What does she want of me?

   It wasn’t the first time Spike had asked himself that question. Over and over again, What does she want, what is she after, how does she feel... about me?

   It was terrible timing, of course. Worst possible time and place to fall in love, which, knowing Spike’s luck, was bloody typical. In a hell pit fighting random demons when he had no access to romantic poetry, (except potentially some of his own, but... ha! No.) no jewelry, no kill he could lay at her feet, save all the demons they were slaughtering, which were not romantic gifts, but instead usually slime ridden corpses their very survival hinged upon. He shouldn’t’ve even been thinking on any of this, just survival. But Spike’s heart had always been an elusive and impetuous creature, and it had decided, Now!

   But of course, talking about it all right now seemed... stupid, given the circumstances. So he had no way of knowing how she actually felt about him.

   He couldn’t tell from her behavior. She’d go from desperately seeking his arms to shoving him away; from nervously and almost shamefacedly feeding on his blood to boldly and without embarrassment offering hers; from kissing him to punching him, sometimes all within an hour. And tonight — assuming lightless meant night — things had gone deeper. They hadn’t done much kissing or snuggling after the showers before. Fully clothed bedtime snuggles only, and their kisses were... pervasive, but few and far between. Neither of them felt exactly romantic, but they did want to cling to each other. But they’d never done it in that state of undress before....

   Granted, they’d only been in this hellhole for about a week, and they’d only been in the arena for about four days, so this was only the third shower where they knew the drill and were able to predict the best use of the opportunity. Still and all... bloody hell, but Buffy made a beautiful demoness. Her skin, her body, her hair, her shape, the way she moved... he was almost ashamed of himself for thinking how she put Drusilla to shame. Even as a demon, Buffy was golden and vibrant, a sunlight of a creature, compared to Dru’s moonlight of ethereal pale darkness.

   She felt bloody wonderful in his arms.

   Spike wasn’t good at being alone. He’d done it for the last year, several months of it spent drunk and chasing after Drusilla, either her memory or her in reality. He’d given up, tried to live on his own, and then gave that up too, and decided to go after the Gem of Amara. Because he hadn’t been able to get either the Slayer or Dru out of his head, and he’d had some idea that if he got the two thoughts together — dead slayer, gift to Dru — maybe things would work.

   Now the slayer was dead, but he wasn’t going to be bringing her head to Drusilla any time soon, and Drusilla was still in his thoughts, but not the way she had been. He wasn’t pining for her. He was just reminded of her. Because once again he found himself in the arms of, and trying desperately to care for, one of Angel’s girls. A wounded vampiress who had been utterly torn up at the hands of her sire, abandoned at the worst possible moment.

   Only unlike Drusilla, Buffy was clever and cagey and undeniably present every single moment she was with Spike. True, Angel was between them, like he had been between him and Dru. But he could deal with that.

   Or he thought he could. Until Buffy raised the stakes.

   When they’d finally stopped their kissing and gotten dressed after their dark, intense version of Twenty Questions, Buffy had been soft and subdued, and she hadn’t seemed to want to give back his shirt. She kept not getting around to taking it off, so he settled down to sleep in just his jeans, without asking for it. She had snuggled up beside him still wearing his black cotton, as opposed to her pretty (but now stained and creased) spaghetti strap camisole.

   She’d put her head on his bare chest and started drawing little nonsense patterns on his skin with her fingernail. No, not carving him open as Drusilla would have been doing, but varying from light to heavy and back again, gentle to beautifully painful, over and over again.

   And he was hard pressed not to tell her how he felt.

   Finally her hands had stilled. Her eyes closed. Her breathing deepened. And it wasn’t until he was quite certain she was asleep that he whispered into her still damp hair, “God, I love you, slayer.”

   It was as if he’d let off a bomb. Suddenly Buffy was up on her hand, glaring down at him as if he’d just confessed he’d eaten her mother or something. “Shut up!” she snarled. “Shut up, no you don’t!”

   Spike didn’t know what to say. He’d mostly been talking to himself, the words he’d been whispering in the darkness for days. He’d thought she was out. “I....”

   “Stop it!”

   Spike reached for her cheek, to try and... he wasn’t sure. Calm her? Explain? But she didn’t give him a chance. She grabbed his arm and shoved it backwards, and then his other one, holding his wrists up above his head on the cold concrete, and suddenly she was kissing him again. Hard. Hard enough it felt like he was about to be ripped through, as if she were trying to devour his teeth or something. “Buffy...” he whispered when she released his mouth.

   “Shut up,” she hissed. “Shut up, shut up.” She released his wrists, grabbing at his throat with one hand, and she reached down, scrabbling at his jeans.

   He almost didn’t want to believe what she was about until he heard his zipper, and then she had his cock tight in her hand, and she wasn’t about to stop until she got what she was reaching for. He stared up into her eyes in the dim light, wanting to whisper to her, wanting to make this something other than what it was, but she wasn’t after loving, touching eroticism. This was sheer carnal knowledge, of him, and only him.

   Spike came with little more than a grunt, and quickly, because frankly the idea of the slayer with her hand around his staff was the most erotic thing he’d experienced in years. Even though this wasn’t….

   “Is that what you wanted?” Slayer snapped at him when she was done. Her voice was very soft, but it was sharp as razor blades. “Was it?” She squeezed him again, and he groaned, because yes, it felt good, and yeah, he definitely wanted her, but no, this wasn’t quite how he was wanting it to go. What was wrong? She released his throat and threw herself off him, striding across the arena, kicking brittle bones as she went. The skull of the madcoil collided with the wall and shattered into fragments. Spike sat up to watch her, and she went across the room and leaned her head against the wall.

   Such a perfect portrait of despair Spike had never seen.

   He let the silence settle like the burned bones and then finally got to his feet, zipping his jeans as he went to her.

   “Please, just leave me alone,” she whispered when he came up behind her.

   “No.”

   She sagged a little, as if more resigned than disappointed. She hadn’t expected him to listen.

   “What was that, slayer?”

   “Don’t play games, Spike,” she said. “You’re a mindless, evil, thing. You don’t know what feelings are, you just know what you want.” She shook her head. “Don’t make up stories because you want to get laid.”

   Spike wanted to be offended, but he was almost too shocked for it. “You think that’s all that was?” he said, wanting it to sound indignant. Instead it was monotone, almost dreamlike. “You’re just like me, slayer. You know I can feel. We’re the same, dammit.”

   “You don’t have a soul.”

   “And you already know that doesn’t mean as much as Angel made it out to,” he said. “You’ve been both, souled and not, you must have been. Wasn’t there a moment after you first rose, before they shoved that thing in you? What were you then? An empty thing that couldn’t feel? That’s bollocks, and you know it.” His anger was finally catching up through the shock. “I wasn’t trying to get into your knickers, or get you into mine. I wasn’t even talking to you, I thought you were asleep, you ruddy bitch.”

   Buffy finally turned away from the wall. “That wasn’t what you wanted?”

   “It was, but not if it’s caused this! I was right as rain with your kisses and your arms and keeping each other alive in this hell hole! Did you hear me pushing for more?”

   “Why not?” Buffy snarled. She advanced on him, and Spike found himself taking a step back. “Why not? Why didn’t you want more? Why didn’t you demand it? Why can’t you be evil, for god’s sake, if you’re going to be evil!”

   Spike grabbed at her. “Because that’s not what you want,” he snarled into her face.

   “Yes, it is!” Buffy yelled.

   He frowned at her. “You want to be evil?”

   “I want you to be!” she yelled. “I want you to want more, I want you to push me, I want to have to fight you off!”

   “Why?”

   “Because it would be easier!” She cringed and her arms went up to hug herself. “Why can’t you want what I want?” she muttered to herself. “Why doesn’t anyone ever want what I want?”

   Spike cocked his head at her, searching her face. “What is it you want, slayer?”

   “More,” she moaned, and cringed into herself, too deep into despair even for tears.

   Spike regarded her for a moment, then made a decision. He kissed her. She was passive against his lips, but not unwelcoming. He lifted her, pushed her up against the wall, kissed her hard and then harder, and she let him, tilting her head back as he went for her throat, melting under him.

   When his hands went for her jeans, she hissed, life returning to her eyes, panicked. “No.”

   “Stop me,” he said quietly. He wasn’t reaching for her zipper. He could do all he wanted without it.

   When she did stop him, her hand catching his, he did stop. He went still and gazed into her eyes. “Has it scarpered off when you’ve done it for yourself?” he asked quietly. After a moment’s silence he added, “Don’t pretend you don’t.”

   Of course this woman, so in tune with her body and tortured for god-alone-knew-how-long by having a celibate boyfriend had to have indulged. After another moment, she shook her head. No. That hadn’t had an effect on her soul.

   “So do it yourself,” he said, heady. He pushed her harder against the wall, and turned his hand so hers was against the seam of her jeans. “Do it yourself.”

   Buffy closed her eyes, taking in a breath, and then she let her hand move, grunting and moving under his weight. “That’s right, pet,” he whispered, joining her, making his hand firm, twisting into her fingers, rocking against her body. “Yeah. That’s it, feel it.”

   He could feel her coming underneath him, hear it in her breathing, see it in the tension in her face. He flexed his whole body against her and as she came with a guttural grunt he whispered into her ear, “And I love you, slayer. Deal with it.” Then he pushed against her one more time, making the grunt turn into a soft cry.

   Buffy panted, staring at him when she was done, and he took a quarter step back, letting her down from the wall. He wasn’t sure if she was going to kiss him or kill him at the look in her eyes. They were fixed on him, glittering, unblinking, heavy as stone.

   He was trying hard not to pinch his toes against the concrete and ask if she was mad at him when she took his hand and walked backwards across the arena, back to their dry corner and his coat. When they got there she sat down, pulling him with her, and kissed him, gently. “Do it again,” she whispered. She lay down, her arms around his shoulders and arched her back sensuously as he went with her. “Do it again.”

 

***

 

   Spike was still awake when the lights came on. He’d been lying stunned, staring into the darkness.

   He had done it again for her. And again. And then she’d pushed him back and ridden his hips, grinding against him and scratching her nails down his chest, until they both screamed. And after she’d done that, she’d curled up around herself, as if cradling her own soul, and wept and wept.

   Spike had caught her into his arms and rocked her, singing slightly, like he used to do for Drusilla — it might even have been one of the songs he sang for her, he just reached for the first thing in his head. He’d kissed the slayer’s forehead, and her eyes, and her slightly blood-tasting vampiric tears, and whispered those ubiquitous sweet nothings he was so damn good at, tiny endearments and transparently empty promises, that served no purpose except to soothe. Things like, “It’ll be all right, pet.”

   He didn’t have to ask why she was crying. It was bloody obvious. Not for the first time, Spike wanted to kill Angelus. If he was going to leave people as ruins, it should have been his job to stay and deal with the aftermath! If Spike had ever made a proper fledge, he’d have wanted to make them strong, able to stand on their own two feet, face the world proper, leave them as masters of the night, not house-bound ruins of their former selves, slowly wasting away, coughing up blood....

   No. Slayer was strong. She was torn up inside, just like Dru was, but instead of her mind, it was her heart Angel had shattered.

   After her tears had slowed, and then stopped, he’d kept rocking her back and forth, in silence. Then Slayer had started kissing him, then pushed him backwards again. He’d thought she was still hungry; he knew he would have been after all the stress and trauma finally relieved. But no, she wasn’t. Or at least, not the way he had thought. She had lain him back, kissed down his chest, and then unzipped his trousers again, and then to his utter amazement had taken him into her mouth and given — and taken — everything she could there.

   When she was done she’d laid her head on his stomach and just stared up at him. Spike caressed her head, her hair, gazing down into her green eyes, which seemed full of such gratitude it hurt his unbeating heart. “I love you,” he found himself whispering again.

   “It’s nice you think that,” she said, which almost annoyed him, but he was too high to be brought down by soulist arrogance.

   She’d curled back up around him, her head on his shoulder, and he’d thrown the edge of the coat over her again, and just stared into the darkness. He was tempted to try and talk to her, beg her to answer what this all meant — hand jobs and blow jobs and dry thrusting and all the rest of it. Did this mean she was committed? Even if they got out of here? — but it was too fragile, too precious to try and pin down. If you put a pin in a butterfly, or even a night-flying moth, it dies.

   So he had stayed awake, feeling all of this, and when the lights came on, he had to blink his eyes closed. Slayer cringed against him and tried to bury her head in his chest. “God. Why don’t they just get around to killing us?”

   Spike kissed her forehead. “Not what they’re about, and you know it.”

   The two reluctantly sat up and put themselves together, replacing shoes and jackets and everything. Slayer still wore his T-shirt, and Spike still didn’t ask for it, just sliding his red overshirt on without it and buttoning it half way up.

   “What do you think they’ll throw at us this time?” Buffy asked. “The kitchen sink?”

   But it was just a hell hound. Spike kicked it in the head, Slayer jammed it in the throat, ripped out its trachea, and quickly licked at the blood, only to spit it out.

   “Unappetizing, or toxic?”

   “Caustic,” Slayer choked. She wiped out her mouth with the edge of Spike’s shirt.

   “Spit. As much as you can.”

   “This isn’t fair, I’m hungry!” Slayer was almost whining.

   Spike looked up. It didn’t look as if they were pulling out the fire nozzles yet – often they didn’t if the foes were small. “Let’s get it to the corner,” Spike said, and threw it on the pile of brittle bones they’d shunted aside so they wouldn’t get in the way of the fights.

   “They know we fight together already!” Slayer shouted. “I can’t do this anymore, Spike! I’m gonna crack!”

   “Come on,” Spike said, one eye on the door in case they threw another foe at them. “Come on, drink already.”

   “No, you’re weak.”

   “I am not,” Spike snarled.

   Slayer only looked at him. They’d been wrestling the night before. She knew exactly what his strength level was.

   “You’re a goddamn fledge, you need it more than I do. I’ll be fine.” He went to his knees, pulling her with him. “Keep your eye on the door.”

   Slayer hesitated, and then bit at his throat. She’d stopped going feeding-frenzy when she did this, but the sound she made as she suckled led him to believe her oral administrations the night before had as much to do with her hunger as her gratitude or her desire to please him. He held her tight, but she wasn’t wrong. He was weak. And he grew weaker with every swallow of his blood that passed over her tongue....

   “Another one,” Slayer said quietly as the door above opened.

   It seemed they were doing a canid theme today. What came through the door was powerful, furry, heavily muscled, and had three — Spike counted them. Twice. — three heads.

   “What the hell is that?”

   “A kerberos,” Spike said.

   “Tell me it’s edible? To us, at least?”

   “Venomous,” Spike said, pretending he wasn’t suffering from her bite. If he’d had an hour to recover, then his own demonic magics could have at least made him less woozy, if not entirely returning his strength, but apparently their captors didn’t care about that. “There’s tiny snakes in its fur. I wouldn’t try to eat it.”

   “Damn!”

   The kerberos was whimpering with pain as it picked itself up from the cold floor, and Spike and Buffy took stance. They really were a powerhouse when they fought together. Their styles meshed perfectly, their strengths were excellently balanced, and they seemed able to read each other’s moves without any difficulties, with just subtle shifts of movement, or quick glances of expression. But the kerberos was harder to kill than the hellhound. A lot harder.

   Neither of them dared get too close. Tiny, lethal looking snakes darted out from its fur every time they got near the beast, and its tail had a really big, deadly one, dripping venom from its fangs, and it seemed to watch them, arching like a scorpion’s sting above the creature’s back.  There was no blind spot, because it had three (four, or possibly more if you counted all the mini snakes) heads. The two tried to confuse it, flanking and getting on either side, but it just lashed its tail and waited. Damn thing had patience — Spike knew the kerberos could be used as very effective guard dogs, so that made sense. And he and Buffy didn’t have time or energy to wait.

   Spike’s patience broke first, which he knew was a mistake. Counting on his leather coat to protect him, he buttoned it up (something he almost never did) and then lunged at the beast’s back side.

   “Spike, no!”

   “Then bloody kill it!” Spike yelled, as he held the creature down. The tiny snakes hissed beneath him, unable to get through Spike’s tough leather second skin (not for the first time he sent a silent thanks to his second slayer). Buffy came up from above him, since she still couldn’t approach from the front. Taking out its head was going to be three times the trouble. She used her plastic stake and drove in from the side of the ribs, seeking out the beast’s heart. Clear ichor, probably pure venom, poured out from the creature’s side as it shuddered and died.

   And just as it made a final convulsion, Spike felt a piercing pain in his arm. The creature’s serpentine tail had found the chink in Spike’s armor, the slash caused by the bullet which had grazed his arm before. “Ahh!” Spike let go of the beast and disconnected the serpent’s head from his flesh. “God dammit!”

   “What is it?” Buffy came up and peered at the wound. “You gonna be okay?”

   “Yeah, ’m jus’ fine,” Spike murmured, and then fell onto his arse. “Maybe.”

   “Fuck,” Buffy muttered.

   “Hey,” Spike said, gazing up at her in absurd fondness. “Li’l girls don’ use that kind of language, slayer, slayer mine.” He paused as he heard the slur in his speech. “I think I’m gonna siddown.”

   “You are sitting.”

   “I’m... I’m... I am,” he realized. He grabbed at her and pulled her down with him. “Slayer,” he whispered. “Did you know how beautiful you are?”

   “Not the time for this, Spike,” she said. “You’ve been poisoned.”

   “Envenomed,” Spike said. “I gonn’ be fine. Jus’ need some blood, ‘sall. Your hair’s like sunshine. Did I ever tell you how I used to watch you? You’d be out patrolling, and strolling along, and Dru would be staring up at some cathedral she wasn’t really in, and I’d go out, ‘cause... ‘cause god, it could be lonely when she’d go off in her head somewhere, and then, there, there you’d be, searching for newborns in the cemeteries, or on patrol in the alleys, and I’d climb up some building, and I’d jus’ watch you and watch you and watch you, because you were so damn lovely. Tha’s gonna be my slayer, I say. Gonna kill that slayer.” He pressed his lips against hers, still murmuring. “Or you could kill me. You wanna kill me, Buffy? That what you want?”

   “Spike, come on, settle down.” She pulled aside her hair and pressed her throat to his mouth. “Drink. You need more to fix this.”

   “Nun,” Spike said, pulling away. “Not going it this way this time, Slayer. Nope, nope, nope.”

   “Spike, you need it, I have it, now–”

   “Oi!”

   Spike pulled away from Slayer and stared up at the shadowy figures in the observation platform.

   “Yeah! You wankers! You wanna watch your gladiators fight it to the death, give us some decent nosh, yeah? Give me something I can drink from!”

   “Spike, they’re not gonna listen to you.”

   Spike stared, and then staggered. “Wortha try,” he murmured.

   “Come on, Spike. Drink from me.”

   Spike glared at her. “No,” he said. “Not right now.”

   “Spike—”

   “When we’re both hungry, yeah,” he said. “When we’re tired and lonely and need it and want to share, yeah, but not ‘f I’m poisoned and doddering, no.”

   “Spike—”

   Spike grabbed Buffy’s throat and pushed her... well, he meant to push her against the wall, but he hadn’t realized he was still on his knees, and all that happened was they toppled over, and he glared down into her face. “You know how many times I had to play Daddy for that bitch?” he asked Buffy. “You know the jigs I had to dance to, the games I had to play for Dru, you know how often I had to play Angel? Ninety years I had to play that... ponce! Whenever she hungered for how he’d torture her. I had to play how he’d turned her, over and over again, and I don’t like doing it!” He rolled off Buffy and stared back at the ceiling. He’d never realized how much he’d hated doing it until now. “Never again,” he murmured. “Not replaying how he turned you, not doing it.”

   And then it happened. The door to their arena opened, and their captors threw down another vicious dog for them to kill.

   “Oh, god, no!” Buffy wailed. “Not now!

   But everything in Spike was suddenly saying the opposite. Oh, absolutely now. Because the dog they dropped in was hairy and growling and clearly deadly, and it stank of magic, so it wasn’t just a blood sack they were gifting them with. But under the magic, under the wolf hair, under the snarls and the growls and the slobber, Spike could smell it.

   That was human.

 





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