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Strip Snap by Lilachigh
Chp 14 Never Ever Work
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Strip Snap by Lilachigh

Chapter 14 Never Ever Work

The roaring in Buffy’s ears diminished slightly and she could hear Xander frantically laughing, and Willow shouting Anya down. Dawn was silent, her gaze flashing from one to the other. William was silent, too, sitting next to Dawn on the far side of the table, staring at Buffy, his eyes questioning under dark brows.

“Honestly, Ahn, I think you’ve been drinking far too much coffee! That’s the most ridiculous piece of demon translation I’ve ever heard,” Xander said angrily. “As if Buffy would ever let Spike, William - whoever the hell this is, touch her, let alone - well, let alone do anything else!”

“Well, what else does the charm mean then?” Anya said crossly. “It seems pretty plain to me. ‘A demon’s fire changes all’ - well, that was the acid from the Tazksha demon burning Spike. ‘The old returns’ - that’s William. ‘Love alone can break the thrall’ - obvious. ‘Passion burns’ - well, I’m not sure about that, but I expect it will make sense as we go along. ‘Past and present merged must be, by love, desire and need times three.’ To merge Spike and William, there has to be a hell of a lot of intimacy. And there’s no use you pulling faces at me, Xander Harris. A charm is a charm - I didn’t write it.”

“Buffy - ? ” Willow had been staring at her friend’s face. There was an expression on it that she didn’t recognise, but she was beginning to get that headachey feeling inside her that she always experienced just before a storm broke. The very air seemed to be getting heavier and hotter.

Buffy glanced swiftly at her and then at Dawn. Willow caught the look and nodded slightly. “Well,” she said brightly, “this research hasn’t done us much good, has it? Apart from one stupid charm that obviously doesn’t fit the situation.”

The last sentence was almost a question. There was a long silence. Buffy felt a surge of resentment flood over her. This wasn’t fair! Why couldn’t she just tell them, like any ordinary girl, that she was having a relationship with a guy and yes, there would be no difficulty at all in making love to him three times. Three hundred wouldn’t be enough to quench the thirst for him that burnt inside her.

She took a deep breath - all it would take was one little step, out over the precipice of fear, of being shunned by her friends, shut out from the support and affection that had given her a semblance of normality all these years.

Then she paused. She could hear Xander’s scorn, see the disgust in Willow’s eyes, the horror in Dawn’s. She could only imagine the disappointment, worry and - yes - angry revulsion that Giles would show.

This wouldn’t be the same as when he’d learned she’d slept with Angel all those years ago. He wouldn’t ”support and respect” her this time. She was no longer a wide-eyed seventeen year old. She was twenty-one, a mature Slayer who knew all there was to know about vampires and demons. Giles would see a relationship with Spike as a dreadful mistake and one she would be making in coldblood, without the caveat of love. Because he would never believe she could love William.

“We’ll discuss it all later,” she said abruptly. “William - come with me. We need to get you some more clothes. You can’t hang around in those old pants and T-shirt. They don’t fit you.”

“If you decide to have sex with him, keep count of the times,” Anya called after them as they headed down the staircase into the basement.


“There’s no need to shout, Xander. Keeping records is a very important aspect of any task and if Buffy and William have to do it three times, then....” Her voice grew muffled as they reached the basement and with a sigh of relief, Buffy picked up a flash-light and headed away down the tunnel towards Spike’s crypt.

William padded silently behind her. It was amazing, Buffy thought, how quickly he was adapting to this new world. He no longer asked awkward questions about what he saw and heard.

Buffy felt the hairs on the back of her neck wriggle. William or Spike, it obviously made no difference to her in-built radar where he was concerned. She shrugged, wondering how she could ever explain to Giles and the rest of the gang that this was the only vampire she could bear to walk behind her. That she never felt a moment’s unease - well, not in a frightening way, at least.

“You’re very quiet,” she said now as they hurried along the echoing stone passage, the beam from the flash-light swinging out in front of them.

“You did not wish me to speak, back in the strange shop,” William said courteously. “It was plain to me that you did not desire our physical togetherness to become the common knowledge of your friends and sister.”

“I realise that it looks mega odd,” Buffy said hesitantly. “They wouldn’t approve - they don’t know that Spike and I - that we’re - that you and I are - ”

“Already lovers?”

“Well, yes.”

“And their approval is all important to you? More important than your feelings for Spike or me.”

“You are Spike. Or rather Spike is you, William. You’re the same person, but at different times.”

“My question remains.” A pale hand shot out and grasped Buffy’s arm. She gasped, flinched and the flashlight crashed to the ground with a smash, the light extinguishing, leaving them in complete darkness.

He pulled her close to him, until the length of her body was touching his. She felt limp in his arms, unable to pull away. She could smell the leather and faint tang of blood and whisky that said Spike to her. When he bent his head to kiss her, she felt her legs weaken and if he hadn’t been holding her tight, she would have slid to the ground.

His lips were so cool, hers burning hot. When he raised his head, she felt two weary tears ooze from the corners of her eyes and slide slowly down her cheek. He must have sensed them because his mouth took both of them before they left her face and she heard him muttering deep in his chest.

“I want to tell them,” she whispered. “But I can’t.”

“I think your red-headed friend guesses,” William said slowly, rubbing his chin across the top of her head. “The boy who thinks he loves you does not.”

“The boy who - oh, you mean Xander. Spike calls him a boy, too. And what do you mean, he thinks he loves me? He loves Anya.”

“Yes, he does,” William acknowledged. “But he believes he loves you, too. You are the grand passion, the unobtainable dream. I have such a one - a beautiful girl called Cecily. She is so far above me in life. She will never notice me, and until I met you, I believed that what I felt for her was eternal love. But then I woke up in your time and country, Buffy, met you and realised - ”


She could feel the skin of his face crease as he smiled. “What love was all about.”

“Do you believe the charm is true?” she whispered, loving the comfort of his arms holding her so safe in the black depths of the tunnel and feeling so pleased that at last he’d stopped calling her Miss Summers

William shook his head. He didn’t need lights to see in the dark. It was all very obvious to him. “We have made love many times, Buffy. I admit that perhaps during the last two occasions, it was different in some way. I felt - I felt as if I was two people in one body.”

“Then, if we do it again, Spike might come back - you’ll stop being two vampires and become just the one again?”

“You’re forgetting the words of the charm. Desire and need - I think we have experienced both of those. That leaves us with love, to fulfil the charm.”

Buffy tightened her grip and burrowed her head even closer to his chest. “I love Spike,“ she whispered softly, knowing that the vampire’s acute hearing would pick up every sound.

“But do you love William?” came the reply, flashing down from above her head. “I think that is what has been holding back the magic. We have made the beast with two backs too many times already. If the charm had been going to work, I believe it would have done so by now.”

Buffy shook her head and pulled away from him. “No, that doesn’t make any sense,” she said and began to walk on down the passage, feeling her way between the rock walls.

William moved past her and took her hand, leading her surely and swiftly forward.
Finally, she felt the air freshen and and the utter darkness lightened as they reached the bottom room of Spike’s crypt. A small oil lamp was still burning in one corner and its flickering light cast jumping shadows over the huge bed with its black sheets and scarlet cover.

Buffy stood gazing at it, remembering all the times she’d lain naked on it, her body golden against the black, entwined with Spike’s pale, muscled limbs, aching with desire and need, listening to him telling her how much he loved her -

William was busily investigating a closet, pulling on a black T shirt and jeans, eagerly experimenting with the metal zip.

“The charm is never going to work,” Buffy said slowly, sinking down onto the bed.

The vampire looked down at her, his expression becoming serious as he took in the look on her face. “Why not?”

“Because Spike loves me and I - ” she took a deep breath, “I love Spike. But you, William, you don’t really love me - you still love Cecily. You as good as admitted it just now. And I don’t love you. I need you and desire you, that part is right but - ” her voice began to shake as the enormity of the truth began to sink in. “I can never love ‘William’ because I love ‘Spike’. So the charm will never, ever work.”

to be continued

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