"It is not love but lack of love which is blind"
-- Glenway Westcott
They slid to the floor together, Spike still inside her, both of them shaking from the combined power of their respective climaxes. The Slayer ended up on top, her forehead resting against the vampire's chest while she struggled to draw air back into her oxygen-deprived lungs, waiting for the trembling to subside.
It did, finally. And awareness began to flow once more through Buffy. She had just had sex with Spike. Wild, passionate, violent sex. Angry sex.
Really, really great sex.
But that's all it was. And she was so never going to do it again. Hastily the Slayer pulled away, fiercely ignoring the part of her that regretted the loss as she withdrew from him. Then she reached for her pants laying nearby and pulled them on, not even bothering with underwear...and not looking at the vampire beside her.
He was watching her though. She could feel his eyes on her as she got to her feet, feel his gaze burning as she picked up her shirt. Turning her back, Buffy pulled it on quickly, hoping he wouldn't notice just how much her hands were shaking.
"So that's it then?" Spike said flatly, at last. "Got it all out of your system, did you?"
Buffy froze. "Is that what you think I was doing?" she asked, her voice taut with tension.
He climbed to his feet, the sound of his zipper going up shockingly loud in the silence of the crypt.
"Wasn't it?" the vampire asked bitterly. "You had an itch and you got it scratched. Now you can scarper back home and convince yourself it was all just hormones. Or misplaced gratitude. Temporary bloody insanity, maybe."
At that, Buffy did turn, chewing on her bottom lip as she gazed at him.
"Well, wasn't it?"
"You tell me."
No. She wasn't going to do this. She wasn't going to get into a war of words with him. Not now. Not ever again, if she could help it. Shivering slightly, Buffy bent, picked up her shoes, then finally straightened...and looked him in the eye.
"You're right, Spike," she said at last. "It wasn't just hormones. Or gratitude -- although I can't vouch for the sanity part of the equation. And yes, it...it was great sex. But that's all it was. And I...I just need to go now, get away from..."
You. She didn't have to say the word. It hung there, unspoken, hovering between the two of them. The Slayer flinched inwardly. She hadn't meant that to come out the way it had. She really didn't want to hurt him. But neither could she deal with what had just happened, what she had done. What she was.
"You're such a hypocrite, Summers."
Buffy blinked, starting slightly. "I'm a what?"
"You heard." Spike moved closer, crowding her. "You say one thing but it's not what you really mean. So how 'bout I tell you what's going on in your head and save you the bother?"
"How about you don't?"
He ignored her, forging onward as if she had not spoken. "It's already driving you off your trolley," he said matter of factly, "how you gave yourself to me and how much you wanted it. No hesitation, no holding back. You asked me to take you and I did. And you loved it. But now you're scared that maybe you loved it too much. That maybe once isn't gonna be enough."
Buffy frowned. "Conceited much."
"Facts are facts, love. Speaking of...how 'bout the fact that you just got all up close and personal with the enemy? The Slayer having sex with a vampire, and him with no soul to justify it? Can't tell me that one's not bothering you. What would your bleeding Watcher say? Or the Slayerettes? The human boyfriend thing didn't work out and now you're scared to death you're always gonna need the monsters. Which makes you what? One of us."
Buffy stirred sharply, but he kept going, still not giving her a chance to respond.
"But you know what your biggest fear is, the one that's got you shaken down to the bloody core? It's not that I love you -- so bloody what, right Slayer? No, it's that maybe, just maybe, you love me back, no matter how hard you try to fight it. And that scares you more than anything. More than all the creatures in the night trying to kill you. More than being blind. More than dying, even."
A pang went through Buffy but she closed her eyes, shaking her head. "You're wrong."
"Am I?" he asked, edging closer, his voice softer now. "I know you, Slayer. Said so yourself. And I know you would never have done what we just did if you didn't have feelings for me in there somewhere. Maybe not a lot yet, and probably buried pretty deep. But they're there. And you know it."
She shook her head vehemently. "No."
Another step closer. "So if I do this then..." He leaned over and kissed her lightly then moved slowly downward, his mouth tracing light patterns against the underside of her jaw, just barely grazing the skin.
"...So if I do this, it means nothing to you?"
Spike's lips found the puncture marks on her neck and traced them slowly with his tongue. Buffy whimpered.
"No," she said breathlessly, a moment later, her hands curling into fists with the effort it was taking to not reach for him. "I can't do this, Spike. Not again."
Spike pulled back slightly and ran one hand across her shoulder, evoking a shiver.
"No. 'Cause that would make it real, wouldn't it? Once --well, you can write that off as a mistake. One-time deal. But twice...you do this twice with me and it becomes real. No going back then."
Buffy shuddered. He was right. And she didn't want this to be real, didn't want to feel this pull toward a vampire. Toward this vampire. Once, and she could still pretend, could go back to telling herself lies. But twice...
Something of what she must have been thinking must have shown on her face, because Spike took a step backward, his hand falling away from her shoulder.
"I want you to stay," he said simply. "But it's up to you. You leave and I'm not going to try to stop you, not gonna let you convince yourself later on that I seduced you into it. You stay...it's 'cause you want to. Your choice, pet. Tell me what you want."
A sense of tired anger went through Buffy. Why couldn't he be wrong? Just once? Was that too much to ask? Obviously yes, because every word he had spoken was true. Which left her where? As one of the monsters, like he had said. Incapable of ever having a normal life, of loving someone normal, someone human. Of being human. Self-pity hovered for an instant, but she banished it quickly. So what if she couldn't have a normal life? She wasn't normal. And she wasn't human, at least not in the regular sense of the word. She was the Slayer.
So maybe it was time she started reaching out for whatever happiness she could find, in whatever time she might have. Even if she did keep finding it in the strangest of places...
And he did love her. If there had been any doubt left in Buffy's mind, it had vanished the moment when the vampire's arms had tightened around her, whispering her name and holding her as if she was the only thing that mattered in his world.
Spike loved her. And...and she had feelings for him too. They were too new and too deeply buried to bear much in the way of scrutiny, but they were definitely there. So why not? Why not do what she wanted for once? Be Buffy and not the Slayer. Just for a while. What could it hurt?
Ignoring the part of her that instantly began screaming a long list of all the ways it could hurt, Buffy took a step forward and reached one hand out, holding it flat against the centre of Spike's chest, noting once again the lack of a heartbeat and feeling the cool, hard planes of his body through the thin material of his t-shirt. And she decided.
"I want to dance," Buffy said slowly, looking up to meet Spike's eyes.
And then she said nothing else, for a very, very long time.
* * *
It was slower than before. Gentler. As if Spike was trying to prove that not everything he did had to end in violence. Eventually they wound up on the chair, the Slayer on top this time...and then on the tomb. And after that...
At some point Buffy lost track of things. All she knew was that, for the first time in a very long while, she felt...calm. At peace -- when her body wasn't convulsing furiously around his, that was. But even then -- she no longer had to pretend to be something she was not, didn't have to hold back or hide what she was. She could just be.
She had forgotten what that felt like.
* * *
Spike closed his eyes. He was -- well, the only word that came to mind was content. Yeah, that was it. Perfectly content. They had finally come to rest at last in the chair, the Slayer on his lap, his lone blanket covering both of their naked bodies. Buffy's head was resting on his shoulder, her hands resting on top of his arms which were wrapped loosely around her waist.
"Sun's coming up," she said tiredly.
He opened his eyes. She was right. He could sense the nearness of the dawn, feel the shadows outside beginning to recede. In his arms, the Slayer stirred slightly.
"I should go," she said, a trace of reluctance in her voice.
"S'pose so." Spike turned to look at her, taking in the rumpled hair and thoroughly satiated look on her face -- and a wave of pure self-satisfaction went through him. He had done this. Him. Grinning slightly, he ran one finger down her throat, towards the top of her breasts. And, despite everything they had already done...and the number of times they had done it...he could sense desire rising again within her. It wasn't the only thing that was rising.
Smiling slightly, Buffy leaned forward and kissed him, her tongue going forward to tangle with his, then she shifted so that she was straddling him, parts of her body coming into interesting contact with parts of his.
"Of course," she said provocatively, "I could be persuaded to stay a while longer..."
As it turned out, she really didn't need much persuading at all.
* * *
It was considerably after dawn that Buffy finally managed to pull on her clothes again, wincing as certain parts of her body complained with every movement. As workouts went, tonight's -- activities -- certainly ranked up there with going one on one with a demon. Which, when she considered it, was exactly what she had been doing.
She cast Spike a quick look. He was standing by the tomb, watching her, fully dressed. And several conflicting emotions went through her. Lust and desire were foremost, despite the fact that even her vaunted Slayer stamina wouldn't be able to cope with much more tonight. A faint shiver of fear, which somehow made the desire taste even sharper. And...uncertainty. That tiny flicker of doubt deep inside her that refused to go away completely, that kept her wondering if she was making a mistake; the doubt that said she should stop this now, while she still could...
Or could she? Did she even want to? No. It was too late, had probably been too late from the instant when she had first stepped, blind and frightened, into the cemetery, to feel Spike's arms slide around her... Looking back, her body's reaction at the time made sense now. As did everything that had happened since.
It had not been one, but an entire series of decisions she had come to, Buffy realized. When she had let Spike bully her into telling her what she had been planning, had confessed her suicidal intentions to him. When she had gone with him to the Trial, tacitly agreeing to place her fate in his hands. The moment when she had realized that she couldn't let him die for her and had offered him her neck to avert it. And when she had seen him sacrifice his chance to have the implant removed, in order to save her. And all the moments since. Every action, every conclusion, they had all been leading her here, to this point in time.
But...while she might have to live with those decisions, it didn't necessarily mean she was comfortable with them...or with where they were leading her. Looking back though, she couldn't think of a single thing she would do differently, a single moment she would change. But still...this was no small thing she was doing. And not without its risk. Because nothing had changed, really. He was still a vampire, still dangerous.
And he loved her.
And what was life without risk, anyway?
Buffy pulled on her shoe with one hand then straightened and headed for the door. Spike didn't move, merely continued to watch her through hooded eyes. Once there, though, she paused, turning slightly to look back at him over her shoulder.
"Don't worry," he said before she could speak. "I'm not gonna tell anyone I spent all night banging the Slayer. Still got my reputation to maintain, after all."
"Love the pillow talk, Spike," Buffy said drily. "You're such a romantic. But that's not what I was going to say."
"Yeah, well, I got it where it counts. And don't think I'm going to change for you either," he added warningly. "I'm not gonna become the Slayer's tame lap dog just because we got horizontal...and vertical. Because we both know you don't want that. Face it, love --you like the danger. It excites you."
The Slayer's eyes narrowed. "Has anyone ever told you how arrogant you are?"
He grinned. "Let me think. Oh yeah -- you." With that, he moved forward quickly, caught her around the back of her neck with one hand and kissed her, hard and fast, his body pressing hers against the door, while her hands moved up his chest. Then he abruptly released her and stepped away.
"And that's what you love about me, blondie."
Buffy tried in vain to hide her smile. "Still don't love you, Spike."
The grin widened. "You will." A pause, followed by: "So what were you going to say then?"
She shook her head. "I'm not going to tell you now. Be seeing you, Spike." And with that, she opened the door and went out into the sunlight, closing it gently behind her.
Spike stared after her for a long moment then smiled and fished in his pocket for a cigarette.
"Count on it."