet amongst the crashing waves and crackling thunder, the storm of
"Really feel me, Spike. Feel my blood moving through me, feel my
pulse....feel my heart. Feel that I'm not afraid to touch you. I'm not
creeped out or pissed off or anything else that you seem to think I am.
Can you feel me, Spike? That I mean that?"
His response is a slow nod of his head, followed by a tightening squeeze
on her hand.
Buffy releases a slow breath, imagines the ominous weight of history
release itself as she exhales. It's important that he understand this,
that he know that she has thought about this, that she wants it. And, oh,
does she want it. She's thought about it constantly in the days since she
has been back, considered it from all angles. She wants to share this with
him - her life, her blood. Her trust.
She wants to help him to heal. To finally give back something, something
"I'm tired of hating and blaming, of hiding and running away. I'm tired
of bottling everything up inside, of being too scared to say what I mean
or do what I want. But most of all, I'm tired of lying to myself. I'm not
going to do that anymore, Spike. If you don't trust my words, trust in my
body, in what I've always shared with you before. Feel me when I say this,
from my soul to yours: I trust you Spike. I trust you not to hurt me."
She pauses to let the words sink in.
"And I want to do this."
Spike opens his eyes and slowly raises his head. His pupils are wide,
emotions raging as torrid as the seas. "Buffy," he says, his voice tight,
slightly panicked. "Buffy, you don't know what you're asking."
But she can see his resolve weakening, sense the desire rising within
him, the passion unfurling.
"I think that I do." She knows that she does.
She feels the seconds stretch between them, long and slow and steady as
he works through her revelations and his own labyrinthine emotions. She
wonders, unwillingly, if she has perhaps made a terrible mistake. Thinks
that, maybe she has offered too much too soon? Or demanded, more like.
She'd assumed he'd want this, but what if he didn't? Stupid, to make such
a fool of herself. Stupider, too, to think that he would leap at this, the
chance to further indebt himself to her when she has shown so little
ability to manage existing dues.
She shifts restlessly, starts to move her hand as she begins to move off
the bed, get out of there. Go some place where she could cry, or hit
something, or preferably both.
At her slight movement, he tightens his grip, holds her fast, and even
before he speaks she feels she knows that the power and intensity she
sensed awakening in him is now on its feet and preparing to roar.
His voice is low, deep, like gently rumbling thunder, and Buffy feels the
word roll over her, slow and heavy and warm. She is acutely aware of the
sound of her breathing, of her heart racing, the feel of her warm, rich
blood pumping through her body. The beat of her pulse sends echoes in her
head which such intensity she is surprised the cot isn't thumping.
"More than okay," he adds, eyes darkening from a stormy gray to an
intense and seductive midnight blue.
Slowly, deliberately, Spike turns her palm over. His touch is gentle,
firm, suddenly tremble-free and erotically confident as his thumb begins
to draw lazy circles over the pulse point in her wrist. She gazes at the
movement, absorbed by the hypnotic, circular motion. It's such a slight
gesture, a million miles from the brutal explorations that had
characterized their relationship previously, but the effect is profound,
and a wave of longing, lust and undeniable desire hits her with such
intensity that she feels she will drown.
Spike's small, pink tongue darts from between white teeth to moisten his
lush lower lip. The sight sends a flame of pure desire down Buffy's spine
and into her groin. She feels a swarm of superheated butterflies come
alive in her stomach as she remembers in vivid detail just where that
tongue has been, the oh-so-clever things he can do with it. What it felt
like on her breasts, her navel, her clit. The taste of it in her mouth,
the flavor of Marlboros and Jack Daniels and that intense, darkly erotic
tang that is so uniquely Spike. The way he made her tremble and scream.
His voice breaks through her trance. Raw and gravely, "You sure about
"Yes. Very sure...yes."
Oh, how very sure. She wants to know the velveteen softness of Spike's
wicked tongue again; wants to feel it on her neck as his sharp teeth tease
her skin. Longs to writhe beneath his skillful hands as they caress her
back, her thighs, between her legs, to feel the weight of his body as it
settles against her; to feel the completeness as his cock fills her.
With dreamlike slowness, wrapped in memories and sensation, Buffy tilts
her head, brushing the hair away and, like a woman in thrall in some
cheesy vampire film, exposes her throat to his waiting fangs.
But he doesn't lean into her neck. Instead, Buffy finds herself frozen by
surprise and a strange sense of surreal dismay as he raises their joined
hands to his mouth. She fears, for a moment, that he has changed his mind,
that he doesn't want this, doesn't want her. But then her runs his tongue
gently over the small pulse point, lapping at the cooled sweat, and her
lingering disappointment, that traitorous doubt, evaporates like water
poured on hot coals.
Spike's forehead shifts, the brow deepening, stark ridges rising from
beneath pale skin. His pupils, still fixed on her, contract and distort as
the crystal-ice irises shiver and shatter, revealing a riveting gold. His
grip on her hand tightens as his demon surges through him, and suddenly
this is very real. Almost too real. She's never been this close, this
intimate, with Spike's demon before. Her Slayer senses awaken, the
mystical power inside her roaring and rebelling, indignant at the idea of
intimacy with a creature she is empowered to slay. She stamps on them,
hard. Her choice to do this, hers alone, destiny be damned.
Spike is watching her still, demon eyes intense and unblinking, laced
with a desire and adoration so intense that she is left breathless and
trembling. A silent question passes between them, acknowledgment that this
is the final moment, the point of no return. But Buffy committed to his
journey the moment she collected him from the shelter of her bedroom,
perhaps even from the moment she rescued him from that cave. There is no
room for U-Turns, no going back.
The Slayer nods her consent.
A flash of fang, and his mouth descends on her wrist. Buffy experiences
in hazy slow motion the sensation of taught skin stretching and breaking.
The pain is sharp, sudden, intense. Pain to remind her she is alive, and
she has never felt anything quite as enlivening as this.
The effect is electrical, a jolt from something powerful and dangerous to
touch. Explosive. Fire and ice and pleasure and pain shoot through her,
leaving a trembling heart and limbs of warm treacle. She feels the
butterflies in her stomach burst forth, sees the world around her
disappearing for a moment into a chaos of vivid colors and movement, until
clearing, there is only Spike. Her hot hand clasped in his cool grasp, his
warm tongue on her fevered skin, his eyes fevered, swirling amber and blue
chiaroscuro, brimming with Spike's intense and open emotions. Hunger and
need, desire and pain and gratitude and, most of all, love.
Such terrible, absolute love.
She can feel the journey of her blood, from her heart through her veins,
to where it flows from her body into the moist, inviting warmth of Spike's
mouth. It's more than vitamins and minerals, red and white cells. It's
healing life and power; memories, burdens, fears, even identity. She
imagines that she can feel her essence, her being, pulsing through him,
closing and healing his wounds, both physical and mental. She wants to
pour herself into him, body and soul, rejoice in the feelings of
liberation and connection and love.
Almost unconsciously, Buffy feels herself moving into Spike. Her free
hand tangles in his hair and she pulls herself closer until their joined
hands are trapped between their heaving bodies. She needs to touch him, to
feel him, inside and out, and her hand travels through his hair, round his
neck, down the planes of his face, his chin, his fabric-covered chest. She
slips her fingers beneath his t-shirt, caresses his smooth abdomen, before
moving over the hem on his jeans, and then lower still. He's hard, of
course, and strains beneath her touch. Growls low in his throat as he
clutches her to him with a fervor that would crush an ordinary woman.
Then she is in his lap, instinctively moaning and grinding and surging
against him. He gasps slightly, perhaps from pain, but holds her fast when
she starts to move away, his hand firmly clutching the back of her head,
buried in her hair. She responds by clutching him tighter between her
legs, pushing herself into him. He thrusts upwards towards her warm center
in turn, the movements of hips timed to the laps of his tongue, both
increasingly erratic as the tension mounts between them.
She revels in the overwhelming sensation of emptying herself into him, in
the effect it has on the powerful creature before her. She feels powerful,
possessive, wanted, needed. Feels also, with equal intensity, the tingle
of electricity that rushes to fill the spaces left by her retreating
blood, livening dim and dusty corners of mind and body alike. The
sensation is amazing, her toes curling, stomach taut and stretched as she
arches back, meets his strains, strains and cries as, finally, the rising
tide overwhelms her and her world explodes, again, in an orgy of pleasure
and color and release.
And so it ends. Buffy watches in a hazy, distracted way as Spike slowly
lowers her to the bed, his hand still beneath her head. His demonic
features slip back into human ones, the sound distant and blurred in her
ringing ears. His tongue on her skin again soft and smooth, methodical and
calming. And then it is gone, as he removes his lips from her skin. A
final kiss to her tender wrist, and her gently lowers her palm from his
The separation is almost painful, but she can do nothing but lie
motionless as she waits for feeling to return to her limbs, and the jumble
of her feelings to settle and distill. So she lies and listens to their
ragged breathing, as Spike tentatively and gently moves his limbs from
Still leaning above her, she fixes her would the most amazing look of
love, and peace and gratitude.
"Thank you Buffy," he says, eyes calm and blue now, glistening slightly
at the corners. "Thank you for trusting me."
She nods, gently reaches up to caress his cheek. "You didn't take
enough..." Enough of her blood. Enough of her. She wants to give so much
He shakes his head. "I've taken too much. And you've given me everything
She watches as he bites his lower lip, eyes flicking to her lips. After
all they had just shared, his apparent nervousness at just kissing her is
almost funny. He takes her smile as an invitation, and, leaning down,
places a tentative kiss on her forehead. She very nearly rolls her eyes,
and she captures his face in his hands and kisses him gently on his lips.
The broad grin on his face sends another wave of pleasure through her, and
she smiles in turn. Such a long time, for both of them, since they have
Shaking his head, Spike collapses beside her. Groans a little as his
aches reawaken. "That was amazing, luv. But I'm gonna feel it in the
She giggles. "I'll probably envy you. I'm kinda worried I won't be
feeling anything anywhere until at least midday tomorrow."
His looks pleased at the comment, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he
smiles a rare smile. "Stay here then, yeah?"
She allows herself a brief moment of indecision, turns over the downside
of being found here, like this, clutched in Spike's arms, surrounded by
the aroma of blood and sex. But she quickly discounts it. She's already
been practical tonight. Now for the overwrought and romantic.
She nods, luxuriates in the look of pure, delighted pleasure that passes
over Spike's face. Closing her eyes, she settles herself against his
silent chest. It's spare moments before she drifts off to the rhythmic
feel of his hand in hers and the low buzz of the downstairs refrigerator.
Lying in the pale morning light, Spike watches his Slayer sleep.
She lies sprawled across him, her head resting below the curve of his
shoulder, her ear against his silent chest, her legs entangled with his.
His chest quivers slightly where her warm breath touches his cooler skin,
and her upper arm is soft and slightly sweat-misted beneath the gentle
caress of his fingers. Despite the weight of his guilt and his soul, and
the knowledge that this must end, Spike knows he's grinning like an idiot.
Spike wonders what he could sell, what price he would pay, to freeze this
moment, to hold back the sun and lie with her forever beneath the soft,
pale light that divides day from night. But there's no one to bargain
with. Morning is rushing toward them, he can feel its approach in his
bones, and sense it in the more material indications - the first call of
birds, the silence of insects, the distant noise of early rising humans
going about their morning business. Strange that he is almost oblivious to
the passage of years, yet in moments such as these even individual seconds
pass in such intense detail.
Buffy shifts slightly, demanding his attention even in sleep. She murmurs
softly, and Spike stills, but she doesn't wake. Deliberately, with
concentrated effort, he times his intake of breath to hers. He's done this
before, on those rare past occasions when she'd allowed herself to fall
asleep beside him. Taken comfort, then as now, in the knowledge that they
could move in harmony in the calm quiet of sleep, just as in the hectic
chaos of battle. But this is the first time he's ever felt a connection
beyond the simultaneous rising and falling of their chests; the first time
he has ever lain with her hand clenched in his or her blood in his veins.
Her blood, rushing inside him. Warming and enlivening and healing. A
bloody miracle, that. He still can't quite believe it.
Running his tongue across his lips, Spike can still taste the marvelous,
tangy taste of her blood. Rich, satisfying, evocative. It's probably why
sleep was so elusive; he's still buzzed, pumped on slayer blood and the
lingering affects of arousal and adrenaline. Except the memory of their
bloodletting and bonding results in a jolt of intense, almost painful
arousal, lighting every nerve of his body again, rousing the demon within.
His hand involuntarily tightens around hers. Closing his eyes, Spike tries
to get a grip on his body.
Daring a quick glance down, Spike confirms that his morning erection is
present as always, and dangerously close to his sleeping slayer. He shifts
Startled by the movement, Buffy stirs slightly, mutters something in a
sleep-hazed voice. He freezes. But it's too late. Swallowing the sudden
lump in his throat, the rising fear, Spike manages to say that only thing
that comes to mind.
Buffy's mussed head rises from its place on his shoulder, her hooded eyes
unfocused as she struggles to shake off the lingering lethargy.
Time's up, and he waits for the blow. Watches her face intently as the
various emotions flit across it: first surprise and confusion, then
relief, and finally something truly surprising, something rare and golden,
something he doesn't quite dare believe might actually be happiness.
Eyes bright and face open, Buffy smiles; a wide, deep smile that awakens
old memories of sunrises and bluebells and Helen of Troy. It's all
embarrassingly sappy, but in that moment Spike hardly cares. He could
almost write poetry again, except that would require paper and he doesn't
want to move. He just wants to lie and stare.
Buffy's inquisitive voice breaks the silence.
"Did it work?"
"My blood. You all healed?"
Spike blinks. Of course, the wounds. He'd forgotten about them. He
supposes the blood must have done something if that were possible. Or
maybe it was her presence. The night had been so perfect; perhaps his
frayed nerves were lethargic and lazy from carrying other, more
Licking his lips, Spike looks down at his chest and tentatively moves one
leg. No crippling agony.
"Er...yeah. Think so..."
Buffy beats him to it, her little hands pushing up his T-shirt as she
quickly sits up.
"Let me see..."
He shivers slightly beneath her touch, but she doesn't seem to notice,
intent as she is on examining his wounds. Her fingers work gently over his
stomach, his chest, and Spike again shifts nervously. Prays she doesn't
pay too much attention to his other parts. .
Impromptu assessment finished, Buffy pronounces him fit.
"They're all scabby and yucky, but not bleeding anymore."
She flashes him a winning smile; big, big eyes filled with happiness and,
he thinks, satisfaction.
"And that's very much of the good."
Oh yeah, definitely satisfaction.
Her hands linger on his body, gently caressing the skin surrounding the
nastiest gashes. Unfortunately, the effect her touch is having on him is
something quite different. His body, already reacting to her nearness in
impossibly inconvenient ways, now begins to betray him completely. He's
painfully, and obviously, hard; the throbbing beguiling and he can feel
his hands begin to tremble in that annoying way they do when Buffy gets
The words, whatever they were, disintegrate in his mind, and it's like
he's human again, stuck in that Victorian parlor, nervous and tender and
trying to think of something to say that wouldn't embarrass him further.
Buffy's silent too, still looking at him with that stunningly open,
A sudden flash of panic flushes across her face, and before any words
leave her mouth, he feels his heart shatter and crumble.
"Shit! It's Inservice day. I so can not be late."
She pushes herself off him fast, and he doesn't know whether to be angry
and disappointed or simply immensely relieved.
"There's this Nazi bitch from hell at work, she's just waiting for me to
He watches Buffy hop around the room, searching for the shoes she'd
kicked off the night before. She's delightful, all vibrant and glorious.
Effulgent, his mind offers, but he pushes it away. She flashes him another
"Want anything? Need anything?"
Spike shakes his head, still shifting through his dancing emotions. This
friendly, business-like efficiency is something entirely new, and he's not
entirely sure how to deal with it. She reaches the bottom of the stairs,
then turns back to him, all pulsing energy. He guesses he should at least
be relieved that she showed no signs of ill effects from the blood-loss.
"Okay, anything you want, I think you can get upstairs for now. There's
blood in the fridge. Er...pig, of course."
Her voice hitches only a second, but her fingers go instinctively to her
wrist. Spike can't hold back a slight wave of pride, that he'd marked her
there and she'd let him. But the moment passes, and she moves to the foot
of the stairs.
"Giles and Dawn and everyone are home at the moment, but I'll talk to
them before I leave. So, don't freak out. You could watch television ...
or maybe, you know, take a shower."
She adds the last part pointedly. Not exactly a suggestion. Spike flashes
a soft grin in reply, but she's not looking at him, really. Her eyes dart
around the room as clutches at the handrail and continues her frenetic
little on-the-spot bouncing.
She must have caught his look of hurt and confusion after all, because in
the next moment, she is back beside him, fingers tracing his cheek and
chin as she touches her soft, warm lips to his forehead. There's a
moment's hesitation and she kisses him again on the lips, gently and
briefly but rich with meaning. They both tremble slightly as she pulls
Meeting her fathomless eyes, Spike can see only see only kindness and
caring, and he feels again that horrid stirring of hope. It's unfurls deep
in his belly, stretches and crawls through his body and into his limbs;
paralyzes him worse than a tazer blast.
"I'll be back later, 'kay?" Buffy whispers. "And we'll talk."
Spike thinks he nods, but he's really that not sure. He can do nothing
else but stare after her in silent shock; the sensation of her lips on his
forehead, on his mouth, and her fingers on his cheek, lingers long after
she is gone.
Finally, goofy smile back on his face, he lies back against the sheets
and sleeps soundly for the first time in weeks.
When Spike wakes a second time, it is to the bright light of late morning
and the blaring of a stereo in an upstairs bedroom. The music is tacky and
witlessly irritating. British Pop. Bloody offence against good taste and
good reason. Probably belongs to one of the ankle-biters. Spike briefly
entertains the thought of storming upstairs and ripping the ears off the
mini-skirted, glitter-nailed bint that was listening to it. But the image
gave him significantly less pleasure than it should.
Bleedin' soul. Puts a damper on all his fun.
Lying back, Spike tries to recapture the elusive remnants of sleep. He's
not ready to wake quite yet; not if there is any chance of snatching back
the dream-like memories of last night. His mind is still awash with a
kaleidoscope of images that hardly seem real; that he would not have
believed could be real were it not for the feel of warm, potent slayer
blood rushing through to his extremities. He inhales deeply, relieved to
find the scent of their encounter still lingering in the air and attempts
to drift into blissful fantasy again.
A squeak from the upstairs door draws him rapidly back to full
consciousness as his acute senses scream awareness of a new presence
making her way down the stairs. Smells like Buffy, but different, a touch
lighter yet older... and darker.
The rush of adrenaline and a slight whiff of fear are not quite masked
beneath the ozone-like scent of her spray-on deodorant. One of them
flowery scents advertised by wankers giving flowers to some random bird on
the street. Nothing spontaneous about this, though. Despite her fluttery
heart, Dawn takes the steps with cautious determination.
Gonna say her piece.
Spike braces himself for what he knows will be a draining conversation.
When she finally speaks, her voice is steady, only a slight quaver
hinting at underlying fury.
"I saw her leave here this morning."
With a sigh, Spike opens his eyes and turns to face her. His Little Bit,
perched on the stairs as nervously as a bird on a wire.
"Did you now?" he asks, carefully keeping his voice neutral.
His fingers itch for a fag. Been a while since he'd thought about one of
those. Strange he didn't crave one last night.
Her large blue eyes meet his is an icy stare.
"You're fucking again, aren't you?"
There is still something faintly Victorian about Spike, enough that it
stills shocks him slightly to hear such language from the lips of such a
slight girl. All thoughts of the cigarette are gone.
"What?!" he chokes out as he sits up abruptly. He regrets the move
immediately as a small sliver of pain cuts its way through his ribs. Not
entirely healed, then. "What the heck kind of a question is that?"
She remains silent, crossing her arms, but never dropping her eyes from
his. Girl could outstare a tiger.
Spike sucks in his cheeks, searches for an answer that isn't gonna get
him staked by someone.
She's having none of it.
"I'm not your 'Niblett,' your 'Little Bit' or anything else. I'm Dawn
Summers. No, you're not even worthy of that honor. It's Miss Summers to
"Well, pet, if we're getting all Victorian, you'd actually be 'Miss
"Fine with me."
He'd rather not answer her questions anyway.
Spike knows he's usually good with words. Good with most folks, but
'specially clever when it comes to this girl. Treat her like an adult, say
something clever and little saucy, win a grin that lights stars in her
eyes. All so easy. But there's nothing he can say that'd make this right.
Her hatred feels so real, so thick he can feel coating him like tar. He's
not sure he even blames her.
Fuck. He tried to rape her sister.
So Spike decides instead not to talk, not even to think. He lies back,
stares at the ceiling. Floorboards, cobwebs, nothing much different from
home, really. Or what use to be home. Doesn't really have one of them
anymore, does he? Another problem.
Why won't she leave so he can get some more sleep?
Dawn's shuffling a bit, nerves rising and heart pounding faster. Her
script wasn't going to plan, and she was probably wondering whether to
wing it. She decides it's worth the risk
"Are you sorry?" she asks.
Spike flinches slightly. God, how could she think he was not? He sits up
again, swings his legs over the side of the cot and tries to assume a
posture approaching dignified.
"Am I sorry? Nib-I mean, Dawn... 'Sorry' doesn't begin to cover it. It's
just a word. People say it all the time. Doesn't mean anything; just
something that makes the speaker feel better 'bout themselves."
Dawn shakes her head. "I don't get that. Sounds like a totally lame
excuse. Isn't everything just a word, really?"
"'Tis different". He pauses, shakes his head, grips the sheet and tangles
it around his fingers as he tries to find the words.
He's never been reluctant to share with Dawn before. She, alone of the
Scoobs, always understood his darkness, his conflict, accepted his
weaknesses without ridicule or disdain. But so much has changed ... Spike
notices he's torn a hole in the bunched fabric. It can be patched, but
never truly made right. Never restored to what it was. Probably the same
with him and Dawn. But he still wants to try.
"That night, in the bathroom, I wasn't thinking...let everything get the
better of me. I was weak and desperate, and pissed out of my brain. Not
excusing myself, just saying, I didn't go there with the intention of...
of doing that."
She's still watching him with those intense, cobalt eyes; face
unreadable. He continues in the steadiest voice he can manage.
"I've never been one for introspection, Dawn. Just kinda do it, you know,
live with the consequences. 'Cept, couldn't live with that. So I went and
got the soul. Like I said, I don't believe in saying sorry. I believe in
doing something 'bout it. That's why I can't apologize to your sister, why
I certainly can't apologize to you. Cause words aren't good enough. But
I'm gonna do something, do something right. Act better. Promise it. I'm
never gonna hurt your sister again." Spike paused, meets her eyes with a
fervent intensity "And Dawn, I keep my promises."
She holds his gaze for a long, frozen moment, as she weighs his words.
Then time melts. The smell of salt rises in the air as her lip trembles,
her eyes fill with glistening liquid and a sob escapes her pink-glossed
"Except you don't, do you?"
She's crying now, words cracking and uneven.
"You weren't there when we needed you. You went away and you didn't say
anything and...and you went away because of Buffy... and now I know it was
all about Buffy. You never thought about me, only about Buffy."
In that brief space of moments, Dawn's simmering fury has collapsed into
a messy puddle of tears and soaking misery. She's really crying. Crying
her eyes out because of him. Another victim of his foolish ways.
Instinctively, he opens his arms and draws her willowy frame to him. She
resists for only a moment, before melting into his embrace. And it's not
awkward like it was before, his movements no longer guided by distant
memories, but by a genuine understanding of human need that spills from
his soul to his heart. The need to comfort is suddenly so natural, so
real, so stunningly intense, and the words pour out in rapid, unconscious,
and, most likely, incoherent succession.
"Oh, God, Dawn. I'm sorry. . . . So sorry. . . . I'm a bad man, Dawn. A
stupid, rash, bad man. I didn't think. I should have said goodbye, wished
I could. But I couldn't. . . . Not after that. Couldn't see you again.
Not, . . . not after that...so, so sorry..."
Time passes, and Dawn's sobs slow and then stop. Finally, she sniffles,
and allows her thin arms to slide around his waist, and she clutches him
to her. Oh, it's good. Warm and wonderful and so completely unlike what he
has with Buffy.
Spike toys with the word in his head. Examines the wondrous feeling of
satisfaction when he says it. He'd thought he'd grown to love this girl
before, but it was but a glimmer of what he felt now. She's his friend and
she cares for him and there was no shame in that, no uneasiness or secret
horror. It feels natural and right, and, sod dignity, it's suddenly also
very important that she knows what it means to him.
"Die for you, I would, same as for your sister." He murmurs the words
into her hair. "I love you Dawn. I know you don't believe me, nor reason
to, but I'll prove it again. You'll see."
Her voice is muffled against his soggy shirt.
"I do believe you."
All he can do is grip her tighter.
She begins to struggle against him, but it's good-natured. Spike releases
her slowly, and she pushes herself back, sits up and straightens her
clothing dramatically. Wipes her face on the back of her sleeve. It's
almost comical, her attempt to present a picture of maturity despite her
red-rimmed eyes and snotty face. He's tempted to laugh, but it would
probably ruin the moment.
"Okay," she says, as authoritatively as possible. "I'll give you one more
chance. But that threat? The fire? It still stands"
"Don't doubt it."
Another moment of silence, but this time Dawn's eyes are brighter, that
star-like sparkle is back. He can see the mischief rising.
"So, now we're like friends again and all, and there shouldn't be secrets
between friends..." She raises an eyebrow, and her pink-glossed lips curl
in an almost-smile.
"...are you and Buffy fucking again?"
Spike snorts, shakes his head. Pushes himself to his feet and stalks past
her onto the stairs. "That, Niblett, is something you're gonna have to ask
She'd changed the shower-curtain.
It's bright yellow now, or white, but with large, printed daisies.
Glaringly, almost insultingly cheerful and ugly as sin. Soul or not, it
almost made him nauseous. But... it's probably better to start the days
with an eye full of offensive dcor than to be reminded of an attempted
Grinding his teeth and closing his eyes, Spike manages the single step
from carpet to tile. Strange, that he should be so distressed, when it is
Buffy who was attacked. Seems almost an insult to her, a parody of her
pain. Not that he is surprised. He'd always been too emotional for a vamp,
and for a man; too readily caught up in the ebb and flow of passion. Never
easy to live like that. But not half as hard when he had was guilt and
Still, only right that he should suffer this torment.
Moving to the middle of the bathroom, Spike casts his eyes over the scene
of his most blistering memory. The rest of the place looks the same. Sink,
lavatory, basin laden with all kinds of girly products and several
different soaps. His observations bring a strange uneasiness. The room is
a vivid symbol of humanity in all its weaknesses and strength and
propensity for change, where the most base of human functions are
transformed into something almost luxurious by the antiseptic efficiency
of the modern world.
Introspection may not be his thing, but Spike's not short on imagination
or dreams. He wonders, sometimes, what it would be like to be human again.
He'd even contemplated it briefly on that agonizing flight to Africa. He
doesn't know for certain, but he suspects Lurky'd probably have given it
to him, had he asked. Wouldn't that have given the Poof a shock? Still,
he'd come down on the side of no. Spike can hardly remember what it was
like to be William, but he knows he didn't like it. When it came down to
it, he didn't think that Buffy would've been impressed either.
'Sides, what would have been the point? It wasn't the just the demon that
forced Buffy onto the cold tiles, that thrust its legs between hers. It
wasn't the demon who hadn't heard the word 'no.' It was the man. The
selfish, dependent, willfully blind man who'd been so desperate for love
and affection, so truly pathetic and delusional, that he'd devoured the
slightest crumb, hung on to the most flimsy thread, and pulled the woman
he claimed to love down with him.
Spike leans over the sink, white knuckles gripping the edges of the
basin. He feels the strong urge to vomit up everything in his stomach, but
is even more revolted by the thought of loosing even a drop of slayer's
blood. His undeserved gift; his most precious possession.
"She's moved on mate, so can you."
Determinedly, Spike walks to the shower, turns on the spray and steps
inside, oblivious to the cold. He feels the water begin to wash away the
grime and blood. Imagines that it can clean his soul.
This, at least, is a start.
Reluctant as Spike was to enter the bathroom, he is nearly as hesitant to
leave it. Spike stands at the door, hand on the doorknob, listening
intently for signs of life in the house beyond. Bloody stupid thing to be
doing, but he's in no mood for questions, let alone curiosity, and the
last thing he wants to do is run into a gaggle of Slayer wannabes.
He's dressed again in the familiar black jeans and plain black T-shirt.
It made him smile when he realized Buffy had left them for him. His smile
widened when he realized they were new. Cheap, chain-store jeans, the type
he'd rather have been dusted than be seen in a year ago. But he couldn't
give a fuck now, not when she'd shopped for them; shopped in expectation
of rescuing him. It was the strangest, most touching thing he could
possibly imagine. They'd never, in all their time together, exchanged any
kind of gift. He'd never had the courage to risk it; he doubted she'd ever
considered it. And yet here she'd gone and bought him clothes. She'd even
known what size to buy. Funny that, considering he couldn't remember a
single instance in all their time together when she'd paused long enough
to check the label.
The house beyond the door is quiet, but he knows it won't be for long. He
decides this lull is as good as any other. Finally, he pulls the door
open, steps into the corridor and makes his way downstairs, bare feet
padding along the thick carpet.
He's almost at the basement door when the sound of Giles' voice, cool and
deadly calm gives him cause to stop.
"I see you got what you wanted."
"And what's that then?" Spike asks as he turns to meet the Watcher's
Giles looks even older, more exhausted than usual. The lines on his face
are etched deeper, his brow furrowed in a crease, gray hairs sprouting on
his receding hairline. Humans age, and it's been a while since Spike's
seen this one; but surely not that long? Last time was during that
ridiculous farce that resulted from Red's mind-wipe spell. A year? Sounds
about right, even though it seems like so much longer. So much has
happened since then.
"You know what I'm talking about." Giles' tone is severe, cutting, and
Spike has the sudden sense that he's about due for a scolding. How bloody
ironic, given that the last time they spoke he was calling the bloke
'Dad.' Definitely a moment best forgotten.
"Know what, Watcher? Not in the mood for chit-chat, much less twenty
questions. What happened between the Slayer and me, that's our business.
If Buffy wants you to know, I'm sure she'll tell you; you being her
Watcher and all." He turns back to the stairs. "In the meantime, I'm gonna
waste the rest of my day getting some hard earned kip."
Spike's through the door and partially down the stairs before Giles' deep
sigh reaches his ears.
"Spike, please, a moment."
Spike is mildly disgusted to find that he stops immediately. He's never
been able to put his finger on it, but there's always been something about
Giles that gets his attention, despite his long-lived aversion to
Spike remembers in vivid detail that long, awful night when Giles was a
guest of Angelus; the night that saw the birth of his uneasy alliance with
the Slayer, and the beginning of the end of his life with Drusilla.
Remembers how Giles' screams had echoed through the empty rooms of the
mansion, until at last they had petered out into hoarse groans and
half-choked sobs. And yet the Watcher had withstood it all, the worst of
Angelus; had held out for duty, or pride, or for the love of a tiny blonde
girl who'd already started to pull on Spike's own heart.
It's impossible to remember that night and not feel a deep respect for
Rupert Giles; but more impossible, still, for Spike to willingly show it,
even if the bloke is fixing him with the same steel-gray gaze with which
he stared down Angelus.
"What?" Spike asks, hoping his bored, tired tone hides any of those pesky
"I didn't start this to make accusations." Giles' voice is as firm and as
penetrating as his gaze.
"Oh, really?" Spike raises an incredulous eyebrow. "You've got a funny
way of showing it then, mate."
"Well, if you'd stop with the dramatics and listen to me for half a
Spike bit back a retort. Okay. "I'm listening."
Giles nods, looks mightily uncomfortable as he pinches the bridge of his
nose. The silence around them begins to thicken, and Spike thinks he can
actually hear the Watcher's teeth grinding together. Obviously he hadn't
expected it to be quite that easy. Should've known ol' Spike just isn't up
for the fighting these days.
Spike sighs and leans back against the doorframe. He can glimpse vivid
brightness of the day outside through the blinds. The yellow of the sun,
the brilliant azure of the sky, the richly fertile green of the grass and
foliage, the occasional burst of a more passionate color in the flowering
spring garden. Vampires live their lives in black and white and shades of
gray, but the presence of the soul has reawakened the poet in him, and a
part of him now longs for color.
Finally, Giles' voice breaks through his musings.
"Buffy told me that you went and sought a soul, voluntarily. Is this
"You think I lied...?" Should have known Giles' would never believe that
one. So why does he feel so disappointed?
"I don't think anything. That's why I am asking you."
Spike's feels his mouth go dry, and his fingers itch for a cigarette.
"Yeah. It's true," he says, keeping his voice as even as can be. "Went to
Africa. Got the t-shirt with bonus soul. Back here to do good. Now, if
you'll excuse me..."
"Do you realize the enormity of this Spike?" There's just a hint of
something in Giles' voice; something that almost approaches hysteria. "Why
would you do such a thing?"
"Why, to save the world and bring peace and freedom to the galaxy..."
Spike's voice drips with sarcasm. "Why do you think I got it?"
"Good Lord." Giles half sighs, half groans. He leans heavily against the
counter, one hand rubbing his temple as if the revelation has struck up a
sudden, crippling headache. Not inconceivable that it had. "Does Buffy
"Yeah. She knows."
Knows all too well. Knows the need and pain and fear. All courtesy of one
horrific night in an abandoned church when, still teetering between
insanity and bleary coherence, he divulged everything to her in a
typically melodramatic display of drama queen excess. Tears and self-pity
and near immolation. No wonder she'd fled; he was lucky she hadn't
laughed. God, how could he have been such a fool?
Giles stands in silence for a long time, not looking at Spike. Not
looking at anything really, his eyes reflecting a distance that was rare
in someone as steady and grounded as he. He's processing, filing,
cataloguing, Spike realizes. Doing all those things librarians are meant
to do when they get new information. Clearly having a hard time of it too,
reconciling this new revelation with the existing mountain of
"Crusty old books and dry Council sermons not prepare you for meeting a
vamp who chooses a soul, eh Watcher?" Spike asks, barely keeping the
slightly malicious amusement out of his voice.
"No". Giles answers simply. And the room lapses back into silence once
Eventually, Giles raises his gaze to meet Spike's again. It's steady,
deadly serious, and nearly all Ripper. His voice is just as fearsome.
"Spike, I don't pretend to know the full extent of what happened between
you and Buffy. Nor, do I ever want to. I've learnt that when it comes to
Buffy, it is best not to pry into her personal affairs. As I told her, I
can not control her, and I will not judge her, not even when she enters
into what I consider to be a highly imprudent relationship."
Spike snorted. "That your version of giving us your blessing, Dad?"
"Certainly not!" Giles' eyes flash with the sharp, deadly intensity of an
electrical storm. "I will never approve of Buffy's relationship with you.
Just as I didn't approve of her relationship Angel. In my opinion, the
entirety of your unlives are not worth of a moment of her time. But I am
saying this. You have a soul now. Maybe you don't understand the enormity
of it. I'm not sure that any of us do. But it is clearly an amazing thing
and I don't think it was coincidental that it is happening now."
"Coincidental to what?"
"Coincidental to this; to what is coming. To what is already here. This
foe is greater than anything Buffy has ever faced. Greater than anything
anyone has ever faced. She needs friends who will stand behind her, no
questions asked. Can you do that Spike?"
Stunned at the faith that Giles is seemingly placing in him, Spike can
only nod his head once. "Yes."
"Very well. Then you do not have my blessing, but you do have my
"Er...Thanks. I think."
Giles sighs deeply. "Very well then Spike. Now, get dressed. We have work
Standing on the porch, Buffy watches in mute surprise as Spike and Giles
go at it with staff and blade. Thrust, parry, twirl. Elegant blocks,
complex foot movements, crafty changes in stance, all made look easy
through Spike' exquisite grace and Giles' years of experience. She feels
her lips begin to curve into a smile at the sight of the awe plastered
across the faces of the young women who stand watching. This display is
probably the last thing they expected to see tonight - the last thing she
expected, for sure - but it's far from unwelcome.
Unconsciously, Buffy's gaze is slowly, inevitably, drawn to Spike in
particular, and she finds herself scrutinizing his movements. To the
girls, he doubtless looks amazing, sleek, and nimble and totally deadly,
but her practiced warrior's eye immediately recognizes his weakness - The
slight caution in his movements, the odd stiffness, the occasional flitter
of his eyes and the brief grimaces that are quickly hidden. He's still
injured, and she can can't help but feel a little - offended, or
disappointed? - that her Slayer's blood isn't a total cure-all.
Still, not bad; big improvement from last night, when walking was an
issue. She's a walking vampire-fountain-of-life. Sometimes, being the
Slayer really did have it's bonuses.
The demonstration comes to an end, and Giles beckons Rona to come forth
and take the blade. The girl is hesitant, scowling reluctantly, her
street-wise attitude not quite disguising the shy trepidation in her face.
She's clearly not pleased at being singled out as the demonstration model,
to be put through her paces like a prize pet while the others sit back and
watch. She's gonna have to get used to it, though. Being watched is all
part of the fun Slayer package.
Buffy's always been watched; by Giles, the Council, her friends, her two
vampire lovers, unnamed chroniclers, various demons, the Powers, and who
knows what else. She feels that she's lived her life in a fishbowl -
blurry faces belonging to unfathomable beings watching her every move for
their personal enjoyment. Or maybe not a fishbowl, but a stage. Hadn't she
sung that once? That's life's a show for everyone, but the Life of the
Chosen One plays out on a particularly grand and gorgeous stage. It's a
spectacle for a sell-out crowd. No wonder she's acquired the acting skills
to deserve a standing ovation.
In the yard below, Spike and Rona circle each other slowly, the girl
cautious and serious, the vampire slightly grinning in that intense,
vampiric way that still frightens Buffy, reminding her that Spike remains
The Other. He starts his attack suddenly, jabbing the staff. He's slow,
but not exactly gentle, and they both yelp as the wood cracks against
Rona's ribs. She retreats slightly, but her dark eyes are ever more
determined, her posture wary and ready. When Spike tries to same attack
again, she blocks it easily, and her next series of parries is more
impressive still. The girl's got spunk, Buffy has to give her that.
Buffy's never had that, that training to be a Slayer; never knew a time
when being one was something to work towards and practice for. She'd
learned and adapted. But even after all of these years, it's all still an
act; an extended, obsessive period of method acting designed to present a
comfortable and acceptable faade, a persona to appear in chronicles and
histories, to satisfy the demands of her mysterious destiny.
And she'd fooled everyone... Except Spike. She'd never been able to fool
Spike. But then, she'd never needed too. With him, there was so little
need for pretense. So little point, really. Those steely blue eyes saw
straight through her artifice and lies. Spike wasn't interested in perfect
Buffy; he didn't need her to be a hero to hang onto. He knew her,
understood, and always - always - loved her.
Spike looks up and sees this, her face appearing to brighten even in the
dim evening light. His gaze is lean and hot and hungry, where hers is
green and cool, and as she meets its stare, she feels the last of her
lingering doubt evaporates beneath the penetrating fire of his blue-flame
eyes. This is her Spike, here before her, fully souled, but still with all
his passion and wit, still possessed of that intense and adoring love that
threatens to consume him from within. All here, and all hers, should she
And, oh, how she does.
Spike's still looking her, his lips curled in an endearingly cautious
half-smile. They exchange a brief, indescribable looks. A mutual
acknowledgment that they will talk, later. She forces down the rising
heat, the sudden feeling of dizziness as Giles beckons for the next
potential to take to the ring, and the training starts again.
Unable to watch any longer, Buffy escapes into the house.
Suddenly the thought of cooking dinner for a dozen seems significantly
"You're smoking again."
Spike glances up form his position on the steps of the Summer's back
porch. Buffy's standing in the kitchen doorway, the back-light from the
kitchen illuminating her hair and casting her slender form in an alluring
"Er, yeah..." he responds, before trailing off uncertainly.
He worries for a moment that she is scolding him, but her smile is as
wide and bright as a distantly remembered sunrise, and her eyes are
sparkling with a twinkle of amusement that he hasn't seen on her weary
face in so long. She's teasing him. He drops his gaze to the smoldering
cigarette in order to hide his delighted smile. It's been so long since
either of them has been in the mood to be playful, to participate in any
kind of their usual witty repartee.
Spike fixes his gaze on the smoke as it weaves and dances its way
skyward, drawing intricate patterns in the air before dissipating slowly
into the cooler night sky. Funny, how he notices little things like that
again now - the beauty of swirling gray, the exotic orange flare of the
burning paper; simple things, unnoticed for more than a century, are once
William's influence; the wanker.
Spike shakes his head slightly to clear the ghostly cobwebs.
"Nabbed it from your Watcher," he replies with a shrug.
He can hear the laughter in her voice; tinkling little bells that cause
his skin to dance and his heart to soar. She's in a rare mood tonight,
charming and tantalizing in all her girlish good humor. He wonders what's
gotten into her, and whether he can seal it in.
"When he worries for you, yeah. Not his brand, though. Think he bought
them for me. Rupes is an okay bloke, once you get to know him."
"Giles mentioned over dinner that you'd had a chat."
He did? That surprises Spike, and he wonders briefly how much to say.
"We came to an understanding. Of sorts."
"I'm glad, Spike."
Buffy covers the few paces between the porch and the steps, and then
plunks herself down next to him. The move's a strange combination of
clumsy and graceful, like she's coordinated but couldn't care less. It
strikes him as an open move, devoid of pretense and posturing. He
continues to watch her out of the corner of his eyes as she fidgets for a
second, then folds her hands in her lap and follows his gaze into the
This is a familiar position, hip to hip, parallel stares. But this quiet
companionship, the giving of conditional comfort had seemed foreign to him
before, even unnatural. He'd let his heart guide him and put on a good
show at it, such a good show, in fact, that the seed of their friendship
was planted here. Now, nearly two years later, it's finally in bloom.
He thinks they're friends. Hopes they are. Still sometimes hope for more
than but...But Hope is a mercurial little bitch; sweet and painful in
turn, and he doesn't let her seduce him too often. Right now, though, he
feels himself giving into the sweet agony of Hope's embrace, allowing her
to remind him again of how so close, and yet how far he is to that which
he so craves.
And yet, even as he longs to reach across and take her hand, to touch her
and love her, a part of him thinks that this - this friendship - is
enough. Spike reminds himself of how blind he was last year, how damnably
stupid as to believe that frantic, grasping shagging and random acts of
violence could amount to a real relationship. He'd been kidding himself
the whole time; convinced himself that if she was fucking him - pitiful,
evil, disgusting him - then she must have felt something, some connection
beyond the physical. Why else would she debase herself? But, oh, he knows
her now. Knows with the clarity of hindsight that it was never about him.
It was always about her and her need to punish herself for being alive.
She'd not seen him at all, and certainly never loved him.
You don't feel love for just a Thing. You use it.
Funny thing is, Spike still can't truly think of unsoulled vampires in
quite such simplistic terms. He wonders if even Angel can. He's no
problems dusting the ones he doesn't know, the barnyard bloodsuckers that
are a dime a dozen in Sunnydale. He'd never had a lot of time for minions,
so nothing much had changed on that front.
But then there is Dru. Evil and twisted as she was, the mention of her
name, the memory of her soft hair and white body, of their century of
togetherness, still kindles a certain dark fire in his heart. Did she love
him? He doesn't know. But he loved her, right? Would've died for her.
Probably still couldn't kill her, ranting threats aside. No, he can not
think of Dru as a thing. Not yet, maybe never. Doesn't even know if he
Bloody hell, the soul is making him melancholy tonight.
"It's a beautiful night," Buffy comments suddenly, breaking through his
thoughts and offering him a reprieve from his depressing inner monologue.
He has to smile at that. Damned if he'd admit it out loud, but she's
right. The clouds have begun to clear and the nearly full moon casts
silver shadows across the yard. Best of all, she's sitting beside him,
heart calm and steady, color in her cheeks and mouth turned up in a smile.
"You're in a blinding mood tonight, Slayer."
"Huh?" She raises an eyebrow in confusion, brow creasing slightly in a
way that makes him grin.
"Happy, pet. You're happy." Another drag from his cigarette, a long
exhale. He's scrupulously remembering to blow the smoke from Buffy's
cancer-sensitive human lungs.
Buffy shrugs a shoulder, pushes a wayward strand of hair behind one ear.
He shrugs a little. It is and it isn't. "Long while since I said that,
ain't it? 'Tis good to see."
'Cause, if he believes her friends, believes her, then Buffy is often
happy. Just never when she's around him.
"Well, I've got a lot to be happy about," she says determinedly. "I had a
great day at work. I came home to find Dawn in an unusually happy mood.
Then I see you and Giles, with the working together. And you up and about
and being helpful and teacher-y." She flashes that gorgeous smile again,
the one that reaches her eyes and lights up all of her features. "That was
a good moment. So, yeah, I guess I am feeling remarkably generous and
open-minded about everything right now."
"That right? Your feeling 'generous' are you?" Spike smirks softly,
figures he can get away with a bit of fun. "You know Slayer, 'm still
feeling a bit weak. Seeing as you're feeling so 'generous' and such...
'Nother taste of the good stuff would heal it right up..."
He's careful to keep the words gently teasing, without a trace of serious
intent. He's not sure how to handle this new easiness between them. But he
hopes his eyes reflect the depth of his gratitude.
The glint in Buffy's eye is a delight to see, and her reply almost makes
him fall off the stairs. "I'm sure we'll find plenty of opportunities to
let you... taste me."
Spike's stomach drops, and it's as if the seat beneath him falls away as
well. 'Shocked' isn't a strong enough word, but his mind refuses to submit
another. His jellied brain refuses even to comply with his subconscious'
demand that it closes his gaping mouth. And then, this thinking process
stops entirely as she reaches over and threads her fingers through the
hair at the nape of his neck, and begins to caress the skin there gently
with her slightly callused fingers. The movement is soft, gentle, and
intimate, much like the pattern of his thumb on her wrist the night
before. He feels her touch reverberate through every part of his body.
He knows this can't be happening; the flirting, the touching, the sexual
innuendo behind the offer of more 'tasting.' He must be dreaming, or
deluded, or maybe both. Or perhaps she's simply joined him in Gah Gah
Land. He'd thought when he was a kid madness was contagious; this must be
"Buffy..." he begins, but his voice cracks and dies. Fuck.
"Shh, Spike," Buffy coaxes softly, much as she would a child. "Don't say
anything. Just...enjoy the night."
Spike usually follows his blood, lives by the motto. But right now, he's
not sure that's such a great idea, lest he mess up this most amazing of
moments. Buffy is so calm, so beautiful like this, skin white and hair
glistening silver beneath Artemis' light. He feels his still heart ache,
his love and adoration and desire sore. He knows thousands of lines of
poetry, masters a-plenty, and not one does her justice. His strong,
A long moment passes as Spike struggles for control of his turbulent
emotions, and his rebellious body. He can't leave it at that. Impatient,
demanding as always, he needs to know what this is about. Finally, he
swallows and licks his lips. Looking at her is suddenly too much, so when
he speaks, he addresses some spot on grass between them.
"We back together then?" he asks.
Buffy draws a quick, harsh breath, body tense. But she exhales slowly,
her clothing rustling softly as she turns to look at him. The seconds seem
like hours as he waits for her response.
"Do you wanna be? Back together?"
Her words cut through flesh and bone as a sword, penetrating him to the
core and leaving him speechless. For a moment, Spike wonders if he has
misheard, and then if he has misinterpreted. Only a question, he reminds
himself sharply, not an offer. But his answer escapes his lips before he
fully has tome to think.
"Do I... Do you need to ask? Course I do! God, Buffy, more than anything.
I'd do anything for you. Be anything..."
Only, the words aren't true. Not really. And as he they pass his lips,
his voice fades and he looks away; buries his gaze in the garden,
somewhere amongst the strawberries. Silence suddenly falls between them,
and the night air grows thick and heavy beneath the weight of memory.
Spike can sense the burning blood rise in Buffy's cheeks, can feel the
slight shudder of her body and then the rise of her heart as she wraps her
arms around herself.
"I thought we went over this last night."
"Spike..." Her voice fades beneath he silent gaze.
He grinds his teeth as he searches for words. When he finally speaks, it
is with unusual slowness and consideration. "Last night, you said you were
scared of hiding, of bottling everything up and lying to yourself. So am
I. I love you Buffy. You know that. Love you more than anything. But I
don't want to be your security blanket again. I don't..." His voice
cracks. Becoming a habit, that is. He looks up, pleads with his eyes as
much as his voice. Please understand. "I couldn't bear it, Buffy. Not
again. Please don't ask it of me."
As he finishes, Buffy's features relax, and he can almost feel the ripple
of her body as the relief washes over her. He can certainly smell the
slightly salty tang of the tears that suddenly glisten in the corners of
her large, green eyes.
"Oh, Spike..." Buffy allows her hand, long forgotten on the back of his
neck, to glide across to cheek, leaving a trail of fire in its wake.
"You're not going to be my security blanket again. I don't even need one
anymore. Security blanket-free me!" She pauses for a second, perhaps
waiting for a smile, but he can't quite manage one. The liquid pools in
her eyes begin to overflow, tears leaving trails down her cheeks, but her
voice is soft as silk. "No more hiding, Spike. I want us to go in there
now, together, hand in hand. You and me. You as my boyfriend. They can
Spike wonders if he heard that right, because suddenly there are insects
in his head, buzzing wildly, worse than the chip, tickling his mind with
images. Last night; this...this declaration, what she is offering, it's
almost too much. He stares at her for a moment, assessing her countenance,
confirming to his screaming mind's satisfaction that, this time, she is
being honest, with him and with herself.
Her face is open, clear, and he knows she's telling the truth. Spike
finds he has no choice but to close his eyes against the wave of relief,
happiness and desire.
Boyfriend. Stupid term, but it makes him deliriously happy anyway.
Spike feels her lips against his eyelids, first one, then the other. He
opens his eyes to meet hers, bright and caring. And then everything feels
to be melting as her captures her lips in what feels, to him, like their
first real kiss.
It's the first time that she's really kissed Spike. Like, really, truly
kissed him and meant it and been all there - mind, body and soul.
And, wow, it's good.
They start slowly, lips touching gently and softly, breaking apart after
each brief contact and starting again. Quiet, tentative, taking the time
just to get to know each other again. Licks and nips at that lush lower
lip - who knew a male pout could be so enticing? Tastes just the tip of
his tongue. Her hands run up and down his arms, his back, cup his cheek
and the base of his neck. She can feel the warm, damp heat pool in her
stomach trickle into her groin.
Time passes - seconds, minutes, Buffy's really not sure - and hands and
lips grow bolder, more urgent. The spark of passion ignites quickly in her
burning heart, spreads like wildfire across her body, enlivening every
nerve. She feels alive - truly alive - the beat of her heart pounding
through her body, the sound of her breathing deafening. There's a buzzing
between her ears, and it grows louder and louder, becomes a roar as a
tsunami of raw need rushes over her, ripping through the last of
inhibitions and barriers and leaving her quivering, panting and desperate
for more. Desperate for Spike.
Moaning what sounds, she hopes, like his name, Buffy grabs Spike's solid
upper arms hard, pulls their bodies together, forces his mouth open and
plunges her tongue inside. He growls beneath her, the low, rumbling sound
vibrating through his body and into hers, teasing her already raw nerves
into a frenzy of sensation. His tongue is smooth, wet, but sensual as
velvet. He tastes of cigarettes and whiskey and all things deadly and
He entwines his tongue with hers, strokes and fights in turn. Oh, his
long, clever tongue, his wicked mouth. How she's missed this. How she's
missed him. She deepens the kiss further; ups the passion a little more,
allows their mouths and teeth and tongues to alternately conflict and
caress; a reflection of the very nature of their clashing, contradictory
Never one to be left behind, Spike's reciprocating with equal need,
pulling her into the nonexistent space between their bodies, clasping her
with a strength no mortal man could ever hope to match. His body begins to
vibrate enticingly as he makes that low, growly noise deep in his throat
that he must know turns her on. The hairs on her arms bristle in response
and she feels a flood of liquid between her legs, the duality of her
slayerness laid bare as her body both craves and rejects that which is so
obviously not quite human.
It's lust that wins out easily as Spike's knowing fingers trace up her
arm, into her hair, along her back and then down her arm again; wrist to
shoulder once, twice, then a third spine-tingling, limb-melting time. Her
arms are soft and pliable as he finds her hand with his, squeezes gently,
the sensation rippling up her jellied nerves. She squeezes in response,
kisses him that little bit deeper. This sexy handholding is fast becoming
She feels him raise their joined hands, pull them into the spare space
between their breasts. He places them over her pounding, over-worked
heart, then pulls back from her mouth to meet her gaze. His crystalline
eyes are nearly black, pupils wide and dilated, but shot with flashes of
rippling gold. Man and demon in one, so very much the essence of her
Spike. He holds her eyes for another second, his look all intense devotion
and tenderness, and then drops his gaze to where their fingers lie
intertwined on her rapidly rising and falling chest.
"Source of both our lives," he whispers quietly, voice ragged but
powerful all the same.
Her heart skips a beat, pounding out its agreement beneath his touch.
Blood to blood, her life to his, a bond forged in battle and pain and
sharing healing. But she's lost for anything to say, be it profound or
mundane, and so she goes the action route again. Leaning into him, she
captures their hands between them as she twists her free hand into his
hair and kisses him with everything she has. She hopes that he can feel
her wholehearted agreement, her acceptance of their bond and partnership,
even if she can't quite say the words yet.
Spike's trapped hand releases hers, his palm opens to caress her breasts,
her ribs, then down her flank to the small of her back. A path of fire
smolders on her skin in its wake. His other hand still grasps her upper
arm, fingers digging into her skin with a near-brutality born of urgency
and need and inhuman passion. A sudden flash of movement, tight muscles
flexing, and he pulls her into his lap as she climbs closer to him
herself, determined to eliminate every unwelcome inch of space between
Clasping each other, bodies melded together like this, hands exploring
and chests pounding, it's vividly, evocatively reminiscent of their
coupling the night before. She can feel her blood pulsing through her
again, beating at the covered holes in her wrist, moving with such urgency
that it is heating to near boiling beneath her skin. The bite marks, the
nerves down her arm, even the already-fading scar on her neck, tingle in
expectation and her body shudders dramatically at the memory. Something
within her cries out for more.
Unbelievable, she thinks distractedly, that they'd never tried the biting
before. She'd allowed him to penetrate her in every other way, with cock
and tongue and clever hands, through his darkened, tempting gaze and
slick, smooth words, but never with his fangs. He must have thought about
it. Had he been afraid of her reaction if asked? That she'd say "no"? Or
maybe that she'd say "yes".
She thinks that if he had dared ask, she probably would have let him. He
would have gotten quite a surprise. God, if he asked now...
It's not just the physical, although that was fantabulously satisfying.
She's simply never been so close to anyone before, never opened up and let
anyone that far in. Closeness is good. She knows that now. Wants to create
it again, and again, and again. No more fears, no more hiding...
Buffy's thought processes fizzle out again as Spike scoops her up, turns
their bodies over and settles her against the soft, wood of the porch. It
groans slightly beneath them, and her hyper-sensitive body can feel the
grain of the wood beneath her, smell the slight dampness and the worn
lacquer that coats the boards. He positions himself across her
possessively, holding her down with his slight weight. It's familiar, and
comforting, but way too polite. She grabs his hips and hauls him fully on
top of her. He doesn't resist, indeed shifts for maximum contact. They
both gasp as he presses his hardness against her softness, as she yields
and bucks beneath him.
Their combined sounds are exceptionally loud in the still, night air, and
seem to echo through the trees, bounce off an air so thick with passion
that it's almost tangible. Spike breaks the kiss to stare at her in alarm,
but right now, Buffy can't bring herself to care. It's late and, besides,
what's one more spectacle for the neighbors? God knows this place is freak
show enough. Filled to the brim with the weird and wonderful and
not-so-unique. Filled, too, with duty and solemnity and things that, for
this moment, she'd rather just forget in favor of making out with her boy
on the porch.
Determinedly, Buffy raises one leg and wraps it around Spike's, pulling
him as close as she can. An instant later, he reaches down, runs his hand
along her thigh and then pulls her other leg into the same position. Yes.
Good, good, good. She pushes herself up against him, and he starts to
grind himself into her, pointedly, almost desperately, swallowing her
escalating moans with a brutally intense kiss. She responds by running her
hands down the plane of his back, over his tight, hard ass and then back
up, under the T-shirt,t-shirt, pushing the fabric up as she goes. Spike's
skin is cool and dry, familiar in its difference to her own. Her hands are
drenched with sweat, red and flushed against his milky white.
Spike continues to push himself against her, eliciting shocks up her back
and tremors through her limbs. His fingers continue to trace a line up the
muscles of her thigh, under her skirt, drawing small circles on her skin.
Only to draw to a trembling halt on her hip.
Spike's not quite sure how it came to this. Wonders if perhaps he really
is still dreaming that there's a hot, trembling Slayer beneath him,
holding him close, wanting him near, allowing him to tease her, and love
her and touch her with everything he is. No, not a Slayer. The Slayer. His
Slayer. His Slayer, letting him kiss her with love and tenderness and
passion, kissing him back like she really means those same things too.
Like she doesn't just want this, but wants him.
It's a dream, it's gotta be a dream. Except it can't be, because not even
in his most glorious delusions has he imagined anything quite like this.
It's good. Beyond good. Splendid. Marvelous. Bleedin' fantastic.
Totally, fucking terrifying.
Her closeness, the taste of her, the smell of her, the feel of her, wet
and ready and willing beneath him, the knowledge that she wants him, the
concern in her eyes. It's almost too much, and he's losing control.
His dick is achingly, painfully hard, his hands are trembling, his balls
feel like lead and he is seriously scared that he is about to come in his
pants for the second time in twelve hours. Fuck this, what was he?
Eighteen again? Or even twenty-five? A trembling virgin who got off on the
thought of Cecily's dcolletage and the stocking clad ankles of the
daringly dressed New Women? A pathetic child in a demon's body, desperate
and sad and liable to do anything for love... No, not again. Never that
Suddenly, he needs to stop. Needs to take control, to think. Needs to
make sure she wants this, that she's okay with this after...after what
happened. Before. Needs to take this somewhere else, someplace not rushed
or urgent. Need to not shag her on the porch beneath her sister's bedroom
But also needs to do this now, to finish what they've started before he
Needs to do anything, really, but lie here paralyzed with his hand up the
Buffy makes his decision for him, takes control, but thankfully softly,
gently not in the General-like manner she's been adopting lately.
"Spike? What's wrong?" she asks calmly, as she stills her hands. Her
beautiful face is as open as he's ever seen it, and even the shadows can't
hide the warmth and concern that radiate from her. Nor, if truth be told,
the slightly worried, anxious look in her eyes.
Spike swallows hard, concentrates on taking control of his willful,
"Buffy...this, this is wrong. Me here, like this, after...everything
that's happened. It's too much...I don't deserve...I mean, we need time."
He feels Buffy's body relax beneath him, the sudden tension draining from
her limbs again. Her hand resumes its passage up and down his back,
stroking more gently this time, and he feels nerves settle in response to
her touch. When she speaks again, her voice is even, steady and
comforting. It's so long since anyone has spoken to him in such a way,
probably just as long since Buffy has spoken to anyone at all like that.
"We've been over this Spike. I forgive you. You forgive me. Time to move
on." Reaching up, she kisses him again, then adds with a teasing smile,
"Yadda, yadda, yadda."
Yes, move on. Move on. Move on to the sex, which they're so good at, and
then move past it and onto something more this time, too. And, oh, how he
wishes he could box up all those fears and regrets and leave them by the
roadside as he rides away. But letting go of the past is always so
difficult, and he clings to emotional mementos like a drowning man clings
to a thrown rope.
Spike drops his head to Buffy's shoulder, rests his face in the hollow of
her neck. Buffy's skin beneath his nose is soft and smooth and smells of
soap and sweat and lingering body lotion.
"Just never thought we'd get this far again," he admits. It's almost a
sob, and he can't believe how pathetic he sounds; how pathetic he is,
lying here between the slayer's legs, surrounded by the sweet scent of her
arousal, and blubbering like a baby.
Get a grip, mate.
He gently nuzzles deeper into the area between her clavicle and her neck
as he concentrates on recapturing control over his traitorous body. He's
almost there, when her next question gives his precariously balanced
emotional equilibrium a vicious push.
"Is it different?" she asks quietly. "This? You know... with a soul?"
Spike raises his head abruptly, stares at her. For a moment, the need to
protect himself is sharp and intense, and he's tempted to lie. To say what
the lady-killing Big Bad should say. But he can't, he's so tired of
pretending, and the honest truth tumbles out unbidden.
"I... So far? Yeah, I would think... well, not the mechanics, don't
think, but maybe the connection... I mean, never burst into tears
before...." He draws a shuddery breath, decides to just come clean. "I'm
not rightly sure. Least, not yet."
A second later, Buffy's eyes widen with surprise as the full purport of
which he just said hits her.
"You mean, you've never? With a soul?" She nearly squeaks out the
He sucks his cheeks in. Opened a potential can o' worms now, another
reason for her pity. But what's the point in denying it? Better to make a
bit of a boon out of it, maybe. He forces his lips into what he hopes
passes for a sexy smirk.
"Like that, wouldn't you slayer?" he asks. "Getting to deflower the Big
Bad and all?"
She doesn't bat an eyelid. "Maybe I would."
He can't help it, she's too adorable and plucky, so sexily coy that he
just has to laugh. A second later, and she's giggling too, burying her
face in his shirt to muffle the sound or wipe the tears. He's not sure
what's so funny, and isn't convinced that she is either - unless she's
cracking up at how totally ridiculous he is, which is a likely if somewhat
Doesn't really matter, though, not when it feels as good as this. Not
when she's actually happy. Happy with him.
Finally, she pulls back from him, captures his eyes with a warm, open
"Spike, I want you. Okay? The rest? So over it. But we don't have to do
anything. Not if you don't want to."
"Want to do everything...but take things slowly, yeah?"
She nods. "Can do. I think."
He shoots a quick look up at the bedrooms above them. "And maybe also
take things elsewhere?" he adds as an afterthought.
"Good idea." She says as she pushes him off her gently, climbs to her
feet and then offers him her hand. "C'mon Spike, let's go to bed."
The word has an instant effect on him, and he can feel the blood rush
south as the words escape her lips. Her bed, her room. Finally her lover.
He feels like he's about to faint from the happiness. Or maybe just from
lack of blood in the brain. He's so completely, painfully hard that he
doubts there's any blood left for any other functions.
Grasping his hand in hers, Buffy leads him inside, and he follows her as
always. Will follow her to the ends of the Earth; would walk there himself
if she ordered. Still, he's not sure how he makes it up the stairs, not
when he's this hard and high and Buffy's firm little ass is swinging mere
inches from his face. It's a matter of concentration, he tells himself, of
putting one foot in front of the other, of not tripping and making an even
bigger ponce of himself than he already has.
Once the landing is reached, it's a dozen quiet steps down the carpeted
hallway until he finds himself standing paralyzed and mute in her bedroom
doorway for the second time in just three nights. Releasing his hand,
Buffy busies herself turning down the covers. The new sheets are pale and
blue, the quilt-cover an intricate quasi-patchwork, the kind of cheap but
attractive thing you picked up at the local Home Decor. Spike chooses not
to dwell on how he knows that.
The scent of two slow-burning sandalwood candles covers the faint aroma
of his vampire and pigs' blood. Did she light them in preparation for
tonight? It causes a shiver of pleasure to think that she did. The Slayer;
As she turns back to him, Buffy pulls the band from her hair, lets the
golden waves fall over her shoulders. It's possibly the most erotic thing
he's ever seen. He's suddenly not exactly sure what he's meant to be
She doesn't answer. Instead, she stands, walks back to him, runs her
hands down his cheeks and up on tippy-toes, kisses him. Kisses his nose,
his eyes, his cheeks and forehead, everywhere she can reach. He tries to
capture her lips, misses, and ends up kissing her cheek, then her temple.
They break away and smile, the look on her face happy and indulgent. She's
The air crackles with nervous expectation.
"Welcome home, Spike," she whispers gently, and his unnecessary breath
hitches in his throat at her words. Maybe, finally, he's found a place
where he belongs.
He's not exactly sure how, but they manage to stumble back to the bed,
and she pulls him down next to her, runs her hand down his cheek and leans
in for another kiss. This time, they get it right again. They set a
slightly different pace now, long, languid kisses, slow and deep. He can
still sense the blood pounding under her lips, through her veins, and his
demon rumbles within him. But there is no longer the same agonizingly
frantic energy that there was before, the same need for instant
gratification. He can be gentle now; there's no contest between them, less
urgency. It's a new kind of dancing, the intricate movements of partners
with all the trust and time in the world. Gonna take it slow, accordingly.
Prove that he's good for more than a quick fuck in an alley, or a fast
screw on the crypt floor.
Yeah, gonna prove he's as good at this with the soul as without. Damn
He moves to kiss her cheek, teases the hot, flushed skin with lips and
tongue. He continues down the sensitive underside of her chin and neck,
before gently pushing aside her hair and running the tip of his tongue up
the side of her neck, drawn to the quivering pulse point and the messy
scar. She hums at his touch, a low, rich sound that starts deep in her
throat and reverberates through her entire body. He nips at her skin with
blunt teeth in response, tries not to think about the others who marked
her, and stamps hard on his demon as it screams its jealousy and anger.
Who cares what Angel got to do to her when she was a kid? It's he who's
here now, he who she is clutching to her and bucking beneath.
Possessively, he slides a hand down her ribs, over her tummy and
hipbones, and then lower still. She gasps when he runs his fingers along
the delicate crease between leg and torso, and then over her skirt until
he reaches the naked skin above her knee. Her skin is fire to his ice,
river to his desert, a clash of opposites drawn together beneath the
potent power of an electrical, emotional storm. He grabs her knee for a
moment, as much to steady himself as to seek contact with her, and then
boldly runs his hand back under her skirt, along the top of her thigh.
Warrior's legs, she has, toned and strong. He can feel her taut muscles
quiver and jump beneath her soft, womanly skin. Steel encased in silk,
that's his woman. His hand moves higher, and he's slightly surprised but
overwhelmingly pleased, to find that the skin between her thighs is
already heavy, slippery with delicious moisture. She's ready for him,
wants him, and he isn't about to disappoint her.
Her eyes open and meet his and he gently tickles the warm skin on the
inside of her thigh, then higher along the silken edge of her panties and
the so-soft skin that lies outside. Her eyes dilate, lips part, and she
shifts and widens her legs a little further in response to his attentions.
Boldly, he runs his finger over her sodden panties, and she gasps and
jumps at his touch, gasps and grips his arms. He smirks, proffers a few
more quick strokes, and then grabs the delicate fabric and yanks it away.
It gives easily, leaving her bare beneath the skirt, and an intense wave
of her arousal flows into the air around him.
"Hey, those were expensive!" she gasps.
Spike's allows his smirk to widen into a genuine grin, then deliberately
brings the sodden dark green lace to his nose and inhales deeply. Essence
of Slayer, dizzyingly rich and potent aroma. Fires his brain better than
the best absinthe.
"Much appreciated, pet," he says, before throwing what is left of the
garment onto the bedroom floor. Makes a note to collect it later.
Buffy answers him with a patented Summers' eyeroll, but it's offset by a
devilish grin of her own. He stares as she runs her hands down her lace
blouse, pulling the material tight over her breasts, then clasping the hem
teasingly. He swallows hard, licks his lips, as she begins to pull the
clothing up, revealing a swath of golden skin stretching across sharp
hipbones and sensuous, defined stomach. She's beautiful - did he really
forget how much? - and the need to touch every inch of her is suddenly
overwhelming. He reaches for her again, and she shudders as he caresses
the skin above the hem of her skirt, then runs his hands up her flanks and
over her ribs, chasing the teasing path revealed by the escaping blouse.
His hands are still slicked from his earlier explorations, and his touch
leaves a slight trial of her own arousal on her already sweat-coated body.
She's wearing a simple cotton bra and his hands stop when they reach the
bindings, determined to explore the small fabric-clad mounts. She arches
into him as his thumbs trace her nipples, throwing the shirt away in a
complimentary movement. The feel and sight is irresistible, her little
breasts thrusting straight into his hands and toward his mouth. He bends
down and runs his tongue over one concealed nipple, then across the smooth
skin above the fabric, and into the valley between her breast. She shivers
under his ministrations and soon her hands are pulling at his own
clothing, pushing up his T-shirt and stroking his straining cock through
the coarse denim of his now painfully tight jeans.
Spike yields to her desires. Standing quickly, shakily - each moment
without her touch sharper and more agonizing that any deliberate torture -
he tugs his T-shirt over his head, deposits it on the floor and then tears
at the buttons on his jeans. His cock springs free, ready and willing,
engorged with borrowed blood, much of it hers. It leaps a little more when
Buffy's eyes shoot straight to it. Hastily, Spike pushes his jeans down
the rest of the way, only to experiences a moment of sheer embarrassment
as he tries to kick the pants' legs off without falling over. If Buffy
notices, she lets it slide, her heated, hungry gaze and burning emerald
eyes making it clear she's got more important things on her mind than
holding this sudden clumsiness against him.
Fully aware of his scrutiny, Buffy kneels up and, after a tortuous
moment's pause, slowly slides down the zipper on her skirt, then shimmies
out of it in a gracefully appealing maneuver that is testament to the many
less obvious uses for Slayer co-ordination.
She's naked before him, and his tears evaporate in the wave of pure
animal heat that shoots through his body. Christ she's beautiful, even
more so than last year. Small and slender, deceptively fragile, but there
is now an added fullness to her form that is deliciously feminine.
"Come here, Spike." She smiles seductively, extending her hand. Spike
grabs it, kisses it as fervently as William would have, had William ever
gotten within touching distance of a real, live woman. He teases the
healing wounds on the delicate inside of her wrist. The blood rushes
beneath, thick and rich and tasty, the already intoxicating aroma enhanced
by the salty tang of her sweat and the marvelous fragrance of her arousal.
The surrounding air is suddenly redolent with the essence of everything
Buffy that he thinks he can taste it.
Her small hand twists around his wrist and she pulls him onto the bed
with a strength that belies the girlish giggle that escapes her mouth. A
rare, vibrant sound, it causes him just as much pleasure as the physical
touching. She's laughing, playing with him, and he can feel her body
shudder and thrum as she climbs over his, kisses his again with a smile on
her mouth. It's never been anything like this before. Never this
comfortable, this easy, this free from pretense and... well, friendly.
He feels unbidden tears threaten at the corners of his eyes. Bloody hell,
not again. Definitely not now!
Thankfully, the tears are quickly forgotten as she fixes her mouth on his
Adam's apple, then nibbles her way over his clavicles and down his pecs.
Accomplished at this, she is now. Knows him well enough to know what
works, and it fills him with happiness and pride that she remembers so
well. He can't help but squirm as her mouth works lower, and he gasps
loudly, jerks, and almost comes as she fixes her mouth on his nipple and
bites down firmly.
He feels her smile against him as she continues to lick her way down his
chest and stomach. Her tongue circles his navel, causing his back to arch
involuntarily and his toes to curl. She wiggles against him seductively as
she moves lower still, until finally he can feel her warm, wet breath
against the head of his dick. A second later, she runs her tongue up his
length with absolute precision, leaving a trial of wet heat in her wake.
She makes that soft, giggly sound again, looks up at him with mischief in
"So tense," she murmurs, running her hand down his trembling thigh.
"Relax a little, okay?"
"Yeah, relax. With your lips on my sensitive parts? Not bloody likely,
Her hot mouth descends on him again, licking the head then enveloping him
as deeply as possible. Fuck, it's incredible. She's incredible. And she's
enjoying this. Enjoyed it before, too, he thinks, but not for the same
reason. Not about power this time, no struggle for control. Sharing,
exploring, being...and, God, if she keeps this up he's gonna continue the
theme of the night and make a real right fool of himself. His body jerks
once, violently, in agreement. Gotta stop this now.
She looked up, eyes filled with uncertainty. "You don't want me to...?"
"Fuck, yeah I do. But it's been a while and... I want to be inside you."
As soon as the words escape his mouth, he realizes his mistake, recalls
the memories that line is bound to evoke. Buffy tenses sharply for a
moment, and he freezes, bites his lip, watches a succession of emotions
rush across her face. There's fear, he recognizes that, feels it shoot
from her and slice through him with vicious ease. But it's gone fast,
replaced briefly by confusion, then the calm of resignation and, finally,
"Love, give, forgive..." she whispers quietly. Then she opens her eyes,
fixes the dark green orbs on him. "...and move on."
She sounds as if she's quoting something; chanting it as a mantra. He's
never thought of her as the literary type, not one for books and slabs of
text. But she's brilliant at everything she tries, be good with words if
she tried. And wherever she picked this up, it suits him well.
She's crawling up his body now. Small, graceful, proudly feline;
gold-gleaming hair framing her face as a mane, eyes wide, bright,
predatory. It sends a thrill through his body, toes to brows, to know he
is claimed by such a majestic creature. He's hers to do what she pleases
with; has been for so long now that he's not sure what he did before his
world revolved around her sun. Wouldn't want it any other way. She kisses
him again, and their tongues gently intertwine as she presses her naked
form against him for a long, beautiful moment.
Lips still touching, Spike opens his eyes to find that she is watching
him too. It should be weird, this open-eyed kissing, but instead it's
richly intimate, sensual, the connection between them almost touchable,
enveloping them with it's intensity. She's looking into his soul, baring
her own. In that moment he knows that she is his, too.
"I love you so much," he says, the words barely more than a whisper. When
their lips finally separate again, Buffy is gasping for air.
The moment is gone, and her gaze drops into hiding beneath her long, dark
lashes. "I..." she begins, and he senses the uncertainty.
"Shh...don't. Unless you mean it..."
His heart is crumbling, reality slithering like a cold serpent through
his bones. He'd gotten his hopes up too high, when this - to be wanted,
needed, cared for and desired - should be more than enough. Reckless, as
always. He swallows hard against the sudden wave of something that feels
very much like nausea.
But her hand on his cheek, gentle and caressing, settles his nerves and
she guides his now blurry gaze back to hers. He is surprised to see that
her eyes, too, glisten with unshed tears.
"I do mean it. Or I want to..." Her voice fades off, and she closes her
eyes for a moment, blinks away the pooling liquid. When she opens them
again, the irises are calm and clear. She beckons between them, runs her
other hand down his naked chest.
"This is easy for me, Spike. This, physical, doing stuff. But the other,
mushy, gushy stuff? Not so much... Also, I've already out-mushed myself
tonight..." She pushes herself up so she's on hands and knees above his
stomach, looking down on him, her skin not quite touching his. His
erection bobs behind her, not quite within reach.
"Buffy, you don't have to..."
"No, I...I want to." She says the last part determinedly. "I need to."
She fixes her intense gaze on him and draws a deep breath. When she
speaks, her voice is soft and sweet as honey.
"I love you Spike."
He knows it's the truth. She's not hiding anymore, not acting. It's just
her. His Buffy. Looking down at him, completely honest and open. He'd
never, in all these years of watching her - stalking her, really - seen
her look more beautiful.
He closes his eyes against the rush of pure happiness. Her words are
better than anything he's ever experienced, far better than football, or
killing a Slayer, or even hours of rutting with Buffy on the floor of that
abandoned house. Thanks the Gods for a curse-free soul, 'cause otherwise
it'd be gone right now.
Then his eyes fly open as she lowers herself onto his near-forgotten
erection, enveloping him slowly, inch by glorious inch, in her amazing
heat. The moment is so intense, so right and splendid, that he imagines
his soul and demon dancing hand in hand. And then he can think of nothing
further as her tight, strong slayer muscles clench around him, and he is
lost amidst the swell of overwhelming, incredible, impossible pleasure.
Had she really forgotten how good this feels, the cool, hard length of
him pressed into her? They're a perfect fit, always have been, his size
filling her to perfection, the borrowed blood inside of him pulsing and
pleasuring her in near perfect time to the intense, urgent throbbing in
her groin and womb.
As she lowers herself onto him completely, Spike makes a strange sound,
somewhere between a whine, a gasp and a cry. Squeezes his eyes shut, and
tenses beneath her, the strain throwing every muscle and sinew in his
taut, powerful body into sharp relief. She watches his beautiful, dark
lashes flutter against his pale cheeks as his hands fall from her legs and
bury themselves amongst the sheets, clenching violently.
"You okay?" she asks softly.
"Yeah." His voice is husky and lust laden. He's already over the
precipice, holding onto the edge by his fingertips, and Buffy feels a rush
of feminine pride that she's had such an intense, profound effect on such
a powerful, ancient creature.
Drawing a long, shaky breath, Spike finally opens his eyes and meets her
gaze. "You all right?"
"I'm good. Great." She smiles.
Yes. Yes, it is.
Slowly, Buffy begins to move. Balancing on her knees, she rises above
him, then slides back down, reveling in the rich, indulgent pleasure of
being filled, completed. Her hands rest on his chest, fingers running over
his hard, brown nipples. He cries and arches and thrusts up eagerly as she
rises away from him and repeats the move again, and again.
His gaze is fixed on her, guileless and adoring, the usually cool blue
irises almost black with passion, yet glowing with the embers of heat and
need and sheer ecstasy. She watches him in turn, vision sweeping over his
prone form, entranced by the weaving, luminous patterns of candlelight on
his alabaster skin. Every so often the flickering light illuminates the
raw pink skin of a healing wound, or the ugly purple patch of bruise, and
she's reminded of what he has been through, what he has withstood for her.
So typical of Spike, bravely running barefoot over broken glass and
carved crosses, cashing in an intangible glimmer of hope for a nearly
Eye's locked, gazes fixed, they rock and thrust rhythmically in an,
ancient, intimate dance to which they both know the steps. It's familiar,
yet, like their kisses, also very new, different. Slower, more sensual,
more intimate. There's no rush to get anywhere, to prove anything. For the
first time ever she's doing this for the both of them. For him.
The angle of his cock is perfect, hitting nerves in all the right places,
sending rolling waves of pleasure through her body. It's good...
wonderful... and she wants more, more, more. She pushes herself down on
him harder, then arches and throws her head back as a particularly
tantalizing sliver of pleasure runs up her spine and across her thighs.
Spike clearly feels it too, and his cock leaps within her.
"Buffy, Buffy, Buffy..."
Spike raises his hands to tease and caress her breasts, callused fingers
kneading soft flesh with potent urgency. Streams of ecstasy shoot from her
nipples to her groin, another burst of energy through muscles already
quivering, tensing and straining for release. Her inner muscles contract
around him, and she grips him and holds him within her for a long moment
before gently rising and rocking again.
Spike's trembling escalates into shaking, his movements increasingly
jerky, his brow is furrowed in concentration, his cheeks hollow as he
sucks in air. He's close, and trying hard to make it last, and the
painful-delight is written over his expressive face.
"It's okay Spike, let it happen..."
"Can't... wanna make it good... give you what you deserve..."
"It's already good Spike. So, so good... missed you so much. Whatever you
give me... it's enough." Just a little bit longer...
"'s not. Never be enough."
Spike swallows, eyes glazed, and moves his hand from her breast, draws a
line down her stomach, and through the damp, springy curls at the juncture
of her legs. He finds her clitoris with practiced ease, fingers teasing
the bundle of nerves with an urgent, desperate action. Spike moans beneath
her, jerks his hips spasmodically and comes with a sudden cry, shooting
his load deep within her. She pushes herself into him, grinds against his
hand and feels it happen to her, too. Her vision blurs, dull candlelight
growing brighter and brighter, consuming everything in a blaze of fire and
white as the straining tensions burst and explode within her, and the
delectable sensations of orgasm wash over her leaving her shuddering and
Sighing, she collapses on top of him, rests her forehead against his. His
arms settle around her, gently stroking the curve of her back. They're
both panting, and she shares his dry, warm breath as she waits for feeling
to return to her limbs, and her breathing to slow to something less than
As the last tingling sensations of climax recede, Buffy finds they're
replaced by a new wave of feeling. Something richer, heavier, penetrates
her skin and bones, heart and mind. Seeps through every wall and fills
every nook and cranny and hidden space.
Oh God, it's love. Real, thick, messy love. Love for Spike like she's
never felt before.
"I love you." She says again. It's so easy now, she wonders why it was so
He opens his eyes and smiles at her. A real, genuine smile that reaches
all the way to his eyes, and she wonders if she's ever, ever seen him
quite this happy.
"I love you too," he responds simply, pushing a strand of sweat-slicked
hair behind her ear.
Buffy smiles right back at him. "Yeah, I know. Really know, Spike. What
you feel, everything you've done for me, it's all a little overwhelming
sometimes. Honestly, you're a little overwhelming sometimes." She drops
her gaze for a moment, then looks back at him through a veil of hair. "And
I can be a total bitch. But whatever happens, I need you to know that I do
love you Spike. I really, truly do."
There are tears on his cheeks, but he doesn't bother to brush them away.
Instead he pulls her damp, still trembling form to him with almost painful
"You're an incredible, amazing, wonderful woman Buffy Summers. Strong and
brave and mad as all hell. Love everything about you, even on your
not-so-pleasant days. God, I love you. Love you so, so much."
She kisses his cheek, his chest, then settles herself quietly against
him, ear on his silent chest. It's not long until he drifts off to sleep,
arms still clutched possessively around her, salty tracks down his cheeks.
And then, lying silent next to him, she simply watches him sleep.
Rest Spike. You need it.
She used to always deny it, but she knows now that Spike has loved her
for years. Loved her and worshipped her and cared for her with everything
he had, no matter how she used and abused him. She's a lot less sure of
her own feelings. Thinks sometimes that she loved him last year, when they
spent their days in a pantomine of living and their nights sweating from
killing and shagging. Or maybe just loved him as best she could, which
wasn't much when her heart was nearly frozen. She couldn't really love
him, because she couldn't love anyone. But she remembers wondering
whether, if she could love him then, could they be happy together?
She smiles, lays a gentle kiss in his chest and curls deeper into his
Here's her chance to find out.