Spike’s fangs were close enough to Faith’s hot, tender flesh that he could feel the pulse of her thudding carotid vibrating the air against his lips. Perhaps just a little nip, a love bite...
One fang had barely touched her skin when pain exploded through his chest.
Then he was flying. Unanchored. Disconnected. Afloat.
Had the little wench actually found his heart with that stake of hers?
Was this what it felt like to dust? To shuffle off this mortal coil?
Spike expected his life to flash before his eyes, but as he soared, seemingly weightless, it wasn’t his past that haunted him, it was his future. Or what he’d hoped his future would be.
Buffy. Her eyes. Her hair. Her warmth. Her wit. Her radiance. Her lips twisting deliciously, trying not to smile at his piggish jokes. Her small, strong hand in his. That ghost of a kiss stoking the fire in his gut.
A future lost. A future he’d never see. A future that was drifting away into the ether as motes of dust.
His heart cracked with the loss of what might’ve been.
Desperate to stop his tumble through the gates of hell, Spike windmilled his arms, stretching, reaching, trying to find something solid to latch onto, something that would keep him here. With Buffy.
Spike found something very solid when his legs hit the wall next to the open door with a deafening thud. His head and torso sailed through the doorway, spinning him around and dropping him hard onto the threshold, half in and half out of the garage. He groaned, stunned, clutching at his aching ribs as he tried to sit up and get his bearings.
Had that future been obliterated? Had he just landed in hell?
But no. It wasn’t that at all.
“What the bloody fuck?” he muttered, squinting up to see the Slayer—his Slayer—striding purposefully toward him. A momentary flicker of pure elation was immediately doused by the waves of fury boiling off her. Behind Buffy, he saw Lydia rushing over to Faith, who had begun choking, gasping in great lungsful of air as she sat up on the blue mats.
Everything came back into sharp focus for Spike, reality settling in.
“You’re welcome,” Buffy grated out, coming to a stop, hovering over him, her body stiff with tension.
“You... you kicked me!” Spike realized, turning his demonic, glittering eyes on Buffy, still rubbing his ribs. “Fuck’s sake, Slayer! Wasn’t gonna bite the little slapper!” he complained, struggling up to his feet. “Much.”
As soon as he straightened, Buffy slugged him in the jaw with a punishing right jab, sending him stumbling out into the backyard. He hit one of the faux headstones that was part of his furry namesake’s obstacle training course, and tumbled ass over tits onto the ground on the other side.
“I know,” she agreed amiably, walking around the obstacle casually. “Not the point.”
Spike sprang back up to his feet, his saffron eyes flashing in the moonlight. “What the fuck’s yer point then?” he demanded, rubbing his jaw tenderly. The Slayer seemed to have recovered from her walk on the mundane side if that punch was any indication. No more damsel in distress... not that she ever was, even without her Slayer strength. She had too much fire in her blood for that, and too much stubborn shirtiness to boot.
Buffy moved in and swung at him again, but Spike blocked it, catching her fist in his hand. He started to turn her arm, meaning to spin her and twist it up behind her back, but she slammed a side kick into his knee and he released her with a grunt of pain. “The point is, Faith didn’t know that, and she still had a stake, you stupid vampire!”
Buffy followed up with a backhand blow, which Spike ducked, delivering a hard jab to her ribs before moving out of range of her deadly fists. He backed away from the obstacle course and onto open ground, not wanting a repeat of the Humpty-Dumpty act while the Slayer was in such a snit.
Suddenly a mound of coppery fur appeared between them, seeming to simply coalesce from the dark shadows of the backyard. The dog swung his concerned eyes back and forth from one blonde to the other, hackles raised but tail wagging—clearly not sure if this was a game or a battle.
“Spike!” Buffy exclaimed in surprise, but then swiftly shifted into dog-mom mode. “Stay out of this! Go, sit,” she ordered, waving a hand toward the back porch where he must’ve come from. Joyce had probably let him out after he’d heard the commotion and gave her his ‘I’ve got to go out’ whine, intent on joining in.
Spike gave the two hoomans one more wary glance, but did as he was told, backing off with a whimper.
The vampire used what he thought was a distraction to launch a hard kick at Buffy’s solar plexus, but she blocked it with a forearm, spinning away from him. They both came back to guard positions, facing each other.
“So, instead’a just taking the stake from the chit, ya decided to kick me in the danglies?” Spike asked as they eyed each other warily.
“I didn’t kick you anywhere... dangly,” Buffy defended. “It just seemed like the best way to keep you undusty at the time. Faith was about to stake you, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
“So, didn’t have anything t’ do with the strumpet wriggling her curvy little body against me, then, eh? Just worried about my health, were you? Not burning with a bit of the old green demon?”
Buffy felt fire color her cheeks at his too-accurate accusation of her jealousy. “Get over yourself already,” she scoffed. “I was just keeping my end of our bargain—keeping the truce, making sure you stayed undusty.”
“You shot a sodding crossbow at me not a quarter hour ago!” he reminded her indignantly.
“It was more like forty minutes,” Buffy corrected, prowling after him as he backed away. “Do you always play with your food so much, or just Faith?” she sneered.
“Sometimes a bloke needs a proper dance. What’s the matter, Slayer, rather it’d been you I was waltzing with? Afraid I’ll take a fancy to the girl?”
“I couldn’t care less!”
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” Spike chuckled.
“Methinks Faith dothed you upside the head too much... or maybe not enough!” she protested, her gaze turning icy.
“Was just having a bit o’ fun. Nothing serious,” he explained unapologetically, maintaining the distance between them.
“Oh, sure, it’s all fun and games until someone gets poked in the heart. You didn’t even notice Faith reaching for her stake, getting it out, or shoving it toward your stupid chest. Too busy gloating about notches in your belt and enjoying her wriggling,” Buffy asserted, her tone betraying that damn green-eyed monster that wouldn’t stay in its cage.
Spike scowled; the expression even more disturbing than normal as it twisted his demon visage. “What the fuck do you care ‘bout who I dance with, anyway, Slayer?” he demanded, twirling forward suddenly and connecting a hard kick with Buffy’s sternum, sending her flying back away from him.
Buffy tucked and rolled when she hit the grass, bouncing back to her feet, though she couldn’t stop her hand from rubbing the spot he’d battered, the imprint from the heel of his boot clear on her flesh. “You think I don’t care?” she screeched at him as they both moved forward again, like two charging bulls on a collision course, each waving big red flags at the other. “I fucking care!”
“Got a funny way o’ showing it!” he screamed back, hands curled into fists, ready to strike as soon as she was in range. “Playing your prancing little girl-games! Pulling me in then pushing me away! Dating a bloody ponce named Denny! Thought you were better ‘an that bollocks. Clearly I was wrong.”
“Me playing games!” Buffy exclaimed as they started circling each other, two apex predators facing off, bodies as tense as coiled cobras, ready to strike. “What about your games? You practically shoved your nose right up that Council bitch’s skirt! And don’t even get me started about Faith and your ‘stuck zipper’,” she barked.
“Like you’ve been any better! Dropping a kiss then scurrying off like you’d just tasted fresh shite! And I told ya I didn’t want the little custard tart! Told ya exactly what I wanted, and what did that get me? Another look at your backside as you ran off like the bloody Virgin Mary!” Spike roared back at her, darting in and landing a hard jab to her jaw.
Buffy retaliated before he could move away with a quick hook-jab combo, rocking his head back. “I’m supposed to fall to my knees and suck your dick because you say you want me? News flash! I’m not Faith or your ho of an ex!”
“Never thought you were! But clearly the thought o’ touching a monster like me brings bile to your throat!” he alleged, shaking the stars from his vision, and refocusing on her.
“That’s ridiculous!” she asserted, before working her jaw to ease the pain as they began prowling around each other again, bouncing on the balls of their feet, ready to strike.
“Ridiculous, is it? Then why don’t you explain it to me, Slayer? Explain why any time I get within a sodding foot o’ you, you turn tail and scarper! Do I offend your tender sensibilities? Afraid I’ll tarnish your lily-white reputation? Or do you fancy yourself too bloody good for me? Ole Spike, just something to be used when ya need him to fight the monsters, and scraped off the bottom o’ your shoe when you’re done!”
Buffy ground her teeth together, her indignation exploding in a rain of fire in her gut. She spun, aiming a high kick at Spike’s fanged mouth in answer to his accusations. He leaned away, out of reach, his back arching unnaturally, Matrix-style, and grabbed her ankle. He twisted brutally. Buffy had no choice but to go with the motion lest her hip or knee be wrenched out of it socket. She spun in the air, golden hair flying, and landed with a thud on the soft, damp grass when he released her. The Slayer scrambled up to her feet in a flash, fury driving her, intent on mayhem.
“Sod it! Done waiting for the bloody cat,” Spike growled to himself, stepping forward and gripping her upper arms. He yanked Buffy’s body against his and, fangs still flashing, his lips crashed into hers in a feral, blinding kiss.
Shocked, Buffy broke his hold, shoving him away, her eyes wide, her fingers going to her tingling mouth. “What the hell was that?”
Buffy looked at him blankly, her head shaking, trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about now. More of his indecipherable, so-called ‘Queen’s English’.
While she was standing there gaping like a fish that had just been dynamited out of the water, Spike closed the distance between them again. His lips closed over hers possessively, angrily, hungrily, his arms snaking around her, tugging her supple body tight against the hard planes of his.
Buffy was drowning. Drowning in fury. Drowning in lust. Drowning in jealousy. Drowning in Spike. She couldn’t stop herself from responding just as madly, returning the kiss with as much fervor, as much vehemence as she was receiving. She could feel his fangs pressing against her lips; it would take next to nothing for her tender flesh to be shredded. She didn’t care. If anything, it only heightened her fervor. Her mind blanked, then raced off in a hundred different directions. Her hands closed around his impossibly handsome face and held him fast, their lips and teeth and tongues battling for dominance as surely as they had with fists and feet.
And then she was shoving him away again, breathless, desperate for reason to return to her whirling mind.
Spike stumbled back several steps, his own breathing inexorably ragged, his knees rubbery, his blood boiling with the heat of her. “Tell me you don’t want me,” he challenged.
Buffy’s head was shaking again. She did want him, that wasn’t even a question, but she wanted MORE. More of him. ALL OF HIM. And that was what she couldn’t have. He wasn’t willing to give her what she needed, not just his body, but his heart.
“Fuck you,” she hissed and turned away. She had to get away from him, away from the danger of him. He’d break her. He’d drown her and she’d never resurface, never find all the pieces scattered at the bottom of the ocean, never be whole again.
It had been Spike who had helped her glue them all back together after Angel, jagged and awkward as they were. It had been his truces, his horrible music and unrelenting pigginess, his comforting purr rumbling against her in the dark, his postcards and friendship, his bravery and sacrifice, his insistence that she was glorious and smart and brave. It had been Trivial Pursuit and car karaoke and The Price is Right. It had been cheeseburgers and onion rings, and chocolatey snacks left in her bag on the road trip. It had been his thoughtfulness, his snark, his stubbornness, his sense of humor, his passion, his honesty, his kindnesses, large and small.
It had been the war and the roses.
It had been Spike.
She knew Spike. Knew him like she’d never known Angel. Cared about him more than... more than she dared say aloud. And he knew her. He’d seen her weak. Seen her vulnerable. He’d know just where to stick the dagger in to shatter her if she let him get too close.
Spike grabbed her arm and yanked Buffy back around to face him. “Don’t fuckin’ walk away from me, Slayer!”
“Why shouldn’t I?!” she demanded, her eyes flashing with wild fury as she whirled back to him.
“Cos we’re not done here, and I’m bloody well through with you turning tail, no matter how much I like the view of your arse!”
“You’re a pig!”
“And you’re either a liar or a coward!”
Buffy gaped, shocked. “How fucking dare you—”
“What else you call it, hmm? You say you care, but here you are, running off again! So, either you’re a liar, or a sodding coward, too afraid to stand here and have it out with me proper!”
“Why would you even want me to stay?” she demanded, her eyes blazing, her breath coming in angry gasps. “All you get around me is beat up, skewered, shot, nearly dusted several times over!”
“Still bloody standing, aren’t I?”
“Oh, so this last week has just been a walk in the park for you?”
Buffy scoffed. “You’re demented,” she accused turning away again.
“Maybe I am, but at least I’m man enough to admit it!” Spike declared as he darted past her, blocking her escape, making her pull up short to keep from plowing into him. “Don’t go prancing off when things get tough, do I? Not like you!”
Buffy’s anger and frustration exploded again. With a howl of fury, she launched herself at him, knocking him onto his back on the ground. She landed atop him, her emotions overflowing, erupting like a long dormant volcano. “I run away because you terrify me!” she screamed at him, pummeling his face with frantic blows. “You stupid, stubborn, shirty vampire!”
Spike captured her fists, one in each hand, and wrenched her arms behind her back as he glowered up at her through swelling, blackened eyes. “Yeah, you seem bloody terrified, what with assault and battery raining down here!”
Buffy glared at him, her chest heaving with exertion combined with pain and fury. Tears glimmered in her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. “You terrify me,” she repeated, barely a whisper.
“What the fuck are you on about?” he asked. “Got a truce, don’t we? Told ya I wouldn’t break it... Not to mention, you’re sodding winning, if you hadn’t noticed.”
“It’s not that kind of terror,” Buffy admitted, blinking, fighting to hold herself together, struggling to find some dignity, to find some way to get out of this with even a shred of her heart left intact.
Spike clenched his jaw in frustration. “What the hell are you terrified of then, Slayer?”
“Fuck complicated.” Spike glared at her, challenging, not relenting.
Buffy swallowed hard. Her heart thundered in her chest, threatening to break her ribs, the tears that had gathered in her eyes were on the verge of falling in a wave of misery. Her mind told her to run, to break his grip and just run away, don’t look back, never look back. It was the only safe thing to do—for everyone. Her heart began to crack under the strain, fighting to keep her in place, make her speak, make her say the words she was terrified to say. Her chin quivered and she looked away from his demanding, golden eyes—even the demon seemed like it could look right through her, read too much.
“I care about you,” she whispered, pushing it out through her clogged throat. “And that terrifies me. You were right... I am a coward. I’m afraid of... of what you could do. You... you could shatter me... rip me to shreds, leave me... broken. And I... all I do is hurt you... everyone around me gets hurt. I don’t want to hurt you.”
Spike snorted, licking blood from his cut lip. “Yeah, can tell how much ya worry about hurting me, Slayer. Nothing like a crossbow to the heart t’ say you care.”
Rage flashed in Buffy’s eyes as she met his again. She wrenched her arms free of Spike’s grip, delivering another star-inducing blow to his jaw. Spike growled and backhanded her across the face, knocking her off him. He followed her over and the two scrabbled for dominance, rolling over and over on the cool grass. Spike ended up atop her, his saffron eyes like furious fires burning into hers. “Tell me again how much you fucking care,” he growled, pinning her down with his hips, holding her hands up over her head in a brutal grip.
“If I didn’t care, would I have done everything I could to heal you?” Buffy shrieked at him, trying to pull her arms free. “Would I have tried to take your pain away? Would I have given you my fucking blood?” she screamed as she struggled frantically to get loose.
Spike went stone still. “You... what?” he croaked out blankly, his mind trying to process the words that made no sense.
“MY BLOOD! You stupid, fucking vampire! How do you think you were up and walking so fast!? LET ME GO!” she ordered, writhing beneath him, trying to dislodge him.
Spike blinked, but didn’t release her, fighting back against her efforts to get loose. His demon faded back, his golden eyes shifting to blue as he stared down at her, gobsmacked. “Gave me blood from the hospital... said yer mum got it,” he reminded her, his voice flat and dull, clouded with confusion, all the rage from only moments before drained away.
Oh, God, what had she done? She shouldn’t have said that! She didn’t mean to say it. She’d never meant to tell him that. Never meant to show him just how much she lo—how much she cared. Buffy froze, her eyes clamped closed, her jaw set in a rictus of frustration as she realized what she’d done.
Buffy shook her head. Dead leaves crunched and clung to her hair with the movement. New tears burned the back of her eyes. She gnawed on her bottom lip, then winced when she opened an already healing split.
The Slayer swallowed and blinked her shimmering eyes open to look up at him. His eyes were like obsidian chasms in the shadows of his is face, threatening to swallow her, to devour her stupid heart which he didn’t want. “Not just... blood from... the hospital,” she admitted in a halting voice, hating herself for being goaded so easily into such a momentous declaration. “My blood. Slayer blood.”
Buffy had lost the fight with her tears and now they were leaking from her eyes, leaving glittering streaks down her cheeks in the low light. She wasn’t fighting Spike, just letting him hold her prisoner beneath him. She looked away from those eyes of his, which always seemed to see right into her. She’d said too much, admitted too much, and now he was going to do exactly what she’d feared—a smirk was going to twist those full lips and he was going to gloat, he was going to throw everything back into her face and crush her with it.
Spike shifted his hold to her shoulders and shook her lightly. “What the fuck are you on about, Slayer?” he asked again.
Buffy shook her head. “It doesn’t matter,” she muttered. “Let me up.”
“No?” she echoed incredulously.
“No! Not until you tell me what the fuck you’re babbling about!” he insisted as he loomed over her, grabbing her chin and not letting her look away. Memories of dreams flashed through his mind. Slayer blood. Slayer blood in his mouth, hot and tangy—powerful and sweet. Buffy bleeding. His bite on her neck. Swimming in a river of it. Green eyes, dead and yet still accusing.
Buffy slipped the stake from beneath her and held it between them, point up at the vampire atop her. Hadn’t she just saved Spike from Faith doing this very thing only a few minutes ago? Was it only minutes ago? It seemed like a lifetime.
Spike didn’t lower his head or torso down toward her—didn’t challenge her to stake him—but otherwise he ignored it. “Please,” he begged, his voice cracking. “Buffy... please tell me what I did.”
Buffy blinked the tears from her eyes and looked up at him. Even in the dim light she could tell the smirk wasn’t there. The gloating twist of his features was absent. He looked... confused, anxious... maybe stunned? “When you were... you were knocked out, injured, shot. I...” She absently clamped one hand over the ragged scar on her forearm.
Spike’s eyes followed the movement. He pulled her empty hand away. “Said I didn’t bite you,” he reminded her solemnly. ‘God, please, say I didn’t bite you! Didn’t break my word.’
“You didn’t,” she confirmed soberly as his eyes locked on the scar—not a bite mark, but a cut. “I... the glass cut me, I just... I opened it more. I gave it to you—you didn’t bite me. It got harder and harder to get you to swallow it. You fought me, like you didn’t want it. But I knew you needed it. You were hurt because of me. I made you take it.”
Spike’s head tilted in that disarming way he had. He couldn’t believe the words coming from her lips, though he knew inside that they were true. He thought he could still feel the heat and power of her blood in his veins, wrapped around his dead heart. He could remember trying to spit the Slayer blood out, remembered the horror from his dreams. “You said... no. No means no. Said you’d never...”
Buffy choked back a sob, swallowing hard. “It was all my fault. I had to do something... had to help. I couldn’t bear to lose you, even though I knew...”
Spike stared down at her, waiting, his blue eyes full of too many emotions to name. Those emotions bubbled up from his chest where they danced and whirled in a crazy quadrille made up of hope, delight, passion, and love. She’d given him her blood. Given it freely because she couldn’t bear to lose him. Bloody hell. She cared. She fucking cared. More than he’d ever hoped or dreamed.
“Knew what?” he prompted gently when she didn’t go on, his heart swelling with a desperate yearning in his chest.
Buffy gnawed on her bottom lip, ignoring the pain from the cut. Her eyes darted to his then away again, looking up at the dark sky beyond his left ear. “I knew you didn’t want my heart. I knew you’d leave as soon as you could. Why would you stay around someone who brought you so much pain? I knew... I knew you’d crush me, but I had to... I had to help you. I couldn’t... stop my heart... couldn’t... can’t stop it from caring.”
Spike’s expression grew even more confused and the lively dance inside him faltered. “What the fuck are you on about now, Summers? Who said I was leaving? Who said I didn’t want your heart?”
Buffy’s eyes flashed, shooting over to meet his. “You did.”
“I bloody well did not.”
“You most certainly did!” she asserted angrily, pushing the confused vamp off her and scrabbling back to her feet. The stake was still clutched in her hand as she backed away, putting a few feet between them.
Spike got back to his feet as well, facing off with her again. “Did not!”
“You did!” she screamed at him. “We were talking about Angel and... and Dru and you said you had no use for a Slayer’s heart!”
Spike startled, his mouth dropping open, staring at her with horrified shock. After a moment his jaw moved, but no sound came out. He shook himself and tried again. “I said,” he began very slowly, enunciating each word carefully. “That I had no use for a Slayer’s heart in a box,” he reminded her. “Never said a sodding word about not wanting yer heart, you dozy bint. Meant I’d never want it caged, locked up, drained of life, and kept in the dark, far from the light, like sodding Angelus does.”
“You said the only use you had for Slayers was fighting us and killing us!” Buffy shot back.
“Yeah, well... migtht’a left off one or two things from that list. Least when it comes to one certain shirty Slayer,” Spike admitted. “But you said yer mum thinking you could be attracted to me was bloody ridiculous!”
“Pretty sure I never said the word ‘bloody’!” Buffy contended. “And it was clear you didn’t want me to be attracted to you anyway!”
“How in the name of all that’s evil do you figure that, Slayer?” Spike asked, his eyes blazing with contempt.
“You said ‘friend’! When you first got here, and then later, you said we could be friends. Lots of times—friends!”
“I said that cos that’s what I thought you wanted! You kept on about being mortal enemies and truce friends and then cobbled it all together into a new one for the OED: ‘frenemies’.”
“I only said that because you said you didn’t want my heart!” Buffy countered.
“I never bloody said that!”
“That’s what I heard you say!” Buffy insisted, her mind caught in a cyclone of confusion and slowly dawning comprehension, as her shimmering eyes met his.
“Clearly Slayers have piss-poor hearing!” Spike declared, his hands planted angrily on his hips. “It’s a sodding wonder you lot survive as long as you do.”
“B-but, that night... the nightmare night. Y-you left... I thought.... Why didn’t you stay with me?” she asked plaintively.
“Didn’t want to be staked by your bloody mum,” he replied, as if ‘duh’.
“Oh.” She shook her head, dazed and confused. “But I thought you... I thought you couldn’t stand to stay the night with me.”
Spike snorted. “That’s rich. Was you calling yourself an ‘idiot’ the next morning for letting me in. Takin’ the postcards down, cursing me on yer way out the door.”
“No! That wasn’t why! I was upset that you left. I thought... I thought I wasn’t good enough, I thought... when I woke up, it was like An—” She stopped talking, her throat closing up over the name, over the memory of waking up alone in Angel’s bed, and the feelings it had stirred when Spike had left her alone.
“Bloody hell...” Spike muttered, rolling his eyes to the sky.
“Are you saying... what are you saying?”
Spike looked back down at her. “Saying if ya hide the sharp, pointy, wooden objects from yer mum, I’d stay in your bed and hold ya for-sodding-ever, pet.”
“Oh.” Buffy’s brows furrowed, her mind on the verge of a meltdown as her heart soared. “But, all you get around me is mangled,” she pointed out.
Spike looked down at his body, healed but for the fresh wounds from the sparring and the dance with Buffy. He shrugged as he looked back up at her. “Flesh heals, luv. And none o’ that was your doing.”
“Being around me is dangerous.”
“Being anywhere is bloody dangerous. I’m a vampire—danger’s my middle sodding name.”
“I thought it was ‘the’,” she quipped flatly, her face a study in uncertainty.
Spike chuckled darkly. “I’ll have it changed legally, just for you, luv.”
“So... you... want to stick around. Like... around me?”
Another shrug from Spike. “Had crossed my mind.”
“But what about the places and other places in California that Sunnydale is between? You really don’t have somewhere else you’d rather be?”
“Told ya before, I’d say forever, if you’d let me.”
“When did you say that? I never heard you say that.”
“After Red’s little spell... you were talking about everyone leaving, some bollocks about you not being good enough... You don’t remember?”
Buffy shook her head, dazed.
“Then I’ll say it again. You listening this time?”
Buffy nodded, then shook her head, trying to clear her rampaging thoughts and emotions which were trampling everything she thought she knew into motes of very dusty dust.
“That a ‘yes’?”
“A definite maybe.”
Spike pursed his lips, figuring that was the best he’d get. “I said that anyone who doesn’t stay with you is a bloody prat ... gits, the lot of them. Cowards and fools. Not enough sense to see the wonder of you.” Spike took a single, prowling step closer to her. “I said I’d stay with you forever, if you’d let me,” he swore, his voice a low rumble in the night.
Buffy blinked. “B-but what about that night after you were healed... visiting your old ‘non-him’ friend?”
Spike smirked. “You’ll find out on Saturday.”
“What happens on Saturday?” Buffy’s confusion cleared a moment. “Oh, the chocolate thingy?”
“Mm-hmm... Promise you, Slayer, it’s nothing t’ be fussed about.”
Buffy’s lips twisted into an incredulous smile. “You aren’t planning to crash through the window of the Bronze with a gang of minions, upsetting my doilies, are you?”
Spike grinned, pleased that she had gotten his reference. “No. Had something much better in mind.”
“Better than carnage and violence?”
“It’s close, but... yeah, I think so... Hope you’ll think so too.”
“So... I’m...” Buffy tried to make sense of everything he’d said, but sense had rocketed into space and was currently in orbit around Pluto. “What are you saying?” she stuttered again, staring at him with astonishment as the stake slipped from her suddenly numb fingers and landed silently on the grass.
Spike sighed, his head dropping back so he was looking up at the sea of stars, which were clearly having a laugh at them.
Buffy waited for some answer, something to make sense of the senseless, her mind spinning. What the hell was Spike saying? That he did want her heart? But, that couldn’t be right... could it? He’d only ever... he’d said ‘friend’ and then his declaration of, ‘I want you’. Had he meant... had he meant that in more than a carnal way? Had he meant... could it be that he really wanted all of her?
Spike looked back at her, his blue eyes blazing in the dark as if with an inner fire. “What I’m saying, Buffy Summers, the Slayer, from Sunnydale,” he said in a thick, honeyed voice as he began closing the distance between them with predatory grace. “Is that I want your glorious body, and your infuriating mind, and your wounded heart,” Spike proclaimed, stalking forward. “I want your quips and puns and your sodding mangled English. I want your fists and your lips and your beguiling eyes. I want your fire and your ice, your laughter and your tears, your anger and your tenderness.” He stopped right in front of her and reached out, cradling her damp cheeks between his gentle, deadly hands, wiping away her tears with the pads of his thumbs. “I want all of you; I need all of you. You’re under my skin, in my veins... in the very marrow of my bones, Summers. Not leaving you... not gonna crush you, and I’ll bloody well never cage you,” he promised.
Buffy stared at him in silence, taking in his words, his voice, his expression, trying to make her dazed mind comprehend it all. “Y-you... want my heart?”
“A-and not in a gross, literal way?”
“Definitely not that way.”
“A-and my mind?”
“Want every beautiful, maddening, glorious, frustrating thing that makes you Buffy Summers, the Slayer, from Sunnydale.”
“And you don’t mind danger-land?”
“Better than Disney.”
“But the real question is, what do YOU want, Slayer? Tell me no, not a chance in hell, and I’ll accept it. Can be friends if that’s all you’ll ever want, or tell me to leave. But just bloody talk to me, woman. Tell me what’s going on in that beautifully twisted brain o’ yours. Tell me what you want.”
He was close enough to kiss. All Buffy had to do was wrap her arms around his neck and pull him to her. The butterflies were fluttering madly in her stomach and her heart was doing an Olympic, gold-medal-worthy gymnastics routine in her chest. Her mind may be whirling, but the rest of her was focused on one thing.
“I... I want to kiss you.”
“Got no arguments from me,” he murmured, closing the short distance between them.
Their lips met softly, gently, a feather’s touch. So different than the furious kisses of only minutes before, but no less passionate, no less thrilling. The touch of his palms cupping her face so tenderly with his fingers tangled in her hair had bolts of pure fire pulsing through her blood, burning her deliciously. The scent of him was intoxicating, cigarettes and whiskey and the tang of blood. The only thing missing was the leather, which had been replaced oddly by the flowery scent of fabric softener drifting up from his clothes. Buffy was lost, drowning yet again, but now the terror was gone, replaced with a hopeful yearning. He wanted all of her. He wanted all of her!!
Wait... back up. Blood? Where had he gotten blood? He’d been gone for hours. Buffy stiffened against him, slowly pulling back from the kiss, the stubborn Slayer demanding to be heard. She met his eyes, her breathing ragged, but her voice steady. “I’m still the Slayer, Spike... that won’t change,” she stated solemnly. Her hands closed over his, pulling them from her cheeks and holding them between them.
He gave her an ironic smile. “Sussed that out myself, pet.”
“A-and you’re a vampire.”
“Two for two.”
“We’re... umixy. The streams shouldn’t cross. Badness ensues. World-endage.”
Spike’s brows furrowed. “Where’d you get that bollocks?”
Buffy swallowed hard, her eyes darting away from his. “The...” She started to say ‘Council’, but changed it to, “empirical evidence. Been there, done that, got the scars to prove it.”
“I’m not sodding Angel,” Spike reminded her sharply.
Her gaze snapped back to his. “I know that!”
“World-ending bollocks happens ‘round here every other Tuesday, whether the sodding streams cross or not.”
Buffy scowled, unable to argue with that.
“Wouldn’t another strong fighter at your back keep the tide back all that much better?”
Her scowl deepened. “Maybe, but...”
“I’ve got it on good authority that we wouldn’t be the first vampire and Slayer t’... team up... and more.”
Buffy blinked. “We wouldn’t? What authority?”
“Got sources, don’t I? Looked into it.”
“You did? What sources?”
“Reliable sources,” he assured her.
“How many others? Who? When?”
Spike shrugged. “Dunno for sure. At least one, but... it’s not just us, is it? And the world clearly hasn’t ended.” He tilted his chin, motioning to the yard around them, to demonstrate the lack of world-endage.
“Oh.” She was saying that a lot tonight. She didn’t know what else to say. Her brain was muddled, trying to take everything in.
“Waiting for more details. When I get ‘em, I’ll share.”
Buffy nodded absently, her eyes drifting out of focus. She wasn’t the first ‘bad’ Slayer? There had been others? Working with vampires. Attracted to vampires? Sleeping with a vampire? That had to be what Spike meant by ‘and more’, she was sure. Why didn’t Giles tell her? Why didn’t she know that?
Buffy took a deep breath then licked her lips nervously, refocusing her gaze on Spike’s earnest blue eyes, still holding his hands tightly in hers. She still needed more from him. A lot more. She could tell if he was lying if she watched his eyes... right? “Okay, yeah, I’d like to see what... who... how that worked for them. But, if you stay...”
“No ‘if’ about it, luv. If you’ll have me.”
“If you stay,” Buffy repeated more strongly. “If you want us to be... together.”
“Just said that I did,” he interjected.
“You’ll have to keep the truce,” she continued, as if he hadn’t spoken. “Even if... even if I’m not right there with you or... I don’t know, even if you go out of town or if I don’t know where you are. Even if you’re mad at me for something. If you’re with me—in a... a dating sense—then you can’t... you can’t be hunting, no matter where you are. It won’t work otherwise.”
“In a ‘dating sense’?” he asked, tilting his head, studying her. “Are you asking me t’ go steady, Slayer?” Spike’s voice was teasing, but his heart was dangling by a thread over a razor. If she cut the tether, it’d be sliced to ribbons.
“Um, kind of.” Buffy shrunk in on herself, dropping her eyes to the ground. “That sounds stupid, doesn’t it? I guess it seems uber-childish to you. I must sound ridiculous...”
“Not ridiculous, not childish, luv. It sounds perfect. Never went steady with a girl before.”
Buffy looked up at him disbelievingly. “You were with Dru for how long?”
Spike shrugged. “Was different. Didn’t exactly date, did we? Did about everything else under the moon, but wouldn’t call it ‘dating’.”
“So, you’ll keep the truce? I mean, like... indefinitely? Can you do that?” Buffy asked hopefully. “It wouldn’t be asking too much? You said... with Dru, that she asked too much. But I have to... I have to have this.”
“Buffy, ya just pointed out that I stayed with Drusilla for-sodding-ever. Did everything in my power to make her... make her love me, most of it was a lot worse than drinking cow’s blood from a novelty mug. You gave me your blood, Buffy. Fuck’s sake, woman. Don’t think I don’t know what that means. Blood is life, blood is... it’s everything. Already shown me more affection, more kindness, than Dru ever did. It’s not asking too much. Not gonna turn on you, pet. Not gonna break my word.”
Buffy’s tears had begun again, she didn’t seem to be able to stop them. “What if... what if I’m not good enough. What if I can’t... I can’t be what you need? What if I let you in and... and I’m just not worth it? Not worth what you’re giving up?”
Spike’s head shook, his gaze softening. “You’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever known, Summers. Your strength, your heart, your wit, your bloody infuriating logic... the way you twist the language into knots with your sodding malapropisms. How you give everything to the world, how you care, how you try—it’s like a drug and I’m sodding addicted. Bloody hell, woman—you never stop trying, no matter how many times ya get knocked down, you just keep getting up. It’s not you that won’t be good enough, pet, it’s me. Know I’m a monster. Know I don’t deserve even a sliver of your heart, but you make me want to be better, to be... to be a man. To be someone you can count on and be proud of. To be someone worthy of you. If you give me a chance, I’ll not squander it... just a crumb is all I need, pet. I promise I’ll not let you down.”
Buffy shook her head in a mirror of Spike’s motion. She released his hands as she leaned in and rested her damp cheek on his chest. His arms slid around her, holding her in a gentle hug. Hers wrapped around his lean hips, relishing the feel of his body against hers, as his words flowed around inside her like a comforting blanket. “We’re pathetic,” she muttered against the soft fabric of his tee, her breath warming the place just above his undead heart.
“Speak for yourself,” he sniffed. “I nearly offed my third Slayer tonight. If not for this bloody truce, would’a had that chit’s notch on my belt.”
Buffy rolled her eyes and pulled back to look up at him. “She was going to dust you, you dummy. She had the stake in her hand, about to shove into your heart.”
“Knew she had it. Wasn’t anywhere near my heart. Best she could’a done was skewer a bit of a hole in my lung.”
“You are so full of shit. I saved you.”
“Broke my bloody ribs is what you did,” he argued, smirking down at her.
“Oh, poor thing,” she said in mock sympathy. “Do you want me to kiss it and make it better?” she offered, the corner of her mouth quirking up in a barely suppressed smile.
Spike swept his tongue across his lips. “Reckon that might help,” he agreed. “Though now that I think on it, ya split my lip as well.”
“Did I?” Buffy asked softly, lifting one hand to his battered cheek. “Close your eyes, let me see,” she requested, guiding his face down toward hers.
Buffy’s warm lips touched down on the corner of one closed eye and a shiver ran through Spike. Then she brushed a tender kiss over his eyelid as her fingers danced gingerly over his scarred brow and down the other side of his face. Her lips followed suit with feathery kisses dropped against his bruised flesh, making the pain of each bump and cut vanish beneath her touch. His body thrummed in anticipation as she worked her way slowly down toward his mouth, the heat of her rolling over him in waves of fiery passion. His cock stiffened even more than it had during their dance, each graze of her soft, damp lips against his skin sending more blood surging south of the border.
“Miss Summers! What... are you quite all right?” Lydia interrupted from the garage door.
Spike’s eyes flashed open, golden sparks glittering in the field of blue as he glared at the woman. “Sod off!” he barked at her.
Buffy turned and shot her a withering look. “I’m fine. Go inside and shut the door.”
“But... I dare say,” Lydia objected. “Miss Lehane—”
“Is fine,” Buffy growled. “Get some ice from the minifridge and put it on her neck. Her headache will go away in an hour or so. God, you’d think she’d never been beat up and strangled before. Now go away,” she ordered.
As the woman, still spluttering a bit, backed up and pulled the door closed with a soft click, Buffy turned back to Spike. “Now, where were we?” she asked coyly.
Spike grabbed her hand and pulled her with him as he moved into the deep shadows beneath the large oak and out of view of the training room door. “I think we were just about here, luv,” he murmured, turning and pulling her into his embrace.
He gave her a beat to pull away, but Buffy only leaned in tighter, wrapping her arms around his neck and tilting her mouth up to his. “It’s all coming back to me now,” she agreed as their lips met, tentatively at first, nipping and teasing, but with growing fervor with each passing moment.
He moaned into her mouth and Buffy thought she’d melt. Her breasts pressed against his hard body, her heart thudding in her chest, drumming its frenzied beat into him as if his heart beat along with hers. His lips were cool against her overheated flesh, his tongue, when it nudged her lips apart, was almost shy, but when she responded instantly to his silent request, he became bolder, sweeping into her, tangling with her tongue in a passionate dance.
Buffy could feel his erection pressing into her stomach. The shiver it produced shook her world and weakened her knees. Her body tingled with little electrical shocks that skittered over her skin and burned her in the most delicious way. It had never been like this before—not with any of the boys she’d dated in the past, not even with Angel. Spike was, in a word, overwhelming. And she was ready and more than willing to be completely drowned in the overwhelming-ness of him.
For Spike, kissing Buffy was like kissing a sunbeam—a whirling dervish of heat, wrapped in silk and satin and painted with ferocity. She responded to his every nibble and suck, giving as good as she got, her tongue lashing against his in a seductive dance that had him moaning into her mouth. He couldn’t help but pull her tighter, press his hardness, his need, against her. If she didn’t know what she did to him before, there could be no doubt now. And to his unending delight, she didn’t pull away, only pressed closer, if that was possible. Her hardened nipples teased him, and he longed to feel them against his bare skin, longed to suck them between his lips and watch her squirm and melt beneath him.
But all that was nothing compared to her heart. Not her physical heart, which slammed into his chest as if daring his own to beat, but her spiritual heart. For all the pain it had endured, it was generous and strong. The broken bits had been mended, glued back together with resolve and determination, and he could feel the pull of it, drawing him in deeper and deeper. He vowed to himself to never break it, never open those cracks that had been filled with spackle and spirit, but to protect it with his unlife. It was the least he could do for the privilege of being invited inside, into the circle of her arms, into her fierce, tender heart.
Buffy broke the kiss only when she thought she’d pass out from lack of oxygen. Spike kept his grip on her waist, holding their bodies pressed together, and rested his forehead on hers as she gasped for breath.
His own breaths, unneeded as they were, came in gulping pants, his entire body thrumming with arousal. “Bloody hell, woman. You’re a wonder... a sodding revelation,” he murmured to her when they’d both gotten their breathing under control. “Anyone who had you and didn’t stay had t’ be barmier than Dru at her worst.”
Buffy felt her face flush and her heart swell. “Yeah?” she asked tentatively, her teeth denting her lower lip, the cut there completely forgotten.
“Yeah, pet,” he assured her, his blue eyes dark beneath the canopy of the tree, but somehow still just as bottomless and sincere. He released one hand to brush strands of golden hair back from her damp forehead, his eyes drifting over her face as if drinking her in, memorizing every feature.
“I... I guess this means I should call Denny and cancel our date, huh?”
Spike growled, the rumble enough to shake the leaves above their heads. “Think that’d be wise, luv.”
Buffy giggled, and pulled his mouth back to hers. “Later... I have something else I want to do first,” she whispered against his lips before capturing them in another knee-wobbling kiss, which turned into to a literal knee-wobbler when a giant furry shape broke free of the shadows and barreled into the blondes.
Buffy and Spike tumbled down onto the soft grass and were immediately covered in sloppy kisses and swishing fur.
“Bloody hell, Cujo!” Spike exclaimed, raising his hands in a futile defense against the massive dog. “Thought we were mates!”
“Argh! Spike kisses! Kisses of Spike!” Buffy joined in, laughing and trying to cover her face as the dog trod over their sprawling bodies with his huge feet, spreading more slobbery kisses with each pass of his tongue. “Get me some Listerine! Get me some bleach!”
Things deteriorated from there as the blondes wrestled jovially with the great, furry beast. Laughter filled the back yard along with squeals from Buffy when the dog’s tongue hit its mark. The cacophony of joviality was accompanied by playful growls from the vampire as he worked to defend Buffy, and himself, from the barrage of doggie love.
“Oi! Get yer own girl!” Spike insisted, endeavoring to push the dog away when he tried to squirm his way between the two blondes. “This one’s mine!”
‘Spike’s girl!’ Buffy’s heart swelled with warm, fuzzy delight as she turned onto her side and buried her face in her vampire’s chest to escape the slobbery kisses of her dog.
“Bloody hell,” Spike grumbled as the pup gave up trying to get between them and flopped down atop the couple on the ground, panting happily, eyes glittering, clearly pleased with himself.
Buffy could only laugh against Spike, her whole body shaking with mirth, which made Spike’s heart nearly burst with delight and wonder, and, yes, love. Though he hadn’t said the words to her, they were there, the feeling growing in leaps and bounds inside him.
He’d finally figured out what he wanted ‘his turn’ to be.
This right here. Right now. A laughing Slayer in his arms, her warm body pressed against him, and even her bleedin’ dog mucking up the works.
“Hate you,” Buffy whispered against his chest, her tone conveying anything but hate.
“Hate you more,” he murmured into her disheveled hair, breathing in the utter joy of her.
“Hated you longer,” she replied, smiling against him.
“Not sodding likely,” he argued. “Hated you since...”
Buffy looked up at him when he stopped. Even the dog turned his soft brown eyes on the vampire, waiting. “Since...?”
Spike shrugged a shoulder, still holding her tight to him. “A good while...”
“Since Mexico and the postcards?”
“Since the road trip?”
Spike couldn’t meet her eyes, he was looking off into the distance, perhaps into the past.
“Since... the first truce?”
Spike looked down then, locking gazes with her. “Think I hated you ‘fore I ever met you, Slayer.”
Buffy smiled softly and gave a little nod. “Okay, you win,” she acquiesced.
“Too right, I do,” Spike sniffed, tightening his hold on her, pressing her hot body that much closer.
The dog, still lying across them, chuffed happily and leaned in to show his approval with another slobbery kiss.
Buffy laughed and tucked her face against Spike’s hard chest again, escaping the worst of it.
“My Slayer,” Spike murmured into her golden hair as his heart swelled beyond anything he’d ever felt before.
“My vampire,” Buffy replied in a reverent sigh against his chest, feeling, for the first time in forever, that everything was right with the world.
The End. For now.
* X-X *
To whet your appetite, here are a few things to look forward to in the next story:
Buffy and Spike talk. And keep talking. And even more talking. It’s a talk-athon! (you guys wanted them to talk, careful what you wish for!)
Rule #1, 2, 3 ... maybe more.
I hate you.
National Hot Chocolate Day!
Dancing at the Bronze.
Ginger vampires get their due.
Xander becomes a slayer.
Willow does a spell that DOESN’T go wrong.
Oz says, “Cool.”
Joyce does the Vulcan hand salute/greeting.
Lydia adjusts her glasses.
Faith rolls her eyes.
Anya thanks the gods of pestilence.
Cheezeburgers! (again! Yum!)
Dru visits Buffy’s dreams.
The ‘Joy of Sex’.
Buffy hides in the bathroom.
The world is ending. It must be Tuesday.
* X-X *
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