Chest Wounds by Storm
Chapter #1 - Chapter 1
A/N: Hello! This story is finished (finally)! It has some 15,000+ words over 7 chapters. I’ll try to post a chapter per day over the next week. Reviews are appreciated, and of course, I don’t own any recognizable characters or places. I barely own the concept, it’s been re-hashed so many times. This is my version ;)

Crossposted all over creation.

Chapter 1
Spike’s alive. He’s alive.  Buffy clutched the phone in her hand, her heart racing as she listened to Vi’s report. “What? How? Where is he?”
“He’s here, in LA. He’s with that other vampire, Angel? I guess he’s been here a while, helped Angel start this whole mess. I don’t know anything else yet, but I could find out if you want.” Vi’s sweet drawl came over the phone, but Buffy could barely process what the younger slayer was saying. Her mind was stuck on a loop: Spike’s alive. Alive. Oh, god, he’s alive.’
“Did you tell Giles?” Buffy hadn’t spoken to Giles much since the collapse of the hellmouth. She’d been prepared to let everything go—all the treachery committed against her at the hands of her watcher and her friends, even her sister. And at first, she really had. Things had been good between them all. But slowly—or maybe not so slowly, although it had seemed like it at the time—Buffy became aware of the whispers behind her back, about Spike and her inability to stop mourning his sacrifice, about her lack of interest in actively patrolling, and about her decision to pursue a friendship with The Immortal after finding out about some of the extra special side effects of Willow’s resurrection spell. Giles and Willow were the worst of the group. She hadn’t caught much from Xander’s end, although she suspected that was because he was too busy mourning his own demon and berating himself for his own crimes against their relationship. Her sister, unsurprisingly, had stood staunchly in Buffy’s corner, supporting her right to grieve for Spike as well as her right to research The Immortal’s life and the choices he’d made, as well as what he’d learned from those choices.
Buffy had subsequently distanced herself from her high school friends and her watcher. It wasn’t that she had purposely set out to do so, she just found herself having less and less reason to talk to them about anything not slayer-related. They, in turn, had been shutting her out from much of the council business, which suited Buffy just fine. She still got reports from the major battles from her top slayers, such as Vi, and she still went out from time to time on patrol.
“No. I only told him about the battle. Should I have?”
Buffy’s mind had wandered so far in the few seconds of silence that she had to frantically review what had been said.  ‘Oh yeah. Giles.’  “Um, no.” Buffy’s mind flashed a remembered scene of Giles distracting her whilst Wood attempted to murder her… Her what? Her lover? They hadn’t been intimate in so long… Her main support? That seemed too cold, and not an accurate description of what she felt for him. Her vampire? “God, I can’t believe this. You’re sure?”
Vi laughed. “Yeah. So… See you tomorrow?”
Buffy was giddy. After confirming that she’d be in LA as soon as she could, she hung up and shouted for Dawn. She ran to her sister’s room and knocked on the door, opening it without bothering to wait for an answer.
Rather than her sister, she found Andrew digging through Dawn’s belongings under the bed. At Buffy’s entrance, he jumped up guiltily, stuttering about misplaced video tapes and comic books.
“I doubt she hid them under her bed, Andrew.” Buffy rolled her eyes. Having the resident ‘guestage’ around was annoying, but the Summers sisters had somehow become accustomed to his presence. “Anyway, not important.”
“You’re not going to kill me?”
“Why bother, when she can do it herself? Besides, I just found out the best news!” Buffy flashed a huge smile and shocked him with a tight hug, causing him to wince at her exuberance.
“Um, you’re sure you’re not trying to kill me?” Andrew squeaked.
“Spike’s alive! He’s alive and in LA with Angel!” Buffy stepped back and frowned slightly. “I don’t know why he’s in LA with Angel. Or why he’s not here. Maybe he doesn’t know where I am.”
“‘Oh?’ That’s all you have to say? Just ‘oh’? Why are you not making with the lame analogies that I don’t really get?”
“Uh, please don’t kill me?”
Buffy’s voice turned stern. “Andrew? What’s going on?”
Andrew made an attempt at bravery, pulling himself to his full height and squaring his shoulders. “I saw the Heroic Vampyre when I went to fetch the Rogue Slayer, Dana. And again with the Dark Vampyre when they came looking for you.”
Andrew ran to the other side of Dawn’s bed. “Please don’t kill me?”
“Andrew, what do you mean you saw him when you got Dana? That was…  months  ago. And—and he was here? Why didn’t you tell me?” What the  hell  was going on here?
“I was sworn to secrecy by the Vampyre.” He winced. “And I got in so much trouble the last time I told a secret.”
“Andrew, you got in trouble because you videotaped Council meetings.” She took a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself. “What happened? What did he say? Why did he tell you to keep it a secret?”
Andrew straightened his shoulders. “He said that he wanted to tell you himself.”
“Oh.” She sat heavily on Dawn’s bed, and Andrew warily approached her. “So why hasn’t he?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he wanted to wait until he completed his heroic mission of redemption, like the great—”
“Never mind.”
Andrew bit his lip. “He wanted to see you when he was here. I’m sure of it. I don’t know why he didn’t wait for you; I told him you love him…” He trailed off uncertainly as Buffy hunched her shoulders.
“Yeah. Well, I’ve got to pack. I told Vi that I’d help with the cleanup crew. Ah, if you see Dawn, tell her that Spike’s in LA and that I’m going, if she wants to come. Just in case I don’t see her.”
“Sure, Buffy. Anything you want.” He finally sat next to her and hesitantly wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “I’m sure… I’m sure he has a good reason. He loves you; I know it. Yours was the greatest love affair since Han and Leia. Greater, even. Like… Spock and Kirk. Or, wait—I mean…” He groaned. “I don’t know. I’m all flustered and can’t think of anything. But I know it will all be okay. It just has to.”
She smiled softly at him. He’d actually become a pretty good friend, for all his nerdiness. He was more loyal than she ever would have thought he could be, and she’d come to appreciate that quality after all the betrayal she’d felt in her young life.
Fifteen hours later, Buffy and Dawn stood in front of the Hyperion. Dawn glanced at her sister as Buffy breathed deeply, her eyes closed.
Buffy cracked one eye open and peered at Dawn. “Just, you know, preparing.”
Dawn snorted. “For what? Seeing the great broody one?”
“Among others.”
“Come  on . You know Spike’s going to be over the moon to see you.”
“Yeah. But what if he’s not? I mean, he’s been back for  months , Dawnie, and he hasn’t even made so much as a phone call. I’m scared,” Buffy admitted.
“Sheesh. You don’t bat an eye at huge nasty demons, but you’re all freaked out by seeing the guy you love?”
“Well, yeah.”
“Come on.” Dawn grabbed Buffy by the arm and started dragging her toward the building.
Slayers milled around the hotel lobby, chatting and giggling. Someone had cordoned off a section for use as a makeshift infirmary, but the majority of the girls only had cuts and bruises. Five of them were in casts, and two were laid out on beds with more serious injuries. Vi had told Buffy that the team had suffered one casualty, a girl that Buffy didn’t know but nonetheless mourned, and three had needed to stay at the hospital although Buffy was assured that they would be okay.
Vi spotted Buffy and Dawn standing awkwardly in the door way and broke away from the group of slayers that she’d been talking to. She hugged them both, saying, “You guys must be exhausted! I made Angel save you a room on our floor. I hope that’s okay. Come on, let’s get you a key; he locked himself in his office after we made tonight’s sweep.” She giggled, rolling her eyes. “I think all of us slayers made him nervous.”
Dawn looked at Buffy apologetically. “I’m going to go say hi to some of the girls.”
Buffy waved her on, muttering, “Traitor.”
Vi led the way to Angel’s office with a continuous stream of speech. “So, the sweep went well. Leanne fractured her arm, but only because she was too reckless. It wasn’t bad; she should be fine by tonight. She keeps thinking she has something to prove, and refuses to follow formation. I swear I’m going to tell Giles that I don’t want her in my team anymore. And Stacy was knocked out when a Gn’lsh demon got the drop on us. Again, Leanne’s fault for breaking formation. She really is a liability. She’s certain she’s ready for team leader. She’s had plenty of field time, but she just doesn’t understand that slayers don’t stand alone. Every time we try to tell her, she brings up you and Faith—never mind that it used to  only  be you and Faith. Gabby’s doing really well, though, and I think I’ll recommend her for a leader position soon…”
Buffy listened fondly as Vi prattled on. Whereas Faith had always maintained that slaying made her hungry and horny, Vi obviously dealt with the adrenaline overload by chatting. Buffy couldn’t help but sigh in relief when they reached Angel’s office, where Vi left her with a wave.
She knocked on the door and opened it when Angel called out a terse “What” from inside.
“Angel.” She stared at her hulking ex, vaguely wondering when her heart had stopped fluttering at the sight of him.
“What are you doing here?”
“Well, hello to you, too. I heard this nasty rumor that you’d started an apocalypse. Came to find out if it’s true.”
“Didn’t start one. Prevented it by taking out a council of beings intent on causing it. Now you know, you can go.”
Buffy exhaled and rubbed her forehead. “Angel, I’m sorry. I wasn’t going to act all bitchy. I came here to help and to see—you.”
“See me? Or to see Spike?”
“So it’s true? Spike’s here? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because you deserve the normal life that you always wanted.”
“Don’t you think that’s for me to decide? Yeah, I wanted a normal life. When I was sixteen. As I recall, the first time I said much about having a truly ‘normal life’ was right after a career week at school, when I realized I’d never have a normal career. I didn’t think I’d live long enough. After you came back from hell, I was all for an  ab normal life. With you. ”
“Damn it, Buffy, I left so that you could follow that dream.”
“I tried. And that worked out  so  well.”
“Well, you can now!”
“No. I can’t. Look, I really don’t want to argue. Dawn and I just got in. We’re tired. Can we stay here, or not?”
Angel regarded her, his thoughts morose. “I gave you 300 and 301. They’re across the hall from each other on the floor I gave the slayers.” He slid two keys towards her across his desk.
“Thanks, Angel. We appreciate it.” She briefly thought about asking where Spike was, but threw the idea out, figuring that one of the girls would know—and be more gracious about telling her.
As she turned to leave, he blurted, “I have someone in my life now. You know, in case you thought…”
Gripping the door knob, Buffy had to roll her eyes. Did he really think that she was looking for a relationship with him?
Turning, she forced a smile to her lips. “Good for you. I’m glad. Just—be careful, okay?”
He frowned at her lack of reaction. “She’s great. Really understands what it’s like.”
“What what’s like?”
“Living with a demon. She understands.”
“Oh. Well, that’s good, I guess.”  ‘What, is she another vamp?’  Buffy wasn’t so naive anymore to think that a soulless creature was incapable of love, but she still doubted that Angel, with all his hang-ups, would date someone like that. So, not a vamp. Something else, maybe. Werewolf, perhaps? Buffy smiled slightly as Oz’s face flashed through her mind.
“Her name is Nina. She’s great.”
“Uh, yeah. So you said.”
“I was just about to call her.”
“Okay. I’ll let you get to that, then.” She turned back to the door. She sighed when Angel spoke again.
“I just wanted you to know that I moved on. I’m not waiting anymore.”
Facing him again, Buffy mentally shrugged her shoulders. If he wanted to rub her nose in his relationship, she’d let him. It’d make it easier for him to deal with her reunion with Spike if— when —it happened. “Really, Angel, I’m happy for you. We’ve been over for a long time, even if it took me a while to admit it.”
He glowered, disappointed. “You’re going to try to be with Spike, aren’t you?”
Scowling, she said, “If you must know, yes. I love him. I told you that a year ago.”
“You said he was ‘in your heart’.”
“Uh-huh. And then, after… after Sunnydale, I told you I was in love.”
“But you were just—I don’t know, feeling sorry for him because he died!”
She winced. “No, that wasn’t it at all.”
“Well, it’s too late now.” He paused, and then plunged ahead, eager to cause her as much heartache as she’d caused him. “He moved on, too.”
“No.” Her voice was firm, but her heart shuddered as he nodded his head and an odd expression— was that sympathy, or something else? —came into his eyes. “No, I don’t believe you. No one loves like he loved me and then just—just  gets over it. ”
His demon roared in satisfaction at the new tremor in her voice. “Well, I guess he didn’t love you like you thought.”
Buffy shook her head and closed her eyes. “Why are you doing this, Angel? Why are you trying to hurt me? If you’re as ‘over me’ as you say you are, then why?”
Angel pushed away from his desk and leaned back in his executive chair, crossing his arms over his chest. “I still care about you, Buffy. I’m only trying to protect you. Stop you from making a fool of yourself over him.”
She trembled. This was her worst nightmare, come true. “No.”
“Yes. I’ll prove it.” Before she could protest, he grabbed her roughly by the arm and dragged her out of his office. He briefly scanned the lobby before narrowing in on a strange blue woman who was standing in a corner, her head cocked to the side as she gazed at a fake plant.
The woman spoke as Angel approached her, towing Buffy in his wake. “This confuses me. I do not understand its purpose.” She turned sharp eyes to Buffy. “You are The One.”
Angel spoke before Buffy could. “Illyria, please tell Buffy about your relationship with Spike.” He held his metaphorical breath and desperately hoped that Illyria would give Buffy a description that would suit his needs.
“The white haired one is my pet.”
‘Good,’  he thought, nodding. “Uh-huh. And why is that?”
Illyria cocked her head in a gesture that starkly reminded Buffy of Spike, although her eyes came nowhere close to conveying the emotions that were so obvious in his. “He is a passable warrior for a lower being. He has stamina, and is enjoyable to play with.” She abruptly faced Buffy fully, and Buffy felt as though the woman’s stare pierced her soul. “This distresses you. Why?”
Pain blossomed in Buffy’s chest, and she felt sure she would discover a gaping wound visible upon her breast if she were to look down. Her mouth opened to speak, but she shut it abruptly, uncertain of what to say. Before she could piece her thoughts together, Angel was once again dragging her away, leaving Illyria staring after them.
“You see, Buffy,” he was saying, “you really don’t want to let yourself be more hurt than you already are. And I wouldn’t approach Illyria if I were you. She’s a god.”
“I’ve taken on a god already, and I’m still around,” she mumbled distractedly.
He looked at her sideways. “Yeah, and you died.”
She shook her head vaguely. “Glory didn’t kill me; the fall did.”
“Buffy.” He said her name gently now that he felt that he had ensured that she wouldn’t go chasing after Spike. “Maybe you should just go.”
“I promised Vi that I’d help her with some clean up. She didn’t call in another team because I said I’d be here. I can’t go.” She smiled wanly at him, attempting to hide her pain. “I’m tired. I think I’ll go to my room.”
She turned from him abruptly and fled upstairs, leaving Dawn to find her own way to her room. She needed to be alone, needed to sleep, needed to process the thought that Spike might still be lost to her despite his return to the world.

A/N: I have been working on this story for quite some time—it’s survived the transfer between three computers, two jobs, a marriage, a pregnancy, birth, and first birthday. Every once in a while I would open it up and re-read it and maybe add a few lines. It’s been sitting in my documents file under the name “Untitled post NFA slight angst” for so long that I honestly thought about not coming up with a real title.
So… This novelette has a special place in my heart. But since it is unbeta’d, which poses a bit of a problem when I know the story so well. Please, drop me a line if you spot any glaring errors. I hope you enjoyed this story.
Chapter #2 - Chapter 2
Buffy’s lips were forced into a tight line as she stalked down the corridor.

Unwilling to face Spike just yet in the light of what Angel’s revelation about Spike’s relationship with the blue god, she had gone straight to her own room to take a nap. She had lain there, counting the cracks in the ceiling, for less than half an hour before giving up. She had only had to ask two of the younger slayers which room was his; he was apparently the subject of several budding crushes.

Now faced with the door to his room, she felt herself waver. She reached out a shaking hand to trace the numbers on the panel, berating herself for her cowardice. She shook her head, telling herself that this was just Spike. Sure, he had tried to kill her and her friends more times than she cared to count, but that was before. Before he had fallen in love with her, before he had gotten his soul, before he had lived and fought by her side. ‘What could he do to me?’ she asked herself.

A tiny voice inside her answered, ‘he could destroy you.’ She shook it off and knocked, schooling her features into passive politeness. After all, there was no need to give him more fuel with which to burn her.

She had almost talked herself out of her actions when the door swung open, revealing a scowling Spike. Her breath caught in her throat at the sight of him, and she blinked away sudden tears.


Spike had been avoiding the mini slayers as much as possible, neither needing nor wanting a reminder of the one that hadn’t shown up for the battle against Wolfram and Hart’s minions. Once he had realized that the contingent of slayers had arrived, he’d searched desperately for Buffy, nearly getting himself dusted due to his lack of attention to the demon he’d been fighting. Bitterness had filled his heart when he’d realized that she hadn’t taken time away from The Immortal Git to come and help Angel’s team—and him, by extension. A sharp pain in his side had drawn his attention back to the ugly bugger in front of him, and he had thrown himself back into the battle, not thinking about Buffy—or anything else—again until after the skirmish was over.

When he’d realized that the demons had retreated, he allowed himself to tally the losses that their side had taken. All in all, the number wasn’t all that great, but the individual deaths had been devastating. Angel and Blue had survived, but the loss of Gunn and Wes pierced his soul. Lorne had left them, and Spike mourned his loss as well. He thought that a few of the mini slayers had bit it as well, but he couldn’t bring himself to care as much about them. He hadn’t known them; they’d been faceless victims to Angel’s war against the powers of hell.

Now back at Angel’s hotel, Spike had immediately shut himself away in the room that Angel had provided him, not willing to be inundated with teenage gossip and raging slayer hormones. He growled at the timid knock on the door, knowing that it had to be a slayer. Blue would have waltzed in like the god she was, and Angel wouldn’t pry his brooding ass out of his office for the likes of his somewhat despised grandchilde. He threw open the door, a scowl neatly situated on his face in hopes of scaring off the girl brave enough to intrude on his solitude. If the scowl didn’t work, he was fully prepared to go into vamp face and bite her.

His face smoothed out with shock as he took in the girl on the other side of the door. Buffy. Buffy, looking pale and skinny, and slightly nervous, although he could tell that she was making an attempt at a brave face. She blinked at him as if surprised to see him, before offering a tiny smile.

“Spike.” The one word, his name on her lips, nearly made his knees buckle with relief at the sight and sound of her. That alone made him straighten his spine, and he frowned at how easily she was able to make him forget his promise to himself that he move on and get over the power she seemed to hold over him.

“Yeah? What d’you want? You’re interrupting my nap time, you know. Or have you forgotten? Vampire. Like to catch a bit of kip during the day.”

She flinched as though struck with a physical blow. “Um, yeah. Sorry. I, uh, just wanted…” She trailed off uncertainly, her eyes shuttered against the pain in her heart, not letting him see the emotions roiling in her gut.

“Just wanted what? Another round of kick-the-Spike? Wanted to see if I was still your puppy to come running when you call? Well, I’m not.”

She shook her head frantically, causing him to snort. Anything to cover his yearning for her. “No, no. I wanted to… To see you, to make sure you were all right, I guess. And you do. Look alright, I mean. Safe and, and incredibly un-dusty.” As the raise of his brow, she rushed, “Not that I want you to be dusty. Not dusty is good. I’m glad you’re not dusty.” ‘Thrilled, amazed, overjoyed, freaking ecstatic that you’re not dusty, but why, Spike? Why didn’t you let me know?’ She stopped the words from flowing out of her mouth, but just barely. She shook her head and clutched her arms to her chest, holding herself in an effort to not come flying apart in the face of his less than friendly demeanor.

His eyes became even colder, reminding her of the time before he’d fallen in love with her, when he had wanted nothing more than to end her existence. “Uh-huh. Well, here I am, entirely whole, with no thanks to you. Now you’ve seen, you can run along.”

Buffy bit her lip. “I just… I wanted to… Maybe we can be friends? I, you know, still care about you and want to know that you’re okay—”

Spike barked out a short laugh, incredulous at her gall. “Friends?” He shook his head. “No, I don’t want to be sodding friends with you. I don’t need you to care about me, and I don’t want you anywhere near me. You don’t have that right anymore.”

‘That’s it then. He doesn’t love me anymore; I’ve lost him. He doesn’t even want to let me in as his friend. God, who knew that my heart could hurt so bad?’ She swallowed hard, and determined to put his mind at ease—she wouldn’t try to follow him around, screwing up his life and his new relationship with the gorgeous woman that she’d left staring at a stupid silk plant. “It’s okay, you know. I mean, I understand.”

“And just what is it that you think you understand, Slayer?”

A fresh wound opened in her heart at his callous tone and his use of that word—Slayer. He sometimes used it as a title, an honorific, but he also used it as a means to keep his distance from her. This time, the inflection wasn’t respectful; it was, if anything, derogatory. A reproof. Slayer. Not The One, not anymore—not for the world, and not for him. Just one of many, meaningless, even disposable.

“That you don’t—that you moved on. I mean, I knew it would happen. Because that’s how it works, right? It’s how it works.”

Confusion marred his forehead. “What the bleeding hell do you mean, you knew it would happen? What’s that supposed to mean?”

Buffy let loose a stream of air and ran a shaky hand through her hair. “Nothing, nothing. Don’t worry about it, okay? I’m just… Maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself. I just wanted to let you know that… That I get it. You’re not with the Buffy lovage anymore. I won’t push you for anything.”

Anger coursed through his veins. “That’ll be a first,” he snorted. “An’ yeah. Sounds like you are feeling sorry for yourself. Do us a favor and do it somewhere else, yeah? Bugger off and leave me be.” He thought to himself, ‘Sorry that she lost her plaything, is she? Sad that she couldn’t have both me and the Immortal dangling on strings for her amusement? Well sod that.’

Buffy’s bowed her head to hide her stinging eyes. With a whispered apology, she turned and left the room, closing the door softly behind her.

She made her way to the floor that Angel had designated for the slayers, where she nearly ran over Dawn. “Buffy? What’s wrong?”

Buffy raised her head to look at her sister. “Nothing.”

Dawn raised an eyebrow, taking in the haunted light in Buffy’s eyes and the tears shimmering on the surface. “Doesn’t look like nothing.”

Buffy ran her fingers under her eyes and moaned. “Just the Buffy curse, that’s all. Hey, listen, why don’t we go to lunch? Just you and me?”

Dawn frowned. “Well, I was gonna go see Spike; I thought that maybe I could catch you before you were, ah, indisposed? And we could, you know, all have lunch together.”

“Oh. Well, that’s a nice thought, Dawnie. Um, he’s free right now, if you wanna go see him.”

“Well, if you want to have lunch—”

Buffy laughed, but it was a brittle, forced sound. “No, you know, I think I’ll go lay down for a while. I’m feeling a little tired. You go catch up and stuff. I’m sure he misses you.”

“Buffy? Are you going to be okay?”

“Yeah.” She forced a small smile and touched Dawn’s hair. “I’ll be fine. Eventually. Go. Have fun.” She turned and walked down the hall to her own room before allowing herself to collapse on her bed in grief, silent sobs wracking her thin body.


Dawn stood in front of Spike’s door, breathing deeply to calm her nerves. She wasn’t as sure about her welcome as Buffy claimed to be. She’d been cold, unyielding, when she saw him last, and although she’d had time to heartily regret her actions over the past year, she wasn’t entirely sure that he’d forgive her.

She’d barely had time to lower her fist after her tentative knock when the door flew open. Spike’s face was angry, then briefly softened before assuming a guarded expression.

“Hey, Spike.”


‘Okay, that’s not good,’ she thought. “Can I come in?” He wordlessly beckoned her in and closed the door behind her. She faced him, fidgeting, and blurted, “I missed you. I’m so sorry, and I missed you so much!”

The tension in his neck and shoulders eased somewhat. “Missed you, too, Dawn.”

She flew into his arms with a sob. Startled, he paused for a moment before tentatively wrapping his arms around her. “Shh, it’s alright.” At her continued sobs, he gathered her into his arms and moved to a chair, where she curled into his lap and cried. “What’s all this, then? Don’t cry, sweet bit. You’re okay. Don’t cry.”

Her tears ran dry after a few minutes, but she still clung to him. His arms loosened when he sensed that she had let it all out, and she sat up, looking away and wiping her face. “Sorry,” she sniffed. “It’s just, I really missed you. We thought you were dead, and then we found out you weren’t, and I didn’t believe it, but here you are, and I missed you.”

“Hey, Bi—Dawn, it’s okay. Not much can keep the Big Bad down, right? And I missed you, too.”

She smiled a little. “You can call me Bit. You know, if you want. Just promise me something?”

“What’s that, sweet Bit?”
She smacked him on the chest with a fair amount of strength, causing him to raise a brow. “Don’t die and then come back and not tell us again, ‘kay?”

He laughed softly. “Din’t mean to upset you. Promise I won’t do it again.”

She inhaled and rested her head against his chest for a moment before gingerly moving off his lap.

“So, why isn’t Buffy here?”

The tension that had left his body came flooding back. “She was. She said her piece. She left.”

Dawn’s face scrunched up in confusion. “Okay. I know she was here, I saw her leaving. The question is, why?” Her voice grew hard. “Don’t tell me she was a bitch again.”

He snorted. “It seems that we finally understand each other. We’ve both moved on. It’s fine. As it should be, an’ all that.”

“What? Wait, ‘moved on’?” She whispered, “Don’t you love her anymore?”

He chose his words carefully, unwilling to expose himself too much, even to Dawn. “It’s not enough for one person to do all the loving. It’s not good for anybody when that happens, and I’m not going to do that to either one of us again.”

“Yeah, okay. But that wasn’t my question.”

He ran his hand across his head. “It’s not the same, Dawn.”

She cocked an eyebrow at him. “So… Is that a ‘no, you don’t love her’?”

“I’ve let her go.”

“Oh.” A sad, strained smile crossed her lips. Poor Buffy. No wonder she mentioned ‘the Buffy curse’. “Oh,” she repeated, the smile falling off her lips and her eyebrows coming together in anxiety.

“So’s this mean I’m not forgiven anymore?”

“Oh, Spike. No, nothing like that. But… We’re friends, right? You’re not going to not talk to me anymore just because you’re not in love with my sister, are you?”

He frowned, but didn’t bother to correct her. After all, although he was still in love with Buffy, he didn’t really want to be. “We’re friends, as long as you want. ‘Til the end of the world, an’ all that.”

She nodded. “Good, because there’s somewhere that I need to be right now, a little more than I need to be here. Is—is that okay?”

“Yeah, course it is. Ah, where’re you going?”

Dawn hesitated, biting her lip. Buffy was so private, and Dawn knew that her sister wouldn’t want her pain shared, especially after having her heart broken. “I… I have to make sure she’s okay.” ‘I have to make sure she doesn’t shut down again,’ she thought.

He smiled bitterly. “’M sure she’s fine, all nestled in with her latest, yeah?”

“Huh? Who? What?”

“The Immortal Prat. Innit that who’s givin’ her comfort now?”

“What?!” Dawn screeched. “Where the hell did you get that idea from? Oh, god, that wasn’t some lame attempt to make you jealous, was it?”

He snorted. “If it was, that was one hell of an elaborate setup. Heard it from someone else, then saw it with my own eyes.”

“Saw it? Where could you have possibly seen it?”

“Rome,” he said grimly.

Dawn’s mind went blank as she processed this. Quietly, she asked, “When were you in Rome?”

“Month or two ago, I guess. Dunno, really. Time all kinda ran together
there at the end.” He quickly added, “woulda tried to see you, but you weren’t around.”

“Uh-huh,” she muttered absently. “Look, I don’t know what it is that you thought you saw, or what you heard, or even who told you—”


“Andrew?! You heard it from Andrew, and you believed it?”

Spike sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, yeah. But only after
we saw her dancing with him!”

Dawn frowned. “Dancing? She never goes dancing anymore. Oh. Oh, my god, you went to Rome with Angel.” She smacked her forehead. “God, stupid, stupid, stupid. Oh, Spike, this is all my fault.” She slumped onto Spike’s bed, holding her head in her hands.


Dawn looked up, remorse warring with hope in her eyes. “Spike,” she asked slowly, “are you still in love with Buffy, or not?”

He looked away from her piercing gaze. “Got a soul for her. Woulda gone through hell for her; even did, sorta.”

“Do. You. Still. Love. Her?”

He sighed heavily. “Yeah. Yeah, but it doesn’t matter, does it? She’s moved on.”

“Spike, wait. It was a setup, but it wasn’t for you. We didn’t even know you were alive! It was for Angel. Buffy found out that he’d been spying on her, you know? And she clobbered the guy over the head, but we knew that Angel wouldn’t give up. And she was so mad at him, Spike, because of the way he was all happy that you went poof in the Hellmouth. And, and he kept shouting about cookies, whatever that means, and she finally screamed at him that they were already eaten, whatever the hell that means—”

“Yeah, he kept going on about cookies in Rome.”

“Well, whatever it was, she was pissed. She didn’t want anything to do with him, not for a long, long time, and she told him so, but he wouldn’t listen… So when we found out that he was spying on her, we figured we’d do something to get the point across, and the Immortal offered to help. He’s sorta her friend, you know? I mean, I don’t think she really trusts him because he’s not exactly good, but he’s not exactly bad, either. She said he was like a whistler, but I don’t know what that means, either… God, I’m still kept out of the loop a lot.”

“Bit? Topic. Stay on it.”

“Oh, right. So anyway, The Immortal said he’d help, and then we got Andrew to agree to tell Angel that they were a couple if Angel went by the apartment, and I left with some friends ‘cause I sooo didn’t want to deal with him, or I swear I would have told you, Spike.”

“So… You’re saying that they aren’t a couple?”

“No, no, they never were. It was my idea for them to go out dancing, that way they could be seen doing coupley things without doing any couple things. The Immortal said that Angel hated him for something or other—I think he mentioned nuns? And Darla? Anyway, he was sure that Angel would go looking for him in Rome, so all they had to do was be seen together, like they were together, together.

“God! I can’t believe Andrew didn’t just tell you. I mean, he knows what Buffy went through—” She cut herself off abruptly. “I bet he tried to tell you in some sort of mysterious, no-one-else-gets-it sort of way.”

Andrew’s words ran across Spike’s mind. One of you, anyway. “Bugger.”


“Only thing, Bit… Andrew already knew I was alive. Saw me when he came to pick up Dana. Made him promise not to tell anyone, but he knew. Didn’t think the git could actually keep a secret.”

“Uh, well, there was this thing with a video cam and Council meetings that Buffy wasn’t at, but then there was some internet site that was all ‘The Heroes of Tomorrow’, and he got in a lot of trouble over it. He’s been a little too good about keeping secrets lately. So, yeah, Andrew’s all with the secret-keeping. I just don’t know that I wanna know why you didn’t want us to know.” She paused. “You know?”

Spike grinned a little. “Yeah, well, wasn’t feelin’ too sure of myself, pet. Soddin’ hero, going down for the sake of the world, only to pop back up all ghostly. Kind of a letdown, right? Wanted Buffy to remember me as a champion.”

“Spike, I think she’d rather have you than just remember you in any way. God, she loves you. She was so broken after Sunnydale that I didn’t think she’d be okay again. And then we found out some stuff about her, and that’s how she met The Immortal.”

“What stuff?”

“Umm, I think that’s for Buffy to tell you.”


Dawn eyed him, wondering why he was still in the room with her.



“She loves you,” she repeated. “If you’re still in love with her, you should go. She needs you. If you’re not…” She took a deep breath. “If you’re not, or—or don’t want to be with her for some reason, then I need to go, because she needs one of us right now, but if you don’t want her, then it can’t be you because that might make it worse.”


Before she could say anything else, he was striding out the door. She fell back onto the bed, a small smile on her lips and a ray of hope in her heart. “Oh, please don’t screw this up, guys,” she whispered.

Chapter #3 - Chapter 3
Buffy lay curled in a tight ball, protecting her aching heart. Her tears had finally tapered off, leaving behind tight, itchy eyes, a swollen face, and a sore body. She longed for oblivion, but it was not forthcoming. Instead, images of Spike danced across her mind’s eye, the years flashing by in a disjointed jumble. He was telling her she was the one, devastated as he realized she’d shut him out of her house, writhing under her touch and begging for more, looking at her with eyes shining with adoration, looking at her with eyes as cold and hard as ice.
She screwed her eyes shut and whimpered as a new series of scenes assaulted her. Her imagination worked overtime, presenting her with the sight of Illyria sighing in pleasure as Spike’s hands wandered over the god’s body, worshipping her breasts, his mouth on her clit as he showed her a new kingdom over which to reign. Buffy desperately wanted to erase the visions from her mind, but a far more insistent part believed that her torment was nothing less than what she deserved for admitting that she loved him too late, for not recognizing what she had in him while there was still a chance for them, for hurting him.
Fresh pain exploded in her chest as she realized that he really hadn’t believed her admission of love in the Hellmouth. She’d spent the past year consoling herself—trying to convince herself—that, despite his last words to her, he’d at least died knowing that he was loved, but it was a just lie that she’d deluded herself with. She’d not even given him that comfort in the end. She’d given him nothing tangible, nothing so significant that he would know what she meant to him, that together they could have something worthwhile and real. If she had, they would never have been here. He would have come to her as soon as he’d returned to the world.
A keening wail escaped from her throat, followed by hoarse mutterings, neither of which she was truly aware. “Oh, god. Oh, Spike, I’m so, so sorry. Please, I’m so sorry.” All the apologies in the world couldn’t bring Spike back to her, couldn’t make him love her again, but she desperately wished that she could tell him that her last words to him in the Hellmouth had been sincere. It wasn’t for her sake as much as it was for his—he deserved to know, deserved to understand the depth of emotion that he inspired. He hadn’t felt that, she knew, ever. Not with Drusilla, and certainly not with her. Although just the thought of him choosing to be with someone else tore her apart all over again, she hoped that he felt loved by Illyria, strange as she was and as much as Buffy wanted to snap her stupid blue neck.
Her body had begun to shake when Spike’s arms encircling her from behind startled her. “Shh, sweetheart. It’s okay, I’m here. Oh, Buffy. Please don’t cry. I’m sorry love, I din’t mean it, any of it.”
She twisted in his arms and clutched at the fabric covering his shoulders. She would have questioned his sudden appearance had her mind been clear, but she was too filled with grief to process more than the fact that she was being held in arms that she’d thought never to feel surrounding her again. “Spike, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t better for you, that I didn’t prove it so that you would believe me, but I swear I was telling the truth down there. I—I don’t want anything from you… Okay, that’s not true. We both know that’s not true, but I don’t expect anything, and I just want you to know how amazing you are, and if—if she’s smarter than I am, she’ll let you know every second of every day how much she appreciates you, because you deserve that, and I’m so, so sorry that I didn’t give you what you deserve.”
His arms tightened, and his eyes became glassy. “Oh, God. Buffy, I believed you. I swear I did. Oh, sweet girl, what have I done? You haven’t been going through this this whole time, have you?”
She shook her head. “Just… Just sometimes. You believed me?”
“Of course I did. Those aren’t words you fling about, even to a dying man. I jus’ wanted you out of there, to go and live.”
He was confused when she seemed to pull back from him, curling further into her shell. “So it really was just me. Or, was it her? Is she that much better than me?” She squeezed her eyes shut, appalled at herself, and shook her head. “Don’t answer that. I’m sorry, that was uncalled for.”
Spike’s brow wrinkled. “What’re you on about? What ‘her’?”
“The Illery-whatsit. Downstairs.”
“Blue? Buffy, what in the world made you think I’m with Blue?”
“Angel said so. Then she called you—called you her pet, and said what great stamina you have. Which is, you know, true, but how would she know that unless…”
Spike growled low in his throat. “I swear, I’m gonna dust that wanker. An’ then I’m gonna flush his dust down the soddin’ toilet.” He took a deep, unneeded but calming, breath. “Buffy, I’m not with her. How could I be with anyone else, when I’ll love you for as long as I live? I told you, you’re in my heart, my gut. I’ll never get over you.”
She shook her head, stubborn. “No, because she said. He said. And you didn’t… And why would he say if it wasn’t true? And why wouldn’t you?”
He cupped the back of her head, urging her to lay it against his chest, and kissed her hair. “Buffy, Illyria’s a god. When she… came here, we needed to see what she could do, what her limits were. I was, let’s say, volunteered to spar with her. That’s what she meant by the stamina thing. There’s never been anything else, yeah? The pet thing is because she’s got a soddin’ ego bigger than Glory’s, if you can believe it, and she decided that she liked kicking my arse so much that she’d take me as a… pet punching bag.” He hesitated over what to say about Angel before sighing and plunging in. “Your former’s had a tough year or two, not that it’s any great excuse, and he’s… well, can’t say as he’s changed. He’s always been a great wanker. He’s just lettin’ it show more now, ‘s all. He’s jealous, love, of you and The Immortal, of you and me, of just plain you. Maybe he thought you’d run back to him, or maybe he just wanted to make sure you wouldn’t run to me.”
Buffy stilled, thinking it over. Of course Angel would be jealous. She had told him that she loved Spike—or at least, she thought she’d told him; those days after the fall of the Hellmouth were pretty hazy in her memory. Then she’d set him up to see her with The Immortal in an attempt to make him leave her alone. So, yeah. Angel with the big jealous. She could see that.
But that still didn’t answer the question of why Spike hadn’t wanted her to know that he was back.
“Okay, yeah, Blue? That’s what you call her? She’s demented enough to be staring at a freaking fake plant. So say I buy the pet thing and all that. And yeah, Angel’s got a pretty big jealous streak, and it wouldn’t be the first time he lied. But, Spike, why didn’t you come to me? Why didn’t you find me, tell me that you weren’t dust anymore?” She shook her head. “It doesn’t make sense.”
His thumb stroked over her cheek. “When I first popped out of that soddin’ amulet, the first thing I asked about was you. Then I tried to attack Angelus.” He looked down, sheepish. “Didn’t work. I fell right through him, landed in the middle of his desk.”
“I was all ghostly, pet. Couldn’t touch anything, kept fading out of existence. I tried to go find you, anyway, but every time I tried to leave Los Angeles, I’d pop right back at Wolfram and Hart. I was tied to that buggering trinket, and as I couldn’t pick it up, take it with me… And all the time, I was bloody terrified about what was happenin’ to me. I thought that I was going to fade into hell. Then, I’ve got that git telling me that you’re better off without me, and that you were finally leading the life you’d always wanted, and fuck, kitten, the last thing you knew about me, I was a bleeding hero, dying for the sake of the world. I wanted you to remember me like that, not like some tragedy who couldn’t even touch you and who didn’t deserve you—deserved to go to hell.”
Buffy’s eyes had grown huge during his spiel. “So what happened? How come you’re not ghosty? And…” She smacked him on the chest. “I’ll decide who gets to deserve me. That’s not your decision. I mean, if you, you know, want me.” She glanced to the side, afraid to look at his eyes. “If I’d known… I would have helped. And if you’d gone to hell, I’d have gotten you back. I… I was convinced that you’d go to heaven after that kind of sacrifice.”
He pulled back from her, eyes wide with disbelief. “Pet… You know me, what I’ve done. How… How could you think…” His arms tightened around her. “Monsters don’t get to go to heaven, love. They go to hell. ‘S where I belong.”
She snorted. “Says who? You’re a hero, Spike. Even before the Hellmouth-burny-badness, you’ve been a hero for a long time. You’ve saved lives; you’ve protected people. Me, Dawn, the Scoobies, complete strangers. You got a soul.” She scowled at him when he snorted. “No, it’s true. A soulless, self-labeled evil demon went and got his soul. Don’t you know how huge that is?”
“Buffy, the only reason I got a soul was for you. I didn’t want to hurt you, ever again. I thought I could give you what you deserve. It was only after that I realized that I could never be what you deserve. It wasn’t out of the goodness of my heart, it was selfish.”
A wry smile twisted her face. “What could be less selfish than love?”
“Look, you dozy bint, I’m telling you—”
“You’re getting all shirty again.” She rolled her eyes and plowed on when he attempted to interrupt. “If you were just being selfish, why did you stop? You could have just kept on. I was injured; I couldn’t have held you off if you were really trying to hurt me. If you were really being so damn selfish, you would have, I don’t know… Turned me, or something. Made me into a vamp, dependent on you. See, even before you got the soul, you weren’t as bad as you liked to believe you were.”
“Stop making me out to be saintly, pet. I was evil, make no mistake. Still am. A soul an’ a few saved lives don’t make up for over a hundred years of killin’.”
“Yeah, okay. You were evil. But you were trying. That’s what makes the difference. Even more, you were trying without any kind of encouragement, or support, for the most part. That makes it even more special and important. And, what? You think Angel can seek redemption, but you can’t? Spike, you saved the entire world. There’s what, five or six billion people in the world? That’s more than a few saved lives. And, and Angel’s doing it for some kind of mythic reward! You do it because…”
“I do it because I love you, Buffy.”
Her eyes shone with tears, love, and not a little bit of awe. “Yeah. You love me. And that’s… That’s a better reason than Angel’s, or—or mine. I do it because of duty, because I’m compelled to. For so long, I just wanted a normal life, free from my duties, from world save-age, from slaying and apocalypses and thanklessly risking my life every night. And the first chance I got, I tried to take the normalness that I wanted. Yeah, okay, it didn’t last very long. I mean, first I was too busy mourning you and everyone else we lost. And then…” She looked sheepish. “I got so bored, Spike!”
A quick laugh escaped his lips. “Coulda told you that woulda happened, Slayer. You’re not meant for normal.”
She shrugged slightly. “Maybe not.” She released a long sigh and tucked her head under his chin. “So… Are we…okay?”
His body trembled, almost imperceptibly. “Yeah, pet. We’re okay.”
“Good. Spike?”
“I love you.” Her voice was slightly muffled against his chest, but her words were plainly audible to the vampire’s ears. She held herself still, a little fearful of his reaction to her words. When he didn’t respond for a few seconds, she pulled back to look at him, and was startled to find tears streaming from his eyes. She wiped tears from his cheek with unsteady fingers and smiled gently. “I love you, so much.”
“Oh, Buffy. God, I love you, too. Love you so much, my sweet girl.”
Her smile widened, and she closed the space between them, her lips meeting his in a sweet, chaste kiss. He tasted of tears, whiskey, and Spike.
“Oh, god. God, Spike, missed you. Missed you so much. Wanted to die without you.” She murmured the words against his lips between small kisses.
He groaned and traced the seam of her lips with his tongue, gratefully delving in when they parted for him. Hands mapped the contours of each other’s bodies, caressing, teasing, inflaming. The hazy thought that they had more to talk about before taking this step fluttered across her mind and made its way to her lips, but was dismissed when he shifted so her body lay under his.
His hands roamed up her sides to her neck, thumbs stroking her cheeks. She bunched his shirt up and tugged on it, trying to draw it up and over his head. He moved back to accommodate her, his gaze almost hesitant. “Buffy? Are you sure, love?”
She blinked at him, her mind lost in a fog of rising desire. “Huh?”
“Are… Are you sure that you’re… That we’re ready for this, pet?”
“Oh, god, yes.” She frowned. “I mean… Unless you’re not sure. I mean, I can wait if that’s what you want. I’m not—I don’t want to just use you. I mean, I want…” She trailed off, uncertain. “Spike, if you don’t—if you… If you want to wait…”
He shook his head, smiling slightly. “Jus’ wanted to be sure that you’re sure. Don’t want to bollocks this up.”
She nodded her head vigorously. “I’m sure. Very, very sure. I love you. You love me.” She grinned. “We’re in love. I could come apart at the seams; I feel like I’m bursting.”
His smile widened. “Well, in that case…” His fingers trailed to her waist, drawing her blouse up and exposing her golden skin. He trailed light kisses over her flesh, smiling against her as he felt her shiver.
Before she was fully aware that her breasts were exposed, he’d latched his blunt teeth over a nipple and sucked. Her eyes fluttered shut and she gasped, a dreamy smile gracing her lips. She tugged on his arms, silently requesting that he move up. He let go of her nipple with a plop, bestowing a soft kiss upon it before claiming her lips. Tongues danced and teeth teased and nipped as they fell into the kiss.
Spike’s hands lifted to cradle her head. Her thoughts swam hazily, her mind capable of nothing more than Must. Have. Now. Her fingers moved of their own volition, exposing his waist and popping the buttons on his jeans. He groaned as her hand fisted around his cock, pumping his already hardened flesh. He pulled back from her and fumbled with the fastenings of her jeans, hands shaky with passion and need. He growled low in his throat when the garment finally gave way, and her lacy underwear quickly followed.
She blinked and blushed prettily when she realized that she was fully exposed to his lustful, predatory eyes. With a growing smile, she reached for him again, drawing his shirt over his head. “Make love to me, Spike. Now.”
He groaned and sank into her. Gone were half-formed plans of using his tongue and hands to stroke her into a screaming inferno of sensation. All that was left was this. It was homecoming, completion.
They shuddered together as his cock came to rest fully within her. Their foreheads met, and their souls rejoiced. Slowly, he began rocking against her, twisting his hips just so, causing little gasps and moans.
“Oh… Spike, love you. Love you.” She chanted the words to him, to herself, her voice taking on a keening edge as his hips sped up.
“Buffy… Missed you, love you, never let you go.” He panted against her neck, his muscles strained with tension. “God, Buffy. So hot, so tight and wet for me.”
“Just for you. God, just for you, Spike. Oh! Right there, so good!”
Her pussy started to quiver and pulse around him, signaling her impending orgasm. He clenched his teeth against his own, but the sharp prick of her nails digging into his shoulder and her voice keening into his ear, combined with the sweet pleasure of her muscles tightening around his cock, swept him over the edge with her.
He collapsed against her, and for interminable moments, the two simply relished the feel of being together. When his senses came back to him, he smiled ruefully and rolled until they were lying on their sides, facing each other.
“So much for stamina. Meant for that to last longer, pet.”
She snickered, squeezing him close to her. “We've got all the time in the world, sweetie.”
Chapter #4 - Chapter 4
“Buffy! Let's go!”
“Mmmmph.” Buffy blinked her eyes sleepily, her mind slow to process the banging at the door. “Go 'way.”
“Come on!” the voice whined. “It's time to kick some baddie ass!”
Buffy threw a pillow at the door, but only succeeded in waking herself up completely. “Just got here. Don't wanna,” she muttered and snuggled back into Spike's arms.
He chuckled against her hair. “C'mon, pet. Lot's o' baddies out there, we could get in a rough and tumble…”
She smirked against his chest and shook her head.
“…Then we could take advantage of all that adrenaline, come back and have our own rough and tumble…”
She chuckled. “Oh, okay. As long as it's more with the 'tumble' and less with the 'rough'.”
She looked up at him, her eyes serious. “I don't… Spike, I'm not willing to hurt you anymore, and I'm so, so sorry that I ever did. But I'm not gonna–”
“Luv. Stop.”
“No, I mean it. There's no way I can make any of it up to you–”
“And you don't need to.”
“Buffy, there's nothing that you have to make up for, and even if there was, I don't want it. Anything that you did… God, pet, I either deserved it for what I was doing at the time, or I deserved it for what I had done. It's like karma, yeah?”
“No, it's really not.”
He smiled. “I love you. You love me. Nothing else matters.”
“Fine. I forgive you. Do you forgive me?”
Her jaw fell open. “Forgive you? Huh?”
He slowly reiterated. “Do. You. Forgive. Me?”
“For what?”
Spike's eyes rolled and he began ticking off a list on his fingers. “For trying to kill you. For chaining you up. For pulling you down with me when you were already low. For… for trying to… for before I got my soul. God, luv, there's so much. I could go on for days.”
“Yeah. Oh.”
She sniffed. “I guess I'm being silly.”
“Okay, I'm forgiven. You're forgiven. We're all with the forgiveness.” A half-smile graced her lips. “But, you know, we could try the chainy thing again.”
He laughed and kissed her soundly before hopping out of the bed and leaving her staring at his firm ass with a pout on her lips. “Come on, luv, I can hear bitty slayer out there pacing. She's probably trying to decide if she should risk coming in or not.”
Buffy harrumphed at him, but slid out of bed anyway, quickly throwing on her clothes as he did the same. She turned back to him before opening the door. “There's so much that we need to talk about still, but Spike, I just want you to know, I'm so glad. I'm glad that we're together. I love you.”
That hint of awe that always made her knees weak touched his eyes as he smirked. “Love you, too, Slayer. Will love you forever.
Vi was nearly dancing from foot to foot when Buffy finally threw the door open. “Finally! Let's go, already.”
Buffy grinned. “Right behind you.” She grabbed Spike's hand, and together, they left.
Spike laughed with sheer joy as he dodged an attempted blow from his opponent. A group of slayers fought to his right, and Buffy was at his back. They'd unearthed a motley nest of demons that had fled from the sudden appearance of what had seemed like hundreds of pissed off slayers.
Buffy was torn between the bliss of watching Spike fight, the comfort of once again having him at her side, and worry for the team of slayers fighting along with them. She kept an eye on Leanne, remembering Vi's earlier words about the brash young girl. Buffy grimaced at the younger slayer's form as Leanne squared up against a particularly ugly demon and was summarily knocked on her ass. Pissed, Leanne jumped up and swiped at the demon with her sword, grinning fiercely as its head flew to her right and its body flew to her left.
Buffy yelled furiously as she watched Leanne shove another slayer to the side so that she could begin hacking at her next victim. Spike had barely realized that something was amiss when he felt Buffy leaving his side at a sprint. He quickly dispatched his opponent before swinging around, his eyes widening in horror.
A Polgara demon was rushing toward Leanne, its skewer extended and ready to end the slayer's life. Leanne never saw him coming.
Buffy, however, did.
Time slowed to a crawl, and yet Spike couldn't make his body respond to his commands. The air around him congealed, and all he could do was watch as the Polgara's skewer entered Buffy's chest and reappeared out her back.
Her impaled body was lifted off of the ground as the Polgara shook her, then flung her off against a wall, where she fell to the ground with a sickening thump and a quiet grunt.
Spike didn't recognize the agonized scream that ripped from his throat, nor did he comprehend that the team of slayers rapidly finished off their opponents. All he could focus on was Buffy. Buffy, who was laying so very, very still, blood pooling over her shirt, flooding onto the ground. Rivers of blood. She was losing too much blood, even for a slayer.
Frantic hands covered the wound on her chest as Spike whispered to her. “Come on, love, my Slayer, my Buffy, come on. You can do this, you can fight it. Buffy, do you hear me? You have to fight, kitten. You have to. I can't live without you again, not when we just found each other, not now. Buffy, listen to me. I love you, and I won't soddin' let you bleed to death, but you've got to fight. Please, pet, please.”
He growled ferociously at Vi when the slayer approached and touched his arm. She jumped back in alarm, but somberly told him, “We've got to get her back. Help me bandage her, then you can carry her back. It's not far, but we need to stop the bleeding.”
Spike looked up from the horrific sight of torn flesh under his frantic fingers and straight into Illyria’s eyes. He didn’t know where she had come from, but he was startled to see her staring at Buffy’s still form. She blinked placidly at him. “She is The One.” When he shot her a bewildered look tinged with hysteria, she spoke again. “I will help you return.” He nodded numbly, sweeping Buffy into his arms. He didn't notice the blurred journey back to the hotel, and before he knew it, new hands, hands that were clean and unblemished by demon gore were helping him move her to a small hospital bed. A low growl continually rumbled low in his throat as someone slipped a needle into Buffy's arm and an IV was started.
A sob stuck in his throat as he took in her pale face. With trembling fingers, he brushed hair, sticky with blood, away from her forehead before he closed his eyes and prayed to whatever deity that would listen that she would be okay.
Angel paced back and forth within the confines of his office, muttering to himself and occasionally stopping to anxiously peek through the blinds at the makeshift hospital in the hotel lobby, and at the few Slayers that had stayed behind rather than patrol.
“Okay,” he cleared his throat. “Buffy… Buffy, I just want you to know that despite everything, your attempts to move on, sharing your cookies with someone else, Spike, I'm willing to forgive you and take you back.”
He stopped moving and ran his fingers through his hair, shaking his head. Okay, he thought, maybe something not so angry. Blowing out a breath, he started again. “I love you. I always have, and I always will. You are the most important person in the world to me. As soon as you're ready, I'll break up with my girlfriend and we can finally be together.”
A frustrated sigh escaped his lips. “I love you. Yeah, okay, that's good, but maybe I shouldn't say anything about Nina. Just… let her think that it was all smoke.” He nodded to himself and started pacing again.
“Buffy, I love you. Always have, always will, blah, blah, blah… A lot more than anyone else could, that's for sure. I mean, you think Spike could love you more than I could? Ha! That's just crazy! Evil, soulless, Spike? Okay, well not so much soulless anymore, but he certainly has less soul than I do! And—and I've had mine for so much longer! That counts for more, right? He's just trying to impress you with the whole soul thing, and I'm… not. It was… forced… on me.” He growled. “Yeah, okay, so that's not the best way to impress her.
“Okay. Here's the thing, Buffy. I wasn't entirely, shall we say, accurate, when I told you that we—that is, Spike and I—had moved on. You see, we're ready to move on, we just haven't exactly started yet. But believe me,” he rushed on, “he's a lot farther than I am. I mean, sure, I do have a girlfriend already, or at least I do if she'll even still talk to me, but Spike moved on with Harmony. Harmony!” He paused, thinking. “Oh, wait. I wasn't going to mention Nina…”
Angel grumbled in frustration and slumped into his chair. At least he was only in the 'practice phase,' because this was not going well. At all. He had no idea what to even say to Buffy, or how to say it. He didn't know how she'd react to anything anymore. He didn't know her, and he was pretty sure that she didn't know him so much anymore, either. And he didn't know what to do about it.
When he was perfectly honest with himself, he wasn't even sure that he really wanted to do anything about it. He wasn't sure that they fit together anymore.
There. That was the crux of it. He loved her. Of course he loved her, but he wasn't sure that he was in love with her anymore—how could he be, when they hadn't even seen each other for more than a few stolen moments over the last five or so years? They’d been apart for longer than they’d been together. She'd changed.
The Buffy he'd fallen in love for was innocent, and had known nothing of all the gray areas of life. That Buffy would never have slept with Spike, or—and even still, it put a foul taste in the back of his throat to even contemplate it—the Immortal. That Buffy would have done her duty, would have slain both of her most recent lovers before they'd even gotten a chance to spoil her purity with their sins.
Yes, Buffy had changed. But then, so had he. He'd made choices that he wouldn't have contemplated in the past. Sighing, Angel finally realized that he had two paths. When she came back from her patrol, he could tell her everything… He could tell her that Spike still lived and breathed for her, that Illyria wasn't Spike's lover, and that she had his blessing if Spike was who she truly wanted. Hell, he could even refrain from telling her how grudgingly that blessing was being given.
Or, he could pursue Buffy himself. He could woo her again, relearn all of her facets. Maybe give her a refined book of poetry—maybe Byron. She had liked that sort of thing in the past, hadn’t she? Surely it would work again—still. He could lavish her with gifts, maybe even let her take an extended vacation. There were plenty of Slayers, and he could take a break in the fight now that he had defeated the Circle of the Black Thorn. He could finally give her the bit of normality that she still so clearly wanted, but was now afraid of. She would appreciate all that he was doing for her, and give up on the idea of his idiot grandchilde.
After pondering (not brooding) for some time, he came to a decision.  Now, he just had to keep his resolve until she came back. Surely not much longer now.
The lobby erupted into chaos. Their leader was down, appeared to be dead, or nearly so, and the newer slayers shook at the sight of pale skin and the gaping wound in the middle of her chest. A brave girl pulled Buffy out of Spike's arms, ignoring the snarl of outrage, and began prepping an IV. Another whispered to her companion, expressing her disbelief that Buffy would survive, while yet another asked why Buffy wasn't being taken to a real hospital in a carrying voice.
Nobody noticed the appearance of Angel, who, stricken, fell to his knees at the sight of the Slayer. Tears washed his cheeks as he struggled and failed to hear her heart over the din of the scrambling slayers, and he never registered that Spike had carried the girl in.
Positive that hope was lost, the grieving vampire turned and blindly made his way back to his office, berating himself for his part in keeping Buffy from happiness. He was sure that his betrayal played a major role in her death—she’d been distracted, depressed, and doubtlessly careless in her belief that she had lost the love of not just one, but both of the vampires in her life. He pulled the door behind him and prepared himself for a particularly long session of brooding.
Chapter #5 - Chapter 5
Buffy noticed three things at once. One, her chest hurt like a bitch. Maybe not as much as when she had thought that she’d lost Spike to another woman, but still. Bitchy pain. Two, she had tubes full of saline and god knew what else dripping into her veins. Three—and this she deemed most important—the love of her life was covered in her blood, a look of total devastation marring his handsome face, and he was fervently muttering to himself.
She strained to hear what he was saying, but his voice was too low for her to catch more than disjointed phrases. “Never… So sorry… Heaven, I promise…”
Her arm weak, Buffy could barely wave her fingers towards him, and he was too far gone in his unnecessary grief to notice her attempt.
“Spike.” Her voice was strangled and she desperately wished for water. “Spike,” she tried again. His eyes tightened, his body shaking with silent sobs. “No, Spike, I’m okay. Open your eyes.”
He opened his eyes, confused hope battling with disbelief. “Buffy. Oh, Buffy, ‘m so sorry, love. Don’ wanna lose you, not now that ‘ve found you again. But you’ll be at peace, yeah?”
“Shh. Spike, I’m fine. I’ll be fine.”
“Oh, pet. My brave girl. Love you so much.”
She smiled weakly, painfully aware that her lips wouldn’t do much more than grimace, but she was anxious to reassure Spike. “I love you. And I’m okay, really. I just need sleep. Maybe an hour or twenty. And to get this needle out of my arm. Take me to my room?”
Hope and disbelief fell, and confusion reigned. “Pet, you’re… Love, there’s a big gaping hole in your chest.”
She would have laughed if it hadn’t hurt so badly. “I noticed,” she said dryly. “Really, I’ll be okay, I promise you. I just really, really need some sleep.”
Putting his concerns aside for wont of appeasing her, Spike carefully removed the IV and lifted her as gently as he could. He winced at her gasp of pain, and slowly made his way up the stairs and to her room. Unseen, several of the younger slayers stared with fear at the sight of their injured leader at the mercy of a fully fanged master vampire. One of the braver girls started forward, drawing a stake from the small of her back, only to be stopped with a touch and a few whispered words by Vi, who had been anxiously waiting to the side for her friend to awaken.
Buffy was asleep when Spike reached his bedroom, forgoing hers for the sake of privacy. He breathed out a sigh of relief when he could once again hear her heartbeat, still weak but quickly gaining strength. He settled her on his bed and stretched out next to her, taking comfort in every puff of air that issued from her mouth.
Half an hour later, the door flew open, and Spike sat up, growling and ready to rip whoever was interrupting the slayer’s sleep into itty bitty pieces. He relaxed slightly when he saw Dawn, a wild look in her eyes.
“Think ‘s okay, Bit. She’s sleeping.”
Dawn stared at her sister in a daze, before her eyes leapt back to Spike. “Huh? Oh. Yeah. Okay. It just—I won’t ever get used to it.”
“What’s that?”
“Seeing her. Like this. All pale and… Dead-like.”
“Ever? How often does this happen, Bit?”
Barely noticing the tension thrumming through Spike, Dawn shrugged her shoulders. “It’s not like she tries to get hurt. Or even doesn’t try not to. You know what I mean. But it’s happened a time or two. The first time…” Dawn shuddered. “That was awful. But then… whatever happens, happened. And she was okay.” She glanced up, and saw that she’d lost Spike. “Oh, jeez. She didn’t tell you? Please tell me she told you.”
“Tell me what, exactly?”
“Crap. Sorry. I just assumed she told you. What the hell did you talk about for so long?” She smacked her forehead. “Don’t answer that.”
Spike smirked in spite of himself. “Right.”
“Okay, well, she should, you know, tell you most of it. But, see, there’s something wrong with her…” She broke off at Spike’s wince.
“Dawn…” Her name was growled in half warning, half pleading.
“Not wrong wrong, just… different,” she rushed on. “There was this accident, and she really should have probably not lived, even with the whole slayer-healy thing, but then she did. And then she started noticing other stuff. And we don’t know… But she’ll be fine. I promise, she’s okay.”
Dawn stayed insisted that Spike get cleaned up, then a while longer before murmuring that her stomach was growling and asking Spike if she could bring him some blood, which he declined. When she left, he curled himself around Buffy, taking care to leave her bandages undisturbed. He fell asleep to the symphony of heartbeats and breaths that assured him that the love of his existence was still with him.
His office darkened and the blinds shut, Angel sat, perfectly still, with his head in his hands. He was firmly in the second stage of grief, and anger coursed through his veins. He was furious with himself for his pettiness, with Spike for ever listening to him, with Buffy herself for putting them all in the situation. Rage burned in his heart for the demon (demons?) responsible for Buffy’s death, and for every single slayer that should have been there, protecting her. He blamed Giles for some bit of training that had been left out of Buffy’s curriculum, the Watcher’s Council for their lack of support, and the Powers That Be for choosing an innocent girl to be sacrificed.
Logically, he knew that probably no one—with the possible exception of himself—was truly at fault, but logic wasn’t his companion at that moment. A peal of laughter rang out from the lobby outside his office window and his teeth ground together. ‘What right do they have?’ He leapt from his chair, sending it crashing backwards. He paced back and forth across the small space briefly before flinging open the door and roaring his displeasure.
A few girls, startled by the furious vampire, fell into fighting stances. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, big guy.” A random slayer put her hands up in a placating gesture. “What the hell is your issue?”
“Buffy. She died for you people, and you—you’re all out here. Laughing.”
The slayer was shaking her head before he finished. “No. She’s fine. Resting. No one died today.” She turned around and addressed the others behind her. “It was a good day, right girls?” She smiled at several enthusiastic affirmatives. Turning back to Angel, she said, “so you see? Temper tantrums neither needed nor wanted.” Lowering her voice, the slayer (should he know who she was? He suspected that she thought he should) continued, “Angel, let them celebrate. They did good, and they deserve it.”
Angel stared bemusedly as she went back to chat with a group of girls sitting in the lobby and promptly ignored him. He received a few sidelong looks as he turned away and wandered up the stairs towards Buffy’s room. He found it empty, unused apart from the bed, which looked as though someone had been laying on top of the spread. He turned to leave, only to be met with Dawn, her eyebrow raised and her arms folded.
“I heard Vi tell you that she’s fine. I’m gonna tell you again, though. She’s fine. And she doesn’t want your broody ass annoying her. She’s trying to heal.”
“Where is she, Dawn?”
“Uh-uh. I’m not telling you.”
“Where. Is. She.”
“Oooh, big scary vamp. I’m. Not. Telling.”
Angel let out a frustrated sigh and tunneled his fingers through his hair. “Look, I just need to see that she’s okay for myself. Because before… Dawn, I couldn’t hear her heart beating. I need to hear it.”
Dawn rolled her eyes. “Angel. She’s fine. Take it from her sister. And maybe she’ll, you know, let you see her later. When she’s awake. But right now Spike’s—”
“Um, nothing. I just meant that I’m going to go see Spike, and—”
“She’s with Spike? Since when? Since before she got hurt?”
“Hey! He didn’t have anything to do with it! Who do you think brought her back? He loves her, dammit, and you need to leave them alone!”
Angel slumped with relief. “It wasn’t my fault, then.”
“Huh? With a what?”
He shook his head. “Nothing, nothing. That’s fine, then. Well, maybe not fine, but sort of okay.” He pushed passed her and strode down the hall, coat billowing behind him. “I still want to see her when she wakes up!” he called over his shoulder. “I have a phone call to make and a girlfriend to grovel to.”
Dawn could only stare after him, mouth agape.
Chapter #6 - Chapter 6
Awakening from her healing sleep, Buffy snuggled contentedly into the body curled around her. She smiled to herself as he murmured to himself before trying to move closer—an impossible task, really, without actually crawling inside her skin. She drew back and watched his eyes move with his dreams, a slight smirk alighting upon his lips, and joy filled her chest. This was a sight that she had resigned herself to never seeing again, and honestly, one that she had never fully indulged in. She didn’t know how it happened, but she decided that in her own little world, his reappearance—even if their reunion had been delayed by both vampires’ ginormous egos—was a gift to both of them from the Powers That Be.
She traced his lips, smirking when his mouth twitched. She turned her gaze lower, visualizing the broad shoulders and defined chest that were hidden from her gaze by the hateful t-shirt covering his lean frame. The shirt rose a little at the bottom, exposing a strip of pale flesh. She tentatively ran her fingers along it, desperate to touch him, but unwilling to awaken him. The skin along his waist was resilient, and she pushed up his shirt just a little so that she could lay her hand across his abdomen in a delicate caress. Her thumb brushed the button of his jeans, and she lingered before moving to squeeze his hip, her fingers digging into the muscles of his ass just a little. Her hand remained there, rhythmically squeezing, as she allowed her thoughts to wander.
She had come so close to losing it all. If Vi hadn’t called her, if she had called Giles or Willow first… Buffy had no illusions that Giles and Willow would have let her know—they may have kept the whole thing from her in an effort to ‘spare’ her from the ‘agony’ of seeing Angel. Again, always, they thought they knew best, and chances of them applauding her decision to be with Spike—or even respecting it—weren’t high. Angel had done his best to keep them apart, obviously, and Spike himself, the insecure ass that he was, didn’t help.
She had devoted so much thought to his memory since losing him that she could barely remember a time that she didn’t appreciate everything that he was, but she knew that she would have some convincing to do. Grinning in anticipation, she thought about some of the ways that she could persuade him to believe that she had absolutely decided that he was worth everything.
She shuffled closer to him again before realizing that her clothing was stiff with blood. ‘Eeewww!’
Moving as gingerly as possible so as to not wake her lover—and how she loved that title—she stretched her limbs, checking for residual soreness. Feeling nothing but the pleasant tingle of well rested muscles, she cautiously prodded the skin beneath her bandages. Finding nothing, she carefully sat up, hunching over and twisting her back to check for any internal pain. Smiling in satisfaction, she contemplated the speed at which her healing was taking place. It was definitely getting faster—that first time had taken her days to heal, and she knew she’d only been asleep for a few hours this time.
Buffy grimaced at the pull of dried blood, and placing a light kiss on Spike’s brow, left him sleeping. She glanced at him one last time to make sure he wasn’t waking up before stepping into the adjoining bath, intent on cleanliness.
She flicked on the light in the en suite, squinting against the sudden glare of naked bulb in the whiteness of the bathroom. Buffy caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and grimaced at the horror show image. Although she logically knew that A, Spike had already seen her like this—she had, after all, awoken in his bed, with him in it—and B, Spike would not have cared anyway—vampire, duh—she was glad that she had the opportunity to prettify herself, at least a little. She had plans. Big ones.
She leaned into the shower and twisted the knobs, hoping that there was still hot water despite the Slayer brigade. Standing once more, she stripped the soiled bandages and the torn and bloody clothing from her body, checking the now-absent wound in her chest once more. It was unmarred. She had mourned the rapid healing when it first appeared, knowing that it meant she would be even more difficult to kill—not that she was suicidal, really, but heaven would not come to those who could not die. Of course, that was before she realized that Spike was back. Her heaven lived within him, everything and everyone else be damned.
Stepping under the stinging stream of water, she was relieved to realize that it was hot. Either the Hyperion had adequate heating, or the Slayers hadn’t started cleaning up. Or maybe she really had been asleep that long. Regardless, she quickly took advantage, stealing Spike’s shampoo from the shelf in front of her and lathering her hair. She rinsed and conditioned her hair before grabbing the body wash and bath poof--’must remember to tease Spike.’ She watched the water swirling the drain turn rust with her blood before finally running clear.
Stepping out, she wrapped a towel around her body. She was pleased to find a hotel style hair dryer alongside Spike’s hair products. She didn’t have her lotion or makeup, but decided that it really wasn’t worth leaving Spikes suite to retrieve her toiletries. After drying her hair, she again checked her reflection. Her eyes were a touch tired, the stress from the last year still showing, and her skin was less than the golden tan that had been the heritage of her California girl days. She pinched her cheeks to add color, then blew air through her lips in frustration. She was dawdling, a little fearful of facing Spike’s questions, though she knew that he would be accepting of her, no matter. She straightened her shoulders, and with a long last look at the mirror, opened the door to the bedroom, allowing the remaining steam to come billowing out.
Spike was dreaming. Buffy, his slayer, his golden goddess, was with him. Her scent filled his sinuses, her heartbeat echoed in his chest. His mind’s eye was filled with ephemeral images of her, laughing, loving, fighting, fucking, oh god, so hot. Blood. He frowned. She was bleeding, but no, she’s okay. She’s okay. Kissing. Kissing the girl, oh god, her lips caressing his, nerve endings firing, breath hitching—his or hers? His hands on her back, lower, lower, grabbing the sweet curves of her arse, lifting her, her legs around his waist, kissing again. Her tongue tracing his lips, softly. Tickles.
His lips twitched with sensation, and he woke to find Buffy gazing at his chest with a… fascinated look in her eyes. He quickly shut his eyes again, careful not to breathe, eager to see what she would do.
He almost groaned when her fingers stretched beneath his shirt, lifting it up. His cock filled with a hot rush of blood when she brushed over the fastening of his jeans, and he did groan, ever so slightly, when her hand left his buttons to rest instead on his hip. He cracked his eyes open again, almost panting, when her sweet hand started grasping his hip. He was so, so tempted to shift, let her pumping hand fall to his cock instead, but he resisted. She was obviously lost in thought, frowning slightly, and besides, he had thought that this would be her deathbed only hours earlier. He closed his eyes again, breathing deeply, but only smelled dried blood, nothing fresh or flowing.
She moved closer to him briefly, but he heard her soft exclamation of disgust before she moved away again, and he knew that she realized that she was covered in blood. He kept his eyes closed and his chest still as she maneuvered her way out of bed, obviously doing her best not to disturb him.
How could she possibly think that he could sleep through that little grope-fest? Dozy bint.
Spike cracked an eye as he heard the shower turn on, frowning over the thought that his girl, although mortally wounded mere hours before, was healthy enough to leave the bed with no assistance. Although he was ecstatic at the possibilities that led to—namely, the idea that she would never again die and therefore leave him mourning her loss—he was simultaneously angered and saddened by the conclusion that she would never again be wrapped in the arms of Heaven. Lost in the dichotomy of his thoughts, he was startled when she flopped down on the bed beside him, wrapped in a towel. Her hair was dry and styled, but her face was make-up free. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
“Deep thoughts?”
He raised an eyebrow at her. “You’re all healed up, then?”
“Yep. Good as new. Some of those things I wanted to talk to you about.” She looked down, tracing the design on the bed covers. “I’m not sure where to begin…”
“Dawn told me there was an accident,” he prodded.
“Um, yeah. Car accident. I was hit, smashed my head in.” He flinched, and she grabbed his hand in comfort. “I don’t really remember it, actually, it happened so fast. I was… lost in thought… just walking and thinking about…” you “…stuff. And the next thing I knew, a week had passed, and I had a headache the size of Angel’s ego.” He smirked appreciatively. “We don’t know a lot, really. Giles and Willow think different things. He thinks it’s because Willow messed up the resurrection spell. She thinks it’s a slayer thing.” Buffy shrugged. “The only thing that they agree on is that it’s getting faster. And they’re right. At this rate…”
“At this rate, you’ll be… immortal.”
“Yeah.” She pursed her lips and blew out her air, rolling her shoulders. “It’s been rough. And scary. And lonely.” She smiled sadly. “I realized a little after it happened, that it would mean that I was going to lose everyone I loved. They’d all grow old and die, and I wouldn’t. For the first time, I understood why Angel left me.”
She grinned at his growl. “Bloody wanker.”
“But, I’ve been learning to cope. Talking to people. And now, I have you.”
“Too right.”
She grinned and moved so that she was snuggled beside him. “I love you.”
He squeezed her tightly. “I love you, pet. I’ll never get tired of hearing that.” He paused, trying to think of a way to bring up the Immortal without sounding like a huge prat. Luckily, his girl seemed to know what he was thinking, and brought the pain in his arse up for him.
“The Immortal, I think, has been the most helpful. I wanted so badly to talk to someone that had made it, survived for centuries without going crazy. Most of them out there are pure evil. Not that I really think that he’s not, but the only other one that I really knew was Angel. I was so mad at him, though. And that was before I knew that he kept you from me. Besides, he’s kinda nice to hang around once you get past his enormous ego. In a totally platonic way, of course.”
Spike smirked. “As if there was any doubt.”
“You know, you’re kinda nice to hang around with, too.”
“In a not-so-platonic-way?”
She smiled and brushed her lips against his. “In a very un-platonic way.” Deepening the kiss, she slipped the bath towel that she had been wearing off, leaving her nude to his appreciative eyes. She smiled and began removing his clothing, laughing as he growled when she moved to make room to maneuver.
He caught her waist and rolled her under him when she’d removed his vestments. “You’re sure you’re okay?”
“I think that I won’t be if you don’t get on with the anti-platonic part soon.”
He snickered before nipping at her lip. Her breathing quickened as he began moving down her body. His body was rumbling with a constant purry-growly sound, and she longed to push the throbbing, buttery need between her legs against him.
Her scent called to him, the arousal perfuming the air doing more to settle his concerns than anything words and actions combined. He flattened his tongue against the protrusion of her hip bone, tasting the skin, already lightly salted despite her recent shower. Buffy. She carded her fingers through his hair and arched her hips in invitation, but he moved his head back up, past the junction of her thighs, to nip at the flesh below her belly button. His hands caressed her sides, leaving trails of goosebumps.
She tugged his shoulders, silently asking for his lips against hers. Their mouths met, parted, and her tongue slipped past his lips, teasing his retracted fangs. She shivered, smiling, at the resulting growl. Her hands ran across the muscles in his neck and shoulders, testing the texture, feeling the cords across the back of his neck as he lifted his head to gaze at her.
His eyes swung down to the unblemished skin between her breasts, and he tentatively touched her breastbone. The skin looked and felt completely normal, belying the image of her pierced and bleeding body that threatened to blur his vision. She trapped his hand against her chest, pushing his palm down over her heart, which thrummed reassuringly. She reached for his other hand, allowing his unsupported body to rest against her, and gently bit his palm. His eyes swung up to meet hers, pupils widening, blue bleeding towards gold, and growled when her teeth nipped against the nerve endings in his hand and then his middle finger. He took a panting breath when she slipped the digit inside her mouth, against her tongue, and sucked.
‘Finally,’ she thought, as she watched him struggle against vamping out and pushed away from her and down her body. She lifted her hips again, hoping he would take the hint this time, and was gratified when one hand curled around her hip, bringing her pelvis up to his face. He buried his nose against her and breathed in, moaning. A whine rose from her throat and he looked up, clear blue eyes sparkling. “Come on,” she pleaded with him, causing a smirk and his tongue to curl against his teeth. “Please, Spike!”
With a huff of laughter that sounded suspiciously like ‘bossy’, he took pity on her and brought his mouth down, licking a long path along her slit before stabbing it into her folds. Her back arched and her hands fisted in the bed sheets. Thighs trembled, the tendons in her neck corded, her head thrashed to the side, and her chest heaved as she panted in time to the rhythm that he set. A keening wail broke from her throat as he replaced his tongue with long fingers, tapping against the spongy flesh within her clenching vaginal walls and moved his mouth up to cover her clit.
He was unrelenting, sucking, allowing his fingers to dance inside her, as she shattered around him. Her entire world narrowed to the vampire laying between her shaking thighs, her orgasm unremitting, waves crashing over her again and again without recession. Her hands gripped his hair, pushing and tugging, unsure if she needed less or more when the final flood came over her without warning, leaving her body limp and sated. He lifted his mouth from her and gently removed his fingers. His head rested on her thigh as his hand softly petted her mound, calming her quivering muscles.
She came back to herself, stretching and dislodging his weight. He crawled up the bed, lusty eyes taking in her flushed breasts and tangled hair. She wriggled out from under him and he threw himself down in her vacated spot, smirking at her as she leaned over him. She wrinkled her nose at his overly smug expression, and reached down to grasp his firm cock, determined to wipe all thought from his brain.
As she looked towards the hardened flesh in her hand, Spike’s eyes rolled up and his mouth fell slack. He shoved one hand under the pillow under his head, nails digging into the soft material, and allowed the other to trail over her hair, brushing it back over her ear and giving him a full view of her actions. She ran her tongue over his inner thigh, teasing and tasting, as her fingers lightly traced the veins on his cock. Her hand moved down, lifting the heavy, full weight of his testicles, and she darted her tongue out to lap at the pre-come beading at the tip. She moved fully between his thighs, pushing them wider, and rested her weight on her elbows. She heard him panting above her, his voice whispering her name, as she allowed her hand to continue to cradle his balls, and her other hand to firmly grasp the base of his erection. Her mouth moved over him, tongue prodding his foreskin, and began to move over him. She let her teeth drag over him, ever so delicately, and he groaned and thrust up, immediately trying to still himself, keeping his movements in check.
She ran her tongue over the glans, caressing, but denied him the strong suction that he craved. Instead, she built a slow burn, relishing breaking his control as his buttocks began steadily clenching and releasing, unconsciously attempting to increase the sensation. When the hand at her head joined the rhythm, changing from a caress to a demand, she looked at him from under her lashes. His head was thrown back, eyes squeezed shut, mouth clenched. The muscles of his abdomen rippled as he strained up, down, searching for something, unable to stop himself and unwilling to stop her.
She took pity on him and refocused her attention on his cock, increasing the suction and motion, allowing his head to brush the back of her throat. His voice became louder, words tangled together in a constant stream of Buffy, love, yes, sweetheart, like that, Buffy, oh God Buffy, my love, fuck yes.’ His hips shifted in an unconscious thrust, and she swallowed around him. His body froze, his hand shook against her head, and his orgasm erupted, sending a stream of semen down her throat. She swallowed all of the bitter fluid that he gave her, continuing to give him light pressure, letting him slowly come down from his peak.
When his hand released its grip, she slithered her way back up his body, stopping to wipe her lips before coming face to face with him. He smiled lazily and pulled her in for a kiss, tasting both of them, the mixture incredibly erotic for the vampire, who relied on his senses so heavily. He leaned back, fingers, stroking her neck and jaw, and whispered his love to her. She closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against his, lips curved up with happiness and completion.
His fingers moved to her side, thumb rubbing the ribs on her side below her breast. The thought that she was skinny crossed his mind without voice, and he determined to himself that he would take care of herself even if she wouldn’t. He watched, captivated, as her nipple pebbled, and leaned down to take it in his mouth. His hands moved over her body, squeezing, testing, and holding her. He kissed his way up her chest, listening to her heartrate to increase as his lips skimmed her throat. His blunt teeth nipped, almost without thought, against the side of her neck, and he knew in that moment that he would one day claim her.
Once again aching with want, feeling hollow but with the only possible solution readily available, Buffy framed Spike’s face and placed her lips upon his in a loving kiss. “Spike, please, need you inside me.” His breath shuddered as he moved over her. He covered her body with his, grasping her waist and lined himself up with her.
He smiled, love shining in his eyes, as his cock slipped within her wet folds and he set a gentle rhythm. Her arms held him tightly, her legs moving up to hug his hips. Her head tilted back, presenting him once again with the column of her throat. He didn’t hesitate to latch onto it, nibbling gently as she stretched and murmured beneath him. As the pressure rose, she lifted her head and latched her teeth on his neck over his still artery, causing him to groan and his hips to jerk erratically. The sudden change brought forth the onset of the orgasm for which she had been waiting and she bit down hard, breaking his flesh and causing his blood to fill her mouth. She swallowed quickly and growled“Mine!” into his ear.
He nodded frantically, hips still moving while his demon showed its true face.  “Yours! Oh, god, Buffy, I’m yours, forever.” She released the breath she hardly knew that she had been holding and turned her head to give him free access to her neck.
“I love you, Spike. Claim me back?”
Not stopping to ask if she was sure, because he felt that she was, felt the power of her love, and not pausing to wonder where she had even learned about claims in the first place, he roared and bit. Sweet, sweet blood ran down his throat, and he licked the wound tenderly, claiming her in action before he claimed her in words. “You’re mine, Buffy. Mine, forever.”
“Oh, yes,” she sighed. “Yes.”
As her words hit his ear, he let go of the last bit of control he had, coming inside her. Their shared emotions bounced across the surface of their spent bodies, their hearts weaving together in an unbreakable bond as the claim took hold.
“I love you. I love you, so much.”
Chapter #7 - Chapter 7
Buffy opened her eyes to see the blue eyes of her mate smiling at her. She blinked before smiling back, hardly able to believe that this wasn’t some incredibly long and unbelievably fantastic dream. If it weren’t for the new fullness in her heart, she would be pinching herself, but she didn’t have to. She could feel him.
She could really feel him. Wow.
“Amazing, innit? The claim?”
She nodded her head mutely, smiling and stretching her body out against his length. She was about to lean in for a kiss when there was a knock at their door.
“Dawn.” He rolled his eyes. “I c’n hear her heart. Bit’s been knocking every five minutes.”
Buffy groaned. “I guess we should get up.”
“Nah. Oi! Dawn!” He raised his voice to be heard in the hallway. “Get your arse in here if it’s that important!”
Dawn came in, cheeks tinged pink, staring fixedly at the wall. “Buffy? Feeling better? Done playing checkers?”
Spike looked at Buffy curiously as she snorted with laugher. “All done, for now. Sorry I didn’t come find you.”
Dawn’s shoulders loosened. “It’s fine. I’ll never get used to seeing you like that though, so it’s good to know you’re okay.” She swung her gaze to the couple on the bed, her expression becoming devilish. “And I totally understand why your sister wasn’t the first person you’d want to see. Really, I’m happy for you. But if you’re all done with the making up for lost time thing, Angel has been extremely persistent trying to get me to make you talk to him.”
“I don’t want to talk to him. At least not for a century or two.”
Dawn rolled her eyes. “I dunno, but I think it’ll be okay. Besides, I definitely can’t hold him off for even the rest of today, let alone a century.”
Buffy glanced at Spike, who shrugged, indicating that it was her call. She scrunched her nose at him, grumbling, “Fine. You’re no help at all.” Looking back at Dawn she said, “Okay, okay. I’ll go down. Just let me-”
She was interrupted by the door swinging open. Dawn shrugged at Buffy’s eep and mouthed an apology. Spike tensed, growling at the intruder. Buffy sunk deeper into the covers, faced flushed as Angel stepped into the room.
A snarl rose from the throat of the man beside her as he vamped out, and Spike spat, “Look, whatever you’ve got to say, I think it can wait. Slayer’s a little indisposed here, yeah?”
Buffy shot him a grateful look, but Angel ignored Spike completely. “I’m sorry.” Buffy’s eyes flew to his. He sheepishly scratched the back of his head, looking like a boy caught stealing a cookie rather than a centuries-old vampire. “I’m sorry,” he repeated. “I was jealous, but you were right. We’ve been over for a long time. It was easy, I guess, holding on to that. Like the other things didn’t matter because one day it would be over, and we could be together. But then life went on anyway, and you moved on. And I got jealous.” He blew out a breath. “And while I will never, ever understand what you might see in him, he does love you. As you know obviously.” He snorted and shook his head. “I love you, Buffy. I always will. And maybe we can even be friends someday.”
Buffy’s mouth had fallen open during Angel’s speech. She snapped it closed and glared. “You almost caused us to lose this,” she indicated Spike next to her, who was vibrating with the need to pound the wanker, but was more loath to abandon his naked mate. Buffy continued, “You need to leave. Now. If and when I’m ready to be friends, I’ll let you know.”
Angel nodded, a mere shade of something like grief in his gaze before he turned to Spike. “I could sense the claim.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “And so your brilliant plan was to catch us post coital? So when do you want your arse handed to you? Can I get dressed first?”
“Shut up, Spike.”
Angel unconsciously took a step backwards as Buffy started struggling to disentangle herself from the sheets, a murderous look in her eyes. He breathed a sigh of relief at the stay of execution when Spike laid a hand on her arm, leaning close to her ear and whispering. Angel could just make out the words goodies and later, yeh?. Buffy sat back with ill grace, arms crossed and fingers tapping impatiently.
“Just… Just don’t hurt her.” Angel looked down before squaring his shoulders.  Carefully avoiding eye contact, he took in the tableau before him—the slayer he would always love wrapped in the arms of the vampire he would always… be extremely annoyed by—and sighed. The sheet did nothing to hide the fact of her nakedness, nor did it disguise Spike’s as it fell from her shoulder to pool into his lap. Their ease with one another belied the novelty of their claim, and provided a sort of sorrowful comfort to Angel’s soul.
He needed to get through to them, though. He may have admitted that he had lost Buffy, but that didn’t mean that she didn’t still need his help. Both of them. The world of claims could be perilous, and he was sure that they could benefit from his experience—he easily ignored the knowledge that he had no experience in this area.
Lost in the onset of an epic brood compounded by self-delusion, Angel took an embarrassingly long time before noticing the presence behind him. He visibly startled when the ancient deity sniffed imperiously. He turned, glowering at Illyria, who had slipped into the room after him. She spared him scornful glance and raised her eyebrow in condemnation. “The One ordered you to leave. You should listen, lesser being.”
Angel huffed. “The One? Who? And, wait a minute! Lesser being?!” He drew himself up, offended and wrapping as much dignity around himself as he could muster. “Now listen—”
“She holds a place of importance, and you will not impede upon her path with her chosen mate. Leave this place.”
When Angel didn’t move, Illyria’s open palm struck his chest, lifting and sending him flying. Dawn, who had been silent during the exchange, watched as his body struck the wall in the hallway, head snapping back to hit the wall. He fell to the floor with a small rain of plaster. She turned back to the blue skinned woman, a light of respect in her eyes, and allowed a wide grin to cross her lips.
“That? Was. Awesome! Did you see his face?” She began chortling, barely able to hold herself up. Spotting the ancient god watching her with bemusement, she tried to control herself, motioning behind her. “I’ll just make sure he doesn’t come back, shall I?” Still grinning, she entered the hallway, and the remaining occupants could hear her laughing again, berating Angel for his stupidity as she pushed and prodded him away from the room.
“Bloodthirsty little thing, my bit,” Spike muttered. Buffy distractedly nodded in agreement, watching Illyria with interest, while Spike absent mindedly patted the bedding, looking for cigarettes before realizing that of course he didn’t have them and rolling his eyes at himself.
“Blue?” Spike grumbled. “Wha’sit?” Buffy shot him a look, no longer afraid of his feelings towards the strange woman, but still surprised that he was almost polite, rather than telling her to ‘bugger off’ or some other Britishism.
Illyria, however, completely ignored the vampire, instead focusing her disconcerting gaze on the slayer next to him. “You are fortunate, One.”
Buffy overlooked the odd title and inclined her head, mutely requesting Illyria to continue.
“You have love such as that which Wesley held for the shell.” Illyria closed her eyes against the foreign prickle of tears. “I tire of this world.” The being once again swung her laser stare towards Buffy, who felt that her soul was being dissected. She wondered what Illyria was looking for, and if she were satisfied by what she found.
“You are The One,” Illyria stated again.
“What’s that mean, then?” Spike swung puzzled eyes between his mate and Illyria. Buffy shrugged slightly, conveying her ignorance.
“You are worthy. You have begun to receive the gifts of your position. As time goes on, you will receive more. Soon, you will be able to share your gifts. Be careful, One, upon whom you bestow your favors. Not all are worthy.” She paused allowing Buffy to absorb and acknowledge her. “As The One, I will allow you the honor of escorting me to the Deeper Well until such a time that I may rise again to unleash my true power.”
Buffy’s eyes boggled. “Uh, thanks?”
“You are welcome, One. We leave shortly.” She spun on her heel, but stopped before she left the doorway. “You will take care of my pet. He is… unique, and I would be… highly displeased if he were to meet an ill fate.” She strode from the room without looking back or waiting for a response.
Spike blew out a breath, wiping his face. “Well. That was, er, unexpected.”
“You’re blushing!”
“’M not.”
“Yeah, yeah you are! She made you blush!” Buffy was starting to giggle.
Spike tried to glower, but his lips twitched at Buffy’s mirth. “Love you, pet.”
Instantly sobering, Buffy leaned into his side. “Love you.”
“Sounds like you may not be so alone after all.”
“Well, I have you. I won’t be alone ever again, will I?”
He smiled against her hair. “No, not gonna happen. I’m thinking that we can keep the Bit, too.”
Her face glowed as she grasped the possibilities. “Oh, oh god Spike. Can you believe it? I think I need to be pinched.”
He nipped at her bottom lip, slipped his tongue into her mouth and breathed her in. Leaning his forehead against hers, he said, “What do ya say, luv? Once more into the breach?”
With a huff of laughter, she brought her hands up to his cheeks, tracing the knife edge lines of his face. Their lives lay before them, intertwined. They would have each other forever, and they would only grow closer as time went on. She could envision nights stalking prey through graveyards, working together every spring to ward off another apocalypse. They would twist their bodies together throughout time. There would be tenderness and fierce desire, delicate kisses and moments that they missed the bed. She was complete, and so was he.  Grinning, she agreed, “Once more into the breach.”