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Master by Aurora
Chapter Twenty-Eight-Seeking Solace
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Chapter Twenty-Eight: Seeking Solace

“You shouldn’t be out here. It’s gonna be dark soon.”

A startled Cordelia tore her gaze away from the rose tinted sky to see who it was that had found her. Much to her dismay, she saw a sheepish Xander standing in the doorway, staring at her with a worried expression on his face. She hurriedly wiped the remnants of her tears from her dampened cheeks before combing her fingers swiftly through her dark hair. She knew she looked like a complete wreck and the last person she wanted to see her like this was standing only two feet away.

“It’s okay,” Cordy quickly replied, hiding her sadness behind a mask of apathy. Reaching into her pocket she pulled out a small wooden crucifix. “I’ve got it covered.”

Xander smiled at her offhanded humor. When he had first met Cordelia, his initial impression had been that she was just some vapid, superficial California girl. Yet the more he got to know her, the more Xander realized that there was a great person hiding beneath all that Queen C exterior.

He had heard Cordelia’s fervent demands to find her best friend and he had listened on as she had described her escape from the Bronze that horrible night months ago. Cordy was one of the bravest girls he’d ever met and with that, she had his utmost respect. Though they bickered constantly, she never backed down, always giving as good as she got. And sometimes, when he’d catch her off guard, without her defensive outer shell, Cordy would laugh at his jokes. And that’s when the world stopped for him. When he saw her smile.

“I still think you should come inside,” he gently insisted, taking a step out on the front porch toward her.

“Dolce and Gabbana, the Fashion Gods themselves, couldn’t lure me back into that house, even if they were using their latest fall line as bait. So don’t waste your breath,” she stubbornly refused.

Xander nodded. To be honest, he didn’t want to go back in either. “That’s cool,” he shrugged, standing next to her, his gaze falling on the same sunset she was absentmindedly observing. “Guess I’ll just stick around then.”

Cordelia looked over at him. “So what’re you now? My protector?” she sarcastically asked, acting like she wasn’t touched by the gesture.

He shrugged. “How about I just play the role of human shield?”

Cordelia chuckled softly. “I guess that can be allowed.”

Xander’s face lit up into a big goofy grin. He’d made her smile. “I’ll be here if you need me,” he whispered.

Unexpectedly, Cordy bowed her head as renewed tears trickled down her face.

“Cordy?” Xander called out, confused by her abrupt change in emotional state. Had he said something to upset her? He was about to kick himself, when Cordelia began to shake her head.

“God, everything is so screwed up,” she exasperatedly exclaimed.

“I know,” Xander mumbled.

She scoffed in annoyance. “Way to be Mr. Supportive here. Aren’t you supposed to be all ‘Everything will be okay’ or ‘It’s not so bad’? Really, Giles could’ve done a better job at cheering me up.”

“You’re unbelievable,” he uttered in disbelief.

Her irritated expression melted again into a mess of tears. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We were gonna save Buffy and she’d be so happy to get away from that Eighties Punk Reject,” she whimpered resentfully before shouting. “How could she possibly be in love with a vampire?!”

“You can’t help who you fall in love with,” Xander sullenly remarked.

Cordy glared at him. “You really suck at this.”

“Well you’re just gonna have to deal with it,” he harshly stated. “By the looks of it, those two are gonna be attached at the hip for a very, very long time.”

“How can you be okay with this?” she bewilderedly wondered. “It’s Spike! The guy you’ve been trying to kill for like what, five years now? And now you’re just gonna be all ‘Aw shucks, he’s kinda sorry for screwing up everyone’s life so we should just let him have Buffy’?!”

“It’s not that simple, Cordy,” Xander sourly commented. “Believe me. No one wants to drive a redwood through his chest more than I do.”

“You wanna bet,” she huffily muttered.

“But,” Xander continued, ignoring Cordelia’s snide remark, “Buffy scares the crap out of me. I don’t wanna be on her bad side, so I’m keeping my sharp pointy sticks to myself.”

Cordy sighed despondently. “This is all my fault.”

“How’d you figure?” he inquired skeptically.

“The road trip was my idea,” she dejectedly confessed. “Sunnydale was just supposed to be another pit stop but I overheard a bunch of girls talking about the Bronze so I convinced Buffy that we should stay and check it out. She didn’t want to but you know how I am. It’s my way or no way.”

“Cordy,” Xander entreated as he placed a tentative hand on her shoulder. “You couldn’t have known.”

She sniffled, pulling away from his comforting touch. “Whatever hell-on-earth Buffy lived through these past few months was because of me,” Cordelia shakily whispered. “That’s why I had to get out of there. I couldn’t stand seeing my best friend with that thing, knowing that it’s all fault. I…I…” she suddenly broke off, sobs ripping through her body. “I just want everything to go back to the way it should,” she hysterically cried, covering her face with her hands.

In a bold, unexpected move, Xander wrapped his arms around Cordelia’s shaking form, pulling her against him. He was surprised when she didn’t push him away but instead melted into the embrace, clutching onto him for dear life. He rubbed her back soothingly as she poured herself out onto his shoulder.

Xander didn’t know what words to use to console her. He didn’t want to lie to her, to simply tell her everything would be alright. So he told her what he knew for certain. “Whatever happens, I’ll be here,” he tenderly reassured. “No matter what, we’ll get through it together.”

Cordelia suddenly realized how close she was to Xander. She also noticed how good it felt being in his arms, hearing his calming words. Despite the emotional turmoil she was in, everything seemed to fade away when she was with him. She never wanted to let go.

“You promise?” she quietly rasped, staring up into his warm brown eyes.

“I promise,” he huskily whispered, tucking an unruly strand of hair behind her ear.

Their gazes locked for the briefest second before Cordelia gingerly rested her head on his chest.

“You know what the only good thing that came out of all this is?” she said softly.

“What’s that?” he played along, feeling a little relieved by her lighthearted tone.

“If it weren’t for Spike, I would’ve never met you,” Cordy stated, her voice bittersweet.

Xander tightened his grip around her, loving how she let out a small contented sigh. “Never thought I’d say this but I guess I do owe the Bleached Wonder for something.”


Giles leaned up against the kitchen counter, his hands firmly planted on its wooden surface. Not two inches away from him was a crystal tumbler filled to the brim with a twenty year old scotch, which in his opinion wasn’t remotely strong enough for the occasion. His head was still swimming with so many conflicting thoughts that it would take more than alcohol to ease his troubled mind. A full frontal lobotomy couldn’t alleviate the present strain on his conscience.

Rubbing his face roughly with one hand, Giles reached for the glass. Though he knew the booze wasn’t going to solve anything, it was still better than nothing. Taking a deep gulp, the Watcher enjoyed the distractedly burning sensation in his throat. It reminded him that he was still alive, that he was real. Unfortunately it also reminded him that the mess he was now in was just as real. Setting the drink back down on the counter, Giles grumbled irately. He knew the alcohol wouldn’t have worked. Pushing off of the counter, he began to pace the empty kitchen.

He had to leave the dining room; he couldn’t stand to watch Buffy and Spike together. It disturbed the Watcher to look on as the same monster that had killed Sarah pleaded to Buffy to believe that the Slayer’s death had been some sort of altruistic deed to cure his Sire. Giles could feel the bile in his stomach begin to rise just thinking about it.

Even if what the vampire had said was true, if he had indeed killed Sarah for a selfless cause, Spike had still delighted in his rank as Master. Though he may not have initially sought it out, the vampire had relished in the power and mayhem his clan had given him. Spike wasn’t sorry for what he had done; he was just sorry that Buffy had found out.

That was another interesting point. Spike only seemed to display any kind of remorse if his previous transgressions somehow concerned Buffy. Whether it be a sin committed against her specifically or simply something he had done which would devaluate him in her eyes. It was strange how a few months ago Spike didn’t give a flying fig for anyone other than himself and now he was begging for Buffy’s understanding. Knowing the vampire like he did, Giles had to admit it was a drastic change.

And then there was the claim. Buffy was now as fast and as strong as a vampire, which meant that no one could oppose her. No one could go up against Spike either considering his now elevated super strength. Giles cringed at how the vampire’s troublesome invincibility was mainly his fault. He couldn’t eliminate Spike nor could he simply kick them out to deal with the cruel world all on their own. Giles could care less about Spike but Buffy was still human and therefore an innocent. Unfortunately, Giles knew that wherever Spike went so would Buffy. So for the time being, the Watcher was going to be stuck with the vampire under his roof.

Giles stopped dead in his tracks, the wheels in his head turning as an idea began to take shape. If Buffy could somehow be convinced to join them in their demon hunting efforts, then Spike would surely follow. As much as Giles hated to admit it, with Spike and Buffy on their side, they might have an actual chance at taking back Sunnydale.

The Watcher took hold of the abandoned tumbler and had himself another gulp. Setting it back down on the counter, he smirked. He couldn’t help but reflect upon the irony of the fact that the vampire they had sworn their lives to destroy would soon be a crucial member of their team.


Willow stood solemnly outside the door to the bedroom which she shared with Oz. She had returned to her hallway vigil after she had left the dining room. She couldn’t stand to see the love between Spike and Buffy when her own relationship was on the verge of total meltdown.

Exhaling loudly, Willow placed her hand lightly on the wooden door, which had been locked the last time she had been upstairs. She was afraid to turn the knob. If it was still locked, she wasn’t sure what she was going to do.

With all the courage she could muster up, Willow knocked on the door. She waited for an answer but no one responded. Turning the knob slightly, she was filled both with a sense of relief and trepidation. Oz was letting her in but for what she wasn’t certain.

Stepping lightly into the room, she scanned her darkened surroundings, searching for her boyfriend. Her heart skipped a beat when she spotted him, sitting in the corner sofa chair, elbows resting on his knees as he stared out into the dark. For a moment, Willow said nothing and just watched Oz mindlessly stare at nothing. She didn’t want to approach him, confront him for the fear of what she might unleash. She didn’t want him angry at her anymore but she didn’t want him to push her away either.

Oz broke the silence for her. “Hey.”

“Hey,” she meekly replied, wringing her hands nervously

That’s where it stood for a few more minutes, the tensions high between them. Willow cracked first, the tears already slipping down her face. “Please don’t hate me,” she hiccupped through her sobs, her lip quivering uncontrollable. “I didn’t mean to lie to you, Oz, but it was an accident. I’m sorry. If you want me sleep in another room tonight I understand…I’ll just grab my stuff…”

Oz stood up during Willow’s emotional rant, edging his way closer to her. As she moved to leave, he grabbed onto her, pulling her into his embrace. She clung to him desperately, needing the physical reassurance that he didn’t despise her for what she had done. Pulling away, he looked deep into her watery green eyes, his face in its typically stoic expression though his gaze was filled with love.

“I don’t hate you, Will. I could never hate you,” he hoarsely confessed.

“Then why with the cold shoulder?” she wondered, worrying her bottom lip with her teeth.

Oz bowed his head, shame filling him. “I just needed to clear my head. Think some stuff through.”

“So you had to shut me out to do that?” Willow asked, unable to hold back some of her anger. It had hurt when Oz had refused to talk to her, when he had refused to let her in.

He nodded, knowing he deserved whatever spiteful things she had to say to him. “I couldn’t have you around me, Will. Not after what almost happened,” he dejectedly explained.

Willow wished he would stop blaming himself. It was exactly why she had lied to him in the first place. “Oz…”

“I could’ve killed you Willow,” he crestfallenly cut her off, his voice strained as he tried to suppress his emotions. “And that’s why I couldn’t be around you. Every time I looked at you, all I could think of was that I almost killed you,” Oz sorrowfully confessed.

Willow slipped her hand into his. “I still shouldn’t have lied to you. Maybe if I had been the one to tell you, it wouldn’t have been such a shock,” she despondently remarked, stroking his hand with her thumb. “Maybe you wouldn’t have gotten so mad.”

Oz shook his head. “If I was mad it wasn’t because you lied to me will. I was mad at myself,” he miserably explained. “I’m dangerous Will and you shouldn’t be around me.”

Willow’s eyes widened as the tears returned. “No,” she sternly refused. “You are not going anywhere, mister. We can deal with this. We’ve been dealing with this for the past five years,” she hoarsely argued.

“What do you want me to do?” Oz desperately asked. “Your life is on the line every second you’re with me. I know we’ve coped but its getting harder as the years go by. Sometimes I stay up at night, worrying about the day when I can’t fight it anymore and just let the demon take total control,” he anxiously explained, his distressed emotions uncharacteristically evident in his voice and on his face. “I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you, Will.”

Willow placed her hands on either side of his face. “We can work around this, Oz. We can ask Giles for help. There’ve got to be some incantations or meditations you can do,” she assured him, her confident voice soft with love. “This is fixable.”

Oz nodded as Willow lowered her arms, wrapping them around his neck. “Okay,” he whispered croakily.

She smiled brightly. There had been a terrible weight laid upon her shoulders the night Oz had escaped his cage. Her boyfriend’s tentative smile lifted all that heavy guilt away. “I love you, Oz.”

He cleared his throat, trying to push back the tears that were about to spill. “I love you too,” he hoarsely replied, wrapping his arms tightly around her.

Willow leaned in to kiss him, her lips pressing gently against his. Oz ran his hand through her red hair, his fingers grazing the back of her neck, making Willow shiver from his touch. Not breaking contact, they moved toward their bed, kissing and touching with increasing need, both feeling the necessity to reaffirm the emotional and physical bonds that had been strained over the past few hours.

Oz gently lowered Willow onto the soft mattress, a genuine smile on his lips as he slowly climbed in after her. As their kisses deepened, they lost themselves in each other, the problems they were bound to face pushed far, far away. For the time being, it was just the two of them and the love they would always share.


Sensing the room was more vacant than it had been minutes before, Buffy broke her gaze from Spike and glanced around in confusion. “Where’d everybody go?”

Snatching Buffy up in his arms, Spike grinned with a renewed sense of mirth. “Who cares,” he shrugged off with a chuckle. “Say it again, pet.”

Buffy gave him a perplexed look. “Say what?”

“Please don’t play with me luv,” Spike begged, his voice coarse and urgent.

Buffy gave him a bashful smile, bowing her head away from his intense stare. “I love you, Spike,” she whispered as her heart pounded in her chest.

Buffy returned her gaze back to a mesmerized Spike, feeling herself grow flush as his shimmering blue eyes gradually clouded with desire. Her body tingled from the sudden awareness of his close proximity. His cold hands suddenly traveled up her hot arms, one resting on her shoulder as the other cupped her blushing face. Buffy licked her lips in anticipation; she knew what was to come.

Spike leaned in slowly, grazing his lips against hers. The kiss was gentle at first, as though he wanted to recommit to his memory how soft her lips were or how sweet she tasted. However, the short time they had spent apart had felt like an eternity to him, and he hungered for her like a starving man hungered for his next meal. He prodded her mouth with his tongue, feeling his cock harden when she permitted him entrance into the moist cavern. Spike moaned noisily when she began to use her hot, slick tongue to grapple with his own.

Buffy felt like that missing piece within her had finally returned. Whether it was the claim or just her need for Spike, she wasn’t sure. All she knew was that she felt whole when she was with Spike and that it didn’t feel wrong. Her breath hitched when the hand that had been placed on her shoulder began to move up, the thumb tracing the scars on her neck. She broke off, gasping for air. Spike took the opportunity to latch his mouth onto the other side of her neck, sucking on the wounds there. She mewled as he tortured her with ecstasy.

Buffy felt herself get pushed up against a wall, the evidence of Spike’s arousal pressing against her stomach. She wrapped one leg around his waist as he continued to play with the erogenous marks he had left on her neck a few days before. The day she had refused to tell him she loved. The same day he had refused to let her go.

The wonderful sensations that Spike had been drawing out of her body suddenly vanished. Opening her eyes, she realized he was no where near her. In actual fact, he was a few feet away, holding his nose, a look of pain on his face.

“Ow!” he bellowed. “What was that for?” he asked irately.

Buffy stared down at her hand, which at the present moment was clenched into a tight fist. She stared at it in bafflement. Was she still so upset with Spike about denying her her freedom that she would go into a rage blackout and clobber him in the nose?

Yeah, that sounded about right. The hurt was still there and even if she loved him, she was stilled pissed off. With all the hoopla of the past several hours, she must’ve pushed the anger aside, but now it was all she could think about. Buffy knew it must really be bugging her since she chose to push Spike away during his mind melting ministrations and punch him in the nose over it.

“Why didn’t you just let me go?” she asked out of the blue, anxious for an answer.

Spike’s befuddled look disappeared as he began to understand what Buffy was referring to. “We’re back to this, are we?” he irritably wondered, frustrated that she would stop their little make up session over this.

Buffy crossed her arms. “Damn right we’re back to this,” she huffily replied. “I hope you know that things aren’t gonna be like they were. You have no say, and I mean absolutely no say, in what I do. I can come and go as I please. You’re not my Master anymore, Spike,” Buffy firmly declared, making sure he understood the current state of their relationship.

Spike exhaled in surrender. “Pet, I stopped with that whole mastery bullshit the second I ripped Damon off of you,” he confessed, hoping she believed him. “Maybe even before then.”

“Then what was with keeping me locked up in that room?” she incredulously asked. “Why couldn’t you just say ‘You’re free’? I wouldn’t have left, you know. I would’ve stayed.”

Spike flung his arms up in exasperation. “How was I to know?” he heatedly threw back. “How was I to know you wouldn’t scamper off?”

Buffy frowned. “Because I love you.”

Spike paused, letting the words sink in. The whole idea of Buffy loving him was so foreign that even though he’d heard her say it before, he still needed time to take it all in. Turning his saddened gaze to the floor, Spike replied forlornly, “Didn’t know it at the time.”

Buffy sighed. “Spike, I didn’t tell you at the time because I wasn’t ready to lay it all on the line when you were still technically keeping me hostage. I was afraid of what my feelings meant,” she tried to explained, her voice filled with past insecurities.

Spike nodded, lifting his head look at her. His eyes were surprisingly bright and a hesitant smile was tugging at his lips. “Guess I should be moved by that grand gesture back there, eh?” he said sheepishly, gesturing his head over to where Buffy had declared her love before miraculously catching the wayward arrow. “Must’ve been hard announcin’ it to a bunch of white hats.”

“They were going to kill you, Spike,” she rationalized, her serious tone veiling the fear that resurfaced from the mere thought of Spike potentially turning to dust. “When faced with the choice of you dying or telling a bunch of strangers that I love you, I chose the latter.”

“They’re not all strangers luv,” he commented, his eyes filled with sympathy as her face contorted in sorrow. “She’ll come around, pet.”

Buffy blinked back a few tears, shaking her head slowly. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she whispered. “Not now.”

Spike understood, so he returned to their previous topic, his voice low and self-deprecating. “I know I should’ve let you go, luv, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it,” he wretchedly confessed. “I can’t live without you, Buffy. When I though I lost you, it felt like the whole bloody world crashed down on me. I would’ve let Damon have me if I hadn’t picked up on the wolf musk in your room.”

Buffy gave Spike a perplexed and somewhat repulsed grimace.

“It was Oz, pet,” Spike clarified.

“Oh,” she abruptly replied, at last knowing how Spike had tracked her down. Her brow crinkled for a moment before her eyes widened with fear. “So does that mean Damon’s still…?”

Spike nodded. “The tosser’s still kickin’. We’re not through with ‘em yet, Buffy. He’ll be back,” he bitterly announced.

It was at that moment that Giles stepped into the room, staring at the couple with an unusual glimmer of optimism in his eyes. “Then we should ready ourselves for when he does.”

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