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Shelter From The Storm
By jodyorjen

DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX , Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. Theirs not mine

Part 1: Shattered

“I need you to help me,” I said thickly. My lips were swollen and it was hard to make the words come out right.

“Oh, Spike,” said Tara, horrified. She reached out her hand to touch my face, but I pushed it away.

“That’s not why I’m here,” I said. My head swam a bit and I leaned forward sharply. She caught me before I fell, and my face pressed into her shoulder. She smelled the way I remembered, sweet like honey and spicy like cloves. It brought back the memory of her tending my wounds after I was pushed off the tower, her kind attempts to soothe me as I fell apart with grief.

“Everything is going to be fine,” she said as she pulled off my duster. “I’m going to take care of you.” She helped me to her bed, and laid me down on soft pillows. Quickly she unlaced my boots and tossed them on the floor. The witch moved her hands steadily from my ankles up my legs.

“I’m fine,” I said to her. “She just went for the face.” She slid her hands over my ribs, and I gasped with pain.

“Whoever she was, she hurt more than your face,” Tara said angrily. She stepped away for a minute, and I closed my eyes. I felt so disoriented, like my head was floating far above me. My face stung with pain, so fiercely that it felt like it was on fire.

I smelled Tara strongly again as I felt a cold sharp sensation drift up my chest. I opened my good eye to see her cutting off my new shirt. “Don’t do that,” I said faintly. “I’ll have to steal some more clothes.”

“I’ll buy you what you need, don’t worry about it,” she said as she pulled off the pieces of clothing. She made a pained noise when she saw my chest. It was covered in small lacerations, with deep black and blue bruises that hinted at broken ribs.

“It’ll all heal by itself,” I explained to her. “No need to worry about it.” She looked up at me, and her eyes were filled with tears. “No use crying over me, ducks,” I said. “I’m just an evil thing.”

“You’re more than that. And no one deserves to be hurt like this,” she said through clenched teeth.

“It’ll be all healed in a few days,” I explained. “No reason for anyone to get upset about it.” She held one of my hands for a moment and placed it gently down.

“Well, if you’re going to let yourself be victimized, I guess I’ll just have to get upset for you,” she replied. She wiped the tears from her cheeks. Carefully she ran her fingertips over my chest and gently prodded around my ribs.

“I came here for a spell, Tara. You don’t need to take care of me,” I said. I moaned in pain as she touched a particularly sore spot.

“You can’t take care of yourself, obviously.” She turned away and rummaged in a chest at the foot of the bed. “There isn’t a bruise or cut on your hands. You didn’t even try to fight back.”

“Drop it, Wicca,” I snapped.

“You let someone torture you tonight.” She looked at me with soulful eyes. “Why?” Her stare burned into me, and it was as if she could see straight into my heart.

“I’m leaving. I can find another witch who can leave well enough alone.” I stood up with difficulty and moved to the door.

“Please don’t go,” said Tara, and I turned to look at her. She held several small stone jars in her hands. “I’ll do whatever spell you need, just let me heal you first.”  I saw the sincerity and concern on her face, and nodded my assent. The pain of the movement hit me like a hammer, and this time I lost my balance. Face first I hit the floor. A gruesome crunch rang in my head and then it all faded to black.

I woke up fiercely coughing, my nose and throat raw.  My head rested in Tara’s lap. The bodice of her robe was an interesting swirl of scarlet ribbons. She leaned close to my face, lips pursed.

“I blew some kiriana powder in your mouth,” she said distinctly. “It will make you more alert so I can tend you better.” She sounded remote, like she was trapped in a well.

She helped me to my feet and led me by the hand. I felt hyper aware of my surroundings, more so than the night I was first turned. I followed her down a dark corridor, and the security lamps that were placed here and there glowed like beautiful stars. She opened a door to a cold, quiet room. It shone brightly in the moonlight, the walls and floor covered with large white tiles. The ceramic floor felt odd beneath my feet.

“I don’t want to upset you,” she said, ”but this is really messy and we need to do it here.” She pulled back a curtain and revealed a small shower. Carefully she put down a large clay jar on the floor. “This might hurt you,” she said earnestly. “But I am hurting you because I have to.”

I laughed loudly, and it sounded weird and harsh in the stillness of the room. “No one ever wants to hurt me, they just do it despite their nature.” She looked at me oddly and then reached in and turned on the water.

She began to undo the buttons of my fly, and I swatted at her fingers. She looked up at me with her wide trusting eyes. “Pretend I’m a nurse. I just want to help you.” Her hands fumbled at my pants as she pulled them down around my thighs and off my legs.

“Dru and I used to play doctor and nurse, but I don’t think you want to play that game,” I told her seriously.

She smiled at me and led me into the shower as she pulled shut the curtain. The shower was a living thing, and I listened to the water breathe. I could hear each bead of water as it rolled over my skin. It danced over my body, and sang a song to me. “Tara, can you hear the water sing?” I ask her in wonder.

“It’s the kiriana,” she explained. “It is great for keeping you on your feet and masking the pain, but it’s a powerful stimulant and slightly hallucinogenic.”

She gently turned me to face her. A stream of water splashed the front of her kimono, and the red lines on her bodice began to spill and run. “Was that my blood?” I ask her.

She looked down at herself. “It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.” I stared at her chest, and the water flowed over the pink silk of her robe. It became transparent and revealed the darker coral of her nipples underneath.  She leaned over and picked up the jar and placed the cork stopper on the ground. “Try to hold still while I do this.”

Tara shoved her hand into the vessel, and pulled it out covered in a thick white paste.  She massaged the cream delicately into the skin that surrounded the eye that was swollen shut. I whimpered despite myself. It wasn’t only the pain, but the softness of her hand that unmanned me.

“It’s okay,” she crooned. “It’ll be over soon.” She dipped her hand into the cream and smoothed it over my brow. The pain slid away, and my skin tingled. I stared into her eyes and found that there was so much light there. It was a haven that held a peace that I had never felt before.

“I wish I could live inside your eyes,” I said to her. She smiled at me as she continued to do her work. Her hand caressed the side of my face, the lobe of my ear, the sweep of my jaw. Everywhere that she touched me tingled as if kissed by starlight. “You make me feel like a shining thing,” I explained to her earnestly. “I feel so bright, and warm. I wish you could touch me forever.”  Her hands caressed my neck, and I shuddered with arousal as her nails grazed the sensitive skin.

“I’m so sorry,” she apologized. “I’m trying so hard not to hurt you.” She put her jar on the ground. “I’m going to heal your ribs now,” she said seriously. “This is more invasive and it will probably cause more pain than the drug can fully hide.” She whispered to herself and began to glow. Her hair shined a bright, pure gold, and her face illuminated from within. She looked like an angel.

She placed her hands upon my ribs. Sensation flooded between the two of us. I moaned as a heavy golden heat surrounded my bones, and I could feel the breaks knit together. Tara’s face was radiant, her eyes closed as she focused all of her energy on me. The flood of light intensified, and I felt like we were the center of the universe, the only two beings that existed. As the golden light began to dissipate, Tara fell against me, and I caught her in my arms.

We were pressed close together. I held her tight and waited for her breathing to slow down, but it only increased. I tilted back her head and saw that her eyes were still tightly closed. When her eyes finally opened, they were no longer tranquil, but stormy and unsettled. “Tara?” I said questioningly.

“I’ve never felt like that before,” she said slowly. “I was inside you, and it felt so good. So perfect.” Her voice broke. “And then it was over, and I was all alone again.”

“I’m still here, pet,” I said. I ran my hand down her cheek, and she shuddered. She arched towards me, and her hard nipples pressed into my chest. Her touch still felt like golden fire, and desire flared up inside me. A moan escaped her mouth and she reached up to grab my hair.

“Do you want me to touch you?” I asked softly. She nodded, a small nod. “Here?” She shook her head no. I picked her up and carried her from the bathroom. Her open door spilled out light into the hallway, a beacon in the darkness.

DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX , Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. Theirs not mine

Part 2: Claimed

I slammed the door shut with my foot and moved to set down Tara on her bed. She clung to me, unwilling to let go. The silk of her robe was completely sodden, and she shivered. “I won’t leave you, baby,” I assured her, “Just let me get you warmed up.” I set her on her feet gently and moved my hands to the sash of her robe. She trembled at my touch and I stopped. ”Do you want to keep that on?” I asked uncertainly.

She opened her eyes. “I want to get close to you again,” she said, her voice raw with need. I quickly untied the sash and the robe fell to the floor. She stood before me, gloriously naked. Her breasts were full and lush, her belly smooth and white. Her beauty shone so glimmering and bright, and I wanted to taste her, to touch her. I looked away, conscious of my nudity and the fact that she could certainly see the affect had on me.

I turned her away from me and pulled the quilt off of her bed. I gently wrapped it all around her, and tucked and folded it to keep her modesty intact. I had to cover her up, to conceal her body before I did something stupid, something to make her hate me. I pulled her into my arms and lay down with her on the bed. “I’ve got you, ducks,” I whispered.

I pressed my face to her neck, and luxuriated in her scent. I peered closely at her skin, and it looked like fine lace. I could clearly see the delicate traceries marked in her skin. They outlined a pattern, a collar of roses. With my fingertip, I traced the curves of the flowers on her neck, and she purred and moaned. The noises that she made inflamed my senses, and I struggled with my need. 

She turned in my arms to face me. “Your neck is made of lace,” I said to her. She swept her mouth across my jaw, and I felt the delicate flutter of her eyelashes whisk across my skin. Locks of her hair fell across my face, and I watched the world through a sheer golden net. “And your hair is spun of gold,” I said dreamily. The strands moved away, and I saw Tara’s eyes. Golden sparks flared amidst tranquil blue. There was so much need in them, and desire, and love. I moved to nuzzle her neck and her mouth came down on mine.

She tasted like honey. The second I tasted her, I needed more. I tightened my arms around her back, and held her close to me. Her lips were so soft, so smooth. Her tongue flickered hesitantly into my mouth, and I groaned and let her in. We kissed deliberately, thoroughly. I had never kissed like this, deep kisses that were an experience unto themselves, an act of intimacy all their own.

We kissed in every way.  We embraced slowly, and hard, and gently, and passionately. We’d move and stir and the pitch would rise until I just had to have her, had to claim her, and then she would change the pace, and we’d sink back down together to tranquility and contentment.

She pulled away from me, and I was filled with a sense of loss. “Oh, Tara,” I said. “I need you. Please don’t go.” She sat up and pulled off the quilt and shook it out so that it covered us both. She grasped the edge and pulled it over our heads. She snuggled into my shoulder and we lay there, in the dark tent she had made. I reached out for her hand and held it, my thumb moving over her soft palm. We lay that way for a long time, and it was so serene and peaceful in the bed, with her scent and her heartbeat and her hand in mine.

“When I was a very little girl,” she said softly. “I would hide underneath this quilt. It kept me safe from monsters.”

“You were afraid of monsters?” I asked.

She nodded. “I was afraid of monsters and the dark too.”

“I’m sorry that you were scared, pet,” I said to her.

She looked at me with her wide blue eyes. “When I touch you, I feel like I did here, under my quilt. I could believe that everything was good, and I was safe, and bad things would never reach me.”

I pulled her mouth to mine and kissed her. Her mouth was so good, so perfect. It was hard to break away, but I did. “Anything hurts you, love, I’ll snap its bloody neck,” I told her seriously.

She laughed, and the sound was sweet and rich. She rested her head on my shoulder again, and placed her hand on my chest. “I have my own monster now,” she said softly. When I turned to look at her, she was asleep. I rested my face against hers, and smelled her special Tara scent, and I fell asleep too.

I awoke to the feel of a warm human body on mine. Tara had wrapped herself around me in sleep, her leg thrown over my stomach. Her breath wafted gently across my cheek. She looked beautiful as she slept.  I kissed her lips, and she smiled. I moved to roll over her, and was startled by pain. I looked down at my chest, and saw large yellow bruises that mottled my skin. I remembered everything that happened the night before.

I threw on my duster, grabbed my boots and gently closed her door behind me. In the bathroom, I found my pants folded neatly on the floor. The shower we had used still ran, and I turned it off. I had my pants on one leg when a sleepy looking girl in a bathrobe wandered in. She looked at me oddly as I got my pants on and shoved my feet into my boots. “Morning, love,” I said with a smile, as I walked past her and out the door.

I went to the police station through the tunnels. I lurked in the foyer and listened to the conversations, as I figured that a girl who turned herself in for murder would be pretty big news in Sunnydale. When it was clear to me that she hadn’t done it after all, I left and made the way back to my crypt. As I smoked and walked, I thought. I thought of Buffy, and how she made me feel. The things that she’d said. What she’d done.

I tried to sleep, but my bed seemed cold and musty. I pressed a soft pillow to my chest, and pretended it was Tara. I thought of her scent, her smile, and her softness. I stared at the ceiling and tried to recapture the feeling of her.  When I finally woke, it was after dark. I made my way to Buffy’s house. A familiar figure walked down the other side of the street in the opposite direction.

“Tara!” I called out as I crossed the street to her. She startled. “Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.” She looked down at the ground, and seemed unwilling to look at me. “About last night…” I began.

She looked up at me, and her face was a rosy pink. She was flushed, embarrassed. “Just forget it ever happened.”

“Tara…” I began.

“You don’t have to say anything,” she said sweetly. “It was just the spell, and the drug I gave you, and I felt so alone and…” She stopped and bit her lip. “I’m sorry,” she said awkwardly. “I didn’t know.” Her face crumpled and she ran away.

“Tara!” I yelled after her, confused. She ran swiftly and never looked back. I continued on to Buffy’s determined to get this over with.

I knocked on the front door. She opened it, saw me, and slammed it in my face. “Open the door.” There was no response. “Open the fucking door, Buffy!” I screamed loudly, fed up.

She opened the door and crossed her arms in front of her. “What do you want?”

“Are you alright?” I lowered my voice. “What happened with the, you know, accident?”

“Not your problem, Spike,” she said briskly. “The Scoobies and I are on it. I didn’t hurt anyone.”

I smiled at her in relief. “Well, that’s great, Slayer.”

She looked at me coldly and raised her chin. “Is that all?”

The smile slid from my face. “I will always love you, Buffy.” She rolled her eyes and started to shut the door. “Will you just give me one second,” I said angrily. She stopped the door halfway and looked at me. “I will always love you,” I repeated. “If you need me, I will always be there for you. You can always count on me.” She stared at me blankly. “I won’t be coming around any more. I’d rather you left me alone too, unless you need me to help you.” I tilted my head and looked at her. “I was wrong.”

“Wrong about what?” she asked, with only a hint of real interest.

“You don’t always hurt the one you love,” I said. “Real love doesn’t hurt at all. I never knew that before, but I’m learning it now.” I turned my back and walked past the tree where I had spent too many nights watching, always on the outside looking in.

I knocked on the door of Tara’s room, but there was no answer. I knew she was inside. I could hear her heartbeat. “Tara, it’s Spike,” I called. “Can you let me in?” There was no response, but I could hear her breathing erratically. I smelled salt. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a thin metal shim. I jimmied the door and walked in. The room was dark and appeared empty except for a lump underneath the covers on the bed. “What’s wrong, love?”

“Go away, please,” Tara said softly. Her voice was thick with tears. If I had any doubt before, now I knew exactly how she felt.

“I’m sorry that I took advantage of you,” I said to her. She began to cry louder. “I’m sorry that I’m an idiot. I try not to be one. But you’re very beautiful, and you are so sweet, and I respect you so much. What we did last night, you being with me, it was the happiest I’ve ever been. The closest thing to heaven an evil bastard like me could ever hope for.”

She pulled off the covers. Her hair was in disarray, and her face was puffy from crying. “It’s very sweet of you to say that,” she said slowly, “but you don’t have to pretend.”

“Pretend that you mean something to me?” I asked her.

She closed her eyes. “I know that you l-l-love Buffy,” she said sadly.

“I love Buffy, just like you love Willow. Someone that you care for, but can never be with.”

Tara looked at me with confusion.  “I saw Buffy tonight, and she told me that you were… together.”

“Whatever we had, it’s done. It’s not what I want anymore. It doesn’t feel right.” She looked at me, and I could see the hope in her eyes. “What we had, last night, that’s what feels right.”  I pulled a small box out of my pocket and give it to her.  She turned on the bedside lamp and opened the box. Inside was a small ruby heart pendant on a gold chain.  “I want to be with you, Tara,” I said to her. She smiled at me, and held out the necklace. I fastened the chain around her neck.

She pulled me down on top of her. I looked at her, surprised. “I thought that it was just a fluke,” she said happily. “I couldn’t imagine you really wanted me.”

I slid my hand across her shoulder, and trailed my finger up and down her neck. “Oh, I really want you.” I brought my mouth down to hers. The taste of her was so amazing, the feel of her, and the smell of her. She was so soft and yielding underneath me, and it made me so very hard.  I rubbed against her, and I could feel her warmth through my jeans and her filmy skirt. I swiveled my hips, and she held my shoulder tight. We moved together, and she made so much noise that I wondered if I could make her come without even touching her. She broke away with a gasp. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I’ve never,” she said. She looked at me directly. “I can feel you against me, and it is making me nervous, because I don’t know what to do.”

“You don’t have to do anything,” I said. “We have all the time in the world.”

“But I want you,” she said. “You make me so excited and you make me want…” she broke off.

“What do you want, pet? I’ll do anything, or nothing, whatever you want.”

“I want to be close to you,” she said directly. “I want to feel you naked next to me.” I stood up and stripped off my clothes, and her eyes never left me. The way she watched me was the most erotic thing I had ever seen. I lay down next to her and she turned to me. She ran her hands over my chest and licked my nipple. I moaned, and it seemed to encourage her. She sucked and bit on my nipple until I was so excited, that was all it was going to take. “I’ve got to get up, ducks,” I said to her breathily.


“I have to come, I can’t wait.”

She looked at me hesitantly. “Can I watch you do it?”

“It won’t, you know, gross you out? It’s not a pretty sight,” I explained. She bent her head to my chest and sucked and bit at my nipples while I worked my cock with my hand. I came explosively, and semen spattered all over my belly. She crawled down my body, and gently lapped at the puddle with her tongue.

“Oh don’t do that, love,” I said to her as I pulled her wrist. “You won’t like that a bit.”

“It’s a little bitter,” she said. Her tongue moved back and forth across my stomach. I put my hand under her skirt and inside her underwear. She was very slick, and my finger slid easily inside her. “Oh,” she said, and tightened around me. I slipped another finger inside her and pumped, and she moaned. Her tongue began to lick the head of my cock.

“Oh yeah,” I said through clenched teeth. She quivered all around me, and I knew that she was close. “Stop, stop and come up here,” I said to her, as I withdrew my hand.

“Don’t stop,” she pleaded.

“I’ll finish what I started,” I promised. She came back next to me. Her clothes flew across the room as I stripped them off her. Gently, I fondled her breast while I worked her with my fingers again. I wanted to watch her come, to know what it felt like to be the one who did that for her. “I want to make love to you,” I told her. “I want to make you mine.”

“I want you to,” she said breathlessly. “I want to have you, all of you.” She straddled me, and she was filmed with sweat and flushed. I looked up at her beautiful naked body.

“No, no, I didn’t mean it, I was thinking out loud with my dick,” I explained to her.

“You don’t want to?” she asked me.

“Of course I do,” I said. “But it should be special and romantic, and can we not have this conversation right now?”  I rolled her on her back and plunged my tongue between her thighs. The taste of her was intense, the intoxicating essence of Tara. I slid my tongue in and out of her, and did everything with my mouth that I so badly wanted to do with my cock. She grabbed my hair hard in both hands as she came; a beautiful wordless moan that sent shivers up my spine.

Tara pulled me up by my shoulders and kissed me. “That was so good,” she said happily. “I want to be good for you too.” She reached down and slid both hands around my cock, and it only took two strokes for me to come all over her belly. I cleaned her off with tissues from her nightstand. She had already begun to doze off when I turned off the light and tucked us both in the bed.

“I’m falling for you,” she said sleepily.

I snuggled closer into her and kissed her shoulder. “You’re not alone,” I replied.

DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. Theirs, not mine.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The poem quoted is “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost.

Part 3: Known

Tara was so beautiful in her sleep. Golden hair every which way on the pillow, mouth slightly open, cheeks rosy. I gently kissed her lips, and she smiled. “Spike,” she said sleepily. I showered her neck with tiny kisses. She turned to me, her wide blue eyes clear and bright.

“Good morning, pet.” I smiled at her. She pressed my lips to hers, and I was enveloped once again in her taste, cloves and honey.  Her hands brushed down my back, and her touch was so gentle, so light.

Classical music pealed loudly through the room. I sank back against the pillows as she leaned forward and shut off her alarm. “I have to get up now,” she explained as she turned back towards me.

“Do you have to?” I asked regretfully. I ran my hand down her neck, and she caught her breath.

“I have to,” she said softly. She kissed me swiftly on the forehead and got out of bed. “I have a class.” She turned and smiled at me as she pulled on her robe. “Do you want to have breakfast with me?”

Shortly after, I sat across from Tara.  She wore red today to match the ruby pendant that hung around her neck.  Carefully she stirred granola into a bowl of yogurt.

“I don’t know how you can eat that crap,” I commented. “It tastes rancid.”

“You’re a little judgmental for a guy who drinks blood,” she said in a low voice.

“I have great taste,” I replied. “Take this here.” I held up my bowl of Captain Crunch. “This is a bloody brilliant breakfast.”

“It has no nutritional value. It’s empty calories, nothing but sugar and starch.”

“But it’s good. It bursts on your tongue.” I held up a spoonful to her mouth. “Come on, eat this.”

She shook her head. “I have my yogurt.”

“Live a little, Wicca.” She rolled her eyes and opened her mouth. I fed her the cereal and she ate tentatively.

“It’s really good.” She munched thoughtfully. “Yummy.” She looked so adorable; I just had to kiss her. I leaned across the table and brought her lips to mine. I slid my tongue in her mouth and she whimpered.

“Get a room!” someone yelled. We turned and looked around. A good number of the people in the cafeteria stared at us. Flustered, Tara stood up abruptly.

“Where are you going, pet?” I grabbed her hand.

“I-I-I’m going to go dig a hole and bury myself in it,” she said, her face red.

“They’re just jealous,” I said soothingly as I pulled her back down.

She took a few more bites of yogurt, and then looked at me thoughtfully. “Can I eat the rest of that?” she asked, as she gestured to my cereal.

“So what’s next on your schedule?” I asked her as we walked through the tunnel underneath UC Sunnydale.

“I have Art History and then Ceramics.” She took my hand and interlaced her fingers with mine.  “I’ll be done by one o’clock.” She looked at me hesitantly.

“Do you want to meet me at my crypt later?” I asked her. “I just sit around all day watching the telly.”

“Why don’t you stay in my dorm? You can watch the big TV in the lounge. And there’s always guys hanging out playing pool or ping-pong.” She smiled shyly at me. “And we could do something after I got back.”

“Sounds good.” And it did. I opened the door to the basement in Sullivan Hall for her. “Stay out of trouble,” she said, as she handed me her room key and pecked my cheek. Her full skirt fluttered around her legs as she walked away. She peeked over her shoulder and smiled when she saw that I was watching her.

I made my way back to her dorm and went to the lounge. It held several couches and a huge television set. A dozen girls were gathered around watching a talk show. They turned and looked at me curiously when I came in.  “Hello,” I said. I plopped down on a couch and stretched out my legs.

“Are you Tara’s boyfriend?” asked a pudgy blonde in a pink sweat suit. “I saw you guys in the cafeteria.”

“I’m Spike,” I said with a smile.

“Isn’t she, you know, gay?” asked a curvy brunette. Another girl elbowed her in the ribs. We watched several lame shows, and made fun of the people on them. The blonde girl shared her doughnuts and Cokes with me.

I got bored sitting still and made a fast fifty bucks off a couple guys who had no idea how to play pool. I wandered back to Tara’s room, and I sat on her bed while I leafed through a dog-eared volume of poetry. The cracks on the spine and her notes in the margins showed me what she liked best. “Beautiful”, she wrote in her tiny hand. “Perfect.” Her favorites seemed to be ones about the beauty of the outdoors. She liked Frost; every poem of his was underlined, and the pages were worn smooth from use.  

The door opened and she was back. I smiled, happy to see her. She sat down next to me and peered over my shoulder. “Nature's first green is gold,” she read softly, “Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower. But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, so dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.” She looked away from me. The room was so still and quiet. Silence extended for a minute, and the only sound was her quiet breath.

“Tara?” I asked. I reached out and touched her shoulder. Her muscles were tight.

“Nothing gold can stay,” she repeated.  “I think that I must have done something wrong when I healed you,” she said quietly.

I stroked her hair. “Why do you think that?”

“The way that I feel,” she said. “The way that we are together. It happened during the spell.”

Understanding dawned and I dropped my hand away, stung. “You think the way we feel is just a…” I grasped for the right words. “A mistake,” I said, my voice hard and cold.

“You love Buffy,” she said adamantly. “You were with her. You never even looked at me twice. And I don’t even…”

“You don’t even like men.” It came out harder than I intended, and she flinched.  I stood up and walked away from her. She turned to face me, and her eyes were bright with tears. “You don’t really want me.” I sounded stiff and unnatural, and I felt like my heart had been pulled out of my chest.

“Spike, you’re wrong. I want you so much,” she said passionately. “I’m falling in love with you.”

“What do you think is happening to me?” I asked her, hurt. “What we said last night, what we did, you think that was all a lie?”

“It has to be magic,” she said as she stared at me. “It’s just too good to be true.” 

I walked to the bed and kneeled in front of her. “I’ve never been so happy, ever. I couldn’t bear to be away from you for a few hours. You’re the one that I want,” I said hoarsely. I held her hand in mine and looked into her eyes. They were full of love, and pulled me like a magnet. I pulled off her sweater and undid her bra. I cradled the fullness of her breasts in my hands, as I ran my thumbs over her pebbled nipples.

She made breathy little noises. “Please,” she said quietly.

“Please, what?” I said. I slowly slipped off her skirt and her panties. My hand ran up the long white length of her thigh and I slipped my fingers inside her.

“You feel so good,” she said breathlessly.  I pumped my fingers in and out as I played with her soft pink nipple. She came suddenly, and she bit down hard on her lip.

“Don’t hold back,” I said. “I want to hear it.”

“I want to feel you inside me,” she panted. “I want to know all of you.”  The feel of her, the need on her face, it was too powerful. I stood up and pulled off my clothes.

“Tell me you want me,” I said raggedly as I leaned her back on the softness of her quilt.

She looked up at me. “I want you,” she said, her eyes raw with lust.

“I won’t ever let you go,” I said to her, needing her to understand.

“Please don’t,” she said sincerely. The ruby heart that I’d given her blazed against the white of her skin.
I sucked her fingers into my mouth and bit them lightly. I held the head of my cock and rubbed it up and down her slit. I traced circles over and around her clit, until we were both slick with arousal. I slipped in slightly, the head just inside her. The feel of her warmth was amazing and I thrust my hips forward. I stilled, awed by how warm and tight and good she felt. “Do it. Don’t stop. Make love to me,” she asked, her voice full of desire.

“Please tell me this means something,” I said through clenched teeth.

“It means everything,” she said. Her hair cascaded around her face and she was so incredibly beautiful. I slowly moved inside her, and it felt so right, so fine. She slid her hands around me and gently cupped my ass. I stroked in and out of her, and she stared up at me.

“Do you like it?” I asked her. “Am I hurting you?”

She shook her head. “It feels so nice,” she said.

“I can do better than nice,” I said, as I bent my head to her neck. I licked and bit her, and she tightened around me.  I moved within her, and the noises that she made encouraged me. Her hands clenched tightly around me as I increased the pace.

“I feel like I’m going to split apart,” she said, her voice high and thin. “I feel like I’m breaking.” I looked at her face, and it was full of ecstasy, tight with anticipation.

“Come for me,” I said to her. “I want to make you come.” She opened her eyes and stared up at me.  “You don’t know what you do to me,” I whispered to her. “The smell of you, the sound of your voice, the feel of you underneath me.” She bit her lip again. “Scream, yell, let me hear it,” I said, my voice uneven as I careened towards orgasm.

“God Spike I want you and you feel so good and you’re so hard and you fill me and I…” The flood of words cut off as she came, and she bit me hard on the neck. The pain broke my control and I let myself go. We held each other tightly as we recovered from the intense sensations.

She rested against my chest, and I stroked her back with my hand.  I ran my hand up and down her spine. “You’re petting me,” she said. “I feel like I’m Miss Kitty Fantastico.”

“Whatever happened to that cat?” I asked her.

“She ran away from home,” she said sadly.

“I’ll have to get you a new one. You can pet me in the meantime,” I said seductively. I turned to face her and ran my hand along her thigh.

“Please,” she said. Her eyes fluttered closed and her cheeks were tinged with pink.

“Please, what?” I asked, as I moved my hand lower.

“I want you again,” she said. I circled her clit with my thumb, and slipped my fingers inside her. Her hand closed around my cock, and I moaned into her neck. “Do I make you feel good?” she asked.

“God, yes,” I said, lost in bliss.

“Do you want to make love to me?” she asked.

“Let me show you how much,” I said as I kissed her. I thrust inside her, and she made a pained noise.

“Are you sore?” I asked, concerned. “Did I hurt you?” Her teeth sank into my shoulder and her nails scratched my back. “Oh, Tara. That’s so damn sexy,” I said as she wrapped her legs around me tightly. I increased the pace, and she scratched harder and harder on my back.

“Don’t do that, pet,” I said. “It’s driving me insane. You’re going to get more than you bargained for.”

She licked my lip, and then bit down hard. “You came when I bit you,” she whispered. “I could tell you liked it.” She stared in my eyes and deliberately drew her nails down my chest.

I let loose my demon. Tara stilled as she stared at my face. “Vampires like pain. And if you hurt me, it will be hard to be gentle with you. I don’t want to hurt you,” I explained. Her eyes were wide, but I couldn’t read their expression. “I won’t bite you,” I reassured her.

“You can if you want to,” she said, as she caressed my brow.

“Why would you want me to do that?” I asked, not understanding.

“How long has it been, since you had what you really need?”” she said softly. She ran her fingers along my fangs, an appraising look on her face.

“You’re not scared?” I asked her gently.

She smiled at me. “It’s part of who you are, it is what you are. I trust you.”  I slid my fangs into her neck as I moved within her. The taste of her was fire and electricity in my mouth, warm and gloriously human. I felt her come, and she cried out my name. I drank and thrust, and was filled with her life, surrounded by it, as I filled her with my essence.

I held her in my arms and listened to her heartbeat. “No one has ever done that for me before,” I said quietly. “I’ve never had anyone open up to me so totally.”

“I accept you,” she said. ”You don’t have to try to be something you’re not.”

“I don’t deserve you,” I said. I nuzzled my face into her neck and smelled the rich scent of her blood.

“No one ever deserves love,” she replied. “But we’re blessed with it anyway.” We held each other and drifted off to sleep.

Shadows crept in the room as dusk fell outside. “We slept the day away,” said Tara as she woke me up.  She wore another robe, this one a soft blue.  She moved to her dresser and brushed her hair.

I wrapped my arms around her and watched her solitary reflection in the mirror. “I want to take you out somewhere tonight. We could go to a nice restaurant,” I told her.

“I’d love to, but I already have plans for tonight,” she said.

I felt abandoned. “I understand, pet. You’ve got your own life,” I said briskly, as I turned away.

She grabbed my waist, and her face was full of happiness and affection  “My life that you’re now a huge, important part of.” She stood on her toes and kissed my nose. “I’m taking Dawn to the movies.  Would you like to come too?” she asked.

I smiled in relief. “That would be great.”

DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. Theirs, not mine.

Part 4: Contented

We held hands as we walked through the streets of Sunnydale. “I haven’t been to the movies in ages,” I said to Tara. “It was always a good place to catch dinner unawares.” She gave me a weird look. “Right, you probably don’t want to hear about that,” I chided myself.

“You’ve lived a long time, you must have a lot of stories to tell,” she said. “If you can’t tell me about your past, you can’t be free to be yourself.”

“It doesn’t disgust you?” I asked, not sure I wanted to hear the answer.

She stopped and took both my hands in hers. “You’re a vampire,” she said forthrightly. “You need blood to survive. No one ever told you that there was another way, that you didn’t have to kill to feed.”

“I did like the killing,” I admitted. “It was part of the whole experience, part of the rush.”

“You’re a predator,” she said earnestly. “That is part of your character. But obviously not the whole of it.” I kissed her gently and we resumed our walk.

“If I had the chip out,” I explained, “I think that I would try to kill again. I thought that it wasn’t working, and I tried to eat someone.”

She paused for a minute and thought. “How did it make you feel? Did you get the same rush?”

I shook my head. “The high, the juice, it wasn’t there. It wasn’t about the blood, or the kill.  It was more about being angry with Buffy, and angry at myself for being so whipped.”

“You’re not ruled by your instincts anymore,” she said. “Even if the chip fails, you’ll be different than before.”

“Things are different now. I have you.” I gently kissed her knuckles. “I know you couldn’t stay with a killer,” I said to her. “As long as I have you, I won’t hurt anyone, even if the Initiative comes knocking on my door with a big box of candy, an apology, and a really good brain surgeon.”

She laughed. “The Initiative-O-Gram.”

“We’re from the government,” I intoned,  “and we’re here to help.”

We turned the corner onto Revello Drive. I stopped and looked at her. “How do you want to play this?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” she replied. She shivered slightly in the wind and I looped her long scarf around her neck.

“Do you want to keep this a secret? You don’t have to tell anyone about us if you don’t want to,” I said sincerely.

“I’m not ashamed of you,” she said earnestly. “And I don’t believe in lying to the people that I care about.”

“It will hurt Willow,” I said to her. “She thinks you’ll come back to her.”

A shadow crossed her face. “I don’t want to hurt her,” she said softly. “But she hurt me. What she did to me was wrong, and I’m not going to push what we have under the rug just to make her comfortable.”

“She is in recovery, and she’s having a hard time,” I said. “I’m just afraid that she might try a love spell or something if she knew.”

“I won’t lie,” she said adamantly. “If anyone asks directly, I won’t lie. And I don’t want you to lie either.”

I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and we continued to walk. “Whatever you want, love.”

Buffy’s house appeared down the block. I tugged Tara back into the bushes. “What are you doing?” she asked, as I put my hands under her jacket.

“I’m storing up for later,” I said as I caressed her breasts. “I’ll have to be a good boy all night long.” I moved my mouth to her jaw, and licked her. She moaned. “Oh, don’t make that noise, pet,” I said as I bit her ear. “You’ll be shagged upright in the shrubbery.” Her hand cupped me through my pants and she rubbed me firmly. “Apparently that’s what you want,” I said, as her mouth covered mine. She kissed me heatedly as her tongue probed my mouth. She stopped for a second to catch her breath. “Stop that,” I said. “It feels way too good.”

She broke away reluctantly. “You’ll have to make it up to me later,” she said with a sly grin.

We walked down the street and up Buffy’s front porch. I rang the doorbell. Buffy opened the front door. “What a surprise,” she said coldly. “So much for not darkening my doorstep again.”

“I’m not here for you,” I said.

She smirked. “I know exactly why you’re here,” she said, as she leaned in close.

“He’s with me,” said Tara, as she peeked out from behind me. Buffy stepped back, flustered. “We’re here for Dawn.”

We walked inside. “Why are you with him?” Buffy asked Tara.

Dawn ran down the stairs, a smile on her face. “Spike! What are you doing here?”

“I’m going to escort two lovely ladies to the picture show,” I said with a smile.

“Cool,” she said as she grabbed her jacket and spun out the front door. “Bye Buffy.” Tara and I exchanged looks. Buffy looked sad.

“Have a good evening, Slayer,” I said as Tara and I went to catch up with Dawn.

“So my friend Janice saw this movie,” said Dawn excitedly as we stood in line at the Sun. “She said it was the scariest thing ever.”

“I don’t think that I want to see it,” said Tara. “I don’t like scary things.” I smiled at her, and she blushed. The wind picked up and her scarf unfurled into the air.

“What happened to your neck?” asked Dawn, as she reached out and touched the bandage at Tara’s throat.

“Spike bit me,” my girl said seriously.

Dawn smiled and rolled her eyes. “Fine, don’t tell me.” She looked at the list of movies that were playing. “Well, if we’re not going to see ‘Blood Storm’, how about ‘Love In The Heather?’” She turned to me. “But you probably wouldn’t want to see it. It’s all sappy and stuff.”

“I’m up for a good love story, niblet,” I said.

Dawn munched loudly on popcorn, her eyes riveted to the screen. The hero, looking awfully poofy in a long plaid skirt, ran through tall grass. I leaned back in my seat and craned my neck. Tara sat on the other side of Dawn. The light flickered off her face, and her hair glowed in the dim light.

“What do you keep staring at?” Dawn whispered.

“Pretty girl,” I whispered back.

The hero burst into the room and pulled the villain off the heroine. His fist smashed into the bad guy’s jaw, and he went down for the count. The heroine rushed into the hero’s arms. “I will always save you,” he said huskily, as he swept her into a sweeping Hollywood clinch. The music soared to a crescendo, and the screen faded to black. The credits began to roll and the house lights came up.

“That was so beautiful,” snuffled Dawn. She wiped at her face with her sleeve. We stood up and exited the theater. “Did you like it?” Dawn asked Tara.

“I thought it was very romantic,” she replied. She had faint trails of tears on her cheeks. I wiped them away, and she smiled at me.

We walked Dawn up to her front door. “I almost forgot,” she said to Tara. “Willow wanted me to give you a few magicky things that she found. They’re in my room.”

I waited in the foyer while Tara and Dawn went upstairs. “What are you doing here?” asked Buffy as she walked down the hallway.

“Just waiting for Tara,” I replied.

She grabbed her jacket from the banister and put it on. “I’m just leaving for patrol,” she said. “Do you want to come with me?” She looked at me, and I saw the desire in her eyes.

“I’ll pass.”

She gave me an assessing look. “Spike,” she said, ”just because we had a fight doesn’t mean that we can’t still hang out.”

“All we do is fight,” I replied, “and I’m tired of fighting.”

“Fighting isn’t all we do,” she said in a low voice.

“We won’t be doing any more fucking, either,” I said harshly. Her fist sped towards my face. I grabbed her wrist. “And I’m not letting you hit me anymore.”

“You like it when I hit you, remember?” she said. Her eyes sparkled brightly, and her breath was fast.

“Not anymore,” I said as I stared in her eyes. I dropped her wrist.

She stared at me in disbelief. “You really mean it,” she whispered. “You really don’t want me anymore.”

“I’ll probably always want you,” I admitted. She moved towards me, hopeful. “But I want to be loved, and I know now that you’ll never let yourself love me.”

She looked confused. “Who could, Spike? Who could let themselves love a soulless monster like you?”

The barb didn’t even hurt. “Someone with heart,” I said. “A girl who can trust, who knows how to give herself, who isn’t afraid.”

Tara walked down the stairs, carrying a bag. I took it from her and she took my arm. “Goodnight,” Tara said sweetly, as we walked out the door.

We walked down the block and she yanked on my arm. She pulled me behind some bushes and kissed me fervently. I wrapped my fingers in her hair, and basked in her touch, her taste. “I missed you,” I whispered.

She took my hand and we walked down the street again. “The night is young,” I said to her. “We could go to the Bronze.” She shook her head.  “We could go have coffee, or we could go the bookstore downtown.” I watched her profile, the gentle sweep of her eyelashes and the smooth curve of her jaw. “We could go get a kitten,” I suggested.

“A kitten?” she said hopefully, as her face lit up.

I knocked on my friend Clem’s door. “Hey, man,” he said happily. “What’s up?” He patted me on the back. “Who’s this?” asked the loose skinned demon, as he spotted Tara.

“That’s my new girlfriend,” I said proudly. “Her name’s Tara.”

“Pleased to meet you,” she said as she shook his hand.

“Please come in,” he said as he gestured us in. His apartment was small, and had bookcases up against every available wall. A sofa and chair sat in front of a low coffee table. Tara took off her coat and sat down. “Can I get you a drink?” he asked. “I have beer and some wine coolers. Raspberry and peach, I think.”

“Peach, please,” said Tara.

“I’ll take a beer,” I said.

“I’ve still got some of that Guinness you brought over last week,” he said. “Lia, Spike’s here,” he called down the hall as he went into the kitchen.

“This sure is a whole lot of books,” commented Tara, as she looked around the room.

“Clem loves to read,” I explained. “He can read a page in the blink of an eye. You’ve never seen anything like it.”

A tall, thin girl with long black hair walked into the room.  Her skin was white with a subtle tinge of green, and delicate antenna protruded from her head.  “Hi Spike,” she said warmly. I kissed her cheek.

“This is my girlfriend Tara,” I explained. Tara and Lia shook hands.

“Can I get you guys a drink?” asked Lia.

“Clem’s on it,” I told her. She sat down next to Tara, and I sat on the floor in front of them.

“So, why haven’t I met you before?” Lia asked.

“We just started dating,” Tara explained.

“Well, I’m glad to have another girl around,” said Lia. “It gets boring when those two start going on and on about poker.”

“Speaking of which, that’s actually why we’re here,” I explained. “Tara wants to pick out a kitten.”

“You like kittens?” said Lia, surprised. “You don’t seem like the type. I don’t like them, myself. I prefer flowers.”

Tara nodded uncertainly. “Yes, I like flowers and kittens too.”

“Nasturtiums are quite tasty,” the other girl continued. “I really prefer rose petals though.”

Clem returned with our drinks and handed them to us. “Did I overhear something about kittens?”

“Tara wants one,” I explained. “As a pet.”

“Oh”, he said, surprised. “I got six cats today. Four Siamese, a Maine Coon and a tabby. But they’re for poker.”

“We can part with one kitten for this nice girl, Clem,” his girlfriend said.

“Okay,” he agreed, and Tara smiled at him.

“Can I see them?” she asked, as she sipped her drink.

"I'll bring them out," offered Lia. She quickly returned with a large wicker basket and set it on the floor next to me.

Tara bent down and picked up a small ball of cloudy brown and black fur. "Look, Spike," she said happily. "Isn't it cute?"

The kitten had a tiny little face, and its nose and paws were a delicate pink. It looked like it was smiling as it slept. "It really is cute, Tara. " I reached out and stroked it with a fingertip and it purred.

"I want this one," she said decisively. "It's just the happiest little ball of energy. She has a wonderful personality, so bubbly and fun."

Clem and Lia looked at me oddly. "She's a witch," I explained. "She senses things." They shook their heads in understanding. Tara cradled the kitten in her long black skirt, a look of serenity on her face.

“Well, now that’s all settled, why don’t we have a little fun?” asked Clem.

Lia looked over at me. “Fresh blood,” she said.

“Now we’re in for it,” I said to Tara.

“Greaves is not a word,” argued Lia. “I’ve never heard of it.”

“Well, then, challenge me,” said Clem as he leaned back from the Scrabble board. “Challenge me and look it up.”

“I wouldn’t do it, Lia,” I cautioned as I drank my beer. “You know he’s always right.”

“I think it is a word,” said Tara. “I’m pretty sure it’s a piece of armor.”

“So we just let him win?” asked Lia, annoyed.

“Well, it was a pretty good game,” said Tara. “We fought the good fight. That thirty seven point word of yours was a pretty killer move.”

Lia smiled, placated. “That was slick.”

We cleared the board and put away the pieces. Lia yawned loudly. “I think I’m done for the night,” she said. “But we should get together soon. You guys want to go out next Friday?” Tara looked at me and I nodded.

“That would be great,” she said.

We walked across campus in the quiet night. I carried Tara’s bag and a sack of kitten chow. Tara carefully carried the kitten in a sealed shoebox. Plaintive mewls escaped for the air holes poked in the cardboard.

“She sounds so sad,” said Tara plaintively. “The poor baby must think I’m so mean.”

“She’ll be happy when she gets out,” I reassured her. “You’re not going to scar her for life.” Tara scanned her keycard at her dorm door and buzzed us in. We made our way to her room and shut the door. I took off my boots and duster as Tara pulled out some boxes and a plastic pan from under the bed.

“What’s all that?” I asked her.

“These were Kitty Fantastico’s supplies.” She smiled at me. “I saved them in case she ever came home.” She set up a little kitty bed on the chest at the foot of her own bed, and set up a litter pan in the far corner. A small mat went under tiny dishes of water and food. When all the preparations were done, Tara carefully unsealed the box. The kitten ran out and climbed up my foot. Needle like claws sank into my flesh.

“Ouch, bugger it,” I said. “This thing is a little demon.”

She carefully removed the kitten and held it up in front of her face. “That’s your name,” she said brightly, “You’re Demon Kitty.” I laughed and the kitten yawned. It fell back asleep. Tara placed it in its bed and turned to me. She pulled me over to the bed, threw me down and unzipped my pants.

"Aren't you a cheeky one," I said, impressed by her boldness. I pulled on the wooden clip that held her hair up, and a shower of golden strands tumbled around her shoulders.

"You were very, very good tonight," she said. "And now I want you to be good to me." Hey eyes were so dark and deep. They drew me in, once again, and I surrendered willingly.

I pulled her sweater over her head. "I'll always be good for you, ducks," I said, aroused by her enthusiasm.

She pulled off her panties and straddled me. The silk of her skirt swished and swirled over the skin of my thighs. Slowly, she sank down on me. She felt so warm, so tight, that I couldn't help but gasp. Tentatively she slid up and down on my cock. Her eyes were fixed on my face, and I knew she needed encouragement. "That's good, you're so good," I said breathily.

Her hands rubbed up and down my chest as she moved. She leaned over and licked my lip. I opened my mouth, and her tongue stroked in and out as my cock stroked in and out of her depths. Slowly I pulled my mouth away and unpeeled the bandage that covered the wounds in her neck. I pressed my mouth to her skin, and slid my tongue over the marks, over the sign of her trust, her gift. "I love this," I whispered to her. "I love the way that you make me feel." She moaned and her fingernails dug into my shoulder. I looked up at her, and her head was thrown back, her chest flushed. Her face was suffused with pleasure, pleasure that I had given her. "Spike, " she said distantly. "Please."

I grabbed her waist and turned her on her back. I drove inside her powerfully, and her eyes widened. Her skirt bunched up between us, and I ripped it off her. She grabbed the headboard, and her body shook with each thrust. I hammered inside her deeply, and it was so erotic, so intense. "Too hard?" I asked breathlessly. She shook her head and wrapped her hands tightly around my shoulders. "Don't ever stop wanting me," I panted. "Never stop needing me." My orgasm built steadily, a huge wall of exquisite sensation that was about to crash down.

"I'll never stop. This will never stop," she said. I came with a roar, and she clenched around me as she lost control. I collapsed on top of her, and she ran her fingers through my hair. "Never," she said softly in my ear.

"Never," I said as I kissed her gently.

DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. Theirs, not mine.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: JMW Turner is the artist that Spike and Tara discuss in this fic. If you haven’t seen his work, check it out.

Part 5: Loved

“You’re lucky she’s a good witch. If your mum was harder hearted, she’d turn you into a toad.” I picked up the trailing pile of yarn and waved it at the kitten. “Do you know this was her favorite sweater?”

“Meow,” she replied, as she stared at me with expressive green eyes.

“Look, Demon.” I picked her up and peered in her face. “Do you understand the difference between a ball of yarn and a sweater?”

“Meow,” said the small fluffy cat. She shook her head, and the bell on her collar tinkled.

I looked down at the blue tangled mess in my hand. “Well, yeah, good point. There isn’t much of a difference now.”

Tara came in the room and put down her bag of books. She wore a corset and a long full skirt, made of soft velvet the color of moss.  “I missed you so much!” she exclaimed as she grabbed the kitten from my hands and twirled her around. I cleared my throat loudly and raised my eyebrows, which made her laugh. She put down the cat and kissed me sweetly. “I missed you too,” she said with a smile.

I held her close and kissed her neck. “So how were your classes today?”

“Life Drawing went pretty well,” she said, “I’m not really happy with the angle of the left arm in the sketch that I’m doing, but I think I know where I want to go with it. English Romantics was a bit challenging. We were assigned a research project.”

“Speaking of English romantics,” I said, as I cupped my hands over her breasts.

She gently pushed them away and gave me a peck on the cheek. “I have to keep my grades up for my scholarship, and spending the day in bed again isn’t going to help,” she said regretfully. “Will you come with me to the library?”

She bent over the book that she was reading. Her hair fell over her cheek and hid one eye from view. I watched the rise and fall of the lace that constrained the fullness of her breasts.  Just one firm pull on the tightly knotted cord and I could slowly pull the lace free of the hooks that held it. It would be so easy to slide the corset over her shoulders, and remove the blouse underneath. My hands itched to touch the rosy flesh of her breasts, and my mouth yearned to taste her delicate nipples.

“I bet I know what you’re thinking,” said Tara, a smile on her lips.

“Sorry?” I said to her as I quickly adjusted myself under the table.

“You were thinking about how amazing Turner’s use of light was,” she said as she gestured to the large art book that was open on the table in front of me.

“Right,” I said as I looked down at the book.

“Did you know there is a special collection here at the University? There are some of his papers, and a few oil paintings and watercolors. We could go look at them,” she said.

“Whatever you want, pet,” I said. We stood up from the table and walked through the cavernous library to the information desk. Tara showed her ID badge and signed a log, and received a key from the dour clerk. I followed Tara’s swishing skirt up a small flight of metal stairs.

“Turner was a true master,” she explained as she walked along a long gallery. “No one has ever been able to duplicate the quality that he brought to his work.” She stopped in front of a door and opened it. She led me into a large room that held a long table, glass bookcases, and artwork displayed on the walls.

I walked over to a large painting. The sun rose over the mountains, rose and amber streaks across the canvas signaling the birth of a new day. “This really is quite beautiful, “ I said to Tara. I felt her come up behind me. She slid her hand into mine and turned me around to face her.

”You’re beautiful,” she said softly as she undid the buttons on my shirt.

“Tara…” I gasped as she slid the shirt off my shoulder and brought her mouth to my nipple. She stroked her tongue across it, and licked gently. I pulled her up, and kissed her hungrily. “I want to touch you,” I whispered in her ear.  She led my hand to her corset, and I freed her from it as she kissed my neck. Her warm mouth slid over my skin as my hands pulled off her shirt. She was naked underneath, and I pressed her bare chest against mine.

“I love the way my skin tingles when we touch,” she said.

I ran my hands over her shoulders and across her breasts. I bent to kiss each nipple gently in turn. “I love how soft you are, how sweet.”

She unbuttoned my pants and slipped both hands inside. I gasped as her delicate touch ran up and down my shaft, around the head, and gently cupped my sack. “I love it when you’re hard, so hard and full of need, and I know it’s because of me,” she said as she stared up at me. Her eyes were so wide, so honest, and so true.

I held her face as I kissed her deeply. Her hands worked me, and I bent my mouth to her neck and bit her, as I got closer to my release. I rocked against her, lost in the feel of her delicate fingers around me. She drew away from me and sank to her knees. Her hair brushed over my belly as she enveloped me in her warm mouth. She sucked tentatively at first, and then harder. “Oh God,” I moaned, and then I came as colored sparks flared in my mind. She held tightly to my thighs, and drank me down.

She stood up and looked at me uncertainly. “I hope…“ I crushed her mouth to mine as I swept her up and placed her on the table. I lifted up her layers of skirt and pulled off her damp panties. Gently I spread apart her silken thighs and slipped my tongue inside her. I probed her depths, focused narrowly on my task. I needed to fulfill her, wanted her to gain pleasure from my body, from me. She grabbed my neck, and I sucked her clit into my mouth. She shattered with a scream, and I lapped at her gently until she had stilled.

I pulled away and looked up at her. She looked spent, her eyes closed and her features soft. “I’m not done with you yet,” I said in a low voice. I grabbed her hips and slid her down the table, and moved my cock inside her. She wrapped her legs around my waist, and I basked in the sight of her spread out on the table, her hair trailing over the dark wood. Her beautiful face was flushed with sex, and her body was tight with passion. She bit down on her lip.

“Tara, I love you,” I said desperately as I clenched her hips tighter. “Don’t hold back.” Her head thrashed back and forth, and her walls tightened around me. “Talk to me,” I said gruffly.

She bit down harder and a bead of blood sprang up on her lip. I pulled her up to me, and wrapped my arms tightly around her back. I kissed her, and tasted the heady nectar of her blood. “Please, let yourself go,” I gasped. “Please.” I moved within her slowly, methodically.

She opened her eyes, and they were full of tears. “I love you,” she said softly.

I stilled. “Why are you crying?” I asked, concerned. “Am I hurting you?” I moved to pull out of her, but she held me tight.

“I’m so happy,” she said.

“You’re crying because you’re happy?” I asked, perplexed.

“You make me so h-happy,” she cried. “I l-l-love y-y-you so much.” I withdrew from her and cradled her in my arms. I sat down on the floor and stroked her hair.

“God, baby, what’s the matter?” She cried so hard that her whole body shook.

“M-m-my m-m-m-mother,” she said painfully. It hurt to see her in so much pain, so twisted in knots she couldn’t even speak.

“You lost your mum when you were a teenager,” I said, not understanding.

“A-a-a-a-a,” she stuttered. “A-a-a-a-and W-W-W-W...”

“Willow?” I supplied. She nodded, and rested her head on my shoulder. I waited for her to calm down enough to talk.

“My w-whole life, only two people have loved me,” she said sadly. “My mother, and Willow.” I kissed her gently on the brow. “And you tell me that you love me,” she said slowly, “and I can’t believe it.” Anger fired inside me, and pain. I struggled to push it down, to let her explain. “It has to be the spell,” she said. “I don’t think that you would feel this way otherwise.” I kissed her lips, and focused on her taste, her sweetness, and her giving heart.  Our love was true, it was real, and I knew it in my bones. If I lashed out, if I lost it, I would lose the fragile girl that I loved.

“I know that I love you,” I said softly. “And I know that you love me. I don’t believe that it’s just a spell, and I can’t go on with you not trusting in us, in what we have.” I looked deeply into her eyes.  “We’ll do research at the Magic Box. We’ll call Giles. We’ll ask anyone you like, do whatever you need to find out that the spell that healed me did not cause the way we feel.”

She looked at me in relief. “You’re not angry? You won’t leave me?”

I rocked her in my arms. “I’ll stay with you forever, pet. I’ll stay as long as you’ll have me.”

We sat at the table in the Magic Box. The surface was piled high with volumes and papers. “I didn’t come up with anything,” Tara said, as she pushed away a large stack of books.

I looked down at a page of notes. “According to all the sources I checked, there is no way the healing spell could have acted as a love spell.” Tara fiddled nervously with her hair. “But, there was one footnote in Amalfi’s Grimoire that indicated that the healing spell that you did could also be used to grant the heart’s greatest desire.”

She looked up at me, and her eyes were thoughtful. “We could do a reveal spell,” she said seriously. “If either of us was under any enchantment, that would dispel it.”

“Can you do that?” I asked her.

She shook her head. “I’m too emotionally involved. It might skew the spell.”

“Do you want me to do it? I do know quite a bit about magic,” I said.

She shook her head again. “Same problem.”

“So do we need to find another witch to perform the spell?” She sighed and rubbed her neck.

“It’s actually very simple,” she said. “It’s really just tossing some dust in the air and saying a few words. Anybody could do it.” Xander walked through the front door and pecked Anya on the cheek. Tara and I exchanged glances.

Xander looked at me quizzically. “So I just throw some dust at Tara, and then read from a paper?”

“Right,” I replied. “And then you do the same thing to me.”

He raised his eyebrows. “So do you want to explain to me what this is all about?”

“Not especially,” I replied.

“Okay. But then you have to do me a favor.” He looked at me earnestly.

“What kind of favor?” I asked him.

“Anya and I are getting married next week. I do this for you, you come.” He took a deep breath. “There’s going to be a lot of demons there, and I’m a little worried about that. So I want you to step in, get rid of any of them that start stirring up trouble.”

“You want me to be a bouncer at your wedding?” I asked incredulously.

“Pretty much,” he admitted. “But don’t tell Anya. I don’t want her to get all bent out of shape about how I don’t trust demons. I don’t need to hear the ‘demons are people too’ lecture again.”

“I’ll do it, if you do this for me.” We shook hands on it.

Anya rang up Tara at the cash register. “Thirty eight fifty,” she said with a smile. “I gave you a five percent discount because you’re my friend.” Tara laughed.

We watched Tara as she ground together herbs with a mortar and pestle.  She ended up with a fine light green powder. Tara and I stood side by side, and Xander stood in front of us and held the bowl and a sheet of paper. “Coriale disnot finar libolba!” he read awkwardly, and tossed a handful of dust at Tara. It glimmered around her for a few seconds, and she shone brightly as a star. The light flared and then faded away.

She turned to me and smiled. “I don’t feel any different.”

“Coriale disnot finar libolba!” he read again, and tossed the powder at me. Immediately it flared into a heavy golden heat that coated my skin like warm honey. I glowed brightly, and light filled the room. The light flared, and then dropped away, and golden glitter littered the floor.

“Thank God this is over and we can put it behind us,” I said. She stared at me in shock and turned heel and ran. “Tara!” I screamed, and fear and pain turned it into a mighty roar.

I started to run after her, but Xander grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what is going on,” he said firmly, “but I’m not going to let you hurt her.”

I pulled my arm away. “I’d never hurt her, you stupid git! I’m in love with her.” I ran out of the Magic Shop and down the street, and I called her name. I tried to feel her, to locate her scent, but she was nowhere near, or she was using magic to hide herself. I walked the streets of Sunnydale for hours. I checked the art studio, her room, the bookstore, everywhere I could think of. Finally I made my way to my crypt. As I descended the ladder, I saw that a small figure sat on my bed in darkness. “There you are, sweetheart,” I said with relief. “I’ve looked everywhere for you.”

As I neared, I realized that this wasn’t Tara. It was Buffy. She was curled up on my pillows, and she held one of my shirts. “I’ve been here every night for two weeks,” she said. “But you’re never here. Where are you spending your nights?”

I turned on the lights, and she walked over to me. “It’s none of your business, Slayer. Please get out of my home.”

She grabbed my shoulders and slammed me into the wall. She gazed deeply in my eyes as she held me pinned. “I love you.”

“What?” I asked, incredulous.

“I love you,” she said deliberately. I shoved her away.

“What the hell are you playing at?” I asked angrily.

“I want you back,” she said baldly. “I should have told you that I loved you before. You didn’t have to go off and find someone else just because I didn’t.”

“It’s not just a matter of saying it, it needs to mean something.”

She lost her patience. “What do you want from me? I want you, you want me, and I gave you what you wanted. Why aren’t you happy?”

“It’s not enough.”

“I love you, okay? That’s as good as it gets. I missed you, and I want to be with you.” She looked at me earnestly. There was desire in her eyes, and need, and even affection.

“You want to be with me?” She nodded. I grabbed her hands in mine. “So we’ll march on back to your house, and call all the Scoobies over, and tell them that we’re in love, that we’re together.”

She pulled her hands away. “I can’t do that. They wouldn’t understand. They’d be so disappointed in me.” Her eyes filled up with tears.

“Just like you’re disappointed in yourself,” I said flatly.

“Of course I’m disappointed in myself,” she said angrily. “You’re a demon. You’re evil. You’re not...” She broke off.

“I’m not worthy of you,” I finished.  I cupped her face in my hands and looked down at her. “If it makes you feel so wrong, so terrible, that’s because it is wrong. Wrong for me. Wrong for you.”

“But you’re the one I want,” she said. Her face was so soft, so open, and I knew it really was the truth.

“But not the one you need,” I said firmly. “What we had is over. It’s done.”

“Because you don’t need me now?” she said, furious. “Because you found some whore, someone who likes all your kinky little games, who gets off on all the perverted things you like to do?”

I turned my back on her, and she threw me to the floor. She straddled me and held me down. “I don’t want to hurt you,” I said, “but if you don’t get off me, I will.”

“Tell me all about her,” she said bitterly. “Your little girlfriend, who likes to be used, who likes to be hurt.”

“What we have isn’t like that. I don’t have to play games to get her attention. She loves me, and I love her,” I said harshly.

“You love her?” Her eyes widened.

“I love her, Buffy. Not you. Not anymore.” I didn’t want to hurt her, but she needed to understand.

She slammed her fist into my jaw. “You’re a liar! You love me,” she said, as she plowed her fist into my eye.

“Get off him,” said a cold voice, and Tara stepped out of the shadows. Buffy scrambled off me. “Don’t you ever hit him again,” she said fervently.

“Tara,” said Buffy, “I can explain.”

“I know that you beat him before,” she said. “I patched him up, I fixed the damage you did. I won’t let you do it again.” She came over and helped me up. “Let’s go home.”

“You’re taking him home with you?” asked Buffy.

“I’m taking him to my home, where he belongs. As you so tastefully put it, I’m the whore,” said Tara, her eyes hard with anger. “Now get out.”

“This can’t be real,” said Buffy in disbelief. “This can’t be happening.” She turned and left.

“Are you okay?” said Tara worriedly, as she gently touched my eye.

“I’m fine now that you’re here,” I said softly. “I looked everywhere for you. I didn’t know where you’d gone.”

“I walked and thought and pulled myself together. I came here to apologize, to make amends for the spell,” she said. “For making you fall in love with me.”

I kissed her. “Tara, I never told you why I came to you the night that you healed me.”

“You wanted me to do a spell,” she said.

“I wanted to be free of Buffy. To not love her, to not need her so badly that I’d do anything, take anything just to be near her.”

“And I was so lonely and so sad. I wanted someone to share my life with,” she said.

“We both got our hearts desire,” I said, “The spell is gone. The love is forever.”

DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. Theirs, not mine.

Part 6: Found

Sometimes I could hear her thoughts. When we made love, when I had her underneath me, and I was inside her, we locked eyes and I could hear the whispers, feel the workings of her mind, and see the glimmering of her soul. When I drank from her, the whispers became louder, singing in my head while her blood flowed into my mouth. I was inside her secrets, immersed in the very heart of her. It was so intoxicating, so enticing.

I pulled my fangs away from her neck with a gasp. I looked in her eyes, and saw them widen in surprise as she came. Her fingernails sliced into my flesh as her inner muscles locked around my cock. My body responded to her call, and I buried my face in her hair as I pulsed inside her, filling her with my essence, giving her all of myself. She brought her mouth to mine, and we kissed gently as we rode out the wave of our lovemaking. I rolled off of her and buried my face in the pillows. She rubbed my back, and I turned my head to look at her and smiled.
"How did you become a vampire?" she said curiously. She peered at me through the tangled mess of her hair, and I smoothed it out with my fingers, fixing the mess I made when we tumbled together in bed.

I reached out and rubbed my hand idly over her stomach. "Drusilla turned me," I explained. "She saw me, and decided she wanted me, and sired me."

"But how is it done? How do you do it?"

"You drink from someone until their heart begins to slow, and then have them drink your blood," I said.

"So if I drank your blood, I wouldn't turn into a vampire?"

"No. It's not something that can happen by accident. It has to be done deliberately."

"Can I taste your blood?" She said it so quietly and tentatively that I'm not sure that I understood her. She wrapped her arms around my neck and kissed me softly. "Can I?" she says again.

"You can have anything you want," I replied. I am so filled with love for this girl, so besotted. The fact that she wants this is odd, but intriguing. I released my demon and grazed my wrist along one fang. Blood welled up in a thin line, and I offered it to her.

She lightly licked the wound I had made. "I like it," she said, and pressed my wrist to her lips. The feeling was unbelievable, nearly as intimate as when she took me in her mouth. My body flared into arousal. She sucked strongly, her tongue running over the ragged edge where the skin was broken. "Tara," I murmured. She broke away and looked at me, concerned. "Don't stop," I said. She moved my wrist back to her mouth and continued to drink. She took my cock in her hand and gently stroked it. The pleasure was so rich, so deep. My eyes drifted closed and I saw visions in my head, my mind filled with racing thoughts and hallucinogenic images. I felt my orgasm rising and I pushed her hand away.

"Roll over," I said gruffly. She turned onto her stomach. I spread her thighs wide and took her from behind. My entire body hummed with lust, consumed by passion and driven by need. Tara writhed and moved underneath me, her moans and gasps attesting to her pleasure. She was so wet, drenched with arousal. I held her shoulders tightly in my hands as I pumped inside her. "Tell me," I said harshly. "Tell me when." I slid in and out of her more and more quickly, my arms shaking as I fought to hold back. I closed my eyes, and the colors burst behind my eyes, rolling and streaming as I vibrated with pleasure. She threw her head back as I grabbed her shoulders and pulled her up. I bit down on the curve of her shoulder and she crumbled around me. My body exploded as I came, and I fell heavily on her back. We lay there panting and spent for a moment before I rolled off of her.

"I wasn't very gentle," I said apologetically. "Did I hurt you?"

"It was very rough," she said, "but I really didn't mind. It was strange, not being able to watch your face." She smiled widely. "Obviously, I enjoyed myself."

She spooned into me, and I inhaled the sweet scent of her hair. "You're wonderful," I told her. "You make me so happy." She settled her head onto the pillow, and I nestled closer to her. Her breathing slowed, and I knew she was asleep. A sudden pressure on my back and the sting of tiny claws startled me for a moment. I reached around and grabbed the kitten. She snuggled peacefully between us and curled up into a ball. I drifted off to the sound of gentle purring.


When I woke up in the morning, it was just me and the cat. She was stretched out over Tara's pillow, her stomach bared and a sweet smile on her face. I scratched her gently under her chin and she purred in her sleep. A knock sounded on the door and I shoved a pair of jeans on. I scratched my head idly and opened the door.

Willow stood outside the door. The look of expectation on her face turned to dismay when she saw me standing there. "Hello, Red," I said awkwardly. She stared at me for a moment, and I stared back, my mind a blank. "Sorry," I said apologetically. "Tara's not here, she's in class. Do you want to come in?"

She wandered into the room and stood in the middle of the floor. I grabbed my sweater from the back of the chair and pulled it over my head. She took in the trunk and various boxes that lay on the floor. "Is Tara moving?" she asked.

"No, I'm moving in," I explained. There was an awkward silence. She looked at me, her eyes wet and filled with pain. "We're seeing each other," I explained.

"Buffy told me that you were...together," she said. She stared in my eyes. "Xander told me that you were in love with her."

I crossed my arms in front of my chest. "Yeah, that's true."

"He said that you asked him to read a spell, and throw some dust at Tara," she continued. "Did you do a love spell on her?"

"What?" I asked, floored.

"Did you make her do this? Did you force her to love you?"

Anger flared through me. "I don't fuck around with people's heads, Willow. That's your department."

She reared back her head as if I had slapped her. "Then what was the spell all about?" she asked.

"It's really none of your business."

"Tara is my business," she said angrily. "I love her. I fought a god for her. I won't let anyone hurt her."

"The only one in this room that hurt her is you," I said. We glared at each other. Demon jumped off the bed and ran through the open door. "Oh, fuck!" I chased down the hall after the kitten. She loped down the hallway, and turned the corner to the elevator. I rounded the corner and jumped for her, as she was about to run in the open elevator door. I slid on my stomach and captured her in both hands. "Morning, Brenda," I said to the chubby blonde who stood inside the elevator.

"Hi Spike," she said brightly. "We still on for 'Passions' this afternoon?"

"You bet," I responded as I struggled to hold the angry kitten. I carefully got to my feet and turned around. Willow stood there.

"Is that Tara's cat?"

"Yeah," I explained. "And she's not allowed out of the room. Pets aren't allowed in the dorm."

A cloud passed over her face. "I know." She reached out and gently petted the cat. "What's its name?"

"Her name is Demon Kitty," I explained.

Willow smiled. "She seems like a sweet little kitten to me," she said in a sing song voice. She looked up at me sheepishly. "Sorry. I have a soft spot for cats."

"Quite alright," I replied. "I talk to her in a silly voice all the time. And Tara is even worse. All baby talk." The witch and I shared a smile.

I walked back down the hall towards Tara's room, Willow beside me. "I'm sorry," she said. "I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions. But Tara and you together. It's weird."

"It is weird. But we're happy." We reached the room and I turned and looked at her. "I really do love her. It's not a spell, not a game."

"I believe you," she replied. "And you both deserve to be happy. Take good care of her. Or I'll stake you." She smiled at me, but it didn't quite meet her eyes. She turned and walked away.

I went inside the room and put down Demon on the bed. "You're a naughty, bad kitten," I said seriously. "You bloody well know that you're not allowed out."

"Meow," she replied.

"Well, I know I left the door open. That's really no excuse."

I turned and put a cardboard box on the bed. I unpacked it, sorting things into loose stacks. I made a pile of books, a pile of clothing, and a pile of crap to toss. At the very bottom of the box was a velvet bag. I emptied it onto the bed. Inside were some hair combs, a brooch inlaid with small diamonds, a ring with a large ruby, a small porcelain doll. Dru's things, long forgotten. There was also a flat box of burgundy leather. I snapped it open and looked inside. Two gold filigree bracelets rested on a bed of lush velvet. I set the jewelry aside. I could pawn it, maybe buy Tara a present.


Tara brushed out her hair and secured it in a bun with several small pins shaped like butterflies. She turned and smiled at me. "What do you think?"



"I like it better when it's down." She frowned. "It looks nice up too," I reassured her. I went to her and rubbed my hands up and down her arms. She wore a blue velvet choker around her neck. She wore them all the time now, to cover up the marks I made. We tried to be careful about the bloodplay, but I had left several scars on her neck. She reached up and pulled out the pins. "You didn't have to do that, ducks," I chided her.

"Well, I want to look good for you," she replied.

I turned her around. She wore a soft pink dress, and her golden hair flowed over her shoulders. "You always look good to me." I slid my hands into her hair and kissed her. My mouth was filled with her warmth, and the delicate taste of her. I rubbed her back, enjoying the feel of the velvet and her body underneath my hands.

She pulled away. "We should get going," she said. I helped her with her coat and slid on my duster. I picked up the cardboard box full of stuff to pawn and walked to the door.

"What's that?" she said, as she plucked something out of the box. I peered around the top of the box and saw her pull out the bracelets.

"A present I bought for Dru in Brazil," I explained. "When I was trying to court her, to win her back again. I never even got a chance to give them to her before I caught her with the fungus demon."

She slid them on her wrists and admired them. "Do you mind if I keep them? They're really beautiful," she turned and smiled.

"Whatever makes you happy, pet. They suit you well."


"You are a seriously lucky guy," said Lia. We sat at a table at The Bronze and sipped on our drinks. "Tara is the sweetest girl in the world."

"You're right," I replied. "I definitely don't deserve her."

"It was so nice of her to do a spell on Clem and me so that we could come here," she said. "The demon bars aren't exactly nice places to go dancing." The glamour Tara had cast concealed her antennae and made her skin appear smooth porcelain white rather than her usual light green. We turned to watch the dance floor. Tara danced with a tall, handsome man. He turned and waved at us. "Clem looks really odd with his skin all tight." She fished the cherry out of her drink and ate it. "I'm really glad it'll wear off in a few hours."

"Spike?" I turned to see Anya standing behind me.

"Hi Anya," I said. I turned to Lia. "Lia, this is my friend Anya. She used to be a vengeance demon."

"Really?" asked Lia. "I'm good friends with one. Do you know Madalind?"

"Of course I do," replied Anya. "We go back centuries." The two chatted together about their mutual friend.

"Would you mind getting me another soda?" Lia shook her empty glass in my direction.

"Not at all, love." I stood in line at the bar and waited my turn. An angry female voice yelled over the music and I turned to see what the commotion was about. Buffy was on the dance floor, pointing a finger in Tara's face. Clem hovered behind Tara, his hand on her shoulder.

"Bloody hell," I hissed. I walked out onto the dance floor and made my way to Tara's side. She held her hand to her neck while Buffy waved Tara's choker in her hand.

"You're food," she exclaimed. "That's why he's with you. You let him feed from you." The disgust in her voice was palpable. Tara winced as Buffy swung her hand close to her face. "He's not in love with you," she continued. "He's using you. You're just a snack."

I grabbed Tara's necklace from Buffy and handed it back to her. "Piss off," I said distinctly, as I wedged myself between the two girls.

"Make me," she said through gritted teeth.

"I'm not playing, Buffy," I said. "You leave Tara alone."

"How sweet," she said mockingly. "Defending your little beverage dispenser."

My hand itched to smack her. I turned my back and grabbed Tara's hand. "We're leaving," I said. We turned to leave, Clem following us.

"Aren't you going to take her upstairs and fuck her from behind?" Buffy called out loudly. "Does she know how much you like it that way?" Tara froze beside me. I looked over at her and she stared down at the floor, her eyes filling with tears.

Lia pushed through the crowd and put her arm around Tara. "Come on, honey." She gave me an angry look. "We'll be outside." Clem followed the two girls out.

I turned back and turned back to Buffy. Xander and Anya stood next to her. "Do you want to take this somewhere a little more private, Slayer?"

"You're the one who likes to do it in public," she said.

"Go ahead and say whatever you want then," I replied. "I was never ashamed to tell everyone the truth."

"What the hell is going on?" asked Xander. "Either of you want to fill me in?"

"Spike dumped me for Tara," she said flatly.

"Not quite, Goldilocks. You could at least be truthful about it if you want to come clean."

"I gave you everything I had to give, and you threw me away," she said painfully. "Is it because I never let you drink my blood? Because I never let you use me like that?"

I clenched my fists in frustration. "You know exactly why we broke up, Buffy. Do you want to rehash it in front of your little friends?"

"That was just an excuse," she said angrily. "You made a big deal out of nothing."

"You pummeled my face in," I retorted. "It didn't feel like nothing to me."

"So you use Tara as your rebound girl? Because she's nice and pliant, and lets you screw her and drink her blood?" she said. "One stop shopping: sex toy and tasty treat."

"This is pointless. I'm not going to stand here and argue with you." I leaned in close and stared in her eyes. "Just do me a favor and leave Tara alone. You got a problem with me, you deal with me." I left the club. Clem and Lia stood outside. "Where's Tara?"

"She said that she wanted to be alone," Lia said. "She took the car."

"You guys okay to get home?" I asked.

"We'll walk," she replied. "Call us and let us know when you find her."


I walked through Sunnydale, following her scent. I found her in the parking lot behind her dorm. She sat on the hood of the DeSoto, twirling the key chain on her fingers. "Hello, baby," I said softly.

She looked up at me, and she had been crying. "I'm not sure that I can do this anymore, Spike."

My stomach hurt. I swallowed heavily. "Can't do what, Tara?" I asked, my voice coming out nearly normal.

"Go on feeling like I'm a consolation prize, like I'm the runner up," she replied. "Like what we have isn't special." She paused. "I'm nobody. I'm not the Slayer. I'm just a girl."

I sat down next to her and took her hand. "You're not just a girl. You're my girl."

"If Buffy hadn't hurt you, you'd still be with her."

I sighed. "Look pet, we can't go through this thing about Buffy every time we run into her. We live in Sunnydale. We're bound to run into her all the time."

She began to cry. "I'm so afraid. I'm so afraid that one day you'll see me, the real me, and you won't want me any more."

"Tara," I said soothingly. "Why would you think that?"

"I get angry, I get sad, I get bossy. The people that I love get mad. They try to change me, and they can't. So they hurt me."

"I'll never, ever hurt you, love. I'm not your dad, or your brother. I'm not Willow." I kissed her forehead. "And you're everything I ever wanted, everything a woman should be. You're second best to no one."

She looked up at me, and her blue eyes shone bright. "I wish I could believe that."

I lifted her in my arms and carried her to our room. "I'll just have to convince you then."

Part 7: Joined

"Do you have any idea what you have here?" The jeweler peered at me through his loupe.

"A ring?"

"Yes, obviously," he said. He leaned back in his chair and looked me in the eyes. "Do you know what the stone is?"

"A ruby?" I was bored already. I never did have the patience to yammer on about jewelry or clothing or other fripperies. I had a century's worth of experience tuning it out.

"No, this is a red diamond."

"What of it?" I said impatiently. "Do you want to buy it or not?"

He gave me a look of complete exasperation. It reminded me strongly of Giles. "The last red diamond to go to auction sold for 1.7 million dollars," he explained.

"Go on," I said my attention focused on his words.

"That ring was less than two carats." He held up Dru's ring. "This one is over six."

My throat went dry. "Are you telling me that that little bauble is worth millions of dollars?"

"That's exactly what I'm telling you." He smiled at me. "Now, obviously, I can't buy this ring." He rummaged in his mahogany desk and came up with a card. "Call this auction house. They specialize in rare fancy diamonds, which is what you've got here." He wrapped up the ring in a square of tissue and handed it to me. "I'd be very careful with it if I were you."


I walked through the tunnel under downtown Sunnydale in a haze. This changed everything. I could take care of Tara. She could stop living off of Ramen noodles and peanut butter. We could move out of the dorm and into a place of our own. I could pay off her loans and put money in the bank. I could take care of my girl, without stealing to do it. I could be a good man.

I broke into a run, desperate to tell her. I entered the section of tunnel underneath the campus and the basement of Tara's building. I whistled as I dashed up the stairs and down the hallway of her floor. A scent that I hadn't smelled in a long time filled my nostrils. Tara's fear.

I ran for the door and found it locked. "You're a filthy little bitch," I heard a male voice say. "You're a filthy little bitch and you don't deserve to live."

A red haze filled my field of vision and my demon took over. I ripped off the doorknob and swung the door open. A man had Tara slammed up against the wall. His hands were wrapped tightly around her neck, choking her. Her eyes were closed and her head lolled back. I grabbed him by the jacket and threw him across the room. The chip kicked in, but I welcomed the pain. It just pissed me off even more. He slammed into the wall face first and fell to the ground. I advanced on him, kicking the bastard over and over until he stopped moving.

"Spike?" said a small voice behind me. I rushed to Tara's side. Her lip was split and I wiped the blood gently with my thumb. She winced and pulled away.

"Are you okay, baby?" I looked her over and saw that her skirt was ripped, her blouse torn. I could smell him on her, smell the stink of his sweat. She stared at me, her eyes wide and lips trembling. "What did he do to you?" She pulled me to her and pressed her face into my shoulder. She didn't cry, just let me rock her back and forth.

I heard a groan behind me and turned to see the man rolling over and trying to get up. I unwrapped Tara's arms from my neck. "I'm going to kill him," I said firmly.

She grabbed my hand. "You can't," she said. Her eyes pleaded at me.

"Why the hell not?"

"He's my brother," she said. "It's Donnie." I looked over at the moaning pile of crap, and I recognized him, vaguely, as the jerk who had shown up on her birthday, telling everyone she was going to become a demon.

"Why did he do this to you?" I asked, confused.

"It's been going on for years," she whispered. "It's just never been this bad before."

"He's been beating you for years?"

"Since we were kids."

"And your parents? They didn't know?"

"My father knew," she said bitterly. "But he never did anything about it. And my mother pretended not to notice. She had enough trouble on her hands with my father."

She began to cry. "There's something wrong with me. I make people hurt me." She sobbed hard. "I thought it was the demon in me, but there isn't one. It's just me."

"You're evil," said a voice behind us.

"I'll show you evil," I hissed. I stormed over and kicked him in the ribs. My chip flared again as Tara pulled me away.

"Stop it, stop it," she cried. "Just get out."

"I'm not leaving you with him," I yelled. "Are you out of your fucking mind?"

"Leave!" she yelled. "Please just go."

"I'm not leaving you!"

She cracked her hand across my face. "Get out!" I stared at her in disbelief. She stared in my eyes and picked up the phone. "Police?"

I turned and left. I was stunned, numb. It was a bad dream, an illusion, a distortion of reality. It wasn't real. My face stung from where she'd hit me. Tara. Hit me.


I did what I always do when my heart gets broken. I drank. I drank at Willy's Bar. I had shot after shot until I felt numb, until I felt like my tongue had been wrapped in cotton and my heart frozen in my chest.

"I suck with women," I explained to Willy. "I think that I must be cursed."

"Really?" he replied. "What kind of curse?"

"If I love them, they'll smack me in the face."

"That's pretty specific," he replied.

"I loved Cecily," I slurred. "And she smacked me in the face. Metaphorically speaking, you know." I sank a shot from the long row that lined the bar in front of me. "And Drusilla, she punched me in the face. Of course, she was pissed off at me at the time for trying to kill her lover. And the Slayer punched me in the face all the time. It was kind of a hobby for her." I lit a cigarette awkwardly and inhaled. "Some girls ice skate. Some girls collect stamps. Buffy liked to hit me in the face." I took another drag off my cigarette. "This thing tastes funny."

"You lit the filter," explained Willy. I stubbed it out and lit another.

A pale hand with long manicured fingers slid across my chest. I grabbed it and threw it off. "Whatever you're selling, I'm not buying."

"How do you know what I'm selling?" I turned to look at a tall, blonde vampire. She was sexy as hell. Long gorgeous legs, full breasts, a red, dewy mouth.

"I may be pathetic," I said, "But I've never been pathetic enough to fuck a whore." She slapped me, and her long nails clawed a track across my cheek.

"So much for my theory," I said to Willy. "I didn't even love that one."

The next thing I remember, Clem and Lia were pulling me inside their apartment. They dragged me over onto the futon and tossed a blanket over me. "If you need to throw up," said Lia, "there's a bucket by your head." The lights turned off and I rested comfortably in the darkness. The whirling of my head was soothing, reassuring even.

"I wonder what he did to make her break up with him," I heard Clem say.

"I just hope she forgives him," said Lia.

The world got very cold, and black and lonely. I thought about Tara, about her smell, the feel of her in my arms. I missed the way that she held me when we fell asleep. I even missed the cat.

As I passed out, I wondered why my face was wet.


"Time to get up," said a sweet female voice.

"Tara?" I asked. I tried to sit up, but my head swam.

"It's Lia." She handed me a packet of blood. "Drink up."

I rolled on my elbow and propped myself up. I drank the blood, and it made me feel so much better. I sat up and looked around. The room was dim. Lia stood in front of me wearing a low cut evening dress. Her hair fell over her shoulders, curled into long tendrils. "Why are you all dressed up?"

"Anya's wedding is in an hour," she replied.

I stood up. "I have to be there. And I don't have my suit. It's at Tara's."

"She brought it here," she said. "I called her this afternoon."

"Did she leave a message? Did she say anything about me?"

Lia shook her head. "She just dropped off the suit and left." She looked at me. "I would really like to know what's going on, but we don't have time."

Clem walked into the living room. "We should get going honey." He turned to her and she fastened his cuff links.

"I'll meet you guys at the reception," I said.


I pushed open the double doors to the reception hall. Xander and Anya were cutting the cake. A crowd surrounded them, laughing and taking pictures. I looked around the room. It was filled to capacity with dozens of humans and demons. A DJ was set up at one corner of a dance floor. Dawn and Giles were dancing together, and I spotted Buffy dancing with an average looking human guy. I looked for Tara, and saw her standing in the corner talking to Willow. She turned and looked at me. A wreath of pink rosebuds rested on her head, and her hair was long and straight. She wore a pink gown with a ruffled neckline. We stared at each other for a moment, and I felt my heart contract painfully. I made my way towards her. The music stopped and a slow song began. Dawn came up to me, smiling and excited.

"Do you want to dance?" she asked.

"Sure thing, niblet," I replied. I led her in a slow movement around the dance floor.

"What happened to your face?" she asked. I reached up and felt the fingernail marks on my cheek.

"Got in a fight," I responded.

"I have good gossip," she said. I smiled down at her. She wore the same outfit as Tara, her hair up in a bun.

"What's the latest, then?"

"Buffy has a new boyfriend." She pointed across the dance floor. "His name's Richard. He works with Xander."

I looked over. Buffy was looking up at him, smiling and laughing. "He looks decent enough. And it's nice to see Buffy happy for a change."

"He's retarded," she announced. "He brings her candy and writes her poetry."

I laughed. "There are worse ways to court a woman." She chattered on about the stupidity of Richard. I scanned the dance floor, and found Tara dancing with Xander. Her face was animated, and she made the little gestures she uses when she's telling a joke. He smiled and laughed at her. My chest ached. I missed her so much. I hated being apart from her, being estranged. I needed her. I needed her warmth, her smile.

The song ended and I made my way to Tara. Willow stepped out in front of me, and I stopped. "Hi Will," I said warmly.

"I need to talk to you," she said seriously.

"Can it wait?"

"No." She grabbed my hand and pulled me from the room. We stood in the hallway. The sounds of the music and laughter drifted out from the party. "I know what you did to Tara," she said.

"I didn't do anything to Tara," I said, confused.

She jabbed a wooden stake in my chest. "Don't you lie to me," she said in a deadly voice.

"I swear, Willow, I don't know what you mean."

"I sensed magic all around her. I saw underneath her glamour. I saw the split lip, the bruises on her throat, the black eye." She sneered at me. "You come waltzing in here with her scratch marks on your cheek and your bandaged knuckles. Did you think I wouldn't be smart enough to figure it out?"


"Don't say another word." The wood inched closer to my heart. "I warned you what would happen," she said coldly.

"It wasn't him," said Tara. She stepped around me and shoved me aside. "I swear, it wasn't."

"Why are you protecting him?" asked Willow. "Did he threaten you?"

Tara took Willow's hand and pulled out the stake, tossing it aside. "Spike didn't hurt me, Donny did."


"My father died," she explained. "Donny found out the terms of the will. He wasn't really happy with what he found out, and he wanted to make me sign over my share. So he hurt me." Her voice wavered. "He's in jail for assault, and I told the police about the other stuff too." She began to cry in earnest. "About him touching me, and making me touch him."

Willow enfolded Tara in her arms. "I'm so sorry about your dad, and Donny, and everything." She pulled away and smiled at her. "I really love you," she whispered.

"I love you too, Will," said Tara. Willow turned and walked away.

Tara looked at me tentatively. "I'm sorry I hit you," she said. "I had to do it."

"Why did you?"

"I was afraid that if you stayed, I would let you kill him." She bit her lip. "I was afraid that I would ask you to do it."

I pulled her to me and buried my face in her hair. "Oh, Tara. I thought you hated me. I thought you saw me as a monster."

"You are a monster," she said. '"But you're mine." I leaned down to kiss her and she pulled away.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I should give you some space."

"It's my lip," she said. "It hurts."

"Can you take off the glamour?" I asked her. "Can you show me what he did?"

"I can't do it here. There's all these people."

"Is there anything that you have to do? Can I take you home now?"

"Don't you need to stay here?"

"Xander will understand. I'm notoriously irresponsible anyway."


We stood together under the running water. I scooped cream out of the stone jar and rubbed it into the bruises and cuts on her face. "Am I hurting you?" I asked her. "I'm trying to be gentle."

"It feels wonderful," she said softly. "It tingles." I watched the cuts heal and the bruises fade as I smoothed the paste over her skin. Soon her face was whole and beautiful again.

I rinsed her off and carried her to our room. I rested her on her quilt and toweled her off. She smiled at me. I lay down on top of her, our naked bodies pressed together. "I love you," I said to her.

"I love you," she replied. She brought her mouth up to mine and guided me inside her. It was so right, so good to be with her. I felt like I was home, like I had found my peace. The taste of her, the feel of her, it was everything I needed. She pulled away and gasped for air. Her breath hitched and she bit my earlobe. She gripped my shoulder tightly and I watched her come, her face flushing with color as she tightened all around me.

"Tell me," I said to her.

"I'm yours," she cried. "I'm yours forever."

"I adore you," I whispered in her ear. "I worship you."

"Come inside me," she said, as she stared deeply in my eyes. "I want all of you inside me." She pressed her mouth to my neck and bit down lightly. I groaned as I came, and she kissed me gently. She slipped out from underneath me and rolled on her side.

"I have to tell you something," she said.

"I have to tell you something too."

"I'll go first. I inherited my grandmother's cabin in the woods. I want to go live there, and paint, and be with you, and live happily ever after." She smiled at me, rosy and peaceful.

"I'm a millionaire," I informed her. "I'll have enough money for us to do whatever the hell we want, for as long as we want, and we can live happily ever after."

"So we get the fairy tale ending?" she said.

"As much of one as a vampire, a witch and a kitty can hope for."

We curled into each other's arms. "So when exactly does happily ever after start?" she asked.

I kissed her on the lips. "Right now." And it did.