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Master by Aurora
Chapter Twenty-Six- If I Lose You, My Heart Will Be Broken
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Chapter Twenty-Six: If I Lose You, My Heart Will Be Broken

Crossbows were instantly drawn on the creature standing before Buffy as the rest of the room’s occupants swiftly maneuvered to the far side of the table, putting the obstacle between them and the vampire. Every single bow was loaded with a deadly arrow, ready to pierce the heart. And those without the luck of having the projectile weapon within their possession had instead pulled out stakes, crosses and even small glass vials of holy water. Anything that would protect them from the peroxide intruder.

The vampire in their midst however did not even flinch. Hell he wasn’t even paying them the least bit of attention. His gaze was locked on the blonde girl, who for some reason showed no sign of fear. Instead, she returned his intense stare, her hazel eyes shimmering with oncoming tears. It was as though they were trapped in each other’s eyes, lost to the world around them as a flurry of emotions tugged at their hearts.

A single mantra of ‘go to Buffy’ played over and over again in Spike’s mind. Without any consideration for the danger he was in, the vampire took a step toward his love, still hypnotized simply by the site of her.

It was the harsh sound of Oz’s defensive, growl-like warning that broke them from their trance. “Get back.”

Spike finally glanced around. His cerulean eyes widened for a split second, but almost as soon as the trace of fear crossed his face, it quickly disappeared behind a mask of indifference.

Holding up his hands in mock surrender, Spike smirked at the group of humans. “Come now. Is this any way to treat a guest? ‘Specially one who returns even after the piss poor treatment he got during his first visit.”

Buffy’s brow crinkled with confusion. Turning to Giles she asked, “What’s he talking about?”

The Watcher didn’t remove his crossbow from its mark, his eyes never leaving the intended target that was the vampire’s chest. Grudgingly, though still very much focused, Giles answered her. “Spike had spent some time here not too long ago.”

Spike scoffed resentfully. “Old age startin’ to creep up on ya, mate? Forgettin’ a few minor details, aren’t we Rupes?” he spitefully badgered. “Like how you went into cahoots with Damon or how you couldn’t beat the livin’ stuff outta yours truly without havin’ to resort to mystical castration,” Spike unveiled, his tone cold and unforgiving.

Giles eyes narrowed. “We thought Buffy was in danger. We thought you were hiding her. At the time, we had no other options,” he explained through gritted teeth.

“Oh really?” Spike quickly replied, totally unconvinced. “Certain it wasn’t a lil’ vengeance call on your part, Watcher? Had to get your jollies out with a good ole round of kick the Spike?” He paused so that the humans around him could fully absorb the newly revealed information. “Stop deluding yourself, Rupert. I might be an evil vampire but at least I don’t hide behind some kind of perverse moral superiority whenever I got an agenda.”

“Giles, what is he talking about?” Xander asked nervously as he continued to aim his own crossbow at Spike.

The Watcher didn’t respond. It wasn’t the time for this particular conversation. Right now, Giles had to act as their leader and push away the guilt he felt for what he had done. Even if Giles wanted to rehash what he had almost allowed himself to turn into; how he had almost become the thing he hated most in the world; how he had allowed his hatred to consume him to the point that he had jeopardized Buffy’s life; he couldn’t. His comrades would learn soon enough but not if they were dead. Despite his misgivings about Spike’s evilness, the Watcher wouldn’t put it past the vampire to exact a bit if his own revenge. He couldn’t take the chance that Spike wasn’t deeply upset over the whole torture fiasco and that he wouldn’t just kill them all so that he could run off with Buffy. The vampire might have some redeemable qualities, but he was still a vampire. A very brassed off vampire to boot.

“Leave Spike,” Giles ordered, his grip tightening around the crossbow in his hands.

Spike smirked again. “Don’t think so, Watcher. Gonna need a bit more persuasion than a stern talkin’ to while you shake that medieval stick slinger at me.”

Giles ignored the jibe and repeated his warning. “Leave or I’ll shoot you. Medieval stick slinger or not, it can still send an arrow through your chest. And believe me, this time I won’t miss your heart.”

Buffy, who had been in a state of pure mental lockdown up until now, suddenly crashed down to reality. Memories of gaping holes in Spike’s chest flooded her mind. The connections were all there; the newly discovered information about Spike’s association with Giles, the long and frightening days he had been missing, and the wounds he had brought back with him. Buffy’s shocked gaze landed on the Watcher, who at the moment was oblivious to her recent epiphany. Giles and the rest of them, including Cordy, were the reason why Spike had been beaten beyond recognition. They were the reason Damon had taken reign over the clan. They were the reason Spike hadn’t been there to protect her when Damon had attacked her. Worst of all, they had hurt Spike. And with that knowledge something primal, almost animalistic, awoke within Buffy.

Standing up from her seat, Buffy stood in front of Spike, using her body to block him from the arrow that would in no doubt kill him.

Spike stared in awe as he watched Buffy use herself as a human shield to protect him from probable death. It was her first real reaction to his sudden re-appearance and it spoke volumes. She was giving him a crumb, a smidgen of hope that there was something left between them. Buffy didn’t hate him and that was something noteworthy enough to point out.

Though inwardly jumping for joy, the vampire remained completely still, cautiously aware of the girl standing before him. Spike wasn’t about to rule out the possibility that Buffy’s selfless gesture was actually a ploy to bring down his defenses just enough so that she could deliver the killing blow herself. Spike prayed it wasn’t the case, though he knew he deserved it. Even if she was about to plunge a stake into his chest, he’d still love her. Until his ashes hit the floor, Spike would keep on loving Buffy.

“Buffy, are you crazy!?! What are you doing!?!” Cordelia anxiously yelled from the other side of the table, unconsciously lowering the tightly clutched cross in her hand.

“You can’t kill Spike,” Buffy declared ardently, her adamant words not solely directed to Cordelia but to every single person in the room.

“Why the hell not!?!” Cordy snapped, her face flush with frustration. “Why the hell are you protecting that monster?!” she nearly screamed as she angrily pointed to Spike.

Buffy turned her head around to glimpse at Spike. He was staring at her, cobalt eyes wide and glittering, his emotions playing across his face. She could see he was apprehensive, that he was scared of what she was about to say. Buffy, however, could also see that behind the fear was the love he felt for her. It was reassurance enough. She knew what she had to do.

‘Moment of truth,’ Buffy thought nervously as she turned to face the group of demon hunters once again. ‘There’s no turning back now.’

“Because I love him.”

The room grew quiet. Had they heard right? Had Buffy just told them that she loved Spike? The vampire himself looked a bit stupefied, as though it was taking some time for his brain to wrap around what exactly it was that was happening. Though a few people in the room had an idea, an inkling as to what the relationship between the Master vampire and his former prisoner entailed, no one had ever expected this pretty abrupt and very public declaration. Especially not Cordy.

Xander stood there, utterly gobsmacked, with his mouth hanging wide open. It was during that brief moment of distracted bewilderment that his finger accidentally brushed the trigger of the crossbow he was holding. And it was because of this little error that an arrow shot through the air, flying directly at Buffy. Though it all happened too fast for anyone to react, gasps reverberated through the silence when the lethal projectile was stopped. Yet, it wasn’t Spike’s vampire quick reflexes that had saved Buffy. It was her own hand that had caught the arrow right before it pierced her chest. Snapping the arrow in half as though it were a twig, she dropped the pieces of wood to the floor.

Turning once again to face a flabbergasted Spike, Buffy quizzically pouted. “Huh, I caught it.”

As soon as the words fell from her mouth, Buffy’s face became expressionless. Her eyes suddenly rolled to the back of her head as she started to fall. Spike instantly reached out and caught her before she hit the ground. Carefully cradling Buffy in his arms, he tried to wake her, calling out her name and gently stroking her face. Spike was near panic and he instinctively wanted to shake her but he stopped himself. He didn’t know what she’d been through in the past few days or what injuries she might have sustained. Spike’s rage elevated as he pictured the Watcher clobbering Buffy over the head, knocking her out so that it’d be easier to take her from the lair. If this fainting spell was some kind of late symptom of head trauma, so help him, Spike would without a doubt eviscerate Giles before tearing him limb from limb. The concern for Buffy’s unexpected aptitude for arrow catching was quickly pushed aside as the vampire focused on trying to revive his girl.

Giles rushed to Buffy’s side, forgetting the danger he was putting himself in simply by being within arms reach of Spike. The Watcher followed the vampire as he laid her down on the tabletop. Spike stripped off his duster, bunching it up so that it could be used to cradle Buffy’s head. The vampire ignored the looks he was getting from the anxious group of humans. They tensely watched as Spike stroked the unconscious girl’s blonde head.

A few moments of strained silence passed before Spike asked, “What have you done to her?” His voice was steady but unquestionably lethal as his gaze remained fixed on Buffy’s deceptively peaceful face.

“N-nothing,” Willow uneasily replied, immediately put on the defensive.

Spike glimpsed up at the group of humans. “Doesn’t bloody well look like nothing, now does it?”

It was Xander this time who stepped up to the plate. “How do we know this isn’t your fault?” he heatedly proposed. “Maybe all your brainwashing finally got to her. Must have been pretty intense stuff to get her to believe she actually loves you.”

Spike’s ice blue eyes narrowed as they focused on the boy. “Buffy’s words were her own,” the vampire defended. How dare the little pissant demean what could possibly be the most meaningful and joyful moment of his entire existence. “And I would never hurt her, which is more than we can say ‘bout you, whelp. ‘Least I didn’t almost shoot her with a crossbow,” Spike spitefully remarked before his lip curved into a smirk. “Ya know for a demon hunter, you’re a pretty lousy shot.”

Willow tensed as Spike spoke those few incriminating words, her gaze instantly landing on Oz’s flummoxed face. The last thing she wanted was to lead an exposition on what precisely had happened the night Oz had broken free from his cage. The window of opportunity was there and Willow could almost see where the conversation was heading. So before the subject of when exactly had Xander ever demonstrated his not so stellar aim arose, the redheaded witch abruptly cut in. “Giles, could Buffy be a slayer?”

To Willow’s relief, everyone for the moment appeared to have forgotten about the squabble and turned to the Watcher for an answer.

What they hadn’t expected was an indignant snort from Spike. “You really need to get you’re team to crack open a book once in a while, Rupert. They should know Buffy’s a lil’ too old for the Slayer gig.”

Giles grimaced. “As much as it pains me to say this, Spike is right. Buffy is far past the age when most slayers are called. Also, I know for a fact that the Slayer in Cleveland is still alive. Though I am no longer with the Council, I remain in contact with her Watcher, most of the time just trying to get him to lend a hand with the crisis here in Sunnydale,” he clarified before bitterly adding. “The stupid berk never does give me a straight answer.”

“But it wouldn’t hurt to check, right?” Willow hesitantly threw out. “I mean, the Slayer can die at any time and what if Buffy got chosen? Stranger things have happened. I know of this spell…”

The sound of a menacing growl interrupted Willow’s explanation. “Think you’ve done enough damage with that mojo of yours Red. Don’t think for a second that I’m gonna let you anywhere near Buffy with a spell book.”

Oz stepped between Willow and Spike’s venomous stare, his demeanor unfazed and protective. The non-verbal showdown lasted for a few seconds until the vampire gave the wolf boy a bit of an appraisal, sizing him up. Finding a bit of newfound respect for the werewolf, Spike shrugged the whole thing off.

Snapping his head to the right to threateningly glare at Giles, Spike continued in a low voice, “If she doesn’t wake up the bloody well soon, I’m gonna…”

A moan silenced him. Rushing to Buffy’s side, he assisted her as she tried to sit up. “What happened?” she asked, her voice raspy.

“Had a bit of a faintin’ spell, luv,” Spike clarified for her before worriedly asking. “How do you feel?”

“I’m okay,” Buffy reassured, suddenly becoming aware that she was sitting on a table and that everyone around her looked extremely concerned. Turning to gaze back up into Spike’s still pensive face, Buffy slowly began to remember. The memories began to rematerialize in her mind as the dizziness finally dissipated. “Did I almost get shot with an arrow?” she inquired in astonishment.

Spike nodded tentatively.

“And I caught it, didn’t I?” she asked, again in disbelief. It seemed so preposterous but it was what she remembered.

Spike smiled softly at her bafflement. He nodded again.

Buffy’s eyes widened in response. “Okay!” she nearly shouted. “My life just upgraded from weird to freakin’ bizarro!”

Spike couldn’t help but chuckle. Taking her hand in his, he asked one last time, “But you’re alright?”

Giving him her most genuine and loving smile, Buffy was quick to reassure. “Yeah, I’m fine. A little wigged, but fine.”

What was transpiring between the Master vampire and the blonde California girl did not go unnoticed by the rest of those in the room. Even Cordelia could not deny what she was witnessing.

“Why was I able to do that?” Buffy wondered, not really asking anyone in particular, simply hoping someone would provide an answer.

Spike looked to the Watcher. “C’mon , Rupes. This should be right up your alley. Wouldn’t want all those years at the Academy goin’ to waste, now would we? So, go on, have at it.”

Giles didn’t miss the taunting undertone of Spike’s pestering. The vampire was hoping that the Watcher would find himself stumped. Giles knew Spike wanted to embarrass him, to humiliate him, to show him what it felt like to be rendered useless. It wasn’t exactly vengeance but simply a bit of salt in a healing wound.

“Well…perhaps…It could be…” the ex-Watcher struggled, wracking his brain to come up with a possible explanation. Almost like a light bulb turning on, one idea popped into his head. Staring intently at Spike, Giles asked, “Have you claimed Buffy?”

“Does she look like a mindless drone to you?!” he angrily retorted.

“Uh, can someone please clarify for those of us who didn’t take Vampire 101?” Buffy spoke up, hating that they were talking about her but that she was completely out of the loop.

Sighing loudly, Spike forced himself to calm down. Buffy deserved to know what was going on. “When a vamp claims a human, the human becomes the property of the vamp. In essence, the poor sucker looses total control, turns into a complete automaton and has to do the vamp’s biddin’.”

Buffy continued to stare at Spike even after he finished with his explanation. “I don’t feel like I’m not in control of my body,” she declared, unsure if she should feel any different, absentmindedly stroking the marks on her neck.

“That’s ‘cos you haven’t been claimed. Need to bite you and officially declare you as mine before I can make you my puppet,” Spike lightheartedly enlightened.

“So this whole time you coulda had me by the metaphoric mind leash… and you didn’t,” Buffy slowly stated, remembering how hard he had tried to get her to submit all those months ago. “From the beginning, you didn’t even try.”

A twinge of regret flashed before Spike’s eyes. “Guess I was a glutton for punishment, wantin’ you to stay the way you are. Told you already pet, turnin’ you, claimin’ you would’ve been too easy. I was lookin’ for a challenge.” He said the last part with a smirk.

Buffy gave him one of her own cheeky grins. There was so much she still didn’t know about vampires even after spending the majority of her summer trapped in their lair. There was also so much she still didn’t know about Spike. The fact he hadn’t gone the easy route, even after all the times she had pushed him to the brink of sanity made Buffy love him all the more.

“Have you two mated?” Giles asked, no tip toeing around the uncomfortable issue. Simply straight to the point.

Spike froze, his body turning into one giant nerve.

“Mated?” Buffy wondered incredulously. “Please tell me you’re not actually asking me what it sounds like you’re asking me?”

Giles, whose cheeks were slightly tinted with embarrassment, was quick to elaborate. “It’s more or less a vampire marriage. It involves two vampires exchanging claims which inevitably bind them for eternity.”

Buffy’s gaze returned to Spike, who suddenly appeared uncharacteristically worried and insecure. Without looking back at Giles, she asked, “What’s it involve?”

“Well…uh…in the midst of…umm…intercourse, blood must be exchanged and the claim must be accepted by both parties involved,” Giles uncomfortably elucidated, becoming quite flustered.

“Way to reduce one of the most sacred moments in a vamps life to a textbook definition,” Spike criticized, forgetting his uncertainties for a brief second.

“So there’s more to it?” Buffy asked Spike, truly curious.

Spike nodded, somewhat comforted by the fact that she wanted to learn more about the ritual. “It links two vampires for eternity. They share each other’s emotions. If one gets hurt, the other experiences their pain. It’s almost as though the other vamp becomes a part of you. And when that part goes missing, it hurts, like a knife in your gut. Some vamps even stake themselves if their mates get dusted. The loss is just too unbearable.”

A few strange feelings stirred within Buffy as she heard Spike explain the intricacies of vampire mating. The connection, the unbearable pain he described somehow resonated within her.

Buffy understood why he had never mentioned the ritual. The idea of being magically connected to one person, let alone a vampire, for the rest of time would’ve totally freaked her out. To be honest, it still did. Staring at Spike’s silent standoffishness, Buffy gave him another warm smile. He hadn’t brought the issue up because it would have been another bit of rejection, something he most probably had had enough of since he had met her. Buffy knew she wasn’t ready for anything like that but she wasn’t about to rule out the possibility just yet.

She turned to Giles. “We’re not mated.” The Englishman almost looked relieved with the information. But before he could say anything, Buffy added with unquestionable certainty, “But I think I claimed Spike.”
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