All About Spike

Chapter: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18

Waking the Dead
By Annie Sewell-Jennings

Sequel to The Waiting Season

Chapter Eighteen: The Open Door

Buffy sat at the foot of the bed and did not say a word.

Silent, just the way she'd been for the past hour and a half. They'd tried to talk to her. Tried to get her to say something. But there were no words she could give them to explain what had happened, and so she remained mute. Besides, every part of her was still stuck in that moment back at the gravesite. She could still feel the leather scabbard of the sword. Could hear the slice of metal into flesh.

She could still feel heaven's kiss upon her lips.

The others thought she was in shock. It was certainly a good possibility. But Buffy had been aware of everything that went on around her as they took her away. Wrapped up in Spike's coat, cradled against his body while he carried her out of the cemetery and back towards the house. Dawn's worried eyes and Giles' concerns. Willow was crying but Buffy did not know why. Bad things had happened.

Very bad things had happened.

She could feel him. Knew that he was there, even if she did not turn her head to glance in his direction. An outline of black in the corner. The smell of dirty leather and spent cigarettes. Signature Spike smells, all around her. Anxiety; she could feel that. He was worried about her. Maybe he was even a little afraid of her. He'd been like that recently. Too scared to move or talk. So instead he fidgeted in the corner, watching her as she stared straight ahead of her.

All she could see was the gravesite.

Bloodied bodies slumped over in front of the boy's marble headstone. Candles burning, the smell of sour herbs and potions. The man's palms, streaked in blood, and the bright crimson stain slowly spreading over his white dress shirt. That sweet little hand reaching out from the grave, and she'd reached down and touched those tiny cold fingers. So very, very cold.

"Buffy. Come on, love. It's all right; we're home. See?"

Blue eyes. Spike had the loveliest eyes. You wouldn't expect it, not when he was all sharp angles and glowering leather, but there they were. She'd looked all summer for that exact shade of blue, and only found it in those few glimmering moments when the sky was between twilight and darkness. And then there were his lashes, so long and luxurious that any woman would envy him. Inky, sooty. Where did his eyeliner go? He used to wear that. Used to take pride in his pretty eyes, used to flash them at her and tease her, used to bat his eyelashes against her breast in little butterfly kisses&.

He was tugging at her jacket. Pushing it off her shoulders. Dully, Buffy looked down and saw the bloodstains splattered along the denim seam. "Got to get this off you," he muttered. "Get you into your night-things, right? Tuck you to sleep."

She could see the nape of his neck from this angle. That fine little place at the top of his spine where his silvery hair ended. Had she ever kissed him there? She did not think so. And his hands were on her, too. Cool hands. Not cold, not dead. Spike never had a corpse's hands. His were just a little warmer, just a little softer. Elegant fingers. Moon-colored nails. He used to paint them black. Her vain vampire.

Roughly, Spike shook her bare shoulders, digging his ragged fingernails into her skin. "Buffy!" he growled. "Come on, you've got to pull it together now. Know it was rough on you, what happened and all, but you've got to get yourself on your feet, all right? Come on, Slayer--"

"Don't call me that."

Startled, Spike took a step back from her. Lifted up his hands in a sign of surrender. See, harmless, remember? "Right," he said. Hell, he was so relieved to hear a word out of her that if she'd asked him to call her Steve, he would've complied. He peered down at her face, pinched and pale in spite of the warmth of the lamplight. "Buffy. Come on, love. It's not the end of the world. Things'll be all right, you know?"

No answer, and he was back to square one.

She'd been this way ever since he got to her. Too late, as always. He'd run, run like the wind from the instant Willow had snapped out of whatever black magic trance she'd been in, but it was too late. The man was dead, and her sword was buried in his back. She'd just stood there, staring down at him, and at those little bitty fingers poking out of Brandon Glaze's grave. Spike didn't want to think about the hand. Hell, he didn't want to think about any of this. Just wanted her to be all right again. Wanted her to be anything other than this right here.

It reminded him too much of last year.

There was a smudge of blood on her cheek. Glaze's blood? Hard to say. Gently, Spike ran a finger down the slope of her pretty cheek. "Need to clean yourself up a bit, you do. Come on, pet, what do you say? Get you into the bath, it'll make a new girl of you. Feel much better when you've got that muck off your face."

Nothing.

Still nothing. Fine, then. She wanted to play this way, then so could he. Just because he had a soul didn't mean he had to go all puppy-dog sweet on her, now did it? Wasn't broken all the way. Still had a touch of the old fire in him, and if anyone could spark it, it'd be Buffy in non-functional mode. He clenched his jaw, steeled himself. "Right, then. That's the way you want it, then that's the way we'll do things. Now, get up."

With that, Spike brusquely yanked her to her feet and shoved her towards the door. She stumbled on her feet, and a part of Spike's heart broke at her utter gracelessness, but no matter. Had to do right by her. Had to do something for her. Get her to snap out of this.

Even if it meant facing the bathroom again.

Didn't take the time to survey his surroundings or remember what had happened last time. Spike just pushed her in the door and sat her down roughly on the toilet as he stepped towards the bathtub. Turned on the water and closed his eyes for a second. Gritted his teeth. Remembered that. She'd had the faucet on that night. No, no. This was completely different. Necessary. Not about him. This was about her.

And she was getting angry.

A flare of violence sparked in her eyes, and Spike felt a little relief. Didn't care if she got pissed, because at least it was something other than that cold, dead expression. Coldly, he clamped his hands down on her shoulders and gave her a look that said he meant Business. "Got two options here, sweetheart. Either you strip down and get in the shower all on your own, and I'll leave the room all nice and proper, or I'll bathe you. Pick and choose."

Her voice sounded knotted and gnarled. "You wouldn't dare," she spat.

Spike arched his eyebrows at her, challenging her with his eyes. "Wouldn't I?"

Fury. Passion. Rage. All of it there, all of it in her pretty, open face. Yeah, love. That was the stuff. "Get the fuck out and leave me alone."

With that, Spike grabbed her by the arm and practically threw her into the shower.

Cold, cold, so fucking cold. Buffy gasped when the needles of icy water peppered her body, and she struggled against his grip as he held her in there. "Goddammit, Spike!" she yowled, her eyes wide with shock from the cold water. "Let me go!"

"Not a chance," he snarled. Hoped she didn't notice he was shaking. Tried not to think about the way that she was hitting at him with ineffectual fists, like that night, like that night in this fucking room. Had to do this. Do it for her sake, do it for her. Be the asshole she wanted him to be. "I'm not leaving 'til you get your head screwed on straight. So you just stand there in that shower and get that shit off you, Slayer, cause--"

He'd been doing well so far. Got a reaction out of her, got her talking again. But he'd fucked up, and he knew that now.

He'd called her "Slayer."

Furiously, Buffy shoved him away from her with all her power, and in a flash of nostalgia that almost made him vomit, Spike was thrown against the dressing table. Bottles of aspirin and rolls of medical gauze went flying, and he was slumped against the wall as she stepped out of the shower, sopping wet and dripping water all over the clean floor. She glared down at him scornfully, her eyes blazing with fire, and before she said a word, Buffy picked up the shampoo bottle from the edge of the shower and threw it at him. It hit him hard in the shoulder, but Spike didn't complain.

That's my girl.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Buffy yelled. The conditioner bottle was next, and it struck him square on the kneecap. That smarted, and he yelped and clutched his leg. "Christ! I was just fine, I'm fine!"

"Bugger that! You were catatonic!"

A bitter laugh spilled out of her, and she threw her arms wide. Looked desperate and terribly sharp at that moment, her hair hanging in wet strings around her cheeks. She'd gone pink with fury, and he really was a right bastard, but fuck if Spike didn't want her. Fuck if his cock didn't twitch a bit when her little fingers balled up into fists. "What was I supposed to say? 'Well, Spike, I killed a guy tonight. Guess I'd better go take a shower and get to bed?'"

"No," he said sourly, "but responding to simple questions might've been a bit more helpful than staring out into space like a bleedin' halfwit."

"God, what is wrong with you?" she said. "What, do you think that throwing me into a shower and telling me to cool off is going to make things better? Is it going to go back in time and take that man's life back? I killed him, Spike. I fucking killed a man tonight. How the hell can you possibly make that right? Tell me!"

But he had nothing to tell her, because Spike knew that there was no way to make it better. No way to fix it.

No way to fix him.

Something seemed to come over her then, something he hadn't seen in ages and had never wanted to see again. That little twist of acidic cruelty to her mouth. That hard, flinty look that made her eyes look like steel. A smirk twisted her face, and she swiped angrily at stray strands of wet hair that blew in her face. "What?" she asked. "No smart, cool answer for me? You're not going to tell me that all the people I've saved outweighs this sorry bastard of a man? Want to tell me that this asshole doesn't tip the scales? Oh, wait - that's right. You've got a soul now."

Spike gritted his teeth and glared at her. "You don't know what you're on about."

"No, you don't. You don't know what this feels like, Spike. You killed without a soul. It was part of what you were, part of the animal inside of you. But me? I'm just me. Buffy Summers. And I had a soul when I did that. I knew it was wrong and I did it anyway, because I couldn't take...."

She was breaking down. Tears started to roll down her cheeks, and Spike felt his heart snap and shudder as she cried words at him in wet, painful sobs. "I don't understand it," she wept, her shoulders shaking from the force of her grief. "It's not supposed to happen like this. I just couldn't... not after what I went through. Not after last year. And this stupid old man wants to put an innocent boy through that, after he'd suffered all that time being sick, and I didn't know what else to do. I couldn't let it happen, I couldn't...."

Buffy was so very, very tired.

Everything was hitting her all at once, and she felt punch-drunk and dizzy from the horror of everything she'd witnessed tonight. Everything she'd done. She was cold, and wet, and scared and hurt. She was scared of herself. Of what she had done with her own two hands. She'd thought that there were pieces of her left in that open grave, but she was wrong. There had still been enough left of her that a night like this could take another part of her away.

Smooth, soft hands wrapped around her arms, and Spike drew her in close to him, so close she felt like she could just sink inside of him and never come out again. Embraced her completely, his arms strong and gentle around her. "It's all right, love. Come on, then. Have your cry; that's a girl."

So she did.

It all spilled out of her like uncorked wine as she buried her face in his chest, felt him rain kisses on her damp hair. His hand cradled the back of her head, and she squeezed him tight in her arms as he whispered shushing noises into her ear. God, she needed this. Needed to just let it out with him, with Spike, who knew her so well that it broke her heart. The things he must see in her....

Does he smell the killer in me now? Am I different now, forever changed, because there's blood on my soul?

"Know it hurts," he murmured. "Christ, I know. But love, you're not damned for it. Doesn't change who you are, what you've got inside you."

"It doesn't," she whispered. "Because I've always been this way. Dead on the inside. There are pieces of me missing, Spike. It's what he said, what he told me, and he was right...."

Spike pulled away from her just enough before he caught her chin in his hand and narrowed his eyes at her. "Who fed you that rubbish? Drake Lucas? That where you were when we were fighting off those things?"

Buffy didn't say anything; she just tried to look away, but his grip was firm and he wasn't letting go of her any time soon. A desperate noise fell out of her, and Buffy hated the sound of her own voice. How long had she sounded this cynical? This jaded? Even her laughter was soured and turned, like milk gone bad. "Aren't I broken?" she asked. "You should know better than anyone else just how fucked-up I am. All the ways I hurt you. All the things I did."

"Christ, Buffy, last year you were going through so damn much--"

"It's not an excuse," she said. "It doesn't matter. Because no matter how far I think I've come, I can't help but want it. Can't help but need it. That's what's missing inside of me, Spike. Life, love, all those things that tie me to the world. I left them in that grave, and I can't ever get them back. There's only one way, and God, I can taste it. He made it taste it, and I can still feel it, and when you put everything up next to it, it's crap."

A horrible, yearning sigh pushed out of her and she almost faltered on her feet. "Spike, I can still taste it...."

So he kissed her.

Rough, hard, uncompromising mouth. Not a spot of tenderness or fragility. It was an assault on her senses, and God, it felt good. Teeth and tongue, his hand hard against her skull as he tangled his fingers in her damp, disarrayed locks. She could feel his fingertips on her shoulders, digging in so hard that if she was lucky, she'd bruise. Spike pulled her hard up against him, and she could feel the whipcord leanness of him pressed taut against her, and yesssss, this was what she needed. She clawed her hands and scraped at his skin, felt desire flare up sudden and strong in her belly. Couldn't get enough of him, needed him strong and brutal. Her fingernails cut ribbons into the nape of his neck, and she hissed into his mouth as she pressed him hard against the wall. Wrapped a leg around his waist, tried to climb him like a ladder, and if she could just kiss the soul out of him then she'd be free, she'd be whole, she'd be. She'd just be.

One large hand clamped onto her ass, roughly cupping her flesh as she gasped and arched into his mouth. She could feel his cock hardening against her, and the length of his shaft pressed hard and long between her legs, right up against that sensitive strip of flesh that was getting wet and swollen with every passing moment. Wanted to fuck him, wanted to kiss him, wanted those hands that knew her skin so well all over her. And it didn't matter if his hands were shaking or if her heart was breaking, because all of this was sensation and it prickled all over her dull skin. Made her feel alive. Made her feel.

"Can you feel that, love?" he growled into her mouth. "Come on, baby, can you feel how bad I want you? Feel me, that's right, come on...." His fingers wrapped fiercely around her wrist and brought her hand down to his denim-clad cock, and she felt it jump and twitch under her touch. A gasp spilled out of her, and she arched her hips against him as his voice simmered and sang in her ear. "Yeah, that's right, come on then. Put it on me, put it all on me. That's my--"

Oh my God.

Horrified, Buffy shoved him away from her and covered her mouth with her hands. Oh God. She'd almost done it again. Almost threw him against the wall and fucked him like last year. Like it was nothing, like he was nothing. Just some object she could use to make herself feel better, feel anything. And he'd let her, and he would let her again if that was what she wanted. Didn't have to say it; she could see it all in those big blue eyes of his as he gave her a bewildered look from the corner. "Buffy...."

She threw up her other hand and shook her head, stepping away from him. "No, no," she said. "No way. Oh my God, I almost.... I can't do this again. I can't. Not after last year."

Bewildered, Spike stared at her from the corner. Just a moment ago, she'd been all over him, fingernails in the scruff of his neck and her mouth sweet and wet against his. Now, she was balling up her fists in her hair and wild-eyed like a banshee. Didn't get it, didn't get her. "Love, it's all right, you just needed--"

"What?" she asked. "Needed to beat you up again? Needed to drive you into the ground? Don't you see, Spike? Don't you get it? Every word Drake Lucas said about me was right, and I just proved it. I don't have it in me to love. To give. All I can give you is death and violence and broken things, and that's all I'll ever--"

"Bollocks."

Spike stared at her from the corner, feeling resolve flood through him as he stared at her. Looked so brittle, she did. Just a wisp of a girl. He walked to her and grabbed her by the arms, and looked at her fiercely. "Every word that bastard said to you was rubbish. Don't tell me no different. I can see you, you know. See you like you can't. And when I look at you...."

Gently, Spike pushed her hair off her brow. Looked at her damp face, plain and undressed by any makeup or dirt. Just clean, simple, unadulterated Buffy. Bright bottle-green eyes, angel-sweet mouth that could twist into a million devilish expressions when she put her wicked little mind to it. Saw her pain, yeah, cause that was always there. Couldn't take those scars away from her anymore than she could eradicate his. But see, you had to look underneath that. Underneath all that agony and uncertainty, there was something beautiful.

"Got lots of love in you," he murmured. Touched her cheek, touched the pout of her lower lip. "Buffy, you've got so much in you that it almost killed me last year when you wouldn't give it up to me. And I almost... in this room...." His hand started to shake, and he supposed she noticed it because she whispered his name and stepped a little closer. Ah, see? There it was. That essence of her that he loved so dearly. The fact that even though she was suffering, even though she was in absolute torment right now, she cared. She always cared.

"I know you never believed me when I told you that I loved you," he said. Before she could protest, he put a finger on her lips and shook his head. "It's all right. I get that. Couldn't let yourself believe it, 'cause I was a bastard and still am. But I do, you know. Love you. Not out of some twisted perversion, not out of some fucked-up obsession with Slayers. Not because you hurt me or bruised me or were just bloody impossible. Was 'cause you were everything I... fuck, you were everything I wanted to be. Didn't know it, didn't ever realize it until recently, but it's true."

Her shoulder slumped, and she sighed. Closed her eyes and shook her head. "Spike, I'm not--"

"Yes," he said forcefully. "You are. That's what you don't get, Summers. I didn't go out and grab a soul just because of what I did to you in this room. Didn't do it just because I wanted you to love me, or wanted you to have what you deserved. Did it because you inspired me to do it. You made me want things in myself that I'd never even dreamed I'd want. Made me want to be a better man. And Buffy--"

But he didn't even finish, because her mouth was on his and he couldn't think.

Sweet, this kiss. Not at all like the last. Tender, just a whisper of her silky mouth against his. Her soft, warm hand trailed down the side of his face and cupped his jaw, and he felt himself sag under the featherweight of the kiss. Everything in him just crumbled, and his knees went weak as she softly opened his lips with her own and traced the tips of his teeth with her tongue. Spilled a whimper into her mouth, touched the base of her neck, and then he could feel it.

Love.

Everywhere. All around him. Crawling up inside of him while she kissed him so thoroughly that he thought his soul could taste her. Every ache, every pain, every ounce of torment that had brewed inside of him for the past three months just melted away. Release, merciful release. Spike actually whimpered into her mouth, moved his shaking hand to touch her cheek, and the warmth of her skin almost turned him to ash. And Christ, she loved him. She loved him.

And for a moment, just a moment, Spike found some peace.

Then she pulled away, a little furrow in her brow as she looked up at him with searching eyes. "Did you feel that?" she asked, worriedly.

Couldn't help it; Spike laughed a little. Put a finger under her chin and smiled at her. "Oh, yeah."

So she kissed him again, passionately now, with the force of all her desires and being. Her breasts soft and sweet against his chest, her hands reaching around to the small of his back. She reached up under his shirt and scaled his spine with her fingertips, and his dick was throbbing in his too-bloody-tight jeans. And Christ, he wanted to cry at the irony of all of this. Kissing her in this fucking bathroom.

But this wasn't three months ago, and they weren't the same people, and this was very, very different.

Buffy pulled away and Spike gasped as she pulled his tee shirt over his head, and then her wet, warm body was pressed up against him. Smelled fresh, her girlish skin up against his, hot breasts and soft cotton top. Her talented little tongue darted out to lick at his collarbone, and Spike cried out when she scraped her teeth along the side of his throat. She knew, she just knew that drove him mad. Everything flared up inside of him, and all his blood rushed and raced. So hard he thought he might burst, and her hand on his dick and fuck--

"Christ, you remember everything," he gasped into her face, and she nipped at his jugular, bit at his chin before she captured his lower lip between her teeth. Sucked hard and good holy Christ, he was going to come in his pants if she kept this up.

Sooty lashes lowered over her dark, lust-colored eyes. "I could never forget you," she murmured, and her voice was as husky as sandpaper, sweet and ragged. Her words hit him like a shot of whiskey, and Spike moaned as she dragged her fingernails slow and hard down his chest. Shuddered, shimmied, writhed under her touch. "Not an inch of you, not a minute of you. Love you too much to forget you." Buffy reached up to unbutton her top, and then paused. Lowered her hands slowly, and then picked up his hands in hers. Brought his fingers to her shirt. "Come on, Spike. I trust you."

I could never trust you enough for it to be love.

Pain stabbed him through the heart as it all closed in around him. The smell of it. Girly soaps and desire. Buffy standing there, holding his hands in hers, bringing them to her breast. Tried to rip her robe that night. Groped her, bruised her with his hands. Could smell it all around him in this little room. Could smell the night he'd....

Buffy furrowed her brow and looked at him with concern. "Spike? Are you all right? Your hands... they're shaking."

He pulled his hands away from her, tried to give her a smile, but he was pretty sure it came out as a wince. "I'm fine." Didn't sound too convincing, apparently. She just looked more worried. Spike swallowed, ran a hand through his hair. "It's just... room doesn't bring up a whole lot of good times."

Realization dawned, and then Buffy winced. "Oh, God. Spike, I'm so sorry. I didn't even think...." She laughed a little, bunched up her hair with nervous hands. "God, I just keep screwing this up, don't I? Good old Buffy, with the inappropriate timing and the bad setting."

"It's not you," he said. "Don't think that for a second, pet. Knew what I was doing when I brought you in here. Just had to get you back, you know?"

He astonished her sometimes. No, not just sometimes. Most of the time. Even in the beginning, when he still hated her and she really hated him, Spike always managed to surprise her. Whether it was calling a truce with her in order to save the world or enduring hell to save her little sister's life, Spike constantly challenged every idea she had in her head about him. And here he was again, standing in the middle of the bathroom with trembling hands, all because he was afraid for her.

God, how she loved him.

She reached out and picked up his hand. Looked down at those elegant fingers, smiled, and then looked up at him. "You know that I love you, right?" she asked. "You know it. I meant what I said. I trust you, Spike. I trust you with everything. What happened in this room, three months ago.... It's done. Over. It won't happen again. Ever. I know that. And you have to know it, too."

She licked her lips and dipped her head. "I don't know if I can love you right. And don't interrupt me here, because I have to say this. I'm terrified that I'm not going to be able to love you enough. To love you the way you deserve to be loved. I do love you. God, I love you so much that it stuns me. But what Drake said... there's truth in it. Even if it's not entirely true, it's not really a lie, either. There are pieces of me that are busted. But I love you with all my broken heart."

Her hand was still tangled up in his as she pulled him toward the door. Licked her lips a little nervously, but kept her eyes steady on him. "Come to bed, Spike. I'll do right by you."

He followed.

The bedroom was still dark, and the house was quiet. Buffy locked the door behind her as she pulled him into the room, and when she turned back around, Spike was standing by the bed. Eyes full of questions and uncertainties, but oh, she could see the lust in him. He wanted this. Wanted her. So beautiful, her big panther of a vampire, standing by the bed and bathed in moonlight.

Carefully, she stepped towards him, picking up his hands in hers and toying with his fingers. Mmm, he had the most clever hands. Always knew just how to touch her. Knew like nobody else. She kissed him again, long and slow, and she smiled when she felt him purr against her. God, she loved that sound. That rumbling low in his chest that only Spike ever did. Angel never purred. He was never that content.

"Undress me," she whispered in his ear, and Spike grinned at her. Big grin, wolfish one, the kind that made her panties even damper and her heart speed up. God, that smirk. The one that said he knew exactly how to make her scream. She loved that wicked, naughty grin more than she would ever understand.

"Whatever you say, Slayer," he growled into her ear, and she hissed in a breath at the way the sound hit her. His hands pulled her tight against him, and then he ripped her shirt off. She gasped when he tore at the cloth, and then she swatted at him lightly, giving him a mock-scolding look.

"God! You'd think that soul of yours would feel bad at ruining my clothes," she said, and he grinned, holding up the tattered remains of her dark gray blouse in his hand.

"Nah. I'll steal you a new one."

Oh, thank God some things never changed.

That hungry, predatory rumble in his chest was still there as he lowered his head to her breast, biting at the soft skin. He showed the bra a little mercy and unsnapped it, and then he sat down on the bed. Pulled her close to him, between his legs, and she gasped when he licked at her nipples. Smiled up at her with that voracious grin of his. "Mmm, I love the sight of you like this. Beautiful girl, you are. Missed this, missed the sight of you." Another nip of his teeth against the underside of her breast, and Buffy gasped, threw her head back, arched her hips. "Love this little spot, right here." Moved his mouth just to the side, where that sensitive little mole was. Brushed the teardrop of his upper lip against it lightly, and Buffy hissed in a breath when an intense rush of arousal stabbed her low in her belly. "Yeah, make that noise. Christ, love your noises. Love your--"

"Shut up," she gasped, wrapping her hands in his hair and drawing him close to her breast. "Always talking, you're always talking, but oh God, do that growly thing again...."

A mischievous flash of his eyes. "What, this?"

Spike growled low and dark against her breast. His chest was up against the curve of her belly, and the vibrations shot straight down to her crotch and she could feel herself spasm and shudder, so turned on that her skin was screaming. God, only Spike. Only Spike could ever make her feel this way. "You and no one else," she gasped, and it didn't matter if he understood what she meant. Just had to say it. "God, Spike, I love you so much, I love you--"

Her words were an aphrodisiac. Shot straight through him like honey, down to his cock, and the soft weight of her breast in the palm of his hand wasn't going to be enough. Had to have all of her, had to taste her, feel her, make her come a thousand times. Put her in ecstasy, make her fine and sweet in his hands. "Got to get you out of these wet things, don't we?" he said, and he quickly went to work unfastening her jeans. Slid a hand between her legs, smirked a little triumphantly when he felt the damp proof of her desire through the hot silk of her panties. "All of these wet things, as the case may be...."

"Egotistical bastard," she hissed into his ear, and he smiled blissfully.

"Yeah, and you love me for it."

She loved him. Christ, she loved him. Didn't ever have to question it, didn't ever have to wonder again. Could feel it every time she touched him. Heard the words fall out of her mouth when she touched him. Yeah, he didn't know if he deserved it. Didn't know if he was really worthy of that kind of affection from her. But God help him, he couldn't turn it down. Couldn't help but feel warmed by it. Said she was going to do right by him. Well, he was going to do right by her, too. Had to.

He pulled her jeans and panties down her hips, and she stepped the rest of the way out of them. Stood there naked before him, and Spike sucked in a breath at the sight of her. "God, you got beautiful," he breathed.

She arched her eyebrow at him. "Jeez, Spike, and here I was thinking that you always found me beautiful."

Spike gave her a look. "Don't be daft; you know you're a knock-out. Just thinkin' bout you makes me hard. But love, looking at you now...." He shook his head in awe. That slender waist, the round curve of her belly, the glow of her skin under the moon. "So beautiful, you are. Breaks my heart."

Her smile faltered, and he knew that she was thinking about what had happened tonight. "Make me feel beautiful, Spike," she said. "Tonight, I'm not really feeling it."

Spike pulled her down to the bed and pushed at her shoulders until she was lying on her back. "Got those haunting eyes, you do. Kind that'll follow a man around for years." Kissed her eyelids, kissed every body part he named as he worshipped her body. "Sweet mouth, tastes like mint and tears tonight. Rosy cheeks, mm, love your earlobe." Looped his tongue through the little silver hoop, felt her hiss and arch towards his body as he bit down on the tender flesh of her ear. "Slender little neck, god, have wet dreams about that throat of yours. Slender little shoulders, and your pretty tits, and that darling belly button." Got a genuine scrap of laughter out of her when he dipped his tongue into her navel. Ah, there was his girl. There was a flash of her. "Love your laugh, love your legs, and the smell of your cunny. God, you smell so good...."

And oh, the taste of her....

Danced across his tongue. Heady and intoxicating, waves of desire radiating off of him. Slid his tongue up her swollen labia, dipped the tip of it in her pussy. Smelled like marshes, she did. Ripe and rich and full of secret beauty. Tasted like saltwater and red wine. Deep and rich, like no other woman on the face of the planet. God, he loved this. Always had, always would. Loved the feel of her warm thighs against his face as she drew up her legs and gasped. Loved the sounds that she made, the ecstasy she projected. Didn't matter if he was so fucking hard he was going to bust out of his jeans any bloody minute. Giving her this.... It was like he could feel it, too. Feel everything she felt.

Her hand clutched blindly at his hair, fingers wrapping up in his curls as he licked at that tiny little button of nerves tucked away under the folds of her sensitive skin. Could feel her fingernails dragging against his scalp, and he was desperate to reach a hand down and touch himself, do something to relieve the pressure on his aching cock. But Spike couldn't drag his hands away from her skin. Couldn't stop touching her; couldn't touch enough of her.

Could never get enough of her.

"Spike!" she gasped, and all those delicious little noises were gasping and shuddering through her. He slid a finger inside of her, felt her pulse and throb around him, and he was dying to be inside of her. Bury himself inside of her so deep he could touch her heart, feed from her warmth. "Oh, God, Spike, I'm.... I'm almost...."

Suddenly, she shoved at his shoulders and pushed him away from her. Spike looked at her in confusion, and she panted out the words. "Have to... have to have you... inside...." Her fingers fumbled at the buttons on his jeans, and Spike sucked in a breath when her hot little hands brushed his prick through the fabric of his jeans. Oh, Christ, needed her so bad.

Finally, she got the buttons undone, and then she dove her hand inside, wrapped her hand around his hard, long cock. Christ, he couldn't handle it, and he jumped at her touch, felt all rational thought leave his mind as she cradled his balls in her hand. She stroked him long and good, from the base of his shaft to the wet tip. Spike's hips jerked towards her and he made a strangled noise in the back of his throat. Good God, her hands. "Mmm, you feel so good, God, Spike...."

"Inside you," he gasped. "Now, else I swear it, Slayer, I'm gonna explode."

Her hands grabbed desperately at his ass, and she pulled him inside of her, and he was there.

So long. Been so long since he'd felt this. Yeah, they'd toyed with kisses and gasps since he'd come back from Africa, but God, nothing like this. Nothing this complete. Surrounded by her, drowning in Buffy. Tight and hot around him, her panting breaths hot against his shoulder as he sank into her. Never forgot this. Never forgot what it felt like, to be inside of her, hotter and wetter than a tropical storm, her fingernails clutching at his shoulders as he moved in and out of her. Felt it moving, stirring inside of him. Felt ecstasy bubble up in his veins, and he pressed his forehead to hers. Looked into the swirling blurs of her eyes, too close for focus.

And then he felt it. Something new, something different. Very different from the last time they'd coupled like this. This wasn't about blood or brains or bodies. Deeper than that, more radiant than that. Something unfurling from inside of him, gaining color and shape, clarity and beauty.

He could feel his soul for the first time without pain.

"Do you feel it?" he whispered as he thrust in and out of her. "Christ, love, do you... do you...."

"Yes," she gasped. "Oh, yes. I feel you, Spike, I love you so much--"

And he could feel it, too, and it overwhelmed him into orgasm.

Gasping, clutching, feeling himself shake and shudder as he cried out incomprehensible words into her breast. Felt her shudder around him as she reached her climax. Felt like being released, like finding paradise, and it wasn't shocking in the least that he might find his own taste of heaven underneath Buffy's copper skin.

Time seemed to slow like honey, and Spike groaned as he rolled off of her. They lay there, side by side, staring at the ceiling. His hand was thrown over his head, and he felt her fingers snaking towards his wrist. Needy fingers, clutching at his, twining and binding them both together. Slowly, he turned his head to look at her. Big dark eyes, sweat-soaked brow. She was gorgeous in afterglow. Couldn't believe he saw her like this, all incandescent and fine. So close to him that he could feel her breath. Feel her heartbeat. Feel her everything.

Could feel her sorrow as she came back from sex-soaked bliss and down to reality.

That lower lip trembled, and Spike reached out, brushed his thumb across her mouth. "Hey, now," he murmured. "Don't give me that lip. Know it drives me mad. Tell old Spike what's wrong, ducks."

"It doesn't change things," she whispered. "Me and you. It doesn't... it can't fix what happened tonight. What's going to happen in the future."

Spike shook his head. Put his cool hands on her hot forehead; she always loved that. Got too hot during sex, his little volcano. Needed to be cooled down, soothed. "No, it doesn't," he agreed. "Can't change what happened, love. Hell, if we could, we'd all be running around back and forth through time, trying to fix all the shit we bollixed up."

Her eyes were wide and afraid. Terribly vulnerable, giving him those great big eyes that made his heart contract with pain. "So what do we do? How do... how do we..."

"Shh. We just move on. Take comfort where we can get it."

A sigh, heavy and long fell from her lips, and she gathered him closer to her. Wrapped him up in her arms, and he nuzzled the curve of her breast with his cheek as she clung to him like a vine. Didn't say another word, just moved her hand through his hair.

There was thunder in the distance, breaking through the quiet of the room. A flicker of lightning from behind the gauzy taupe curtains. Storm a-coming, but it was more than just the weather. There were dark things happening all around Sunnydale, and Spike could sense it. Feel it in the air, feel it in his blood. Things were coming for them. Things that might tear them both apart. And yeah, they would fight it. They'd stand tall and wield their weapons, wage their war, and even if it wasn't enough, they would have this. They'd have this.

Ah, not to worry. Not tonight. Tired, so tired, and surrounded by her sweet-smelling body. The smooth rise and fall of her breath was soothing and gentle, and slowly, happily, Spike drifted into sleep.

But love was not enough to make the nightmares go away.

She stayed awake for a while. Not moving, not speaking. Just looking at him as he lay beside her, his eyes pretty and dark as he slept. Heard the soft moans in his throat as he dreamed his bad dreams. Stroked his back, kissed his hair, but it didn't help. Loved him, but it didn't help. And he loved her, but it wouldn't save her tonight from the inevitable nightmares.

So Buffy just laid there, tangled up with him, and tried not to fall asleep.

Because whenever she closed her eyes, all she could see was Brandon Glaze's hand.



Martin Glaze was very, very dead.

The middle-aged man's body lay slumped over the tombstone, the sword still glittering bright in his back. Three teenaged bodies surrounded him, their blood spilling slowly into the soil, which greedily soaked it up like a cat in the sun. Magical herbs were strewn around him, and the candles had all gone out hours ago.

Yes, Drake was very pleased, indeed.

With a small toss of his hand, he brought one of the workers over to him. A young vampire, pretty. Kirsten. That was her name. Grew up in Europe on her daddy's various army bases back in the 80's, and was turned when she was just sixteen. She had a thing for foreign boys and their exotic blood. The girl moved close to him, her eyes flickering in their stupid, dull gold glow. Only the little ones stayed in vampire façade for so long. Still gave them thrills. "Yes, master?" she asked eagerly, and Drake rolled his eyes.

"Mr. Lucas, remember?" he said. "I don't go in for that whole master-and-minion thing. We're not a slave trade, Kirsten. We're a... corporation."

"An evil corporation," she amended, and he smiled with bemusement.

"Mmm, yes. Right. Could you gather up a couple of people and see to it that these bodies are destroyed? I want no evidence that anything happened here tonight, do you understand? If that means you have to scrub the blood off of this tombstone with a toothbrush, then that's the way it'll be. Understood?"

Kirsten beamed at him happily. "Yes, Mas- I mean, Mr. Lucas. Sir!" With one more perky smile, she swiveled on her heel and returned to the other vampires milling about the gravesite.

Drake stared after her for a moment and then returned his gaze to the sword protruding from Martin Glaze's back. Poor Marty. He'd been a sad case. Had a small fortune tied up in stocks and bonds, private jets, expensive yachts. All the luxuries money could buy, and it wasn't enough. Couldn't replace a person with a pretty piece of furniture or an authentic Tiffany lamp. Drake knew this. Learned it years ago, when he was just a boy, back when he had a different name and breath in his lungs. You could try to keep a person alive through memory, but it wasn't the same.

Tiny little fingers protruded through the rich, dark soil. The boy, yes, the boy. Drake knelt down slowly and touched his fingertips to the dead hand. He could feel him. Little Brandon Glaze, dead at the age of twelve from disease and exhaustion. Could feel his soul rippling throughout the universe. Just a little beck and call, and he could've raised him. Could have made the kid walk and talk again, even though the leukemia eventually would've claimed his life in the end. Could still do it. He didn't really need old Marty to raise a little kid from the grave.

But that wasn't what this was about.

This was about the Book.

Drake closed his eyes and felt for it. Yes, it was there. Power, written in blood-ink on ancient paper. Far away, too far for him to see exactly. Besides, it wasn't for him to see. Wasn't for him to take. But everything was going according to plan. There was blood on the blessed sword spilled by the Slayer's hand. And yes, his Slayer. Could feel her, too. Snuggled up with her soulful vampire, all hot and flushed from their fucking. She was an interesting one, this girl who could not help but love the dead. Could still feel her from the crypt, from earlier times. When she'd stood before him and told him she had a name.

He'd prove her wrong.

One of the vampires reached over to touch Martin's dead body, and Drake shot out a hand to still him. "Wait," he said harshly. "I want that sword. Take it with you. It's important. Vital."

The vampire frowned. "But it's all dirty and gross."

Drake frowned for a second, put his hand on the vampire, felt the residuals of his soul. Ah, right. He'd forgotten. When Jeremy was five, his mother had locked him in the basement for punishment, where the rats scuttled across his chubby little knees and the lice built homes in his fair hair. He hated germs. Feared them more than the wood of a stake or the light of day.

Drake gave him a sympathetic smile. "Face your fears, Jeremy. It'll do you a world of good. And if you clean that sword up, I'll make the maggots come back. And you wouldn't want that, would you?"

The vampire's lower lip trembled, and Jeremy shook his head. "N-no, sir. Please."

"Then get the fucking sword and go."

She was not asleep yet. Drake could feel it. Her thoughts were racing. Guilt, yes. There was guilt there. After all, her hands had been the ones that drove the sword through Marty's living heart. She'd taken a life for the first time tonight. A strange sense of pride flared up in his chest, and Drake grinned. Could see her so well, outlined in the shadows of her bedroom, stroking the back of her vampire's neck. Thinking she could save him. Couldn't save Martin, or those three innocent lives, or even poor little Brandon, dead in the ground. Maybe she could save him, though. Maybe.

But Drake already knew that she would fail.

Her eyes were growing heavy. He could feel it, feel the exhaustion as it quivered through her body. Streams of thought, the flow of consciousness slowly ebbing away as she drifted off into sleep.

"Good night, little Slayer," he murmured, and then a grin passed over his face. "Sweet dreams."

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