A/N: Firstly, NEW GORGEOUS BANNER FROM effulgent_girl! She rocks my socks off!
Secondly...sorry I’ve waited so long to update this. I have one more chapter following this one written, and am a good ways into the one after that, but I didn’t want to run out of chapters so I halted for a bit to let myself catch up. Anyway, here comes more Sacrament!
Thanks so much again to my betas and all my wonderful readers.
OH! For those of you who didn’t know, my fourth publication, Moving Target , has been released. You can purchase it here for only $2.50! What a bargain, eh?
The furthest he got before the sun peeked over the horizon was the hotel parking lot, where the blood on the pavement gave him one hell of a head start. It didn’t take much to piece together what had happened. Buffy had hitched a ride, as he suspected, and taken down some poor schmuck in the process. Her next move would likely have been to find shelter, and nothing beat the readily available space that had once belonged to a now-cooling body.
That made sense…well, as much sense as Spike could cherry pick from the chaotic upside-down turn his life had taken over the past two days. What didn’t make sense was the other scent he detected—a scent that should be halfway across the country and set in a heavy, directionless brood. A scent that had his cold blood boiling in half a second.
Spike inhaled sharply and stormed back to the running Desoto, flicking his spent cigarette to the ground. None of this made any sense. None of it. Buffy bolted from his bedside to hop a bus out of town and run into the arms of her mope of an ex. It wasn’t the girl he knew. Not the girl he’d lived with for the past half a year, the girl he’d loved hard with his hands and mouth. The Buffy he knew didn’t run. The Buffy he knew hid from nothing and no one. She sought out conflict if only to beat it down.
The gentle morning hues forewarned he didn’t have much time to investigate, therefore Spike retreated into the hotel to find a bed and someone to eat.
When night fell again, he’d find her.
He’d have answers.
It didn’t take much to suss out the rest. The whole staff kept blabbing about how Brandon Townsend hadn’t shown up for his shift which was apparently ‘so unlike him.’ Toss in the bit where two bellhops admitted to having heard a scuffle around the time Brandon was last seen, and Spike had a name to look up in the phone book. The name led him to a depressing building in what he supposed passed for a shady neighborhood, and the second he put the Desoto into park, the building’s front door flew open and Buffy stepped out.
It was something that he couldn’t have timed if he tried. Spike watched dumbly as Buffy stepped into the moonlight, her face drawn and worn, her eyes exhausted. A huge hulking shadow loomed behind her, one Spike immediately identified as Angel. And though the festering rage in his chest couldn’t be contained, the fury of his inner monster was nothing compared to the whiplash of realization.
The face she wore was her face, but those were not his Buffy’s eyes. Her shoulders weren’t drawn back and confident, nor did her lips play in a sinful smile. She hadn’t laughed at all today, from the looks of it, and the misery etching her face, while in part due to their separation, was laden with an emotion stronger than anything he’d ever experienced. Something he hadn’t bothered himself to feel since the night he crawled out of his coffin.
Vampires, after all, had little use for remorse. Guilt was a futile emotion; the past couldn’t be changed and the future had yet to happen. The moment was what mattered. Only the moment.
Spike had never seen regret on the face of a demon. Not until the night he took Sunnydale High hostage. Not until the night he saw Angel again for the first time in decades.
He knew it then. He knew. Buffy wouldn’t have left him—not in a sodding millennia, not with the fierce way they loved each other. Buffy wouldn’t flee the city, sob into a payphone and take refuge with his wanker of a grandsire. Buffy wouldn’t leave him. Not his Buffy.
And that was the kicker. He knew then what he couldn’t have known before—what he couldn’t have guessed. This Buffy wasn’t his.
A thousand things crystallized at once. The blood on the floor. The tears on the phone. The haunted look in her eyes. Of course. Of bloody course. God, he was a thick git. The second he disappeared with Buffy in tow, he should have known this would happen. The only real question was why it had taken her chums as long as it had to muck everything up. With nancy boy Angel lurking around every corner, feeding them fantasies about domesticated fluffy-puppy vamps, there was no bloody way the Mystery Gang would have left their slayer to her eternity in peace. They would have done something.
They would have infected her with a soul.
Spike blinked dumbly, shock rocking him back on his heels. He should have heard it in her voice. The Buffy he knew didn’t cry or whimper, didn’t apologize for anything. The Buffy he’d had at his side, in his bed, knew she had nothing for which to apologize. Whatever happened was out of their control, even the things that they did control; Spike reckoned it made bugger all sense to worry over something once it was behind them. It was a sentiment Buffy shared. One they celebrated together.
Buffy wouldn’t have left him so easily under any other circumstance.
He still had to cope with the fact that she’d left him at all. No explanation. No goodbye kiss. Nothing. As though the time they’d shared meant so little to her.
Spike wasn’t an idiot. Granted, he felt like one now, but he knew his oversight wasn’t something he could readily predict. It wasn’t until recently he even realized a vampire could be reunited with its lost soul after the fact; a century and some change of wreaking glorious havoc without worry of a conscience was hard to reconcile with the knowledge that, at any moment, some mojo-happy wankers could stuff the nancy poet he’d buried so long ago back down his throat. He’d never lived with that sort of awareness, and even after bumping into Angel after a lifetime or two, he recognized the fate of his elder to be one of those freak one-in-a-billion incidents. He didn’t feature running around, mindful of the punishments the universe could dole out. Buffy was a different story. She’d been so carefree, so uninhibited, and so happy. She’d giggle and squirm and laugh in ways he’d never seen her laugh before. He’d made her happy in their time together.
He loved her, and he knew her well enough from watching her that the girl he’d loved and the girl now walking solemnly down a dark, deserted street weren’t too far apart. Hunting the Slayer was a favorite sport of his—studying her moves, learning from her, watching her in her natural habitat, as it were. He’d had a bloody good time watching Buffy before Halloween. He’d seen her laugh with her friends, roll her eyes at her watcher, quip a poor demon to boredom before granting its death wish, and trade witty, albeit adolescent jibes with Angel, who had a bad habit of popping up when she least expected it. Yes, he’d known her…and that was one of the reasons he’d fallen so hard for the demon she became.
It wasn’t because the Buffy he met that night was different. No, it was because she was the same. The same laugh, the same irreverence, the same puns, the same droll sense of humor—it was all there, all in the delectable little package that was Buffy. Everything a guy like Spike could want, ripe and willing for the taking. The only thing she’d lost was the shackle around her ankle and the weight of the world on her shoulders. Making Buffy a vampire hadn’t taken anything from her; it had given her a new lease on life, or on unlife, as it were.
She was the only vampire he’d ever known that had been like him. Spike hadn’t changed into what he was over night. It had taken years of self-exploration and discovery, and even now he feared the rebirth of the git he’d called William, knowing full well he could never fully repress his true self. It was the same reason he’d vamped his mum just hours after inhaling a gulpful of crisp autumn air for the first time as a creature of the night. Other monsters might have left her to die, but not he. He’d loved her, and he wanted to save her. He just hadn’t anticipated her response. After all, if he was the same—felt the same, except for the new energy in his veins and the lack of earthly concerns in his heart—then she should react as he did. She should see the change as he’d seen it. A second chance at a life that hadn’t treated them fairly, and the strength to get it right this time around.
His mum had been the greatest lesson he could have learned. The person who died was not the person who rose…not always, hardly ever, and he, Spike, stood as the exception that proved the rule. Yes, he’d done things that would curl Nancy William’s blood, but he’d kept true to himself at the core. Outrunning his shadow was impossible. He never made it far.
Buffy had been the same. She hadn’t gone after her family, she still cared for her friends, and she kept all parts of herself that made her who she was. She’d been perfect, then. A perfect remedy to the reservations he’d harbored since sinking his shiny new fangs into his mother’s dying skin—the same fear that had kept him from being a prolific giver of life to those he viewed as less fortunate. Buffy hadn’t changed where it counted. She’d been freed, and he’d freed her.
And her bastard friends had chained her up again.
Spike huffed, falling behind her as she stalked the night. He knew where she was headed, even if she didn’t know it herself. Brilliantly predictable, his slayer…in unpredictable ways, of course, but he knew her better than she knew herself.
He wouldn’t let her go so easily. Soul or no bloody soul, she belonged to him.
Therefore, it was all he could do to keep quiet. He followed her from a distance, knowing she felt him even if it hadn’t registered with her. She carried herself the way she did whenever she sensed him near, though not with the confidence to which he was so accustomed. Her shoulders weren’t pulled back with bravado, but slouched with a sense of self-defeat. Her strides weren’t bold and wide, rather soft and timid. She wasn’t Buffy the Slayer or Buffy the Vampire in that instant. She was just a girl, lost and alone, and likely more terrified than she’d been in all her life.
For a girl who had died twice, that was saying something.
He let her make it to the cemetery before speaking up.
“So, that’s it, then?” Spike said loudly, allowing himself a ripple of victory when she jumped. She was facing him in an instant, her eyes wide and astonished. “Just take off? No note? No bloody explanation?”
Buffy gaped at him. “Oh, God.”
“Never thought you’d see me again, did you, love?”
“You thought I’d be…what? Okay with it? Give you my sodding blessing? Hmmm?” Spike’s hands slid into his duster pocket, scuffing the grass beneath his boots with every step. “You really thought I wouldn’t come looking?”
“I hoped you wouldn’t.”
The naked honesty in her reply left him furious. “Did you, now?” he demanded heatedly.
“Spike, you don’t understand—”
“Of course I don’t. Can’t, can I?”
“I’m not who you think I am,” she said, holding up a hand. “I’m not…I’m not…”
“And who do I think you are?” he replied as his feet swung another hearty step forward. “My girl? My slayer? My mate? Those marks on your throat don’t lie, sweetheart. You can’t stop being what I think you are, no matter how far you run.”
“I’m not that girl anymore.”
Spike nodded. “Tell me why. I need to hear it.”
Buffy paused then and stared at him, a slow sort of comprehension sweeping over her face. “You know,” she said softly. “You know, don’t you?”
“Try me,” he offered with a shrug.
“What happened. They gave me a soul.”
Spike nodded again, covering another step between them. “Yeah,” he said. “I know. Knew it the second I saw you tonight, but I should’ve known immediately. Should’ve figured it out when you called.”
“Then you know why I had to leave. I had to, Spike. I woke up, and it was killing me. This…pressure, or whatever, on my chest. I crawled out of our room and…” Buffy blinked and looked away, a long shudder claiming her body. “It happened, then. And then I had to leave. I couldn’t be there anymore. I couldn’t…not with you or me or…I woke up a million miles from home after being asleep for half a year inside a body that wasn’t mine anymore.”
Spike stumbled forward until he was within an inch of her. “Not yours?” he rasped, his hands grasping her shoulders. God, it felt so good to touch her. Just a little—even like this. “Not bloody yours?”
“I’m not her.”
“Look like her. Smell like her.” Spike grazed her lips with his, his heart leaping into his throat. “Buffy…”
He could drown in her eyes. “I’ve missed you,” she whispered. “I have. I—”
His mouth was on hers before she could get out another word, and the harshness of reality melted almost instantly. Amazing how that worked—a simple kiss eradicated a world of heartache and pain, along with the uncertainty that came with it. He might not know what tomorrow would bring, but for the moment he had Buffy in his arms, against his chest. Her teeth nipped at his lips, her hands seizing his waist and anchoring his pelvis against hers. The fight in her vanished on contact, and then there was nothing but the warmth of the moment.
The talk could wait. Hell, everything could wait, as far as Spike was concerned. There were so many things he wanted to say, speeches he’d memorized and perfected on the trip, things he’d yearned to drive home the second he set eyes on her again, but his convictions fell apart when her lips parted and allowed his tongue to rediscover the contours of her mouth. She felt different, and the same all at once. The Buffy he’d kissed for the past six months would be sucking on him by now, scratching at him with her fangs and giggling whenever he gasped and begged for more. This Buffy was soft and curious, almost to the point of shyness. Her kisses were sweet and gentle, though they did little to disguise the need winging through her body. The primal call of her demon to his, for deep down, they both knew where they belonged.
“Gotta have you,” Spike growled, hiking her into his arms. “Right now.”
Buffy barely pried her lips away from his long enough to say, “We’re outside.” It was obviously not the largest concern. Her eyes didn’t even flutter open, and her legs had already wrapped around his waist.
“Glad you noticed,” he murmured between kisses, stumbling forward in a blind search for something on which to find purchase before ultimately giving up and crashing to his knees.
Buffy let out an excited hiccup and grinned against his mouth. “You fell.”
Her arms went up invitingly, and he wasted no time peeling off her shirt. A flimsy white cotton tee that he hadn’t noticed until now, likely belonged in a boy’s dresser rather than hers. The kid she’d eaten probably didn’t have many clothes that would suit a woman, and he somewhat doubted she’d gone shopping. In any regard, it didn’t matter the next second. Her small, perfect breasts were bare to his hungry mouth. God, he loved her breasts. Loved playing with them, loved sucking on her nipples, loved making her gasp and plead just by tugging with his mouth. Buffy hadn’t known breasts could be that sensitive until him—he’d been her first, her goddamned only, and he’d shown her what her body was capable of.
“Ohh…” She shuddered hard and held his head to her, pushing herself against his mouth. “Yes…Spike…”
There was something about hearing her whisper his name that had his blood boiling and his cock so hard it was damn near painful. He’d never heard her say it like that. Not once.
She’d never had a soul before.
Spike released her breast with a parting lick. “Lay back, sweetheart,” he whispered.
Buffy loosened her hold on him. “What?”
“On the grass.”
She fell back as if in a trance, her wide eyes never leaving his. His hands stayed on her, slipping down her skin, stroking her belly and hooking in the waistline of her oversized sweats. They were gone in half a second, stripped down her legs and leaving her bare aside from the sneakers she’d stolen, which quickly followed suit. He hadn’t intended to get her naked, really. It left her vulnerable, and he certainly didn’t plan on stripping down, but a part of him needed to see this. He needed to see her body—how it was the same even if the girl inside had changed. The same breasts, the same stomach, the same bellybutton, the same dimpled knees, and the same thatch of curls between her legs. How a person could be one thing and another all at once was beyond him, and Spike considered himself learned in most things.
This was different. So different. He doubted he would ever know how much.
Buffy wiggled under his scrutiny, her tongue poking out of her mouth to caress her lower lip. “Getting cold,” she volunteered.
“Vamps don’t feel the cold.”
“I feel it, all right.”
“You’re so beautiful,” he whispered as he reached for the clasp of his jeans. The words seemed trite, no matter how true they were. She was beautiful—he just couldn’t convey how much. He’d thought it before, a thousand times before, and he’d meant it completely each time the words left his lips, but she looked different now, more like a fallen angel than a liberated slayer.
He grinned, lowering his zipper before shimmying his jeans far enough down his hips to free his cock. Then he was between her legs, right hand stroking her brow as he positioned himself at her opening. “Missed this, didn’t you?” he whispered softly, edging himself inside her, her soft velvety flesh welcoming him inside what had to be paradise. God, he knew her body so well now; the way she sighed and stretched, the way her vaginal walls tugged him in, the way she tightened and relaxed seemingly at once, though how he couldn’t explain. It was coming home—his demon purred and the ache in his gut subsided. This was right. He was again where he was supposed to be, and nothing, goddammit, would keep him away from her.
“Missed this?” he demanded again.
“Good. Fucking good. Never letting you outta my sight again.”
Buffy exhaled deeply, her hips rolling off the ground as he began to thrust. She looked drawn, then, sliced down the middle, and while she battled his hips to recapture his cock every time it drew away from her body, the part of her that had been with him just seconds before suddenly seemed distant. Her eyes remained on his, though…so wide and curious, so young that it nearly gave him pause. He didn’t want to think about what must be going through her head anymore than he wanted to consider the obstacles paved on the path before them, but he couldn’t tear his gaze away from hers. His thrusts remained slow and explorative for only a few seconds, the need of the monster outweighing the part of him that told him it’d be nicer if he were a gentleman. He didn’t want to be bloody kind. Home he might be, but he was still brassed off as hell that he’d had to chase it down to begin with.
“Gonna take you hard,” he warned her.
Buffy just kissed him, her nails digging into his forearms. While he knew it was permission, it still didn’t chase the haunted look in her eyes away, and he needed it gone. He needed her on this earth, with him.
“I can’t stay,” she whispered, face breaking. Her hands were on his ass, now, moving with him and squeezing him as his strokes deepened. It was desperate, as though loosening her hold would render her lost in ways neither had considered. “It’s so…”
“You said you missed this.”
“I did.” She blinked. “I missed it…ohhh…so much. It…Spike…”
That was it. No more Mr. Nice. Vamp. No one took his girl away. Just the hint of what she wanted to say was enough to have the uncaged beast in his chest roaring for vengeance. Fuck easing her into their lovemaking; he’d take her whatever way he wanted.
And he wanted it rough.
Energy exploded across his body, wiring his arms and surging through his hips. His thrusts became hard and angry, desperate still for the warm oasis of her center but needing something more than the comfort of the flesh. He rocked hard, slamming into her pussy with fire he hadn’t known he possessed. He ground into her with such force the shards of pleasure in his veins nearly transcended to pain. He didn’t care. Let the pain come, just so long as it felt this good. Pain and pleasure went hand in hand too often for him to give a fuck about where the line fell. “Like that? Like me buried so deep inside you?” he demanded, dragging his cock away from her slippery flesh with a toothy grin. “I’m a part of you, Buffy. Can’t outrun me.”
“I didn’t want—”
“You just said you did.”
“I’ll find you. You know I will.”
“Oh, yes. Yes.”
“Not letting you go. Do you hear me?” His demon roared to life without warning, the bones in his face shifting just seconds before his fangs pierced her breast. She loved it when he bit her almost as much as he did.
Her blood didn’t taste different. For whatever reason, that surprised him.
Buffy trembled hard, her vaginal muscles squeezing him so tightly he might weep. “Oh, God!”
“Mmm.” Spike pulled back and licked his bloodied lips. “Not letting you go.”
“It’s all going to change now,” she murmured, her words so soft he barely heard her over the brutal force of his thrusts.
“Nothing’s changing,” Spike snarled, hooking his arms under her shoulders and slamming harder within her. Not nice. Not nice. Had to make her see. Had to make her understand…
And then, suddenly, he was on his back. Buffy had rolled them over, astride him now, bouncing feverishly on his cock. God, she was a sight. A fucking vision. Moonlight kissed her pale, naked flesh, blood streaming from the fresh bite mark at her breast, her pussy swallowing him over and over as her head rolled back and her hair danced to the tune of their fucking. Spike grasped her hips and pushed up, watching his dick disappear inside her. Blood sprinkled his chest, and she rode. She bloody galloped. She was a nymph and he loved her so much he could barely stand it.
“Buffy, Buffy, Buffy…”
His left hand abandoned her hip and settled where they were joined. He couldn’t rub her clit as he liked—she was going too fast for him to keep up now—but he could wait and hope his fingers struck her every time she crashed home.
“Oh yeah,” he snarled. “Fuck me.”
The hand remaining at her hips traveled up her back. Buffy seemed lost in sensation. Her skin hummed under his touch. For a wild instant, he thought he heard her heart thundering.
Then he pushed her down so her breasts were against his chest, and sank his fangs into his chalice.
“Mine. Mine, you bloody hear me? Never run off again.”
She tightened around him, shuddering, and finally came undone.
“Yes, I am.”
Ivory sliced into his skin. He hadn’t even felt her change.
She drank him and whispered the words in turn. And that was it—everything came crashing down. Everything. Waking up alone in bed. The blood on the floor. Her voice on the phone. The pure terror of never seeing her again. The desperate need to right whatever had wronged her, to heal whatever had sent her running. Everything came down. The panic he’d felt, the outrage and loss, the need to find her and make himself whole again…
Just seconds ago, she’d whispered she couldn’t be here—that she couldn’t stay—but she had to. She belonged to him, she lived in him, and he knew nothing else.
Buffy told him she was his, and he burst into tears, hugging her to his chest.
“Yours,” he told her, though the word was choked.
He was hers. All hers. And he couldn’t let her run again.
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