By OneTwoMany (Sabre)
SUMMARY: The intensity of his love terrifies her. She thinks she doesn't want that kind of responsibility. Knows she doesn't deserve it. Wonders if she has anything to offer in return.
Otherwise known as, "My Contribution to Bub and Ceit's Bitey Fanfic Challenge".
DEDICATION: To everyone on Fanforum. You guys rock! And especially to BubonicPlague1348, for the confidence-boosting support, and BuffyX and PlanetJess for the kick-ass betaing.
SPOILERS: Through Showtime
RATING: NC-17, this part R
ARCHIVING: Want. Take. Have. But I'd love it if you dropped me a line so I can go check you out.
FEEDBACK: Yes please. Email me: Onetwomany@bigpond.com, or feel free to PM me on FF, where I post as 'Sabre'.
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, and I'm not worth suing.
The solution to the Spike-problem presents itself the next morning, when Buffy retrieves an old sick-bay cot from the high school basement. She'd vaguely recalled seeing it on one of her previous trips into the bowels of the school, had even thought about setting it up for Spike then. But her priorities had been elsewhere and her emotions still jumbled from the soul revelation and the aftershocks of the bathroom and the church and she'd left him to lie amidst the dirt and rats.
She's ashamed of how she acted then, when he was so fragile and in need of her help. She's listened to the counsel of her friends, agreed with them that it was only to be expected. He had hurt her badly and wasn't she supposed to stay away from men who did that? But the words exchanged with vamp-boy Holden in the graveyard echo in her head. Spike had loved her, really loved her. They had hurt each other, but it was he who had done the extraordinary to make amends, while she ducked and weaved and ran.
How different would things be, had she been there for him, had she stayed and helped him be quiet? Would the First have gotten its claws in so deep? Would all those people buried in that house still be alive? Would Spike still be so broken?
Buffy puts the cot in her car, then pays her usual visit to Xander on the construction site. Notices, with some pride, that she still attracts glances and soft whistles from the men. Notices, too, that Xander gets a couple of pats on the back, overhears the teasing words:
"Harris, it's ya missus' checking up again."
"...under the thumb..."
"How'd a kid like you get a chick like that?"
She suspects that Xander doesn't correct such assumptions about their relationship, but doesn't mind too much. She understands the need to hide beneath a pretense of normalcy, if not success. She smiles broadly as he makes his way down the scaffolding and toward her, even plays up a little for their audience.
Once she explains her plan to Xander he wastes no time in heading home at lunch. Sets to work boarding up the basement with scrap found on-site.
"Not exactly Helm's Deep, but it'll do," he says as he puts the final touches on the reinforced timber that stretches across where the basement window had been.
Safe as houses, Buffy thinks, standing amongst the ruins of her own. She knows nowhere is really safe, not when their enemy is intangible and omnipotent and controls the gateway to hell.
Xander is obviously proud of his work, even if not entirely satisfied with its purpose. He's still not pleased with the idea of Spike in the house at all, but she supposes the basement is a step up from her bed on the Xander-kosher-meter.
"Well, I'm finished here. Want me to come around later? Help take the Undead English Invalid downstairs?" he asks.
Buffy shakes her head, declines his offer. Spike is clinging to what little dignity he has left, and involving Xander in the moving process seems wrong, perhaps even cruel. Besides, she has no need for buffering or human security blankets, not anymore. She wants to do this alone, to heal and trust together.
"Nah. We're good," she says.
She really, truly hopes that they are.
Giles watches as Xander's car disappears down the street, ferrying the boy back to his blueprints, raw timber and tools of trade. The young man is spending more time at his job every day and even the tasks he completes for Buffy have an increasing tendency toward the mundane. Giles knows with a certainty born of experience and age that Xander will be the first to leave Buffy's world, to build a wall between his reality and hers that will eventually be insurmountable.
Buffy lingers in the kitchen, nibbling slowly on a thin sandwich as she gazes into nothingness. It pains him to see it, but that blank, thousand-mile stare has become as typical of his Slayer as her quips and high-spirited antics use to be. As infuriating as she was, Giles misses that bouncing, happy girl in her colorful clothing and impractical shoes, but he doesn't have the faintest idea how to coax her back. But then, he also knows that she can never again be that same girl-the harsh realities of the world have taken their toll on her, and some things can never be recovered.
The former Watcher makes his way into the kitchen, leans back onto the counter with a sigh. Is shocked to see her jump noticeably at the sound of his voice. She must have been far away indeed.
"I assume you spoke with Spike?" he asks evenly.
Buffy finishes chewing before she answers. Chooses her words with unusual care. "We talked. He's moving into the basement again."
Giles nods. The situation is still far from ideal, but better the basement than an upstairs bedroom. The Watcher in him had accepted, reluctantly, that Spike had changed, that he deserved help and forgiveness. But no amount of rational acceptance of the uniqueness of Spike's soul could calm Giles' revulsion at the thought of the vampire lying in Buffy's bed, his dead, corrupted flesh touching her sheets. The vampire may have done an admirable thing, but his relationship with Buffy, and the trust she placed in him, remained of continuing concern.
"Giles, I need to know what's wrong with him."
Giles sighs deeply, runs his hand over his face. What indeed? Despite his best efforts, he doesn't quite know. To his mind, there are better things to research than cures for injured vampires, but he nonetheless looked into things as best he could and now offers up what little he can.
"It would seem that the Bringers' knives are in some way enchanted. A single wound from such a blade has proved deadly to many a potential Slayer, where an attack from a regular weapon would not. I assume that the knives have a similar effect on Spike."
Buffy takes this in quietly, face inscrutable. "Which means what, exactly?"
"It means that in all likelihood, he will heal. But the process will be slow, much as it would for a human."
"How long?" She has placed the sandwich back on her plate and is again watching him with that frustratingly unreadable expression.
"It's impossible to say. Weeks, maybe. Months. He is living on a diet of pigs' blood, Buffy. Healing may be slow." Giles pauses at that, considers his next words carefully. Buffy's faith is Spike is curled and any broaching risks an explosion. "I also can not discount the possibility that the problem is psychological."
A flicker of something crosses his Slayer's face, but it is gone so fast that he wonders if it was just his imagination. Instead, her determined hazel eyes catch his.
"I can," she says firmly. "Giles, if Spike could be up and helping me, he would be. I know it."
Giles sighs. Another reminder that Buffy's faith in Spike is only to be expected these days. He pinches the bridge of his nose, debates the wisdom of tackling this head-on. He doesn't want to start a scene like the one the night before, but cautionary words are in order, even if she does not want to hear them.
"Buffy, what Spike did for you, in getting a soul, it is a remarkable thing. Unprecedented. I am rather stunned myself, and I imagine it is overwhelming for you. But, soul or not, Spike is still a vampire."
He pauses, meets her eyes and tries to reveal the love that he doesn't have the words to express.
"Buffy, I want better for you than that."
She looks back to her half-finished sandwich, dark lashes falling against her cheeks as her eyes close briefly.
"It's not like you think."
He wants to believe her. Watches her carefully, but has no way of knowing whether he can. It has never been easy for him to comprehend her emotions, but the reasons for his confusion are so different now that what they were. The teenager he'd taken into his care had been open, eager, impulsive and petulant, never reticent in expressing her emotions. He knew what she was feeling, thinking, even as he struggled to understand how and why she could act like that. But this woman before him is a different creature altogether, and he can not even guess at the depth of sentiment that lies behind her closed façade.
"Are you quite sure?" he asks.
She takes her time in answering, and he imagines he can hear the cogs working in her brain. Wonders if she is searching for the truth, or perhaps only for a version of truth she thinks will satisfy him. When she finally answers, her voice is controlled but firm. "I do care for Spike, Giles. I don't want him to hurt anymore. I...that's...that's all I can tell you now."
Giles nods and sighs deeply. "You've done what you can, Buffy. The rest is up to Spike."
Buffy takes another bite of her sandwich, and doesn't answer for a long, long time. When she does, her words chill him to the bone.
"We'll see, Giles. We'll see."
She collects him shortly after sundown, when she no longer has to worry about stray sunbeams peeking through fractured walls and the remains of windows. He's awake and waiting for her as she enters the master bedroom, already sitting up on the edge of the bed. He fixes his intense gaze on her and raises an eyebrow. The gesture elicits a shiver down her spine, memories of old Spike with bedroom eyes and seductive words and quicksilver movements that electrified every nerve in her body. How difficult this must be for him, a creature of boundless energy and vigor, to be confined like this, lying listless and pained in the care of the people whose calling it is to destroy him.
"Basement's boarded up again, so we're moving you back downstairs," she explains.
He accepts this with a nod. That was surprisingly easy. Likely he realizes that's it's a compromise all round, one that takes him out of Scooby wrath, but keeps him under her care.
"Ready?" she asks as she moves beneath him, arm settling around his waist. He nods, and they stand up slowly. She hears cracking as stiff joints move into place. His arm slung across her shoulders is heavy, but she likes the weight. Spike never hesitates to lean on her; he trusts her strength in ways that Riley and Angel never had.
Spike is still wearing the black t-shirt he'd struggled into the day before. The material is corse and rough beneath her fingers. Worn, much like its wearer. She feels a slight disappointment at the lack of skin contact. Another barrier between them, undermining the intimacy of what should be a familiar posture. Everything feels more clinical and detached than it did the night of the rescue. They have rebuilt their walls and the space between them, and the air is heavy with uncertainty.
"This'll be a barrel of laughs," Spike mutters, legs wobbling in almost comical fashion.
Buffy glances at him, tries to smile. "Hey, your idea to move, not mine. You want to stay here, that's fine..."
He cuts her off with a shake of his head. "Let's get this over with, then."
Spike makes a brave and silent descent, but Buffy can sense his pain. He has neither pulse nor heartbeat by which she can judge his exertion, but he takes deep breaths despite the broken ribs, a subconscious revelation of the effort of walking down two flights of stairs.
They both breathe a sigh of relief as she helps him onto the cot.
"Well, that was a picnic," he says, wincing and grimacing as he lowers himself onto the cot. Its metal frame squeaks beneath his slow, painful movements. "At this rate, I'm sure to be helpin' with the girls sometime 'fore they're in nappies a second time."
It was, she supposes, an attempted at humor, but it falls flat in the ominous darkness of the basement. The injuries should be healed by now, and both of them know it. She wonders how scared he really is, beneath that strange combination of bravado and depressed resignation.
She hands him a cup of blood that is resting on the ironing board. "Drink this. You need it."
He tilts his head, smirks a little. "That I do."
Their fingers touch lightly as he takes the mug and Buffy feels a rush of prickly ants run up her arms and into her stomach. Not desire, she tells herself firmly, stamping hard on the lingering caterpillars in her belly.
She withdraws her hand quickly, obviously so, but if Spike notices her haste he hides it well. He downs the blood in a single swallow, face remaining neutral. Holds the mug out to her again with a slightly shaky hand.
She's amazed how Spike accepts everything so willingly these days. He used to complain so much; "Fills you up, but it's right disgusting," "Worse 'n charred and weeviled porridge and not half as nutritious," "I'd rather be buggered by a centaur than down the stuff in public." But now it's another thing he accepts almost gracefully, thanking her for its meager benefits with his crackly voice and haunted, liquid eyes.
She takes the empty mug cautiously. "I'm sorry it doesn't seem to be helping more."
"Pigs' blood may be good for the soul, luv, but it's not doing much for the body," he replies as he lays back painfully, eyes blinking closed.
No, it isn't. Even Giles has admitted as much. His current diet is not doing a thing, and she needs to change it.
She places the mug back on the bench, and turns to face him again. Watching him lie beneath the thin blanket on the narrow cot, she realizes she'd forgotten how small he is. When was the last time she even noticed? Soulless, Spike's physical size had been irrelevant. Clothed in that billowing coat, possessed of the strutting swagger, his presence had drawn the eye as he seemingly filled the room, his small frame hidden beneath an aura of bravado and fearsome accomplishment. Even naked and exposed in the rubble of that decrepit house, he'd still seemed so much larger than life.
Larger than death even.
Strange, that he's so much more complete now than he was then, and yet he appears so very diminished.
Small. Tired. Kinda broken.
Buffy's eyes pan up the bed-ridden vampire's body, drawn again to his face. The contrast of light from the single bulb and the deep shadows emphasizes the sharp definition of his nose and his hollow cheeks. Where the brightness hits his skin, she can make out a lattice of fine lines, deepening around his eyes and across his forehead. The youthful smoothness of his once-timeless beauty is gone. Like Angel before him, he is aging, withering beneath the weight of guilt and the strain of near starvation.
How old was he when he was turned? She'd never asked him that. Never asked him much at all, really. Hadn't been particularly interested in his life or history. Sure, she'd listened to what he had told her that night in the Bronze, but in a typical display of self-absorption, she'd filtered out the parts that had not been related to her. He'd spilled his life-story to her - or a version of it - that night in the Bronze, and yet he is still so very much a stranger.
Suddenly, she longs to have that night back again. Drink beer and eat buffalo wings and play pool amid the pungent odor of cigarettes and leather and whiskey. Crack jokes and flirt and share a grin at the snide looks from the ignorant college kids mocking the freaks by the pool table. Smirk with self-satisfied glee at the over-endowed slut-bombs who made eyes at Spike as he lined up a shot with his effortless grace. Laugh and relax, talk and listen. Listen. Care. Enjoy.
They would leave only after the last call for drinks. Wander outside together to replay that alley scene beneath the setting moon. Only this time the foes would be real, and she and Spike would fight side by side, on equal footing. She imagines the exhilaration of a hard won battle; feels the coiled adrenaline that longs for release. Fangs and fists and stakes, blood and dust, their partnership on display for all to see and admire. How beautiful they would be together beneath the dim glow of neon lights - fluid limbs and fancy footwork, two pale dancers, cloaked in black but lighting the darkness. Then, afterwards, their enemies vanquished, catastrophe averted, they'd head home, where they'd drink hot chocolate and watch awful television until the sun peeked over the horizon. And the next night, they'd do it all again.
But such dreams are a fleeting indulgence, a sinful pleasure followed rapidly by deep and bitter anguish. For the image in her mind is not of the tragic, tortured man who traveled to the ends of the world and back to give her what she wanted, but rather of the old Spike, bedecked in his trademark duster, with his wicked grin and flashing eyes and hint of deadly fang. He's so different now, so calm and quiet, restrained, almost timid. It's difficult to imagine the sunken man before her bouncing with Tigger-like glee at the thought of a hunt and she wonders if it is wrong to resent that. To not want what he has sacrificed everything to get for her.
Only he has been hunting, Buffy reminds herself, and there's an empty house and a basement covered in dust to prove it. He's far from harmless, even now, and she can't help but fear that curing him will hand an involuntary weapon over to the First.
She twists her hands, shuffles her feet nervously, wonders if she can do what she has planned. Wonders if she even should. What she has in mind goes against every fiber of her being. But it's Spike, and he's different, and she cares. She wants to care. So offer it she must.
Spike's tired voice interrupts her contemplation. "You got something to say, Slayer? Out with it."
The slight snark in his words causes a flame to rise within her, a small reminder of what she misses, what she wants back. She bites her lips, takes a breath.
"Would human blood help?" she asks quickly, the substitute words falling free with minimal forethought.
He snorts at that, as if she were asking if his fangs were sharp or whether he liked wearing black. "Course it would help. But I won't be having it."
"You could, you know. From Willy's... or, um...the hospital..." And again with the foot shuffle.
When he doesn't answer immediately, Buffy studies the pointed toes of her mock leather boots intently as she draws patterns in the dust on the basement floor. Notes distractedly that the very fact she can do that probably means the place needs a clean. Like much of her life, really. She hides so much away in the darkness, out of sight and out of mind, until catastrophe forces an airing.
She hears him sink into the pillow, can sense his indecision. But when he finally speaks, his resolve is clear.
"No," he says firmly. "No, not after what happened the last time. I can't. I won't."
For a moment, she can not help but be pleased with his answer. She is giving him permission to drink, to quench the demon she knows is raging inside him, to heal fast and thoroughly and be rid of the pain. And he is rejecting it. This is real change, and pride swells inside of her.
Then the contrary frustration hits. Like all things Spike, this is becoming a drama she hasn't the time for. Morals are all well and good, but she needs him up and fighting by her side, not withering away amongst the discarded refuse in her messy basement. He's useless like this. And more than that, he's painful to watch.
For a stretch of seconds, Buffy feels emotion and sense warring within her, until her pragmatic nature wins out. He needs the blood, and she's in no mood to be patient.
"Angel used to-" she begins, but Spike cuts her off.
"I don't care what Angel used to do. I'm not having no more soddin' human blood. Had enough already." His voice catches on the final note. He averts his eyes hastily, as if searching for something on the floor, the sheets, the walls. Searching for something that isn't her.
Buffy sighs, swallows, then cautiously, as if reaching out to a wounded bird, she covers the short distance to the cot and sits gently on the edge. He doesn't move.
"Spike, it's blood from a hospital bag. No one gets hurt...."
He growls, a ferocious sound from somewhere deep in his chest. Does she imagine it, or do his eyes flash yellow? Certainly, his voice is filled with anger and frustration that cuts deep into her sensitized skin.
"You're not gettin' it, are you? Where the blood came from won't make a bleedin' inch of difference to me or my overworked conscience! No drinking, no biting, no needless brawling, no leaving this bloody basement. No nothin' that'll add to this...to this misery..." His hand paws at the shirt above his heart, and he looks at her with liquid eyes. "I can't stand anymore of it. I won't have it. Not even for you!"
His voice collapses to a whisper. "I don't want to hurt anybody, Buffy. Please. Never again."
She silences him with a finger on his lips. She's gone about this the wrong way. Roundabout routes and blurry watercolors never worked between them; she should have been open from the beginning.
"Problem solved," she says softly, "Drink from me."
He starts at that, a sudden movement which clearly brings him pain, then looks at her like she has suggested he take a midday bath in holy water. His eyes grow wide as saucers, his mouth opens and closes, clearly lost for words. Imagine that. Spike speechless. She almost smiles.
Finally, stammers out a single, strangled word. "What?!"
"I want you to drink from me."
She reaches out to touch him, but he jerks out of her reach. The cot squeals beneath him, a harsh noise that cuts through the thick, still air and grates like sandpaper on her already raw, exposed nerves.
"Are you out of your bleedin' mind? If I won't drink blood from a bloke I don't give a toss about, what makes you think I'd drink from the woman I..." His voice catches violently, and after a moment he rephrases, "...from you."
She lets her hand drop gently to the sheets beside his thigh, deciding to wait a few moments before she tries to touch him again. Instead, she imagines the walls built around her heart collapsing, tries as hard as she can to channel the escaping fervor of sentiment into her eyes.
"Because it's different," she replies. "Because I want it."
Please, please understand.
"Oh, you want it? Well, that makes all the difference!" He laughs loudly, refusing to meet her gaze. "Buffy, this isn't Anne Rice. If you want me to bleed you, I have to rip your skin open with my teeth and suck. It'll hurt like a bitch. It'll probably scar."
"You won't hurt me, not really."
Of that, she is less certain. Everything between them is fragile and potentially painful. Like walking over fine crystal and feeling it shatter beneath your feet and then cut deep.
Gently, cautiously, she reaches out and takes his hand where it is still grasping his shirt. His fingers are limp in her grasp, and tremble slightly at her touch. She smiles gently, meeting his gaze.
"Spike, touch me."
He blinks, tilts his head as confusion clouds his eyes. "What?"
She guides their hands to her lap, lays them across her thigh and her open palm across his. "I said, touch me."
She feels his fingers tense and twitch, but he makes no immediate move to close his grasp. Instead, they stay like that for a moment, gazes frozen on their touching hands, the air around them heavy with anticipation. Skin on skin isn't new, not even since the soul. Back to back in battle, a hand grasp to pull him to his feet, her arm on his waist as he limps beside her. But touching him like this, voluntary, unnecessary, gentle, this is different. He hasn't touched her like this since last year, before the soul, when a gentle caress usually resulted in a scorching burn. She has never touched him like this at all.
Then, slowly, his hand curls around hers, until their fingers intertwine. She closes her grasp too, their hands tied. She watches their union, the details compelling. His skin is white against her gold, his fingers thicker but similarly callused. Warrior's hands, both. His nails are square, male, bitten to the quick. She remembers when he used to paint them black. Kind of misses that, too, the old costume, even if the punk thing did make him look kinda gay. She can't help but smile a little at the memory.
Swallowing, Buffy looks up from their interlocked hands to his face, capturing his wary gaze. She squeezes his hand gently and watches as his eyes light up. In the depths behind them, she witnesses something stir, something deeper, darker, richer and intense. Her body responds instantly, fingers tingling and heart jumping. Her hand feels, still in his grasp, grows heavy with sweat.
Yet still, he makes no move to touch her further. Makes no move at all, other than the irregular, unnecessary rise and fall of his chest and the slight tremor of his grasp.
"Close your eyes, Spike," she orders softly, and he does, long smoky lashes falling obediently against his pale cheeks. "I think, maybe, you don't believe me. That I mean this. That's okay, you know. I get that you have doubts. I've said a lot of things, asked a lot of things to you, that I didn't mean."
He begins to respond, but she raises her hand, finger lingering close to his lips. He must sense her motion, because he falls silent again, allows her to continue.
"But that's over now, Spike. It really is." She lets her other hand to fall gently onto their already clasped hands. Watches his eyes flutter beneath the lids, his expressive face flitter from surprise to pleasure and back. "I don't have your way with words. I'm more one for action. But I understand sensation, hearing, sight, feel. Can you feel me, Spike?"
"Yeah...I feel you, luv." His voice is but a whisper. He is breathing more and more heavily now, chest rising in and falling in an animated parody of life. His hand, still holding hers, is shaking more violently, too, and she's transported back to that moment of on her couch on the night of her return. Remembers how he tenderly held her bleeding hands as she sat frightened and confused, an anchor in a sea of fear and pain, quiet amongst the crashing waves and crackling thunder, the storm of living.
"Really feel me, Spike. Feel my blood moving through me, feel my pulse....feel my heart. Feel that I'm not afraid to touch you. I'm not creeped out or pissed off or anything else that you seem to think I am. Can you feel me, Spike? That I mean that?"
His response is a slow nod of his head, followed by a tightening squeeze on her hand.
Buffy releases a slow breath, imagines the ominous weight of history release itself as she exhales. It's important that he understand this, that he know that she has thought about this, that she wants it. And, oh, does she want it. She's thought about it constantly in the days since she has been back, considered it from all angles. She wants to share this with him - her life, her blood. Her trust.
She wants to help him to heal. To finally give back something, something real.
"I'm tired of hating and blaming, of hiding and running away. I'm tired of bottling everything up inside, of being too scared to say what I mean or do what I want. But most of all, I'm tired of lying to myself. I'm not going to do that anymore, Spike. If you don't trust my words, trust in my body, in what I've always shared with you before. Feel me when I say this, from my soul to yours: I trust you Spike. I trust you not to hurt me."
She pauses to let the words sink in.
"And I want to do this."
Spike opens his eyes and slowly raises his head. His pupils are wide, emotions raging as torrid as the seas. "Buffy," he says, his voice tight, slightly panicked. "Buffy, you don't know what you're asking."
But she can see his resolve weakening, sense the desire rising within him, the passion unfurling.
"I think that I do." She knows that she does.
She feels the seconds stretch between them, long and slow and steady as he works through her revelations and his own labyrinthine emotions. She wonders, unwillingly, if she has perhaps made a terrible mistake. Thinks that, maybe she has offered too much too soon? Or demanded, more like. She'd assumed he'd want this, but what if he didn't? Stupid, to make such a fool of herself. Stupider, too, to think that he would leap at this, the chance to further indebt himself to her when she has shown so little ability to manage existing dues.
She shifts restlessly, starts to move her hand as she begins to move off the bed, get out of there. Go some place where she could cry, or hit something, or preferably both.
At her slight movement, he tightens his grip, holds her fast, and even before he speaks she feels she knows that the power and intensity she sensed awakening in him is now on its feet and preparing to roar.
His voice is low, deep, like gently rumbling thunder, and Buffy feels the word roll over her, slow and heavy and warm. She is acutely aware of the sound of her breathing, of her heart racing, the feel of her warm, rich blood pumping through her body. The beat of her pulse sends echoes in her head which such intensity she is surprised the cot isn't thumping.
"More than okay," he adds, eyes darkening from a stormy gray to an intense and seductive midnight blue.
Slowly, deliberately, Spike turns her palm over. His touch is gentle, firm, suddenly tremble-free and erotically confident as his thumb begins to draw lazy circles over the pulse point in her wrist. She gazes at the movement, absorbed by the hypnotic, circular motion. It's such a slight gesture, a million miles from the brutal explorations that had characterized their relationship previously, but the effect is profound, and a wave of longing, lust and undeniable desire hits her with such intensity that she feels she will drown.
Spike's small, pink tongue darts from between white teeth to moisten his lush lower lip. The sight sends a flame of pure desire down Buffy's spine and into her groin. She feels a swarm of superheated butterflies come alive in her stomach as she remembers in vivid detail just where that tongue has been, the oh-so-clever things he can do with it. What it felt like on her breasts, her navel, her clit. The taste of it in her mouth, the flavor of Marlboros and Jack Daniels and that intense, darkly erotic tang that is so uniquely Spike. The way he made her tremble and scream.
His voice breaks through her trance. Raw and gravely, "You sure about this, pet?"
"Yes. Very sure...yes."
Oh, how very sure. She wants to know the velveteen softness of Spike's wicked tongue again; wants to feel it on her neck as his sharp teeth tease her skin. Longs to writhe beneath his skillful hands as they caress her back, her thighs, between her legs, to feel the weight of his body as it settles against her; to feel the completeness as his cock fills her.
With dreamlike slowness, wrapped in memories and sensation, Buffy tilts her head, brushing the hair away and, like a woman in thrall in some cheesy vampire film, exposes her throat to his waiting fangs.
But he doesn't lean into her neck. Instead, Buffy finds herself frozen by surprise and a strange sense of surreal dismay as he raises their joined hands to his mouth. She fears, for a moment, that he has changed his mind, that he doesn't want this, doesn't want her. But then her runs his tongue gently over the small pulse point, lapping at the cooled sweat, and her lingering disappointment, that traitorous doubt, evaporates like water poured on hot coals.
Spike's forehead shifts, the brow deepening, stark ridges rising from beneath pale skin. His pupils, still fixed on her, contract and distort as the crystal-ice irises shiver and shatter, revealing a riveting gold. His grip on her hand tightens as his demon surges through him, and suddenly this is very real. Almost too real. She's never been this close, this intimate, with Spike's demon before. Her Slayer senses awaken, the mystical power inside her roaring and rebelling, indignant at the idea of intimacy with a creature she is empowered to slay. She stamps on them, hard. Her choice to do this, hers alone, destiny be damned.
Spike is watching her still, demon eyes intense and unblinking, laced with a desire and adoration so intense that she is left breathless and trembling. A silent question passes between them, acknowledgment that this is the final moment, the point of no return. But Buffy committed to his journey the moment she collected him from the shelter of her bedroom, perhaps even from the moment she rescued him from that cave. There is no room for U-Turns, no going back.
The Slayer nods her consent.
A flash of fang, and his mouth descends on her wrist. Buffy experiences in hazy slow motion the sensation of taught skin stretching and breaking. The pain is sharp, sudden, intense. Pain to remind her she is alive, and she has never felt anything quite as enlivening as this.
The effect is electrical, a jolt from something powerful and dangerous to touch. Explosive. Fire and ice and pleasure and pain shoot through her, leaving a trembling heart and limbs of warm treacle. She feels the butterflies in her stomach burst forth, sees the world around her disappearing for a moment into a chaos of vivid colors and movement, until clearing, there is only Spike. Her hot hand clasped in his cool grasp, his warm tongue on her fevered skin, his eyes fevered, swirling amber and blue chiaroscuro, brimming with Spike's intense and open emotions. Hunger and need, desire and pain and gratitude and, most of all, love.
Such terrible, absolute love.
She can feel the journey of her blood, from her heart through her veins, to where it flows from her body into the moist, inviting warmth of Spike's mouth. It's more than vitamins and minerals, red and white cells. It's healing life and power; memories, burdens, fears, even identity. She imagines that she can feel her essence, her being, pulsing through him, closing and healing his wounds, both physical and mental. She wants to pour herself into him, body and soul, rejoice in the feelings of liberation and connection and love.
Almost unconsciously, Buffy feels herself moving into Spike. Her free hand tangles in his hair and she pulls herself closer until their joined hands are trapped between their heaving bodies. She needs to touch him, to feel him, inside and out, and her hand travels through his hair, round his neck, down the planes of his face, his chin, his fabric-covered chest. She slips her fingers beneath his t-shirt, caresses his smooth abdomen, before moving over the hem on his jeans, and then lower still. He's hard, of course, and strains beneath her touch. Growls low in his throat as he clutches her to him with a fervor that would crush an ordinary woman.
Then she is in his lap, instinctively moaning and grinding and surging against him. He gasps slightly, perhaps from pain, but holds her fast when she starts to move away, his hand firmly clutching the back of her head, buried in her hair. She responds by clutching him tighter between her legs, pushing herself into him. He thrusts upwards towards her warm center in turn, the movements of hips timed to the laps of his tongue, both increasingly erratic as the tension mounts between them.
She revels in the overwhelming sensation of emptying herself into him, in the effect it has on the powerful creature before her. She feels powerful, possessive, wanted, needed. Feels also, with equal intensity, the tingle of electricity that rushes to fill the spaces left by her retreating blood, livening dim and dusty corners of mind and body alike. The sensation is amazing, her toes curling, stomach taut and stretched as she arches back, meets his strains, strains and cries as, finally, the rising tide overwhelms her and her world explodes, again, in an orgy of pleasure and color and release.
And so it ends. Buffy watches in a hazy, distracted way as Spike slowly lowers her to the bed, his hand still beneath her head. His demonic features slip back into human ones, the sound distant and blurred in her ringing ears. His tongue on her skin again soft and smooth, methodical and calming. And then it is gone, as he removes his lips from her skin. A final kiss to her tender wrist, and her gently lowers her palm from his mouth.
The separation is almost painful, but she can do nothing but lie motionless as she waits for feeling to return to her limbs, and the jumble of her feelings to settle and distill. So she lies and listens to their ragged breathing, as Spike tentatively and gently moves his limbs from beneath her.
Still leaning above her, she fixes her would the most amazing look of love, and peace and gratitude.
"Thank you Buffy," he says, eyes calm and blue now, glistening slightly at the corners. "Thank you for trusting me."
She nods, gently reaches up to caress his cheek. "You didn't take enough..." Enough of her blood. Enough of her. She wants to give so much more.
He shakes his head. "I've taken too much. And you've given me everything I need."
She watches as he bites his lower lip, eyes flicking to her lips. After all they had just shared, his apparent nervousness at just kissing her is almost funny. He takes her smile as an invitation, and, leaning down, places a tentative kiss on her forehead. She very nearly rolls her eyes, and she captures his face in his hands and kisses him gently on his lips. The broad grin on his face sends another wave of pleasure through her, and she smiles in turn. Such a long time, for both of them, since they have smiled.
Shaking his head, Spike collapses beside her. Groans a little as his aches reawaken. "That was amazing, luv. But I'm gonna feel it in the morning."
She giggles. "I'll probably envy you. I'm kinda worried I won't be feeling anything anywhere until at least midday tomorrow."
His looks pleased at the comment, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he smiles a rare smile. "Stay here then, yeah?"
She allows herself a brief moment of indecision, turns over the downside of being found here, like this, clutched in Spike's arms, surrounded by the aroma of blood and sex. But she quickly discounts it. She's already been practical tonight. Now for the overwrought and romantic.
She nods, luxuriates in the look of pure, delighted pleasure that passes over Spike's face. Closing her eyes, she settles herself against his silent chest. It's spare moments before she drifts off to the rhythmic feel of his hand in hers and the low buzz of the downstairs refrigerator.
Continued in Chapter 4