Her Way by dreamweaver
Chapter #1 - Chapter 1

Chapter 1

"I want to speak to the Powers That Be."

Angel and Lorne stared helplessly at Buffy. She stood in front of them, wearing that glowering, determined expression that Angel had seen before and knew with a sinking feeling meant that neither hell nor high water—and certainly no entity, human or otherwise—was going to stop her from getting her own way.

Around them, the Hyperion Hotel was buzzing with the voices of Buffy’s army, all the young Slayers-in-training who had survived the battle, plus their mentors like Giles, Willow, Faith and the others. The group had arrived a week ago after the destruction of Sunnydale and its Hellmouth. Giles was now the head of the new Council of Watchers and had nearly completed arrangements for all of them to leave for a more permanent location.

Buffy had been remarkably silent all that week, but Angel had known from the grim look on her face that she was planning something.

"You can’t speak to the Powers That Be, Buffy," Angel explained. "Though there are channels..."

"What channels? You’ve used them. Tell me."

"Well, Doyle and Cordy used to get visions..."

"Visions." Buffy dismissed that with an irritable flick of her hand. "I want to talk to them."

"There are the Oracles," suggested Lorne tentatively.

Angel shook his head. "They’re dead."

"They’re never dead. There will have been replacements."

"Replacements sound good." Buffy smiled with frightening satisfaction. "Where do I find them?"

"Angel knows," said Lorne and beat a hasty retreat. He didn’t know what Buffy was planning and he didn’t want to know. He liked all the SITs and Scoobies, but Buffy Summers scared him. He didn’t have to ask her to sing to feel the intensity of rage and grief in her, and he didn’t want to be anywhere near when she found an outlet for it.

"Under the post office?" said Buffy incredulously.

"Well, I didn’t choose the venue," muttered Angel, embarrassed. "I’ll show you."

"No. Draw me a map and tell me what I have to do to get my foot in the door. I’ll do the rest alone."


"No," said Buffy flatly and Angel capitulated at the dangerous look she gave him.

Now she stood in a cave lit by torches, staring at a white marble arch with words in a strange language written at the top of it. Gateway for lost souls was the translation, Angel had said. Pretentious.

She tossed the powders Angel had given her into the brazier and said coldly, "I want to talk to the representatives of the Powers That Be."

"You beseech access to the Knowing Ones," a disembodied male voice prompted.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever."

There was a hesitation, then the white marble blocks that filled the archway slid back onto a white marble room. She strode in. At the far end of the room, two shallow steps led up to another archway that opened on a passageway that seemed to recede forever. Two figures were stepping out of it.

Angel had spoken of a blond man and a brunette woman. But now the colors were reversed. The woman was blonde, the man dark-haired, both dressed in black, Grecian-style robes. Their skin was a metallic gold patterned with blue. They looked at once strange, beautiful and entirely supercilious.

"What gift have you brought?" the woman asked.

"Right. You want a gift. One gift." Buffy laid a rose made out of crystal on the marble table in the center of the room. Then she laid a real rose beside it. "You choose."

The woman smiled. "A challenge. Amusing."

The man frowned. "You dare challenge us, lower being?"

Buffy scowled back. "That’s what I do. And I would have thought that higher beings would have learned courtesy. To all."

The man’s frown became thunderous, but the woman laughed suddenly.

"I like your style. What is it you want of us?"

"You’re Oracles. You should know."

"Your vampire."


"We cannot bring him back."

"You can," said Buffy flatly.

"He burned from the inside out. He is ash on the wind."

"Find a way."

"Why should we waste time on such a petty, childish matter?" the man demanded. "You threw the creature away and now you repent of it? Live with your error."

She had thrown Spike away, spurned him, rejected him. Always. Of course, he hadn’t believed her when she told him she loved him there in the Hellmouth. ‘No, you don’t, but thanks for saying it.’ And then he had chosen to burn up, because all he had thought she was giving him was a sop for a dying man.

The fact that the Oracle was right did nothing to lessen her rage. She glared at him, shaking with fury, wanting to break him in half, wanting to tear this stupid, sterile, white marble tomb of theirs down around their arrogant, narcissistic ears. She dug her nails into her palms in an effort to control herself. She had spent the whole of the last week fighting not to let her rage and pain and grief tear the whole world down around the world’s oblivious ears.

"You owe me. The Powers That Be owe me! How many apocalypses have I prevented? How much have I given up for the PTB? In this last battle, even the First Evil, the ultimate evil, was defeated. And how many more champions do the PTB have for their cause now that all these new slayers have been unleashed all over the world? You owe me, Oracle, and I’m calling in the debt!"

"Foolishness." The man flounced around, swirling his robes about him, and stalked away down the passage. "I have no time for this."

He vanished, but the woman remained, looking at her thoughtfully while Buffy stood in the middle of the room and shook.

"So much rage in you. So much grief. Misdirected—at yourself, at the world. Strong emotions have power. The trick is to channel them to power your purpose, not broadcast them uselessly into the aether."

"I have only one purpose."

"And it is an entirely selfish one. But why not? You are free to be selfish now." She looked at the real and the crystal rose on the marble table, smiling enigmatically, then touched the real rose lightly with her fingertip. "Red. For passion, for love. But you rejected love, Buffy Summers the Slayer. You encased your heart in adamant." She tapped the crystal rose with her fingernail. "You turned your heart into this."

"I was wrong."

"Yes, it might be amusing to find out," the Oracle mused. She lifted the red rose and stroked it against her cheek. "Soft. We cannot bring him back, Slayer. But you can."


"Temporal possibilities. That’s what we play with. Time, like threads in a weave, forms its patterns. But any weave can be unraveled and woven again. If we unravel it, will you weave it differently, Slayer?"


"We can take your essence and place it in your seventeen-year-old self again. If you wish to change the outcome, then it is you who must change the weave. Will you do it?"

"You want to send me back in time?"

"It would be amusing." She held the red rose in one hand, picked up the crystal rose in her other, weighed them both thoughtfully. "Real and artificial. Both beautiful. One has monetary value, the other only intrinsic worth. One is dead and one is not. You wanted to find out which one we would pick, did you not?"

"Yes," Buffy admitted.

"Life. Always life." She tossed the crystal rose negligently toward Buffy and Buffy caught it without thinking. "Go back and change events. Or remain here and accept what is. Your choice."

"And if I wish to go back?"

"Destroy that rose. Destroy the wall you have built around your heart."

Without hesitation, Buffy smashed the crystal rose on the marble table.


The next thing she knew she was lying on her back and Willow was staring down at her. Except it was a younger Willow, her hair parted in the middle and tied tightly into two unflattering braids.

"Whoa!" She pushed herself up onto an elbow. She was lying on the couch in the house at Revello Drive, all of which was now part of the crater that was Sunnydale. "Owie. My head hurts. What happened?"

"I don’t know," said Willow worriedly. "I mean, we got to the house and you just collapsed. I think you hit your head on the floor. I know there’s a carpet, but it was still quite a whack. Are you okay?"

"Oooh." Buffy rubbed the back of her head. "I will be once the headache wears off. How’d I end up on the couch?"

"I dragged you there." Willow frowned in concern. "D’you think you should go to Emerg? Or see a doctor or something? Passing out like that is so not of the good. Might be a sign of something serious..."

"No. It’s just...I, uh, it’s just that I didn’t eat much today. Must have passed out from hunger, I suppose."

"Too worried about that session with Snyder, huh?"


"Forcing you and Sheila to make party favors and stuff for Parent-Teacher night on threat of expulsion. He’s a serious rodent," muttered Willow. "You do remember, right?"

"Oh, right." She couldn’t believe that she had ever worried about Principal Snyder. He seemed so unimportant now, after all the apocalypses and evil Firsts and Sunnydale vanishing into a crater...

She started to haul herself to her feet. She had to get some time to herself, to think, to process.

"I’m just going to get a glass of water."

"Let me do that," said Willow. "You just stay off your feet for a while."

"Thanks, Will."

There was a newspaper lying on the coffee table. She leaned over to look at the date. Monday, September 22, 1997. The Oracle had kept her word. She had sent Buffy’s twenty-three-year-old self back into her seventeen-year-old body. With all her memories intact. Which meant that she had a real chance of changing events over the next few years.

It was going to be unnerving trying to pretend to be a teenager again, with all the teenage worries and concerns that now seemed so unimportant, like the Snyder business and high school. God, having to go through high school again! Serious downer. While also trying to hide what she really was from Willow and Xander and Giles. That was going to be tough. Should she hide it? She didn’t know. She’d try it for a while and see how it worked out, tell them only if she had to.

On the plus side, keeping her Mom and Spike from dying. Changing a lot of the bad things that had happened. Oh, yes! There were a lot of pluses!

Timelines. She tried to remember the sequence of events that had happened six years ago. Parent-Teacher night had been Thursday. That was when Spike and his gang of vamps had come crashing into the school. Working backwards then, she had first seen him two days earlier, which would be Tuesday. Which was tomorrow. Which meant that he and Dru were either in Sunnydale already or would be driving in tonight.

"Buffy? Buffy?"

She realized that Willow had been holding the glass of water out to her for some time.

"Oh, sorry, Will." She downed the glass without stopping for breath. She needed the cold water. It was either that or a stiff drink—which would freak everybody out, she being only seventeen now.

"I think you should lie down," said Willow worriedly.

"I think I will," Buffy agreed to get Willow out of the house. She needed time to think, to plan.

Selfish, the Oracle had said. Damn right she was going to be selfish. Oh, she’d make with the Slayage and the saving-the-world schtick. She wasn’t going to stop doing that. But she was through worrying about other people’s opinions. She was through being Miss Goody-Goody with a stick up her ass. This time she was going to have what she wanted. This time things were going to go her way.

It wasn’t her Spike she was going to see tomorrow. Not the Spike with a soul, the reformed Spike who didn’t eat people anymore, the loving Spike who looked at her like she was the center of his universe. That Spike was not going to be around for a very long time.

The Spike she was going to see tomorrow was the unredeemed killer. The Spike who ate people and licked the blood off his fangs and laughed. The Spike who loved Drusilla and who would tear Sunnydale apart to find a cure for her. The Spike who wanted to make Buffy the third notch on his Slayer-killing belt.

All of that was going to take some getting used to. Somehow she had to find a way to keep him around until he changed. Somehow she’d have to get a leash on him—a very long leash it would have to be and spider-web delicate, otherwise he’d roar with rage and rip it off if it killed him. Oh, she knew Spike. She had never allowed the knowledge to percolate into her consciousness in the other reality, but underneath, way down in her subconscious, she had always known him. She knew how he would react, knew all his buttons. And she was perfectly willing to lie, cheat and manipulate to get him.

Women were always more dangerous than men. Way more ruthless. Morality didn’t exist when it came to what really mattered to them.

She was going to be all badass this time. She was going to channel her inner Faith. Don’t think she hadn’t noticed how he had reacted to Faith. Souled up and all, still he hadn’t been able to keep from flirting with Faith, lounging there in front of her, half-naked on his cot. Damn him.

Badass appealed to him. Appealed to the vamp that he was. The light held him, but the darkness pulled. She could be badass, no question. She too had darkness in her. That month they had nearly eaten each other alive, ripped each other apart, had proved it. Want, take, have—Faith’s old motto. But there were variations to that, not quite as destructive. It would be a juggling act, but she could do it.

She went up to her room and studied herself in the full-length mirror. Little Miss Innocence. Her twenty-three-year-old mind rebelled against that dewy, seventeen-year-old body. The light gray slacks and purple top would pass, but the make-up and the hair? Didn’t want to look like a ho with too dramatic a look, but surely there was a way to get a tad more sophistication? Let’s see. He liked her hair loose. She experimented. Parted to one side, leave her forehead bare. Not bad. She found a little gel to hold it in place, then tore through drawers and clothes closet, choosing and discarding, ended up with a look that satisfied her. Still innocent, but a little more elegant, a little more...sultry. She’d see how it went across in school the next day.

God, could she be more shallow! But, hey, anything that worked, right?

She needed something more dramatic for tomorrow night though. That would be the first time Spike would see her. She needed something that would have impact, something that would make an impression. What had she worn the last time? Some kind of dark pants, a pale blue top, some ridiculous shirt open over it when she got to the alley. Spike had once said that he had wanted her from the first time he saw her. But he had taken three years to come to that realization. This time, for her plans to work, she needed it to hit him right away.

She heard the front door open and close. Mom!

She flew down the stairs and flung her arms around her mother. Joyce nearly fell over with shock.

"Uh, Buffy. Are you feeling all right?"

Buffy hugged her one more time, then stepped back, wiping at her eyes and ruining the new make-up.

"You’re alive. I thought you were dead. I-I had a bad dream..."

"It’s nice that you’re concerned, honey," said Joyce, pleased. "But I’m not going to die for a long, long time."

"Gonna make sure of that," said Buffy under her breath. "How were things at the gallery today?" she asked aloud.

Joyce told her, a long and convoluted story that a teenage Buffy normally would not have had the patience to listen to. The adult Buffy lurking in her head now not only listened and asked the right questions and laughed in all the right places, but found the tale interesting. Wasn’t that a kick?

They made dinner together, then watched television together while Buffy explored the contents of her purse.

"Why do I have a yoyo in here?" she muttered and Joyce laughed.

"Still my little girl. What are you looking for, dear?"

"I wanted to get a new outfit and I was checking to see how much I had."

"Didn’t your father gave you a gift card for your favorite store a while back? Surely you haven’t used it up already?"

"Ooh. Hope not."

She hadn’t. She went shopping after school the next day and wore the new outfit triumphantly to the Bronze. Black leather pants, sleeveless black leather vest with nothing but the briefest bra under it so that it would show off her tanned arms and every now and then the odd peek at her toned abs. Sexy, but not overly so. Sleek. More grown-up than anything that was presently in her closet. And, from the way Xander’s tongue was dragging on the floor, effective.

"Whoa. New look, Buffy?" asked Willow, looking good herself in her black pullover, with her hair loose.

"Experimenting. Let’s get back to the French," she sighed. Buffy couldn’t see herself ever needing to use French, so she couldn’t understand why they had to study it. It wasn’t like she’d be able to go to Paris, what with the constant guard duty at the Hellmouth. And even adult Buffy was lousy at French.

The reason she had been cramming her French at the Bronze instead of at home the last time was because she had thought Angel would show. He hadn’t, of course. But Spike had. Interesting, if one thought about it. Even back then, she could count on Spike to be there.

"C’mon, one dance," Xander was saying. "You’ve been studying nearly twelve minutes."

"No wonder my brain’s fried," said Buffy. Willow started to protest, then laughed as Buffy and Xander pulled her onto the dance floor.

Buffy had her Slayer sense fully extended. There! she thought, feeling that tingle of vamp presence, that oh-so-familiar signature that meant Spike. The last time she had felt that, the last time she had seen him, was in the Hellmouth, burning away into ash. She wanted to run to him, grab him, hold him tight. But this wasn’t that Spike.

The band was playing ‘Stupid Thing’. She moved to the music, deliberately sensual and sexy, deliberately provocative, searching for him under her eyelashes. There. Circling the dance floor in a leopard prowl, watching her. Tears stung her eyes at the sight of him—the familiar white-blonde hair, black duster, fallen-angel face and beyond-sexy body. She blinked the tears away. She couldn’t afford that now, had to play this very carefully. That face wasn’t soft and tender, the way she was used to seeing it. Oh, there was lust there as he watched her dance; but behind it, that face was cold and hard, calculating and deadly.

He turned and said something to a man, no, a vamp beside him. The vamp moved away obediently towards the back door of the Bronze.

A few minutes later, Spike was behind her, demanding, "Where’s the phone? I need to call the police. There’s some big guy out there trying to bite somebody."

"Stay here," she said to Xander and Willow, then headed for the alley, snatching her stake out of her purse on the way.

He wanted a show; she would give him one. She wasn’t the seventeen-year-old Slayer still learning how to fight. She had six more years of moves in her head. She was experienced. Boy, was she ever experienced. She had sparred with the best; she had sparred with Spike and Angel; she had even sparred with Dracula with all his gypsy tricks. This vamp didn’t have a chance.

She pulled the vamp off his victim and told the girl coldly, "Run." The girl, for once with laudable common sense, obeyed.

"Slayer!" snarled the vamp.

"Slayee," she retorted, amused, then proceeded to take him apart. She played with him like a cat with a mouse. None of his blows landed. He was nothing but a punching bag on which she could demonstrate her moves, all the different blows and kicks, showing off. Always a canny adversary, Spike would be watching, studying her technique. She wanted him to know that when he took her on, he would be fighting the best. She wanted to be a challenge. He never could resist a challenge.

At last, when the vamp could no longer even move, she staked him with a casual flick of her hand.

Spike came out of the shadows, slowly clapping his hands.

"Nice work, luv."

She turned to face him, smiling.

"William the Bloody," she purred, her voice intimate and seductive. "Hello, Spike."

His brows rose. "You know who I am."

"Your reputation precedes you."

He grinned. "Flattery will get you everywhere. But don’t kid a kidder, pet."

"Knew you’d come. Darla and Angel were already here."

"Advance warning. I see. Is that a past tense I hear?"

"Sort of. Darla’s gone. Dust."

"Ding dong, the bitch is dead." He shrugged, smiling. "Never could stand that old cat. And Angelus?"

"Had a change of soul and doesn’t play with the other puppies any more."

"Care to translate that?"

"Long story. Maybe later. Why are you here, Spike?"

"Came to kill you." He grinned at her and she grinned back.

"Might have a problem with that. I’m...very good. Very...inventive."

No subtlety. Everything right out there to startle, catch his attention, be unexpected coming from a Slayer.

He laughed aloud. "Are you now?"

"Especially in...the little deaths."

His eyes flared with laughter. "My favorite. Might take you up on that, luv."

"Any time."

He licked his teeth. "Wanna get it on? Be glad to oblige."

"Gotta warn you though. Takes a guy with a lot of staying power to keep up with me."

They were circling each other slowly, the first steps of the long dance, both of them smiling. His eyes were alight. He was enjoying himself. His thumbs were tucked into his belt, fingers framing his groin. Her hands were in her back pockets, arcing her back and thus emphasizing her breasts. His gaze ran over them and his tongue curled behind his teeth.

"Oh, I’ve got staying power, pet. Should I demonstrate?"

"Why not?" Her gaze deliberately copied his, running down over his torso to linger below his belt. "Think you can take me?"

They were both laughing, their parted lips only a breath away, teasing each other with their open mouths as they circled.

"You’re ba-ad, Slayer," he said, delighted.

"You have no idea."

He leaned forward, clearly tempted, then caught himself. "Saturday."

"Why wait?" she purred. "Scared?"

That really amused him.

"Not of fighting. Or...of fucking," he said, laying it right out in the open as he always did, straightforward as ever. "Got a lot of years of experience, pet. In both."

"Never had one like me, pet," she mocked. She had to keep him amused and intrigued, had to keep him coming back for more. Spike had told her what Faith had said to him once and she used it now, deliberately. "I could ride you at a gallop until your legs buckle and your eyes roll up. I’ve got muscles you’ve never even dreamed of. I could squeeze you until you pop like warm champagne and you’d beg me to hurt you just a little bit more."

His eyes went black as his pupils dilated. She could see the heat flare within them. His mouth opened to say something. They leaned slowly, hypnotically, towards each other.


"What the hell?" Xander’s voice exclaimed. "What’s going on?"

Neither of them had heard the back door of the Bronze opening. They both whipped around to see Willow and Xander staring at them.

"Sod this for a game of soldiers!" Spike muttered furiously under his breath. He had clearly remembered who he was and who she was. And that anything but death between them was wrong. He pointed a finger at her, almost brushing her nose, and said violently, "Saturday I kill you, Slayer!"

Then he whirled and was gone, black leather disappearing into black shadow in an instant.

Chapter #2 - Chapter 2
Chapter 2

"William the Bloody, a.k.a. Spike," Giles mused. He was pulling books off the shelves. "Where have I heard that name before?"

"The guy’s scary. I mean really." Willow repressed a shudder. "Yee-ee-ee! Nothing like the usual vamps. More like Darla or the Master."

"He’s a killer," Xander said flatly. "Which only begs the question: what were you doing, Buffy, playing kissyface with him?"

"Playing what?" said Buffy dangerously. She and Spike had been at the other end of the alley and her voice had been low as she purred at him, so Xander couldn’t have heard what she had said. But their relative positions must have been suggestive enough.

"If your faces had been any closer, you’d have been trading spit," snapped Xander.

"Like this?" She slammed her hands down on the table in front of him and thrust her face right into his, staring him down. "This seem romantic to you?"

"Uh, no," muttered Xander, trying to avoid the furious eyes glaring at him from less than an inch away.

"What I do is my business, Xander. I’m the Slayer. How I do it is up to me. Don’t ever presume to judge me. Had it with that," she growled.

Xander flung up his hands in surrender. "Hey, no judging! No judging here!"

"Damn straight. I’m done with being told what to do." She spun away, then scowled at Giles and Willow staring at her with their mouths open. "What?"

"Getting in-your-face with Spike seems to be the way you’re acting with everybody," blurted Willow, patting the air frantically in a calming gesture. "What’s up with that?"

"Kind of on edge right now," muttered Buffy. "Juggling a lot. So lay off me, guys."

"Right, right," said Willow with a beseeching glance at Giles and Xander, begging them to agree. They both nodded, still a little dumbfounded.

"Um, I think I’ve found William," said Giles. "Oh, dear."

"Not good news," remarked Xander, hearing his tone.

"He’s old. You were right, Willow. He’s no fledgling. He’s been a vampire for almost a hundred and twenty years. No wonder you were reminded of Darla and the Master. The older the vampire, the more dangerous he is."

"Wonderful," muttered Xander.

"‘Saturday I kill you.’ That’s what he said." Willow caught her breath. "Buffy! Saturday’s the night of St. Vigeous! The time that vamps are strongest. This Spike guy. He must be planning to be in on the attack. Maybe leading it."

"Oh, yeah," Buffy nodded.

"Should we be thinking vacation?" Xander asked.

"We can’t run. That would be wrong," Willow objected, then shuddered. "Could we hide?"

"I’ll deal with it," shrugged Buffy. She knew darn well that Spike, impatient and reckless, would never be able to wait until Saturday.

"Well, he can’t be worse than any other creature you’ve faced," Giles said doubtfully.

"He’s worse," said Angel, coming in the swing doors of the library. "Once he starts something, he doesn’t stop until everything in his path is dead."

"Angel." Buffy swung around and studied him coolly.

"So he’s thorough, goal-oriented," Xander was saying sarcastically.

Buffy wasn’t listening. She was thinking about what Angel had just said. It was all wrong. Spike did stop. When he got bored or impatient or thought his point had been made. It was Angelus who didn’t stop; Angelus who pressed the issue as far as it would go, until everything in his path was dead. Angel was ascribing his own motives and reactions to Spike. She wondered whether Angel had ever really looked at Spike in all those years that they had hunted together. She didn’t think so. Angelus saw everything through the lens of his own ego, had never ever seen anybody but himself.

"He’s lethal," Angel was saying. "He’s one of the most dangerous vampires around. Buffy, you have to be careful."

"I will be," she said. He had that part right. Spike was lethal and savage and deadly.

But that wasn’t all he was. She knew the other side and she knew how to get to it.

"Oh, dear," Giles said, still reading.

"There’s that voice again," said Xander. "Come on, Giles. Don’t keep us in suspense here."

Giles looked up at Buffy, his eyes wide behind his glasses. "Spike has fought two Slayers in the last century, and...he’s killed them both."

"Oh, God," whispered Willow. Xander was speechless.

Giles took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes. "He’s looking for scalps and I think he means to make you his third one."

"He can try," Buffy said, amused.

"Buffy, this is serious!"

"He’s not going to kill me, Giles. I’m better than he knows." She smiled tightly. "I can take him. He’s mine."

"Angel, isn’t there anything you can tell us about Spike that might help Buffy?" Giles demanded fiercely. When no one answered, he turned and frowned. Angel was gone.

"Okay, that’s it," said Xander. "I’m putting a collar with a little bell on that guy."

"But..." Giles was astonished. "Why did he leave? He seemed to know about Spike. There’s so much he could have told us."

Buffy was unsurprised. Angel had never volunteered very much information about anything and had always been grudging in whatever he did say. And in this case...

"Giles, cross-reference to Angel."

Giles’ brows rose, then he complied. After a few minutes, he looked up at her, his eyes wide.

"How did you know?"

She shrugged and didn’t answer.

"What?" asked Willow and Xander in chorus.

"Angel and Spike are family. It’s the Line of Aurelius. The Master sired Darla. Darla sired Angel. Angel sired Drusilla. And Drusilla sired Spike. They ran together as a pack for decades. The four of them were called the Scourge of Europe. They broke up at the turn of the century. When Angel got his soul, I presume."

"Why did he take off like that then?" Xander exclaimed. "He could have told us so much about Spike. The way he fights, his methods, his weaknesses...Buffy needs to know these things!"

"It’s okay, Xand." Buffy smiled tightly. "When has Angel ever been forthcoming? It doesn’t matter. If he hasn’t seen Spike since the turn of the century, anything he knows will be out of date and useless. I already know all I need to know about Spike."

"Over-confidence is a danger, Buffy," Giles warned.

"I know. I’ll be careful." She smiled faintly. "I’m going to be very, very careful of Spike."

The rest of the night was quiet. So was patrol the next night. Before coming out on patrol, Buffy spent some time in her backyard, practicing her moves. Certain kicks and twists she had learned only with time and her teenage body wasn’t used to them. Her mind would instinctively call for the moves she was familiar with, without even thinking about it, and she didn’t want her body to fail to function correctly simply because it wasn’t accustomed to those moves. She couldn’t afford even a second’s hesitation with Spike. He was fast and deadly, her equal in every way when it came to fighting. She couldn’t let him have the slightest advantage. He would be trying to kill her. She, on the other hand, would be trying to keep him alive. Achieving a standoff was so much more difficult than achieving a death.

When she was satisfied that her body would indeed do her bidding, she headed off on patrol. No vamps showed up, except for one unlucky newly-risen fledgling just pulling itself out of its grave. The others seemed to be keeping low, probably saving themselves up for St. Vigeous. She staked the fledgling efficiently, then looked up to see Angel coming towards her.

She sighed. The last person she wanted to see right now was Angel. She didn’t have time to figure out how to deal with him until after St. Vigeous.

"Angel," she nodded brusquely. "What are you doing here?"

"Something occurred to me," he said. "You know that Spike is here."

"Uh huh." She raised a brow at him. "And?"

"What you might not know is that, if he’s here, someone else will be with him. You’re not facing just one experienced vampire, but two."

"Drusilla," she said and smiled at the look of surprise on his face.

"Your Watcher’s books are thorough."

"Mm. Giles came up with the connection last night. Drusilla is your get. Spike is hers."

He stared at the toes of his boots miserably. "And all the deaths, all the killing that they did and will do, is on my head. I’m responsible."

"Yes, you are. However, that changes nothing. I still have to find a way to deal with them."

"I’ll help you."

"Can you kill Drusilla? Your own get?"

Angel gave her a grim look. "I killed Darla for you. My sire."

"Yes, you did," she said gravely. "But she wasn’t your responsibility. These two are. You made them what they are. And now you want to destroy them."

He frowned. "What else can I do? They have no souls. There’s no way to redeem them."

"Isn’t there?" She bit her thumbnail. "Perhaps you’re right. We’ll see on the night of St. Vigeous."

She wanted to put him off until that night. If Spike brought that gang of vamps into the school tomorrow night, most of them would be dusted and St. Vigeous would no longer be a threat. Plus, it would give her time to figure out what to do with Angel and Drusilla. She already knew what she wanted to do with Spike, she thought with an amused grin.

"I don’t have to worry about Dru," she said. "She’s no threat. I hear she’s sick. Got hurt by a mob in Prague. That’s why Spike brought her here. Something about being helped by the energy from the Hellmouth."

"He’ll be trying to find a way to cure her."

"Unusually caring for an unredeemed, soulless demon." She shot him a glance from under her eyelashes. "Would you have done that as Angelus?"

Angel looked away.

"Didn’t think so. Odd sort of vampire, Spike."

Angel was scowling. "Why are you so interested in him?"

"Know your enemy," she said dryly. Indeed. "Anyway. I’ll see you on St. Vigeous, Angel. I’ve got a lot to do and think about till then. So, if you don’t mind..."

"Shouldn’t I come with you?" He waved a hand at the cemetery.

Her teenage self would have leaped at the chance to be with him even a little bit longer. Adult Buffy had changed significantly and was unmoved.

"Nah. Nothing’s stirring. And I have plans to make. I’ll contact you if I need you."

He went away reluctantly, looking back at her over his shoulder, upset at being so cavalierly dismissed. She didn’t care. She did have plans to make and he was not helping, only distracting her from them.

She went on through the graveyard. After a while, she extended her Slayer senses to see whether he was tracking her. He wasn’t. But someone else was.

Well now. She grinned to herself.

"Come to get it on, Spike?"

A lighter clicked in the darkness beside a crypt. The flare of yellow-orange light illuminated the hard planes of his face and the frown in his eyes as he lit his cigarette. He snapped the lighter off and stepped forward into the moonlight, platinum hair glinting.

"Come to get a few answers."

"To what?"

"To why a Slayer and a vamp like Angelus should be so chummy. Two of you should be tearing each other’s throats out."

"He’s reformed."

"Angelus reformed?" He laughed. "Pull the other one, pet."

"No, really. He doesn’t eat people any more. He’s on the side of good now. Trying to make amends for all the people he did eat."

He looked at her, amused and scornful, as if she were an idiot. "Giving you the puppy-dog ‘I’m all tortured’ act, is he? Didn’t think you’d fall for that Anne Rice routine, Slayer."

"No one’s told you yet, have they?"

"Told me what?" He shook his head and took another drag at his cigarette. "Doesn’t make sense. You dusted Darla. That bitch was poison. But Angelus is ten times worse than she ever was."

"Angel dusted Darla."

"She was his sire," he said patiently. "He wouldn’t have."

"He did. Angel’s good now."

"Angel. Change of name doesn’t mean bollocks, pet. Angelus is the name, and a nastier piece of work you won’t find on the planet."

"He’s got a soul now."

His brows shot skyhigh. "Angelus has a soul?"


"Come on." He gave a disbelieving laugh. "How did you manage that, luv?"

"I didn’t. Some gypsies cursed him with it when he killed one of their daughters."

"Gypsies." He gave her a skeptical look. "And when did this happen? Conveniently, just after he came here?"

"About a hundred years ago, as I understand it. Around the turn of the century."

His hand stopped in the middle of bringing the cigarette back to his lips. His eyes widened.

"He did disappear around that time. Boxer rebellion. He was different. Couldn’t put my finger on it then, but...And the next time I saw him, on that German sub. It would make sense of what happened..."

He sat down hard on a tomb. His eyes were huge and his jaw had dropped.

"Angelus with a soul," he said slowly, shaking his head, trying to take it in.

Then the cigarette dropped from his fingers and he started to laugh.

He laughed and laughed. Buffy leaned back against a gravestone and watched him, chuckling herself because his laughter was catching. It was like watching the owl, Archimedes, having his laughing jag in Disney’s ‘Sword in the Stone’. One couldn’t help laughing too. Spike waved his hand helplessly in the air and laughed himself sick.

Just when he seemed to be recovering himself, she said softly, "Angelus with a soul," and he went off again into another paroxysm.

"Oh, God, Slayer, stop it!" He thumped the heel of his hand on the tomb and wiped the tears from his eyes. "My stomach hurts. Oh, God. Oh, God. If anyone deserved to have a soul shoved up his ass, it’s Angelus."

She couldn’t help it. She grinned as well. "He’s trying to make amends now."

"Now? What’s he been doing the last hundred years then?"

"Um, repenting."

"B-brooding?" She nodded and he chortled helplessly. "I can just see it. Eating...?"


"Oh, God!" He flopped back across the top of the tomb and lay there, gasping. "Slayer, you made my day. You may have made my decade. Never gonna forget this."

She grinned at him affectionately.

She was thinking that she had never seen him laugh wholeheartedly like this before. She tried, but she couldn’t remember him ever laughing after he had won his soul, not until that moment when he was burning up down there in the Hellmouth. Before that, once he knew he was in love with her, she could remember him laughing a couple of times—shortly, ruefully, whereupon she would always cut him off at the knees. The only times she had seen him really laugh, with ease and pure enjoyment, was right in the beginning—when he was this Spike. That was what loving Buffy Summers had done to him—taken away that laughter, that joy in life that was such an essential part of Spike.

God, she had been such a bitch!

"What’s up with you, Slayer?" he asked and she jumped.


"Keep looking at me funny."

"Like how?"

With a wistful gentleness that he couldn’t understand. It made the William part of him, hidden but still existent inside, sit up and come to attention. Spike scowled and shoved it back down.

"Dunno. Like you think you might get me on a leash, the way you’ve got the Great Poof."

"Who? Oh, Angel," she said dismissively and he grinned.

"Got taste, have you?" He tilted his head to one side, considering her thoughtfully. "No soul here, sweets. Not gonna dance to your tune."

"But you like to dance, don’t you? You’ve danced already. With two other Slayers."

"Watcher looked me up, huh? Yeah. That dance. That dance I like."

"The one with death. The ultimate test. Risking everything. Putting your immortal existence right on the line. Makes you feel alive, dancing over the abyss like that."

He smiled slowly, getting to his feet. "You understand. First one who has."

"I dance with death every day." She rose too, drifting slowly away.

"Never one like me."

He was stalking her now. They circled each other slowly, both smiling.

"Never one like you," she agreed. "We’re made for each other, aren’t we? Mirror images. The shadow sides of each other. The left hand of darkness is the right hand of light."

"Clever. Who said that?"

"Can’t remember. You liked dancing with those other Slayers. Turned you on, didn’t it? Not the Chinese Slayer so much..."

"She was all business."

"But the New York one. Nikki Wood."

"She was hot. Could have danced with her all night. She had a touch of your style."

"I’m hotter."

His eyes lit with heat and laughter. "You are."

"Do I turn you on, Spike?"

His tongue curled behind his teeth. "Oh, yeah, Slayer."

"Good. Wanna dance?"

In one startling burst of vampire speed, he had her up against a tree, his weight holding her there, his hand gripping her throat. He tilted her head to one side, so that her neck was exposed.

"Wanna drink your blood. Wanna drain you dry. That’s what I want."

"Look down," she said softly.

He did. The point of her stake was at his heart.

He laughed and relaxed his grip on her throat. "Glad it’s not going to be that easy."

"Sex and death. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? But I don’t have a death wish."

"Sex then, is it?" He pressed harder against her, his knee pushing her thighs apart. "Vamps turn you on, Slayer?"

Her breath shuddered through her parted lips. God, the way he felt! The familiar weight of him, the cool, hard body supple and powerful against hers, his breath on her face, the cavern of his open mouth, the scent of leather and cigarettes and whiskey and, beneath it all, that particular, unique scent that was Spike himself...It wasn’t sex that she wanted right now. It was just to hold him, feel him in her arms again, feel him alive and in existence. But there was no way to explain that to him. Not to this Spike.

"No," she breathed. " Just you."

His eyes widened and she saw the heat flare in them. His hand slid around to the back of her head, jerked her mouth to his. Then they were kissing greedily, mouths twisting together. And, oh, there it was. The taste of him, the long slides of that wicked, knowing tongue, the way he took possession of every corner of her mouth, hungry and demanding, the feel of their two bodies grinding against each other.

Her right hand still held the point of the stake to his heart. He was still Spike, still dangerous and lethal, could turn on her in a second. But her left arm slid around him under his duster, clenching across his back, holding him to her. They both gasped against each other’s mouths, went back to kissing, unable to drag their mouths away.

He was aroused; she could feel it, feel him hard and urgent against her. And she was aroused too, could feel herself all buttery and throbbing.

"God!" He tore himself away, gasping, his eyes wide with confusion and lust. "God, what is this? You’re the Slayer!"

They were both panting, vibrating with passion, staring at each other in mutual shock at how fast and how urgent the craving had leaped to life between them.

"No," he said, shoving it away, denying it. "No."

And was gone.


"You’ve been playing with the sun, Spike."

Spike whipped around. Dru was watching him, her cool, mad eyes giving him that up-from-under look that was Dru at her most dangerous and volatile. Dru knew. Of course she knew. The pixies or Miss Edith would have told her.

"Bad dog. You can dance with the sun, Spike. But only if you put it out."

She was being unusually coherent. Or maybe that was because he knew exactly what she was talking about.


Her nails slashed out, scoring four parallel scratches across his cheek. He jerked involuntarily backwards, then recovered himself.

"If you embrace the sun, you’ll burn, Spike."

Well, he knew that, didn’t he? He was already burning.

He watched her go, disappearing back into her bedroom, closing the door behind her with a quiet, but very final click. He knew better than to follow her when she was in that mood. She might try to kill him and he would have to hurt her to prevent that. Of course, she would enjoy being hurt. But he wouldn’t enjoy hurting her. Never had. Pain was her turn-on, not his—Angelus’ legacy.

God, this thing with the Slayer! It was so wrong! It was a perversion of the natural order of things.

Slayers and vampires were supposed to kill each other, not lust after each other. They were supposed to rip each other’s throats out, not fuck each other into the ground. Which was what he wanted to do with this Slayer. Which was what she wanted to do with him. He knew it. He could feel it.

It was sick.

He wiped the blood irritably from his cheek with the heel of his hand. That Slayer in New York. Yeah, she had been hot and, yeah, he had been turned on. But that had come to its natural and right conclusion, with one of them dead and her duster a trophy to remind him of a really good day and a death wish that had run in his favor.

No death wish here. This Slayer, this Buffy Summers, she was blazing with life. She flamed with it like the sun. Dancing with the sun. Dancing with death. He had never been able to resist it. Never been able to resist playing with fire.

Drive in the daytime, recklessly way over the speed limit where an accident or even a stone flung up by a passing truck could break a painted window and let the deadly sunshine in. Run through the streets at high noon with only a blanket over him and take the risk that both he and the blanket wouldn’t burn up before he got to shelter. Ingest spicy buffalo wings or onion blossoms with tons of garlic on them just because he liked the taste and over the years had built up a tolerance to that particular poison in his system. Reasonable risks for someone who enjoyed pushing the limits and hated being bound by any rules whatsoever.

Fucking the Slayer. Not reasonable.

Playing with fire there, oh, yeah. Burning. And wanting to burn. That was the worst. The wanting. Couldn’t stop thinking about her mouth and her body against his and the way she had touched him, kissed him.

Hot. So hot. Wasn’t used to that, the heat of the human body. Vamp skin was cool, room temperature. Making love to Dru, cool vamp bodies twining around each other in the cold, deliberate, twisted games of vamp lovemaking. Nothing like this heat. This raw hunger, raw passion...

God! Why couldn’t he stop thinking about it?

Wanting her. And she wanted him.

No one had ever wanted him. Not even Dru. He had thought she had in the beginning, but it hadn’t taken him very long to find out that he was only a substitute for Angelus. It had been made deliberately clear to him very early on that he was only a fuck toy and guardian and minder and anything else the other three required, and that his feelings about it, his feelings about anything, didn’t matter.

He had only wanted two women in his entire existence—Cecily and Dru. And neither of them had wanted him.

The Slayer wanted him. The Slayer was taking some extraordinary risks in wanting him. He could, after all, have ripped her throat out right in the beginning.

Inside him, William was awake. It was William who was responding to the Slayer. And that was a danger. Spike had shoved William right down deep where no one would ever see him. Angelus and Darla had taken great pleasure in savaging William whenever he made an appearance, and Drusilla had been indifferent to him. Spike had learned very quickly that self-preservation meant that William—that stupid, useless, vulnerable git—should never be allowed to rear his defenseless head. There had never been a way to eradicate William totally, though God knows Spike had tried. Bits of William still informed Spike’s gentleness towards Drusilla and his observations about the things around him and his appreciation of the world. Aside from that though, he had thought William completely repressed.

But here he was again, stronger than ever. Just asking to be dusted, that was.

He had to put a stop to it right now.

Slayer thought she had him wrapped around her little finger. Sod that. She was going to learn different.

He paced around the room angrily. In the central room above him, he could hear the Annoying One and his merry band of gormless twits chanting strenuously. Thirty odd vamps, and they needed magic to screw themselves up into taking on one diminutive girl standing all of five-foot-two and weighing maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet. Brave bunch, they were.

He’d killed two Slayers. By himself. Without any bloody magic or sodding St. Vigeous. And, by God, he was going to kill himself one more.


Buffy looked about the lounge of the high school, noticing that people were already leaving. Parent-Teacher night was drawing to a close. Which meant that Spike and his gang should be coming crashing through the window in about fifteen minutes. If they were coming.

The last time they hadn’t come until Principal Snyder had started turning off the lights. Snyder hadn’t started doing that yet. He had taken Joyce off for a private talk and the two of them hadn’t returned yet.

"Willow, Cordy?" she called. "Start getting people to leave. And when they’re all gone, I want the two of you to leave as well."

"Who died and made you supreme commander of the galaxy?" demanded Cordelia at once and Buffy fixed her with a cold stare.

"Just do it."

Willow gave Buffy a nervous glance and pulled Cordelia around. "Better do as she says. She’s been kind of jumpy the last few days."

"PMS or what?" muttered Cordy, but started going around with a wide smile to all the parents remaining. It gave her the opportunity to show herself off and play the gracious hostess, so she wasn’t complaining.

A little while later, everyone was gone except a few teachers. Buffy knew that she wouldn’t be able to get them to leave and only hoped that they would survive. She wondered whether she would have time to run to the library and tell Giles, Xander and Jenny Calendar to leave as well. But then she saw Snyder and her mother approaching and knew she would not. She sighed and ran her hands down her tank top and jeans. No short white skirt this time; not when she was going to have to climb up into the ceiling and crawl through all that dust again.

"In the car. Now," Joyce said furiously and Snyder gave Buffy a smug smile as he brushed past her to turn off the lights at the window end of the lounge.

Buffy watched him narrowly as he switched off the lights.

"Will you pay attention to me, young lady!" Joyce exclaimed when Buffy didn’t do what she was told.

"Just a minute, Mom."

Two vamps suddenly crashed through the window. Snyder yelled. Several more vamps stormed in. Buffy smiled tightly when she saw Spike in the lead.

He smiled back, a gleeful, dangerous smile. "What can I say? I couldn’t wait."

Buffy tossed a chair into their midst to slow them down, then grabbed her mother’s hand and pulled her into the hallway. The teachers were running about in a panic.

"Come on!" Buffy yelled at them. "This way! You too, Mr Whitmore!" She grabbed at the teacher who had got himself killed by Spike the last time. "Especially you!"

She saw vamps running towards them from the other end of the hallway, and yanked everybody around.

"This way! C’mon! C’mon!" She shoved them all down another passageway. "Get into a classroom and barricade yourselves in!"

At the far end of that passageway, the library doors opened and Giles, Jenny and Xander came running out.

"Spike and an army!" she yelled at them, then saw a vampire heading their way fast. "Look out!"

Jenny screamed.

"Back!" yelled Giles and they fell back into the library and shoved the swing doors shut just as the vamp slammed into them.

Buffy could hear them dragging things across to barricade the doors, but didn’t have much time to pay attention. She was too busy pushing her bunch through the doors of the science classroom. She got them all in and slammed the door just as vamps reached it and started to pound on it.

"Shove something across it!"

Snyder and another man heaved a storage cabinet in front of the door while Buffy ran to the other door and locked it. The lights suddenly went out, then the emergency lights came on.

"They’ve cut the power."

"Who are those people and what do they want?" someone shouted.

"I didn’t get much of a look," Joyce said, "but is there something wrong with their faces?"

"Yes!" Snyder yelled. "PCP! It’s a gang on PCP! We’ve got to get out of here!"

"No!" Buffy caught him as he tried to open the window. "You can’t go outside! They’ll kill you!"

Snyder pulled away. "You don’t tell me! I tell you!"

She ignored his blustering, caught up a stool and set it on a lab table.

"Who do you think you are?" Snyder was yelling.

"I’m the one who knows how to stop them."

Joyce grabbed at her as she climbed up and pushed a ceiling panel aside.

"Buffy, these guys are serious! You can’t go out there!"

"That’s why I’m going up here," Buffy grinned and swung herself into the ceiling. "Don’t worry, Mom."

She could hear Spike searching for her as she crawled through the ceiling.

"Slaaaayer! Here, kitty, kit-tyyy!"

"Be with you in a tick, pet," she murmured in a bad British accent, grinning. "Just need to get some of the deadwood cleared out first."

She kicked out a ceiling panel in the library and looked down at Giles’ and Jenny’s startled faces.

"Hey, guys."

"Oh, thank God you’re all right!" Giles exclaimed.

"Toss me up that bag of stakes, Giles."

He did so. "Where are the others?"

"Science room down the hall."

"I sent Xander through the stacks to get Angel."


"What’s your plan?"

"Vamps are scattered all round the building. I’m gonna take them out one by one. Set ‘em up and knock ‘em down."

"You’ll need help..." Giles started to move towards the barricaded library doors.

"No! What I need is for you to take care of my mother. I’m going to take out the vamps in the hall first. Then I want you to get my mother and the others out of here."

"Watch your back!" Giles called after her as she disappeared into the ceiling space once more.

Prescient knowledge was a real plus. She knew exactly where the vamps were, took them out quickly and efficiently, clearing the hallway as fast as she could before Spike became aware of her whereabouts.

"Mom! Come on!"

Giles opened the library door, just as everybody rushed out of the science room. Buffy shepherded them all into the library.

"Get them out through the stacks, Giles." She pushed her mother back as Joyce started to follow her. "Mom, don’t come after me. I’ve got something to do and I’ve got to do it alone. I want your word."

Joyce opened her mouth to protest, then closed it at the determined look on Buffy’s face. "All right. I promise."

"Thank you."

She did a spiral around the school, dusting the outlying vamps one by one until the only ones remaining were those in the group with Spike at the lobby.

She scooped up a fire axe lying on the ground as she closed in on the lobby. She could hear Spike and Angel talking. Spike was playing with Angel, pretending he didn’t know about the soul. She glanced around the corner of the hallway just as Spike sucker-punched Angel. He put all his strength behind the blow and she couldn’t help grinning at the beatific look on his face when Angel thumped against the wall and nearly fell.

"Come on, people," Spike snarled at the other vamps, catching up a metal pole. "This isn’t a spectator sport!"

Angel and Xander fled out of the school and the vamps rushed after them. Spike started to go with them, then stopped abruptly, raising his head and sniffing the air. He turned slowly, smiling, his fangs flashing in the glow of the emergency lights. He was in full gameface. It was a deliberate statement. That he was a vamp and that there would be no quarter.

"Slayer. Wondered when you’d show up. Knew you wouldn’t duck a confrontation."

"Aren’t you going to call the others back?" she asked, smiling. She knew he wouldn’t.

"This is between you and me. Shall we dance, Slayer?"

"Oh, yeah, we’ll dance." She raised her brows at the metal pole in his hands. "Do we really need weapons for this?"

He ran his hand downwards across his stomach meaningfully. "I just like them. They make me feel all manly."

But he threw the pole down, trusting her to do the same. She smiled. He didn’t even know that he was trusting her and what that said about him. Another step closer in the long dance, a crack in the armor that he had so carefully raised against her. And even that armor was a giveaway, the fact that he needed it. Yet he wasn’t even aware of it himself.

She tossed her fire axe negligently away. "You shouldn’t have come here."

He grinned. "No, I messed up all your doilies and stuff. But I just got so bored."

"Is that why you didn’t wait for St. Vigeous?"

"St Vigeous! All that chanting and scourging. Pfft!" It was a disdainful, contemptuous expulsion of breath. "Don’t need magic to take you on, Slayer. Don’t need some fake edge. Got a rep to maintain. I didn’t need any dirty unfair advantage to take care of the other two. We do this, we do it proper."

She was easing away from the hallway corner into a clear area of the lobby, where they would have space to fight properly.

"So that’s why you let the others go after Angel," she said to keep him distracted from what she was doing.

He gave her a wide, flashing smile that let her know that he knew perfectly well what she was doing and was letting her. "Yeah."

"You really enjoyed whacking Angel like that."

He laughed. "Oh, yeah. Sod deserved it. Deserves a lot more. One whack doesn’t make up for two decades of shit. I do you, pet, and then I go after him."

"Gotta do me first," she said and hit him.

The next moment they were in a whirl of motion, punching, kicking, blocking, trying for the least little bit of advantage.

They were both fast and deadly. But she knew his moves and he didn’t know hers. She knew better than to try anything standard, used only the moves that she had worked out—with him— over the years. The unique blows and kicks that he didn’t know yet and would not expect. It gave her just that tiny edge over him. She had the harder job, trying to achieve that standoff rather than the death that he was looking for.

It was difficult. He was good, better than she had thought. She realized that he had never really used his full strength and expertise against her before in all their years of sparring, had always held back just that little bit. She needed everything she had learned in the past seven years of fighting to stay ahead of him.

Despite the danger, they were both grinning. It was exhilarating, pure joy, to have a truly worthy opponent. To use both body and mind to the fullest, to test one’s limits. But time was running out. Very soon, Angel would have taken care of the fledglings outside and then he and Xander would come running in. She couldn’t afford to have them interfering.

The end came abruptly, when neither one of them was expecting it. He got past her guard with one powerful blow that struck her to the ground, then was on top of her, his fangs flashing towards her throat. She scissored her legs around him in desperation and rolled.

Then she was on top and her stake was at his heart.

"Shit," he said and let his head fall back in resignation. "You’re good, Slayer."

"So are you."

"Not good enough." He sighed. "Fair fight though. Finish it."


His brows rose. "Why not?"

"Haven’t got what I wanted yet."

He frowned in puzzlement. "What’s that?"

"The oath sanglante."

His eyes widened and he bucked suddenly under her, trying to throw her off. But she had been expecting something like that and just gripped her thighs tighter around his sides, pressed her weight harder into his diaphragm and held him where he was.

"Won’t be your minion, Slayer!" he snarled. "Won’t be anybody’s minion! Shit, even Angelus couldn’t make me his minion and he broke half my bones and beat me bloody trying. Dust first!"

"In vampire terms," she said coolly and steadily, "I’m the Overlord of Sunnydale. The Anointed One has no real claim. He may have been chosen by the Master, but the Master did not have the right to name an heir. This is my territory. I won it from the Master in fair fight. Sunnydale and its people belong to me. I rule."

"You’re not a vampire!"

"I looked it up last night in my Watcher’s books. It’s any supernatural entity. I’m the Slayer. I qualify. Challenge fight. I won. I’m the de facto ruler of Sunnydale."

"Still won’t be your minion!"

"Don’t want that. I’m not a Master. I’m an Overlord. What are the rules for either a Master living in or an ordinary vampire passing through an Overlord’s territory?"

He went completely still under her.

"Challenge, submission, retreat or pax," he said slowly.

"You lost the challenge. You won’t submit. Only choices left are die, leave or choose pax."

He was watching her narrowly. "What terms for a pax?"

"I understand that they are negotiable, right? And if no agreement can be reached, then the challenge can be renewed or the challenger must leave the area. If there’s a new challenge, there must be a formal statement of intent. Can’t just snarl and leap."

He laughed wryly. "You did your research."

"We can negotiate terms tomorrow. Right now, I want to establish the pax."

He grinned. "What’s the hurry, Slayer? I’m kind of enjoying having you on top of me like this. Would enjoy it more if you’d move down just a little bit."

"Maybe later." She grinned back, but kept the stake carefully pressed over his heart. Until the oath was taken, he was still dangerous, would renew the fight if she eased up even in the slightest. "We’re going to be interrupted any minute and I want that oath."

"They’re still busy out there but, yeah, it won’t be too much longer." He frowned up at her. "Why are you doing this, Slayer? Why don’t you just dust me?"

She smiled. "I think you know. Why didn’t you fight me all out?"

His eyes flicked away from hers. "I..."

"You kept hesitating. Think I couldn’t tell?"

She snapped the point of the stake at the side of his neck, cutting his flesh, then brought the stake back to his heart as quickly as she could.

"Don’t have the fangs to make this a proper blood oath, but it’s all symbolic, isn’t it?"

She reached out and deliberately nicked her wrist on one of his fangs, held it out to him as it bled.

"You take your life from my hand, vampire. Pax?"

"I take my life from your hand," he agreed slowly and reluctantly. "Pax."

He licked the blood from her wrist. She saw his eyes half-close with heavy sensuality at the taste of Slayer blood, bent and licked the cut on his neck lightly, tasted his blood coppery on her tongue. He shivered suddenly under her.

"Done," she said. She drew the stake away, laid it down on the ground beside him. "Liked that, didn’t you?"

"Oh, yeah. ‘The blood is the life,’" he said dryly. "Any blood exchange arouses."

She looked down at him, smiling. The T-shirt he was wearing was the loose type he used to wear. She almost liked it better than the tight ones he changed to later, because it bared the strong, supple lines of his throat. She laid her palm delicately on his throat, fondling him.

"I could claim you with that exchange of blood," she said softly. "Should I?"

His eyes widened and the gameface melted suddenly away into his human features. She heard his breath shudder in his mouth before he closed it tightly.

"Would you want to?" he asked almost under his breath.

She stroked his throat lightly with her fingertips, smiling, as he stared at her. "Would you say yes if I did? Would you want it, Spike?"

His lips parted, but no sound came out. Then he jerked his head around.

"They’re coming," he said.

She slid off him to sit to one side. "Find me tomorrow and we’ll negotiate the rules."

He sat up slowly, got one knee under him, then stopped abruptly. His hand caught the back of her head and pulled her forward. He kissed her intensely, bruisingly hard, and her mouth opened to him without a thought. Passion flared, insistent and demanding. They devoured each other’s mouths, just about eating each other alive.

Snyder’s voice sounded outside. They broke apart, staring at each other blankly. Then he gathered his feet under him and was running towards the broken window in the lounge, leaped through it and was gone.

Chapter #3 - Chapter 3
Chapter 3

She spent the next day getting her new life set up.

She needed a place of her own, somewhere she could train and be herself. She wasn’t living just a double life now; she was living a triple life. Hiding the fact that she was a Slayer from the world now seemed easy compared to hiding the fact that she wasn’t the Slayer they knew from Giles and the Scoobies. Research wouldn’t change: Giles and Willow had that covered and she had never been a big part of that. But training was going to be a problem. Her fighting skills were now way past the point at which Giles had her and she didn’t dare show him how far ahead she was. Yet she needed to keep training at that level, didn’t dare slack off on those skills. And she needed a private space to be her adult self rather than the teenager she was supposed to be.

Willie the Snitch gave her a lead to someone who might have the kind of place she wanted. It turned out to be a Krasevic demon. Once it had recovered from the near heart attack it suffered when the Slayer suddenly turned up on its doorstep, it took her to the place it was renting out as a safe house for other demons. Buffy looked dubiously at the tumbledown warehouse it took her to, but the flat hidden beneath that proved more than satisfactory—a large livingroom that could easily be turned into a training area once all the furniture was pushed back against the walls, a smallish bedroom mostly taken up by a kingsized bed, a minuscule kitchen and a bathroom with only a shower stall instead of a tub. The fact that there were no windows only meant that she didn’t have to worry about anyone seeing her, everything was neat and clean, and the only thing the Krasevic demon wanted in payment was immunity for itself and its clan. Since Krasevics were non-harmful and peaceable to the extreme, Buffy had no problems agreeing.

"I’m going to be working out in here," she said. "I hope you don’t mind. I’ll try not to damage anything."

"Slayer," said the Krasevic with feeling, "you can blow the place up if you like. It’ll be worth it not to be looking over my shoulder all the time."

She smiled at it. Lorne, Clem and others of their kind had made her accept the fact that not all demons needed to be eradicated on sight.

"Put the word out. You don’t hurt anyone, you don’t get hurt. I’ve no quarrel with anyone but the troublemakers."

"No trouble from us, Slayer!" the Krasevic said, pulling at its tail enthusiastically. "Need any help fixing up the place the way you like? I got contacts."

Since it was so willing to help, she took advantage of its offer and by nightfall the livingroom had been transformed into a very adequate training area with everything and more that she needed in the way of mats, punching bags and other equipment, all happily free of charge.

"Liquidation sale," explained the Krasevic. "These few things won’t be missed. Can be liquidated once you don’t want them no more."

Things were working out nicely. She went on patrol that night with a big grin on her face.

It was dead quiet. Not a vamp showed. In Restfield cemetery, she paused to take a nostalgic look at Spike’s old crypt, empty and thick with dust and cobwebs. It would be another two years before he moved there in the other reality; in this one, he probably wouldn’t move in at all. She went on through the various cemeteries, wandering hopefully through moonlight and shadow, trying to provoke something into happening. When nothing responded to her provocations, she dropped in at Willie’s to see if he knew what was up. She laughed when he told her the latest word on the street, then went on.

It was Friday night, which meant that Joyce wouldn’t mind her being out late. She picked up some snacks and energy drinks from the all-night grocery and headed back to her new flat to stock the fridge there with these essentials.

She was just shoving open the broken doors of the dilapidated warehouse when Spike stepped out of the shadows behind her.

"What the hell is this place, Slayer?"

"Home away from home." She raised her brows at him. "When did you start to follow me? I didn’t sense you."

"Thirty-five yards, that’s your radius. Figured it out." He gave her a cool look. "We need to discuss those rules."

She nodded. "Come on down."

He followed her warily down the stairs, then raised his brows at the gym revealed when she opened the metal door at the bottom.

"What’s this then?"

"Needed a place to train."

"In secret?"

"Long story. Tell you sometime. Come on in, Spike," she said carelessly and he frowned at her as he stepped through the doorway.

"Just like that? Bit casual, innit? Taking a lot for granted, aren’t you?"

"Wouldn’t let you in at Revello Drive, with my mother there. You don’t have a treaty with her." She started putting her purchases away in the fridge and cabinets. "This place is neutral ground. Nobody’s going to be here but me. And we have an agreement. Unless you’re thinking of breaking the pax."

"Depends on the rules." He was prowling around, checking the place out. "Only one exit?"

"Door at the end over there leads to the sewers."

He grinned. "You think like a vamp."

"This was a demon safe house until I took it over today."

"What do you need a safe house for, Slayer?"


"Long story. Right." He hitched a hip onto the back of an armchair and sat watching her curiously.

"And how is the Master of Sunnydale?"

He smiled grimly. "So you’ve heard."

"Word’s out. That’s you now, isn’t it? You took out the Anointed One."

"Annoying One got annoying once too often."

"Line of Aurelius. Angel’s disqualified because of the soul. Drusilla because of her mental state. The crown passes to you. Did you think of it before or was it something I said last night that gave you the idea?"

"Did you mean to give me the idea, Slayer? Think you’ve got all the vampires in this town by the short hairs because you’ve got a leash on me?"

She shook her head. "It doesn’t work like that, does it?"

"Damn right it doesn’t. The pax is between you and me, Slayer. I may be in your hand, but the ones I control are not."

"Does that mean you’ll be sending them after me tomorrow? St. Vigeous, remember?"

"Can’t. That would constitute a direct attack. Pax won’t allow it." His lips tightened and he gave her a hard look. "But if any one of them decides to do it on his own, I won’t stop him."

"A concerted attack might worry me. A couple of suicidal idiots, well, that’s just a nice little workout for me. Besides, how many of them are left after last night?" she asked dryly. "I think they might all be a little shook right now."

He grinned involuntarily. "Yeah. Not a brave bunch, that lot. St. Vigeous is a no go. You set me up, didn’t you?"

She shook her head. "No, I really didn’t. But I knew you’d come. No unfair advantage, wasn’t that what you said? I was betting on that. And, just so you know, I didn’t mean for you to take out the Anointed One."

"And I didn’t mean to take him out, except he pissed me off and I suddenly remembered that there might be benefits in being the Master of Sunnydale."

They smiled crookedly at each other.

"Now, the way the pax works, as I understand it," Buffy said, "is that you can’t attack me and you can’t order someone to attack me. You cannot aid or abet a vamp or a demon who attacks me on his own. If I’m taking on one of your people, you cannot help him. You have to stand back and wait for the natural conclusion of the fight, which would be that I dust him," she said with a grin and he gave her a twisted smile. "You have to remain neutral. Right?"

"One exception," he said coldly.

"And here’s where the negotiating begins," she sighed.

"Drusilla. You attack her, Slayer, and I will defend. Doesn’t matter if she is the one who attacks you first. I will still defend. Pax breaks immediately and I will fight you. Non-negotiable."

"She might attack me just to break the pax. You do admit that’s possible." She saw him bite his lip. He knew that she was right. "Will you stop her from attacking me?"

There was a long silence. Then he said reluctantly, "Yes."

"Fair enough. I won’t go after her. You keep her from coming after me. Deal?"


"Conversely, you don’t attack Angel."

"Oh, come on, Slayer!"

"It’s only fair. ‘I do you and then I go after him.’ Isn’t that what you said? Well, I can’t allow that."

"What if he attacks me? I have to be able to defend myself!"

This time she bit her lip. "Yeah, okay. Self-defense allowed. I suppose you’ll want me to stop him coming after you the same way you’d stop Dru from coming after me."

"Are you out of your mind? Egg him on, Slayer! Please! I’d give anything to get a chance at that wanker!"

She hit her forehead. "God, I’m dumb!"

He was laughing. "Did you really not expect that?"

She sighed. "Wasn’t thinking. Getting back to the table. The pax doesn’t give me the right to tell you what to do with the vamps you control."

"Got that right. They go on the same as usual."

"And if I come across them, they get to be dust, the same as usual."

He shrugged. "The way it is. The only vamp you have power over is me, pet. The pax is with me. And even that is limited. It’s a truce between us, is all. It’s a way of allowing an outsider to live in an overlord’s territory. Controlling the way he feeds, so that it won’t upset any power balances that might exist between rival overlords. Making sure he takes only what he needs to survive and doesn’t kill for sport or go on a rampage that creates the kind of massacre that would focus human attention and bring them out in peasants-with-stakes-and-torches mode."

"I read that in Giles’ books. The pax requirements are that you ask permission to feed."

"Yeah. Where and..." He stopped, his eyes widening. "Oh, no, pet. Oh, no."

"I’m the Slayer. I can’t let you feed on the people of Sunnydale, Spike."

He jerked to his feet. "Slayer! That’s unreasonable! I’m a vampire! I have to feed!"

"There are alternatives."

"Bloody hell, no! A thousand times, no! I’m not bagging it with pig’s blood from the butcher’s! There’s your deal breaker, Slayer! Want a formal statement of intent for a new challenge? You’ve got one!"


He whirled away, flinging his arms out and stamping around the room.

"Christ, I haven’t fed in two days! Because of the pax! I’m bloody starving here! Challenge, Slayer!"

She hadn’t even thought of this, had stupidly thought that the pax would hold him. Why hadn’t she remembered that it was the chip that had stopped him before, the agonizing pain of the chip whenever he tried to harm humans? Even the soul had come later, after the chip had gotten him used to not feeding. The desire for human blood never went away. Even after a hundred years, Angel still craved it. And she had thought she could stop Spike from feeding, without either chip or soul. She was a fool.

But she couldn’t let him go on feeding.

Desperate, she could find only one solution. "One question."

He was still stalking around the room, going in and out of gameface. "Yeah, what?"

"How much blood would you need if it’s Slayer blood?"

He spun and stared at her. "What?"

She took a deep breath and repeated, "Slayer blood."

"You’re offering to let me feed on you?"

She nodded.

There was a long, vibrating silence. Then he said very softly, very dangerously, "What’s going on, Slayer?"

"Nothing. You need to feed. I can’t let you feed on..."

"Bollocks! Want to stop me from eating the populace? All you need to do is stake me. Problem solved. You’re the Slayer. Just because we got the hots for each other doesn’t mean you should be feeding me Slayer blood. There’s something more to all this and I wanna know what it is."

"Look, it’s complicated, okay?"

"Fucking A, it’s complicated! I walk into Sunnydale just looking for a nice, conventional, I-kill-you, you-kill-me scenario. Everything neat and by the book. Next thing I know, the two of us have our tongues down each other’s throats. We’re yay much away from fucking each other into the bloody ground. Don’t even care that it’s in the bleeding school, in front of a bleeding audience. That’s supposed to be normal for a Slayer? Please! Wanna tell me what that’s all about?"

"It’s a long..."

"Yeah, yeah. Got that. Well, I’ve got all the time in the world, pet. I’m sodding immortal and I’ve got nothing particular to do for the next several decades. You on the other hand might want to get out of this room a bit sooner. Not gonna let you unless I get some answers. ‘Course you could stake me, but I’m kinda getting the feeling that you don’t want to do that."

Buffy sighed. "Damn it."

He hooked a hip on the back of an armchair, folded his arms and waited.

"You’re not going to believe it," she said.

"Try me," he said grimly.

She drew a deep breath. "I’m not really the seventeen-year-old Slayer that you think I am. I’m twenty-three years old, I’m from the future, and I’m here to prevent you from burning up in the Hellmouth."

There was a long silence.

"You’re right," Spike said at last. "I don’t believe it."

Buffy shrugged.

"Why the hell should you care whether I burn up or not?" She just looked at him and finally he said slowly, almost wincingly, "We’re...lovers in the future?"

She nodded. "And then you died. And it was my fault. And I’m not going to let it happen again, no matter what it takes."

Her eyes were stinging. She spun around so that her back was to him and swiped at them angrily.

Spike stared at her back. He knew she was crying. And she was crying over him and that was... nobody had ever...

He felt battered. Knocked completely sideways. Ever since coming to Sunnydale, it had been one shock after the other. And now this fairytale.

Except the emotions were real. He could tell that. The passion and the tears and the anger. There was a storm of emotions in her, all mixed together, all violent.

Give up her whole life in the future and come back in time. For him? God!

"You sure act older than you look," he said carefully, trying to feel his way through the quicksand. "That’s true. How’d you manage the, uh, transfer?"

"We won the battle. You won the battle. The Powers That Be owed me. They have these servants, Oracles they’re called. They can play tricks with time. Got them to send me back. They couldn’t do it physically, but they could put my older mind into my younger body. So they did and here I am."

"No way to tell if all of that’s true," he muttered, almost under his breath. "Could be stringing me a line. Playing games. How do I know you’re not? Could say anything. Come from the future. Yeah, that happens every day."

"You’re a vampire. You’re standing in a Hellmouth. There are demons running around all over Sunnydale. You’re talking to a Slayer. And you balk at a little time travel?"

"When you put it that way..." He grinned involuntarily, then sobered. "Need proof, Slayer. You gotta see that. Can’t just expect me to swallow a story like that."

"What kind of proof? It’s not like I could came back with an I.D. or something."

"Mm." He thought about it, frowning, then snapped his fingers. "Knowledge. The stuff in your head. You say we’re lovers. You say you know me. All right. Tell me something about myself that’s not in your Watcher’s diaries."

She smiled slowly at the triumphant look on his face that said he thought he had her.

"Let’s see. William was a poet. He wrote..."

He held up a hand, wincing. "Don’t go on. Yeah, he was a poet. But a lot of people knew he wrote bloody awful poetry and they could have mentioned it to someone or written it down somewhere the Watchers could have found it."

She hesitated, then said, "You only loved two women before me. Cecily and Dru. You wanted to claim Dru, but she wouldn’t let you because of her fixation with Angelus..."

His lips tightened into a grim, hard line and he slashed his hand in the air, cutting her off. "Dru could have told Angelus both those facts, just for a laugh, and Angel could have told you."

She bit her lip, then said reluctantly, knowing that this would bring back painful memories for him, "You loved your mother. She had tuberculosis. When you got turned, you turned her, hoping to make her well again. But then you had to stake her because she wasn’t your mother any more, only the demon."

He jerked to his feet and spun away. "I never told anybody that, not even Dru." He looked back at her. "I told you that?"

She nodded.

"I must really have trusted you."

"God knows why," Buffy muttered. "I wasn’t good for you. God only knows why you loved me. You deserved so much better than me."

He smiled faintly, watching her. "Oh, I can see why. You shine, Slayer. You burn."

"Oh, yes, I burn. You burned. But not this time," she said fiercely. "Not this time."

"All right," he said suddenly. "I accept it. You’re from the future. Until something happens to prove you’re not. So where do we go from here?"

"Back to the pax." She looked at him gravely. "Can’t dust you. You know that now and maybe you’ll use it against me. You can challenge and this time you’ll probably win. Because you know that I’ll be trying for a standoff and you’ll be trying for a kill. You can bag your third Slayer any time you want to, Spike."

"No," he said sharply. His eyes were very dark, the pupils dilated. "No, I want...Let’s try the pax for a while. See how it plays."

"Back to the negotiations then. Back to: no feeding on the populace."

"Slayer blood. Is that how you keep me in line in the future? With the promise of Slayer blood?" He tilted his head to study her neck. "No bite marks that I can see. Push your hair back."

She shoved the loose waves of her hair back, smiling, but shook her head. "Wrong body, Spike."

"Oh, right. Keep forgetting."

"But there wouldn’t have been any anyway. You bagged it."

"Christ, you really had me by the short hairs, didn’t you? Not going to happen this time, you got that, Slayer?"

"How much Slayer blood do you need in a day?"

"‘S powerful stuff. Less than a mouthful."

"Figure I can spare that." She studied him thoughtfully. He was pale. Not as pale as when he had come to them when he had first got the chip and gone she didn’t know how many days without feeding. But pale enough that she could believe that he hadn’t fed since the pax and probably for some time before it. "Want to seal the deal?"

His lips parted and his gaze fixed on her neck, darkening and growing intense. She heard the little catch of his indrawn breath.

"Yeah," he said softly.

He came and took her upper arms lightly in his hands, drawing her to him. She laid her hands on his chest, wondering whether she would have to push him away if he took too much or whether he would know and be able to stop himself.

"This really seems perverse, Slayer," he said and she couldn’t help laughing.

"I thought vamps were into perversions."

"Not this kind. This just seems against the natural order of things. If I got my fangs in you and drained you dry in a fight, that would be right. But just offering yourself up like this...it’s weird."

"So you’re not going to do it?" she mocked and he grinned crookedly.

"What, not take it when it’s offered? I’m not crazy."

He went into gameface and pushed the waves of her hair back from her neck. Every Slayer instinct in her rebelled and he grinned at her, feeling her heart rate rise and her body tense. She shoved those instincts down determinedly. He bent and his fangs slid with exquisite precision into the vein at the side of her neck and she felt the draw as he drank.

Both Angel and the Master had bitten her and both times it had hurt agonizingly, Angel because he had been out of his head, the Master because he had meant to kill her. So when Spike bit her, she braced herself for pain.

Except it wasn’t pain. It was like the time Dracula had bitten her, when she was under his thrall. She couldn’t properly remember much of that, but she did have a vague memory that it had been pleasurable. Seduction rather than violation, the purpose—keeping the victim willingly coming back for more.

A languorous rapture thrilled through her body, a wanton sexuality. She suddenly understood Riley a whole lot better. Her knees turned to water. She leaned into Spike, her hands sliding from his chest down around his sides to splay across his back under his duster, her arms closing about him, holding that cool, strong body to her. God, she had missed this! The feel of him, hard chest and ripped abs and lean hips and long legs. He was so fine, all that supple, solid muscle and clean, strong bone vibrant against her. How could she have thrown it all away before? Not this time.

She was shuddering helplessly, incredibly turned on. He was aroused too. She could feel him hard and urgent against her, his body vibrating with tension. He withdrew his fangs, licked the wound to seal it, looked down at her, his eyes half-closed with heavy sensuality. She had no idea how much of her blood he had taken, couldn’t have stopped him even if it had been too much, the sensation had been that deliriously sweet. But she could see the power of her blood moving in him, in the passion flaring so intensely between them.

His hand slipped up her shoulder, slid around to the nape of her neck, fingers sifting through her hair.

"Wanna fuck, Slayer?"

That was what it would be to him now—fucking. Well, it was only fair. That was what she had done to him before—fucked him, while he had been making love.

"Want to make love," she agreed.

He frowned faintly, something moving behind his eyes. Then he shrugged and his mouth came down on hers.

Their mouths twisted, devouring each other. She could taste the faint, coppery tang of her own blood from where he had licked the bite mark to seal it. It was unimportant, compared to the long slides of his tongue against hers, to the way he kissed, with his whole body and his entire being, as if nothing in the world existed except this moment and this voluptuous pleasure. She didn’t know whether that was a vamp thing or whether it was just particular to Spike, that total focus on the moment, his whole self surrendered to it and to her. Certainly, Angel had never kissed like that. It was incredibly arousing.

They were both gasping for breath. And that was definitely a Spike trait. Vamps didn’t need to breathe, but that was one of the things that she loved about Spike, that lust or shock or passion would have him panting and struggling for air. It betrayed what he tried to keep hidden—how deeply he felt things.

He shrugged his duster off, let it fall on the floor, stepped back to tread off his Doc Martens. She bent to unzip her own calf-high boots and step out of them. When she straightened, he just picked her up quite simply, settling her thighs around him and their hips together, and carried her into the bedroom. Her legs wound around him, ankles locking in the small of his back, and she couldn’t help rubbing herself against him.

"God, Spike!"

He laughed against her face, giving her that sloe-eyed look, then dropped them both on the bed, still locked together. Her hands went immediately to his belt buckle, trying to wrest it open. He pulled her hands away.

"What’s the hurry, Slayer?"

"Want you," she said plaintively. It had been too long. Just the feel of him in her arms, the scent of him, the taste of his mouth, and she was desperate for him, couldn’t wait, had to have him now.

"Wanna enjoy this. Never fucked a Slayer before. Might never have the chance again. Gonna make this memorable, sweets."

He pulled her tank top off, unsnapped her bra, threw it away. His hands closed on her breasts, kneading and caressing, and his head came down, mouth finding her nipples, moving from one to the other, tonguing and suckling. She keened involuntarily, her head hitting the pillow, her whole body arcing to that electrifying touch. Her fingers dug into his thick hair, holding his mouth to her breast.

"God," he muttered. "The way you respond, the way you respond to me." Spike wasn’t used to that, this immediate, shuddering, passionate response. It shook him, somewhere down deep where his most secret vulnerabilities lay. Dru was jaded; it took work to arouse her and, too often, twisted, painful games that made him feel that he could have been anyone, could have been no more than something mechanical, less than a vibrator.

"The two of us," Buffy murmured. "Always could drive each other crazy."

She ran her hand deliberately down his back, pushed under the belt of his jeans, raked the small of his back with her nails. It was not really a sexual touch, but his body jolted against hers.

"Know my buttons, do you?" he said, amused.

"Oh, yeah." She pulled his T-shirt off and he let her, his hands busy unzipping her jeans. "Want your skin, want your skin against mine."

He pulled her jeans and thong off in one smooth movement, twisted to yank off his own jeans, slightly hampered by the fact that she had his head wrapped in her arms, her mouth sliding along his jaw and then sucking down his throat. He shuddered involuntarily.

"You know my buttons all right." He slid over her and they coiled around each other like snakes. "Let’s find yours."

"Can’t wait." She rubbed herself against his erection demandingly and he groaned. "C’mon. C’mon."

"No. God, you’re wet. You’re so wet for me. And hot! Bloody furnace."


"Finding your buttons, pet. Gonna drive you crazy."

"Already there, dammit!"

He laughed against her ribcage, his hands and mouth and body sliding all over her, working all the places that made her writhe and moan, stretching it out excruciatingly. She was drowning in sensation, lost in the feel of him, arcing and thrashing uncontrollably under him. And it went on and on and on until her hands clawed mindlessly down his back, drawing blood. He gasped against her throat. Then finally, finally, his weight came full upon her and he moved over her with intent.

"I’m glad you’re the first this time," she muttered against his mouth, feeling him start to come into her. "I’m glad you’re the first with this body."

He paused, staring down at her in surprise. She clutched at him.

"Oh, God, Spike! Don’t stop!"

"Forgot," he murmured. "Experienced mind, inexperienced body. Right. Doesn’t have to hurt, luv."

His fangs slid smoothly into her neck. She was so sensitized to him right now that it came as an unbelievable rapture, her whole body seizing up. She hardly felt the pain of his entering her under the thunderbolt of her intense orgasm. Then as he continued to drink, multiple orgasms, each one crashing over her like waves, under the double penetration of his cock and his fangs, his body pistoning into her, the deep thrusts hitting every sweet spot in her body, his fangs keeping up that slow draw that turned the whole experience into delirious ecstasy.


Taking her blood was affecting him too. She felt him shudder violently against her as he came. Her brain whited out.

She came back to herself to find him gasping into the curve of her shoulder, his head on the pillow beside hers and his body heavy upon her.

"Oh, God, that was incredible, Spike!"

He turned his head to look at her, his eyes intimate and smiling. Nothing like the look of softness and tenderness that she was accustomed to seeing from him, but still startling coming from this Spike.

"You can say that again, Slayer." His breath was shaking in his open mouth, his eyelids heavy in replete, smug, tomcat satisfaction. "God, you’re something else. Never felt anything like it in a hundred and twenty years. Thought I’d turn inside out."

He ran a hand down her body lightly from shoulder to knee and she shivered against him.


"Could get addicted to this," he muttered, sounding a little unnerved.

He slid to one side and she turned to face him, running her hand lightly across his shoulder and down his arm. It was odd seeing no bruises on either one of them. Their lovemaking had always been so rough and hurried and violent before. Then she thought back more carefully. Except for that first time, when they had fought before making love, there had never been bruises on her, only on him. And she was the one who had made it violent.

And now here was this Spike, no soul, no love, and yet instead of the harsh, bruising sex that she would have expected, it had been exquisitely sweet.

"All vamps have perversions, right?" she murmured and his brows rose, amused.


"You know what your perversion is, Spike? Gentleness. That’s your perversion. For a vamp, that’s perverse."

He looked taken aback, then completely embarrassed, brushed that away with a dismissive sweep of his hand.

"You up for another round, Slayer? I know I am."

She looked down and laughed. He was. "Gotta love that vamp refractory period."

"Hope you have the stamina to match, Slayer."

"Oh, I do."

Chapter #4 - Chapter 4
Chapter 4

"You’ve been a bad dog, Spike."

Couldn’t deny that, could he. Spike looked uneasily away from the dark eyes watching him. Dru came and ran one long fingernail down his cheek, drawing blood. She brought the bloodied nail to her mouth and licked it delicately, like a cat.

"You taste of ashes." She gave him a drowsy, sideways look, her eyes half-closed and dreaming, not quite all there, off somewhere with her pixies. "Ash on the wind. You’ll burn from the inside out, Spike. Unless something changes."

He frowned. "Try again, poodle. Didn’t quite get that."

"Kill her, Spike."

He caught his breath. "Can’t. Blood oath. I’m bound."

"The pax? Find a way around it. You can if you want to."

Trouble was, he didn’t want to. Not yet. Hadn’t had enough of her yet, the Slayer. Wanted more. Addictive, like the Slayer blood running through his veins now, powering him. All that heat. Her mouth, and the tightness of her sheath surrounding him, and the way she moved under him, and the way she looked at him. So hot.

"Dancing with the sun," Dru mocked. "Moth to the flame. Break free."

"I’m trying!" he said desperately.

But neither of them had been able to break free last night, kept coming back to each other like magnets, turning and twisting and coiling about each other, taking each other again and again, both of them exhausted before she finally had to go back to her mother’s house. The vivid sensory memory of that aroused him all over again—thinking of that, thinking of the way she had wavered when she tried to get up to leave, her knees trembling under her. And he hadn’t been much better.

God, she was like a drug! Couldn’t stop the craving.

"Darkness can’t exist in the light, Spike. The sun burns shadows all away. Put out the light. You must."

"I know," he said, very low.

She moved away from him in that slow, floating fashion, like weed swaying underwater, drifting along in her white dress, the way her mind was drifting. Frail and fragile, the energy from the Hellmouth helping, but not enough.

"Daddy’s here," she said. The pixies had told her that too.

He laughed. He couldn’t help it. "Daddy’s all souled up."

"Daddy will fix things."

Yeah, right. Like Angelus had ever fixed anything. And ‘Angel’ wouldn’t do any better. He’d asked around about Angel after the Slayer told him about the soul. Nothing really of note. More remarkable for absence rather than presence. Dusted a few minor fledglings here and there, like on Parent-Teacher night, for instance, and that only in the last year. Some accomplishment. A century of ‘repenting’ didn’t seem to have achieved much. From what he had heard, Slayer had done a thousand times more in the couple of years since she was called than Angel seemed to have done in a hundred. He wondered what the great poof was doing right now.

Angel was trying to re-connect with Buffy and, puzzlingly, getting nowhere. She had always responded to him before, eager for his company, giving him those shy, hesitant glances that were full of promise, and those tremulous kisses that were still tentative, but getting hotter. But now she was aloof, watching him with an unnerving intentness, her eyes remote and looking oddly older and more mature. The innocence, the vulnerability, that had drawn him was gone. She was no longer hesitant, feeling her way, looking for guidance. She was decisive, collected, standing on her own two feet and looking dryly amused at his attempts to influence her. She was altogether strange.

"Yes, I know Spike has made himself the Master of Sunnydale, but, no, I am not going to stake him, Angel. We’ve agreed on a truce."

"There can be no truce between a vampire and a Slayer!" he exclaimed, shocked.

"There can be if blood oath is sworn."

"A pax?" He was even more astounded. "That might constrain him. A pax will hold a vampire who swears it. But you don’t have to be bound by it. It can’t hold you."

"My word does."

"But...are you going to let him go on feeding on people? Buffy!"

"He won’t feed. Part of the rules we worked out for the pax. We reached an accommodation."

"He’s going to bag it, like me? Spike? Buffy, if he told you that, he’s lying!"

"We reached an accommodation," she repeated, strolling along calmly with her thumbs hooked into the pockets of her jeans and her cool gaze fixed on the horizon. She was smiling faintly and he couldn’t tell what she was thinking. "He agreed to it. The oath will hold him."

"He’ll be trying to find a way around the pax. You must know he will."

"Probably." She shrugged. "I can...it will hold him for a while. Then we’ll see."

She was watching him with a sideways-slanting, mocking glance that oddly enough reminded him of Spike. Spike with some sort of hilarious, private joke. It had used to drive him crazy in Spike. Angelus had never had much of a sense of humor and Angel was just trying to acquire one. Back then, that laughter of Spike’s would drive Angelus to some of his worst excesses, trying to batter that look off Spike’s face. Laughter was the one peculiar weapon of Spike’s that Angelus had never been able to win against or destroy.

"I’m working on something more permanent," Buffy was saying as if she were conceding a point. But the laughter was still there, glinting in the sideways glance she threw him..

"What’s more permanent than a stake through his heart?" Angel yelled. "You can’t ever afford to forget that you’re enemies!"

"Well, we are enemies," said Spike when she told him about it in bed that night. They had just finished the first round of the evening and he was heavy upon her, still partially erect within her and gearing lazily up towards the second round, not really thrusting, just push and relax, push and relax with his hips. His eyes danced. "Really adds something, doesn’t it? Being enemies."

"Does that mean that you’re trying to find a way around the pax?" She clenched upon him in retaliation and he gasped against her face.

"Not yet. Haven’t had enough of this yet. God, those Slayer muscles!" He raised his head and grinned down at her, then laughed when she licked his teeth. "Only thing better than killing a Slayer is fucking one."

"Heard that before."

"Say that in the future, do I?"


"‘S true." He curved his back like a cat so that he could reach her breast and mouth it. Her breath left her in a little hiss and she arched to that wicked, knowledgeable tongue.

"So I don’t have to worry about you planning on killing me for a little while then."

"I should," he muttered. "I should."

"Will you?"

"Don’t ask me things like that," he said harshly.

"And I should make you leave Sunnydale." He’d be safe then. It was being with her, being in Sunnydale that put his life at risk. He wouldn’t burn up if he wasn’t at the Hellmouth. But she couldn’t give this up. Not yet. "There’s time."

"Time for what?" He pushed her head back and sucked the bitemark on her neck. She shuddered. "For this?"


"Slayer blood. I like taking it. You like having me take it." He was flickering in and out of gameface. "We’re both out of control. You know that, don’t you?"

"Yes. Don’t care."

They kissed intensely, arms locked around each other.

"Angel’s going to be a problem," she muttered.

His head came up and he stared at her. "I’m balls deep in you and you’re thinking of Angel?"

She giggled helplessly. "Just thinking of ways and means to keep you there."

He was laughing too. "I’d be happy to take care of Angel for you. Just lift that one rule and I will."

"No. I think I’ve figured out a way might do it."

"Good. Then let’s get back to what’s really important."

Round two began.

It was a week before she saw Angel again. Apparently he was sulking over her incomprehensible refusal to dust Spike. She didn’t mind. As long as he was brooding about it in his apartment, he wouldn’t be out trying to find Spike and dust him, supposedly for her benefit. The trouble with Angel was that he always thought he knew better than she did about things and might decide to do the deed and then argue whether it was right or wrong after the fact. Luckily, all those decades of brooding had made him slow at making up his mind. Later he would become much more decisive, but right now he was still making the transition from not doing anything to finally taking action. And Spike was surrounded by minions when he was at the factory. They might be fledglings, but their combined numbers would assuredly bring Angel down.

Buffy might know that Spike was certain to call all the minions off, preferring a joyous one-on-one fight with Angel to any guaranteed success. Luckily Angel didn’t. Angel was still seeing things through Angelus’ eyes and Angelus would never take on a fight he knew he couldn’t win. Angel still didn’t have a clue how Spike operated, couldn’t see that for Spike the risk, the glorious reckless gamble, was what made it all worthwhile.

"Angel’s here," said Willow happily in her ear, expecting her to be delighted with the fact, as she would have been only a while back when she had been a teenager with no alter-ego in her head. Angel tended to seek her out on patrol rather than socializing at the Bronze, uncomfortable with the loud music and the crowds, so Buffy had always been pleased when he did show.

"Wonder what’s up," Buffy remarked, amusedly watching Cordelia zero in on him.

"Oh, not another crisis," Willow sighed. "I was hoping you’d have at least one evening off. You’ve been so busy lately, Buffy. We haven’t seen much of you."

"I know," said Buffy with a guilty look. She’d been spending all her evenings after patrol at her flat...with Spike. And the only reason she was here now was because Spike was working on some project with a vamp called Dalton, and wouldn’t be able to make it to the safe house before ten. She glanced surreptitiously at her watch. It was nine-thirty. "But we have had a couple of hours tonight."

"It’s Saturday night." Willow’s lower lip was sticking out. "We should have more time than that. But here comes another apocalypse and you’ll have to leave."

"Mm," said Buffy, carefully noncommittal, trying not to give away the fact that in half an hour she would have made some excuse to leave anyway.

"Who’s leaving?" asked Xander, turning up beside them. "Night’s hardly started. Oh!" His face fell. "Deadboy’s here."

Angel was coming towards them, having managed to break away from Cordelia. Buffy hurriedly went forward to meet him, so that they could talk out of earshot of Willow and Xander.

"Angel. What’s up?"

"Nothing," said Angel, surprised. "It’s just that we haven’t seen each other for a while. I thought maybe we could just dance, talk, you know."

"Ah. Like a real date," said Buffy, amused. Wasn’t that just the way it was? Her teenage self would have fallen over herself at the rare opportunity to have a real date with Angel or even just spend an evening at the Bronze in his company. Now she couldn’t care less. "Um, there’s something we have to talk about. Will you wait here a moment?"

She went back to where Willow and Xander were standing, watching her nervously.

"Don’t tell me," groaned Xander. "World coming to an end?"

"For once, no." Buffy fidgeted with the ends of the long silk sash she was wearing wound around her waist as a belt. "But, um, Angel and I have something to talk over, so, um..."

"Yeah, yeah," sighed Xander and Buffy gave them both an apologetic look.

"I’ll call you tomorrow, okay, Will?"

"Okay," said Willow, then gave her a sly look. "Have fun."

Buffy laughed and gave her one back. "Planning to." Only not with Angel.

"What?" said Xander, as always one step behind. But Buffy was already heading back to Angel.

"Come on," she said.

Angel followed her out of the Bronze, then tried to kiss her once they were on the street. She pushed him away firmly.

"There’s someone I want you to talk to." She pulled out her cell and punched the button for a number she had already preprogrammed into it. "Hi, it’s Buffy. I know it’s Saturday and all, but could you possibly spare about half an hour of your time if I came over right n...Oh, thank you so much!"

"What’s going on?" asked Angel in bewilderment as she set off at a fast pace.

"Someone you need to see."

The lowrise apartment building she wanted was not far from the high school. They took the elevator up to the third floor and Buffy ran the bell at No. 304.

"Don’t ask us in," she said when Jenny Calendar opened the door. Jenny’s eyes widened as she looked over the top of Buffy’s head and saw Angel standing there. "I think you know Angel. At least by reputation, if not by sight."

"Er, yes," said Jenny wryly.

"There’s someplace outside we can sit and talk, right?"

"There’s a ledge around the raised flower bed," said Jenny, resignedly reaching for her keys. "It’s quite comfortable. How did you find out?"

"Long story."

"Find out what?" asked Angel in exasperation. "Buffy, I really need an explanation."

"Miss Calendar is a member of the clan that cursed you, Angel. And she’s the one who needs to give you an explanation."

Jenny ducked her head in embarrassment at Angel’s stare and went the rest of the way outside without looking at him.

Once they were all seated on the ledge, Angel and Buffy on either side of Jenny, Buffy said quietly, "You need to tell him about the curse."

"What about the curse?" demanded Angel explosively. "I know about the curse! I’ve had it over a hundred years!"

"You don’t know this," said Buffy patiently. "Tell him what breaks the curse, Jenny."

Jenny twisted her key ring around her fingers. "A moment of perfect happiness."

Angel looked from one to the other of them. "I don’t understand."

Jenny sighed and explained.

"So...if Buffy and I made love, I’d lose my soul?" Angel whispered at last when she had finished.

"And Angelus would come back and the killing would start," said Buffy flatly.

"I..." Angel jerked to his feet. "I...I have to think about this...I..."

Buffy nodded. "Go ahead."

He spun and almost ran down the street. They watched him go, then looked at each other. Jenny flushed vividly at the condemnation in Buffy’s eyes.

"You should have told us," Buffy said. "I almost slept with him, you know. If something hadn’t happened, I would have. And then Angelus would have been back and a lot of deaths would have happened."

One of which would have been Jenny’s.

"I kept thinking that there was no need," Jenny whispered. "That it wouldn’t happen."

"The risk was too great for that. One word would have made such a difference." She stood up. "At least, this time I knew."

Jenny looked up at her, puzzled. "What?" But Buffy just shook her head. "How...how did you find out?"

"Doesn’t matter. Thank you for telling him. He might not have believed me. Thought I was just being coy or something. This way it came from the horse’s mouth."

"If only I didn’t feel like a horse’s ass," muttered Jenny and Buffy laughed.

"It’ll all work out now. Isn’t there some way to...I don’t know...stabilize his soul? Lock it into place or something?"

"I’m not sure. I don’t think so, otherwise they’d have done it on the original curse. But I can look into it, if you like."

"Would you? It might make things easier for him."

Jenny looked up at her shrewdly. "For him. Not for you?"

"I have...other interests."

"So telling him about the curse was just an evasion on your part?"

"He needed to know about it," said Buffy, neither confirming or denying the rest. "Thank you. I’m sorry to have bothered you so late."

Spike was doing circles effortlessly on the pommel horse when she came in, feet neatly together, form perfect. He grinned at her, did a couple of scissors, then a deliberately flamboyant dismount.

"Show off," she said, amused. "Why have there never been vamps in the Olympics? They’d take every event hands down."

"And get staked the very next minute. It’s those pesky doctors all over every event. No heartbeat, no pulse, and a body temperature some twenty degrees below normal tends to give the entire medical team a collective heart attack and be immediately suspect. Why do you have a pommel horse anyway? That’s a men’s event."

"It came free with the rest of the equipment. I haven’t used it yet, but Giles did say I had to work on my upper body strength."

"Lifting weights would be better for your purposes, I’d say, and probably what your Watcher really meant." He laughed when she made a face. "Boring, but effective. Tumbling runs would probably be more fun. Best of all would be," he grinned at her, "sparring with me. Shall we?"


No one else could match her as he could, no humans having anywhere near her abilities, even when drug-enhanced like Riley. Sparring with Spike really honed her technique and they both enjoyed it, testing themselves to the limit against each other, no holds barred. This time ended up like all the other times, with one of them going down, pulling the other one down as well, and then the two of them rolling over and over, laughing and wrestling, twining limbs inevitably leading to passion.

They kissed hungrily.

"Love you," she muttered against his mouth.

His head jerked up and his eyes went yellow. "Don’t say that!"

"You knew that already. Why would I have come back if I didn’t?"

"Don’t say it." He kissed her painfully hard to shut her up.

But her mouth smiled under his, and her arms around him, her body arching to his, said it anyway, even in silence. He didn’t want to think about that, wanted to bury himself in her, lose thought in sensation.

"Let’s move this contest to the bed," he muttered.

"Much more comfortable venue," she agreed.

"What’s that you’re wearing?" he asked as they were undressing and she started to unwind the sash from around her waist. She looked up, surprised, then stretched the length of it between her hands to show him what it was. He laughed. "Feeling like a little bondage tonight, pet?"

"What? Oh!" She started to laugh herself. "Well, why not?"

His brows rose and he grinned. "You game? Let’s take a look at that thing. Silk." He tested it. "Yeah, it should hold."

He reached for her as she removed the last of her clothes and slid into bed beside him. He was already naked, having less to remove than she did, as always commando. She pushed his hands away and flipped the sash from his fingers.

"Not game. Oh, well," he shrugged. "Didn’t really expect...Well, hey."

She had knotted one end of the sash in a hitch about his left wrist. He started to laugh.

"Is that the way you want to play? And what do you know about it, Slayer?"

"You might be surprised. Do you trust me?"

He looked up at her, frowning. Then the tension that had been in him suddenly ran out of him and he relaxed.

"Yeah. I do." He raised his brows curiously. "Do you trust me?"

"I shouldn’t." He could still kill her, but she didn’t care. "But I do."

She made sure the confining hitch would neither tighten nor give, then fastened his wrist to one of the rails of the metal headboard and stretched the sash along to a rail on the other side. He raised his right wrist voluntarily to where she could easily place a corresponding hitch onto it with the other end of the sash. Then his eyes narrowed suddenly.

"Not into pain, Slayer."

"I know. That’s Drusilla. Not you. But bondage isn’t about pain, is it?"

His eyes smiled. "Maybe you do know something about it."

He was securely bound now, but they both knew that if he really wanted to, he could break the sash. But that wasn’t what it was about. He was ceding control of his body to her, surrendering himself to whatever she wanted to do.

"You drove me crazy before," she purred, leaning over him. "Now it’s my turn."

They were both laughing.

"Oh, yeah?" He raised his head to catch her mouth with his.

She let him, smiling, reaching wide to interlink her fingers with his. She sucked on his tongue, then drew back, hands running down his forearms, then ran her nails lightly along the sensitive inner side of his upper arms. He shivered.

"Yeah," she said softly, bending over him. "My turn. I know the game, sweet. The two of us have played it often enough. From here on, not your way but mine." She brushed her parted lips lightly over his face, teasing him. "Close your eyes. Or shall I blindfold you?"

He closed his eyes. Tacit permission. Now that he was in the dark, every touch would come from nowhere, unexpected and without warning, the more intense because of that.

Bondage was the teasing of the reflexes. Touches making him want to move; the bonds keeping him from doing what he wanted.

She knew all his buttons, knew exactly where his sensitivities were, started setting them off, an irregular series of touches, grazes, brushes of the fingers or the tongue anywhere on his body from head to toe—flick and gone almost before he could react. No pattern to it, nothing to anticipate, so that the whole body was aware and waiting in aching suspense. Kept it going, teasing him endlessly.

He was starting to writhe and move now, unable to help himself, his breath shuddering in his mouth, his body jerking involuntarily in reaction, muscles beginning to fire off and not fully relax before the next shock came, no place on him that wasn’t alive and straining for harder pressure, more contact.

She gave him that at last, open mouth sucking down that very lickable sixpack, up his inner thigh, across the hollows of his pelvis, one after the other.

"Christ, Slayer!" It was half a laugh, half a groan. He was straining against the silk now helplessly, twisted his hands to grip the rails of the headboard, pulling at them.

She covered his mouth with her own, kissing him deeply, cutting off his breath. He didn’t need to breathe, but it was hardwired into him, that need to breathe during passion that was so uniquely Spike. This was another frustration added to the rest.

She sucked down his throat and he arched it to her mouth. Anywhere on the neck was an erotic zone for a vampire. She lingered on his throat, smiling, feeling him shuddering continuously under her.

"So, do I know something about the game or what?"

"Oh, yeah..."

His eyes were open now, intensely blue, glazed over and unseeing, their focus internal. She loved seeing him that way, lost in the sensation that she gave him. It was hopelessly arousing, intensely erotic, the power that she had over him, what she could drive him to; she was nearly as close to the edge as he was.

She was using her nails and her teeth now, alone and in combination, varying the pressure, varying the place of contact—throat, inner thigh, nipple, ribcage, pelvis. Stretching it out.


She bit him below his navel and his whole body bucked.

He was fully and painfully erect by now. She flipped her hair so that it trailed over his stomach and cock. He made an agonized sound in his throat.

"Told you I’d drive you crazy."


She was using the flat of her hands now and the whole of her body, raking across him, twisting and coiling about him, using friction as a weapon, moving and touching everywhere except where he wanted, needed, to be touched the most.

"You're killing me, Slayer!"

She swung a leg across him and his hips arched, desperately trying to reach her. But she was only shifting positions. She laughed at him as he groaned in frustration.

"Make it up to you."

She bent and licked the underside of his cock, one long sweep from base to tip. He yelled.

"Like that, huh?"

She probed the slit at the top of his cock with the tip of her tongue, then had to back off hurriedly as his hips came right off the bed. He pumped the air three times before slumping back down again. The rails of the headboard were starting to bend under the pressure of his grip.

"Bloody hell, woman! Either ride me or untie me!"

If his hands had been free, he’d have flipped her onto her back and it would have been all over by now.

"Not through torturing you yet." She was playing with his balls and he was twisting mindlessly.

"Cruel. Worse than a vamp."

"Compliments will get you nowhere."

She was gasping herself, lost in sensation almost as much as he was, drunk on power. They were both so sensitized now that it was painful.

"Buffy!" It was a snarl.

Not ‘Slayer’. He had lost the distance he had tried to keep between them.

"There we are," she said with satisfaction and kissed him, her body sliding onto his.

She took him into her, but clenched her inner muscles so that her sheath was closed tight as she bore down on him and his cock had to pry her flesh apart to enter her.

"Oh, Christ!"

His reaction was immediate and violent. The sash ripped apart. His hands caught her hips, fingers bruising her flesh, dragging her down hard on him, and his throat arched back as he drove into her.

He was ramming into her, pistoning into her with all his strength, all control lost, eyes golden and blind, mouth open and gasping desperately for air against her face, just as she was gasping against his. They strained against each other, driving each other higher and higher. He went completely into gameface, even his body changing, becoming thicker, harder, more urgent within her. He lurched, coming up at her. His fangs slid into her neck and her brain whited out and her whole body convulsed and convulsed again in ecstatic waves as he drank. It was an unendurable rapture, unbearable, excruciating. She felt his body seize up, felt him pulse within her. They fell blindly over the edge together.

Chapter #5 - Chapter 5
Chapter 5

One way or the other, they were going to kill each other, Spike thought. If not by ripping each other’s throats out, then by the intensity of the sex. It had never been that intense for him before. Even without those sips of Slayer blood that heightened the whole experience to an excruciating level, it was still intense. He didn’t know why. Something in him responded to her the way it had never responded to anyone else.

Addiction. She was in his blood, his gut.

"Break free," said Drusilla’s voice in his head. "Kill her."

Dru was waiting for him to do that. But he couldn’t. He should. He knew he should. But he couldn’t.

He kept on walking restlessly through the streets near the safe house. Buffy hadn’t been able to meet him tonight; her mother was having some sort of do at the gallery and had asked her to attend. His thoughts had left him too unsettled to stay at the factory; he had to move, walk his edginess off.

How many weeks was it now since this mad relationship started? Three? In the beginning, he had told himself it was only until he had enough of her, got bored, got jaded. Trouble was, he wasn’t getting jaded, couldn’t get enough of it. Was getting even more addicted than before. It wasn’t getting better. It was getting worse.

"Love you." He couldn’t face that. It was so wrong. "You knew that already. Why would I have come back if I didn’t?"

He had known. Ever since she had told him she had come from the future. He had just been carefully not thinking about it.

Because that was his weak point, wasn’t it? The place where William and Spike met. Whether he was William or whether he was Spike, it made no difference. He had always wanted to be loved the way he loved. Never had been.

And now here he was loved. By the Slayer. Could it be more wrong?

It was his deepest and most perilous vulnerability. The one that would get him killed. If he allowed himself to respond.

Love the Slayer? It meant giving up his entire existence, doing a one eighty degree turn, helping the Slayer against his own kind. He knew it. In her future, he had done it, become her partner, fought at her side, helped win her battles, like that last one in which she said he had died. Even in the present, she already had him halfway there. By not feeding on people, by not sending his minions against her, he was helping the light instead of the dark.

But the pax required it.

"Find a way around it," said Dru in his head. "You can if you want to."

But he didn’t want to. And there wasn’t even a ‘not yet’ about it. He couldn’t fool himself about that anymore. He just plain didn’t want to.

Love the Slayer? Couldn’t allow that to happen. Except...he had a sick feeling he was already there.

He swung around and headed back towards Buffy’s safe house. He could work off some of his restlessness on the gym equipment there. Couldn’t go back to the factory as irritable as he was. Might find himself snapping at Dru or breaking Dalton’s neck for continuing to have trouble deciphering that book that might have Dru’s cure in it. Certainly wouldn’t find the cure if he dusted the one vamp who might be able to decode it.

Something moved at the end of the street. He stepped away from the streetlight beside him and into the shadow of an alley. It was almost midnight and the streets in this rundown part of town should be deserted. Then he saw who it was and grinned widely. Just what he needed to burn some of the frustration off.

"Peaches! How’s it hanging?"

Angel stopped short. "Spike."

"Hear you’re all souled up now. How’s that feel?"

"You’re never likely to know."

"And thank Heaven for small mercies."

"All by yourself," Angel said thoughtfully. "Isn’t that convenient?"

Spike grinned. Angel would be working himself up to attacking him. Which was exactly what Spike wanted, since the pax stopped him from attacking Angel. Didn’t keep him from defending himself, though. He just had to provoke Angel enough to get things going.

"So here you are in Sunnyhell. Helping the Slayer, I hear. You’re good at helping those who don’t need helping."

Angel scowled. "What does that mean?"

"Seemed pretty clear to me. Slayer’s damn good on her own. Doesn’t need your help. Wanna redeem yourself? Go help the people who need help. But you duck that kind of responsibility, don’t you?" He had forgotten provocation now, was saying what he really felt. "Get your soul, what do you do? Dump Dru and take off on your own. Hide in a hole, wearing hair shirts and beating your breast. Fat lot of good you are to anybody."

"You...!" Angel swung at him furiously, a powerhouse of a blow. Got him.

Spike ducked it smoothly. His eyes had gone cold and lethal, and he was grinning tightly, a grim, deadly smile that was like a snarl, showing all his teeth.

"You made Dru what she is. You twisted her around, broke her. She was innocent, and even after all the blood and the killings, in a way she’s still innocent. You cost her her soul and her mind, and then you dump her like some broken toy you can’t be bothered mending, just toss into the garbage."

"There’s nothing I can do!" Angel yelled.

"There never is, is there?"

Spike hit him with all his force, anger on Dru’s behalf powering the blow. Angel had already been a Master vampire for a hundred and twenty years when Spike had been turned and, as a fledgling, Spike had never had a chance against him. Two decades of being kicked around by Angel had left a powerful grudge. But he could take care of himself. Dru couldn’t. Dru was helpless. And, even after a hundred years of neglect, still looking for her ‘Daddy’. Still sure he’d fix things for her.

"You just break things. You never mend them."

"Some things can’t be mended!"

"Keep telling yourself that. Absolves you of all responsibility, doesn’t it? Don’t have to do anything if you keep telling yourself that. Just have to sit boohooing in a corner. You were a waste of space as a man, Liam. Wastrel, boozer, libertine fucking the serving girls in your own home. Losing your soul just added torture and killing to the list. Get your soul back, you’re still a waste of space. Just a sodding, useless shit."

Angel launched himself at Spike, furious, wanting to wipe him from the face of the earth. Spike laughed. They slammed blows at each other.


A slender figure flashed between the two of them, shoved them both apart. Angel staggered back against a streetlight, lost his balance and had to clutch at the lightpost to stay on his feet. Spike hit a wall and rebounded off it, snarling.

"Goddammit, Slayer! Things were just getting good! I was gonna rip his head off!"

"No ripping. Back off, both of you." She gave Spike a hard look. "Is this how you keep the pax?"

"He attacked me. I’m allowed to defend."

"You provoked him."

He wiped away the blood trickling from the corner of his mouth and gave her a wide, triumphant grin. "Nothing in the rules against that, pet."

"You’re twistier than a snake."

He quirked his brows meaningfully at her. "You should know."

She pointed at a bench a little way down the sidewalk. "Sit. Stay."

He shrugged and flung himself onto it, grinning, resigned to the fact that, now she was here, he wouldn’t have a further chance at Angel.

"And you." Buffy grabbed Angel’s arm and dragged him some distance along the sidewalk until they were hopefully out of Spike’s earshot. "I told you I had a truce with Spike."


"I heard." She frowned at him. "But you were going to attack him anyway."

He looked away.

"Angel, I’m the Slayer. I make the decisions around here. You can’t go around thinking you know better than me about everything and overturning arrangements that I’ve set up."

"He’s one of the most dangerous vampires around! Setting up a truce with him is the craziest idea anyone has ever come up with. You have to dust him. It’s what he deserves!"

"And what does Angelus deserve?"

His gaze fell. "I’m not Angelus."

"Yes, you are. You’re Angel and Angelus. They’re both there. It’s like the Jekyll and Hyde thing, and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you’ll be able to control that part of you."

"I’ve got a soul," he muttered. "Spike doesn’t."

"Seems to do better without a soul than you do with one."

His head jerked up and he glared at her, affronted. "He’s a killer!"

"Not any more."

"If you think that, you’re a fool! Why are you defending Spike?"

"Shocking as the concept might be, it is possible that there are factors here that you don’t know about, Angel, and that I’m basing my decision on them. I’m the Slayer and I make the decisions and if you can’t live with that, maybe you’d better leave Sunnydale."

Angel started to pace back and forth on the sidewalk. "I was going to tell you that I am leaving Sunnydale."


He shot her a frowning glance. "You’re not surprised."

"Not really." She folded her arms and watched him. "You’re looking for redemption, aren’t you, Angel?"


"Won’t get it sitting around doing nothing. Spike was quite right in what he said. He usually is. If you want to redeem yourself, you have to do something."

"Help the helpless," Angel muttered.


"I will."

"You can start by taking responsibility for some of the things that you’ve done. Drusilla, for instance. She’s sick. She needs help."

"I didn’t make her sick!"

"No, but you can cure her."

"How? Even Spike can’t find a cure for her and he’s been trying."

"You’re the cure." She nodded when he stared at her. "Sire’s blood. She needs sire’s blood."

Angel’s jaw dropped. "Good grief!"

"It will take a while, but if you keep giving her your blood, she’ll be healthy again in a couple of months."

"And then what? She’ll start to feed. All those deaths..."

"It doesn’t have to be that way. You’re her ‘Daddy’. She’ll do anything for ‘Daddy’. Even bag it if you tell her to."


"Don’t want the responsibility, Angel? Spike’s been taking care of her for a hundred and twenty years. Why don’t you see if you can be as good a caretaker as he is? Because if you can’t, I’d have to think that Spike, without a soul, is a better man than you are with one."

There was a long, vibrating silence.

"What is he to you?" Angel asked at last. His voice wasn’t angry, just tired.

"What he was doesn’t matter. What he’s going to be..." She smiled slowly. "My partner. My friend. We may have been enemies once, but we’re not now. I intend to claim him."

Angel’s eyes went round and his mouth fell open on a protest. Then he didn’t say anything. He could see from her steady, level gaze that she would not be turned from this path. Any objections he might have made, she would already have considered and rejected.

"What’s happened?" he muttered in bewilderment. "What’s happened to make things end up this way?"

"Too much," she said quietly, then very gently she said, "Goodbye, Angel."

He heard the finality in her voice. He nodded, accepting it. "Goodbye, Buffy."

She watched him walk away, then turned and went back to Spike.

He was on his feet, standing watching her intently, his eyes intensely blue beneath frowning brows.

"You heard," she said.


"Will you let Dru go with him?"

"Yes." He shook his head wonderingly. "Sire’s blood. I’d never have thought of that in a million years."

"You don’t have to stay in Sunnydale now," she said. "You didn’t have a choice before. You had to stay because of Dru. But now you can leave. Go with Dru and Angel. Go anywhere you like."

"Do you want me to go?"

"You should go. It would be safer for you. If you stay here, you’d get caught up in all my battles. You could die. I don’t want that to happen."

"Do you want me to go?" he asked again.

"No." She looked at him with her heart in her eyes. "Do you want to go?"


She smiled. He took a step forward so that they were nearly touching. His hand came up, fingers lightly brushing her lips.

"Did you mean what you said about wanting to claim me?"

"Yes, I did." She laid her fingertips delicately on the junction between his neck and shoulder, her palm stroking the fine, supple line of his throat. "Will you let me claim you?"

He had always wanted to claim and be claimed, wanted to belong utterly to someone, have that someone belong utterly to him. Dru had laughed at him when he had suggested it to her. That had been early on, when he hadn’t understood how much of a hold Angelus had on her. It had hurt him bitterly when she had mocked him for the attempt.

And now here was Buffy wanting to claim him. And, God, yeah, he wanted it, wanted desperately for her to be the one.

"Yes," he said, very low. "Will you let me claim you back?"


"A bond between a Slayer and a vampire. It’s never been done. Might have all sorts of side effects."

"We’ll work it out."

One eighty degree turn. When had it happened? How had it happened? He didn’t know. Didn’t care. He was hers.

He kissed her painfully hard. "I love you."

Oh, and there it was. That look. That look that said she was the center of his universe, that she was cherished, that she was loved.

She caught his face in her hands. "I love you so much, Will."

They kissed deeply, clinging to each other, stroking each other’s faces tenderly.

"God!" he said, tearing his mouth away with a gasp. "We’d better get in the house. Otherwise, I’m gonna take you right here on the bloody street."

She laughed against his neck, opened her mouth and sucked lightly at the junction between his neck and shoulder. "There, yes? Right there."

He shuddered violently. "Yeah. Come on, dammit!"

They ran for the flat, tumbled into bed, ripping each other’s clothes off.

It was different. Making love, not just having sex. Hands caressing each other tenderly. Bodies twining and coiling and worshiping each other. Little, sharp catches of breath at some particular sweetness that went deeper than the body and caught at the heart.

"Hundred and twenty years," he breathed, "and I never knew it could be like this."

"Neither did I." Her heart was full to bursting. "I never let it be. We’ve both learned."

His hands dug into her hair, held her head still for his lips to slide everywhere over her face. "Love it. Love you."

"Oh..." There were tears in her eyes. She dashed them away. "I thought I’d thrown it all away. Should have ripped that amulet off you when you wouldn’t take it off. Don’t know why I didn’t."

"Won’t happen now."

"It might. It might still." Her hands slid over him, lingering on the strong, flexing muscles of his back, the sharpness of his shoulderblades, slipped around to caress his chest and stomach. "You do believe I love you, don’t you?"

His eyes smiled. And, oh, that look of softness, of tenderness. "Yes."

"Believe it."

His hands ran down her body from shoulder to knee, kneading everything in between so that she writhed uncontrollably against him. Then he drew her legs up around his hips, making that little side-to-side wriggle that she found so touching, settling himself within her thighs, making himself comfortable. She caught her breath, arcing to him, rubbing herself against him. They both gasped.

"Buffy," he muttered. "Can’t wait."

His eyelids were heavy with passion, his eyes almost black from the dilated pupils, all the bones of his face standing out with strain.

"Oh, yes, please."

He came into her with one deep, hard, smooth stroke, going all the way in and just that little bit further. She cried out with ecstasy, clenching around him, her head arching back on the pillow. His head flung back too as he drove into her, shifting a little with every thrust until he found what he was looking for, that one spot of sensitive tissue inside her.

"Oh, God!"

"Oh, yeah..." A groan of a laugh as he moved, hitting that spot now with every thrust, his hips twisting at the end of every stroke so that he hit her clit on every thrust as well. His throat brushed her face as he strained over her. She reached up to suck on it and he gasped, his head dropping helplessly forward to lean against hers, his eyes blind with pleasure and a diagonal muscle in his cheek jumping as his jaw clenched.

Their hips battled, she thrusting up as he thrust down, driving each other relentlessly higher and higher. Their faces brushed. Then his mouth was at her neck, his fangs sliding smoothly into the bitemark already over the vein. Through the thunderbolt of her intense orgasm, she heard him whisper:


"Yours," she gasped, then bit him as hard as she could at the junction between his neck and his shoulder, tasted his blood on her tongue. "Mine."

"Yours," he groaned, surrendering entirely to her, and came, hard, his cock pulsing within her.

Something shifted, like the world moving. Something locked, clicked, into place between them, became absolutely right, absolutely perfect. Every nerve in their bodies fired off, an agonizing rapture.

She came back to herself to find him heavy upon her, his face pressed hard against hers and his lips panting into the curve of her shoulder.

"Oh, God, Spike, that was..."

"Thought I’d dust," he agreed on a shaky laugh and rolled over onto his back, pulling her with him.

She lay upon him, her weight on her elbows beside his head, smiling down at him in the cave made by her hair falling on either side of his face.

"Got you," she said. "Got you now."

He pulled her head down and kissed her. "Had me from the beginning, pet."

"Not what I meant." Her eyes blazed triumphantly down at him. "You can’t burn up now. You burn, we go together."

"Won’t let you burn," he said at once.

"Exactly." She laughed as his eyes widened. "You die, I die. That’s how the claim works, isn’t it? So don’t die."

"Sneaky." His eyes were alight with laughter and tenderness. "And ruthless. Always have to get your own way, don’t you?"

"When it comes to you, yes. No morality when it comes to you."

"Played me from the beginning, didn’t you?"

"Yes. Do you mind?"

He pulled her head down and kissed her intensely. "Mind being loved that much? God, pet! It’s everything that I ever wanted and didn’t dare admit even to myself. William’s in heaven."

"And Spike?"

‘Right there with him." He rolled her over onto one side, so that they lay facing each other. "Pax is gone. Claim takes precedence. Have to work out new rules. Rules to get things...our way."

They laughed softly, intimately, arms wrapped tight about each other.

"New era," she agreed. "Our way."

"Heart attacks all around," he said, grinning, and she thought of Giles and the Scoobies, Spike’s minions, the reactions of the various demons and whatnot all around Sunnydale. Heart attacks was putting it mildly.

"This is going to be such fun!" said Buffy and laughed in pure delight.

The End