“Okay,” Slayer said. “Left or right?”

   “That’s an odd one.” They had gone to a word game Willow had taught Buffy called “Extremes” where given a pair of concepts you had to pick one of the two. Spike kept getting the game wrong by picking third options. “Context?”

   “If it doesn’t matter which way you go, which way do you go?”

   “Left,” Spike said. “But it’s not random. If you come from an equestrian society, all kid’s’ll pick left. That’s the side you approach the horse on.”

   “Are you really left handed?” Slayer asked. Since it was supposed to be a getting-to-know-you game, one was allowed to break rhythm and just ask a question.

   “Think I’ve been faking it just to impress you, slayer?”

   Slayer shrugged. “Or that you adapted for fights,” she said. “Lefties are harder to beat.” They were more unpredictable. Giles had taught her that.

   Spike smirked with pride. He held out both hands. “Check ‘em out.”

   The left hand was slightly more muscled, a quarter size larger, there were bigger calluses on the knuckles, the black nail polish was slightly more chipped, and Slayer found herself with her hands on his, caressing his fingers, fascinated by them. Those were some damn sensual looking hands... hands she really wanted on her body....

   Damn, this was hard. She glanced down. Well, not... ugh!

   She made herself let his hands go and retreated back to her side of the cell. She’d been glancing down and along that body of his a lot. For all her protestations of virtue and chastity, the idea of losing her soul in Spike had definite appeal. She finally understood Angel’s confusion and desperation that Christmas Eve, when he’d come to her to tell her to stay away from him, being egged on by whatever that evil power was. She’d gotten turned on by Angel a lot, as a human and a vampire both, but it was different. It wasn’t this purely physical thing that made her want to just cut through all that stupid, saccharine, Ah, isn’t it wonderful how we’re just together here, thing and get to the god damn meat of it!

   It had to be because she was a vampire now. It was an evil impulse, just like the blood lust – you know, because it was actual lust, and had nothing to do with love, she just really, really wanted Spike’s hands on her, and his body against hers, and his... his.... Her eyes glanced along him one more time.

   He’d asked a question. “Um. What?”

   “Chocolate or strawberry.”

   “Chocolate,” Slayer said, somewhat wistfully. “Or it used to be.”

   “What do you mean?”

   “Well... we can’t eat human food anymore.”

   “Sure we can.”

   “I thought it would make us sick, ‘cause we don’t go to the bathroom or anything.”

   Spike shrugged. “Never been a problem for me.”

   Slayer stared at the reprieve he was offering. “You mean I can still have chocolate?” She felt nearly in tears.

   Spike bit back his laugh and then reached for her, pulling her into an embrace. “Oh, poor kitten.” He started kissing her forehead and her temple and the side of her face. “Have you been chocolate deprived this whole time?” He kissed the tip of her nose. “We get out of here, I’ll get you a whole box of the good stuff. From Germany, eh?”

   He bent forward to kiss her properly, and Slayer pulled back, even though she really didn’t want to. He let her, which almost annoyed her. But she couldn’t help but feel like snuggles and amused promises of German chocolates wouldn’t have been Angel’s reaction in this moment.

   She’d had Angel on the brain most of the – morning? Time sense was dead, and even the instinctive nervousness of the sun during daylight hours was so muddled by the perpetual nervousness of being in the cells in the first place that she had no idea what time of day it was. But they’d slept, and woken, so now it was morning. (She was still a little hooked on human sleeping patterns.)

   In any case, Spike was not like Angel. Angel would probably not have been playing word games with her this whole time. Angel would not have offered sympathy for her loss of chocolate – he was more likely to have said it was the wages of sin or something.

   “But... can we even taste it?” It didn’t smell exactly like food anymore, chocolate or any human food. Except fresh meat, but she hadn’t been chewing on that, either. She’d only been taking liquids. The closest thing to food she’d had was liquor and tomato juice in Willy’s special-edition Bloody Mary, since he’d sworn other vampires liked them. “Angel said it didn’t taste like anything.”

   “Angel has a terrible palate,” Spike said. “We need blood. We don’t need food, is all. Never had a problem with it, me.” Then he frowned. “I do tend to prefer foods that linger in the blood. Coffee, spices, that sort of thing. You should be fine with chocolate. Dark would probably be better.”

   “I always preferred dark.”

   Spike grinned. “Now, why would I have guessed that about you?”

   How could he make that into an innuendo? “Okay. Boxers or briefs?”

   Spike raised an eyebrow. “You’re making a big assumption that there’s anything there at all.”

   That thought hadn’t occurred to her. “Uh….”

   “Want to check?”

   Slayer rolled her eyes, and he smirked.

   “I have been known to sleep in boxers, if I thought the minions didn’t deserve the show,” Spike said. “So. Traditional or thong?”

   “I’m not answering that!”

   “You just asked me.”

   She hadn’t realized that was basically the same question. “Um... both?” she confessed. “Depends on mood.”

   “But not the third option?”

   “What, boxers?”

   Spike smirked. “You can borrow mine.” He cocked his head and eyed her fondly, as if imagining her in his boxers and not much, if anything, else. “You sure you’re all that attached to your soul?”

   “Yes.”

   “Just checking,” he said. Again. He’d asked that at least three times since they got up.

   “Spike, just because you–”

   “We.”

   Slayer closed her eyes and slid down the side of the cell, onto the floor. “Please, don’t make this difficult.”

   Spike crouched down before her and reached for her hair, hesitating before he made contact, to see if she’d stop him. She didn’t, so he caressed it, sliding down an errant tendril and lacing it between his fingers. “Slayer, it’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be difficult your whole life long, and you already know it.”

   “So did Angel,” Slayer whispered. “It was why he left. It was hard enough when we couldn’t do anything just ‘cause of him.”

   “Yeah, not being able to even get you off anymore must have been hell for the bloke.”

   “Yeah. But I was okay with it,” Slayer said. “I mean, we did a lot of patrolling and... well. Sometimes he’d let me snuggle.”

   Spike frowned. “Sometimes he’d let you...? Wait. Was this before, or after he killed you?”

   She didn’t like hearing it discussed like that. She didn’t like remembering that he’d killed her. “When I was alive,” Slayer said. “When we were dating.”

   “I wasn’t talking about him, I was talking about you,” he said. “Are you telling me he wasn’t giving you your own even before you had this temperamental soul?”

   “What are you talking about?”

   Spike sat back. “So, you were human, he was vampire. Your soul was firmly fixed unless he killed you, yeah? He couldn’t dare get off because the soul would wing its way off to the happy hunting grounds which meant... you couldn’t get your happy on, either?”

   “Well... no. We were dating.”

   Spike slid up close to her. “So he didn’t press you up against a wall while you were patrolling and jam his knee between your legs and tell you to ride him until you were flushed and sweaty and couldn’t ride him any more?” he asked, his voice heady. “He never sat down with you at a table at the Bronze and bought your friends drinks and slid his hand under your waistband to finger you until you had to freeze dead still lest they think you were having a seizure, right there? He never bent you over the bed and shoved a dildo up inside you, making you groan with how full it felt, let alone how strange, with him two feet behind, just watching the blood rush through your skin? Angel never once splayed you open in the graveyard and sank down between your legs, licking and nuzzling at your sweet slayer petals, until you screamed for him?”

   Slayer was trembling.

   “He could have done all that... and instead he told you to be chaste? Just cause he had to be?”

   “I... I don’t... know if he... he could have done... um....”

   “Couldn’t he?”

   Yeah, Slayer realized, he probably could have. He could probably have done any or all of those things, or more. They could have been writing erotic letters back and forth. He could have been sending her dirty pictures for her to masturbate to. He could even, she realized, have figured out some sort of surrogate to bed her; he could have kissed her to melting, handed her off, and then snuggled with her after or something... though she realized such an idea probably wouldn’t have flown with her when she was still human. That was an evil, lustful, vampire thought, because the surrogate she was thinking of was, to her horror, actually Spike, and... yeah. No, that definitely wouldn’t have flown. Not when she was still human and didn’t have to think twice about her morals and impulses and remind herself which ones were evil.

   That didn’t really matter. The point was, since Christmas when they were dating properly, she and Angel could have had a deeply sensual if not actively sexual relationship. She had even been over eighteen for most of that. He could have reached between her legs, encouraged her to fantasize about him, given her the chance to ride him in places that wouldn’t have gotten him off. It still wasn’t fair to him, probably would have been fairly frustrating for him, but there was nothing that made it wrong for her to explore her sexuality with him. Except for the fact that Angel had pretty much made it a blanket “we can’t” rather than “we’ll have to be careful, and only you can enjoy yourself.”

   And now she couldn’t even do that. It seemed like an annoyingly missed opportunity....

   “Shouldn’t have asked,” Spike said. “Angel doesn’t feel like there’s any point unless he gets his.”

   “And you don’t feel that way?”

   “Well. If the question is mine or hers? My first impulse is hers.”

   “Why?”

   He considered that for a long moment. “The thing is, Slayer... if I get my lady off... it’s not mine or hers. Hers makes her mine. You get me?”

   She wasn’t sure she did, but she was getting too hot to follow up. Spike’s fingers were also still doing interesting things to her hair, and the softness in his eyes was somewhat strange to see, and....

   All in all, Slayer found herself almost relieved when a handful of commandos descended upon their cell, armed with Tasers and stun guns and other heavy weaponry. She and Spike both scrambled to their feet, and as the door opened, Spike gallantly stood in front of her.

   “Stop that,” Slayer snapped, shoving him behind her. “I’m stronger than you.”

   “I’m older than you,” Spike snapped back, taking the forefront again. “If they’re going after you, they’ll have to go through me.”

   “You think you have to protect me?” Slayer barked. “I’m not some fragile flower!”

   “Oh, not with the Girl Power bit,” Spike yelled. “A bloke tries to show a little courtesy–”

   “It’s not courtesy, it’s condescension,” Slayer said. “That’s the one thing I don’t miss about Angel, his god damned Let-Me-Protect-You high and mightiness!”

   “And that’s the one thing I hate about the feminist movement!” Spike yelled back. “I’m all for burning the bras, and free love, and do whatever the bloody hell you want, but how’s a bloke to be nice when it’s all seen as–”

   “Uh, excuse me?” said a voice from behind the commandos. “This isn’t fitting any of the parameters.”

   Spike and Slayer turned to look. A ferrety guy in a lab coat was standing just to the side of the commandos, and Slayer could see him frowning at a clipboard. “Can you, sort of, get on with the threatening of them? I need to make a note of their reactions,” he said to the soldiers.

   “They’re just standing there, bickering,” said the commando in the front. Finn, Slayer thought his name was. “I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.”

   The dead silence after that seemed extremely pointed.

   “All right,” he said after that, but the air of threat had completely died. “You two. We need one of you for the experiments. You two fight it out. Whoever wins gets to stay safe, and we’ll give you another prisoner to play with. Maybe someone human to eat. So, whoever wins stays and gets fresh blood, whoever loses gets zapped.”

   Spike and Slayer stared at each other. It was so damn transparent. Did they really think they were going to fall for that? Then Slayer realized, yeah, most of Angel’s boys would have fallen for that. They weren’t strong enough to think beyond the bloodlust. Which meant these soldier guys didn’t even understand what they had with the two of them.

   “Oh, you go,” Slayer said casually.

   “Oh, no, ladies first,” Spike said with a bow.

   “I insist. It would be wrong to take such an opportunity away.”

   “What, Josef Mengele style experimentation? It’s something I’ve been longing to experience for the whole of my existence! I couldn’t deprive you of it.”

   “Well then, think we should?”

   “Both then?”

   When they looked back they were both vamped up. “Looks like you lose,” Slayer said to the commandos, and they both lunged.

   Even with the bottleneck, they managed to take down three of the soldiers before the electricity zapped them into submission.

 

 





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