Author's Notes: For one, I want to thank you all for the wonderful feedback. I really wouldn't have gotten this far without all of you. You are my crack. I just write to get it. And, cos', ya know, I like to. But anyways, I love you all, and thanks so much for your support with this.
Secondly, I know I haven't been updating as much as I used to. The summer slump is on me. But, I do have valid reasons. I've been in and out of the doctor, having MRI's for my freakin' knee problem. But it's all good, I survived the evil microwave death.
And thirdly, another reason for slow updates being the fact that I cannot get the idea for a new story out of my mind. My own post Grave fic. I know, everyone is doing it. Mine won't be anything special. But I can't not do it. So, while I have many other projects looming on the horizon, Rashaka's new challenge, the sequel to When Darkness Falls, I am going to pound out at least a few chapters of 'To Suffocate in Sand and Blood' before I start on any others. Sorry if that's mean of me. I really am. Forgive me?
On to the story...
I'm dreaming, I'm dreaming, I'm dreaming.....
The monster laughed. He hit the ground hard, bleeding.
'You're nothing to me, William. You're beneath me.'
A powerful blow landed, cracking his jawbone. Followed by another. And another. The demon fell away, and he was gasping, the world blurring around him, though her voice was clear.
'You don't ... have a soul! There is nothing good or clean in you. You are dead inside! You can't feel anything real! I could never ... be your girl!'
Sleeping had been hard that night. She tried as best she could to calm him when he shivered, stroking his arm, rubbing his back. He would still, for an hour at best, before moving again.
It was hard to see him like that. He was usually so in control, such a force to be reckoned with. But now, he needed care. And comfort. And she didn't know if she could give it. She watched him, propped up on her elbow, listening as the birds sang out the coming dawn. She couldn't figure him out, her vampire, playing at being human. Moments ago, she discovered that she had forgiven him. Out of the blue, watching him, she knew suddenly that she had. For everything he had done to her and her friends. Maybe it was the fact that he had protected Dawn while she was dead. Had kept his promise. Maybe it was because he had kept them safe by not breaking under Glory's torture of him. Or because he had withstood her own torture of him, taken the beating in the alley without a word of protest, and forgiven her afterwards. Maybe because he really loved her. But most likely, it was because he was so weak now. So little. And the time was right.
Her discovery had taken her by surprise, and her first instinct was to wake him and tell him. But he looked so tired, she had resisted. Now, he was twitching again, making little sounds in the back of his throat. It pained her, but she still didn't want to wake him. He deserved his rest. He deserved her hand on him, in comfort, not in violence. She didn't know what it meant, this change of attitude that had brewed since he had gone missing; since she had seen him, writhing on Warren's basement floor in agony. She had feelings for him, deep, scary, fight-or-flight inducing feelings. But she didn't know what it was. And if it wasn't love, she couldn't play him anymore. He didn't deserve that.
He moaned suddenly, and curled his knees to his chest. She frowned, and bit her lip. Wake him. No need for him to suffer any longer.
"Spike...." she shook his shoulder lightly. "It's only a dream. Wake up."
He curled tighter into himself, silent again but shivering.
"Spike!" She raised her voice, pulling on his shoulder to roll him over. She sat up, hovering over him, and shook him again, harder.
He tensed, muscles exploded into motion, and suddenly he was fighting her, hands pushing out blindly, clawing at her arms, legs kicking.
"Spike!" She was shouting now, and he was growling, teeth gnashing, snapping at thin air. She got enough leverage and pushed him into the mattress, straddling him, holding him down. He thrashed and howled, fighting.
"Spike!" She called his name once more, and slapped him, hard enough to sting, but held back on her full strength.
His eyes snapped open, dilating, still clouded with the dream. He bucked once more and she fell to the side, bouncing on the bedcovers.
He stared, wild-eyed, before rolling off the bed with an audible thump, and scrambling to his feet, taking slow steps until his back hit the wall. He stood there, eyes closed, catching his breath.
She pushed herself off the bed, and approached him, slowly, as one would a wild animal.
"You okay?" she asked softly, reaching out to grab his hand.
He looked up at her, chest still heaving, blinking. His arms shot out and grabbed hers, pulling her flush against him. His vice-like grip held her, and she held him back, making nonsensical soothing sounds. He was still trembling.
In a flurry of motion, her back was against the wall, and he was kissing her. Just like that. His mouth plundering hers as if she were his lifeline, as if her breath in his mouth was all that kept him alive. She returned the kiss with all the passion she could muster, her tongue tangling with his, meeting him blow for blow.
Eventually he slowed down, releasing her, and pressing his palms to the wall behind her. He pushed his forehead against hers and barked a laugh.
"What?" she asked, still a tad breathless. Melting already, and he had barely touched her. God, the man had a talented mouth.
"Nuthin'." A long pause. "Jus' realized I'm naked."
She looked down, and indeed he was, still naked. She chuckled too.
"Is there anything you...need?" She asked, her voice coming out ten times more husky than she intended.
He pushed away from her, with considerable effort. She furrowed her brow, confused.
"I said I wasn't goin' ta be your whore." He took a deep shaky breath. "An' you're not gonna be mine."
She smiled at that, even though his back was turned. She could wait. Whatever he needed.
"Why don't you get some more rest. I'm gonna go heat up your breakfast and wait for Xander." He gave her a slightly questioning look as he climbed back under the sheets. "He's bringing you some clothes by."
His eyes widened a little.
"Not his, I hope."
She laughed, shaking her head.
"No, he's running by your crypt. He didn't wanna go last night. Too dangerous."
He relaxed and nodded, laying his head down. He didn't close his eyes again until she had left the room.
She went downstairs, going about the ritual of busying herself. Dawn trudged down moments later, looking fully awake but cautious. After a quick glance around the room, she entered fully, falling bonelessly into a chair at the table.
"How is he?" she asked, toying with a place mat.
Buffy shrugged, popping a mug in the microwave. "He's not good, Dawn, but he's doing better. I think." She frowned. "I don't know. He's having nightmares."
"So that's what all the noise was about?"
"Yeah, he was a little confused this morning. Kinda freaked out."
There was a moment of silence, broken only by the beeping of the microwave. That part done, letting the blood cool to body temperature, she got Dawn's breakfast ready.
"He's not going to get better, is he?" Dawn asked, her voice small.
"Yes, he is, he just needs our help." Buffy forced a smile. "He's going to be fine."
"You don't have to lie to me, you know."
Buffy sighed, and plopped down in the chair opposite her sister.
"He is going to be fine. I am going to make sure of that. Alright?"
Dawn searched her face, trying to see if she was lying again. Whatever she saw must have satisfied her, because she gave her own small smile and nodded.
A short knock, followed by the door opening and slamming shut signaled Xander's entrance. He dumped a pile of clothing on the easy chair and called out for Buffy.
"Yeah?" She held her bathrobe a little tighter, rising from the table to join him.
"Turn on the TV." She furrowed her brow and did as she was told.
"....happened sometime late last night, apparently the work of explosives. One inmate was killed last night, while five others remain in critical care. While police and paramedics are still searching the rubble, four inmates have yet to be accounted for. If you're just joining us, Sunnydale Police Department was attacked late last night, as part of a botched prison break. No word yet on the names of the missing prisoners."
Buffy looked over at Xander, wide-eyed.
"I stopped by on my way over, pretending to be a relative. Warren escaped Buffy. Warren and Andrew."
Continued in Chapter 15