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Master by Aurora
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Sins of the Past
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Chapter Twenty-Seven: Sins of the Past

Spike’s hand slid from the side of her face, down her marked neck, to the silk collar of the shirt she was wearing. His eyes darkened with lust as his fingers fiddled with the crimson colored material, his gaze focused on her exposed cleavage. “Love the shirt, pet,” he remarked.

“What this old thing?” Buffy joked as she observed him ogling her. She tried to act nonchalant even though his touches felt like fire against her skin, making her body hum with anticipation. “Just found it lying around.”

“So the shirt’s not yours?” Spike played along, distractedly tracing the two unfastened buttons.

“No, but the person who owns it is,” Buffy coyly replied.

The flashback playing in Buffy’s mind was cut short when a disbelieving voice broke through the baffled silence.

“Wanna run that by us again, luv,” Spike skeptically requested, staring at Buffy as though she were barmier than his nutter of an ex, Druscilla. “‘Cos I could’ve sworn you said that you claimed me.”

“No, you heard me right,” Buffy assertively confirmed. “I think I claimed you.”

Spike stared at Buffy incredulously. “Are you sure that bout of unconsciousness back there didn’t jiggle a few screws loose in that pretty lil’ head of yours, pet?” Spike exasperatedly wondered. Honestly, who had ever heard of a human claiming a vampire? The whole idea was bloody ridiculous.

Buffy lifted her chin, slightly offended by his blatant dismissal. “I’m not crazy, Spike,” she coolly state through clenched teeth.

“So when exactly did you claim me, pet?” Spike condescendingly asked. “When could’ve this completely absurd notion of yours have possibly occurred?”

Buffy glared at him. “The morning you came back,” she answered coldly. Stupid smug vampire.

Spike continued to gaze at her, his cerulean eyes filled with confusion as he racked his brain trying to zero-in on the exact moment in time Buffy had just mentioned. The past few days had all blended into one long haze of a never-ending nightmare, which made trying to remember that particular morning somewhat difficult. His eyes began to race back and forth as the images assaulted his mind. The same sea blue eyes that widened suddenly when he finally understood what day his seemingly insane girl was specifying to.

It had been during the morning after his return from being held hostage in the very house he was now standing in, when he and Buffy had made love in its truest sense. Spike lifted his head to meet Buffy’s knowing, and self-assured gaze. He understood the significance of that morning but what it had to do with her ‘claiming’ him, he hadn’t the foggiest clue.

“Remember that mornin’ with perfect clarity, luv, but I still don’t know what you’re gettin’ at,” Spike said with the utmost sincerity, his voice no longer filled with doubt or derision.

The other individuals in the room silently watched on as Buffy jumped off the wooden table and walked over to the pensive vampire. Spike grew tense, watching her with a wary eye as she approached him. Slowly tilting her head up, Buffy whispered the intimate answer in his awaiting ear. Giles observed as the vampire’s expression transformed from one of astonishment, then to that of contentment and then finally back to his original perplexed demeanor. It was still unknown what exactly the two were discussing, which made the anticipation hang thick in the air.

“That’s kind ‘f a long shot, pet,” Spike thoughtfully remarked as he scratched the back of his platinum head.

Unable to endure the suspense any longer, the Watcher finally spoke up. “Well, what exactly happened that would make you think that you claimed Spike?”

A rosy blush crept over Buffy’s cheeks. This was gonna be awkward.

“Ummm…It’s kinda a technicality really. I was wearing Spike’s shirt and he asked me if it belonged to me. I told him no, that the shirt wasn’t mine but that the person who owned it was. So basically, in a not so direct kind of way, I said Spike was mine,” she uncomfortably elaborated, conscious of the various eyes staring at her.

Giles quirked an eyebrow. He was just about ready to instantly discredit the girl’s hypothesis when he stopped himself. His gaze landed on the marks on Buffy’s exposed neck. Her idea was a bit of a stretch, but she might be onto something.

“Did he bite you after you said that?” Giles carefully asked, though completely unaware of the implications of his question.

“Uhhhh…not too soon after,” Buffy replied, bowing her head and blushing a deep crimson as she tried to avoid eye contact with either Giles or Spike.

The Watcher contemplated her response. “It may be that that was enough to lay a claim on Spike. Vampire rituals and their associated magics are quite ambiguous in their parameters and procedures. Perhaps Buffy has at last accomplished what no other human has ever done before,” Giles theorized, taking off his glasses to give them a thorough cleaning.

“Claiming is a power thing, right?” Xander’s uneasy voice surprisingly filtered through the room.

Giles quickly nodded.

“Then what vamp would ever want to lose the upper hand? Especially to a human?” Xander bewilderedly wondered.

“Whelps got a point,” Spike unexpectedly agreed. “No right-minded vampire would let its food get the better of ‘im.”

Giles gave Spike a dubious scowl. “Speaks volumes about you then, doesn’t it?”

Buffy stepped in before the two broke out into an all out British disfight. “Giles, what are you saying?”

“Spike must’ve wanted you to claim him,” the Watcher boldly remarked.

“I bloody well did not!” the vampire adamantly protested. “Do I look like ‘m on soddin’ puppet strings?”

Buffy also chimed in, though much more calmly than Spike. “Yeah, Giles. I can’t control Spike even if I wanted to,” she concurred with her vamp’s statement, though she was technically contradicting herself.

“The claim is not solely a means by which the vampire gains dominion over a human,” Giles began to clarify. “The human becomes submissive to the vampire, willing to give of him or herself to their new master.”

Spike was becoming frustrated. “Tell me something I don’t already know, you git!”

Giles glared at him before continuing. “You are on some level giving a part of yourself to Buffy. Much like how a claimed human would willingly give his or her blood, life force, to a vampire, you’re giving her…”

Buffy abruptly interjected. “Your powers,” she whispered as it all began to make sense.

“Precisely,” Giles declared, placing his glasses back on his face.

Buffy began to recall other strange instances that had occurred since she had exacted the claim. She could remember how surprised Spike had been when she had let him feed off of her after days without really eating or sleeping. There was also the instance of the near knock out punch she had delivered to Natasha’s face. And as she tried to wrack her brain to bring forth any vestigial memories from the night she had been taken from the lair, a few oddities came to mind. Buffy distinctly remembered fighting the intruders who had crashed into the room. And for a second, she was certain she’d been winning. She might have even kicked some serious ass if she hadn’t been drugged.

Every single one of those abnormal experiences had taken place in times of extreme stress, where survival instinct had taken over all vital mental and motor function. She hadn’t been given the chance to realize something had drastically changed. There had been no opportunity to contemplate the probable causes or implications of her metamorphosis. Buffy had simply been focused on staying alive.

Though now the wool was pulled from over her eyes. There was nothing really distracting her anymore. No more impending death or frenzied adductions. Nothing but contemplative silence.

She knew she shouldn’t be that strong. She knew she shouldn’t be that resilient. Yet here she was, plucking arrows out of the air with her bare hands. And it terrified her to the core.

“So I’m like super girl cuz I’m mystically tapping into Spike?” she asked, putting on an air of skepticism to hide her fear.

“So it seems,” Giles replied thoughtfully, directing his gaze at the vampire.

“Is it permanent?” Buffy asked in a low whisper, her frightened hazel gaze also falling upon Spike.

Giles nodded. “Yes it is.”

Buffy didn’t know how to react to the news, so she just kept on watching Spike instead. The vampire was simply staring at her with timid cerulean eyes. She knew he was waiting for her reaction. Buffy had a suspicion that he was expecting some kind of blame for their latest predicament but she could still see a glimmer of hope behind the insecure glances. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to be totally comfortable with the situation but Buffy knew she could never say it was Spike’s fault. After all, she was the one that made the claim.

Buffy still didn’t know how to react, but she knew she wasn’t mad at Spike. With that at least figured out, she gave him a warm, dazzling smile.

Spike’s face instantly lit up, his tense body relaxing as it was suffused with relief. He gave Buffy a bashful grin in return.

Cordelia, who had been on the periphery of the whole conversation, was now observing the travesty before her with tears in her eyes. There weren’t words to describe how overjoyed she’d been when she’d first discovered that Buffy was alive. Now, however, the only thing she felt was resentment and confusion. Nothing made sense anymore. Feeling overwhelmed, Cordy slowly got up from her chair and began to march out of the room.

Buffy caught sight of the movement in the corner of her eye. She instantly turned her head, only to find her best friend walk out of the dinning room, wiping angry tears from her face. Buffy’s automatic reaction was to chase after Cordelia.

“Cordy wait!” she called out, rushing after her friend. She would’ve caught up with Cordelia too if it wasn’t for a strong arm holding her back. Spinning around, she found it was Spike’s restraining grasp that was preventing her from going after Cordy.

“Let go of me. I gotta go talk to her,” Buffy urgently pleaded.

“And tell her what, luv? Nothin’ you say is gonna make it easier for her,” he harshly, though truthfully, informed. “The girl’s been through a lot, and now she’s got to deal with her best friend bein’ in love with the Big Bad that made her life a livin’ hell in the first place.” Releasing her arm, he took hold of her hand instead. “Might be just a lil’ too much for her to take in right now, pet. Just give the girl some time,” he gently advised, sympathy evident in his softened features.

Buffy wanted to ignore him, push him away and keep on her pursuit of Cordy, but she knew Spike was right. Sighing heavily, she turned back to the remaining people in the room. The looks she got were far from those she’d been expecting.

Spike noticed the slacked jawed gawks and taken aback stares as well. “What the bloody hell are you all starin’ at?”

It was Xander who responded. With a dumbfounded gape and shaky hand, he pointed to the large window behind the couple that was supplying the room with afternoon sunshine. The exact same sunshine in which the unscathed vampire was presently bathed in.

Buffy also became aware of the strange circumstance. Spike was in the sun but he wasn’t dusty. That was…well…it was kinda cool.

With an awestruck expression, Buffy smiled brightly as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “The sunlight doesn’t hurt you.”

Oz cut in before the vampire had a chance to respond. “Are you human?” he bewilderedly wondered, demonstrating a rare bit of emotion.

Spike vamped out, amber eyes glistening as his lips curled into a fanged smirk. “That answer your question, mate?”

Xander fell into one of the dining room chairs, starting to understand Cordelia’s sudden urge to bolt. His brain hurt from trying to figure out what the hell was going on. He knew he was standing on top of a Hellmouth, but this was a little over the top even for Sunnydale. Rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands, Xander stared back at the sunlit vampire. Okay, so he wasn’t hallucinating. There was only one thing left to ask. “How did this happen?”

Spike stepped out of Buffy’s embrace and shook off his game face, turning toward the meek redhead on the other side of the room. With a look of blatant accusation, he gestured to Willow. “Can thank the Wicca wannabe for my newfound invincibility.”

Willow’s eyes widened in distress as she suddenly became the center of attention. “My fault?” she squeaked. “I didn’t do anything.” She paused for a moment before growing very offended. “And I’m not a wannabe! Full Wicca here, bub.”

Spike gave her a contemptuous glower. “No doubting you can do spells, Red. Can attest to that myself. ‘S just that things haven’t been the same since you undid that spell so I could save you from wolf boy.”

“Spell?” Buffy inquired worryingly. She knew Giles and the rest of them had been the ones who had kidnapped and tortured Spike, but what else had they done to him? And what did it have to do with a spell? Her question remained unanswered as another voice reacted to Spike’s little exposition.

“He saved you? From me?” Oz asked, utterly stunned. His voice was filled with unbridled shock, but it wasn’t too difficult to pick up on the subtle notes of self-hatred and disgust.

Willow gave a hesitant nod. “You broke out of your cage the first night Spike was here. I had to break the hindrance spell on him because…you were about to…” She couldn’t finish. Her boyfriend just looked too devastated.

Without another word, Oz lowered the crossbow that he had been cradling in his hands onto the dining room table and quietly exited the room. Willow took off, sobs slipping from her lips as tried to catch up with him.

After the departure of the witch and the werewolf, only four people remained. Pushing aside the awkwardness the two redheads had left behind them, Buffy asked the obvious questions. “Why was Oz in a cage and why’d you call him wolf boy?”

“He’s a werewolf, luv,” Spike answered sadly. Even if the mongrel had taken a bite out of him, he felt for the boy. Wasn’t easy bein’ in love with a human when you got a demon inside of you.

“Oh,” she curtly replied. Guess that answered that. Wait. Did he say werewolf? “Spike, didn’t he bite you?”

The question perked Giles’s attention.

“Yeah, he did. Right before Sure Shot over there tranqed him,” Spike revealed, throwing a nod in Xander’s direction.

“Hey!” Xander indignantly exclaimed.

Buffy tentatively approached Spike, concern evident in her hazel eyes. “If you get bitten by a werewolf, doesn’t that mean…?”

“I got it!” Xander confidently announced. “Captain Peroxide’s some kind of werewolf/ vampire hybrid, isn’t he? That’s why he can go in the sun.”

For a split second, Spike appeared deeply worried. Lucky for him, Giles was swift to reject Xander’s proposal.

“That’s impossible. The demon which creates the werewolf requires a living host. Since Spike is a vampire and technically dead, he is immune to the bite,” the Watcher explained.

“Then does anybody else wanna take a shot at it? Cuz I’m fresh out of ideas,” Xander grumpily wondered, hating how his idea got shot down so quickly.

“You wanna tell them Giles, or should I?”

The unexpected voice belonged to Willow, who was standing in the room’s doorway, holding an open spell book in her hands. Her eyes were bloodshot, undoubtedly from crying. Buffy, along with the rest of those in the room, assumed that Willow hadn’t been able to get through to Oz. He had probably shut her out.

The Watcher nodded, slumping his shoulders in surrender. He knew the truth was bound to come out sometime. “I’ll tell them, Willow.”

Spike was immediately suspicious. “Exactly what is it you’ve been hidin’ from us, Rupert?”

“It concerns the hindrance spell I asked Willow to cast. It was meant to debilitate you, render you incapacitated during the questioning,” Giles cautiously said, carefully choosing his words.

Spike scoffed. “Didn’t know ‘questioning’ was the latest euphemism for torture,” he snidely remarked.

Giles didn’t bother to defend or legitimize his past actions. What he had done had been a horrible, amoral mistake. He had almost become what he hated most in the world, no better than the vampire he had cruelly tortured. If life had taught him anything it was that everything came full circle. Spike would get his comeuppance eventually and Giles had to stick to that belief. He’d lose his soul if he didn’t.

Buffy stared at the ponderingly silent Watcher. “There’s more to it, isn’t there?”

“Yes,” Giles admitted. “The recipient of the spell is weakened for three days. After those full three days, the reverse of the spell’s initial outcome takes into effect. Even if the spell is broken.”

Buffy’s brow crinkled, the wheels in her head turning. “So since he was really weak for three days does that mean he’s gonna be really strong for another three?”

Giles despairingly nodded. “Yes.”

Xander couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You mean you knew this was going to happen? Why would you do the spell if you knew there was a chance that Spike could go Incredible Hulk on us?”

Giles lowered his eyes in shame. This was it. He was going to forever lose their trust.

It was Spike who grudgingly explained to the whelp the reason behind the Watcher’s brief stint into madness. “He wasn’t planin’ on lettin’ me live past the third day, isn’t that right Rupes?”

Giles didn’t say anything but his silence spoke volumes.

Xander stared at the man he considered his mentor, his father, in sheer bafflement. He glimpsed over at Willow, who was gazing at Giles with the same disappointed shock. Neither knew what to say. Giles had always been the moral standard to which they’d measured themselves up to. It was like being told your dad was a drug dealer. Their lives weren’t completely shattered but their relationship with Giles was never going to be the same again.

Spike rolled his eyes at the melodrama acting out before him. “You humans are unbelievably overdramatic. Sure, the Watcher was a git for what he did, but at least he had a reason.”

The room grew quiet as incredulous stares were turned in Spike’s direction. Did he really just defend Giles? Buffy quirked a brow in surprise while Willow and Xander wondered if they had unknowingly slipped into some alternate dimension. Giles’s flabbergasted expression was enough of an indication as to how he felt about the vampire’s actions.

“And what would that reason be exactly?” Buffy suspiciously asked. She didn’t understand why Spike was coming to Giles’s defense. She had been the one who had tended to his wounds. She knew scar by scar, welt by welt, to what extent he had suffered at the hands of the Watcher. Buffy wasn’t sure if she could even forgive these people for what they had done to Spike.

The atmosphere shifted again, as though a sudden chill had descended upon them with her one question. As she glanced about the room, no one could look her in the eye. They knew something she didn’t and her immediate reaction was to turn to Spike.

“What aren’t you telling me Spike?”

The vampire kept is eyes to the floor, his voice low and emotionless as he began to fill Buffy in on the sins of his past. “’S ‘bout the Slayer,” he vaguely mentioned.

“The one that killed the Master?” Buffy inquired, recalling their past conversations, back when they’d used to will the long sleepless nights away by simply talking to one another. It seemed like so long ago, those first few months in the lair, as though it had all happened in another lifetime.

“Yeah,” Spike dolefully answered. “She was Giles’s charge.”

Buffy glimpsed at the Watcher, who at the moment appeared to be caught between feelings of rage, sorrow and astonishment. “Did you kill her?” she asked.

Spike gulped. “Yeah,” he rasped as he continued to keep his eyes on the floor. “Dru was sick and the only way I could cure her was with Slayer’s blood.”

Giles sneered at the vampire’s played down explanation. “There’s more to it than that and you know it,” the Watcher bitterly stated. “You weren’t merciful, Spike, not to me and most definitely not to Sarah.” Giles bit back a choke before he continued, trying to keep his cool. “And once you executed your sadistic little ploy, your status was elevated enough so that you could claim the most powerful clan in town. By killing Sarah you ruined us all, Spike.”

Buffy remained speechless. She remembered Spike telling her that he had done something really big to get his hands on the leadership of the clan. She was kinda surprised she had never put two and two together.

Gathering a bit of courage, Spike lifted his head up to look at Buffy. He regretted it the second her uncertain gaze locked with his. For the briefest moment he spotted something in her hazel eyes he hadn’t seen in the longest time. Fear. It might have only lasted for a millisecond, but it was enough to remind Spike that he didn’t deserve Buffy. Not her forgiveness and most certainly not her love.

Spike was also becoming increasingly aware of the lack of physical contact between them. Buffy seemed so far away, as if miles upon miles now separated them. He observed her body language, noting how she had wrapped her arms around her body. She didn’t want to be touched and he couldn’t help but take it as a sign of rejection. Even if he did know better.

Spike stared back down at his boots. “The chit was tough,” started to say out of the blue. “One of the best slayers I’ve ever fought. A warrior to the core.”

Giles interrupted, his fury getting the better of him. “Yet she wasn’t deserving of a warrior’s death, was she? You couldn’t even allow her to die with dignity. The body I found was not my Sarah,” Giles heatedly spewed.

Buffy felt her stomach churn. She didn’t want to imagine what had been done to the Slayer to restore Druscilla to health. The girl must’ve definitely suffered.

“She was the Slayer and I was the Big Bad, and we danced, just like how it’s always been done. Didn’t end like it should’ve, not arguin’ that, but I was more concerned with my Sire’s diminishin’ health than with any universally unspoken vampire/slayer code of honor.” Spike spoke softly, directing his words at Buffy. “Was never ‘bout the power, pet. I just wanted Dru better again. Everythin’ else was just a perk. ”

Buffy nibbled on her bottom lip. She hated the urgency in his voice and how his once vibrant blue eyes had suddenly gone dull. She’d never seen him in such despair. It broke Buffy’s heart.

“I know,” she whispered, bridging the gap between them with one very significant step. She touched his arm tenderly. “I believe you, Spike.”

Spike stared from the warm hand on his arm to the gentle smile on Buffy’s face. Relief washed over him and his crestfallen expression vanished. Instead he gazed into Buffy’s eyes, utterly captivated. The world around them faded as Spike realized that Buffy did really love him. Just for who he was.

The other three people in the room had one by one quietly slipped out unnoticed, having had enough emotional and ethical turmoil to last them a lifetime. They had been shown a glimmer of remorse from the vampire who had brought so much pain and devastation to their lives. They all needed time to think, to muddle through the rampant thoughts in their heads. But first they had to get as far away from the unconventional couple as humanly possible.

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