All About Spike - Print Version
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Actions Past
By dutchbuffy2305

Timeline: Season 2 (after School Hard) and later in season 7

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You(7.2) In this world, Buffy takes Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME.



This old squeeze of mine (1)

Sunnydale, 1997

It was the mother of all slow nights. No vampires. No demons. Nothing…not even crickets or rustling leaves. So Buffy played her new game, where the only rule was that she couldn’t touch the ground. If there had been any fledglings out, she doubted they would feel threatened by her headstone-hopping talents.

But then something tickled at the edge of her perception, and Buffy leapt to the ground She tried to pinpoint the origin of the sensation, and failed. She closed her eyes and tried again. Yes. When she rounded a really big crypt she saw it. It wasn’t a vampire, but some kind of demon, one she'd never seen before. Well, not that she had seen that many, of course. The Hellmouth seemed to attract mainly vampires. The demon had a veiny female face, but looked human apart from that. Not the worst looking demon she’d seen, and it was wearing a pretty impressive amulet, too.

Buffy put a stake through its heart. The demon fell down. Unlike a vampire, it didn’t oblige by turning into dust, and Buffy had to roll the body in an empty crypt, grumbling all the while about having to do this alone. She wished there was someone to share slayer duties with her all the time. Not that Xander and Willow weren’t trying, but they had school, homework, sleep and mothers to deal with, and when patrolling, they had to be looked after. She wanted someone who could look after him- or herself, had a lot of time and little need for sleep. With a sigh she walked off in the direction of Revello Drive. She didn’t see the demon’s eyes snap open, or hear a voice intone "Wish granted".





Buffy woke up slowly, feeling exquisitely lazy and comfortable. She stretched slowly and languorously and opened her eyes a little further. Huh? What was she doing sleeping in her Mom’s bed? She couldn’t remember doing anything different than usual last night. God, she was hungry, major demon devouringly hungry. Food first, shower later. She padded downstairs in her bare feet, intent only on the fridge.

A voice said softly and diffidently: "Good morning?"

With a shriek Buffy leapt away from the freezer, crashing painfully against the sink. She scrambled backwards further, completely panicked.

"S-sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you?"

Buffy cast around the kitchen with her eyes, frantically searching for a weapon. The man – no, the vampire - came a little closer, a look of concern on his chiseled face. Buffy felt her face flush a furious red. She had never seen a guy naked, and this guy seemed very nude, somehow, in spite of the worn jeans riding low on his narrow hips. Her shocked gaze traveled from his lean and well-defined stomach to his muscled shoulders.

She tore her gaze away from his body with difficulty. He was still looking at her uncertainly, head tilted. Her heart lurched oddly in her chest. Then she recognized him.

"Spike! What are you doing in my mom’s house? Who invited you? And why are you half naked? I thought you would have left town by now, after the Parent-Teacher’s night disaster?"

Buffy! Get a grip! Don’t talk to him, stake him! DO something! Her hand found a stake in the drawer and she sprang at him, at the last moment managing to avoid a tall, brown-haired girl who was entering the kitchen. The girl emitted a deafening high-pitched shriek.

"Buffy! No! Don’t hurt him! What are you doing?"

The girl went to stand in front of the vampire, who seemed rather dazed and out of it. Ideal for staking, except for that silly girl who was hindering her.

"Get out of my way, whoever you are, "she said calmly. "I know you’re human, I won’t hurt you, but I have a thing to kill."

"Why, Buffy, why?" the girl screeched. "Did you get stung again by a demon? Have you lost your memory again? I’m your sister, and this is Spike!"

"Yes, I know Spike, and you may not realize this, but he’s a vampire, and he ‘s dangerous. I’m just here to protect you, so step aside, and everything will be alright!" Although Spike hadn’t actually made a move to use the girl as a shield.

"Dawn, " the vampire was saying, This isn’t Buffy. Something is wrong."

"Hey!, " she said, stung. "Of course I’m Buffy. I’m Buffy the Vampire Slayer!"

"Dawn. Get upstairs, wake up Willow, call Xander and Giles, and get away. I’ll deal with this apparition."

The girl didn’t move. She got out a cell phone though, and started dialing.

Buffy frowned. "You know my Watcher? And the names of my friends? How did you find out? Have you been stalking me or something? Love the cell phone, by the way," She’d never seen a pink one.

"Alright, if you are Buffy, can you remember what you were doing before you saw us? Anything odd happen on patrol?" the vampire named Spike asked.

"Hello-o, it is not my habit to have friendly conversations with vampires I’m about to stake. And you should remember you tried to kill my Mom and half the school last week!"

Spike’s mouth fell open. She could almost hear quarters dropping. Buffy was getting really irritated. At least ten perfect staking moments had come along the last few minutes, if only that pesky girl didn’t keep standing in the way.

"Kill half the school – Dawn – wait a minute – I’ve got an idea." He disappeared into the sitting room, and Buffy could hear him turning on the TV.

The girl – Dawn apparently – kept her place in the kitchen door.

Spike called out from the living room: "Buffy! Come on in here. I wanna show you something!"

Warily she went over there, still closely guarded by Dawn. Spike gestured at the TV. CNN was on. The US was going to go to war with Iraq. Should she have known that?

He looked at her questioningly. "What date do you think it is?"

"Huh?"

"The date," he repeated patiently. Instead of answering she looked at the TV. 18 October 2002? Now she felt her own mouth falling open.

"Great look on you, Buffy, " the shiny haired girl sniped.

"I’m in the future? What the heck? I still haven’t staked you after six years? Jeez!" Buffy looked from the vampire to the girl, both looking at her expectantly.

"So? Give me a reason why I shouldn’t do it now?"

"God, the old you has a one track mind," the girl complained. "Well, for one, Spike has a soul now. And I’m your sister."

Buffy ignored the last inane statement again. "O, sorry, you should have said. No staking of souled vampires of course. " She put down the stake, and stuck out her hand at Spike, whom she apparently had managed to astound once again. He shook it politely, still with that dumbfounded look. If he had a soul, he must be good.

"Hey, you and Angel must have a lot to talk about these days, huh? Does he have a cell phone too? Can we call him?"

The vampire started to pull at his hair, which looked disheveled enough in her opinion - he should use more gel, like Angel --and seemed about to burst into tears.

"All yours, now, Dawn, " he croaked, and scuttled off to the basement. She looked at his retreating back. He was living in the basement? What was her Mom thinking?

"Hey! Will you stop ogling Spike’s butt and concentrate for a minute?" The screechy girl again.

"I am so not ogling his skinny butt! I have a boyfriend, you know."

"Yeah, I guess you must still be with Angel in your past, huh? Not that you’d ever ask my opinion, but Spike was always way nicer to me than stuck up Broody Guy. So typical, to forget again that you have a sister. Like a Freudian thing. Hey, Giles and Xander are gonna be here soon, why don’t you get dressed?"

Stunned into silence Buffy went upstairs again. She opened the door to her own bedroom, thinking to find her mother there and intending to check the veracity of the things that had been said downstairs Instead she found Willow, of all people, lying in her bed, fast asleep. Where was her mom? Back in the room she woke up in, she found a lot of clothes that looked her size (actually, at least one size smaller, but then, she seemed really thin). She put on some weird bell bottom jeans, far too long, and started rooting around for more weapons. She didn’t think it would be wise to trust this girl, who kept insisting she was her sister, too much.

She went down again, in pursuit of her interrupted breakfast. The vampire was in the kitchen, a too tight blue shirt on, guzzling blood. Yuck. She couldn’t remember Angel ever drinking blood where she could see it. Joyce must have totally lost it to have a vampire living in the house, soul or not.

When she lifted her hand to open the kitchen cabinet where the cereal was kept, the vampire cringed and backed away from her, holding up his hands as if to ward off her blows. Buffy stepped back. Her future self must be pretty hard on him, to make him react like that.

She spoke in a gentler voice." I won’t hurt you. I know you’re a different person now. I’ll try not to think of you almost killing me last week, ‘cause that must be so long ago for you. You must be used to everyone accepting you’re one of the good guys now. Just tell me what’s going on in this time. Why I seem to have a sister?"

"Don’t think I should. But I’ll help you, I promised her that. That I’d be ready to help", he said, facing away from her.

"Hey! Why don’t we call Giles again, he can pick up Angel from his apartment, ask him to help us!"

That visibly startled him. He turned to look at her fully. Funny, she’d never noticed, when they’d been fighting, that his eyes were so blue. Well, he’d been mostly vamped out, of course. "Angel? Peaches? I don’t think so."

"Doesn’t Angel love me…her anymore?" Buffy said in a small voice.

Spike didn’t answer that. He shook his head.

"Your lives are so far apart, you can’t expect anything to be the same. Be glad that Giles, Xander and Willow are still here for you."

Buffy brightened a little at that. Still, that left someone important unaccounted for.

"Where is my mom?" Buffy asked suspiciously. "What does she think about you in her basement?"

"Joyce is ... on a buying trip," Spike improvised, not wanting to go there. "She’s let me have the basement, ‘cause I needed a place to stay."

"Huh." was Buffy’s response.

****

"Come, Buffy, sit down,"‘ Giles said, gesturing her to a chair. " We’ll get to the bottom of this. Spike, will you tell us again what happened this morning?"

"…and I sensed she wasn’t m…the present Buffy. She did recognize me, so I reckon her time must’ve been shortly after I hit Sunnydale for the first time, " Spike concluded.

"It was really gross, you know, " Buffy piped in "He had no shirt on! Eew!"

Xander couldn’t help but grin broadly at this.

Giles coughed, trying to hide his smile. "Yes, well, er…Buffy, things have happened here that none of us could have imagined in our wildest dreams back then. White was white, black was black, vampires were evil…"

""Except for Angel of course!" Buffy said brightly. "Where is he, anyway? Is he going to come by tonight?"

Mention of Angel sure made them look embarrassed. Giles helplessly spread his hands.

"Buffy, what can I say? I suggest you stop trying to find out what happened to us, and we start trying to find out what happened to you. Do you remember anything out of the ordinary happening before you went to sleep last night? Did you have unusual dreams?"

Buffy shrugged. "Nope. Patrolled, went to bed, woke up, went to get some breakfast …Found a half-naked vampire in my kitchen!"

She shot Spike a pointed look. Spike looked pained, but again refrained from saying anything.

"Okay Giles, Buffy obviously hasn’t got a clue, " Dawn said." Why don’t you get out your Watcher diaries and see if you recorded anything funny happening that night?"

"Um, right Dawn, good thinking," and Giles went off with alacrity.

"Way to go, Dawnie, " Willow said. Dawn ignored her. Buffy was watching the various exchanges with interest. They all seemed to accept the girl as her sister. Some vague explanation about keys and mystical monks and memory-tampering. They did understand that she didn’t know her at all.

She looked at her friends again. Xander didn’t seem that much changed. A lot heavier and more puffy, better clothes - but basically he gave off the same vibe. Willow, though: that was an entirely different story. She looked - beautiful, strong, confident. The way she sat sprawled on the couch, cleavage showing, smiling with amusement…. Buffy went over and sat next to Willow.

"Willow?" she whispered. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure", Willow replied, one eyebrow arching." Ask away!"

"Did you, like, know about Buffy 2000 – "

"2002!

" you know about Spike living in the house?"

Willow chuckled humorlessly. "Buffy, you and Spike …have issues. Which I won’t tell you about. Not what you wanted to hear, huh?"

Buffy’s face definitely confirmed this. She and Spike? That sounded somehow ominous. Still, she pressed on, curiosity getting the better of her.

"Willow, do you have a boyfriend now?"

"Humph!" Willow sprayed her coffee over her subdued blouse, that didn’t even clash with her skirt. "Um, actually, um, no, not right now." Her face clouded.

"Well, did you have sex with the last one?"

"Hello! Twenty-two here, you know" Willow said a little huffily, remembering old slights. "It’s not like I’m this little nerd anymore, okay?

Buffy drew back. This Willow was not as easy to talk to as the old one. She’d just wanted some advice on Angel.

Giles returned with his appointment book in his hands.

"Buffy, we must pinpoint the precise moment time went haywire. What was the exact date?"

" Uh, October 18th I guess. Anyway, it was a Monday."

"That would be October 19th then, Buffy,’ Giles said a little sharply.

"Whatever. "

Xander stood up. "I have to get to work , Giles. Anything I can do, let me know."

"Alright then", Giles said, "let’s meet up at Buffy’s again tonight, shall we?"

"Um, Dawn, isn’t it?" Buffy said, "When is Mom gonna be back? She must have said!"

The girl stared at her furiously for a moment, fists balled at her side. Then she stalked off on those long legs, and Buffy heard a door slamming and very loud music starting up.

"What did I say?"

Giles looked at her for a few moments, then shook his head, and exchanged meaningful looks with Xander and Willow.

"Buffy, I think it’s best if you don’t leave the house today. We’ll be back here later tonight, and hopefully we’ll have some results then. Spike will stay here as well, and keep you company. Will you be alright with that?"

"Giles, come on, " Xander said emphatically, "surely we’re not gonna leave her alone with Cold Member here?"

"Well, Xander, you have a better alternative?"

Buffy picked up on the vibes, but didn’t get what they were so upset about. "Hey, I know he has a soul, and that he is part of the team! I won’t stake him, okay?"

"That’s not exactly what we meant…." Those ‘looks’ again.

Buffy let out a peal of laughter. "You’re afraid he’s gonna harm me? Hey, I’m the Slayer, one short, skinny, deranged vampire is no threat to me!"

They still seemed to think he might, she couldn’t fathom why. Finally they went off. It was going to be a long day, stuck in the house like that. A good moment for some maintenance work, this Buffy seemed a little lax in the manicure department.



Timeline: Season 2 (after School Hard) and later in season 7

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You(7.2)

Disclaimer: All ME



Down Memory Lane (2)

Buffy woke up with a start. There was a fading image of bright light against her closed eyelids, like lightning. She opened her eyes, sat up, and looked around, straining to see in the dark. It felt very familiar and safe on the one hand, but something was definitely off. When her eyes had adjusted, she could see she was in her old bedroom at home. Buffy tried to gather her sleepy wits. Had she gone to sleep in her old room? And, she noticed, a pair of pajamas she couldn’t remember owning?

She got out of bed. The alarm said 6.30. Silently she crossed to the door, listening closely, senses straining. Something was off, in spite of the silence and familiarity. Carefully, Buffy opened the door of her mother’s old bedroom, the one she remembered going to sleep in. It was empty, the bed neatly made up. The furnishings looked a little bit odd to her, but she couldn’t pinpoint why.

She crossed to Dawn’s room. It was full of boxes and smelled musty. Shocked completely awake now, Buffy hit the light switch. Where in hell had Dawn’s stuff gone? Then she flashed on a two-year old memory: the trance trip she’d taken to find out if her mom’s illness was supernatural. This was how Dawn’s room had looked then, too. Empty. Because Dawn wasn’t real girl, but the mystical Key. Had there been a Dawn-erasing spell?

Buffy pinched herself. It hurt a little. She hoped this meant she wasn’t dreaming. The pinch gave her some other information as well. Her arm was feeling much softer and rounder then it should. So…what did this mean? She went downstairs quickly, to the kitchen, where her mom always used to pile the old newspapers. The top one said October 11th 1997.

That means… Angel is still around complete with soul… Spike has just gotten into town for the first time...or not yet? She couldn’t remember! Were Oz and Willow already together? Xander and Cordelia? No Anya, that was for sure. Count your blessings, she thought.

What if the Buffy from this time was just now waking up in a house with a Spike in it? Crazy, defenseless Spike in the basement? The other Buffy would stake him on sight, she had to get back really fast.

Buffy dressed hastily in a pair of extremely dorky jeans and a top, making a face at her fashion-disaster reflection. She practically ran all the way to Giles’ house. She rang the bell and pounded the door.

"Giles!", she called. "Giles! Wake up! This is an emergency!"

A sleepy Giles in tightly buttoned, striped pajamas opened the door.

"Really Buffy, what on earth are you doing her at this hour? Couldn’t it wait till school hours?"

Buffy grabbed Giles’ arms and only just succeeded in not shaking him.

"Giles, shut up and listen! Emergency here! I woke up here, only it’s the past for me, and I really have to get back to the future right now. Buffy from the past is going to wake up, and if she sees Spike she’s going to stake him!"

"Buffy, please slow down. You’re not making sense." Giles made as if to polish his glasses, but he wasn’t wearing them. "Sit down, take a deep breath and tell me everything, from the top."

********

School was about to start. Willow and Xander had trooped in a little while ago, and Giles had made Buffy tell her story again.

"So", Buffy concluded, "I read the date on the newspaper, six years in my past, and I came to Giles immediately, so he could figure out what to do and send me back."

The Scoobies just sat and gaped.

"Buffy, that’s really amazing," Willow babbled. "Has mankind traveled to the Mars yet and is there a cure for cancer?"

"Um, Willow – " Giles started to interrupt, but Buffy rode right over it.

"Get a grip, Will ", she snapped." We’re in a hurry, here! She, I mean Your Buffy, is so going to wig when she wakes up in a house with Dawn and Spike, and I really don’t want her to stake him, okay? So get to the spells already, the white magic thing. I want to be back before she wakes up!"

"Spells? What spells?" Xander chipped in. "And… Spike? What do you mean by that? "

"I know you never liked him, Xander," Buffy said, extremely annoyed, "but that is no reason to get Spike killed!"

Giles intervened. "Buffy, I really must ask you some questions. Why do you keep mentioning Spike? Are we talking about the same vampire who tried to eat the students last week?"

Buffy groaned. "Yes, I know, this must sound really weird to you, but Spike has changed, he’s working with us now!"

Don’t mention the soul, she thought, it will only make them think of Angel. Her gaze met only skepticism.

"Fine!"‘ she said quickly, "Let’s not talk about Spike anymore. He’s not relevant, you’re right. What is important is that two slayers, Buffy 1997 and Buffy 2002 have gotten mixed up. I don’t want to change history, so I guess I should say as little as possible about what has happened…is going to happen in the meantime. Let’s just go and figure out how to undo it, okay?"

"Gee, Buffy, I would really like to know, like, if I’m, you know, dating, in the future?" Willow asked shyly.

To her own surprise Buffy felt her eyes fill with tears, completely overwhelming her. God! Oz, Tara…She quickly looked away from Willow.

"I don’t think we should go into that, Will. Don’t you agree, Giles?"

But Giles was giving her anything but agreement.

Looking steadily at her he said: "Buffy, or whoever you may be, I’m far from convinced by your story. It’s unlikely to say the least. Why would we believe this? You may very well be a demon who has taken over her body."

He took off his spectacles and started to polish them.

"You see, and don’t take this the wrong way if you are the real Buffy, it is quite improbable that you would survive seven years of slaying. Most slayers don’t even live to see eighteen."

Gasps from Willow and Xander.

"And you keep mentioning Spike. What if he has put a spell on you, so you’d trust him and be easier to kill? We really must think about other possibilities before rushing in to do a time-reverse or what have you."

Buffy gritted her teeth.

"I remember this, "she grated, "and it still pisses me of to be reminded of it! Don’t you remember that this happens all the time? I sense something wrong with my slayer sense, and you spend a lot of time blowing me off, until it’s almost too late!"

She received nothing but glassy-eyed looks from her former friends, and a cool stare from Giles. She dropped her head in her hands.

"Okay, I give up. What can I do to convince you that I am really the future Buffy?"

*******

Giles watched the disgruntled Slayer’s retreating back until she was out of sight. He turned to Xander and Willow.

"Well? What do you think? Is it Buffy?"

Willow made her big-eyed face and nodded with vehemence.

"Giles, who else could it be? She knew us, she was just acting a little different because she was so old, I guess! I mean, if she’s twenty-one she can drink in bars, she probably has a job…"

"Maybe she’s in college!" Xander interjected. "You know, college girls, no disapproving Moms, we all know what they get up to!"

"Buffy? In college? No way! Buffy and studying are not mixy things!" Willow laughed, and Giles nodded.

"I agree Willow, Buffy’s not the college type." He paused and put his fingers to his craggy forehead. "Why are we talking about college? Please stay focused! Xander, what did you think?"

Xander puffed up a little at being asked his opinion. "I think it was really our Buffy, only from the future, like Marty McFly."

"Yeah, and she has to be really careful not to change things, or she will fade in all the pictures! " Willow bobbed in her chair with enthusiasm.

"What? Never mind, I don’t need to know, " Giles almost rolled his eyes, but caught himself in time.

"Alright, in spite of my words to Buffy, I really can’t conceive of anything so closely resembling Buffy, and being able to deceive us. I do feel she was hiding things, but that was probably the Marty McFly- thing, very illuminating, Xander. If we knew our futures, we’d be too tempted to act upon that knowledge."

"Yeah, she didn’t want to tell me who I’d be dating, didn’t she?" Willow peeked hopefully at Xander.

In Xander’s mind troops of faceless girls with big chests danced past along, twirling their pompoms and flashing frilly underwear.

Giles looked pensive. "I think that as her Watcher I could handle knowledge of the future. I’ll ask her tomorrow."

***

It was dark, and Buffy was walking along a deserted street in the bad part of town, morosely kicking bits of trash. There had been no really challenging vamps, just a couple of clueless fledglings, who were so no fun to stake anymore. She’d just gotten too good.

"Um, Buffy, why don’t you go out and patrol? " she mimicked in a fake English accent. "We’re still not quite convinced what really happened to you!".

They had rained questions on her for hours, none of the answers apparently enough to convince them. Except for Willow, no one seemed prepared to just believe her. There had even been some talk of her going to class. At least she had managed to talk them out of that!

She looked up sharply. Her Slayer senses told her vampire- not Spike – but still…

"Hey…" came softly from a tall dark figure, as it detached itself from the wall it had been leaning against.

"Angel!" Buffy blurted out, completely surprised. "Oh, of course, you’re still here in this time, I mean, right now… I’m babbling, right? Hey, you."

Angel stepped closer, smiling slightly, really closing in now, clearly going to kiss her. Buffy thought: Well, why not? No changing of history here! Cool lips met hers in a gentle kiss. Buffy kissed back, then withdrew.

Buffy frantically tried to remember on precisely what terms Angel and she had been back then. Kissing, sure, but what kind? She decided she could be bad. Who’d know? She closed the small distance between them again, grabbed his shoulders and captured his lips in a real, grown-up kind of kiss. Angel made a faint, surprised sound, and started getting into the kiss. Again Buffy withdrew. She stared at Angel for a few heartbeats, then turned and walked away.

"Gotta patrol!" she called over her shoulder, and saw Angel staring after her expressionlessly, as always.

What to think of that little episode? Angel had definitely not known she was anything other than his normal 1997 Buffy. She was miffed he didn’t notice anything. Spike would have known in a heartbeat. And she herself? Didn’t feel a thing! She knew it was over between her and Angel, but that over…

The fates really had it in for her that night. She sensed another vampire lurking in the shadows only a moment before realizing it was Spike. Former Spike, of course. She stepped back in the shadow of a big dumpster. Carefully she looked around the corner. Spike was talking to someone, gesturing in short, choppy moves, a lighted cigarette trailing glowing circles in the air. Whoa. She dropped back against the dumpster and pressed a hand to her breast. It felt as if her heart and her stomach were having a fight in there. Holy crap, she couldn’t believe she was so much affected by the sight of old Big Bad. They hadn’t exactly been friends back then! But here she was, all a-flutter and totally wigged by the former incarnation of her ex-lover.

Buffy had another peek. Spike was still talking, standing there with that cocky, sexy stance, one hand hooked on the waist of his jeans, no doubt. The street lighting glinted on his platinum hair. And the duster! How she missed seeing that evil thing on him. It simply screamed "I’m Baad!" at you. She put her hand on her forehead. She wasn't coming down was a fever, she hoped – she felt all hot and sweaty. No other possible reason for feeling like this, right? She couldn’t be missing the old, bad Spike, now could she? Aw, who was she kidding? Buffy the vampire slayer, as usual all hot and bothered for someone she couldn’t have, and this time she’d chased him away all by her big stupid self.

Well, best get it over with soon, she reasoned, surrounded by the powerful perfumes wafting from the trash. Talk to him, stake him, get over him. Or just realize you don’t even like him. She stepped away from the dumpster to the middle of the street.

"Yo, Spike!" she called out. "Come on over, I want to talk!"

"Slayer?" Spike rumbled, as he turned around, eyeing her warily.

Buffy drank in the way he looked. Still arrogant, sure of himself, evil. It was kinda hard to admit that she was missing that part of him. In hindsight all their fighting had mostly been just plain fun. His hair looked a little different…for the rest: the duster and the black clothes were Spike Last Year. The Bad Year. Of course, she thought fondly, this was not her Spike yet. Oops. Well, yeah, whatever would happen between them, or not, he was hers. Hers to stake or…well, she hadn’t decided about what else to do with him yet.

"Spike, let’s do something different tonight. We can fight anytime; tonight I want to talk to you. Let’s have at truce: you don’t bite me, I don’t stake you."

"What the hell for, Slayer? Let’s just fight!" Spike vamped up and advanced growling.

"Aw, come on, Spike! We’re opponents, equals, we can have a parley before combat!"

This seemed to appeal to Spike, because his human face returned.

"Okay, then, Slayer, truce it is. What do you want to talk about so bloody urgently"? he said, lighting another cigarette.

They fell into step together, keeping some distance between them.

"Well, I always wanted to know if you only think about killing Slayers, or that, you know, you’re a little bit attracted to them as well?"

Spike’s scarred eyebrow rose. This was the last thing he expected from the righteous little Slayer!

"Never!" he drawled out, looking her over. "You must be joking! I don’t bleeding shag my food!"

"Okay", Buffy said, undaunted. "How about this?"

She grabbed him by the belt of his jeans and yanked him close, mashing her mouth to his.

"Make you hot? " she growled, and kissed deeper.

She felt the answer growing under her hands. Spike put his hands on her hips, pulling her into him.

Buffy shoved him away, a triumphant smirk on her face. She couldn’t be this wicked or rough with poor fragile crazy Spike, and it was a relief to let it out once more.

"Okay, Spikey, truce over. I found out what I wanted to know! Bye! "

She walked away. She left behind an utterly gobsmacked Spike.

"What-the-hell!" he roared, punching a fist against the alley wall. "I’ll get you for this, Slayer!"

"Now, Buffy" she thought, still smiling. "that wasn’t very nice! Great fun, though…"

******

Buffy walked up Revello Drive, on her way home, still basking in the glow of pranks played on former boyfriends. The lights were on. Dawn was still up? On a school night?

Suddenly her legs were pumping, driving her up the last few steps to the front door with maximum speed.

"Mom?"

She threw herself in her mother’s arms with such abandon that the startled Joyce only just managed to stagger to the couch before they both fell over. To Buffy’s own surprise she was sobbing.

"Mom! I’m so glad to see you! I missed you so much! " she blurted out. She lifted a tearstained face. "You look so healthy! You look great! Can we just sit here like that? Can you just hold me?"

"Buffy, sweetie, what’s up? Did you have a fight with Willow or something?"

Joyce stroked her daughter’s blonde head with a mixture of amusement and concern. Buffy shook her head, her face once again buried in her mother’s sweater.

"No, no fight. I just realized I love you, and that I never say it. You do know that, Mom, don’t you?"

Joyce smiled. Buffy realized with adult perception that it was an indulgent smile, one reserved for silly fears in children. She remembered feeling it on her own face when talking to Dawn.

"Of course I know, Buffy. And I love you. I always will."

Buffy flashed on formless memories of her mother’s presence in Heaven.

"You’re a great mom, and you raised us really well. I think of you every day."

Joyce was starting to look a little bewildered now,. "Us? Honey, you’re an only child! Or were you talking about Hank?"

"Sorry mom. I just needed to say this. I wish…." Buffy trailed off. She couldn’t say ‘I wish you hadn’t died’…. She hugged Joyce again, and staggered a little, lights flashing on the edge of her vision.



Timeline: Season 2(after School Hard) and later in season 7

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You(7.2) In this world, Buffy takes Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME.



Because she’s got personality (3)

After having wolfed down a huge breakfast, and washing her hair, Buffy felt more prepared to face the challenges of the future. She'd put her hair in big rollers, and armed with toe dividers, polish, files, and other implements of nail care, she descended the stairs to the basement.

"Hi!, " she said perkily to its inhabitant. The poor guy had been lying supine on his cot, arm over his face, shoulders heaving.

She toned down the perkiness. "Hey, I thought, we're home alone now, we could keep each other company. Watch TV, do our nails? I have black polish?"

He lifted his face to her. He looked so different from the guy she'd been fighting a couple of weeks ago, she'd almost think vampires could age. He looked at least ten years older, and completely zoned out to boot.

"You know, I think Xander was being totally mean to you. He's always snarking at Angel too, and it's so unfair, I mean, you guys have souls now, you deserve to be treated better! After all, you're not the same person now as when you had no soul, so they shouldn't be taking things out on you, that you never even did!"

She was on her way upstairs again. Her voice floated down the stairs. "I can't wait to see the shows of the future!"

***

Spike sat up and stared up at the stairway. So this was the chit Angel had been besotted with. He was stunned by her complete acceptance of his souled and therefore 'good' status. It made him even more jealous of old Peaches. He'd gotten to bask in the sunny, warm glow of love from this little cheerleader. Not that he felt she was really the same person as his girl. His love was a dark warrior, a woman, tempered in hotter fires than this sweet thing.

He knew, in theory, what had happened to her over the past few years, but he had never fully appreciated how major and how deep the changes were. Bloody hell, things like that were bound to change a person, but it was more than just hard battle, and her mum dying that had forged his Buffy. Something to do with the nature of the Slayer, he wagered. Something dark welling up from their souls, the more so the longer they survived, the more they killed. Probably the reason not many of them did, risks of combat apart. It must be bloody hard to feel yourself change into the very thing you fought against. He imagined every soldier could say a thing or two about that. He remembered a cousin returning from the Crimea War, never was his old self again.

Spike decided to go join the girl in front of the telly. He sort of liked her chatter, and, to be honest, the lack of judgment was very refreshing. The Scoobies were doing their best - well, occasionally - to treat him better, but they were uneasy around him. They knew too much, and couldn't forget, let alone forgive, what he'd tried to do to them.

Buffy patted the couch to indicate where Spike should sit. She handed him the black nail polish. She was busy doing her toe nails, her tiny pink toes charmingly separated by brighter pink dividers. A show he didn’t know was on.

"You have nice feet, for a man," she remarked. "Do you paint them, usually?"

"Um, no, pet, I don't. Just the fingernails. Haven’t done that in a while though." He was starting to appreciate her more and more. She wasn’t at all like Dawn, insecure and moody. This was your typical alpha girl, used to popularity and making other people feel good.

He caught her peeping at him when he was doing his left hand. "So, " she started on a more serious tone, "how did you get your soul? Gypsy curse?"

"No, love, went and got one on purpose. Trials an' all."

Her eyes widened at that. Ton of make up she was wearing, he noticed. Must have been the fashion in her day.

"On purpose? I didn’t know you could! Why?"

Still straight to the heart of the matter, as always. What to answer now?

"Hurt the woman I loved, you know. Felt so ashamed, knew I had to change if I wanted her to ever love me back." Funny he could say that to her, without choking up, or drowning in the voices.

"Wow! That is so romantic! And does she love you now?" She looked at him with anticipation, clearly expecting the answer to be affirmative.

"Um, no. Don’t think she ever will. She can’t forget what I did. To her, her friends, and, you know, all these people in my past." He drew a shaky breath. "I do get that. Still hurts, though."

She patted his thigh consolingly. "I think that is really unfair. I'm involved with a guy, well, Angel, so I can't speak from experience, but if someone did something major like that for me, it would sure make an impression. Maybe she'll come around? Bring her flowers or something, ask her on a really nice date?"

Spike looked down at his freshly lacquered nails. "Um, no. She made it pretty clear she won’t ever think of me that way. Doesn’t want me around, except when she needs me to… help her." Bugger. His big mouth would get him in trouble, as usual. She hadn’t noticed his near slip-up.

He looked at the telly. Better watch, instead of talk, and be in danger of saying too much. The screen was showing a tragic scene of fate-tossed lovers, being torn apart by circumstances… Tears welled up in his eyes, and he started to cry silently.

He heard her repress a little sigh of exasperation. Too weepy for her, apparently. He couldn’t blame her. Knew he couldn’t be much fun to be around right now. Or ever again.

She put an arm on his shoulder, and patted him again, on his hair this time. "You’ll get over her. In time. She doesn't sound like a nice girl to me, I'm sure you can find someone better. Um…she a vamp, too?"

This only aggravated Spike’s weeping. The irony of it! He felt her twitch, and give a little hiccup. Then suddenly she started crying as well, and scooted away from him.

He looked at her, and saw her stricken face, and the horror with which she was looking at him. He knew this was the real current Buffy again. What had happened to return her? He’d felt nothing, no magic, just a twitch and there she was.

"It's you again," he said in resignation. He tried to stop the blubbering, and started to get up. Back to the basement for him, it was.

The now current Buffy was still staring at him at him with that look in her face, and crying in earnest now, red eyes, nose starting to run.

"I saw Mom! "she sobbed. " And she looked so wonderful, and she held me, and I missed that so much! And I told her that I loved her , and she knew, and it made me feel so…" Huge, shuddering sobs.

He tentatively sat down again and with only the tops of his fingers, sitting well away from her, he tried a little pat, to let her know he cared. To his immense surprise and gratification she leaned into him and cried noisily on his shoulder. He didn’t dare really hold her, but made soft shushing noises.

"Ssh, pet, ssh, 'course she knew you loved her. Mothers always know. And now you've gotten to tell her. Isn’t that amazing? You're bloody lucky, you are, to get a chance like that. You can treasure the memory for ever, love."

Her sobbing grew less. She held on to him tighter though, her arms around him. His own crying had stopped, the present needing his attention more than the past right now. He started to become uneasy in her tight embrace. He was afraid to hurt the girl. Mustn’t hurt her. Mustn’t get so close. She'd punish him if he overstepped his bounds. He started to pant and struggle a little, but her grip was so firm.

***

Buffy slowly became aware of Spike's agitation. She lifted her head, saw the fear in his eyes, and felt his small, uncoordinated movements to get away from her. She released him. She registered the relief on his face as he scooted away to the other end of the couch.

Ouch. She didn’t like how that felt. To see him so wary of her, so afraid. So different from the cocky swaggering Spike she'd seen mere hours ago. She could hardly have missed the change in him since he'd come back with the soul, of course, but now she had brand-new memories to compare the Spike of last year to, and there was a definite difference. Too bad she couldn’t say: Lose the soul, Spike, I like you better without. Or: how about a moment of perfect happiness, lover? She couldn’t believe he’d gone the way of Angel. Another ex who couldn’t ever have sex again. Great.

"Sorry, Spike, " she said stiffly. "I didn't mean to get in you personal space. I know you don’t like to be touched."

Abruptly she got up. Everything that had happened today seemed aimed for maximum discomfort. She really didn’t want to deal right now. She felt her face splitting in huge yawn. Time to get some sleep, she didn’t care if it was day here. She got up from the couch and left the room, leaving Spike to Sesame Street.

***

When Willow returned from class, she was greeted by a silent house. She peeked into the living room. The TV was on with the sound turned off. A sleeping Spike could be seen on the sofa. She still thought Buffy should have made a different decision. What kind of message was she giving the poor guy, letting him stay at her house? It probably gave him some hope he still had a chance with Buffy, which she certainly was denying. On the other hand, Buffy floating on the Egyptian river was nothing new…They would just have to figure it out themselves.

She went upstairs. Through the open door of her bedroom she could see Buffy, fast asleep, lying fully dressed on the bed, hair still in curlers. Willow figured she'd get some sleep herself. Being almost normal, attentive and punctual Willow was very tiring.





Buffy woke up. The first thing she did was check if she was in her own room. Good. Once was enough. She heard people moving about and talking downstairs, and didn’t feel like facing them yet. She pondered on what had happened that day. It had been nice to see her friends ‘before’, but she had to admit they all seemed incredibly young and pretty clueless. Though Giles had been impressive, almost Ripperish. And Spike. She turned over and put her head deeply into her pillow to think about Spike from the past. She just had to think of him standing there in his duster, weaving his cigarette circles in the air, to get all turned on. How could she ever have let that stupid vampire stay in her basement? He could probably smell her arousal from three floors away. Why did the thought of Spike’s former self make her all giddy and unhappy? Kind of pointless to be interested in someone from the past?

Buffy went downstairs, eyes still gritty and with a pounding headache, and found the whole gang already assembled in the living room. Even Spike was there, looking relatively normal. She wished he’d hurry up and get better. She didn’t regret carting him home after the church incident, but it was a grind looking after an insane ex-lover who happened to be undead. Getting blood from the butcher’s, washing his one pair of jeans…Thank God Dawn loved bleaching his hair, she would really have drawn the line there.

"Hi, it’s, me, the real me, "she said listlessly, and waved a hand in perfunctory greeting. She sat down, huddling deeply in the cowl-neck of the biggest sweater she owned.

"Yeah, we got that it must be the current you, Buffy, the other you was a lot more cheery!" Dawn said snidely.

"Whoa, Dawnie, give it a rest! " Xander said protectively.

"So, you met the me from 1997? I thought you would have. I’m just feeling a little jet-lagged, I spent a whole day and evening there, and when I came back it was still afternoon! Very weird. And also,

I’ve had a really bad day. I met not only Angel, but also Spike and my Mom, so you can imagine it was all pretty gut-churny stuff!"

This effectively shut Dawn up. Finally Willow broke the silence. "Wow, Buffy, I can’t even begin to imagine how you must feel now!"

Try seeing Oz, Tara and Warren all in one day! Buffy only just managed to bite back the comment.

"Well, Buffy, Giles said, "please tell us what happened to you, so we can find out what caused this.

Buffy told all – well, leaving out the vampire teasing, and not leaving out the frustrations of dealing with the 1997 gang. And she didn’t mention meeting Joyce, wanting to spare Dawn’s feelings.

"The old you was so patronizing, Giles, more like Wesley was than the now you. Didn’t believe a word I said, sent me out on patrol like a little girl… not repeat-worthy!"

"You were only sixteen- not surprising you’re rather more dominant now."

Willow said thoughtfully: "Both Buffies said the initial switch happened here in the house; perhaps there’s some kind of energy trail I can scry for."

"You need me for that , Will? " Buffy asked. "I wanna clear my head with some nice fresh air and violence." She couldn’t stand their concerned looks. Almost like coming back form the grave.

"Yes, of course I need you for that, Buffy, you seem to be the center of the spell. Hey, you didn’t happen to utter a wish to a certain vengeance demon?"

"Come on, I know better than that. Besides, if that’s it, it’s more like I’m being the one who’s being venged upon, right?"

Willow busied herself preparing for the spell.

"Okay, Will, have your Wiccan way with me!" Buffy sat cross-legged in a circle of candles, with an outer ring of greenish kitchen herbs. Willow sat outside the circle, ready to intone the magic words and catch Buffy's aura in the crystal ball. Buffy couldn't understand a word Willow was saying, and grew more and more drowsy. Suddenly the drowsiness vanished, and Buffy found herself still in the circle, but the candles were dowsed and the herbs gone.

"We done already?"

"Already?" Willow groused. "I've been chanting for over an hour!"

"Well? What did you find out? Who's doing a mojo on me?" Buffy peered over Willow’s shoulder at the ball, in the depths of which a complex play of colors could be seen.

"This is really weird -- look Giles, Buffy's aura is intact. No outside influence visible, no leakage, nothing."

Giles took off his glasses and peered at the shiny object. "Most peculiar."

"Why is my aura so murky brown? What does that say about me? Is that the right color?" Buffy wanted to know.

Giles and Willow exchanged a glance.

"It does tell us some things about your state of mind. You have a very strong will, you completely control your emotions and your body. Look at these tiny blue streaks, spirit, and the little orangey flecks, creativity. There is no red sexuality visible at all.

In a balanced aura, there would be more of these colors, and mixes of the primary colors, and they would be more intermingled. This means that you are repressing your emotional and physical impulses, and making them subject to your will, your rational mind." Willow explained.

"And that would be wrong why?"

"Repressing parts of yourself in never healthy. You should try and integrate them, ideally. Also, I would assume that your Slayer Powers are certainly not only those of the mind; therefore this repression could mean a regression of you powers, or lack of growth."

"Oh. Should I do something about it?"

"Well, " Willow started carefully, after another look at Giles, who waved her ahead with a nod, "you could try giving in to the needs of your body more. Like, not caring about a diet, or schedules, just eat and sleep what and whenever it feels most comfortable. And still keep your job, of course."

"Like, giving in to the craving of eating your slice of pizza?"

"Like giving in to the craving of eating unclaimed slices of pizza!" Willow said, hastily snatching her veggie slice away from the nimble slayer fingers.

"Okay. Check. Eat like a pig all the time. How about emotions?"

Giles fielded this one. "Try showing them more, and care less about appropriateness and keeping a stiff upper lip…"

"Giles, I’m not the English person here!"

"O, right. Hmm. I should say, let it out! Vent your anger, cry those tears, laugh out loud, mash a cup or something when you’re frustrated. Tell people what you think of them." She loved Giles in explanatory mode, all flushed and serious

"And you think that I don’t?"

"I, I do think you’ve been bottling things up, yes. Remember not telling us you were in Heaven, and how much more painful it was when it came out?"

"But Giles, if I gave in to every emotion I felt, I’d just be a soggy little heap of pointless feelings all the time, like.…"

"Like who?".

"Um, you know, Spike." She refused to look over to where Spike was sitting.

"Yes, well, Spike’s avery good example of someone who is the complete opposite of you. What Spike needs to do, and has been learning in my opinion, is to govern and curb his emotions and wants. What you could learn from him, is being in touch with your emotions, and expressing them. He’s also shown a quite impressive insight in the emotions of others."

"Learn from Spike? Ew! How to get in touch with your inner Bloodsucker?"

"Now, Buffy, restrain yourself. No need to insult defenseless beings."

********

That was maybe worse than Buffy ignoring and insulting him. Defenseless being his arse! On second thoughts, no. He’d been through that with the chip, he could do it again. And he was still a vampire, after all, if not currently at peak performance. No, her ignoring him, speaking about him as if he wasn’t in the room was definitely worse.

Was it his imagination or had she left out more than meeting Joyce? He wondered about her meeting the old Spike. He was sure her heartbeat had sped up when she was glossing over that bit. And as usual her so-called bloody useless friends didn’t notice a thing.

The results of her aura scan, for example! He didn’t need an aura scan to diagnose her as a victim of repression and denial! What they didn’t think about was it might be vital to her survival to be like that. What would happen to her if she became all open and spontaneous and touchy-feely? Weren’t emotional vulnerability and vulnerability in combat always linked somehow?

************************

"Spike? You sane enough for some slayage tonight?"

"Jeez, Tact Girl much?" Dawn said, totally ready to defend Spike again, as if nothing had ever happened to cause a rift between them.

"Fine by me, " Spike answered from his corner and stood up to go.

"Can I come too, Buffy? You haven’t been training with me for days! " Dawn wheedled.

"No, Dawn, " Buffy answered, without looking at her sister. "I’m in a cranky Slayer tonight, don’t wanna hurt your feelings." She looked at Spike when she said that, but he didn’t react. In her head she could almost hear him say "Whereas my feelings…" Why didn’t he answer? And why was she trying to get a raise out of him?

"So, Slayer, " Spike said, when they were walking down Revello, "You wanted to talk to me? You said you met the old me?"

"Yeah, saw him talking to some minions, and then we had mini-truce and a conversation."

"I don’t remember that happening! You?"

"No, it was all new. I just wanted to check with you, in case you did remember. I hope I didn’t change history."

"As long as you didn’t do anything out of character, or told him things he didn’t know before?"

Buffy felt herself blushing. Thank god it was dark.

"Care to tell me why the temperature of your facial skin is rising, Slayer?"

"What?"

"Why are you blushing?" Spike elaborated.

Buffy bit her lip. She would like to confess her, in hindsight, pretty silly behavior, but she thought it might be a little much to stomach, especially for Spike.

"The details are not important, Spike. I know I should have stayed out of his way, because of the not changing of history, but I guess I wasn’t thinking clearly." She felt his eyes on her face. He probably knew that she was hiding something, being Percepto Guy and all, but as long as she didn’t say exactly what, he’d never guess."

"Come on, Spike, let’s go check out the graveyards."



Timeline: Season 2(after Halloween) and later in season 7

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You(7.2) In this world, Buffy takes Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME.



Such a night (4)

Buffy stumbled a little when she suddenly found herself standing in the living room of her own house. She turned to look back where she came from, but couldn’t see anything special, just her Mom staring at her with a funny expression on her face. Was she late or something?

"Hi Mom!" she said and made a beeline for the stairs.

"Buffy! What is this all about? You’re acting a little strange tonight!" Her mother looked ready to get to the bottom of whatever this was.

"Nothing! You know, teenage things! Night, mom!"

Buffy wondered for an instant what her future self had been saying to her mom, then turned her thoughts to her own predicament. In her room, she checked herself in the mirror. Weird outfit she was wearing, she never would have picked those pants to go with that shirt! Well, in the future everybody was wearing these funny looking clothes. Crap, she hadn’t even gone to the mall or something! She'd been a good little Slayer and stayed put at home.

She changed into her jammies and brushed her teeth. Before closing the drapes she looked outside, hoping to catch a glimpse of Angel. A pity he hadn’t shown up in the future. What would their relationship be like? When she thought of him she got all these nice tingly feelings in her stomach.

Unfortunately those feelings led to contemplation of today’s events. All the things that had not been said. Buffy stomped her pillow in shape. Nobody had wanted to talk about Angel, and he had definitely not been around. Now that she knew her time in the future might be short, next time she’d be less relaxed and ask more questions. A lot more. Never mind Marty McFly, she had to know. She thought of calling Willow, but a look at the clock put a stop to those thoughts. Willow wouldn’t live down the wrath of Mrs. Rosenberg if she called now. Talking to Willow and Giles would have to wait till tomorrow at school.

******

To Joyce’s surprise, Buffy was off to school early that morning. When she walked through the library doors, she was glad to see her friends were already there.

"Willow! Xander ! I'm so glad to be back, when you’re all still normal!"

"We were weird in the future?" Willow asked.

"You know? Oh, sure, duh, my future self was here of course. What did you think of her? She different?"

"Yeah, Buff, she was like General Buffy, expecting us to jump to it. Talking about magic, and Spike…"

Xander moved forward to hug her. "We like you better!"

"Well, you were all…" Buffy hesitated - "…growed up, and …"

"Buffy, please think before you speak!" Giles beseeched her, crossing quickly from his office to the big table in the library. "Think of Marcus McBLigh, don't tell us things about the future!"

"Marcus McBl..? Oh! Yeah, right! Well, you were still my friends and all. It was totally weird, apart from that. You wouldn’t believe some of the things you guys said to me…"

"Buffy!" Giles warned again.

"Okay, okay! "Buffy paused a moment to gather her thoughts. "The future Slayerettes didn’t know either what had happened. But they are going to try to figure it out, too, so we’ll have a double chance of finding out what caused this. And…they have magic help. And it was 2002, cool huh? The twenty-first century!" She tried to think of other things she could say, but that would involve speaking about the weirdness of the people living in her house in the future, and all the things they weren’t saying.

"That is a little flat, Buff! Can’t you say just a teeny bit more? What did we look like? Did we have jobs, or what?" Xander was almost panting with eagerness.

"Can I Giles? You know, Xander, in the morning you were wearing a suit, a real suit, so you must have a job. And you had a car! And the other Buffy and me and…um, somebody else, were wearing funny clothes, like back to the seventies or something. And Giles, you were not wearing tweed! Really! You were wearing a sweater, and jeans!"

"How very unsettling. But tell us more about the direction their research was taking, because I haven’t a clue as yet were to start."

"I don’t know yet. It was morning, and everybody left for work or school or university, and they said they would be back in the evening. They wanted me to stay put in the house, so I did! And somewhere in the afternoon I changed back, and it was night here."

"What did your Mom think of all this, Buffy?" Willow asked. ‘Did you tell her, or..?"

"Mom wasn’t there. Spike said she was on a business trip, but I slept in her bedroom, and you were staying over, Willow. You slept in my room."

"Spike? You spoke to Spike? During the day?" Giles said in alarm, and started cleaning his glasses.

"Oops. Well, this won’t do much harm , I think. He’s good now, harmless and insane, and lives in my basement. And we watched TV together and did our nails. Hard to believe, huh?

"I’ll say! And what does your mother say about it?

"She has to be in the know, I mean, hard to miss, vampire in the house, blood in the fridge…"

"Hey, Buffy, we got to get to class, don’t wanna be tardy. Giles, we’ll be back after classes to help you with the research, okay?"

The three youngsters picked up their stuff and left the library.





A week later, as Buffy was dozing of gently during class, the voice of her English teacher droning on and on about ‘Julius Caesar’, she suddenly saw telltale sparks at the edge of her vision. She sat up and tried to signal to Willow when…

Buffy found herself, in the blink of an eye, transported from her office to a sunny classroom full of teenagers. She put her face in her hands and groaned.

"Miss Summers!" a sharp voice admonished her. "Please pay attention, or at least be silent!"

She sat up straight and tried to look attentive. When the teacher’s eyes left her, she quickly looked around, trying to find Willow. Willow sat next to her, and she tried to convey without speaking that the time switch thing had happened again. Willow’s eyes grew big and round and questioning, and Buffy nodded. "Later", Willow signaled.

Apparently this was the last class of the day, and on their way to the library, Xander and Willow barraged her with questions. She tried to fend off their childish curiosity, preferring to talk to Giles. She felt a little self-conscious in her tiny skirt, and vowed to change into training clothes immediately.

"Giles!" Willow called out as soon as they came through the swinging doors, "she’s back!"

Giles stood talking to a dark-haired woman, one hand going through his thinning hair repeatedly. The woman turned around and smiled at Buffy. Miss Calendar! Was she going to meet everybody who had died or left her? This was unbearable! She turned her face away to brush at her eyes, but couldn’t escape the interested gazes of Willow and Xander.

Miss Calendar left, after making a few last remarks to Giles.

"It’s me again, Giles, " Buffy said. "The 2002 me. I returned in the middle of English class. Any news from the research front?"

"No, not really. I was actually hoping it would be a one time occurrence."

Buffy’s eyebrows rose. "On a Hellmouth? Way optimistic, Giles. I was thinking, could we ask Miss Calendar to do a scrying spell on me? Check on my aura? That’s what we have been doing in the future. It would be helpful to know if you guys got the same results."

"Good idea. I’ll ask her. Is she helping you in the future as well?" He went on to say, as he saw Buffy’s surprised reaction, "the other you mentioned magic help in the future."

Buffy couldn’t help a quick glance at Willow. "Um, no. She’s not helping us." She cleared her throat. "Other magic help."

She sat down at the big table. "Nice to be here. I never thought I’d see this place again."

"Something happened to the library?"

Buffy chuckled uncomfortably. "What did I say? I meant I’m not in high school anymore, obviously."

They settled down to the usual routine of research. Buffy found it hard to keep her mind on books. She realized she was looking forward to patrolling tonight, in this time. Maybe she’d see Spike again…

It grew dusky outside. Xander went and got pizza. Buffy was about to get up and announce she was going on patrol, when Angel walked in. Everyone greeted him in a friendly fashion, no distrust visible. He approached Buffy and bent over to kiss her; she gave him a quick peck back. Giles started giving Angel the gist of what had been happening; apparently someone told him about the first time switch already. Buffy looked at him uncomfortably. He too looked younger and slimmer than the last time she saw him. Could vampires grow fat? She flashed on Spike with a beer belly, and couldn’t repress a shudder.

Would Angel realize it had not been his Buffy during that one encounter? It would be really hard to pretend with him, and she certainly didn’t want the go do the big smoochies. Angel looked at her with his dark eyes. He scraped his throat.

"You’re Buffy from the future? I better not ask you questions, I suppose?"

"I guess not," she said uncomfortably.

He reached out to touch her face, and she really couldn’t help a tiny flinch.

"Sorry."

Buffy could see she had hurt Angel, but there wasn’t much she could do about that. Xander was watching the exchange avidly, and to her surprise she felt like slapping that expression of his face. He really had been doing that judgy bully thing all along, only she’d never noticed it, or never been bothered by it.

"Mind your own business, Xander, " she said sharply. "You’re not my keeper. Who I sleep with is my business, and mine alone. I don’t need your condemnation."

"You’re sleeping with Angel? ‘ Willow said, hurt as well as surprise evident in her voice.

Buffy groaned. "No, not now, I mean. Sorry Xander, I guess I was taking future issues out on you."

The disconcerted looks on all their faces were almost comical. She wanted out of there, the library feeling no longer comforting but stifling. She got up and started packing stakes in her coat.

"Giles? Do I keep other clothes here? I wanna get out of this skirt."

"Um, no, not at the moment. Are you going to patrol?"

"Yeah. Need to hunt, and work off some tension. Some nice violence to make me sleep."

She noticed Giles’ faintly revolted expression. "What? You didn’t know Slayers get off on it? Live and learn!"

"Buffy, do you want me to join you?" Angel asked. He stood staring at her from under these beetling brows, unsure of what he had done wrong.

"I really was planning on slaying alone tonight, you mind?"

"Buffy, I’d feel less worried if you took Angel along. This time traveling is hardly conducive to optimum alertness!" Giles said, looking all flustered.

With a sigh Buffy acquiesced. They walked along in awkward silence.

"Buffy? Is everything alright?" Angel asked softly.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Yeah, sure, I’m flipping back and forth in time like a yo-yo, what’s to complain?"

"I mean with us?"

"Come on Angel, I’m not going to answer that! I’m from the future, I’m practically a different person. What good would it do to know stuff? Besides I think you shouldn’t ask. Changing the future is a big risk." Did he heave to keep on pushing?

"You seem unhappy."

"Hello-o, mister Sensitive and Brooding! I’m not going to say it again. Why don’t you just go home? This is too hard. I can’t concentrate." Buffy could hardly contain her impatience.

Angel hesitated for a long time. "I want to be there for you. But I can understand the pressure you’re under. I’ll go. Be careful!"

When Angel was far enough away Buffy could finally let out the frustration that had been building since she saw him. "Aaaargh!" she let out a growl and kicked a gravestone.

"My, my, the sweet sound of a frustrated Slayer! " a familiar British voice said, sounding relaxed and amused.

"Spike!" Buffy’s heart leapt in anticipation. This was going to be fun! She was really itching for a fight, and who better to fight with?

"What interesting things you and the mighty Poof were saying! Had a bit of a spat? Love’s first bloom flaking off already?"

"Mix metaphors much? And you don’t know what you’re talking about. Angel and I are fine."

"Uh-huh. ‘Course, girl from the future might have found herself something better than him." They were circling each other, getting ready.

"So you heard? Well, tell me Spike, what would you consider ’’something better’ for a girl like me? "

"Come on, Slayer, what’s this? You want advice on love from me? What do I care about the love life of human beings? Although they do taste better when they die happy!" Spike feinted and sprang back, but Buffy didn’t react. She knew his fighting style.

"I just thought, you’ve been with Drusilla for a hundred years, you must know all about the problems of long term relationships."

He hissed in fury and vamped out. The pre-fighting tension went up a notch or two.

"Long term? Eternal, you mean. We’ll be together forever, long after you’re dead! And how in bloody hell do you know about Dru? Tell me! You research me or what?" He went in with great speed and managed to hit Buffy on the nose before he danced back.

Buffy felt blood drip from her nose.

"News flash from the future: Drusilla cheats on you. Drusilla dumps you. You come crawling back to her, and Drusilla dumps you again. Next, you take up with the most vapid little blond cheerleader vamp in history. And if I told you who you fall in love following her, you’d stake yourself on the spot!"

Spike was too surprised to remain in game face.

"Let’s see, what else would you like to know about your future? The rest of eternity, dust to dust, ashes to ashes, blowing on the wind? ‘Cause that’s what ‘s in store for you!" She went in, gaining speed by careening of a tombstone, and landed a kick on his sternum.

"Trying to get me mad? No need, I like fighting Slayers anyway. Gonna kill me a third one!" He’d rolled with the kick and sprang back on his feet.

"So not going to happen!" Buffy panted. She was having a great time. This was more like it, exchanging banter and blows with an enemy who gave as good as he got. Most demons didn’t appreciate her humor, and usually were unable to talk back. This was what being a Slayer was all about.

The fight went on. Both parties inflicted some damage, but in essence they were evenly matched, and maybe even reluctant to end the fun.

Buffy smacked hard into a crypt, and felt something break. Spike was on her in a flash, game face ready. He didn’t bite her yet, though.

"Having a lot of fun, aren’t you Slayer? I can smell it! Fancy a bit of slap and tickle as well? I’ve been told being drained while fucking gives the best thrill ever – right before you die of course!’

To demonstrate his point he leaned over and gave her neck a long leisurely lick with his cool tongue. Buffy couldn’t control her gasp, and the goose bumps that raced all over her skin. She was such a fool! He always knew what she was feeling – of course the old him would know too. For the first time she felt real fear. No chip, no soul, nothing to restrain him – on the up side, only two relatively minor defeats and one stupid prank to egg him on.

For a moment Buffy considered his offer. What a way to end! Fight Spike first, have sex with Spike second, third, die. In that list were at least two of her favorites; on the other hand, her least favorite thing was on it , too. On that thought, she kneed Spike in the groin and tried to make a run for it. He tackled her and got in a few good hits before she wrested free and turned the tables. She straddled him and raised her fist. She got in a good shot on the nose, but got flashes of pain shot up her arm, and she changed her mind about continuing the fight.

"Okay, Spike, run along now. This is way too much fun to end already. I’m counting on you for a rematch."

He jumped up and ran a few yards, before turning his head and yelling: "You’re a fool, Slayer! I’d have killed me in your place!"

He ran off, a slight limp clearly visible, on arm hanging uselessly by his side. Buffy wasn’t in great shape herself. Besides her broken rib, her right leg felt like a bus had ridden over it, her eyes and nose throbbed, and she sported several bloody gashes on her arms and torso.

She hadn’t felt this good in years. It had been everything a fight should be, except that killing something would have been extra nice. Slowly she made her way home, a grin plastered on her battered face. This was living.



Timeline: Season 2(after Halloween) and later in season 7

Rating: R

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You(7.2) In this world, Buffy takes Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME.



Blue Moon (5)

A jar full of pencils crashed to the floor, as Buffy found herself, eyes still smarting from flashing lights, in an office of some kind. She jumped to her feet from a pure fight or flight impulse. Was she in the body of Buffy from the future again? Looked like. Was this where she worked? There was a light tap on the door.

"Come in!" she called out after a moment’s hesitation.

A pimply boy entered, shooting nervous looks at her face, in between checking out her boobs and the office. He sat down on the edge of his chair.

"So," Buffy cleared her throat. She spotted an appointment book. There was a clock on the wall, and with a feeling of triumph she said: "You must be Duane DiMarco." He nodded. "Can you give me the gist of why you’re here?"

"I don't know if you’re the right person to talk to, you know. I'm worried about my brother, you see, and I don’t know who to tell." He cleared his throat. "He's changed. I mean, he's been living in our basement since he graduated, and he was always kind of bad at school. Fighting, absent a lot. But now…he never comes out in the day anymore, he's totally become a night person."

Buffy leaned forwards a little further. "Go on, I'm listening."

"He looks different, very pasty and pale, and he smells funny, and he doesn’t raid the fridge anymore."

"And what do you think is the matter with him?" Buffy asked.

The boy hesitated. "I thought drugs, at first."

Buffy's face fell a little. "Oh."

"But then I saw him hanging out with some pals near the graveyard…" Buffy perked up. ".. and they had weird scary faces…"

He looked at her nervously. "What should I do? Would you think I'm crazy if I said I thought he's become a…."

"Vampire?"

The boy looked at her in stunned relief. "O god." He started to sniffle. "I'm so afraid. I hoped it was impossible. Do I have to kill him now? I don't know if I can."

Buffy patted his hand. This counseling stuff was easier than she'd thought. It was nice to be able to help someone.

She said: "I have this friend, who deals with people like that. Write down your address, and she'll check on him, and if he's really what you think, she'll, um, take care of it."

"Is there no way to change him back?"

Buffy shook her head. "No, there really isn't. I'm sorry. Will your parents kick up a fuss when they notice he's gone?"

The boy wiped at his eyes. "Actually, I think they'll be kind of relieved. He's been a lot of trouble to them. It's just that I'll miss him. He always took care of me, before, you know."

"He's not really your brother anymore, you know, "she said gently. "A demon has taken over his body."

"But why hasn't he killed me, or my parents then? He easily could have."

Buffy had no answer to that. She knew Angel had killed his family, and she'd sort of assumed every vampire did. She could ask Spike from the future, he was pretty easy to talk to. Her "client" left, sending her a sad little smile.

Buffy started to fidget. What was she supposed to do now? No reason to stay, if there were no more counselees, right? She stepped out of the office, and started to look for a way out. The place reminded her a little of her own school , but the layout was different. A tall African-American man nodded and smiled at her as she roamed the hallways. She nodded back cheerily. A teacher? The exit was easily found, and Buffy was when she found herself on the same street as the old high school. A look back at the entrance revealed "Sunnydale High" in huge letters above the entrance. Wow. It looked like a completely different building! She sure hoped she hadn’t been the one to destroy it, but considering her track record...And who’d be fool enough to rebuild on a Hellmouth?

***********

Spike settled next to Previous Buffy on the couch with a feeling of anticipation. He hadn’t felt like that in a long time.

He smiled at her. "Everything shipshape in the past?"

Buffy looked at him from the corners of her eyes. "Hmm. Actually, I met the old you again, and we had a fight. Remember, Halloween?"

Spike made a face. "Ouch. Well, I apologize for that. Didn’t hurt you too badly, did I?"

She flapped her hand dismissively. "Naah, I was okay. I kicked your ass, anyway, so no apology necessary. It was funny, meeting you here didn’t make me hesitate at all when I met you in my time. Just did what I had to do."

Spike nodded. "I know, that’s just you. You’re a true warrior, I admire that. Don’t have it myself, you know; my sodding feelings always get in the way."

She looked at him again. "You’re looking better. More I-was-turned-when-I-was-thirty than I-was-turned-when-I-was-forty this week. Making less with the insane, I guess?"

"Thanks, yeah, getting better at keeping it together."

"Love life improve any?"

"Still fourteen below. Yours okay I hope?"

Buffy blushed prettily and played with the hem of her top. "Great, actually. You know that feeling, that you met the love of your life?"

Spike swallowed. "Um. Yes."

Buffy didn’t seem tot notice his discomfort. "I think Angel’s it. He’s so perfect, he makes me feel so safe and loved…"

"So, you talk to him? Tell him everything?" he asked, jumping at the chance to find out what had been the Great Poofter’s attraction.

"Like with you? No, I can talk to you more like I can talk to Willow, my Willow, like girl-talk. Angel’s not the talking kind. He has all these deep thoughts, and has experienced so much, it’s just awesome."

Well, he’d asked, hadn’t he? What could you expect from a sixteen year old? Might as well have asked Dawn about the bleeding meaning of life. Still, it made him feel a little queasy to hear her talk like that about Peaches. Change the subject, mate, before you start heaving.

"The other Buffy asked me to tell you that she prefers a French manicure, so if you would please not paint them in pearly colors again."

She made a sulky face at that, but rallied quickly. "I’ll do yours instead. I’ll go ask Dawn if she has any funky little stars or something."

"Mine look fine the way they are! You’re not doing my nails any other color than black or natural!" Spike protested.

Yeah. Like he could withstand the combined forces of Teenage Buffy and Dawn. The two of them had a grand old time painting his nails in every color of the rainbow, and sticking stars and whatnot on them, smiley faces even. He must be the softest wanker in the sodding universe.

Dawn went to the mall with a friend, and he and Buffy were alone again. They watched reruns together in comfortable silence. A cookery show quickly bored her. She turned her attention on him again.

"How well do you know Angel?"

"What do you want to know, pet?" Spike looked at her warily.

"Well, " she sneaked looks at him though her lashes, " Angel is obviously not around right now. So, where is he, are Buffy and he still together, that kind of thing."

"Can’t answer any of them, and you know very well why. Dangers of time paradox and so on."

"You sound like Giles," she pouted.

"I’ll take that as a compliment, pet." If the old stuffed shirt ever heard that…

"Duh, no, I meant as in old and stuffy and British!"

Spike couldn’t help a grin at that.

The she started on him again. His, or, well, the present Buffy had never struck him as particularly curious. More like "how many do I have to kill?" than wanting to know what they were like un-vamped.

"Do all vampires kill their families? Did you?"

"You’re a regular fount of questions, girlie. Why do you want to know?"

Buffy explained about the schoolboy with the brother.

"I see. Many vampires probably don’t. Maybe in the first panic and bloodlust after you’ve clawed your way out of a grave, not knowing who you are or what you’re doing there. But deliberately kill your loved ones? I certainly didn’t, and I’d wager most of them don’t. They tend to get away as far as they can from their families, in a desire to be totally free of ties of love and obligation. Might put a crimp in one’s style, you know, seeing the look on the faces of your family if they discover what you’ve become and what you're doing." At her look: "Never saw mine again. Wanted to keep…other vampires away from them."

She stared at him with wounded eyes. "Angel says he killed his own family—Angelus I mean."

He must be daft. He should have realized this was not about him, always about Angel.

"Best ask him, then, pet. Not for me to say what he did and why."





Willow came in from campus, and after hearing that Buffy from the past was back, immediately did the aura check. Like with the other Buffy, there was no evidence that an outside force was doing any tampering.

"It’s almost as if you two, the two Buffys, were doing it yourselves. Did you happen to make a wish to a vengeance demon?" Willow asked.

"I don’t even know what a vengeance demon is!" Buffy protested.

Xander and Giles came in, carrying a huge board. Giles started to explain proudly. "Look, Buffy, this are two calendars, one for 1997, and one for 2002. I colored the dates 2002 Buffy went in the past red, with blue for the dates in the future when you visited us. Nifty, don’t you think?"

"Great, nifty goodness. How will this help?" Buffy asked, looking at the board dubiously.

"It will help us keep track of the exact moments the switch happens. We don’t see a pattern yet, but one may emerge. At what time did you, um, travel here today?"

"Five to three, in your Buffy’s office, I think. What is it she does? Counseling? Wow. I never imagined that would be my career."

"Neither did we, dear, neither did we, " Giles muttered. Willow and Spike shared looks.

"Here, I have this, I need to give it to you in case I switch back. It’s the address of a kid who came to me today, we have to stake his brother, who’s probably turned into a vampire." Buffy held out a crumpled piece of paper to Giles, who took it gingerly.

"Um, right, one of you Buffys had better check it out on patrol tonight. If you are still here, one of us will come along."

They all went about their business. Buffy thought the whole setup was completely off. A house full of people, and half of them didn’t even talk to each other. Xander ignored Spike, in fact, everybody pretty much ignored Spike. Senior Buffy made Spike cringe, Giles ignored Dawn, Dawn cold-shouldered Willow…and still no Mom. And she was getting really bored, too.

She tried to think of what had happened before the first switch. A normal patrol, in one of Sunnydale’s many graveyards, staking vamps…No, that wasn’t true. There had been no vampires that night. There had been a weird looking demon with a beautiful necklace. Could that have been the vengeance demon? Well, if so, she was absolutely sure she hadn’t wished vengeance on anyone. Besides, the demon was dead.





Giles knocked on the basement door. "Spike?" he called out. There was no answer. He trod gingerly down the steps, and saw the vampire had opened the blacked out window, and was staring out at the evening.

"Rupert, " Spike acknowledged him.

"I’d like to ask you a few things about the soul, if that’s alright with you. You seem to be doing quite well, lately."

Giles was still talking to Spike’s back. He turned, and Giles was struck again by the improvement that showed in his face. He looked at Giles, considering his question, and nodded.

"You asking this out of pure, unadulterated watcherly curiosity, I presume?"

"Um, yes, I suppose so. Shall we go upstairs? This place is rather lacking in comfort. Not to mention the sound of the washing machine."

Spike hesitated. "It’s a bit crowded up there, mate. Prefer a bit more privacy, myself."

"I can sympathize with that! I’m doing everything I can to find a flat soon. We can use the dining room, they’re all away or in their own rooms."

They settled themselves a bit awkwardly at the dining table. Giles produced a bottle of decent Scotch, and poured them a generous tot each.

"Didn’t know I rated the good stuff, Rupes."

"I thought a celebration was in order, Spike. Or would you prefer William? You’re the first vampire in recorded history to win a soul. No small feat!"

There was a silence, but a surprisingly comfortable one. They sipped their drinks. After a few moments Giles coughed and said: "Alright, Spike, I’d better start, shan’t I? What I’m most interested in is why you went after the soul."

Spike stared into his glass. "Remorse. Despair. Pride."

The silence stretched out. At last Giles accepted there would be no other answer forthcoming, or at least not at that point, so he plowed on into the next question.

"How did you get it?"

Spike told the story of his journey to Africa and the ensuing events, keeping to the barest of facts.

"I’m impressed, Spike. Also very curious. You gave the impression it was quite easy to find out how to acquire a soul. Could any vampire have found out and tried it?"

Spike shrugged. "Wasn’t that hard to get the info from a couple of friendly demons."

Giles smiled. "I think you must be a unique kind of vampire. When I remember Angelus…which I’d very much prefer not to, nothing was further from his mind than regaining the soul! You actually seeking one is unprecedented."

Spike threw back the remaining scotch. "Can’t say I enjoy being compared to the bloody berk. I’ll be off, now, Rupert. Thanks for the Scotch." He made to rise, but Giles put a hand on his forearm and gently drew him down again.

"Come, Spike, not so hasty. Have another one. Now that you’ve regained your sanity, we should discuss what you can do with a soul, what role you could play for the forces of good."

"Please!" Spike made a face. "You’re giving me a horrible feeling of déjà-vu! Didn’t you try this tack already, and I didn’t like it then, so why the repeat?"

"I think a soul is couple of notches up the scale from a chip, Spike, you should take it more seriously."

"Maybe. So far, I’ve been rather busy, what with separating hallucinations from reality, don’t you know? I’ll see about doing good when my life is in order again."

"And what would be a well-ordered life for you, Spike?"

"Good question, Rupes, good question. No answer yet."

Giles didn’t have a response to that. He got up and had started to clear away the glasses, when he was stopped by a question from Spike: "Rupert? What exactly happened to Tara? And Willow?"

"Good God, Spike, are you saying you don't know? Has no one told you?"

Spike smiled wryly. "Just rumors from the demon world. Maybe you’ve noticed the gang’s not exactly talking to me. I didn’t want to ask Willow herself."

"But surely Buffy…" Giles spluttered. Spike shook his head.

"That's absurd. Truly absurd. You've been living in her basement for how many weeks now? Good God. She was taking care of you, she could have filled you in!"

"She protected me, fed me, kept me clean - surely the rest was up to me?"

Giles pursed his lips. "I'd say there was a little more to it than that…She owes you…"

"She owes me nothing, Giles, absolutely nothing," Spike interrupted. "We're not friends."

"I suppose not; I wouldn’t know what to call it, but surely…since your…connection…a little more consideration…After all, gaining a soul is something of major importance in the universe, tipping the mystical scales as it were. Makes you player, instead of just another vampire…"

"Hey!" Spike protested good-naturedly, and Giles shook his head at his lack of vehemence.

"You have changed!" Giles sat down again, and uncapped the bottle of scotch once more. "I need more alcohol to tell you about the events last May. Pity Buffy didn't, she saw more of it firsthand than I did. And even Xander! Saved the world, you know!"

They kept on drinking steadily, as Giles told his tale, and it was two very sodden Englishmen that sat at the table as the night grew older. Giles wondered again at the impetus that drove a vampire to regain a soul.

This time Spike answered, some of the old gleam in his eyes. "I was jealous of Angel, mate." Giles leaned forward, riveted. "Wanted to have hair like him, knew I needed a soul."

"Oh, for fuck’s sake, Spike, stop taking the piss!" Ripper taking him over when he was sloshed, as always.

Spike’s fist slammed into the table hard. "You know this, Rupert. For her! To make her love me, blasted idiot that I am...never happen. Hates me. Hates to be reminded of what we did."

He stared hard in to the glass he was gripping, unable to prevent a choked sob from escaping. Giles awkwardly patted his shoulder.

" Women… no saying what they'll do, Spike. Say one thing, want another. No point trying to change for them - half the time they realize later they didn’t even really want you to…"

Giles ended up on Joyce’s couch, assisted there by Spike, whose capacity for alcohol didn’t seem noticeably diminished. Spike went down to his basement, waiting for the rest of his life to happen.

******

Buffy was running through unfamiliar woods at great speed. She was naked, filthy, her snarled hair whipping around her while she ran. She could smell herself, a truly impressive stink compiled of years of sweat and piss and blood and decay. She had a stake in her hand. She was The Slayer.

She ran into a clearing, and paused. There was no single recognizable feature, just humps of earth and stone, but Buffy knew in her blood this was a graveyard. The slayer paused at a tumbled heap of rocks. She reached between her legs and smeared her juices on a rock.

Buffy turned over in bed, and even in her sleep thought ‘Ew!’ Why was she doing that?

The slayer slowly stalked among the tombs, half-crouched, ready to spring. Then she put her head up in the air and sniffed. A low growl escaped her throat. She withdrew in the shadows of a low hillock. A vampire neared. His was a terrible visage, that made Sunnydale vampires appear civilized by comparison. His normal face must be completely misshapen. He had no jaw, and his forehead sloped as if caved in by an injury. He scented the air in his turn, and turned his face in the direction of the Slayer.

She stepped out of the shadows. She sang a taunting phrase to the vampire, and starting prancing around on a low tomb. She wiggled her ass in his direction, lifted her breasts to show off their weight and firmness, and again reached between her legs. She lifted the glistening hand high and licked the fingers one by one. The vampire advanced at a trot, his excitement clearly visible, for he wore no clothes either. They started circling each other. The Slayer moaned and tossed her head. The vampire lost all semblance of control and threw himself at her, slapping the stake out of her hand.

The Slayer roughly grabbed his huge cock and thrust it unceremoniously inside her. They bucked and rocked violently, giving voice to their feelings with horrifying yowls and screams. Their nails raked bloody trails on their backs and breasts, and who was beast and who was woman was hard to tell.

Buffy squirmed and twisted under the covers. She knew so well how the Slayer was feeling. There was nothing like fucking a vampire, no release so great.

The vampire lost control first and bit into the Slayer’s neck, growling even more loudly than before while he spasmed. The Slayer rode his orgasm, coming vocally herself, and then whipped out a stake that her tangled hair had hidden and rammed it in his chest. He exploded into dust. The Slayer lay motionless for a moment, panting, and then got up and searched for her other stake. She threw her head in her neck and howled her joy at the moon.

Like Tarzan, Buffy thought, falling into deeper sleep, hand still between her legs.



Timeline: Season 2(after Halloween) and later in season 7

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You(7.2) In this world, Buffy takes Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME



It’s now or never (6)

First thing Buffy did in the mornings nowadays was check where and when she was. Her own bedroom, thank god. Even the smallest amount of movement, in this case a glance at the alarm clock on her nightstand, sent excruciating amounts of pain through her head and neck. In fact, she hurt everywhere. With careful fingers she explored her face. Her nose felt broken. One eye was swollen shut. The hand she used to touch her face itself was unbelievably tender. She tried to sit up, with medium success. My god, the other Buffy must have been in the mother of all fights last night!

She dragged herself to the mirror to check out the damage. She’d never been hurt this bad, to look like this after a night of Slayer healing. I was going to be really hard to hide this from her Mom, or go to school without getting the wrong kind of attention.

After a long, hot shower, and applying a thick layer of make-up, she stood before the mirror again. It wasn’t good by any means, but it would have to do. Buffy could hear her mother in the kitchen, and mentally braced herself for a lecture. She pulled her hair a little more in front of her face and went downstairs.

The kitchen was empty. "Buffy!" her mother called, already half way through the door. "I have to be at the gallery early today, don’t be late for school!"





First thing Buffy did in the mornings nowadays was check where and when she was. Her own new room, good. She moved carefully, not wanting to jostle her rib and arm, when she realized there was no pain and no stiffness. Of course, if she was in her own body, there wouldn’t be. What a way to get out of the boredom of healing. Although the other Buffy might feel differently…

She stretched luxuriously, not wanting to get up yet. What a fight that had been last night. Just that nice edge of actual danger, because it was unchipped Spike, but more like a fantastic workout than a nasty messy life-or-death thing. She thought about asking the present Spike about working out with her. He might not go for it, because of sanity and touching issues, but it was worth a try.

They’d always made a good team, she remembered, certainly before other stuff had clouded up the easy camaraderie when fighting. There were countless instances when he’d been at her side or back, or threw her a weapon, or shouted a warning at just the right moment. She didn’t have to worry about him getting hurt, like the human Scoobies, because he could handle himself.

They should get back to patrolling together on a regular basis, too, now that he was mostly sane. Get used to each other again, get over the uncertainty and guilt she felt nowadays around him. She sighed. It wasn't that hard to think up these plans inside her head, after all, but how to do that in reality, when everything was so awkward, and the house was full of people watching her every move? When Spike didn't trust her at all?

Her thoughts went back to the fight last night, when Spike had her pinned against the crypt wall. She’d nearly gone for it, the thought of being fucked and drained at the same time being almost too great a temptation. She slid a little deeper under the covers. What a way to go…Dreamily she caressed her body and quickly brought herself off. The real Spike had never even vamped out when having sex. She wondered why. He probably was afraid it’d have put her off.

*******************

The morning sunshine made the kitchen on Revello Drive a happy place. Rupert Giles was in a state of wonderful contemplation and calm, brought on by the delicate steps of the tea ritual. He hardly felt his hangover as he watched his hand move the teabag up and down in his mug, mesmerized by the slight bobbing motion the bag made before it sank. A perky voice shattered his concentration.

"Hi Giles! Good morning!"

He looked at the girl over the rim of his glasses.

"This must be the Buffy the Younger again, am I right?" He quite liked her, she was by far the more bouncy and upbeat version.

The answering pout made her displeasure clear before she even spoke. "Wrong again! Why can't you guys tell me from the other Buffy? That is so annoying! Did I tell you about the time they didn’t know me from a robot? They should have known I would never…" Her voice trailed off. "Huh. I guess they did know me."

Silently she got juice and yogurt from the fridge. Giles was a little relieved that the perkiness had disappeared, and then got angry at himself for being a grumpy old man, who'd prefer to have his morning cuppa in silence.

Spike started to enter the kitchen, but couldn't reach the fridge due to the sunlight. He threw one look at Buffy, and then asked Giles to hand him a bag of pig's blood.

"See?" Buffy said accusingly around a mouthful of yogurt. "Spike knows. Why can't you?"

Giles patience snapped. "Fine! If you are such great soul mates, what's keeping you apart?" He took his tea mug and his mood out of the kitchen.

Spike moved around the kitchen to the microwave, using a circuitous route to avoid the patches of sun.

"I can do that for you, " Buffy said curtly. "Just ask."

She reached for the blood, poured it in a mug and put it in the microwave. She checked him over. He was wearing his neutral Spike-face, which usually meant he was doing okay. She tried to remember what had made her so happy when she woke up, wishing to recapture the feeling. But dreaming of Fighting With Vampires, acceptable, dreaming of Sex With Vampires, not so acceptable…

The microwave pinged. Buffy took out the mug and went over to Spike to hand it to him. She looked up at him while she was doing that, and her gaze became snared in the blueness of his eyes. Without looking away she put the mug on the counter and stepped closer. She heard Spike inhale-- always a sign of emotion with him.

"Spike?" Buffy asked. "Can we talk?"

"Here?" Although the kitchen was empty at the moment, everywhere the sound of voices and footsteps could be heard. Revello Central rush hour traffic.

"No, tonight, on patrol? You are coming?"

Spike nodded.

"Okay, great. See you then." Buffy left the kitchen in a hurry, late for work as usual. Spike’s breath left his lungs in a long drawn-out sigh.

*************

Buffy and Spike had finished their third graveyard that evening. Vamp activity medium, humidity high.

"Are you gonna tell me or not?" Spike finally asked.

Buffy threw him an irritated look. "I really hate it when you’re being all perceptive."

This rated bunching of the jaw muscles, and a sigh.

"Well, spill already! You’ve been bad, obviously. Better ‘fess up. What did you do that you’re so shy about telling me?"

"Well, when I met your former self the first time…" Buffy hesitated.

"And how was that embarrassing? Did you mack on him, or what?"

One look at her face was enough to confirm his worst fears.

"Are you insane? What were you bloody thinking of? Were you actually planning on changing history? For God’s sake, Buffy!"

"I was bored, and the Scoobies were mean to me…"

"Great excuse, absolutely sodding brilliant! That Spike is not me! Not a chipped, souled, sorry excuse for a vampire. Remember I hated you! Went to great lengths to try and kill you, and if you’d played a prank like that there’s no telling what I might have done. Be very careful next time, alright? No more practical jokes on real vampires!" Spike started to walk faster and faster.

"Next time? Ew! Promise. And, um, Spike?"

"Yeah?"

"I also met Angel… and I kissed him, too." She knew this wouldn’t be received well either, but she had to tell someone.

"Bloody hell! You wanted to do a comparison study or something?" Spike suddenly stopped, nearly sending her crashing into a gravestone. "Did he notice you weren’t his Buffy?"

"What? Angel? No way…he didn’t even guess anything was different. Spike, you know Angel: mysterious silence, face that doesn’t move…" Buffy looked at Spike’s shuttered look, far too intent on the turf. "You’re jealous!"

"Surprising, innit?" Spike started searching his pockets for the cigarettes he didn’t smoke anymore. "Bollocks! " he roared, and kicked an offensive gravestone so hard it shattered. When he turned his face to Buffy again, she could see he was starting to lose it.

"Why are you telling me all this, Buffy?" He sounded near tears. "Why don’t you confide in your friends?"

"I have to tell someone, Spike! And it’s way too embarrassing to tell anyone else. At least you won’t be shocked and horrified and give me lectures. You’re not so judgy."

"Yeah, right, I have no feelings to hurt, is that it?" he asked bitterly.

"Spike! I didn’t mean that. I meant…you’ve seen me at my worst, this will hardly surprise you."

"Surprise me? You know bloody well I love you, and then you go and tell me all kinds of nasty little secrets, which intimately involve you and other guys. Very sensitive!"

Spike advanced on Buffy and stood shouting in her face. Buffy didn’t give an inch and shouted back, arms akimbo: "What other guys? What are you talking about! My ex, who broke up with me, which you’ve known about forever, and you yourself?"

"Yea, right, the former me! You got one whiff of the sexy, evil, dead, soulless sod and you’re all over him! And the bleeding idiot who took your gibes seriously and got a soul for you gets left in the cold!"

Spike grabbed Buffy’s shoulders and gave her a shake.

"Spike, stop the dramatics! Why are we arguing? I don’t want a fight with you, I just wanted to talk things over with you and get some ideas on what to do!" Buffy tried to sound reasonable.

Spike turned away from her, so she couldn’t see his face. "I don’t wanna fight you either, Buffy. But you expecting me to act like a neutral advisor on this —that’s just too bloody much to ask a bloke."

"You’re not giving up on me, Spike! You’re the one who always goes on, who never gives up! Don’t go all wussy on me!"

He flapped his hand tiredly. "Yeah. Go on. I’m sure there is more."

Buffy took another deep breath. "I met you – former you – again. We had a huge fight. I almost lost. I’d guess you don’t remember that one either?"

Spike shook his head, still not looking at her. "You should talk about this with your watcher. It’s pretty strange that nobody remembers these events from 1997. I can’t guess what it means." He was silent for a moment. "And how come you almost lost? Never happened in my recollection!"

"Um, okay. This is kinda hard to tell."

Spike balled his fists in fury and hurt and nearly stomped his foot. "Worse than macking? Don’t tell me you shagged him?!"

"No! Well- almost. Only he would have drained my blood at the same time, and I didn’t want to die yet." Buffy didn’t dare look up.

"I don’t know what to say, Buffy." The passion had left his voice. "Do you have any idea why you’re doing this?"

"Well. I’ve been thinking." Buffy advanced on Spike and put her arms around him. He went rigid with surprise, and stared at her wild-eyed.

"I’ve got a proposal for you."

"What? Proposal?" Spike said. His tone was carefully distant, his upper body still stiff as a board in her arms.

"Okay, this is hard for me, so just shut up and listen." She stood on tiptoe and kissed his cold reluctant lips. "Spike, I’ve realized I liked you better without the soul. So, why don’t we make love, you can have a moment of perfect happiness, lose the soul, and we can have fun together."

During this speech Spike’s expression had changed from disbelieving to anguished. He wrenched himself loose from her.

"What?!"

He sat down heavily on a tombstone. He couldn’t believe his ears. She wanted him. Even if only for ’fun’. But. Without the soul. The hope that had flared up for one searing moment at the words ‘make love’ died down to ashes again.

"Buffy. This was no gypsy curse. I thought you knew. The soul is permanent. I earned it in fair trial. Happiness is not going to make it go away."

"Oh," Buffy said in a small voice.

Tears formed in her yes. She stared ahead sightlessly.

"Okay," she swallowed, "That was it. You slay on, I want to be alone."

‘Buffy--" His voice stopped her. "—is the souled me so awful then? If I’d be the vamp I was again, would there be hope?"

She looked at his hopeful, totally vulnerable face, and it was hard to say no.

"I don’t know. You’re no fun right now. Okay, you're not insane anymore, which is a plus, but I mean, where is the rowdy, fun-loving, snarky, kick-ass guy I knew? You don’t smoke, you don’t drink, don’t swear, you just sit on the couch and mope. What’s to love?"

She walked away without waiting for an answer, hugging herself closely. What had she done? This had not been the plan. She’d been going to say something about teamwork and regular slaying and working out together. She knew this impulsive spontaneous emotion thing was not her, what had made her do it? Fine. Fine! This had been a bad judgment call, but nobody would have to know, no harm done. To her. She felt an unfamiliar pang of regret at the memory of Spike’s face. Buffy strikes again.

She’d turned back without realizing it. Clearly she was going to apologize. Spike was still sitting where she’d left him, his head in his hands. She flinched at the bitterness in his eyes when he spotted her.

"Now what?"

Buffy felt again that stomach-dropping sense of loss she’d been getting lately, since meeting Spike the original version, and realizing he was the version she liked best. She didn’t want him to be weak and needy like this, she liked him cocky and sexy, trading blows or insults or caresses. How she wished she could travel back in time one year, instead of six. That past would see some changes! But right now all she could do was try to change the present. She sat down next to her dejected ex-lover.

"Move over a little, Spike. I wanna sit down next to you, not nearly fall off." He looked up with fuzzy eyes and furrowed forehead. Buffy reached out a hand and stroked the furrows.

Spike flinched away from her hand and jumped off the tomb.

"Don’t bloody play with me!" he yelled in her face.

Buffy stood up the better to yell back, when suddenly she felt a little dizzy and had to close her eyes.

*******

Buffy opened her eyes to a Spike, standing close. Very close. She stepped back hastily and looked at his ravaged face.

"Hey, it’s me, version 1.0. Were you guys fighting?"

Spike pressed his lips together and shook his head , hands pressed against his temples. "This is seriously starting to piss me off! He said between clenched teeth. "It’s not about you, I sort of like you, even, but this bloody getting interrupted in the middle of a bloody conversation is bloody off-putting!"

She kept staring at him. "Conversation, huh? Why is there lipstick on your face?"

"Yeah, well…" he trailed off. He could probably see she didn’t really need his answer. "Sorry about that. Didn’t really wanna know that, did you?"

"You’ve said it. Squicks me out, too, you know, even though you’ve gotten to be a pal, sort of. I’m in love with Angel, which was hard enough to accept, but to even think of dating a second vampire…What is that girl thinking of?"

"Yeah, dating, right, she must be insane." He laughed humorlessly. "Have no fear, I don’t think she will be ‘dating’ me in the future."

They started walking in the direction of Buffy’s house.

"You two break up?" she asked, breaking the silence.

"Yeah, we did, sometime ago in fact. This was kind of a not-getting-together-again fight, " Spike answered morosely.

"Huh. So Angel and I are not gonna last?"

"Six years is a long time, pet. You even remember what you were doing six years ago?"

Buffy ruminated on that for a while. "Okay. Good point. I was a happy little girl in LA, playing with my dolls and dreaming of being a professional ice skater. Okay. You know if the vampire brother of that kid ever got taken care of?"

"Yeah, it’s done."

They walked the rest of the way home in silence, both of them wrapped up in their private thoughts.

"Goodnight Spike."

"Goodnight Buffy."

***********************

"Xander?"

Xander looked up in surprise. Spike never addressed him directly, and certainly not by his given name.

"You ever think of taking a roommate, to help pay the rent? Must be steep, doing it on your own."

"Yeah? "Xander asked. "So? What's it to you? Not thinking of applying for the position, I hope?"

"Actually, yes, I was."

Xander gaped. "You must be kidding! I hate you. You hate me!"

"Let me put it this way: I wouldn't have to worry about anyone finding out I'm a vampire, because you already know. I'd be out all evening; you’d be out all day; we'd never have to meet. And I'd be out of Buffy's house, one less worry for you!"

"Huh! As if I worry. As if Buffy would ever! "He paused. "Okay, say I agree: how were you thinking of paying? Doesn’t the soul keep you from stealing?"

"I have a job. Working nights. Money would be no big problem, blood is cheap after all."

Xander burst out laughing. "Ha ha! A vampire with a job! That's a real step down for you, eh Spike? Ha!"

Spike bore his outburst with seeming stoicism, although a muscle alongside his jaw jumped. This made Xander suspicious.

"Who are you and what have you done with the real Spike?"

Spike crossed his arms and waited. Xander rubbed his chin, considering his options. Against: Spike's disgusting presence. Horrible personality. Atrocious feeding habits, leading to blood in fridge. Leaving bleach stains in the bathroom. For: extra money. Removing temptation from Buffy. Removing a bad influence away from Dawn. Removing a bad influence away from Willow. Spike having stopped smoking.

"Okay, " Xander said after a very long silence. "I'll do it. On the following conditions:… "A very long list followed. He concluded with "… and if Anya comes back, you clear out the very same day."

They concluded their negotiations with an awkward but manly handshake. Xander promised an extra key, and Spike promised to be there the next evening.



Timeline: Season 2 (Lie to me) and later in season 7

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You(7.2)

Disclaimer: All ME



Another one bites the dust (7)

Spike was in the basement, packing his meager possessions. He was just waiting for his clothes to finish drying, when he heard footsteps nearing the basement door. He glanced up and saw Buffy. She stood looking down at him silently. He frowned.

"Which one of you is it? Still Past Buffy? It’s getting harder to tell."

"Yeah..." She sat down on top of the steps, leaned her chin on her hand and watched him put clothes in a small bag, check the dryer impatiently, and start pacing.

"Are you packing up? Leaving?"

‘Uh-huh."

"Why?"

"Don’t want to overstay my welcome, pet. I can take care of myself again, so I will. Don’t want to be dependent on charity. Found a job, and a flat mate, so I’m moving out." Spike leaned against the dryer with arms crossed, settling in for a chat.

"Huh. A vampire with a job. Never thought I’d hear that. Angel doesn’t have a job!"

"How does he pay for his rent, and his fancy clothes, then?" he inquired.

She seemed taken aback. "I don’t know! I never thought about that. I’ll have to ask him someday."

Spike grunted. "Humph. How’s your lot getting on with finding out about the time switch? Not much happening here."

"Miss Calendar did a kind of aura-thingy with me. My aura is getting darker, but she doesn’t know why. And there was other stuff to deal with." She fell silent.

Spike looked at her searchingly. "Monster of the week? Difficult to slay?"

"It was you again," she said in measured tones. "And obviously I didn’t kill you. But you killed a friend of mine, you know."

Spike frowned, trying to remember.

"The Vampire Fan Club? The boy, Ford, who sold me out? The one you turned?"

"O yeah, that prat. Sorry. A promise is a promise, but I was mightily relieved you staked him. Didn’t like him one bit. You call that a friend?"

"He was desperate, dying from a tumor!" Buffy defended Ford half-heartedly.

"Knew he tasted funny. Ew!"

She laughed. "Are you turning into Valley girl?"

He smiled at her and rubbed his hand through his hair. ‘Next thing you know I’ll be sporting a sun tan, and rollerblading it over the tombstones. Ah, the bloody thing’s done." He retrieved his black load of clothes from the dryer, stuffed it in the bag, zipped it up and went to the stairs after a last look around.

At the front door he paused. "Don’t suppose I’ll be seeing you around anymore. It was fun getting to know you. Bye, then." He left.

Slowly Buffy went upstairs to her mother’s room, feeling kind of flat and listless. Nobody home again. She didn’t think her Mom lived here anymore. The future friends weren’t exactly telling her stuff. She could see their point, but it was still starting to wig her. Oh well. Better heat up some food and have a slay.

************

Slowly Buffy walked through the swinging doors into the library. Not finding anybody, she went into Giles’ study.

"Hey Giles!"

He looked up with smile. "Hello Buffy, I was hoping…Oh. This is the other Buffy I presume?"

She sat down on his desk, swinging her legs. "You sound less than happy about it! No clues yet?"

"No, not exactly. We’ve been pretty busy with other stuff as well, as you probably still remember."

"You know, Giles, " Buffy said thoughtfully, "nobody in the future remembers these time-switches happening in 1997. You have an explanation?"

Giles pushed away the book he was perusing and looked at her seriously over his glasses. "No. No, I haven’t. That is odd! Perhaps there’s more than one possible future. Perhaps you two are switching not between linearly progressing time, but between two parallel universes?"

"Yeah, right, whatever. Stopping it would be more my concern, actually."

"Buffy, " Giles started in a serious voice. "I’ve been wanting to talk to you. Quite frankly, I’ve been worried about the behavior you’ve displayed so far."

Buffy let out a choked laugh. "Sorry Giles. But you do remember I’m twenty-one, don’t you? Not really interested in fatherly lectures here!."

"Obviously I don’t know what the future me has been telling you, but there are reasons for my worry. There is literature about Slayers going, well, wild, you know. You seem very bent on doing things your way, you’ve been rude to your friends, and Joyce called me to ask what was up with you."

"Hmm. Are you ready to hear future stuff? You didn’t seem to want to before, Marty McFly and so forth?"

Giles took off his glasses and started polishing them. Buffy observed this with a fond smile. "I miss that, you know. Us talking things over, you polishing your glasses if things get emotional or shocking…"

He looked up sharply. "You miss it? Why don’t we do that anymore? I’ll always be your Watcher!"

"Is that so? Well, not to put too fine a point to it, you’ve been fired by the Council of Watchers, left me twice, once if you count the time you thought I was dead…And, I was, actually, dead. That fills your need for information?"

Giles stared at her open-mouthed, even forgetting the spectacles.

Buffy went on relentlessly. "I’ve had to be tough and self-reliant. How about this? I had to send my boyfriend to hell to prevent the world ending, I had to die to save the world ending, my best friend tried to end the world…. Need more?"

"For God’s sake. Buffy, that is …I have no words for that."

Giles got up and started pacing in the small confines of his office. "Well, you are a Slayer, this is a Hellmouth, but if I had any inkling that thing would get this bad…Right. This is the inkling."

"I don’t actually know what an inkling is, Giles, but there was nothing you could have done. Well, maybe you could have stayed, and taught Willow to control her magic more, but…"

"What? Willow? Magic? You know, I will admit right now that I was completely wrong. I was not ready to hear anything about the future. I’m asking you never to say anything about it again. Ever." Giles gestured emphatically with his hands, a thing she’d hardly ever noticed him doing.

Buffy raised her eyebrows. "Your wish is my command. So the lecture about my behavior is also scrapped?"

Giles sat down again and rubbed his face and temples. "I think you would be wise to listen to it, Buffy. Regardless of what happened to you, it’s what I know about Slayers. It might be of value to you."

"Okay. I’ll listen. I’ll tell you when I’ve heard it before."

"Slayers are rigorously trained and kept on a short leash to prevent from happening what I see in you right now Buffy: Extreme self-reliance, giving in to the darker aspects of your nature, enjoyment of the kill for example…

"You might also call that growing up, self-knowledge….Didn’t Henry Ford say ‘Know thyself’?"

Giles gave a short bark of laughter. "Em, no, that was, um, someone else. Never mind."

"I mean, Giles, " and Buffy started pacing herself, "what works for a sixteen year old isn’t necessarily right for a twenty-one year old. I mean, I try to shield Dawn as much as I can from stuff, I accept that you didn’t tell all to the younger me. That doesn’t mean you can keep that mentor-pupil kind of relationship going indefinitely. I’m an adult, I have to make my own living, take care of my little sister, make my own decisions."

She sat down again, leaning forward to give emphasis to her words.

"Being a Slayer is pretty hard by itself, if I denied who I was that would make it even harder. The dark is part of me, whether I like it or not. And I didn’t, I don’t. But it’s killing me to pretend. Did you see the aura reading Ms. Calendar did of me? Too much repression and it might kill the fount of Slayerness! I have to feed that part of me, or die, and I have to have normal relationships or I’ll just be a killing machine."

"I’m…I’m impressed, Buffy, You’ve obviously given this a great deal of thought. " Giles stared at this serious, talky Buffy with amazement. Given what she’d told him he understood her impatience with her erstwhile Scoobies a bit better. It must be galling to attend classes and deal with people you basically thought of as children.

"Too much credit, Giles. I only just started thinking about this, actually. Because of this time travel thing and the differences in our auras, and some really disturbing dreams lately…"

Giles nodded. This Slayer was more interesting than he’d imagined, more of an equal, a challenge.

"Speaking of relationships, Buffy, I noticed you seemed a bit uneasy around Angel. Anything amiss with you two?"

"Weren’t you listening, Giles? I had to kill a boyfriend, I said. Or, well, send him to hell. Who but?"

"Oh dear. How upsetting. Well, to be completely honest, I never quite liked the idea of you with a vampire boyfriend, soul or not!" This initiated a bout of cleaning the glasses again.

"You shouldn’t have said that, Giles," Buffy said with ghost of a smile. "You know how that goes in movies, the thing you wish to avoid, always happens."

"You mean? Another one? I don’t want to know, I think. Or…perhaps I can prevent it?" He looked pretty upset.

"Don’t go there, Giles. Never works. Besides, it’s my love life, my mistakes to make!"

"It’s hard to stop thinking of that, Buffy. My god. A vampire. And, since Angel is the only souled vampire in the world…" He shook his head.

Buffy patted his hand. "Hey, look at it this way, you won’t be bored. I’ve gotta go to class now, don’t wanna ruin this Buffy’s reputation any further…"

"Buffy, there was one other thing…! "

She was gone already, only the soft sigh of the swinging doors evidence of her passing. Giles put the talisman back in his pocket, staring after her. He felt quite helpless.

***********************

When Buffy returned from patrol, the house was lit up like a Christmas tree. Eagerly she skipped up the steps and went in. People! Better the wrong people than nobody at all.

"Hi guys," she called out. "I’m back! "

Xander poked his head around the door to the living room. "Hi Buffy. Which Buffy?"

"1997."

Xander went back in, and she heard him saying: "We’re in luck, this is teen Buffy."



She followed his voice in, finding the whole gang present, including Dawn, and a woman she didn’t know. Spike wasn’t there.

Giles took the lead. "Glad to see you, um, Buffy, this is Anya, she used to be a vengeance demon. We’ve asked her here to help us determine what is causing your time dislocation."

"You put things so well, Giles! " Anya said with a stretchy smile, that made Buffy slightly uncomfortable. She could believe the woman had been a demon, there was something off about her. It made Xander and Giles twitchy, too, she noticed.

Anya got straight to the point, while Buffy attacked the popcorn, and Willow started on a low-voiced chant or something, peering into a crystal ball. Buffy had imagined that to be more Magica Duck than a thing real life witches did. The new Willow did resemble Magica a little, actually.

"So, Strange Buffy from another time, you made a wish to a vengeance demon?" Anya said to her.

"I did not! I told everyone here that I did not!"

Anya looked at Giles. "Giles! Tell her she must tell the truth!"

"We know that you know a lot about all kinds of demons, ‘ Giles said soothingly. "What other kind of creature could have caused something like this?"

"I did kill a kind of veiny, unknown demon; it was wearing a pretty necklace, and I took that to the other Giles." Buffy offered.

"You killed it? How did you kill it?"

"I put a stake in its heart, as usual." The popcorn was gone, and Buffy started on the Doritos someone had thoughtfully provided.

"That wouldn’t kill a vengeance demon!"

"Besides, Buffy hasn’t wished vengeance upon anyone. But, Anya, there are other kinds of wishes that may be granted, aren’t there?"

"Sure, vengeance was my thing, and Hallie’s, but most of us prefer "Justice Demon". I know some of our kind actually work for other powers, righting wrongs that were accidentally created, not just scorned women or abused children."

"Buffy?"

"I may have bitched and complained a little about having to move the corpse all by myself, and having to slay all alone most of the time, but I wouldn’t call that wishing!" Buffy said defensively.

"Anya?"

"Could be. Unfortunately Buffy killed that demon, even though it was probably harmless, and so we will never know" Anya said blithely.

"But you just said they couldn’t be killed that easily!"

"True. I was just being bitchy about demons killed indiscriminately." Anya admitted readily. Buffy threw her a dark look.

Giles took charge again. "Alright. Buffy, when you switch back you must check out if the corpse is still there. Anya, could you find out something through your contact?"

"It’s going to be hard, Giles, it’s been six years. And I’m not exactly popular with the vengeance in-crowd anymore, remember? But I’ll try."

Giles nodded his thanks to Anya, and turned to Willow. "Willow, what are the results of the aura spell?"

"Much lighter than our Buffy’s, but showing encroaching darkness. Buffy, did you manage to do one in your time?"

"Yeah, Miss Calendar did it for me, but she didn’t use a crystal ball! She just…" Literally everyone flinched. Ouch! She’d done it again. Broached an apparently taboo subject, and there were so many of those, she couldn’t imagine these people having a relaxed conversation ever again!.

Buffy paused, while the other shifted and sighed and scratched, and grabbed snacks, before resuming speaking again. "Okay, the person who helped me with the spell told me the same. Almost normal, growing darkness. It’s a pity we never did one before all this started!" She got up and stretched. "I’m gonna shower. See you guys later, or actually, rather not of course, but hey. And by the way, Dawn, Spike moved out. Pity, huh? He was good company."

She knew she was leaving them confused and irritated, but then that was just how she felt. Damn their superiority and future knowledge and those oh so tender spots on countless subjects. She’d totally had it with them.

*******

Buffy returned to 2002 in the shower. She’d never realized before how disconcerting it could be to be totally drenched all of a sudden, especially if you had just been putting a bite in your mouth at the dinner table. She contemplated the reverse process for a moment, and hoped her other self hadn’t choked on that mouthful.

She dressed and went down, feeling peppy and up for a slay. The house was silent. Dawn’s room upstairs had been empty. She frowned for a moment. Well, Dawn was sixteen, she could hardly sit around waiting for her older sister to return from the past to ask for a permission. She opened the basement door and called down ‘Spike! You coming with on patrol?" It was dark in the basement, but she knew he didn’t always put a light on when she would have. She switched it on and bounced down the stairs. The basement was empty, the cot neatly stripped of covers, his little stack of clothing nowhere visible. She checked the washer and the dryer. The dryer yielded one shrunken black sock.

Buffy sat down heavily on the cot. Spike had moved out? Without telling her, without asking….well, her permission? She couldn’t explain the desolate feeling that washed over her. It was quickly replaced by anger and outrage. How dare he! It was ungrateful, and rude, and she had kind of counted on him staying.

And where would he go? Back to his old crypt, or moved in with Clem? The school again? And more importantly, why? She was pretty certain it had been their last disastrous patrol together. Her proposal hadn’t exactly been tactful, looking back on it, and then to have it interrupted by a time switch…not of the good. And she had probably made it worse by being completely embarrassed about it and avoiding him completely after that.

Buffy felt a sudden well of grief rise up inside her, and she tried to stall it by taking deep breaths and walking up and down. The sobbing could not be stopped, however, and she cried with the wrenching, strangled sounds of one who doesn’t cry often.

Slowly she cried herself out. She went upstairs and checked herself out in the bathroom mirror, sloshing cold water on her face. Shades of thirty in that reflection. She stuck out her tongue at it and decided it was great for frightening vampires and demons, and she was going to patrol anyway. She certainly was Emoting Buffy lately, it was a good thing nobody was around to notice.

When Buffy was checking the mail before leaving, she accidentally opened and read a letter for Willow. It said: "Dear Ms. Rosenberg, we are happy to inform you that your application for a dorm room has come through. You will be in …" . Buffy nearly tore the letter when she put it back in the envelope. Willow was moving out too? Willow must have applied for a room immediately upon coming back, CU administration didn’t move that fast. Why hadn’t Willow told her? Was she being kept out of the loop? She was the one who had unquestioningly provided shelter for the two miscreants, didn’t they owe her some consideration? Why was everyone leaving her?

Buffy did go on patrol, but once having arrived in her favorite graveyard, she couldn’t find the energy to actually go and look for evil activity. Listlessly, she dusted the one vamp with balls enough to taunt her, but the various emotions crashing through her the last few hours left her numb and tired. Soon she was home again, and cuddled up around Mr. Gordo.



Timeline: Season 2 (After What’s my Line) and later in season 7

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You(7.2) In this universe, Buffy takes Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME



Only the lonely (8)

"Hey Will, sorry about reading you mail. Didn’t notice in time."

"Oh, that’s okay. It’s nothing personal."

"So, um, you moving back?" Buffy said, opting for the casual approach.

"Yeah. I need to study more, you know, and it’s hard being so far away from the library and everything. Kinda crowded all the time here, too, you know."

"Um, sometimes, yeah. But….quiet? In a dorm?"

"Well, you can be totally anonymous in a dorm. No one is going to look at you twice if you walk to the shower with blech-face on."

Buffy looked at Willow in sudden understanding. "I get that. In a full house like this you ‘re so busy ignoring each other most of the time, ‘cause you’d go crazy otherwise, that you kinda forget to put the ignore-button on off sometimes."

They hugged and smiled at each other, delighted at their new-found agreement. Buffy liked Willow’s scent, a fresh floral perfume, reminiscent of the Willow of old. Last year she’d been going around in swathed in clouds of Poison.

"Quick aura check, Buffy?"

"I don't have an hour to spare, Will, I've got to get to work."

"Five minutes only, just by to see if it's different than last week after your time travel moment."

Buffy settled herself on the couch, while Willow worked with the crystal ball. "What kind of aura did the other Buffy have?"

"There were a lot of similarities; but she's younger and some stuff, like sexuality, should be less developed at that age. Most of her colors were fairly balanced. But she did show encroaching repression areas, only smaller than yours now."

"Will? About my repressed sexuality Which I didn’t want to talk about with Giles and Spike in the room? What should I do?"

Willows eyebrows rose. "Stop denying it?" She looked at Buffy. "I don’t mean you should jump any bones that take your fancy, not that I mean like skeletons, or dead people, or… delete that last sentence. You should accept that sexuality is a normal part of you, and whether you act on it or not is your business, but don't try to deny that you have needs, like everybody else."

Buffy looked at Willows suddenly downcast face. "You too, huh? Are you starting to look around again? Or…still grieving?"

Willow sighed. "I don't know. It seems unfair to Tara, but on the other hand, you shouldn't let one, er even two, difficult experiences stop you from living. Loving means risking the pain, right?"

"Yeah…"

"What about you, Buffy? Do you feel like seeing anyone? Anybody taken your fancy lately?"

"Right here and now? No, it's funny, I never meet anyone interesting. I mean, where? In school? All the teachers are totally old or boring. I met someone in the past, though, that really got me fired up. But, you know, past, pointless, not to mention unsuitable and unhealthy…"

"I'm not following, Buff. You met someone in the past? In high school or what?"

Buffy waved this away with a flapping motion of her hand. "Never mind. How do normal girls meet cute guys? You remember how to do that?"

"How about a night at the Bronze? Jus the two of us? Check out the boys and girls?" Willow looked at Buffy expectantly.

"Yeah. That sounds, like, actually irresistible! Just because we've been grieving over our last relationships doesn’t mean we're Depresso Gals!."

"Are you, Buffy? Grieving? And are we talking Riley, or the other one?"

"Hmm. Well. The other one, I guess. I still haven't figured out why it ever happened, and how I feel about it. Or about…now. You know."

"I don't know, Buffy. We've never really talked about it." Willow said gently. "That's cool, though. And if you wanna talk about it, I'm game. Your call."

"Maybe sometime. Not ready yet, I think. Still Denial Buffy." Buffy looked at Willow. No condemnation in her face.

"Okay. Bronzing soon. Deal. Just us. We’re gonna jump back in the fray."

"You’re making it sound like battle, Buffy. I was thinking more of drinks and dancing. Possibly even playing pool. Hey! This is a surprise!" Willow held up the crystal ball.

"What?"

"Your aura! It's really changed. A lot more red, I mean a lot, more orange and blue, a little yellow and green…I didn’t think an aura could change that much in a week. What did you do back there? And how long were you there?"

"What do you mean? I was there like, half a day, same as last time. I really had some fun though. Great fight, and last time a Talk from Giles, and a lot of boring classes! What does it mean? Good or bad?" Buffy peered at the ball, but could make no sense of the swirly colors.

"It seems good! Are you feeling any different?"

"I feel fatter. That the kind of thing you mean?"

"It’s a start."

They went their separate ways.

********

With a swift jab Buffy dusted the fledgling before his arms were free of the grave dirt. She stood up and groaned. Her butt was stiff and cold from sitting on a tomb for half an hour, she must be getting old. She stretched for a few minutes, then pocketed her stake and trudged home. Patrol was kind of a drag, lately. Spike never showed up anymore since he’d moved from her basement. She wouldn’t even have known whether he was still in Sunnydale if Dawn hadn’t mentioned going to see Harry Potter with him.

The lights were out when she got home. Dawn must be in bed already. No Giles either. She heated yesterday’s leftover pizza and gorged herself on a whole tub of The Full Vermonty afterwards. Since when had Dawn stopped begging to be included in patrol? Xander used to show up a lot as well. Somehow Revello Central had become Dead End Junction. Was this her future? Everybody moving on, getting a life, and she still the slayer, patrolling by herself every night till it killed her? She slugged down a quart of juice to top off her meal, and after burping loudly, since she was home alone anyway, she made her way upstairs and settled in for a long soak in the tub. A long, luxurious, undisturbed bath. It still felt kind of lonely, though.

The next morning she remembered only fragments of the dream she’d had. Running through snowy pine woods, feet squishing in sodden boots. Slowing down when what was following her got too far behind. Hitching up a filthy woolen dress to give the vampire access, shaking the dust out of her skirts afterwards. Ew.

*********

Arms linked, Buffy and Willow strolled through the chill evening on their way to the Bronze.

"This is fun, Buffy, "Willow remarked. "When was the last time we did this?"

"Just the two of us? Can’t remember. BR probably."

"Before Riley?"

"You’re still so Ms. Smarty-pants, Will."

Willows face clouded.

"What did I say? You’re face fell so hard it’s practically on the floor."

"I don’t think I’ll ever be as smart again as I was, Buffy. I can’t concentrate as well as before my…episode. Something just burned out, I guess." Willow’s face looked pinched and sad.

"Oh Willow. I didn’t know. I’m so sorry." Buffy shot a concerned look at her friend. There really was a lot of stuff they hadn’t talked about.

"Yeah. Paying the price. Atoning for what I did. Hey. We are not talking about this stuff tonight, okay? Tonight is drinks, dancing and ogling likely prospects. But not actually making a move on them."

"Sounds about at my level of being over stuff, too." They giggled companionably.

"Your ex is actually still available, though. Doesn’t that make a difference? Don’t you ever think about getting back together?" Willow asked.

"Oh, please, with Mr. Sanity Challenged?" Buffy rolled her eyes. "I mean, my ex isn’t available either. That person doesn’t exist anymore."

"You really think so? I mean, at first, when I came back, he was so weird, totally out of it. But the last weeks? Seems pretty normal, that is, normal for Spike. Although he sort of stiffens up around you, and I meant that in a completely non-innuendo-ish way…" Willow trailed off. Buffy loved babbling Willow, and was glad to see that she still existed.

"I know what you mean, without the innuendo."

"You have made me think of something, I think I’ll ask Spike if I can do an aura reading of him. I was planning on stopping by Xander’s soon anyway."

"And the connection between Xander and Spike is?" Buffy said, confused.

"Buffy, Spike is Xander’s new roommate, apartment mate I should say. He didn’t tell you?"

Buffy’s face told all.

"Ouch. Sorry Buff."

The Bronze wasn’t very crowded, even for a weekday. They found a table, and at first were content to just sip their drinks and look around.

"Jeez, Will, when did we suddenly get old? All these kids look about fourteen to me." Buffy remarked.

"You’re exaggerating, I…" Willow fell silent, a surprised expression on her face. Buffy turned her head to see what Willow had been looking at.

"Wha…? Spike? Spike is working? Spike is a bartender? I don’t believe this!" Buffy continued to stare, looking angry as well as surprised.

"Kind of makes sense," Willow observed. "Must be hard to find a job for nights only."

After a few minutes Willow started to become fed up with Buffy’s lack of attention. "Buffy…come on. Buff, quit with the googly eyes. Buffy! We were supposed to have fun together, not stare at our ex? Buffy!"

Buffy turned her head to Willow, but her eyes were looking inwards. She downed her drink pretty quickly, and urged Willow to finish hers.

"Drink up, Will, I need an excuse to get over to the bar." Armed with two empty glasses Buffy wended her way through the crowd.

Spike was chatting to one of his colleagues, looking animated and relaxed. The colleague was a tall, buxom brunette, whose ample breasts jiggled close to Spike as she laughed at something he said. Buffy cleared her throat loudly.

"Spike? Can I have your attention for a moment?"

"What’ll it be, miss?"

This was annoying. "Miss? You have amnesia now? Randy Giles I presume?"

Spike moved over to where Buffy was standing and leaned on the bar. Buffy tried not to look at his nicely muscled arms. It looked as if he had finally put on some weight. He gave her a cocky grin and needlessly wiped his rag over the top of the bar. Buffy watched the play of his muscles while he repeated the circular motion over and over.

"Have to be polite to the customers, don’t I?"

"Give me a break, please. You polite, that I gotta see."

"Are you gonna order, or just stand about and insult me? Not fair to harass a working boy, you know."

"Smith? " A voice called out. Spike looked up. "No chatting up the customers, dude. Get her order, or move on."

"Sorry, sir."

"Smith? Really? William Smith or Spike Smith? And is it your real name?"

"Oh, come on, love, I would never use that. I almost picked John Doe, but I reckoned that would rouse suspicion." He grinned at her and wiggled his eyebrows. "And it’s Will Smith, actually."

Buffy groaned, but felt an answering grin tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Okay, get me refills of this."

"You and Willow having a girls’ night out?" Spike asked as he worked on their drinks.

"Yeah. It’s been ages. We thought it was time we were done grieving and start checking out the merchandise again."

He looked at her oddly and said; "What exactly were you grieving about, then?"

Buffy felt a furious blush rise up. She couldn’t speak from sheer embarrassment. She saw Spike’s Adam’s apple bob up and down. Without looking at Spike again she paid for the drinks and hurried back to Willow.

She saw Willow’s amused look and asked: "Is my face still red?"

"Uh-huh."

"Crap."

A few drinks and some time later, Buffy and Willow were being taught how to play pool by two friendly young men, who said they were some kind of work buddies to Xander.

Willow sidled up to Buffy and whispered in her ear: "He’s checking out your butt. Don’t look."

Buffy looked. Spike stared back. Almost against her will she started to move towards the bar.

"Buffy?" Willow asked. "I meant the guy in the plaid shirt?"

"I need more alcohol. Be right back," Buffy answered, without taking her eyes off of Spike.

Spike didn’t speak, just raised an inquiring eyebrow.

Well, what had she been going to say? Oh, her mouth was already moving. "Um, Spike, I kinda missed you on patrol the past few weeks. When are you going to come with again?"

"Difficult to combine with my work schedule, you know. Figured you didn’t need me, anyway." He started polishing the bar again.

"I totally need you," Buffy blurted out. " I mean…You’re my favorite slaying buddy, you know that. I thought we were a team."

Spike kept his eyes on his hands, polishing the same spot again and again. "I’m free on Mondays. We could meet up then?"

"One day a week?"

He shrugged. "Unless you wanna patrol after one o’clock in the morning, it’s pretty much the only possibility. Refills again? You sure you need more drinks? You look kinda well-done already."

"You prefer your girls rare, I suppose?" Buffy snapped.

He didn’t answer, just slapped her change on the bar and pushed the drinks towards her, before moving on to the next customer.

What had she said? ‘Your girls’ ? Implying that she was his girl? So not going there. She moved back to the pool table a little unsteadily, but not before catching a fragment of conversation between Spike and his boss.

"…same girl again, Smith. What’s the deal?"

"Sorry about that, sir. She’s, um, my ex, don’t want to blow her off."

Blow her off indeed! Buffy threw back her drink, and proceeded to beat the crap out of their pool buddies, at pool that is.

*************

Buffy looked down at the spilled drink on her dress in confusion. What the heck?

"You okay, Buffy?" Willow’s voice said anxiously.

"Sorry, it just took me a minute to get it; this is a time switch again…." Buffy smiled at sweet young confused Willow. They were sitting on Willow’s bed, in her pastelly old bedroom at home.

"Long time no see,‘ Buffy remarked, looking around appreciatively.

"Aren’t we still friends?"

""Of course we are!" Buffy hugged Willow. No perfume at all. Funny that even beloved memories could be wrong. "You just don’t live here anymore, which is normal, right?"

"What were we talking about? Boys?"

Willow perked up again. It sure didn’t take much in those days to make her happy.

"I was just mentioning casually that this boy Oz was kinda cute, you know. Just a passing observation!"

"Yeah, right, like me just happening to run into Angel, sitting on my window sill at night…"

They shared a grin.

"You know, Will, would you mind if I ran my current boyfriend troubles by you? Not Angel, but someone else?"

"Wow, Buffy, what a mind bending statement! I thought you guys would be forever!" Willow’s soft drink went down the wrong way in her agitation and she had to be thumped on the back.

"Me too, Will, me too. Thing don’t always work out the way you think…" She sighed. "Okay. Swallow. Sick feeling in the tummy. Present ex-boyfriend, recap. We never really dated, we just…made out a lot. A lot! And I hid our relationship from my friends, and pretended to hate him in company. And then, um, another ex-boyfriend discovered us, um, making out, and I dumped him. Oh, I forgot to mention I beat him up a lot, too. " Willow’s eyes were growing rounder and rounder, and she was sucking hard on the straw of her empty soda-bottle. "Then he, um, made out with Xander’s ex, and tried to, um, kiss me without my permission?"

"Hello, really smart gal here. The um’s are because you are twenty-one and were really having sex with him, right?" Willow asked.

"Sorry, Will. I didn’t mean to talk down at you."

"Huh, sex, awesome! What’s it like?" Willow wiggled her dungareed bottom on the bed.

"It was, like, wow! Amazing! He was totally the hottie, blue eyes, cheekbones to kill for, great body, incredible stamina, no need to breathe, which is great for…" She heard herself gush like the sixteen year old she wasn’t, and stopped, embarrassed.

Willow’s smooth forehead crinkled. ‘No breathing?"

"Figure of speech. Okay, where was I? He tried to hurt me, and went away to change himself to become a better person. For me." Buffy took a deep breath. "And the question is, do I take him back? Is he even the same person he was?"

"This is really deep stuff. First question is: do you love him?"

"But that’s just the one I can’t answer! I don’t know! I thought I didn’t, but I realize now that I felt more for him than I wanted. So I finally realized I wanted him back, and then he’s so changed, you know, he’s even been insane for a while. And he got really mad, when I made him this stupid offer, and now I just don’t know!"

"Why not give it a try? Do you have the same interests? Does he get along well with the rest of your friends, does your Mom like him? "

"Maybe, yes, no, yes."

Willow processed this with lightning speed. "Do I like him?"

"I don’t exactly know…You don’t hate him like Xander, that’s for sure."

"Like he hates Angel."

"Good point."

"I say, go Buffy! No pain, no gain." Willow pronounced.

Buffy made a loud huffing sound as she fell flat on her face on the bed, driving the breath out of her lungs. She sat up and found Willow looking at her concernedly.

"Are you back?" she asked. Buffy nodded.

"And I find myself in still in the same place, amazingly enough. You two have a good time? I just slayed in my usual cemetery for an hour or so, only in the future. Same old tombs!"

"It was great, " Willow said with enthusiasm, "she’s really nice, once you get to know her. We talked about her boyfriend troubles."

"Let me tell you," Buffy pronounced, "That we’re not talking about Angel here!"

"I know," Willow said, nodding sagely. "She told me everything."

"I just don’t get what she sees in him. He’s pretty nice, but compared to Angel he’s not that great looking. He’s short, skinny, has really weird hair…"

Willow giggled. "You should have hear her swoon! ‘His eyes are so blue, and his body is so hot… ‘ And did you know they had sex!"

"I kinda guessed, I mean, she’s a grown-up, okay?"

"Imagine switching when she was, um, you know, in the middle of!"

"Eew! And eew! I once jumped into her just after they’d kissed! Eew!"

They fell over giggling from delighted disgust, and imagined several creative scenario’s to prevent this from ever occurring.

"Now if it was Angel…" Buffy sighed.

"You two gonna…?"

"Maybe."



Timeline: Season 2(during and after WML2) and later in season 7

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You(7.2) In this world, Buffy takes Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME

Feedback: dutchbuffy2305@yahoo.co.uk



Feelings (9)

One moment a dark, rainy graveyard, the next moment a brightly lit, noisy, chaotic space. Purely on instinct Buffy parried the thrusts of whoever was fighting her, until her eyes adjusted. The church! Kendra? Knowledge of where she was and what she was doing flooded her. She knew exactly what to do!

"Switch!’ she shouted to Kendra.

Smoothly they switched opponents, putting her into combat with Spike.

"I'd rather be fightin' you anyway!" Spike said with a fierce grin, golden eyes glinting.

There was only breath for one word, not enough to convey all she felt at that moment.

"Mutual!"

Outwardly grim and determined, but inwardly singing with manic joy, she continued the fight, and when the remembered opportunity came, she threw him across the pews into the wall. She let her body move on it’s own the next few heartbeats, then fought Spike again, throwing the censer at his head and watching him getting buried beneath the church organ.

She turned to Kendra, opening her mouth to—

--a mouthful of cold rain: "Gaah!"

She sank to her knees in the muddy grass, shaking with tension and frustration. She pounded her fist in the squishy turf, sending up little fountains of rain.

"Spike!" she yelled. "Get your undead ass over here! I’m not finished with you!"

She leaned forwards, hands flat on the ground now, panting and heaving with emotion. There was no answer, of course. The evil bloodsucking fiend was probably watching Star Wars DVD’s on Xander's couch right now. She hated him. She hated the powers that be, for giving her only five minutes with him.



Giles’ silly board was set up in the living room again. Five time-switch moments were marked in. Giles and Willow were standing close to it, earnestly discussing something. Buffy walked up to them, wrapping a towel around her wet hair.

"You can add a sixth to that," she said. "About an hour ago, just five minutes."

"Where, or when did you go in the past?"

"Fighting with Kendra, in the church? When Spike had snatched Angel to heal Dru?"

Giles nodded, and started adding it to the board. ‘Wow, Giles, you know the date for that by heart? Impressive."

Giles threw her a look. "Unlike you, I have been thinking about these occurrences, and reading up on events of autumn ’97 in my diaries. You seem incredibly off-hand about this, Buffy."

"Yeah, we might even think you were actually enjoying your little forays into the past," an unexpected voice drawled.

Spike! Her stomach flip-flopped. She hadn’t expected to see him here.

"Glad you could make it, Spike!" Giles said, and taking Spike’s arm drew him towards his schematics.

Xander followed Spike into the room. "Hey, doesn’t the Xan-man get a warm welcome from his girls?"

"Hi Xander," Buffy said, her eyes never leaving Spike. He was looking even better than the last time she’d seen him, in the Bronze, very confident and Spike-like again, hair slicked back. She thought of ruffling it.

"Buffy," Willow said softly in her ear. "Staring!"

Buffy jumped guiltily and squirmed at the amusement in Willow’s eyes. "I was looking at Giles, what did you think?"

"Sure. Giles. I just love to stare at Giles, myself. Sit down for a minute, gonna do your aura."

Buffy sat down on the couch and indulged in more staring, sinking into a dreamy, relaxed state as Willow did her thing with the crystal ball.

A muffled sound from Willow. "Um, Buffy? We’ll do another check in half an hour or so. And could you please think of something boring in the meantime? I don’t think you’ll want to show this to Giles."

"What?" she looked up to Willow, who was holding the crystal ball out for her inspection. It was a whirlpool of swirling red, actually moving as she looked at it.

"It’s all red? Didn’t that mean?"

"Uh-huh," Willow nodded, eyebrows raised. "Go do a crossword puzzle or something. Take a cold shower."

"Oh, Will, this is so embarrassing. Cover it, quick!" Buffy hissed, mindful of enhanced vampire hearing. The vampire in question was running his hands through his hair, as she had been wishing to do, and threw her a dark look. He’d heard, damn him. Now he knew she was a churning cauldron of lust, if his nose hadn’t already informed him. She really, really hated him.

As casually as she could, she sidled up to the little group staring at the time-chart. A perfect excuse to stand very close to a certain ex-lover.

*****

Spike stared fixedly at Giles’ hands, gesturing at the markings on the board. He was acutely aware of Buffy standing there, uncomfortably close. It was impossible to shut off his sense of smell, or his awareness of her body temperature, the rushing of her blood, the rapid beat of her heart. He could hardly miss that she still wanted something of him, but he wasn’t sure of his own feelings about that. Turning back into his old evil self, or even pretending to, was the absolutely last thing he was going to do, in spite of his incredibly pathetic question in the graveyard. His soul was hard-won, and he was bloody well proud of it. She could take it or leave it. But if she kept on standing so close, tantalizing him with her blood-warm presence and mingled smells of newly washed hair and arousal , it was going to be so hard to stick to that resolve.

*****

"I can see no pattern at all," Giles was saying. "The time that lapses in between switches is different, the duration is never the same, the moment of the day it happens…Sometimes the elapsed time is the same in 1997 as in 2002, and sometimes it isn’t. I think this is a dead end. Unfortunately, I have no ideas on where next to take our inquiry."

"Have you heard from Anya yet? No? Pity." Willow shook her head in frustration. "No brilliant ideas from me either."

"Well, Dumbledore and McGonagall, since we know bugger all on the cause of this, let’s look at the effects," Spike said. "As far as I know, whatever Buffy does in 1997, it has no effect on our time. Right? Nobody here remembering anything about Buffy having little time-lapses back then ?"

"No, I certainly don’t," Giles said. "Our Buffy mentioned fighting you in 1997, but would that have been an important memory for you then?"

"A fight with the Slayer? That very, um, special kind of fight? I’d bloody well remember that!"

Giles frowned. "Buffy? What was so special about that fight? You didn’t mention it before!"

Buffy threw Spike an angry look. "Spike knows only what I told him "she said, trying to dismiss the issue. "Just fighting, a new fight, the two of us in a graveyard."

"Another moment where you didn’t stake him," Xander said. He received pointed looks from both Spike and Buffy.

Spike resumed speaking. "What I’m saying is, the only effect we see so far is on Buffy’s aura. Willow?"

Willow nodded. "Its been changing. Less iron will and repressing, more natural emotions."

"Hey! This is me we’re talking about! My emotions! Not group discussion material!"

"Buffy, I’m starting to think that what Spike said might be true. Do you actually want this to stop or not?"

Buffy blushed when all eyes were fixed on her expectantly.

"Of course. No having fun in the past, just proper and joyless slaying in the present."

"A profoundly disturbing statement, Buffy. I’ll take you up on that later. But I do think Spike’s on to something. The only effect we’ve seen is on Buffy herself, her feelings. And that seems to go for both Buffys!"

He became excited and started drawing a new chart. He drew two auras, with two dates above them; then lines connecting these to two more auras.

"By Jove I think I’ve got it! Their auras are mingling! Willow?"

"Our Buffy’s aura is decongesting, returning to normal—"

"Hey! I am normal!" Buffy protested.

"—and past Buffy’s is clogging up, turning brown and depressed."

"Jeez, Will, think of what I, she, went through! Angel will turn into Angelus on the me od 1997!"

"There’s no blame here, Buffy. These things did happen, and we all know that they affected you. How could they not?" Giles said gently.

"Well, hurray, welcome back unclogged Buffy!" Spike said. "But, come on, people, being that cold and hard and focused made her a better warrior. Why is she changing back? Puts her at risk!"

"Hard? Cold?" Buffy said angrily. "Let me tell you, Spike, the only cold, hard thing here is you!"

Willow guffawed. At Buffy’s look she said: "Sorry, Buff, my mind just made these pictures!"

"Thank you, Willow, now we all have to live with that image!" Xander said disgustedly.

Giles’ hand hid his smile. "Focus, children, focus. To recapitulate: We know now what is going on. The remaining question is: Why? The result of Buffy’s wish? The powers that be? Something evil? Is it benevolent or malign?"

"Malign, " Spike said.

"Benevolent, "Willow said. "Buffy needs to get in touch with her inner…"

"Cheerleader?" Xander supplied.

"Fluffy bunny, I was going to say."

"Here endeth the therapy, " Buffy said firmly. "You’re all welcome to stay and hang, but no public discussion of the Buffy-feelings, existent or not. Who’s for popcorn?"

************

Spike was standing in front of Xander’s washing machine, staring at the inexplicable grayness of his newly washed sheets, when there was loud banging on the door. He hesitated, but decided to answer it. An angry Buffy stormed in, coatless, dressed in a white top. She checked her pace immediately when she spotted him and her mouth dropped.

"You're alive!" she gasped.

"Um, no, not really, but if you mean, not dusted, true. Why?"

"I killed you! I dropped an organ on you!"

Spike’s eyes darkened. "You dropped many many organs on me, and you may always drop any organ… Oh. That organ. Bloody hell! Do you know how many months I had to spend in a wheelchair, and watch…" He paused. ‘Don’t know why I’m getting angry, really. For a moment I thought it was the other Buffy, all righteous anger and a never-ending desire to kick my arse."

She stared at him for long moments, but then her anger visibly deflated.

"Just so you know, nobody touches my boyfriend! I’m gonna kill you next time!"

"Been there, done that. That what you came to tell me? And while you’re here, how come my sheets have turned gray? I thought washing was supposed to make them whiter!"

"My guess would be you washed them at the same time with some of your black clothes? Duh! Even I know that, and Mom does my washing."

"So how do I…?"

Impatiently she grabbed the sheets and thrust them back in the machine, and added a big helping of powder and extra bleach. "Big lesson of the normal world: Keep the white and the black apart, or everything will turn gray."

"Thus spake Buffy. Why are you here?"

"I have a message for Giles, from the other Giles. It’s about an amulet we found on the demon I killed, that might be a Justice Demon. He said to tell this Giles it’s in his Abyssinian Box. Dawn thought he and Xander might be checking out a house Giles is thinking of buying."

‘Why not just call them on the cell phone?"

"Duh me!"

Giles and Xander weren’t going to be back for at least an hour. Buffy chose to stay and wait, watching a movie with Spike.

They were eating popcorn that she had made, and she watched him munch away more than half of it.

"How do vampire bowels work? I thought you could only digest blood?" Twenty questions again.

"You want details, pet? Nah, nothing works anymore. No digestion, no heartbeat, nothing. I’m an animated corpse, remember?"

"Ew. Can I feel your chest for the heartbeat?"

"I don’t have a heartbeat. And why don’t you ask Angel?"

"I can’t, too scary! We haven’t really, you know…" She looked at him pleadingly. "I’m a Vampire Slayer, but I never have a chance to really study one, they always turn into dust."

Spike snorted. "I wonder how! Sorry pet, don’t feel much like being your test subject."

Needless to say, a minute later he was leaning backwards against the couch, shirt hiked up, and little Slayer hands were on his chest trying to locate his heart.

"It’s not as if you usually have a lot of trouble locating vampire’s hearts," he complained. He put his hands behind his head and stared at the ceiling.

"Shut up, I’m concentrating."

He was just wondering at the wicked gleam he thought he’d seen in her eye, when her hands stilled. It took him a moment to catch on. He turned his head down and looked in to the eyes of his Slayer. Her hands became amazingly hot all of a sudden and his whole body shivered in instant arousal.

"What exactly were you two doing?" the older Buffy said with dangerous calm. Why were her hands still on his body?

His mouth was so dry, he could hardly speak. "Vampire anatomy lesson, love." Bugger. Shouldn’t call her that. "Slayer."

"Huh. Glad you lost the nail polish. And what’s with the dishwater hands?" She picked up his left hand. His chest moved in a deep breath of relief when her hands left his skin. The place where they had lain felt the chill of their absence.

"New job."

Buffy’s eyes widened. "No more bartending, huh? Welcome to the joy of earning your living." She made no move to sit further away from him. She also went on looking at him, and it kept him right on the edge of discomfort.

"So," she started abruptly, "What do you think of the younger me?"

"Nothing like you," he could answer honestly. "Very young, very much in love with Angel." Hasn’t died twice. Hasn’t had to kill her lover. Still has her mum.

"Are you falling in love with her?" Suspicion in her voice. She couldn’t be jealous, now could she?

"What? Of course not!" Spike exploded. "She’s just a child. I’m not interested in children. Why would you think that?"

"It just seems that every time I come back, I find you two snuggled on a couch. What would you think?"

He spread his hands, searching for an explanation. "Just getting friendly. We’re both outsiders here, you know? She can’t relate to the Scoobies, they’re all too grown up, she doesn’t know Dawn too well, who else would she talk to?"

"She picks the insane undead to have girly chats with?"

"So glad you’re back with the witty repartee. I’ll just go hide my sorry and insane self in my closet, then."

He stalked off.

******

Buffy stared after him, mildly surprised at his snarky reply. It was a long time since he’d given as good as he’d got. Kind of heartening. Hey! Why was she in Xander’s apartment?

She crossed the hallway in two strides, and poked her head around the door of Spike’s room.

"Spike? Why am I here?"

"Bloody hell! Can’t you knock?" Spike’s black T-shirt was lying on the bed, and he was undoing the buttons on a black sports shirt he was holding. Why was he looking so damn good to her? She sat down on his bed.

"Sorry for A: not knocking and B: inappropriate witty repartee."

He looked at her for a few heartbeats, weighing this, then nodded and said: "Okay, apology accepted."

"So, why no more bartending? Didn’t you like it, or did you get fired?"

He sat down on the other end of the bed. "I never realized how bloody hard it is to do the same thing for eight hours straight. Lost my temper, got kicked out."

Buffy nodded in sympathy. "Remember the Double Meat? Deep empathy here. But isn’t dish washing way, way worse?"

"Maybe. No customers to say the wrong thing to. But I’m looking for something else, of course. Tried night watchman, but they wouldn’t hire me. People do seem to notice I’m not your regular bloke."

She moved closer to him. He froze in the midst of pulling on his shirt, looking at her warily. She watched her hand rise and smooth out a tousled platinum curl. Spike’s eyes seemed black, all huge pupils, and she felt his chest move up and down rapidly. Buffy swallowed. She crawled onto his thigh.

Her eyes traveled slowly over his face, and her fingers followed their path. His dark, mobile eyebrows, his blue blue eyes with their thick lashes, that fluttered under her fingertips, that imperial Roman nose, the soft lips, the only soft looking thing in that face of hard planes. Her lips went where her hands had gone, gently touching his lush mouth, her eyes still looking at him. Her heart hammered against her ribcage, her fingers trembled with restraint. Spike sat stock still. She ached to throw him on the bed and fuck him thoroughly, but she owed him more than just that. His heartbreaking words on being ‘flesh’ still resonated in her head.

Her hands went to his chest, parting the panels of his black shirt. She felt a slight hitch in the smoothly rising and falling of the chest under her hands, and while keeping her eyes locked onto his, she slowly buttoned the shirt up, starting from the bottom.

"We were having a conversation," she said softly into his neck. "We wouldn’t want to get sidetracked."

His smile was like the sun coming out, she felt it warming her skin where its light fell on her. "What does this mean, Buffy?" he asked equally softly.

"I don’t know yet. Something." They sat there, staring mesmerized at each other’s smile

The moment was shattered when the sound of a key turning in a lock was heard. Buffy jerked away from Spike’s lap, and stood by the door in one leap. Spike was there before her and gripped her arm hard.

"Buffy!" he said from between clenched teeth, "Choose. The whole deal or nothing. No more sneaking."

She stood looking up at the cold fury in his face like a deer caught in headlights, panting with fear and the urge to flee. "I can’t…not yet…let me go!"

Spike let her loose and stood looking at her with his arms crossed before his chest. "Go away if you’re so afraid," he said, mocking her harshly. "Good to know I can still make the Slayer quake in her stylish boots!"

Buffy couldn’t move from indecision and kept staring at this new angry Spike. He slid his thumbs inside the waistband of his jeans, fingers pointing at his crotch.

"You like me like this, don’t you, Buffy? The bad boy, all swagger and sex. But the softer feelings, those are the ones that scare you." He curled his lip at her and turned away. "Scoot, Slayer. Not ready for all of me yet."

Buffy slipped quietly into the hallway. Xander and Giles could be hear talking in the living room. She went into the bathroom to check her appearance, and was shocked at her wild flushed look. Cold water and Xander’s comb made some improvement. After a last deep breath, she smoothed her hair and walked into the living room.

"Hi guys," she said cheerily.

"Hey Buffster, whatcha doing here?" Xander asked, preoccupied.

"The other Buffy must have come here for some reason," Buffy said with a shrug, and left quickly.



Timeline: Season 2 (After Innocence) and later in season 7

Rating: R

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You (7.2) In this universe, Buffy takes Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME

Feedback: dutchbuffy2305@yahoo.co.uk



As time goes by (10)

It was a cold, starry night, unusual for Southern California, and Buffy was thickly swathed in jacket, woolly hat and gloves. She was humming a song under her breath, moving her arms in time to the music to keep warm, waving her stake for punctuation. It was really too cold for patrol, more so because it was again the low action kind of patrol. Maybe she should patrol less, pack the action into one fun evening a week. But well, what to do with all her time? She wasn’t exactly Social Butterfly of the year. She hung out with the Scoobs once a week, which was okay, but the house was pretty empty most of the time. Dawn had her own friends now, and Giles had been back to England for a month during the holidays. And for once, even her birthday had been uneventful. No Vengeance demons, no Giles, no Clem, and yeah, no Spike. So maybe not an all time high, but still counting as a fairly good birthday.

She wished Spike had more time for patrol, but the demands of his pretty disastrous series of jobs kept him busy. Or so he said. And there wasn’t even the excuse of necessary Scooby meetings to get everyone together. Tonight was the first time in a two months that they’d be all together in one place, she was really glad Giles was back!

She swayed in a moment of disorientation. She had been about to think: No time switches. But this had to be one. Yep. Warmish night, dressy clothes, no flares. Pressed up against the side of a tall tomb. Guess who she was hiding from?

She swallowed. This was post-Birthday and therefore Angelus territory. That was one event she wouldn’t have to look up in Giles’ diaries. She peeked around the edge of the tomb. Angelus all right. Tall, dark, evil. He seemed taller. His thin wool black coat swished around him when he walked over the cemetery path, swiveling his head, searching for someone, her maybe? Black leather was a so much cooler choice than all that Armani. She thought of the black leather coat still hanging hidden in the back of her closet. Focus, Buffy, she said sternly to herself.

“Nothing like meeting your High School crush again to put things in perspective!” she said, stepping into Angelus’ view. And feeling exactly the same under a love spell, as when you thought you were experiencing the love of your life, of course.

He checked his stride, his too-wide Angelus smile slowly spreading over his features.

“Well, well, if it isn’t little Miss ‘It’s All About Me’,“ he said. “She’s back from the future again.”

“You never ever used a pop culture reference before!” she said, putting on a puzzled face. “Watching a lot of movies? Doing evil not taking up all of your spare time?”

“I don’t think I like you as much as your younger self,“ he said, putting a theatrical finger against his cheekbone. “You are way too cheerful; I don’t like that in girls. You think killing you would make that glow go away?”

”I wouldn’t try it! “ Buffy twirled the stake in her hand. “She may still be in love with you, but I sure am not, and I have no compunction about killing you.”

Angelus took a step back.

“I can’t believe I ever bought that crap about you being a different person with the soul! I know for a fact that there’s just the one person, and that person didn’t choose to love me, or get a soul for me.”

“As if! So happy to be rid of it, you know!” He said laughing. “Why don’t you find yourself a real boy, so you can pretend to be a normal girl? Oh, wait, you can’t, because I’m going to kill you soon.”

“Yeah, same old, same old, here too,” Buffy said.

“Enough with the small talk!” Angelus said, and left without saying goodbye.

For a moment Buffy debated chasing him, but decided against it. Although she would have liked kicking his ass, events would play out as they had before, so what would be the point? She turned around to go home. Maybe her mother would be there.

****

Halfway to Revello Drive sudden inspiration struck. She had a much better plan. It was quite a ways to the abandoned factory, but with her Slayer fitness, she made it there in reasonable time. She circled the building, looking for a place to enter the building unobserved. Lucky again; one of the downstairs windows had a loose board. She climbed in.

Cautiously Buffy followed the faint sound of voices. She climbed up the walkway she remembered using with Angel. Staying deep in the shadows, she tried to identify the figures moving around in the half light. Angelus, Drusilla, anonymous minions. There! Spike. Motionless, seated in a wheelchair, staring at the others, apart from them. Something wrong with his cheek.

Spike abruptly started moving away from the main room. That solved the difficult question of how to get him away from the others. He rolled the wheelchair into a small, dimly lit bedroom, next to the bed. He leaned his head back against the wall, and sighed deeply and tiredly. Quietly Buffy walked in and closed the door behind her.

“Hello gorgeous!” she said.

Spike’s head shot up, and she could see his lightning-quick assessment of the situation, and his realization that he was pretty much helpless. And that he was going to go down fighting!

She walked over to the chair and sat down on his lap without much ado, a stake pointed at his heart.

“You made me an offer I could refuse, some time ago. Now I’m going to take you up on part of that. What do you say?”

Spike smirked at her and said: “Give us a snog, then, Slayer.”

Buffy mashed her mouth to his, hardly able to contain her excitement.

He jerked back and made a face at her. “Have you no sense of bloody romance, Slayer? I’m a bloke, not a bleeding hot tap you can turn on with a twist of your hand! A little lead-in would be nice!”

Buffy stared at him, puzzled. She hadn’t expected this from a demon. She tried again, using her free hand to rub his chest and belly.

“Make me hot!” she commanded.

His lips were as soft and enticing as her own Spike’s, but she could see the angry glitter in his eyes beneath their thick lashes. Her body began to warm up and loosen under the caress of his lips and the pressure of his knowledgeable hands. Buffy started breathing hard, heartbeat speeding up. Yes, something rough and hard and fast, like only Spike could give her. He pinched her nipples, twisting them, a feeling just there between pain and pleasure. She felt her juices start to flow, caught the scent of her own arousal, and moaned in his ear.

He licked her neck, and paused to suck on the artery that pulsed just below the skin. The danger inherent in this heightened every sensation. The pressure of his lips on her neck became harder, combining arousal with the beginnings of asphyxiation. Buffy panted, breath coming in shorter, faster gasps, the fevered sounds arousing her even more. The rush of her own blood beat in her ears, his hands ground on her clit through her jeans, exquisite torture.

The pain of a thumb digging in the soft belly-flesh near her hipbone alerted her out of the fugue state. Buffy jerked back and realized she’d been very close to being choked. Spike grinned at her unrepentantly. Grimly she positioned the stake again. She grabbed his neck with one hand, and kissed him deeply and hard. He tasted different, a hint of something coppery that was vaguely familiar.

She drew back a little, and stared at him. He looked like Spike, he sounded like Spike, but something was missing. Spike put his hands on her hips, the nails splotchy with ancient black polish. His hard thumbs pushing in the soft flesh of her inner thighs should have given her a thrill, but didn’t. She felt no sign of his own arousal under the worn jeans.

“What’s wrong with you, Spike?”

“What’s wrong with me? I’m held at stake-point by my enemy, my legs don’t bleeding work, and the love of my life is being shagged by sodding Angelus! Go on, what could possibly be stopping me from making hot love to someone I hardly know and don’t like!”

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Was this an unsouled demon talking? She began to get the first glimmer of what this might mean. Soul, chip, the essence of Spike hadn’t changed. The man who could love, and for whom making love was not the same as having sex, was already there. Man, not demon. What did that say about the other Spike?

Her shocked state was rudely pierced by Spike’s voice. “Changed your bleeding mind, have you? What a relief, I was about to plead a headache. Come on, stake me, get it over with! Anything rather then the Slayer version of making out!”

Absentmindedly she removed the stake and stepped off his lap. Nothing here for her. There never had been, really. This Spike loved someone else.

She got up. “See you in a couple of years.” She didn’t look back.

Buffy got out of the building as fast as she could, and ran back home. The worlds was a little blurry as she ran, and there were little halo’s around the streetlights.

*****

The Scoobies were in pleasant pre-meeting mode, chatting idly while waiting for Buffy to return from patrol. They heard the back door slam open and running footsteps coming near. Spike was already at the door before the others could react. Buffy hurled herself into the room, and stood panting and gasping.

“You knew! You all knew, and nobody took the trouble to warn me! You are the cruelest, most twisted people I've ever met!“ Buffy started sobbing wildly.

Everyone present stared, frozen in their respective positions. Giles decisively removed his glasses.

“Please tell us what’s the matter, Buffy. And sit down!”

Spike returned with tissues and a glass of water. “Here, love. Angelus?”

She nodded, unable to speak as yet.

“Spike! How did you know?” Giles said in surprise.

“Come on, Rupert, you’re not the only one who can remember a bleeding date, you know,” Spike retorted, exasperated.

“You knew he would lose his soul! Why couldn’t you warn me?”

Giles gave an embarrassed cough. “How, my dear girl, how? You didn’t expect us to give you warning for other monsters and creepies in your time, why now?”

Buffy looked at Spike. “But he could get one, like you?”

“Maybe,“ Spike answered.” But first he’d have to want it.”

That was unanswerable. All present knew Angelus had never wanted a soul.

Buffy looked around desperately. ”You’re all looking at me with these faces! Will he never want it?”

Giles took the lead again. ”We can’t and won’t answer that for you. I really pains me to say this, but you’ll have to get through this on your own.”

“Yeah, tell me again, love doesn’t conquer all and there are no happy endings.” She waved her hand around to indicate everyone present. “Look at you! You are all unhappy and alone! And what about the other me? She’s got another vampire boyfriend, and she will never ever have a normal life!”

“Um, Spike? Forgot to tell us the good news?” Xander said.

Spike shrugged.

Buffy stuck out her lower lip stubbornly. ”Willow said that she said…Oh never mind. Why should I solve her love problems? She isn’t gonna solve mine!”

“Buffy has no love problems,“ stated Xander.

“Oh no? I don’t see a normal boyfriend around?”

“Hey!” Dawn said, advancing menacingly on Buffy. “No dissing of my sister, understood? That’s my prerogative!”

Buffy stared up at the tall girl. “You do remember I’m the slayer and could totally take you?”

“Ladies, ladies!“ Giles tried to break up the incipient row. “This is not what we’re here for! Willow, why don’t perform your aura spell, and you Buffy, tell us what progress the 1997 team have made?”

“Well, sorry to disappoint you, but we’ve been a little busy! Besides Angel - Angelus, vampire assassins, egg-laying monsters taking over our minds, fighting blue Judge-guy…” She pointedly did not look at Spike, but the others felt no such inhibition. He threw up his hands in exasperation, and rolled his eyes.

“Evil then, remember? Can’t undo the past!”

“Oh, yeah, Giles, did you get the message from the other Giles? About where he put the demon’s amulet? Abyssinian Chest?” Buffy started to pull herself together, sounding like the slayer again.

“What? No? How could I possibly get a message from the past?”

“You could leave a letter with Post Office, to be delivered thirty years later…” Xander put in.

“Yes, thank you, Xander. Very helpful. I did take the trouble to rent that picture, I’ll have you know! It’s the only existent source on time travel. But I don’t think the real Post Office is up to that. And dammit, I left that chest in the Magic Box, how am I going to find it? Anyway, if we have no memories of that time, how could actual objects of that time exist here?“

“Willow announced that the aura spell was done. “As we suspected, guys. Nearly as brown and depressed as our Buffy’s used to be.”

“Huh? Fill me in?”

Giles explained the aura-mingling concept to the Buffy from the past. She digested it in doubtful silence.

“So…Buffy from the future is leaching all the happiness from me? Where’s the good in that?”

“Look at it the other way,“ Spike offered. “She’s giving you the necessary focus and detachment to survive the coming years of slaying.”

“Great. Give me some hope here?”

“There are two camps on this, Buffy. Spike thinks the Slayer needs detachment and focus, Willow thinks she needs connection and more feeling.”

“I’m thinking that not feeling would be of the good right now.”

Giles looked at her with pity, and started to get a glimpse of a possible reason for the time travel spell.

***

Giles stared after young Buffy as she went upstairs. He looked at Spike, and saw him looking as intently at her retreating form.

“Don’t you sometimes wish we could somehow spare her all that’s going to happen to her? Even if it meant changing history?”

Spike looked up sharply. ‘What do you mean, Rupert?”

“Well, this one started out so sunny and happy most of the time. It hurts me to see her starting to turn into the present Buffy, so grim and desperate sometimes, even more now that’s she pretending to be happy. Remember, she’s going to have to kill Angelus. That sunniness will disappear right then. So, what if we killed Angel? I mean, in the past? Or Glory, before she had to sacrifice herself?”

Spike made a face. “Don’t go there. You're mistaken. She can do the big sacrifice, the hero thing. She did. She did kill Angel, she didn’t hesitate. She is a bloody hero, she will always be able to make the hard, grand choices. It’s the small things, the day to day grind that’s going to kill her someday. That’s what she’s not cut out for. Work, domestic crises, mothering, staking endless fledglings. Those are what wear a hero down in the end. The choice of Achilles, heroes die young and all that, not for nothing.”

“Knew you had a classical education tucked away somewhere!”

“You’re more on the mark than you know… Seriously, someone like that, if no more hero-stuff comes along, they’ll go looking for it. Even a heroic death, anything better than a normal life. You must have known Second World War pilots, cronies of your dad? Same story. Could never settle again to the civilian life.”

Spike fell silent.

After a few moments Giles spoke grudgingly. “Spike, you’ve always been able to see what makes people tick more sharply that any of us. If you can see the problem, can you also see a solution?”

“No, I can’t, not with her. Too bloody personal.”

Giles shifted uncomfortably. “Um, yes. That’s not the kind of solution I meant.”

“I know ’that’ gives you a wiggins, to coin a phrase, but ‘ that’ kind of thing is very important. She must stay connected. You’re all going to go away some day, get real lives. The Scoobies and Dawn can’t stay sidekicks forever, they’re starting to withdraw already, and they’re tired of it. Who will be there for her then? An ordinary guy? We saw what happened to Captain Cardboard, he just couldn’t cut it.”

Giles smiled at the vampire ruefully. “I hate it when you’re right, but you’re right. Nothing in the Watchers handbook on this, you know. No Slayer’s lived this long.”

“That a fact?”

“Yes. The seven year mark seems to be some magical barrier.”

“All the more reason to watch her back as long as we can, Rupert.”

“Will do, Spike, will do. Walk home with me?”

They walked slowly, deep in thought.

“It must be an age old problem: how to keep the warrior tame and connected? How to keep him from turning on his own people, going berserk, or suicidal?” Spike said after a while.

Giles pondered on this. “Rituals, codes of honor, strong bonds between warriors, rewards: riches, renown, women.”

“Okay, how do we translate this to the Buffy situation? Riches are easy; the CoW should pay her. Rituals now, that’s a bit harder; maybe Quentin Travers could pay a yearly homage to her? Lay offerings at her feet?”

They shared grins at that thought.

“I don’t get you council blokes. Leaving a Slayer virtually on her own to save the world all the time? Bloody waste of Chosen material. Give her a couple good witches, couple of warriors, human or demon, makes no difference, give her something to work with. You all just sit on your lily-white arses in England, afraid to do the fieldwork? Get dirty hands?”

“You’re making me feel quite humble and naive, Spike. I bought into the whole Watcher thing, lock, stock and barrel, I never thought of it like this.”

“Comes from bossing all those minions around for longer than you’ve been alive, mate. Need management skills for that, need to know how to keep people motivated and get results.”

“I think you’re on to something.” Giles gaze turned inwards, thinking on the possibilities of Spike’s idea.

*****

The bell rang, and Xander went and opened the door to a laughing Willow and Buffy, carrying food and drink for the Scooby evening.

“Hey, my girls, come in, all is ready for a night of endurance and bloated tummies. Whaddya bring? Zinfandel? Great, I’ll get out the ice. Isn’t it fun to be adults? Chicken Wings? Onion flowers? Unusual choice, Buffster? And Bourbon? Ew! Nobody living here drinks Bourbon! “

“I do! “ Buffy asserted. “Sometimes!”

“Nobody living here drinks Bourbon!” guffawed Willow. “Somebody dead here does, get it? Get it?”

“Willow, that was my kind of joke, not yours,” Xander said. “And may I add how deeply disturbing I find the thought that Buffy brought something for my housemate? My evil undead housemate?”

“We’ve heard that one before, Xander,” Willow sighed. “Getting old. Move on.”

She spotted a huge white cowboy hat on the hat stand. “What’s that, Xander? Halloween leftover?”

“No, it’s a Christmas present for Spike, from Giles. Go figure.”

Buffy started rifling through the small stack of DVD’s lying on top of the player. “I didn’t know you were into this kind of stuff, Xander. ‘Casablanca?’ ‘Now, Voyager?’ Is that the one with the blonde Borg woman? ‘Spellbound?’ What are you doing with the oldies, you watch them, think of Anya and cry?”

“They’re Spike’s, not mine, and no, we do not watch together, “Xander said, handing Buffy a couple of other DVD’s. He went to the kitchenette to get more snacks. Buffy and Willow looked at Xander’s choices.

“Blade II? No way, that’s about work!” Buffy looked at the next one. “Spiderman? I so don’t wanna watch a movie about a guy named Parker.”

Willow said: “That leaves Attack of the Clones. “ She wrinkled her nose. ”Not very appealing. Let’s try this one, okay?”

They settled in on the couch. Xander came back with a giant bowl of popcorn and wedged himself next to them. The other food was already piled on a small table.

“This is great, huh, girls? Last time we did this must have been when I still lived in my parents’ basement.”

“We did? I don’t remember?” Willow asked.

“I think it was with Riley and Anya,“ Buffy said. “What? I shouldn’t talk about Anya? Xander? See, Willow, Xander says it’s okay to talk about Anya. And I can talk about Riley, I have no problem talking about Riley at all.”

“Good on you, Buff!“ Xander said.

“It’s usually the latest ex that’s so hard to talk about, Buffy,“ Willow suggested coyly.

“Stop that!” Xander said. This is my house. In my house we do not talk about my housemate unless absolutely necessary.” He stared at the movie with a puzzled air for a few moments, then thumbed the remote to fast forward.

“Hey” Willow protested. “Don’t do that! We’ll miss all the exposition!”

“What? This is the movie already? That‘s not one I rented! This is one of Spike’s! Come on, I rented Blade II!”

“We like this one, Xander. Shut up and enjoy. It’s famous. Wait for the beautiful Swedish actress.” Buffy said.

Xander gave in grudgingly.

At a particularly poignant moment, when both Buffy and Willow were sniffling hard, and Xander tried to stay dry eyed, Spike walked in. He looked rather taken aback at seeing the little group on the couch, Kleenex strewn everywhere, bottles of wine on the floor.

 

“Hey, Spike,“ Buffy said. “We’re having a movie-fest.“

He regarded her teary face with raised eyebrows. “And a lot of booze, looks like. Hope you had fun. Goodnight, Xander, ladies.”

“Come here, Spike,“ Buffy beckoned him over. “We were watching your movies, they’re great. I never cried so much in my entire life.” Her movements were the slightest bit uncoordinated. She patted the empty space next to her. “Sit down.”

 

Spike complied. He tried to sit down without touching Buffy, but the couch just wasn’t that big. “Look Spike, he’s playing that cool song again.” She leaned slightly against him. Spike tried to shift away from her.

Buffy felt him sitting straight and stiff, as far away from her as he could. Gradually she sensed him relaxing. She looked at Willow and Xander from the corners of her eyes, and saw that they were both engrossed in the movie. She took Spike’s hand. He gently disengaged it from hers. She frowned at him, hurt. He looked at her with a puzzled face. What did she want from him? She smiled at him hazily, and took his hand again. He gave up on trying to discover her motives, and tried to enjoy the moment, without reading too much into it. A nearly impossible task, because his imagination was already a thousand strides ahead. Buffy lifted his arm and scooted under it, settled against him more closely. That was even better, it was wonderful to feel her warmth again.

Buffy sighed softly, inaudibly, so Spike could only tell because he felt her ribcage’s tiny movement up and down. The small non-sound of contentment moved him deeply, and he felt his own chest rise and fall in an answering sigh. She was surrounded by her own private atmosphere of warmth and her unique smell, and Spike put his nose just inside that space.

Spike’s hand curled around Buffy's shoulder, in an unconscious attempt to draw as close as possible to the warmth of her body. Buffy let out another small, contented sigh.

Willow noticed the slight movement next to her, and saw her friend encircled by Spike’s arm. She made a face in the direction of the TV, but didn’t speak. She guessed it was their own business. It was kind of icky, but she preferred it out in the open. She didn’t want Buffy to feel she had to hide things, and it wasn’t as if she hadn’t seen it coming.

Xander stared straight ahead at the TV screen. He was aware of what happened at the other end of the couch, on the periphery of his field of vision. He refused to let it intrude on his consciousness in any way, but his right ear burned with the awareness of their small movements and sighs.

After “Spellbound”, the girls decided to go home. Buffy looked away from the question on Spike’s face.

"See you on patrol," she mumbled into his shirt. Spike put his fingers under Buffy's chin and tried to make her look up to him, but she wouldn't meet his eyes.

“Bye Xan. Spike? Remember what happened to Gregory Peck, all will end well. Forget about those other movies, life’s too short!” Willow said to Spike in passing as she was leaving.

“What’s that Will? Spike should think of cloning Hitler because why?” Buff asked, confused.

Willow just smiled. She turned and followed Buffy down the hallway without looking back, leaving a bemused Spike behind.



Timeline: Season 2 (After Passions) and later in season 7

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You (7.2). In this universe, Buffy takes Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME

Feedback: dutchbuffy2305@yahoo.co.uk



Let me be your Teddy Bear (11)

At ten past ten, there was a knock on the door. Dawn opened it.

"Oh, it *is* you. Why don’t you just come in, like always?"

"Because I don’t live here, "Spike said with some emphasis.”How ya doing, Nibblet?"

"Okay. Are you and Buffy going out?"

He looked taken aback. "What makes you say that?"

"'Cause Buffy has been hogging the bathroom room for hours, and is in a way foul mood?"

"I'm not sure I want to be around a pissed off Slayer. Maybe I should just leave?"

"No!" Dawn said hastily. "Don’t leave! She'll kill me. And you."

Spike looked at her with a question in his eyes. "I thought we were just going patrolling. She doesn't need to be extra clean!"

Dawn laughed. "Clean shmean! She's not cleaning up, you moron, she’s getting all dolled up for you!"

"What do you think of all that, pet?" She couldn’t mean what he thought she meant, now could she?

"I think you two should just quit fooling yourselves and get back together."

"We weren't together, not really. She wanted nobody to know about it, so it wouldn't be real," he said bitterly. The memory of the evening on the couch, and the big nothing that followed it, still rankled.

Dawn looked him straight in the eye. "You know how she talks about you? She says she dated you, and that you were a hottie. And she says she has feelings for you. If I were a guy I'd read the shorthand, and not wait for the explicit invitation and the three magic words."

Spike felt something tightly wound loosen inside of him. He didn't want to show it to Dawn. "And I should follow your advice?" he challenged her. "A sixteen year old with mostly spell-induced experience in this field?" First Willow and now Dawn telling him to go for it? Scary!

"Hey! Don't kill the messenger! These are only the actual Buffy words, interpretation is up to you!” Dawn twirled a strand of long brown hair. “How’s the job these days? Dishes still giving you a hard time?”

His face brightened. “Couldn’t believe it myself, but I’ve actually found something halfway decent. There’s this garage, fixes up vintage cars and motor cycles. Wages are not half bad either, gives me a few extra quid to fling at the old blood bank!”

Buffy came down the stairs during his words and waited impatiently to be noticed. She was wearing low hipster leather pants, and a stretchy top that left quite an expanse of tummy bare. There seemed to be a little more of it lately. And the heels! Spike could hardly believe women could walk on those things, let alone slay, but he’d seen often enough they posed no impediment to Buffy’s moves.

“You do realize it’s February, Slayer?”

Buffy did one of her eye-rolls and held up the coat she was holding. She slung it on and shook her hair out of the collar. It was very shiny and bouncy today, not the practical Slayer bun she usually sported.

“Looking very nice tonight,” Spike offered politely. “Assignation on a tomb?”

“Hm. Come on, Spike, the night‘s not getting any younger.”

Spike refrained from pointing out that she’d kept him waiting. There were a few things no bloke should ever do, and making her feel late was one of them. Telling her she’d put on weight was the other, even if she looked the better for it.

****

They were strolling idly along an overgrown path, not hindered by vamps or demons of any kind. They passed Spike’s old crypt. Buffy stole a glance at Spike. His face wasn’t showing much of anything.

“Is Clem still living there?” she asked.

He nodded. “Yes”.

“You ever visit him?”

He nodded again. ”Sure.”

“Jeez! Monosyllabic much? What’s with the silent treatment?”

He didn’t answer.

“Are you mad at me?”

Spike sighed and looked her full in the eyes. Her stomach did its little Spike-dance. “Buffy—you never act the bloody same on two occasions straight. One moment you practically jump my bones, then there is ignoring. Next time we snuggle on the couch with your friends two feet away, but is there follow-up? No! And even if you talk to me—there’s always the conflicting attitudes. Your mouth says one thing, your body another.”

“What does my body usually say?”

“You know bloody well what! It says: ‘Come here Spike, shag me blind’. But it always did, and you always pretended you didn’t mean it, so I’ve stopped trying to read it. If you want to tell me something, use words. And make sure they say the same thing as your body.”

Buffy swallowed. “Come here Spike, and fuck me blind?” she tried.

He shook his head in disappointment. ”Your body is telling me: “I’m scared.” Learn to listen to it, Buffy.”

The wind carried faint sounds of growling and yelling towards them. Without words, they communicated perfectly and set off as one for the disturbance.

Two groups of demons were fighting, lizardy blue ones versus warty squat guys. With a quick glance at Spike Buffy went for the blue team. From a corner of her eye, she saw him barreling into the squat group with an earshattering battle roar. He dove into the fray with joy, and with kicks and headbutts and wicked elbow punches managed to subdue all four demons in minimum time. Buffy went for the more classic techniques, but had her allotted five opponents dispatched in as many minutes. They regarded each other over the bodies of their fallen enemies. Spike was leaning on an impressive club, panting, Buffy supporting herself on a gore-spattered pike.

“We totally rock!” she gasped. “We’re the dream team! No evil can stand against us and live! Yay us!”

Spike slung the club over his shoulder with a flourish, and clapped her on the shoulder with his free hand.

“We’re bloody amazing!“ he said with a big grin.

“I’m not even remotely tired! We could…” Buffy trailed of and looked up at Spike. His hand was still on her shoulder, and his happy grinning face was very close. He kissed her suddenly and hard, letting the club fall behind him. She felt his big hands gripping her securely, one on the back of her neck, the other in her waist. She melted against him. This felt so right. This was exactly what she needed right now.

They stumbled backwards a few steps until Buffy’s back was against a crypt. Spike lifted her on his right leg and leaned his knee against the wall. Buffy let out a moan of surprised pleasure as hot bolts of lust shot through her at the contact of his hard thigh against her sex. She held him tightly against her, frantically kissing back until she lost all contact with reality, nothing existing anymore except the sensation of his body and his tongue and his lips on her.

Abruptly the contact was broken. Her feet came down on the ground with a thud, and she had to put out a steadying hand against the crypt wall to regain her balance. She opened her eyes. Spike stood looking at her, eyes dark and deep.

“To be continued,” Spike said, with the old sexy smirk on his face.

“Yes. Right now!” Buffy was disappointed and confused at the loss of contact.

“I’ll walk you home, love,” he offered, smiling sweetly, and took her hand.

Buffy desperately tried to get her bearings. What exactly was happening? Why was there kissing and touching and then not?

“Spike,“ she tried, “I had a great fight, you are the most wonderful slaying buddy ever, but all I wanna do after a fight is have hard fast sex, not sweet lovey-dovey stuff. That’s just not me!”

“At least you’re honest now…It’s very cute!”  He was laughing at her, the jerk!

“I don’t think you know me well enough to shag me. We haven’t even had a first date, and here we are already past first base!”

The look on his face made her squirm, he looked at her so sweetly, and with such amusement at the same time...She remembered that look, he’d worn it right before he’d persuaded her to come with to a demon bar and get drunk. No way was that going to happen again!

“Yeah, like you know all about American teenage dating rituals, Mr. Ancient Englishman!” she retorted. “And we’ve never done dates, we have sex in graveyards, and I don’t see why we can’t do it again!”

Spike ignored that last statement.

“Come on, love, stop sputtering and start walking. I feel a craving for hot chocolate and marshmallows. And you’re gonna make me some, like a good date.”

He was still holding on to her hand, and she followed him, stumped.

*****

Dawn found them sitting on the back porch when she came home, companionably cutting and sharpening stakes.

“How was your date?” she asked Buffy sweetly.

Buffy threw her a look that promised sisterly retaliation later.

”Here,” Spike said to Dawn, “those rose-fingered mitts of yours can do some work!” and handed her a knife and some uncut sticks.

Dawn sat down next to them and started fashioning a sharp point on her piece of wood, while Spike regaled her with the tale of their exploits that night.

“Hunh!” Buffy snorted. “To hear you talking we vanquished the complete Army of Darkness! It was just a dozen or so demons, who were so dumb they were fighting each other instead of us!”

Spike looked wounded. ”And here I thought you appreciated me for my fighting prowess!”

Buffy patted his thigh. ”You’re my hero. The head butting was cool. And the roaring. And the elbow-in face-thing.” Nonchalantly she left her hand on his leg. Spike was looking pleased. Maybe she should flatter him more often.

“Were you just watching Spike or did you actually do some fighting?”

“Hey!“

Dawn stuck out her tongue at Buffy. “Can I come with you again soon?”

Buffy was surprised. “I thought you’d gone totally off of Slaying! You haven’t wanted to come with in months!”

“Yeah, well, you’re in a way better mood now, and if Spike’s there I won’t cramp your style so much. You can take turns teaching and protecting me!”

Buffy opened her mouth to say: “But Spike has no time for patrol anymore” when she heard Spike agreeing readily. Oh. He had no time for her. She withdrew her hand from his thigh and busied herself with an ornery piece of wood, so they wouldn’t see the tears in her eyes.

Of course, that stratagem didn’t work with the annoyingly perceptive vampire. He put his hand on her shoulder and drew her close, softly kissing the top of her head.

“We’ll find the time soon, Nibblet. Can’t neglect your training. Big sis’ll want some nights off, now and then.”

Was she imagining it or did she actually hear a promise in his words? Her body certainly interpreted it that way, because it started tingling in all the right places. Spike started rubbing her back, something that might look innocent, but was actually sending the most wonderful thrills down her spine and was giving her goosebumps all over, the good kind.

“Right!” Dawn was saying, with this irritating understanding look on her face. “I’ll leave you to the, um, whittling then. Night!”

Yeah. But they actually whittled, and she’d once again gone to a lonely bed.

*******

In her dream, she climbed the winding chalky paths to the elevated place to prepare. She poured libations of oil and wine for the goddess, and dressed herself with care. First, the skirt of a thousand leather strips, then the headdress, the snake shaped armbands. Her breasts remained bare, and she lathered her skin liberally with sweet-smelling oil. When the moon had risen out of the wine-dark sea and stood high in the sky, she danced and sang for the goddess.

She lay down on the limestone altar for the sacrifice. Soon she perceived the approach of the sacrificial animal. She made the sacred gestures. The terrifying head with its golden eyes appeared above her, and they started the ritual mating. When she had worshiped the goddess with her pleasure, and the beast had spilled its seed, she staked him with the curved wooden stake that was part of the headdress. Carefully she scooped up some of the dust and mixed it in with the little mess of oil and wine on the divine statue. The slayer removed her sacrificial clothing, put on her plain linen pleated dress and went home.

Buffy woke with a gasp, body still tingling with pleasure. Another one of these weird dreams. She really couldn’t put off telling Giles anymore, but even making the decision in the safety of her own bed made her cringe. So not her favorite subject to discuss with Giles. She had better ask Spike to be there too, that would make it less scary and ooky than telling Giles alone. He should know anyway, him being a vampire and all. And hers, she hoped.

******

Buffy opened the door to Giles and Spike. She smiled at Spike behind Giles’ back. He smiled back cautiously. She directed them to the dining room. Seating them around the table instead of on the couch felt marginally safer, and it meant she could hide her hands. With a flourish, she produced bottle of scotch and three glasses.

“Buffy? What on earth are you going to tell me that rates whiskey? And a good brand too?”

“Hey, come on,” she pouted. “We’re all adults here, what’s wrong with a little booze after hours?”

She poured. When she shoved the third glass towards herself, Spike gave her one of his arched-eyebrow looks. “Not usually great on handling the strong liquor, are you, Slayer? Might not wanna pour yourself a double?”

“Since when are you the keeper of my conscience? Huh?” Actually she was feeling kind of warmed by his concern.

“Since the last time I held your miserable little head over a bleeding toilet bowl, remember?”

Giles took of his glasses and started to polish them. Bickering like children again. Reminded him of a certain spell long ago. He coughed.

“Well, Buffy, you called us here for a reason. And I’d also like to know why the rest of the gang wasn’t invited?”

Giles looked at the other two. Not that he hadn’t seen it coming, but he was a little surprised at being told so formally. Usually he would be the last one to know about boyfriend/girlfriend developments.

“Because it’s kind of icky and personal, I told you on the phone.” She took a deep breath. “I’ve been having these weird dreams. Starting before Christmas, but in the beginning I wasn’t that wigged, but they keep on coming. I dream of pre-historical slayers, or I think I do. They have these weird rituals and they kill vampires. Which would be normal for a slayer, but it’s how they kill them that bothers me.”

“Prehistorical?”

“Yeah. One of them is, like, a Stone Age Slayer, she runs around covered in nothing but her own hair and mud and grime. And another one, wears like a kind of hula skirt only not, and a kind of horned Viking helmet on her head, and she lays down on an altar before killing the vampire.”

“I still don’t understand why these dreams are so disturbing?” Giles asked, relieved. Slayer dreams he could handle.

Spike was looking at her intently, his brows knitting. Was he getting it already?

Buffy looked down at the table and took a hefty swallow of her scotch, making a face at the taste. “Here goes. They lure the vampires with their scent, you know, their own body fluids, if you get me” –she saw that Spike got it—“and then she has sex with them, and when they are at their most vulnerable, if you know what I mean, she stakes them.”

“Would you be surprised if I said ‘Ew’?” Giles looked very disturbed. Also he looked like a lot of things were finally falling into place. Spike had sunk back into his chair and looked neutral, staring at his hands. Not a good sign. He was wigging, not so surprising, she was pretty much going there herself.

“Well? Whaddya think? Portents? Omens? Prophecies?”

Giles and Spike shook their heads simultaneously. “No,“ Giles said. “Not prophecy. But something inside you working its way up into your consciousness. Something old. Something Slayerish.”

Spike was nodding. “I knew there bloody well was a risk with your aura unclenching, so to speak. You relaxed inside just enough to let this primeval stuff out.”

“I wonder,” Giles was saying, “why those ancient Slayers didn’t simply fight the vampires? They must have had the Slayer strength? No need to go to these lengths?”

Spike said impatiently:” Don’t be dense, Rupert. I’m sure the slayers got their own reward for doing it this way, right Buffy?”

“Very tactfully put, Spike. I didn’t know you had it in you!” He did get that she was teasing, right? Yeah.

Giles was starting to look thoroughly flustered by now. He was polishing those glasses for the second time in five minutes, a sure sign of agitation. “Reward? Oh. Reward, yes, um, right.” Embarrassment never stopped his brain from working, though; he threw her one of these penetrating glances and went straight for the sore spot.

“And this is just guessing, Buffy, but only vampires can give the Slayer a big enough…reward?” Buffy’s blush was answer enough.

“Not so odd then that a Slayer would love vampires, eh Buffy? All those pheromones and primeval urges being covered with layers of civilization and denial …” Why was Spike looking at her like that?

“That is so not true, Giles! I must have killed thousands of vampires, and there’s never been any hint of this stuff!”

“They do always go for you, love, instead of sensibly staying out of sight!” Spike offered.

Buffy rounded on him furiously. “That’s just because…because of this silly vampire obsession with killing Slayers! Like you had!”

“But Buffy, what else is that but the last remnant of these ancient rites? And really, I've always wondered you know. One vampire lover could be a fluke, but two? I’ve suspected ever since you told me about, um, Spike, that there must be some kind of magical pull or attraction between Slayers and Vampires.”

“That’s crap! Their being my lovers was based on personal attraction! Not unnatural prehistoric sex vibes! I would never fall for someone just for sex, I’m not that kind of girl!”

“No, no, of course not, I didn’t mean to imply that!” Giles hastened to reassure her. Spike sat there smirking at her. Wouldn’t a soul stop a person from smirking and looking disgustingly smug?

Giles downed his Scotch and poured himself and Spike another one. He got out Willow’s crystal ball from his bag and placed it in front of Buffy. “Well, Buffy, however disturbing it might be to have dreams like that, as long as they remain dreams this appears quite harmless.”

“That’s daft, Rupert. Of course this is not harmless. This is all a result of the bloody time travel and aura mixing. If she’s not careful, she’ll be taken over by these ancient Slayer personalities.”

The crystal ball started to glow softly, showing a rainbow of colors with a predominance of red and bordered by brown. Buffy hoped Giles and Spike hadn’t consciously noted the colors yet and tried to think of something really boring.

“Spike, why do your fear that Buffy will be a less effective warrior? I’d think that access to these ancient, um, capabilities, would make her even better.” Giles thoughtfully swirled the whiskey in his glass.

“Giles! Please tell me you’re not suggesting I start having sex with every vampire I have to slay?”

There was only one vampire she was going to have sex with. She inched her knee against Spike’s. Oh, crap, the ball. She withdrew her leg.

 

“Buffy’s right, Giles, that’s a bloody awful idea!” Spike said, reacting with satisfying alarm. Buffy couldn’t resist rewarding him with a smile.

The crystal ball flickered and turned brown, veined lightly with blue and orange. Giles turned a surprised look at Buffy.

She waggled her fingers at them. “Hi guys,” she said gamely.

“Hello, Buffy, very nice to see you again. How are things holding up in 1998?”

She stared at him, perplexed. “You seem so normal. Have you forgotten everything?”

Giles sighed, took of his glasses and rubbed his eyes, now regretting the second glass. “No Buffy, but that tired old cliche got its fame because it’s so true: time heals all wounds.”

And nothing against Jenny, but how long had they actually been involved? Not long enough to mourn her for six years! Giles was just opening his mouth to utter another platitude when the ball flickered again and turned colorful again. He noted the predominance of red with some amusement.

Buffy’s face immediately acquired a frown. “Giles, I want this to stop. The changes don’t seem dangerous, and the dreams don’t either, but it’s annoying the hell out of me. Not to mention having to lay out my emotions and stuff out for everyone to have a poke at.”

The two Englishmen grew poker faces.

Giles stood up to leave. “Just give me some time. Buffy, and I will think of a way to stop this. I’ve made an appointment with Anya to search the remains of the Magic Box for the Abyssinian chest, that might give us some clues. Right. I will leave you two alone then. Night!”

‘I’ll leave you two alone then?’ Giles said that? This couldn’t be real. Giles couldn’t just have given her tacit permission to be with Spike?

****

‘I’ll leave you two alone then?’ He must be hearing voices again. Giles, too? Spike closed his mouth with a snap.

Buffy had the same kind of expression on her face he imagined there had been on his. He stepped closer.

“Well? Talk to me, love!” he urged.

Buffy opened her mouth, but it took a while for actual sound to come out of it. “I don‘t know what to say. I don’t know what to do!” she said.

“Ten points for honesty. Now what?” He crossed his arms and stood waiting.

Buffy knew he’d leave if she didn’t come up with something quickly. “There could be TV and sitting on the couch watching it?”

She settled him on the couch, brought him a fresh glass of scotch. Cuddling up close, she asked. “There could be kissing?”

Ah. There was kissing. If you could call being totally covered by your vampire’s body and being practically devoured by his mouth still kissing. She came up for air, gasping. Spike levered himself up on his elbow and looked down on her, one hand loosely covering her breast. Buffy wiggled impatiently, willing him to go on. What was he waiting for? Oh, yeah, she had to ask.

Um? Spike, please grope me? Knead my breast? Feel my tits? How did people call these things? She’d never talked about them, they just happened. Mmmm…

“Spike? Please touch me all over with every part of your body that you want!” she said triumphantly. That covered everything, except maybe handcuffs, and she had a feeling that was not what he had in mind.

“That’s cheating!” he growled in her neck and took his hand off her breast. “You have to do better than that.”

“Aw, Spike, can we please forget the whole concept of dating and get on with it! You’re driving me crazy!”

“Sort of the whole point, love?” He pinched her nipple through her top, giving it a little twist, as always knowing exactly what would make her wild with lust. Okay. She’d had it. Enough with the mushy stuff already. She gripped his torso and flipped them over, no mean feat on a couch. Her hands were too small too grasp two of his, so she made do with his thumbs, and held them over his head. Her knees held his middle, and she used her other hand to push his gray T-shirt up. She’d do some nipple–twisting on that perfect marble chest, see if she could make him suffer.

The front door opened. Crap!

“It’s Dawn,” she said in resignation, and pulled Spike’s T-shirt down.

“It can’t be. I heard the nightingale.”

Huh? Not going insane again, she hoped. He looked okay.

Dawn stuck her head around the door. “You did use my absence for total macking, I hope?”

She was gone again.

“Making love in cemeteries is underrated, you know. You seldom get disturbed by sisters,” Buffy pronounced.

“If it’s good, it’s worth waiting for,” Spike said, caressing her cheek.

He seemed subdued suddenly.

“You okay? You seem a little…blue?” Buffy asked, teasing a lock of hair out of the gel. She preferred him curly. Mussed.

“My hands are dirty, and they will never get clean again,” he said somberly.

Buffy curled up on his chest. “I don’t know what to say to that,” she confessed. “Want to tell me stuff?”

“Maybe…” His hands moved restlessly over her back and shoulders. This was nice, this seemed so close to what he wanted, but really, wasn’t she still just after his body? Could she tell the difference? Could he? Was he too impatient? Should he see the tentative coming out in front of Dawn and Giles as the first step of more and better to come? He sighed. He was turning into Buffy, keeping everything in. He was just too afraid to let her see the yawning pit of neediness, afraid it would turn her off, as it always had.

Buffy sighed. She wished he’d talk, like he used to. She hadn’t been fond of the endless natter, but at least she had always known where she stood with him. Maybe she wasn’t the most sensitive person in the world, but even she could feel he was holding back. But what? She placed a soft kiss on his cheek and clasped him tighter. Holding him would have to do.

They were silent, lying quietly on the couch. The only sounds were white noise from lamps and appliances. Spike tightened his arms around Buffy. It felt so close, so real. He hoped it was.



Timeline: Season 2 (After Passions) and later in season 7

Rating: R

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You (7.2). In this universe, Buffy takes Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME

Feedback: dutchbuffy2305@yahoo.co.uk



Paint it Black (12)

The Slayer ran through the streets of the brightly lit town. Her pheromone signature trailed behind her like a flag, luring her prey from their holes. She wasn’t interested in the numerous fledglings that found her so irresistible. Her nose had sniffed out an old one, a truly dangerous predator, and he was what she aimed for tonight.

She stood still for a moment to shed her odd foot coverings. Her bare feet slapped on the tarmac, and then became soundless on the moist grass of the graveyard. The automatic, tingling response of her body to the proximity of prey became stronger. She tugged impatiently at the unfamiliar tight garments she was wearing, not recognizing the fastenings. She needed more bare skin to give off her scent, she was so clean and so covered, how would she lure the old one? They were always better at resisting her pheromone lure, and perhaps therefore the more rewarding to kill.

She jumped on a high structure to get a better view of the terrain. She saw moonlight gleaming on pale hair. That must be it! It was already coming in her direction! She jumped down and tore off her clothing. She rubbed herself hard, to get the scent going, and bound the stake in her hair. The dark shadow of the structure she had been standing on hid her nude form.

The vampire unerringly walked to the spot she was hiding. He also was covered completely in dark cloth. He opened his mouth and made speaking sounds, wearing his human mask, strangely enough. Did he think he was human still? She stepped in to the moonlight and wordlessly taunted him. She stroked her breasts lasciviously and circled him, giving him a good noseful of her irresistible odor. The vampire started backing off! How could he resist her? She tackled him to the ground, and started tearing of his coverings. He struggled half-heartedly, but was clearly very much aroused and ready for her, although his mouth kept on moving. She impaled herself on him and started making the sacred ritual for the offering. It was a very smooth, pale, pleasing vampire, whose hands knew exactly where to touch her to make her pleasure even greater. Still in human face!

She had never known pleasure so deep and so skillfully applied. It was hard to stay alert and keep the upper hand. At one moment the vampire even succeeded in flipping her over, pounding into her so deliciously that her pleasure almost overwhelmed her. She quickly turned them over again. The whole process of offering pleasure took him longer than any prey ever had, and when it finally came over him she was nearly exhausted from her own pleasure. The vampire didn’t make any attempt to bite her, even during his orgasm keeping on his mask. She whipped out the stake. His eyes widened in fear and understanding, but instead of fighting it he became limp and still. He looked in to her eyes with his blue ones, so strange, not golden, and spread his arms wide, offering her his smooth naked chest for her to stake.

The strangest feeling pierced the Slayer, like a heartache, like regret. She panted, unable to fight the feeling, unable to express it. She lifted the stake high regardless and slammed it down.

Only in the last possible second did Buffy manage to divert the stake and it stuck harmlessly in the sodden ground, bare millimeters from Spike's armpit.

Buffy was overwhelmed by panic, gasping as if she’d run a marathon, heart hammering in her throat. She had only the dimmest memory of the past half hour, save the last few moments, when she'd apparently been about to stake Spike -- in the middle of fucking him on the wet grass, in a cold dark graveyard? She slumped forward on his chest, clutching at him and unable to speak.

"Buffy!" Spike's voice was hoarse. "What the bloody hell just happened?'

Buffy sobbed until her ribs ached from the effort, and still she couldn’t stop the flood of tears. She started to answer Spike, but she was capable only of incoherent mumbling.

"Buffy, come on, love, it's freezing, we can't stay here. We have to get you home."

He put on her torn and muddy clothes as best as he could, not understanding why her jeans had been ripped in half.

"Where are your shoes?"

Buffy didn't remember at first. Her voice hardly worked. "I think I took them off, I didn’t understand heels, I thought I couldn't walk properly."

Neither of them had noticed the circle of onlookers, who had quietly slunk off into the night when the show was over.

It seemed a long time before they were home, and got showered and dressed. Spike had mostly carried Buffy home; her bare feet too damaged and bloody to walk on. He’d had to help her shower and get her clothes off, her hands clumsy and cold. Spike had even helped put her in a pair of ancient flannel sushi pajamas. Still shivering and with chattering teeth she crawled under the covers.

“Well?” she said to Spike, who stood hovering in the door. “Get out of these clothes and come on in! You must be turning to stone from the cold!”

He approached a few steps. “Buffy, I…” His eyes seemed so dark again, even though in the moonlight they had been blue.

“Please, come on in! I’m totally wigged, I don’t want to be alone and have another of these creepy dreams, please, Spike?”

Slowly he took off his tattered clothes and climbed in next to her. Buffy covered him with the comforter and put her arms around him tightly, getting as close as she possibly could. It took a while to warm up.

“Buffy…What happened? Why did you almost kill me? And why didn’t you?” His low voice thrummed against her hair. She rubbed her cheek against the smooth skin and hard curve of his collarbone.

“I think I was the Ancient Slayer, like in the dreams. I thought I was dreaming it, but it was real. I didn’t know it was you, and I couldn’t understand anything you said. I thought you weren’t speaking real words. I was going to kill you. It was my duty!” Hot liquid spattered against his chest.

Spike slid one hand under the soft old flannel of her pajamas, and started stroking her warm silky back.

“What stopped you?”

“I saw it was you, and I could never kill you…” she said on a hiccuping sob. His arms tightened around her.

“Buffy…”

Gradually the gestures of comfort and warmth became something else. Spike’s cold body turned warm against her, and Buffy started to feel uncomfortably hot. Her skin became unbearably sensitive, and the slide of flannel against it was torture. She threw off the covers and started unbuttoning her pajamas, tearing off a few buttons in her haste. Their mouths met, clumsily, nose bumping nose, as if they had never kissed before. It was blind, needy, and graceless. The art they had made with their bodies not a year ago seemed forgotten. This was a frantic tussle for bodily warmth and assurance, getting as physically close to the other as they could. Fear of death turned into the ancient act of creating life, instinct even for these supernatural creatures.

“I need you, Spike,” Buffy said plainly, staring fixedly in his eyes as he moved raggedly inside her.

“Buffy, I love you so much!” Spike croaked, undone.

They clung to each other, shivering and shaking, finally naked. Buffy could no longer stand the wash of that unknown, painful emotion, and hid her face in Spike’s neck. Spike felt himself falling as he spent, spiraling deeper and deeper down into a warm dark velvety space.

**********

Slowly Buffy climbed up out of a deep, foggy valley of sleep. She was so warm, so relaxed. Her nose was squashed against something that was smooth and good-smelling and slightly cooler than her own skin. Spike. Pecs of Spike. He was lying spread-eagled on his back, with Buffy draped bonelessly over him. With a little grunt of happiness she wriggled upwards, and put her cheek next to his.

His lashes fluttered and slid open languidly, revealing eyes that looked even bluer in the muted daylight that filtered through the curtains. The angle of the light was a little odd. She saw his eyes widen as he took in the situation.

“Buffy…” He sighed deeply.

She smiled widely at him, and there was a little doubtful frown between his eyebrows before he smiled back. Oh God. This must be the first time he’d ever seen her really really smile. His evident uncertainty gave her a twinge of guilt, and also of exasperation. She had to do something to make a change; her world hadn’t had enough Spike in it for a long time now. Any progress they’d make always dissipated into thin air between their meetings, and it was like they had to start all over again.

Spike turned on his side, keeping Buffy against him, and rested his cheek on one hand. He softly caressed Buffy’s cheek with the knuckles of the other hand.

“Good morning. Sleep well?”

“Never better,” Buffy said, leaning into his hand.

Spike swallowed. This meant so much. This was the stuff of dreams, waking up in Buffy’s bed, and she not kicking him out and giving him the wrong side of that tongue. Granted, she’d somehow almost killed him right before that, in a frightening trance state, so maybe she hadn’t quite been in her right mind when she invited him to stay. Any moment now things would start to change.

He’d been so determined not to let things get this far, not before some necessary things had been said. But of course he could never resist her, not really. He was hers, to do with as she saw fit.

“Spike, “she started. There it was. He steeled himself.

“I want you to stay. Here, with me.”

He nodded and started to fondle her breast, eyes down, head bowed a little in resignation. Never for him.

“Spike, wait a minute with that. You hear what I said? I want you to come live with me. I want to wake up like this every morning!”

This was so huge it left him speechless. She looked into his eyes earnestly.

“Whaddya say? Spike?”

“Buffy – do you love me then? You’ve not said—“He’d swear his heart was beating.

For a moment she looked away. “I don’t know, Spike. I do have feelings for you… All I know is that I’ve never woken up happier in my life, I love slaying with you, and I wanna do everything with you by my side. I don’t know what to call that. It’s not like what I felt for Angel. Does it matter?”

Yes. Yes, it did matter. For a moment the old bitterness rose up in him like gall. Always second, never first with anyone. Then a more reasonable voice took over, shushing the needy child. Cheer up, mate it said. She’s never shared this much with anyone, even if she did say she loved them. You’re getting the better deal. You’ll take care of her like they never did. Take your chances!

He took a deep breath. “Yeah,” he said, and his voice was shaking, and he needed her to hear it, “It’s a huge deal for me. Because I love you so bloody much. Because I’ve never wished for anything so hard as to hear you say you loved me back.”

Her hand tightened convulsively on his shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. ”I’ll…”

“Don’t ever lie to me, Buffy. Even if you know it will hurt!”

He hid his face in her hair, trying to blink away the tears.

Buffy said: “Please look at me, Spike? I know it’s not what you wanna hear, but we’ll be good together, I know we will.”

“Sorry to be so soppy…Just too bloody romantic for my own good.” It hurt to look at her.

Buffy kissed his wet cheekbones. “Don’t apologize. I like you romantic. It’s just that I’m not so much, even though a girl should really never say that.”

“You’re a hero. You can’t afford to be.” The disappointment was actually receding. In its place was rising this wonderful fizzy feeling, like a soft drink that had been shaken and would spout to high heaven if it was opened. He caught his lower lip between his teeth and pulled Buffy firmly against his belly, letting her feel how hard he was.

“I accept, Buffy. Now let’s negotiate!” he said to her, as seductively as he could.

“Negotiate?” The look on her face was priceless. It was utterly revealing. Westley, you commoner, you’ve received the hand of Buttercup, what’s to negotiate?

“Example: Where will I sleep?” Spike’s hand roamed over the creamy soft skin of her belly.

“I told you, in my bed!”

“See, that one was easy. Now this: how would you introduce me to your father?” A finger strayed down the crease of her hips.

“Not?”

“Wrong answer.” He pulled at a wiry curl.

Buffy squirmed. “But Spike, my dad will never actually…”

“How?” Rumbling in her ear, knowing that made her crazy.

 

“Dad, meet Spike?”

“Buffy!” A nip at her earlobe. She moaned softly.

“Dad, meet my boyfriend Spike?”

“Good girl, “he breathed down her neck, and his hand traveled lower.

“And what will you tell Dawn, and Rupert, and the rest of your little groupies?” Oh, the luscious bum on her!

“That you’re gonna live here and…”

“Just ‘here’?”

“…with me, and that we’re together…” she panted, as his fingers sought out her most sensitive spots.

“Very good. And if you’re having dinner with colleagues, who will you bring?” There was the slippery little nubbin…

“Ew! We never do stuff like that at my work!”

Spike withdrew his hand, and looked at her expectantly: ”Well?” he prompted.

“Okay, I would take you. How can you actually want that?”

“That’s not the point. I want to be your boyfriend in every trivial boring detail. I’ll buy you tampons…” He inserted his finger, to demonstrate his point.

“Ew!” She said. But she wiggled, too. “And double ew! Now I’m thinking of another reason for you to fixate on tampons!”

He grinned unrepentantly. “..Hold your head when you’re sick…”

“Great, bring that up again!”

“Um…” The feel of the hot buttery flesh of her thigh against him was too distracting.

“I’m glad you’ve run out of disgusting things to share with me…We’ve got better things to do. Hmm. Do that again.”

Spike slowly sheathed himself in her exquisite warmth, watching her close her eyes and her head fall back on the pillow.

“Oh yes, baby, yes...right there…harder…” Buffy calling him baby, Buffy talking, hot naked Buffy in her own bed…it was almost too much. He tried to distract himself.

“We haven’t talked about redecorating yet…” he panted, trying to slow down.

Buffy opened her eyes with difficulty and tried to focus.

“Redecorating? Aaaaaah…. I just redid this room! We’re not redecorating this room! Don’t stop!” She clutched his arse with her hot little hands, thank god she could not reach his balls in this position, that would be his undoing, she wrapped those strong legs around his thighs and started slamming herself against him, she never had any bloody patience, and if only he could hold on little longer…

Buffy watched him convulse and shudder helplessly. She’d wanted to watch him come; she’d never looked closely enough, certainly not in daylight. God, he was so beautiful. His eyes were squeezed shut tightly, a muscle in his jaw stood out in sharp relief. He was obviously trying not to make noise, very considerate of him.

“We should think about soundproofing,” she said, very short of breath. “And get thicker drapes. This is too risky.”

“Huh?” Spike sank down on Buffy; his arms had gone a little wonky. Oh. Decorating. He tried to summon decorating zeal. “Maybe the living room. Too bland.”

With his nose full of soft warm fragrant Buffy-skin he didn’t give a rat’s arse about Joyce’s middle-class American taste. There were more important things to do, such as burying himself in her sweet little quim, to give her a good seeing-to.

“The couch is saggy,“ Buffy admitted. Her hands tangled in his curls.

Spike lifted his head. “Shut it, Buffy. About the couch I mean.”

He concentrated on the pink slippery folds in front of him again, spreading her pearly liquid over her clit. Her thighs were already quivering, a certain sign of impending orgasm with Buffy. Sure enough, her hands were clenched in the sheets, head whipping silently back and forth on the pillow. Yes. He put fingers in her cunny, just so, pressing and rubbing the exact spot where it would do most good, licked her clit first softly, and then sucked a little harder. Her whole body tensed, then the long drawn out shudders of the aftershocks traveled through her.

Spike drew himself level with Buffy again and clutched her closely and possessively against his chest. She sighed, replete, her foot stroking his calf, her hands laced behind his back.

“I really really needed that. That was just so long ago…”

“You mean you faked it last night? Twice?” She did get he was teasing, right?

“What? No! I mean- that was different. This was like the real thing, the others were, well, one was just really weird, and the other…” Her brow furrowed. “What did you think of last night? I was so wigged, I didn’t even ask. What was it like? Could you tell the difference?”

“Well, yeah, the nakedness, and the mud, and the smell were kinda giving it away, you know.” Spike tucked a golden lock behind her ear and stroked her shining head.

“I smelled?”

Spike grinned at the look on her face. “The most alluring, bloody delicious scent I’ve ever smelled. I wouldn’t mind a bit if you always smelled like that. On second thoughts, don’t. Might draw unwanted visitors.”

Buffy seemed not at all appeased by this. “Unwanted visitors? Ew! Do you smell it right now? Is the house surrounded by slavering vampires?”

“Since it broad daylight, I s’pose we’re safe for now, but…”

Buffy sat up with a little shriek. “Daylight? Oh God, Spike, it’s two o’clock! My job! Dawn!”

“Come here, Buff, too late to go to work anyway. And Dawn is perfectly capable of going to school on her own. Stay!” He looked at her imploringly. Whatever she had said, she still might change her mind and kick him out.

She caved in quickly, settling back against him with a sigh. He reveled in her willingness to stay with him. Things really seemed different.

**********

Some well-spent time later they heard Dawn coming home.

“Spike! Quick! The door of my room isn’t locked, please go lock it!” Buffy panted, nose pressed in the pillows. Spike climbed off her with a shrug. Buffy turned her head to follow him with her eyes. He walked to the door completely comfortable in his nakedness, cock bobbing proudly in front of him. He was so beautiful, slender and sculpted like a Greek statue, only with a different size dick, thankfully.

Spike slapped her ass lightly. “Up with it, sweetheart, yes, that’s good, that’s it…”

“Hurry, baby, I have to talk to Dawn, and we have to go see Giles!” Buffy said, gasping.

“You want fast? I can do fast! Hold on, love…”

Buffy held on to the bed for dear life as Spike pounded into her brutally, reducing her to a squealing mass of jelly in no time at all. With a grunt he slid out of her and fell back on the bed, chest heaving.

“Was that quick or wasn’t it?”

Buffy flapped her hand weakly, unable to talk just yet.

*****

Dawn was in the kitchen when Buffy came down after their somewhat prolonged shower, doing homework. She greeted Buffy with a knowing look and a wide smile.

“I figured I’d better stay down here,” she explained, “What with all the squeaking and pounding going on!”

“Um, yeah, sorry about that.” Buffy sat down gingerly on a stool and eyed Dawn’s snack hungrily.

Dawn eyed Buffy’s slightly stiff, careful movements. “Don’t give me any details please, but it looks like you had a good time, finally. Hey, I told the principal you were sick. Don’t you just love me? And do you want me to make you some pancakes?”

“Dawnie, you’re the best sister ever. And I think you are way too young to have that look on your face!”

“Yeah, like you weren’t dating Angel at my age?”

Buffy grumbled something under her breath, but was too relaxed to make an issue of it. She was wolfing down the pancakes that Dawn was making, slathering them liberally with syrup, when Spike walked in, looking rather bashful and un–dangerous in Joyce’s old sweats.

“Spike!” Dawn squealed and jumped around his neck. “I’m so happy for you! Pancakes? And I bought you some blood on the way back from school!”

Spike felt quite touched, more than he liked to admit actually. “You’re a right sweet morsel, Bit. Ta, won’t mind if I do.”

Spike glanced at Buffy and gestured at Dawn. Did you tell her, his face asked. Buffy pointed at her full mouth. The look on Spike’s face indicated that Dawn should be told now. Buffy swallowed the last bit of pancake and moistened her lips.

“Um, Dawn? I asked Spike to come live with me?”

“Sure. On one condition.” Dawn didn’t even look up from the pancakes. “I want industrial strength earmuffs.”

****

Anya was just coming out of Giles’ front door when Buffy and Spike walked up. She looked a little flustered.

“Hey, Buffy, Spike, I’ve been helping Giles search the Magic Box. Bye!”

She practically ran off. Spike’s nostrils flared, but he kept his thoughts to himself. They went in the new apartment, which was rather overflowing with Giles’ as yet unpacked necessities, mostly crates of books.

“Giles!” Buffy called out sweetly. She quickly became impatient, however, and yelled: “Giles! Emergency!”

No Giles emerged. Spike drew Buffy towards the couch. “We’ll wait here, love, give the man some privacy.”

There were many pleasant ways to while away the time with one’s new girlfriend, and they were busy availing themselves of some of them, when they heard heavy footsteps coming down.

Giles coughed. “Emergency?”

Buffy and Spike flew apart before conscious memory could reassert itself.

“Hi Giles,“ Buffy said lamely. “I...we…had a pretty scary experience last night, and we needed to talk to you about it.”

“Last night? So this emergency occurred at least twenty hours ago? Humph. Drink anyone?”

Spike accepted readily, but Buffy declined. “Do you British people ever not drink?”

“No, not really. If we were at home, we’d be over at our regular already.” Giles sloshed in good measures of scotch in two glasses.

“Regular what? Bar?”

“Pub, actually. A wonderful institution that I sorely miss.” Giles settled himself on the couch, looking and smelling freshly washed. “Cheers! Now tell me, Buffy.”

“Spike? You first?” Buffy asked, blushing before the fact.

“Coward!” he said, but started nonetheless. “I was out for a stroll last night, doing nothing in particular. Suddenly I got this compulsion, this urge to go in a certain direction. Bleeding irresistible scent, couldn’t stop myself. And then I found Buffy, starkers, smeared with mud and whatnot. She shook her tits at me, jumped me, shagged me three ways to Thursday, and then almost staked me. With this creepy absent look in her eye. Tried to talk to her, but the premises were vacant, mate, nobody home. At the absolute last sodding second Buffy got back, and that’s why I’m not dust, I’m sure.”

Giles touched his nose absently, as if looking for his glasses. “Buffy? Eerily reminiscent of your recent Slayer dreams?”

“I’ll say!” Spike said derisively. “Rupert, mate, this is what I’ve been fearing from the moment go. This aura relaxing stuff that’s been going down has given this primitive spirit or what have you access to Buffy! We need to know how she can defend herself against it. Don’t wanna get staked by accident in my sleep!”

“Why would Buffy stake you in your bedroom? Never mind!” Giles added hastily, as his own brain provided a belated answer.

“Bufgfy, how did you experience this?”

“Well, I pretty much experienced totally nothing until I found myself naked in a graveyard, about to stake Spike!”

“Yes, I’m sure that’s never happened to you before.” At Buffy’s look: “It’s called sarcasm, Buffy. Have you no memories of what went on prior to the staking incident?”

“Not really memories…vague impressions, maybe. I didn’t understand my shoes, so I tore them of, I didn’t understand zippers or bra’s, I couldn’t understand what Spike was saying. I knew he was this old vampire, and that he was my prey. And all the others didn’t interest me. Oh God! Giles! There were dozens of vampires there! They must have been drawn to me by the odor too, and they were watching! They were watching while Spike and I – “

“Shagged?” supplied Spike helpfully.

“I’m sure Giles got that one, Spike. No need to spell it out!” Buffy hissed and elbowed him in the ribs.

“Fascinating! You did mention leaving, um, clues to lure your prey to you in the dreams. But apparently the Slayer manufactures a special pheromone! And it drew other vampires as well? Could you turn it on right now, Buffy?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Emphatically, no! And even if I could, it would be…”

Spike was laughing his head off. “…bloody embarrassing, Rupert. I am a vampire, remember?”

Giles ran his hand though his hair. “I see your point. We’ll have to take, um, precautions of some kind, then…”

Spike shook his head. “You’d have to tie us up and knock us out, three counties apart, and even then…I’m talking truly irresistible, you have no idea, like blood, like honey, like mother’s milk... And if you did it at night, you’d have half the vampire population of Sunnydale on your doorstep.”

“Only half?” Buffy pouted.

Giles checked his watch. “Why don’t we call a meeting tomorrow? To my great surprise I’ve actually found, with Anya’s help, the amulet the other Buffy was talking about. We could do research, try some trances with Buffy, see if we can call this spirit, or whatever it may be, up at will, or control it?’



Timeline: Season 2 (After Passions) and later in season 7

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You (7.2). In this universe, Buffy takes Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME

Feedback: dutchbuffy2305@yahoo.co.uk



Love me tender (13)

The mood of anticipation that had made his working hours bearable, dissipated and turned into cold dread the closer he came to Revello Drive. Spike stopped on the sidewalk some distance from the house, out of range of mortal eyesight or hearing. God, he’d become a massive wanker. She’d invited him to come live with her, right? So, if he knocked on her door after work, with a change of clothes and a bouquet of roses, he’d be welcome, right? Why couldn’t he be sure of that? Was it him, or had he picked up on Buffy’s own uncertainties? He walked a little further, dragging his steps, until he gave up and sat down on the sidewalk.

They had been just fine, in bed, holding each other, but then that had always worked. That he totally did it for Buffy, and vice versa, well, check! But every other conversation or encounter these past weeks and months had ended in frustrated silence or outright fighting, and that was really worrying him. They were so different. Slaying and shagging together was magic, but talk? Doing ordinary things with Buffy? He’d yet to see that work out.

He really couldn’t stand himself like this. He didn’t think that Buffy could, either. Waffling and fluttering like an old maid, or one of these ridiculous watcher blokes. Pull yourself together mate, he chided himself. No such thing as hundred percent certainty in life. You’ve gotta try! He stood up, squared his shoulders and walked on to number 1630. The house was dark, save for Buffy’s bedroom window. Should he climb in? Would she think that was romantic? She’d claimed not to be.

Spike ground his teeth in frustration. This wasn’t going anywhere. He knew he should just breeze in, kiss her until she squealed and make love to her all night long. But he’d promised himself there would be no lies, and asked the same of her. She would just have to deal with his doubts. He went in.

Buffy was lying in bed, waiting for her lover. That thought had a wonderful ring to it. Her beautiful demon lover, now complete with brand new soul, would come in, sweep her off her feet and make love to her all night long. She was lying here, in a freshly made up bed, showered and scented, in her most seductive silk nightie, ready for him. Shouldn’t he have been here already?

This was gonna be something. Better than last night, which’d had too much fear and mud and stink mixed in with the wonderfulness. She stretched her toes and fingers like a cat when she thought of the look on Spike’s face when it had finally penetrated she meant it (and the embarrassing crying had passed). That was the Spike she wanted, happy adoring Spike, who couldn’t believe his luck. She started flashing on other moments when she’d seen that look. When he’d seen her return from the dead, or in the derelict house, their first time …Buffy twisted under the covers. Why wasn’t he coming yet? She was totally ready for him!

She heard the door open and slow steps come up the stairs. Her heart sank, and a dismal choking feeling squeezed her lungs. Somehow, this did not sound like happy Spike bounding in. He entered her room slowly, again hovering in the door like last night. His entrance brought in a smell of cool night air mixed with motor oil. He just stood there staring at her with his eyes dark blue, saying nothing.

Buffy finally broke the silence.

“Well, come in, Spike! What are you waiting for?” She winced. That had come out a little less welcoming than she intended. She patted the bed, and tried to smile encouragingly. It felt a little strained and anxious though.

Spike dropped his bag and sat down heavily on the bed. He looked tired and his shoulders slumped. Buffy felt her own posture sag in response to his. This was clearly not going to be happy sex-fest but a Talk. She hated Talks. She never managed to say what she meant in the right way, so usually she made things worse. And with Spike, so far, she had always made things very much worse…

She scooted up to him and put her arms around him. Maybe an armful of warm girlfriend-flesh would make him feel better. Spike sighed deeply and put his forehead against hers.

“Buffy,” he started hesitantly, “You sure this is wise? Is this gonna work at all? It’s all been so bloody sudden…”

She jerked away from him “What? You changed your mind? You fall out of love with me today or what!?”

“Buffy, no…” He made a helpless gesture. His humble dejected air annoyed her no end.

“What’s with the hangdog look? You just radiate misery! After this morning, I didn’t expect you to come in here like this! You were happy! I was happy! And now this!”

“Yeah, well, maybe that’s because I’m an actual bleeding person, with my own feelings and motivations, and not some sex-robot who acts exactly like you sodding want it to!” His tone was getting louder, and that irritated her even more.

“You act like a bad copy of yourself! You used to be the kind of guy who used to go down fighting!”

“This is going sodding down, then?” Spike sprang up and started shouting, goaded into anger.

“No, I meant, where’s the bounce and the snark?

“You bloody well kicked them out of me, Buffy! I know you preferred the original version, you made that crystal clear, but you tormented him and beat him up and told him a thousand times he was evil and unclean until he believed it. You changed that Spike, Buffy, and I am the result of that change! And you’ll bloody well have to live with it!”

To his utter shock he discovered he was standing close to her with his hand raised. He thought he’d never ever be able to hurt her again, and here he’d been about to hit her, in the first trivial squabble that came along!

“No I don’t!” was on Buffy’s lips, but she managed to hold the fatal words in. She bit her lip and looked away from him. How had they progressed this far into a fight in so short a time? And what were they fighting about? She looked up, and saw him standing by the door, ready to leave.

“Spike,” she said, trying to sound reasonable, “where are you going?”

“Buffy, I almost hit you,” he said raggedly. I’m not fit to be around you, I’ll hurt you again.”

“Yeah, so what? We’re a couple, couples fight, no big.” There was a tremor in her voice.

“I doubt we’re a couple, Buffy.” His voice was hoarse. “There are so bloody many issues still between us. And living together is maybe a little premature.”

“No, it isn’t!” Buffy said firmly. She climbed off the bed and took a few purposeful steps towards him. “Spike, with our schedules, we never see each other. If we don’t live in the same house, and sleep in the same bed, there’s gonna be nothing good to balance all the bad memories. I wanna make new ones. I know we have to talk about stuff, the awful soul-searching stuff, only not now.”

Spike looked up, surprised at the certainty in her words. Buffy grabbed his arms and drew him towards the bed.

“Buffy, we just had a bloody awful fight. You can’t expect me to sleep here?”

“Yes! You live here now, remember? My mom told me never to let the sun go down on my wrath, so we’re gonna make up and sleep together!”

Spike sat down again, not as close as he had before, and ran his hand through his hair. He felt confused. Buffy was giving off so many mixed messages, the only ones coming through loud and clear were ‘you live here’ and ‘sleep in my bed’.

“Spike, I’ll say again, we’re together. People fight. That doesn’t mean you leave the house after every little misunderstanding!”

Buffy knelt down at his feet and started to undo his boots. Spike stared at her, bemused by her actions. A hitherto hidden aspect of Buffy’s personality? Maybe Willow was right, and she had needed a little infusion of the touchy-feely. This was not something he’d ever imagined his stern warrior doing.

“Come on, we’ll get you out of your clothes and in bed. You look tired, you need to sleep!”

Spike looked at Buffy’s pretty nightgown. “Not what you had in mind for tonight, huh?”

She pushed him hard, so that he toppled over on the bed. “Stop already with the self-flagellation, no more of it. You will sleep like a baby tonight, surrounded by five feet two inches of warm Buffy-therapy.”

Once Spike was undressed, he started to tug at Buffy flimsy nightdress. “Off with it, sweetheart. I want to feel your skin.” Buffy smiled happily. The resilient lover was returning. They crawled under the covers, and Spike nestled his head against Buffy’s soft silky breasts. She started gently teasing his curls out of their gelled rigidity, mindlessly stroking his hair and even scratching him behind his ears like a dog.

“Should I wag my tail, love?” Spike asked lazily.

“There’s no bad in that…”

Buffy had been right. Now that he lay in her arms, surrounded by the smells of her skin and hair, he could hardly remember what obstacles he had been agonizing about mere moments ago. All anxiety just seemed to drain away into nothingness.

*****

Next day they went to pick up Spike’ stuff from Xander’s in Joyce’s SUV. Spike drove. Xander wasn’t in, and they quickly packed Spike’s few possessions. When Xander walked in, Spike was standing by the television, sorting DVD’s.

“Hey Spike, not working yet?”

“Just packing my things, Xander, I’m moving out.”

Xander’s mobile face showed surprise. “You found a place?”

Just then, Buffy’s voice called out from Spike’s room: “Spike, are the sheets yours or Xander’s?”

Xander’s eyes bulged and his mouth gaped like a fish. Spike had not expected this amount of shock. Most of the other Scoobies had twigged to him and Buffy ages ago, apparently, and it rather surprised him that Xander hadn’t. Yay to the great force of denial.

Buffy came in, carrying a box full of stuff. “Hi Xander,” she said brightly, but Spike easily detected the underlying brittleness.

Xander was regrouping. “So, Buffster, taking him off my hands again? Does he prefer the basement?”

Buffy went up to Spike and cleared her throat. “Spike’s not gonna live in the basement, Xander. He’s gonna live with me, like in we’re together.”

Xander took in the tableau, Buffy standing close to Spike, holding his hand.

“Oh no! This can’t be true! Please tell me it’s not true!” Xander begged.

“Sorry Xander. Well, no, I’m not sorry.” Buffy lifted her chin and faced Xander determinedly.

“Buffy, I don’t get it. Why would you tie yourself to a demon? A vampire? Never go out in the sunlight, kids, a life?”

“I was never going to get that anyway. Slaying is my life, Xander; it’s time I got used to that. Can you even imagine how lonely that is? Spike will be there for me, slay with me. He understands what it’s like.”

“Yeah, don’t mention the whole sex with vampires part, it might gross Xander out! You bet it does! How can you? After what he did to you!”

“Xander, that is for me to decide. You’re not the judge of me.”

Xander backed up a step and took a deep breath. He lifted his hands. “Buffy, I don’t know how to say this—“

Spike felt Buffy tense up.

“—but I guess it’s your call.” He seemed deflated. “Congratulations, Spike. You got the girl.” He moved to the kitchenette with heavy tread and opened the door of the refrigerator. “Beer, anyone?”

Spike nudged Buffy to indicate that she should accept. She guessed she shouldn’t spoil Xander’s gesture.

“Sure, I’d love a beer!” she said.

After a few beers, Xander helped them get Spike’s stuff to the car. At the last moment, Xander snatched the cowboy hat from the stand and put it on top of the box Spike was carrying.

“Why did Giles give you a white hat?” Buffy asked curiously. She tried it on, but it was far too big.

“Pretty straightforward symbolism, Buff!” Spike said. “I changed the color of my hat, in Western terms.”

“Aha!” Enlightened. “Thanks, Xander, see you tomorrow!” She lifted her chin to him because she was too burdened to wave.

“Live long and prosper!” Spike said.

Xander’s hand shot automatically out in the Vulcan salute, but under Buffy’s amused gaze, he changed it in mid-gesture to a quick run through his hair.

“So happy to know just what you guys were up to together,” Buffy said with a wink. Spike’s grin seemed to remain hanging in the hallway after he had left, like the Cheshire Cat’s.

 *****

Buffy checked herself in the mirror for the last time. Check! She drank some water from the tap. She took another last look in the mirror. Hair still good. She walked up and down the bathroom a few times, shaking her arms and hands loose, rotating her neck and shoulders. Hose: no ladders. Cleavage: discreet but inviting. Was the hair really okay? Not too contrived?

This was so hard. She didn’t think she’d ever been more scared in her life. She sat down on the rim of the bath. A momentary queasiness in her stomach needed a few minutes to settle down. Another look in the mirror. O God. This screamed ‘glammed up’. She ran into her bedroom, changed into old jeans and a sweatshirt and put her hair up in a ponytail. That lipstick was far too red. She took it off and replaced it with gloss. Her hands were like ice.

She closed her eyes and counted to ten. No more putting off. The decision was made. She went down the stairs slowly and walked towards the sound of voices. The whole gang was assembled round the dinner table, which was completely obscured by stacks of books and Willow’s notebook and its various cables. Nobody looked up when she came in. She sauntered round the table. Very, very casually she put her hands on Spike’s shoulders. She leaned forwards, into him, as if to see what he was reading and said:

“Hi guys, any progress?”

“Hello Buffy, no news yet,“ Giles said distractedly.

Nobody noticed, or anyway, nobody reacted. Buffy felt deflated. She started to knead Spike’s shoulders. No reaction, not even from Spike, who surely might have showed his appreciation of the huge step she was taking. She grew bolder, put her arms around Spike and started nibbling his ear. He twisted his head away from her lips.

Xander glanced up. “Leave the man alone, Buff,“ he chided her good-naturedly. “We’ve got a lot of work to do tonight.”

Spike patted his leg, without looking up, indicating that she might sit there. Buffy sat down on his left leg, and his arm snaked around her securely. She received a short sweet nibble in her neck, and then felt his attention return to his book. Was she going insane? No, everybody else must be! Here was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, sitting on the lap of her vampire, in public, for the very first time, and nobody even deigned to notice?

She tried a book, but although everything else in her life might have changed, her ability to concentrate on arcane texts hadn’t improved, and she started to fidget.

“Buffy, sit still, “Spike growled into her hair. The vibrations of his deep voice set off a pleasant thrill down her neck, and she shivered slightly. She put her arm around his shoulders and started to play with the soft curls at his nape.

Spike stood up abruptly, steadying her when she almost fell down.

“We’re going for pizza,” he announced. “State your preferences, ladies and gents.”

He took her by the hand and pulled her out the front door very fast, stopping only to haul her behind the big tree that had seen so much.

Spike pushed her against the tree and proceeded to kiss her thoroughly, leaving her gasping for breath. Buffy pushed him away from her slightly, and complained into his T-shirt: “Nobody noticed! I was so scared, and nobody even saw what I did!”

Spike laughed happily, a sound so unusual she looked up in wonder. “They noticed alright, never fear! Their breath hitched, their toes curled, their goolies shrank to the size of raisins! They just didn’t want *you* to see their reaction, is all. And I don’t think Giles or Willow were surprised.”

“Hm. Xander knew, too.”

“Yeah, so who were you trying to shock? All this fear and clammy hands were for whom exactly?” He started nibbling the sensitive skin behind her ears.

“You, I guess.” She looked down on his curly head ruefully. “I thought you’d be really surprised, and pleased, and happy.”

“I am. What did you expect? You wanted me to ravish you right then and there?” He sucked her neck hard, making her tingle from lust.

“Well, yeah, a little ravishing would have been nice,” she said breathlessly.

“You have but to ask, my lady.” He tore at her sweatshirt, managing only to rip it slightly at the neck.

‘’Tough old thing, not like you usually wear,’‘ he muttered. Buffy giggled.

The front door opened. “Hey!” Dawn yelled. “No macking! We’re hungry!”

They froze for a moment, but minutes later they still stood there mindlessly rubbing and pushing their bodies together, Spike leaning against the tree and Buffy on tiptoe against him.

“Spike…” she breathed. “Come on, not here. We gotta do better than this tree. Reminds me of the past”.

“Some of my favorite memories are in the past, love. Like making you scream the first time.”

A visceral memory rose up in Buffy and made her womb quake. ”Aahh.”

Spike caught her even closer against him and rumbled in her neck. “Yeah. That good.”

Buffy tried to tug him towards the street. “One word: pizza.”

His hand moved enticingly around in her jeans, causing a catch in her breath and a quiver in her thighs. “One word: cell phone,” he said, holding it up. “We can stay here, release some tension, and intercept the pizza-boy when he gets here…”

“Brilliant plan.”

*******

"Your pizza-delivery has arrived!" Buffy announced. To her surprise, the big table in the dining room was empty of the books and computer stuff it had been covered with when they left.

Giles eyed the stack of pizza boxes Spike was carrying. "Beware of vampires, even if they come bearing gifts…" he murmured. Willow and Spike grinned appreciatively. The others, recognizing a reference that went straight past them, rolled their eyes collectively.

"The geek-o-meter is beeping loudly, eh Buffy?" Xander said.

"Yeah, the team seems about evenly divided between brains and brawn!" Buffy answered.

"Some of us are more well-rounded and have both!” Giles retorted huffily.

"Yeah, like Spike!" Buffy squeezed a well-rounded bit of brawn appreciatively.

The bell rang, and Buffy opened the door to Anya. She started to babble nervously as she followed Buffy into the dining room. “I ran into Giles, completely by accident, and he invited me to come.”

“Sure,” Buffy said with a shrug, “You’re part of the team, right? Besides, you know a lot about these Justice Demons, we need you.”

Anya patted her hair, smiled at everyone and maneuvered herself next to Giles. “So, what have you got?”

Giles handed her the amulet. She studied it curiously. “Yes, that does look like a Justice Demon amulet. Maybe I’ve even seen it before, a long long time ago. But it’s cracked, which means its owner is dead, and so we can’t call her up to undo the wish.”

“But Anya, you said I couldn’t have killed it!” Buffy protested.

“Something did,” Anya said, indifferently.

"Buffy and Spike, this confirms the conclusions we formed while you were away. Willow and I think that the change in your aura is something you will have to accept, and learn to work with. Even if it was meant as a threat to your functioning, so be it. The deeper emotions and the appearance of a stronger Slayer Spirit can be diverted in a positive way in your work, I’m sure."

Buffy slapped her hand on the table. “Unacceptable! I want it stopped.” All eyes turned to her. “Don’t look at me like that! I’m the victim here!”

“Welcome back, Buff!” Xander said. “You’ve been a little distracted all evening, what with the happiness, and the…thing Willow won’t let me talk about…and the getting of pizza …”

“Buffy, what exactly do you want stopped? I see no adverse affects of whatever happened at all?” Willow said curiously.

"No? But you've all heard what happened two nights ago! I can't risk that again!"

"What do you think the risks are, then, Buffy?"

Buffy had to think for a moment. “The time travel has got to stop. I wanna be here and nowhere else.”

The naked, tender look Spike directed at her made her squirm in embarrassment, and she lost the thread of her words. Xander and Giles exchanged identical revolted glances.

“And the whole Slayer Spirit smelly stuff is just way too squicky to live with.”

“Explain please?”

"Duh! Me acting like fly paper to whatever vampires come near me, or me accidentally staking Spike when I'm not in my right mind!"

From the looks on their faces, she guessed Giles had put it less baldly when explaining it to them.

"I guess both options would be less than… optimal," Willow conceded with a grimace.” However, what we mean, Buffy, is that the trance is something you should learn to control. You wouldn’t have to be afraid of changing in to the First Slayer or traveling through time."

"You think it’s the same thing?"

"Probably the same mechanism; you open up to a spirit from another time: one is the Slayer Spirit, that is present in every slayer; the other your own spirit from 1997." Willow said it as if it was self-evident.

"Oh. So how am I gonna control them both? "

“There must be some kind of access point in your psyche where you contact them. Best sever the link with your former self; she has had a positive effect on you, but I don’t think you need her anymore.” Giles spoke with the same assurance Willow had displayed.

"Are you sure it's positive? Shouldn't we reverse the effects? The intention may have been to harm her?" Spike said, looking concerned.

"You really want last year's Buffy back? Depressed, distanced from everyone, unhappy?” Giles asked, frowning.

No, obviously, he bloody well didn’t want that. He was too ridiculously happy right now.

The preparations for the trance began. Willow and Giles apparently had it all thought out. Chains played a large role in it; he and Buffy were going to be tied up, to prevent what Giles euphemistically called the ‘Slayer Effect’. Not his favorite way to use chains, but if putting on a performance in front of the Scoobies could be avoided, not a high price to pay.

 

“Okay, Buffy, it goes like this.” Willow explained. “You sit there, do your relaxation stuff, same as Giles taught you, and then try to call the Slayer Spirit. It doesn’t really matter what words you use, but you have to remember them and use the same ones every time.”

“How about ‘Rise, ancient slayer spirit, and obey my will?’” Dawn suggested.

“Pretty dramatic – but why not? Don’t forget: you’ll need ‘Be gone’ as well!” Giles reminded Buffy.

Buffy closed her eyes and started her breathing exercises. The chains were a little uncomfortable, but she managed to block their presence them out easily. All those hours of practicing with Giles were being put to good use after all. She used an image of descending stairs to reach a deeper level of trance. This time her mind showed her the downstairs of Spike’s crypt, as it had been before she destroyed it, instead of their own basement. Through the trance, she felt slight amusement at the tricks of her own subconscious, as if she didn’t know what it meant.

She lay down on Spike’s bed, envisaged a hole forming in the wall, and used Dawn’s silly words to summon to the Ancient Slayer. At first, nothing happened. Then she was hit by something slamming in to her at great speed, and then she was running after it, and it was too fast for her to catch.

To the Scoobies who sat anxiously watching Buffy breathe deeply, the change was immediately apparent. Buffy tensed up, hunching over a little in the chains. Her chin went down, her eyes opened and then narrowed, and her lips split in a feral grin. Her head swiveled like an automaton in Spike’s direction, even before her eyes were fully open. A low growl escaped her and her nostrils flared. She bucked at the chains, and only then seemed to notice the others in the room. She didn’t seem to understand, and couldn’t or wouldn’t speak. For some time, she kept trashing and wrenching at the chains fruitlessly. Then she stilled, somehow ominously. She kept her chin low and glared at Spike from under her brows, which seemed heavier than Buffy’s.

Spike made a strangled sound. The ordinary humans in the room turned their heads to him. His eyes had rolled up in his head, and he was straining at the chains just like the Slayer, bucking his hips in her direction. His teeth were bared, and the tendons in his neck stood out like ropes. He managed to overturn the chair and with tortuous movements of his knees, and jackknifing his body, he inched forward to the threatening form of the Slayer.

“Giles! What do we do! Will the chains hold? Do something!”  Xander was panicking. The tension between the two writhing figures was thick enough to cut with a knife, and it was very uncomfortable to watch.

“Yes, yes, hold on, give me moment...” Giles nearly stuttered and with careful movements placed himself in range of the Slayer’s vision, whilst staying out of Spike’s reach.

“Buffy, listen to me!” he then said in a wholly different, commanding voice. ”I know you are in there. Tell her, Be gone! She is part of you and therefore subject to your will! Tell her, Be gone!”

A terrifying sound, half growl half scream issued from the mouth of the Slayer. She threw her head backwards and with a convulsive jerking movement of her body toppled the chair. She hit her head on the floor with a thud. Silence followed.

Spike stopped struggling and crawling forwards and could be heard to say caustically: “Well, people, what are you waiting for? Some help here would be nice!”

Xander went to turn up Spike and his chair. Giles and Willow bent over Buffy. She lay silently looking up at them, a very grim look around her lips.

“Okay, really scared here now. Tell me what you saw?”

They helped her up first. Giles tried to put into words what they had seen of the so-called Slayer-effect.

“What did it feel like, Buffy?”

Buffy described the sensation of running after the Slayer, and being unable to catch up with her until Giles’ voice had sounded.

“Running through you, eh?” Giles said thoughtfully. “I think we can work with that visualization. You will have to imagine restraining her inside your body, not letting her through. If you want to use her ferocity in a fight, you will need her inside, one being with yourself. Temporarily. Let’s try again.”

Buffy looked unhappy, but didn’t protest. “One thing guys, did you smell anything?”

Nobody had. Buffy looked relieved.

“Spike? You?”

Spike raised his eyebrows. “Hell, yeah…Don’t you remember what I did?”

Suddenly Giles clapped his hand to his forehead. “I am such a blithering idiot! Spike will need to learn to control his reactions, too! Otherwise he’ll be no use in a fight alongside Buffy!”

Spike groaned. “You’re right, Rupert. Bollocks. Really not my thing, trances and suchlike.”

Teaching Spike basic trance techniques took some time. After several more tries Buffy was getting reasonably good in restraining the Spirit Slayer, although they still would have to test her in a fight. Spike could just barely control his mindless urge in the Slayer’s direction, and it took all his will and concentration. Fighting while the First Slayer was in residence would have to wait.

Dawn had long since gone to bed, and the others slumped on the couch in various poses of fatigue.

“You know, Spike, if I could stop the smell from starting up we could fight together with the help of the Slayer.”

“Sounds like a bloody brilliant idea, Buffy, starting and stopping that heavenly fragrance at will…” Spike said, and waggled his tongue at her suggestively.

Buffy was too tired to blush. “How can you even think of that, I’m totally beat.” She sagged in her chair, still chained, and yawned hugely.

Abruptly she sat up and called out, her voice sounding not at all tired anymore, ” Hey! Why am I chained up? Let me out, now!”

It took the weary Scoobies longer than usual to catch up.

“Is this young Buffy?” Giles asked, rubbing his eyes tiredly.

“Duh! You used to be quicker on the uptake, Giles! Getting old-agey on me?”

“I suppose so,” Giles admitted with a sigh. He supposed there could be no rest for him just yet. He sat down next to still chained down Buffy from 1998 and explained their suppositions and findings to her.

“I think I understand. Okay. Teach me to stop switching forward in time, now, while I’m still here.”

Giles sagged. “It’s been a really long night for us, Buffy. Could we…?”

When he saw the steely resolve in her eyes, he gave up. He cleared his throat and prepared a long exposition about trances. Spike coughed to get his attention and said: “Go on, Rupert, go stretch your legs and make yourself a nice cuppa. I’ll get her started.”

Giles escaped gratefully. When he returned a little later, refreshed by some fresh air and holding a good strong cup of tea in his hand, Buffy and Spike were deep into breathing exercises. Giles watched in the door opening without announcing his presence. Spike was a relentless taskmaster, and put young Buffy through her paces again and again, until he was satisfied. It was a peculiar sight, because they were both of them still chained up.

“Spike, I’m back. Where are Willow and Xander?”

“Freshening up, raiding the kitchen, that sort of thing. Let’s get on with it, the quicker she gets the hang of this, the sooner I’ll be in bed…” His face changed. “Bugger. It’ll be the cot for me until the real Buffy gets back, innit? Bugger.”

“Hey!“ Buffy said, with some alacrity. “My aim is to please, namely, never to return here! Don’t blame me!”

After several slowly improving attempts at trances they felt Buffy was ready to try out returning to her own time.

“Spike, be ready,” Giles warned. “This might go wrong; the Spirit Slayer could come through. If that happens, let’s see you command her to depart, you’ll be the one close to Buffy most of the time.”

Young Buffy went into trance. Out loud she said: “I’m leaving now for my own time.”

And she did. The moment regular 2003 Buffy returned she wilted visibly. “Giles, I want to be untied now. I slayed five vampires in the past, and I was already really really tired, I can’t take any more tonight.”

“Thank God,” Giles said, “I thought you’d never stop. I’m so glad you’re back. The young you has this incredible amount of bouncy energy, enough to drive a fellow around the bend.”

Spike added. “Not to mention a sister, two friends and a vampire.”

The Scooby gang, no longer able to sustain a late night as well as when they were sixteen, gratefully departed.



Timeline: Season 2 (up until Becoming) and later in season 7

Rating: R

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You (7.2). In this universe, Buffy took Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME

Feedback: dutchbuffy2305@yahoo.co.uk



Love me true (14)

Both Spike and Buffy had had to call upon their considerable powers of persuasion when Giles expressed a desire to accompany them the next time the Slayer Spirit was tested in battle. Buffy planned to make good use of whatever the Slayer had to offer her, and Giles’ presence might just get in the way. She prepared in the middle of an empty graveyard (well, full of dead people of course, but not the kind that was walking around, right now). Buffy took a solid, centered stance, and closed her eyes, very much aware of Spike’s presence a few feet away.

She summoned the Slayer Spirit, and successfully kept both the Spirit and herself inside her body. Her perception of the night changed. The wind brought many smells, and with these, information. The terrain unfolded itself to her as cover, dangerous openness, good running, possible trap. Immediately she sensed the presence of vampire prey far off, and Spike loomed large on her inner radar screen. Close, ominous, and very, very alluring. Her body told her what to do with him, fuck, immobilize, kill. She tried to push the presence down, to overlay her own personality on the worldview of the First Slayer, and slowly the urgency receded, while keeping the extra information at her fingertips.

She turned to speak to Spike, and was again overcome by a wave of lust and at the same time, the aching desire to kill him. She ground her teeth and pushed hard at the First Slayer, and she knelt down, grumbling, in the dirt at the bottom of Buffy’s mind.

It took several tries to get the words out. “Let’s go, baby. A group of baddies in that direction.”

Spike’s eyes were glazed and he gargled a little instead of speaking, but he motioned her to go on. Slower than usual, they made their way over to their prey. When Spike accidentally swung his hand against Buffy’s hip, it set off a chain reaction of tiny electric shocks all over her body. It took all her willpower not to take him right then and there. They kept some distance from each other after that.

The first vampire they spotted was female. Buffy felt relieved for a few seconds, but as her body continued giving off exactly the same signals as before, she had to reconsider about the relief. How would the Slayer Spirit…? Her eyes fell on the stake in her hand. Eww! Not going there! She quickly staked the helplessly mesmerized fledgling, and promised herself a long talk about some stuff to Willow. Just in case. She caught Spike’s eye, saw the evil grin on his face, and there was an intermission in the hunting.

After the intermission, which proceeded without staking incidents, the hunters were feeling quite refreshed and ready for a good fight.

“Spike?” Buffy asked as they trotted on to the next cemetery, arms around each other.

“Hmm?” He nuzzled her ear.

“If you can learn to resist the Slayer Aroma, do you think you’ll still be interested in me?”

Spike was astounded by this display of uncertainty. “Buffy-- of course! Always. I love you, you know that. What makes you think I wouldn’t be?”

“Well- if you are only attracted to me because I am the slayer, wouldn’t the attraction go away if you can shut your reaction off?”

Spike squeezed her shoulder more firmly. “It won't make any bloody difference, love. We’re not robots, or trained animals, triggered by a simple stimulus- we’re people, complex beings, with layers and layers of stuff beyond hunger and thirst and sex. What does it matter if the Slayer Effect is the root of our attraction? I know exactly what I’m bloody well feeling and nothing will change that!”

Buffy was silent again, but Spike sensed by her pensive face and slow pace that there was more coming.

“Do you miss Buffy from the past?”

“Um, no, why should I?” Oh bugger, not the jealousy thing again?

“’Coz you seemed pals, all the time…Well, I didn’t see it, of course, but the way you always sat on couches together?”

“Yeah, she was all right, you know, for a girl Dawn’s age; bit clueless though.”

“Clueless? It was me, you know!” He was never going to come out of this a winner.

“Well, yeah, but ages before I fell in love with you!” Spike imagined he might even be sweating right now. This was the kind of stuff a fellow never got used to, like having to answer a ‘does this make me look big?’ question.

“Didn’t you think I was hot before that?” Like he could say no and live?

“’Course, you were very pretty, shaking you bum in those tight clothes and short skirts. And you were the Slayer! I was interested alright, just not like later.”

“Hm. She has never tried coming back, since we did the trance thing with her. Why do you think she did it?”

“What?” Spike was dumbfounded. “What makes you think she caused this? She may have made the original wish to a Justice demon, but you were the one with the sick aura, you needed healing!”

“No way! I was not sick! There was nothing wrong with me!’

“You weren’t depressed? Suicidal, even? Getting it off with soulless demons?” The moment the words left his mouth, he knew it would go badly. Will you never learn to think before you speak, you pillock, he admonished himself.

To his surprise, she stayed silent for a long time instead of getting mad and doing a runner.

“I guess,” she said slowly, “that you guys saw the beginning of that? Her aura turning brown?”

“Yeah, that’s what we reckoned…That all the stuff with Peaches made her, made you, close up…” He checked her face. She was chewing on her lip, showing no sign of getting angry at all.

“For a long time I thought that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, you know. Killing my lover. Or the fear of having to do that again. It made me very…careful of letting people in.”

Spike made a slight sound of encouragement, not wanting to interrupt this rare flow of words.

But," and she took a deep breath, "after the whole resurrection thing, I realized that feeling nothing at all is way, way worse. Just getting through another minute back then was excruciating. And the funny thing is, I convinced myself I was getting better. That things were finally alright again. Then two months later, it would hit me that I was still in numb-land, and that I had a long way to go before I could get back to normal.  Even now, when I look back on the last month I can tell I've gotten looser, you know...less afraid that everything's going to spin out of control.

When she stayed silent this time, he ventured an answer.

“I get that. I’ve been there myself.” He glanced at her, and saw that she was still looking at him, waiting for him to go on, wanting to hear what he was going to say. It gave him an incredible rush. Buffy was actually listening to him!

“Thought I’d be completely happy and healed when you asked me to live with you.” Buffy looked slightly hurt. “I didn’t realize that struggling with the soul, and what happened between us last year, on both sides, couldn’t be forgotten, or put out of my mind so quickly and easily. Or be made well with a kiss and a hug.”

Spike saw Buffy color up, and squeezed her shoulder in reassurance.

“And even then! I’m a vampire trying to live a human society, with human bloody rules. You can’t relearn that in a few weeks or months.” He shrugged. “But I’ll adapt.”

“Yeah,” she said softly, and they walked on.

****

Spike woke up. The ways he woke up nowadays could be divided into three categories. The first was delirious happiness. He would wake up with his nose in Buffy’s neck or fragrant hair, surrounded by the soft glow of daylight that filtered through the curtains. He would lie completely still, and just breathe in and out very slowly, softly stirring the little hairs on her bronzed, silky nape, or feast his eyes on the different shades of her many-colored hair. Not moving, just feeling her body in all its hardnesses and softnesses and warmth lying against him, a shoulder blade in his chest, curvy bum against his cock, a calf or a foot sole against his knee. He’d revel in her nearness, and try to draw out these golden moments as long as he could, wanting to make them timeless by not looking at the clock, or gauging the time the sun was already up. Inevitably it would be ended, by the alarm, or Dawn noisily showering, or just Buffy’s internal rhythm making her stir and move in his arms.

Spike’s own body would betray him then, by reacting to the accelerating rhythms of hers, blood pumping faster, temperature rising, heartbeat speeding up. His cock would stir, his skin start zinging and tingling, and he wouldn’t be able to keep still and pretend sleep, and they would have sex. Glorious, intense, endlessly repeating sex, as often as she would let them or her body could bear, but it was the silent intimate moments that he treasured, that he would try to draw out, that he didn’t know how to create at any other time of day.

The second way Spike could wake up was guilty. He would be swimming up out of a nightmare-filled sleep, nightmares that seemed to have gone on all night, gasping for breath, as if his body forgot it was a vampire in dreams. But how could it have forgotten, because all the dreams were about the things a vampire did: stalk, frighten, rape, kill, maim, ravage, destroy? He had done all of those things, and gloried in it. He’d shrugged off the bonds of narrow-minded mortal morality and thrown himself into the antithesis of everything he could remember holding dear. Or that’s how he’d thought of it then.

 He could still remember exactly the taste of the whole range of emotions he’d felt while being a vampire, all colored by the sight and scent of blood, and in his gut the reaction to that was still all good, but in his head and his emotions, catching up a second later, it was all bad. And the discrepancy would make him gag on those wonderful memories, slowly changing them into black and tainted pictures, all hundred and twenty years worth of them. Moreover, the slow blackening of this memory scape took with it all the good moments, moments of love, of dancing and fun, the joys of poetry, literature and the first movie and the first airplane. It all became black and dark and foul and the blood was rotting in the corpses in the fields of his memory, and the swollen sulfurous yellow sun that hung above it would take on the features of Buffy.

The third way Spike could wake up was from anger. Anger so bad it choked him with its yellow bile, futile anger at all the things Buffy had said to him, all the thwartings and defeats over the years, culminating in beating him to a pulp in that alley, throwing him over for the tin soldier, making him believe black was white and love was hate and pleasure was pain. And the anger filled him with shame, because hadn’t he been a foul evil thing, that had deserved everything Buffy had thrown at it? And shame fueled anger again. He hadn't asked to be made a vampire! In that state, hadn’t he been as innocent as any predator of the finer points of morality of its prey? Is the lion foul because it eats the lamb? Hadn’t shame and guilt made him get his soul, and hadn’t that experience been even worse than anything Buffy had ever done to him? Had it even been necessary? He had already been trying so hard to be better, to become again what he was not anymore, and to remember what was right and wrong.

And so happiness and guilt and anger turned all three into sorrow. Happiness wasn’t perfect, because Buffy didn’t love him. Because she would leave him eventually, by death or other ways. Guilt turned into sorrow because there was no way to atone for so many trespasses. Anger turned into sorrow because anger at things past was futile, and he loved the object of his anger.

And so Spike kept silent, going against his own dearest principles, because there was no way he could talk to Buffy about this. He could only love her and hold her as a shield against all that threatened his sanity and will to live, and hope for proof of love returned.

Going down and watching his two girls have breakfast helped. He loved their silliness, babbling about clothes and hair and shampoo and calories, it made Buffy seem relaxed and sweet and just like a real girl. When they left his enemy, loneliness, would visit, and the truce he had made with it in the long years alone in his crypt could not be remade. Not when mementos of their company, in the scent and sight of every object in the house, met him at every turn.

Buffy and he would meet briefly in a coffee bar before he went to work, and she had just gotten off. A few moments of Buffy in the real world, so he could go to work strengthened by the image of her, sitting there, a little tired in her office clothes, stirring her coffee, sometimes willing to hold his hand under the table. Work made life bearable, he had gotten addicted to its monotony to make time seem nonexistent.

After work, his real life started up again. Slaying with his love was the highpoint of his day, when they were truly one, truly equals, communicating as if by magic. Sex after slaying was nearly as good, but resulted always in her leaving him in sleep, so that he was lonely again. In the long nightly hours his vampire physiology kept him awake, and even if it were dear hours in which he could stare his fill at her, Spike resented them.

Buffy and he would meet briefly in a coffee bar before he went to work, and she had just gotten off. A few moments of Buffy in the real world, so he could go to work strengthened by the image of her, sitting there, a little tired in her office clothes, stirring her coffee, sometimes willing to hold his hand under the table. Work made life bearable, he had gotten addicted to its monotony to make time seem nonexistent.

How could he have so much and still feel it wasn’t enough? The voice of his mother sounded in his head, naughty, greedy boy, bad boy, wants it all. Beggars can’t be choosers. So. In truth, he sometimes thought he did not have that much more than before, only things that did not matter. Dawn’s and Willow’s acceptance, that had been mostly his already; Rupert’s tentative friendship? Rupert had offered that and his help long ago, and he’d scoffed at it, used words as weapons to drive the intolerable thought of goodness as far away from him as he could. Sex with Buffy? He’d had that. So he went too far, had thought a soul the only way to ever return to her, and now what? Sex with Buffy, again. What was the difference really? He couldn’t feel it. True sharing, true love seemed as elusive as ever. But he couldn’t let on. That would be so ungrateful. They all seemed to think he should be in heaven, being graciously allowed to share Buffy’s bed and board, and being the official boyfriend. He thought that if he could have her love, he would as lief be her backdoor lover again, sneak around, hide, as long as he could have her heart.

*****

The first few months with Spike, Buffy awoke most mornings in the stifling clutch of a hundred and fifty-five pounds of panicky vampire, trying to keep her immobile. Bleakness, despair, elation and other grueling heights and lows of emotions would take turns on his face. She was helpless before their onslaught. He’d battle them silently, and bury himself desperately in her arms. It seemed to her that by giving her pleasure he was trying to stave off the demons of his past, or the demon within, she could never be sure.

The beautiful sexy language of seduction was no more. He was cast in hopelessness every night when she left him for sleep, and every morning when she left him for work, and it seemed to rob him of speech. She mourned the absent poet, feeling no little guilt for his disappearance. She could only hang on to him, be there physically, offer her body as solace. His mind was inaccessible to her now, when once he’d strewn every thought and whim into the air around him, carelessly scattering pearls and dross alike.

Some nights, rarely, Spike would sleep, and she could avoid his incessant yearning gaze and feast her eyes on his beauty. The long relaxed lines of that sculpted body belied the turmoil within. He lay prone, one knee drawn up, his arms flung wide, one hand just brushing her thigh. His skin was a perfect ivory against her pale blue sheets (no flowers or patterns for him). Buffy’s eyes went up and down the line of his strongly defined spine, the two faint hollows just above his buttocks, the trapezoid muscle tapering into his neck, the sweet short curls there.

Her hand hovered just above his skin. She ached to touch its velvet quietly, to learn its secrets again, to feel the hardness underneath, the muscles so close under the thin skin. She wasn’t done looking though, and didn’t want to wake him up yet. Silently she crept out of bed and went around to the other side, to look at his face. So vulnerable and worn in sleep, bruised eyelids covering his eyes, that could be so dark or so blue. His mouth pink and soft, almost pouting in relaxation. This was the way she sought her private joy, for the rest of the time she worked so hard to glue back together the man she had broken, or sometimes just hold the cracks together with her small hands, in fear his very life would spill out. She was often afraid the pieces were put back together wrong, for it gave him such anguish all the time, although he tried to hide it.

And then, one morning, when spring returned, so did her Spike. He woke her up with a playful nip in her neck, relentlessly tickling her until she could no longer pretend to sleep. He teased her into a breathless state of giggling and arousal, and then made wild silly puppy love to her, so much playfulness and joy shining out of his eyes that Buffy hardly knew what was up and down anymore, he made her so happy. Spike had put himself back together again.

*****

Once again, the Scoobies were gathered in the living room on Revello drive. New drapes were hung, the furniture seemed placed slightly differently, but there was really nothing to distinguish it from many such meetings.

"Yo Buff, you kill a lot of them vampires with the mighty power of the Buffy-smell?" Xander asked jovially, as he entered with his designated contribution of donuts.

"Xander! “ Buffy squeaked indignantly. ”They are so not killed by my delightfully fragrant body-odor! I simply lure them with my irresistible emanations and then kill them! They just stand there waiting for it, there really is no challenge any more in vampire kills."

"Buffy, you sound almost sorry that your life has become easier! Aren't you happy that you could cut down on the slaying?" Willow sounded put out.

"Willow, slaying is my calling, slaying is fun! What else is there to do for fun around here in Sunnydale? Not as if you would be happy to be rid of the magic?"

"I guess not," Willow conceded. "It’s just that, you know, you used to complain all the time about your lack of social life and not being normal, or meeting suitable boys…Not that Spike isn’t very, very suitable," she added hastily.

Spike stood smirking at her, leaning against the mantelpiece. "No need to backpedal, witch. Not the suitable type, nor ever will be, and that’s how it suits me."

"If you could make a wish and become human, would you do it?" Willow asked curiously.

"Human? No way! Didn’t like being human the first time round, not going to try a second time. Besides, Buffy wouldn’t have me."

This sank in slowly and with difficulty. "Oh. Oh! Sure, the First Slayer needs the Vampire, sure, I knew that, sure."

Giles entered and with a cough centered their attention on him.

“I have the feeling, Buffy, that we can close our case-file on Past Buffy and the Spirit Slayer."

"We have a case file?"

"In a manner of speaking, yes. I still add daily to my Watcher’s Diary."

"Wow. That's what I call discipline,” Xander said, and grabbed two donuts from the platter.

"Yes, I call it discipline too, Xander. I'm pleasantly surprised that you even recognize it when you see it!" Giles said sharply.

Xander's eyes shot from Spike's grin to Giles' disapproving look, his cheeks bulging with donut like a hamster's.

“I have discipline! You think it doesn’t take discipline to lead a company, or a crew! I so have discipline!” he said, still chewing.

"Certainly, Xander, there are many ways to exhibit discipline in one’s life; we have simply chosen different ways to express it."

"Yeah?"

"A little focus here!” Giles demanded. "Buffy? Can you confirm that there were no time switch occurrences?"

"Roger! And check!"

“Anyone?"

Everybody shook their heads.

"Good. Spirit Slayer under control?"

"Yeah," Buffy answered, puzzled. ”What's with the military vibe, Giles? You in a hurry?"

"No, of course not! Well, a little perhaps, I have a gig at the Espresso Pump later tonight, I'd like to spend some time rehearsing."

"Rehearse away! We'll manage! As long as we can come in later and do the groupie thing with you?" Willow said. “I mean, scream! And wave lighters, and clap! Not the other groupie thing!”

“Indeed.” Giles rose with alacrity. "Are you sure, Buffy?”

“Absolutely, Giles. We got it under control! Say hi to Anya.”

When Giles left, Buffy stood up and went to stand with her back against Spike, who hadn’t moved from his position near the hearth. Xander saw the big hands come to rest low on Buffy’s hips, fingers splayed, and looked away. Spike put his chin on Buffy’s hair. Willow saw Spike’s eyes close briefly, and his Adam’s apple bob up and down as some emotion washed through him, and she smiled at them.

“Well,” Buffy started. “What exactly are we going to do? There is no threat, Past Buffy hasn’t been seen in weeks, I got the Slayer under control, mostly…We might as well go Bronzing.”

“It still seems kind of weird, Buffy. Most of the time these things happen to you for a reason, ‘cause the big Bad wants to get at you or something. We just gonna let this go?” Xander gestured in frustration and made a grab at the donuts again.

“The Big Bad has gotten to me alright, but I’m kinda okay with it this time…” Buffy said, eyeing the donuts.

She squealed when the Big Bad pinched her.

“Not evil anymore, here,” Spike growled.

Buffy turned to him and offered kisses as penance. And then there was Bronzing.

*****

“Come in, Spike,” Giles said, opening the door widely.

“Nice digs, Rupert,“ Spike said appreciatively.

“Yes, thank God, I was heartily sick of hotel rooms. This way the other bloke and I swap jobs and flats every half year, switching between England and California.”

Giles waved Spike to the couch and threw him a beer. “Here, have a look at this. Remember that council, girl, Lydia? The one that wrote her thesis on you?”

“Doesn’t ring a bell, mate. Should it?” Spike took a long draft of his beer. “ Ah, Heineken, better than that weak American stuff.”

“She seemed quite taken with you the one time you met her, at your crypt? Thought you might remember that!”

“These librarian birds with glasses always go for me, Rupert. Appeal of the bad boy or some such nonsense,” Spike said dismissively, not about to go into this.

“Well, thanks to modern information technology – don’t laugh, Spike – she compiled a list of names for me, and they sent it to me after she died. On it are all men named William who graduated in Oxford and Cambridge between 1870 and 1885. Correct so far?”

Spike nodded, amazed. Imagine old Rupert going to all that trouble for him.

“Don’t say anything, let me guess! Oxford?”

A nod.

“Greats?”

“Yes. How did you know?”

“A guess. You didn’t seem the type for Divinity, so…”

“You didn’t know the old me, Rupes, or you wouldn’t have said that!”

“Okay, here’s the list. What college?”

Spike hesitated a very long time. He’d seen in one glance that his name was on it, but he wasn’t at all sure he wanted to give this long-kept secret away.

“Well?”

Spike stalled. “Did you eliminate everyone who died a natural death?”

“I believe so.”

Spike still hesitated. “Don’t think I can do it, Rupert. This is my last secret. What on earth would you do with that bit of info anyway?”

“I was thinking of a passport, social security number and so on. Might make your life a little easier. Find a job more suited to your abilities than all the scut work you’ve been doing.”

“You could make up a name for that, Rupert. Why?”

Giles coughed, seeming embarrassed. “Though I’d do you a good turn. Well, think about it, Spike. I’d love to know. And, um, I found you some work. Doesn’t pay well, but…translations from Greek and Coptic. Could you do it?”

“Standing on my head! Well, that was a century ago. Might have to brush up a bit on the old knowledge, but thanks. Makes a nice change from motorcars.”

After a few, well, a lot more beers: “Patrolling tonight, Spike? Take good care of her!”

“Always. Gotta do my duty, right?”

“Is it duty, Spike? Is it penance?”

“Hell no, labor of love. Is it for you?” Giles averted his eyes, and didn’t answer. “I see. You could go back to England, you know. I’d take care of her!”

“I’m supposed to Watch her until she…um, well, forever. Only most Slayers don’t live that long.

I hate California, you know. I don’t want to be her surrogate father anymore. And I’m quite tired of being left to make all these difficult decisions on my own.”

Spike leaned forward eagerly. ”I’d do it, Rupert, like I said. Why not?”

Giles rubbed his chin. “I’m grateful for the offer, Spike, but I think you should give this a bit more consideration. I don’t know that the position of lover and Watcher mesh very well. You’d have to send her into danger, tell her what she was doing wrong, etcetera. Very difficult if you’re emotionally attached to someone, even if it is as a father. And it would be more difficult for Buffy as well. As her lover and second-in-command you don’t have that conflict. My advice would be not to risk what you have right now! Not that I’ve ever seen you take advice…”

Spike looked at him thoughtfully. ‘You might be right, old man. Thanks for the advice. At your own expense, too, I’m touched!”

Giles waved his hand in acknowledgement, but kept staring at his hands. Spike stood up to leave, and awkwardly clapped his hand on Giles’ shoulder.

“I’m off to work. See you around, mate.”

The other man didn’t answer, lost in thought.

*****

Spike and Buffy had just climbed upon the cemetery wall for a short kissing break, when they heard growling, hissing sounds a short distance away, like two huge cats fighting. With a quick exchange of looks, they decided to postpone the break and investigate the disturbance. Two vamps were fighting, a male and a female, clawing and punching and biting, making a lot of noise in the process.

“They fight like sissies,” Buffy said with derision. “Let’s take ‘em, Spike.”

“Not fighting, love,” Spike said with a leer in her direction. Buffy drew up short, realizing with an immediate answering tingle in her gut that Spike was right. This wasn’t fighting, it was vampire love play, although it was hard to tell the difference. And now that she knew, it was making her feel, well, like playing herself.

“Should we leave them be, Spike?”

“Nah! They’re’ still vampires, sweetheart, they’ll go right on with the killing afterwards!”

It was shamefully easy to dust the lust-addled vamps, and it made Buffy feel a little queasy. Spike noticed her unease, and drew a comforting arm around her.

“No need to think they were Romeo and Juliet, love, probably just having a quick one after an exciting kill. That vampires can love, doesn’t mean they all do!”

“Let’s have a quick one ourselves, Spike, you know slaying makes me hot!”

“Let’s just wait, Buffy, ‘til I can make proper love to you in your own bed…”

Buffy ground her teeth. Time for something completely different.

“Let’s play a little game, Spike. You will be Bike, the Vampire Slayer. Bike is brave and practical; he loves to play rough, and likes his sex fast and furious and violent. Then we have Spiffy, that is me, a pretty little vampire, a very romantic type- for a vampire. They meet, they must fight, because they are natural enemies. But the fight excites them both so much that it turns into play, they can’t deny their desire, and they forget their duty and give in to the lure of the forbidden!”

“Buffy,“ Spike groaned, “what kind of trashy novels have you been reading? This is so tacky...”

Buffy jumped onto a tombstone. “Come and get me, boy!” she called out to Spike. “I’m Spiffy, the bad naughty vampire, and I must be punished. You must spank my evil little bottom until it blushes!”

Spike hadn’t expected to react so intensely to the ridiculous little pretense. In fact he was trembling in his boots and rock hard in his jeans. For a moment after Buffy, no, Spiffy, had taken off he stood rooted to the spot, then with a manly yodel Bike took off after the nasty little monster, who deserved everything he was going to do to her.

They chased each other up and down several of Sunnydale’s many graveyards, until Spiffy chose to make a stand in the Orthodox Jewish cemetery, between Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Rosenberg, Sr. She mentally asked Willow for forgiveness.

“Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah!” taunted Spiffy. “You miserable weak human being! So righteous and boring! I’m going to drain you dry, crush your head between my thighs like a grapefruit, and dance on your intestines!”

“Evil bitch!” yelled Bike. “You killed my family, the greengrocer and the neighbors! I’m going to stake you so hard your dust flies to the four corners of the earth! I’m going to break that bumpy nose of yours for the thousandth time, and like it! You dye your hair! Your fangs are blunt and you will never drink my blood!”

In between the taunting, they got in a few exploratory kicks and punches.

“Yeah, hit me, you big manly Slayer!” Spiffy hissed, circling him tirelessly.

“Look at my neck, my sweet white neck, all that blood just pumping away…” Bike said, daring Spiffy to go for it. “I have the sweetest blood you ever tasted, Slayer blood! And you will never ever get to drink from me, because you are evil and soulless and bloodlust is wrong!”

“You don’t know what you are missing, Bike the Vampire Slayer! Us vampires give unlimited ecstasy to the humans we drink from, a high like you have never experienced with these puny human girls!”

They closed in now, grappling and grunting in earnest, trying to tackle the other to the ground. The grappling brought proximity, and Spiffy noticed Bike’s hard-on brushing against her.

“Ha! You Slayers are all the same! Vampires get you hot! Well too bad, Bikey, to me humans are just food!”

“O yeah?” Bike ground his hand in Spiffy’s crotch, noticing her buckling knees and gasps with glee. “What is this that I smell with my enhanced Slayer senses? You desire me as much as I desire you, Spiffy; only you are too stubborn to admit it!”

“Desire is not love, Bike, and a vampire can never love a Slayer!”

They weren’t exactly fighting anymore, rather they were trying to see who could get the other more aroused.

“The touch of your decent upstanding hands disgusts me!” Spiffy cried out, writhing under his touch.

“Your breasts are like the unclean apples that seduced Adam out of paradise!”

Bike managed to wrestle Spiffy to the ground and tore at her skirt, that Spiffy had worn, he supposed, to make hot love in to other demonic creatures all night.

“Don’t you dare put your big purple love banana inside me, Bike!”

“Oh yeah?” Bike said, determined to do his duty, and put it in her evil orifice, making Spiffy squeal in a very un-vampirey way. ”You deserve punishment; I am only going to do things you hate! You are evil! You must be disciplined.” He slid out the love fruit, turned her over, baring her golden bottom to the moon, and slapped her mercilessly.

“O Bike!” Spiffy cried out. “Chastise me! I deserve it! I’m evil! Harder!”

Bike did all he could to discipline the evil creature. He spanked her luscious buns; he pounded her with his mighty slayer instrument and forced his blameless hands on her undead pleasure center. When Spiffy had been castigated sufficiently, so that she was lying on the earth shaking with the aftermath of her satanic lust, Bike allowed himself the reward of the righteous, a mammoth orgasm, well deserved after the grueling sentence he had had to mete out.

“Oh Spiffy, you will suffer in hell for forcing your unnatural hungers on me!”

“O Bike,” Spiffy groaned, undone by her own devilish urgings, “I hate you so much!”

“I hate you too!” Bike panted, exhausted.

Spike knew, at least rationally, exactly what Buffy had been doing, but the emotional impact was still huge. He looked at her in admiration, lying there limp and bedraggled and grass-stained on the muddy ground. Did she know what a gift she’d given him, liberating the demon and the man at the same time? Accepting, no, needing the vampire in all his violence and wildness, as much as she needed William the man? He looked up at the moon happily, then turned to grab the little vampire again, to give her more of what she deserved.



Timeline: Season 2 (After Becoming) and later in season 7

Rating: R

Spoilers: AU from Beneath You (7.2). In this universe, Buffy took Spike home

Disclaimer: All ME



He’s got high hopes (15)

Spike sat in the darkest corner of the Espresso Pump, getting more anxious by the minute. Where was Buffy? Shouldn’t she have been here already? He craned his neck to look at the clock again, nearly coming in the path of the late afternoon sun. He decided it was definitely time to buy a watch now.

And of course, the moment he looked down in his mocha to stir the last dregs, long gone cold now, she appeared and slid on the stool across him. He'd missed her entrance again. He loved the way she'd come in, hurried, flicking her eyes around, stating her preference in clipped tones and waiting impatiently, toes tapping. The part he liked less was when she sat down across from him without acknowledging him, head turned away from the rest of the crowd, her hair falling like a curtain across her face. Afraid someone might recognize her, maybe? And then what? That hypothetical acquaintance would be able to see at a glance that the boyfriend was a vampire, and hence, that her life was a failure?

This time she put down a fresh coffee for him as well. It still gave him a tiny thrill that she remembered what he liked.

"Sorry I'm late,” she said breathlessly, still not meeting his eyes.

"What's up, my love? You seem a little….preoccupied?" He'd thought of 'tense' or 'stressed out' as well, but preoccupied seemed more neutral and less likely to cause his head being snapped off.

The tiny frown above her left eyebrow appeared, vanished, and appeared again. She'd have a wrinkle there by the time she was thirty.

"Nothing," she said vaguely. "Stuff." She flapped her hand. "Doesn’t concern you."

"You could try me," he suggested evenly, determined not to let things escalate.

Finally, her eyes met his, and the look from the stormy green depths made him all weak inside. She looked troubled and doubtful. He grabbed her hand and softly started to massage it, finger by finger, trying to make her relax. When he was kneading the thick pads at the base of her thumb, she sighed at last and relented.

"It's Dawn," she said nearly inaudibly. "Her grades have dropped again. They have to inform Social Services, and I'll have to be approved again. More visits form Mrs. Kroeger or her cronies."

Spike winced. He remembered, vividly, Mrs. Kroeger's last visit and how he had bollixed it up, although he'd honestly tried. He must have come along way since then, because unlike at that time, it was easy to see what he should have done differently.

"Tell me what you want of me, love. Should I disappear until she’s been around? Anything to let you keep the little Bit."

Her troubled gaze softened and she smiled at him, even smoothing away a curl from his temple. Loved nothing better than to undo his careful work with gel and comb, she did.

"Of course not, baby. You should definitely be around. Show them Dawn has a steady male influence in her life. A father figure."

"I’m a steady male influence? And a father figure? Didn’t know you thought of me like that…” he teased.

"Just because I happen to like older men…much older men…"

She leaned into his hand when he caressed her smooth hot cheek and closed her eyes. "I wish we could see more of each other," she murmured. "I wish you didn’t have to work nights…."

Spike was so caught up in the flood of emotion her words caused that he hardly registered what the waitress standing next to them was saying. Something about offering him a day job right here in the Espresso Pump. He smiled absently at her and declined her kind offer.

He was totally unprepared for the torrent of words that followed. Hateful bigoted pronouncements on hell spawn and evil creatures of the night, and a warning to Buffy about continuing to see him, that would surely end in her horrible death and worse.

Buffy's face was stricken and her hands shook. The waitress departed in a huff, and the silence between them stretched and stretched.

"Buffy…" he started in a low voice, "don't be sad about this. She meant well. And nine out of ten she would have been right, too…"

"I'm not sad, I'm angry," Buffy said between clenched teeth. "How dare she judge us like that. Making you out to be a monster, and me some helpless little innocent. I'm damn well the Slayer, and nobody messes with my boyfriend!"

Spike heard 'us' and was lost. God, how he loved the fierceness of her. He clasped her hand again, hard. She dragged her stool around the table to sit next to him and gave him a deep, possessive kiss. They finished their coffees sitting close together, thigh to thigh, shoulder to shoulder, and it had never tasted so good. Buffy took his arm when they left. He silently thanked the waitress for her interference. She'd never claimed him this publicly before, and it just made everything seem a little brighter.

********

Spike was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, brushing his teeth while Buffy showered, when he was startled by a loud shriek from Dawn. He swallowed some toothpaste and yelled out: "What!" loudly and with no small amount of irritation.

"The door is open, and you're standing there butt-naked! What were you thinking? Can’t you think of my feelings?" Dawn said, backing out.

Spike checked out his arse. It looked just fine to him.

"Nothing wrong with it that I can see, Nibblet. You Americans are so sensitive and prudish!" He complained.

Buffy stuck a dripping wet head around the door of the shower stall. "Don't expect me to believe the British are all liberated nudists?"

"I meant vampires, love." He took advantage of the opening she gave him and joined her in the stall.

"Kind of cramped in here?" Buffy said, smiling.

"We'll just have to stand really close together. Thought you might need some help soaping yourself up?"

His hands moved over her glistening golden breasts. Buffy turned around and said, "Sure, you can do my hair."

There was nothing wrong with the wet mounds of her bum sliding against his front, either. He thoroughly soaped the mass of water-darkened tawny hair and massaged her scalp. Buffy leaned heavily against him, relaxing under his hands.

"This is a bad, bad way to wake up," she murmured as Spike's big hands moved sensuously over her skin, lathering her slowly, making her tingle and sigh. "I could just crawl right back into bed again."

"Right here would be just fine, love." Spike pushed her hands above her head and placed them against the wall. "Spread your legs a bit more."

"But Dawn…"

"…won't come in here again."

Buffy caved in and allowed herself to undergo the never boring experience of sex with Spike, feeling severed from the normal world in the confines of the shower stall, hot water pounding down, Spike sliding in and out of her, his hands everywhere; carefully avoiding the healing wound of her encounter with the last demon. She wished it could go on forever.

Dawn put on a long-suffering look when Buffy and Spike entered the kitchen at last, still closely entwined.

"Don't you two ever let go of each other?" she said, a critical eye on Buffy's hand, which was securely lodged in the back pocket of Spike's jeans, and on Spike, whose hand was on Buffy's hip, under her shirt.

"I don't see why we should?" Buffy leaned her full length against Spike as he was fussing with boiling water and tealeaves. He'd even bought a pot and a little sieve to make proper English tea. She patted his thighs indulgently. Who'd have thought Spike would have Gilesy tendencies?

"Well," Dawn said through a mouthful of Rice Krispies, "'cause it might put off younger siblings who are not as steeped in sin and mushiness?"

"Okay, which is worse, the sin or the mushiness? And I am so not mushy, by the way." Buffy ripped into a carton of yogurt in true slayer fashion and proceeded to devour it standing up.

"You are less mushy than your significant other, granted, but the touching and the fuzzy looks are kind of revealing," Dawn continued.

"Huh."

Spike sidled up to Buffy again and put his arms around her from behind. Buffy offered him some yogurt from her spoon. He made a face.

"In my time that was food for the poor Bulgarian peasants. Can't see why I should enjoy it."

"'Cause it's non-fat low-sugar healthy stuff." Buffy licked her spoon with abandon. Dawn had to avert her eyes from the look on Spike's face as he stared fixedly at Buffy's tongue. Ew. She didn't want to know what he was thinking, she was way too close to guessing it already.

Buffy finished off her yogurt, drank down some juice and started to leave for work.

"Bye Dawn!" A wave.

"Bye honey!" A long sloppy mushy kiss.

Dawn sighed. It never stopped. When she heard the door slam behind Buffy, she leaned her head on her hand and turned to Spike. She loved having him to herself a few minutes before leaving for school.

Spike settled himself on a stool next to Dawn with his lovingly prepared cuppa.

"Well?" he asked. "Did you get that A for the Spanish-American war paper?"

"Yeah, that was so cool, he made me read from it and everything! You're gonna have to help me with more stuff, the rest of my grades are sort of down."

Spike nodded. "Buffy told me. You have to ask for help a lot sooner, Bit, you're just like your sis. Leaving it too bleeding long."

"You two were a little preoccupied," Dawn pointed out.

The bell rang. They looked at each other, a little alarmed. Who could it be? Dawn went to open the door. Spike heard a woman's voice. Dawn called out for him, sounding a little panicked.

A woman whose face he vaguely remembered was standing there. After a moment, the memory clicked into place. The dreadful Mrs. Kroeger. He approached her with a smile and his hand stretched out.

"Hi, Mrs. Kroeger. I'm Will Smith, Buffy's boyfriend. How may we help you?"

He saw Dawn's eyes grow huge. Hey! He'd learned a thing or two in the course of last year! He continued to smile at the woman, and he saw her soften a bit and reach up to pat her hair.

"Doris Kroeger," she simpered, "from Social Services. We heard from Dawn's school that her grades were slipping, and it is our task to do another check on her home circumstances."

"Yes, Dawn told us, a bit late perhaps-" a reproving look at Dawn, who could hardly contain her laughter"- and we're on it. Her last paper was an A again, in fact, so I'm confident we'll be getting her right on track again. May I offer you a cup of tea?"

Spike sounded more like Giles than like himself. Dawn followed their progress towards the kitchen in amazement. He'd totally mollified the woman in less than a minute! They were talking about college, Spike telling her about his Oxford degree in Ancient Languages - he could really lie well, if he put his mind to it. After twenty minutes or so Mrs. Kroeger left, won over, promising a good report and eradication of Buffy's probationary status as guardian.

Dawn squealed and jumped around his neck. "Spike! You were awesome! You sounded just like a, a cooler Giles! Wow! You totally charmed her!"

Spike staggered a bit as the teenager hugged him. He felt immensely proud of himself. This would make Buffy happy.

******

Willow looked up at the red neon sign saying “Willy’s Place”.

“Nope,” she said, “Now I’m definitely sure I’ve never been here.”

“That is so weird,” Buffy said. “You’ve been a Scooby for nearly seven years, how can you never have been in Willy’s bar? You’ll love it! It’s so authentic, full of really ugly demons and sleaze and drunk vamps.”

“Sounds just dandy for a witch like me. Let’s go in.”

Buffy and Willow planned to hang out at Willy’s for a bit while Spike finished out his shift. They entered, two short girls who had to look up to everybody who was standing there, and to some who were sitting down, too. Willow could see the information that the Slayer had just entered travel like a wave through the patrons. Like the Red Sea parting, she thought. Buffy and she strolled up to the bar unhindered, where a grinning Spike greeted them, polishing beer glasses.

“Evening ladies,” he greeted them. “You’ve just upgraded my credibility no end, Buffy. Now they are really sure I’m the Slayer’s boyfriend. It won’t make me popular, but it will make me safe. It’s a very unmanly feeling.”

“Aw, poor widdle Spikey! Did you want to be the tough manly man? Who protects his widdle girlfriend from the big bad world?” Willow teased.

Spike shrugged. “With vampires, the point is moot. Male and female are as strong. The only thing keeping the bloody birds from world domination and stuff is their own silly inhibitions.” He put down the last glass and gestured to the array of drinks.

“What’ll it be, girls? On me.”

Buffy and Willow shared a look. “Margaritas!” they said in unison.

Spike groaned. “So now I’m going to have to carry you both home, hold your heads while you barf, and not even tease you about it? What happened to mochas and Diet Coke?”

“We’re allowed to drink, and damn it we will!” Willow said firmly. “We’ve been good girls long enough, there will be carousing, and fraternizing with non-humans, and there will also be buckets of fun!”

The girls sipped their drinks and looked around the bar. It was smoky and crowded, but not as rowdy as Willow had hoped. She waved to Clem, who came over for a moment, but who obviously had other plans for the night. He went back quickly to the demon he was with, who was just as wrinkly and bald as Clem himself, but seemed feminine by her body language and gurgly voice.

Buffy turned around and started talking to Spike, giggling a lot, clearly laying claim to him. Willow was amused. The poor guy had gone through hell and back to get his soul for her, and here was Buffy, all jealous and claimy. As if Spike would even look at another woman! She was so clueless.

Willow caught the eye of a tall, stunning brunette standing at the other end of the bar. She tossed her shiny mane over one shoulder and gave Willow a look from her sloe-dark eyes.

“Buffy,” Willow said, without breaking eye-contact, “that woman over there, is she a vampire?”

Buffy checked her out with the briefest of glances. “Yup. You interested?”

“Not anymore,” Willow said, and turned away from the alluring dark gaze.

“Not even tempted?” prodded Buffy. “She looks a little like Faith…”

Willow made her Exasperated Face. “You remember Tara? How she was not even remotely a bad girl? That should tell you enough. I don’t need a bit of monster in my woman, like you. I like ‘em sweet and soft.”

Buffy patted Willow’s hand contritely. “Sorry. Just kidding. Who would have thought long ago that I did need some monster in my man, huh? And me always thinking I wanted the normal life.”

“Yeah, and now you’re all set up for life with a monster of your very own…A very hot curly-haired blue eyed monster, too.”

Buffy’s face had started to twitch at ‘for life’. Willow’s brows rose. “Not for life? You coulda fooled me…”

“I guess,” Buffy said uncomfortably. “It just sounds so long when you say it. I always imagined my life would be short, like all Slayers. And that I would have to seize the day. Just thinking of having another fifty or sixty years to look forward to makes me feel all wiggy.”

“Like not knowing if you would like to spend them with Mr. Hopelessly Devoted To You over there?”

“It’s not a bad prospect as such,” Buffy admitted grudgingly, “I just need to practice thinking about it like that. Ew. Poor Spike. How gross and wrinkly will I be in twenty years, let alone in fifty?”

They giggled companionably and ordered more margaritas. Willow played pool with a kind of silvery-scaled female warrior demon, and Buffy sat idly watching Spike do his bartending thing. She was kind of enjoying this sneaky boyfriend observing, because she seldom got the chance to. Spike was always looking at her, and it was just nice to enjoy a good stare. She watched the play of muscles in his arms, and the way his eyes crinkled as he laughed. He ran his hand through his hair, loosening some very cute curls, and she wanted to be that hand.

He had to look way up to meet the eye of some giant creature, and Buffy got in a good look at his profile. She loved the slight Roman curve of his nose, that was only visible from certain angles. He seemed to feel her gaze, and flicked her a quick wink from the corner of his eyes. She felt a silly grin spread over her face, and looked away to the pool table to hide it.

“Checking out the merchandise?” a female voice next to her said. It was the vampire Faith look-alike. “Cute little thing isn’t he?”

Buffy took umbrage at the ‘little’ part of that, but nodded. The vamp hitched up her breasts in her tight corset–type top a little more, and leaned over the bar to call out to Spike: “Hey, handsome, come on over and serve us!”

Spike ambled over to his new customer, glancing curiously at Buffy. What was she doing with that tart?

“Give me and my girlfriend here another one of what she’s having,” the woman purred, and squeezed her arms together so her breasts plumped up even more. Spike’s dark eyebrows rose at the sight, but he poured two more margaritas for them. The vamp started telling Spike in a low voice exactly what she’d like to do to him, and Buffy listened in rising disbelief. Were there actually guys who fell for this kind of thing? She checked out the slight smile on Spike’s face, and tried to quell her rising anger by downing her drink in one gulp. It warmed her insides with a fiery glow. Spike was now leaning on the counter across from the woman, and his head was tilting as he listened to her spiel. That was the limit. Head tilts were hers.

“Um, honey?” Buffy said loudly, “What time are you getting off?”

The vampire woman slowly turned her head to look down at Buffy from her superior height.

“Aw, was I making the little woman jealous? My mistake. Just letting your boy have a good look at a real woman, show him what he’s missing with a little skinny thing like you!”

Buffy didn’t need to channel the primeval Slayer to land a hefty punch on the vampire's annoyingly perfect nose.

Spike seemed completely unfazed by all this. He was actually looking pleased. “Don’t kill the patrons, love,” he said calmly to Buffy. “Willy wouldn’t like it.”

“Willy will take anything he needs to from me,” Buffy said darkly. “Why were you flirting with that skanky ho? Needing a diversion already?”

“What? Sweetheart, the possessive vibe is kind of cute, but don’t overdo it. Just being friendly to the customers, ain’t I?”

Buffy bit her lip. Was she being ridiculous? “I just thought…she looked like a cross between Drusilla and Faith…like a bad girl, the kind you like?”

“Buffy…It’s only you, now and forever,” Spike said seriously. “So not into bad girls anymore, apart from Spiffy of course….”

Buffy blushed neon red. “Don’t say that! Someone might hear!”

Spike hoisted himself up on his elbows on the bar to plant a kiss on her nose. “I’m yours. Your possession, your property. You totally own me, body, heart, soul and demon. That’s one more than most girls get. No need to be jealous, ever.”

The look from those smiling blue eyes hit her deep in the gut. She swallowed. It must be the drink making her feel all sappy and mushy. Buffy and booze, so not mixy things.

The rest of Spike’s shift, Buffy sat quietly at the counter, following her very own demon with her eyes, not noticing the passing of time. She hardly registered Willy coming in and Spike getting off duty, until he stood beside her and grabbed her elbow.

“Let’s scarper, Buff. We need to walk Willow home.”

She’d forgotten all about Willow. She was such a bad friend. Willow stood talking to the warrior demoness, exchanging phone-numbers, it seemed.

“Willow?” she said, confused. “You’re not gonna date…that, are you?”

“No way, I’m not the one who is into demons! Um, I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. No, she’s a magic user too, we’re gonna compare notes sometime.”

They walked Willow to her dorm, Willow and Spike doing most of the talking. When they had seen Willow safely into her building, she slid under Spike’s arm and circled his waist with her own. Her hand came to rest on his hipbone, under his shirt. She sighed deeply.

“That was missing all night.”

Spike’s hand on her shoulder made her feel warm and giddy. That was so strange. He should make her feel cold, shouldn’t he? She stopped walking and turned towards him, clutching a handful of shirt. A sweet heady feeling was rising slowly inside her. She opened her mouth to tell Spike about it, when something else overtook it.

Buffy wrenched her body out of Spike’s embrace and stepped back.

“Just my luck, coming in on the smoochies again!” she hissed. She took in his petrified stance and open mouth, and gestured angrily.

“It’s me. Buffy from 1998. Did you forget about me already?”

Spike closed his mouth with a snap. The bloody chit had an impeccable sense of bad timing. He had sensed something coming from Buffy that he’d never felt before, and he had to quell the urge to shake her thoroughly for interrupting.

“Well? What do you want? I thought you were never coming back here?” he said impatiently.

She looked at him somberly for a few moments. “I just thought I’d say goodbye to everything here, including you people from the future. I just saw you tonight, you know. You were rescuing your girlfriend from Angelus’ clutches.”

Realization dawned. “Oh. Dru. Right. Oh! You’re doing a runner to LA, aren’t you?”

Buffy sighed as the impatience and frustration left his face and turned into concern. They started walking again slowly. “I’m actually in the bus to LA now, my real body I mean. It’s funny, I had completely forgotten about all the time switching, and just now I started thinking of you all, and how you must have known even this. And how you didn’t tell me, and I was glad you hadn’t. Because I never could have done it if I had had time to think about it.”

Spike nodded. “Makes sense. You did the right thing.”

“She ever talk to you about it?”

Spike nodded again. “She said that for a long time she thought it was the hardest thing she’d ever done.”

“But that feeling passed?”

“Yeah, it passed.”

“Not going to tell me a thing, like always, huh?” Buffy looked up at him, the moon shining on his light hair, much curlier than she remembered. “But she’s very happy now, isn’t she? It’s all going to be alright in the end?”

“I do hope this isn’t the end yet, pet, but I think Buffy’s okay right now.” Spike stared straight ahead.

“Okay, huh? Does she really love you?” She saw the muscles in his cheek jump.

“I don’t know. If she does, she hasn’t told me.” His voice sounded rough.

“Oh, come on, what I felt when I passed through her was pretty…” her voice trailed off. “Well, she better tell you herself. This is really goodbye, then. Make her happy, okay?”

Spike turned his head to look at her. “It won’t be for lack of trying, pet. Goodbye.”

They shook hands, which felt very odd and formal. He saw her falter for a moment, and reached out to steady her, and then she was his Buffy again.

She looked sad and tired, the magic moment that had been building earlier out of reach now. “Let’s go home, love,” he said softly. They put their arms around each other again and started walking.

****

The last rays of the evening sun could not reach the farthest corner of the porch. Giles looked at the motionless figure of the vampire standing there, only his hair and his white T-shirt clearly visible. He disentangled himself from the little group of Scoobies wrestling with the barbecue and joined Spike.

"Good evening, Spike," he said, and lifted his bottle of beer in greeting.

"Giles," acknowledged Spike.

"How long until sunset?"

"Give or take half an hour,” answered Spike, not needing to look up for this.

"Hm. How's life? The job, and, well, everything?"

"Job? Pretty bloody awful, as usual. I've started bartending at Willy's again; it's the only place I'm not kicked out of sooner or later."

"What do you think: is it you, personally, or prejudice against vampires?"

Spike uttered a short laugh. "Prejudice? Don't think vampires will ever be bloody PC, nor should they be. People do sense I'm different, somehow; but it's also just me. Not too good at taking orders, never have been."

"Except from Buffy…"

"Right," Spike admitted with a crooked smile. “Except from Buffy. But then she's the general, and my lady to boot. That's different."

"And, um,” Giles started delicately, looking away from Spike into the sunset, "how are things with Buffy? You both seem very happy?"

Spike didn’t answer immediately, taking so long that Giles glanced at him in surprise.

"Have I been reading things wrong?" he enquired. He gestured at Buffy, who was standing among her friends, glowing with sun, health, and happiness, even looking distinctly plumper than she had in years.

"No, Rupert, things are just dandy. It's just…well, ninety percent happiness is more than most people have, and I s'pose I'm unrealistic in longing for the hundred percent. But I do."

"And what ten percent are you missing, then? A fulfilling job, which does justice to your education and intelligence?"

"Good point! But that would fall more under the heading of icing on the cake…No, I meant--with Buffy. I know I'm bloody lucky to have her at all, I should be satisfied with that, but the romantic idiot inside of me just wishes she loved me back, you know?" Spike toyed with his empty bottle, not looking Giles in the eyes.

"But, Spike, I'm quite surprised to hear that! What makes you think she doesn't? I'd say all the evidence points in the opposite direction!"

"Well, to be exact, she's never told me that she did. Did tell me she didn't feel for me the way she did for Angel."

"I say you should be bloody grateful that she feels differently for you than for that prat!" Giles waved his bottle around so violently he sprayed beer over the railing.

"Love of her life, she thinks!" Spike protested.

"Oh, come on, Spike, you can't seriously believe that!  She was a child when all that happened; it was just a schoolgirl crush!"

"'s not what Buffy thinks…"

"Spike, really, look at her." They both looked at Buffy, who was baring an expanse of flat, tanned tummy to Dawn and Willow, and pinched a tiny roll of fat. It looked like a one of these incomprehensible fat comparing moments between women, where blokes would never be able to say the right thing.

"Spike, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, quacks like a duck…it's a duck! I mean love. Don't fixate on a couple of words she didn’t say. With Buffy, it is never about the words but about actions. Has she ever lived with someone? Has she ever looked so happy? I rest my case."

Spike smiled ruefully at Giles; then they both looked away hastily. Spike turned his head to look at Buffy again. Was he wrong in feeling that he wanted the important things said out loud? Wrong or not, there was this tiny bleak spot in his otherwise full and overflowing heart, that ached and throbbed for explicit acknowledgement from Buffy.

Giles stepped off the porch and went up to the little group on the grass. The girls had given up on helping with the barbecue and were leaving it to Xander to get the fire going.

"Buffy, a word?"

"Hey Giles! Isn't this fun? A real goodbye instead of sneaking off to the airport alone?"

"It's not as if you were actually there, Buffy!" Giles protested, feeling somehow implicated.

They talked idly on slaying and the declining vampire population. Giles was finding it difficult to spot an opening for the subject he wanted to talk about.

"Um, Buffy,” he ventured at last. "How are things between you and Spike? Is it going well?"

Buffy looked surprised. "Odd of you to ask, Giles. I didn’t think you had issues about Spike and me?"

"No, no,” Giles added hastily, "that's not at all what I meant. I meant -- you seem happy?"

"Yeah, well, I guess I am…" It seemed to embarrass Buffy a little to admit to happiness.

"You seem to love each other very much?"

Buffy blushed and started to toy with a strand of her hair. She cleared her throat. "Well, you know, what does love mean, we're good…"

Giles did not give up that easily. “Don’t you love him then?"

“I don’t know what feelings I have...It’s like – slaying together is wonderful -- being able to share that, like it was with Faith before everything turned wrong...Living with Spike’s great, waking up together, everything…He looks after me, he knows me so well, he knows what I feel…”

“Have you told him how you feel?”

“Nah, me and the words...I show him.”

“Hmm.…” Giles didn’t know how to press the issue further, and fell silent for a moment.

“Just this, Buffy: life is short. Don’t put off saying the important things. You don’t get second chances.”

Buffy looked thunderstruck at this. Giles was a bit surprised at having reached her so effectively.

More people arrived. A friend of Willow’s, more like Faith than Tara, to Buffy’s surprise; friends of Xander’s, Clem, even a few sheepish looking work buddies of Spike’s from the garage, who seemed to be sorry he’d been fired.

The party went well. Huge quantities of burnt meat and booze were consumed, and it was long past midnight when people started drifting away.

At last only the core group of friends remained. Xander was stretched out in a chair, unable to move, either from drunkenness or too much Alice B. Toklas brownies. Willow and Dawn were having an endless confidential talk, Buffy and Spike were necking on a creaking chaise lounge, and Giles lay back looking up at the sky feeling quite happy.

Two silhouettes blocked the purple city glow up above him.

“Giles? You in there? Wanna come with on patrol? It’s a great night for it, look at the moon….”

Giles thought it was a great idea, but by the time he’d gathered enough purpose to say so Spike and Buffy were already gone. He stood up anyway, determined to catch up with them. The world was a little unsteady, but he’d been living in California for so long now that a little earthquake just didn’t faze him anymore. Quite cool and collected he went into the house for a few stakes. It was still Sunnydale after all, even if Buffy, with her new powers, had virtually committed genocide on vamps.

He was sure Buffy and Spike would start off their patrol in their usual cemetery. It was a pleasant walk, for all the buckling sidewalks and obstructive tree roots, and the wall surrounding the graveyard came into view quickly. Having arrived at the nearest corner, he could hear the sounds of a fight, not that far off. He tried to hasten his step, fingers tangling in his pocket protector as he tried to find a stake. He was just tall enough to look over the wall, and what he saw shocked him out of his inebriated complacence.

The fight was between Buffy and Spike! Spike was vamped out, and uttered terrifying growls as he rained blows and kicks on Buffy. Giles stared in utter astonishment. Spike turning evil was the last thing he had been expecting. He had to help Buffy! The cemetery gate was too far, by the time he could get there and had doubled back Buffy might be dead or worse.

He decided to climb the wall. He jumped in a single movement, being still agile and in good condition for his age, and couldn’t for a moment reconcile this view of the world with the reality. Reality had him hanging by the tips of his finger in the far end of the wall, and his stomach being squashed against it most unpleasantly. In the graceless manner of a sack of potatoes, he managed to hitch first one knee, then the other on the wall, and dragged the rest of his body after it. Perhaps he was a little heavier than a few years ago, but the wall was still unreasonably high and slippery. He lay down for a few moments, cooling his sweaty face on the rough surface of the wall. He could still hear the sounds of the fight, but really needed a moment to gather himself after his climb.

When the world behind his eyelids had stopped spinning, he carefully swiveled his head towards the mêlée. His shocked gaze beheld the two opponents locked in a bone cracking body crush. Spike lifted Buffy up and with a terrible roar backed her in to a crypt. Buffy’s legs had curled up, so that Spike crashed against her pelvis in such a way that it made Giles wince in sympathy. She groaned loudly in pain and yanked Spike’s head backwards by his curls.

“Break his neck, Buffy!” Giles tried to say, but his voice wasn’t working so well. Opening his mouth made him almost heave. When he could open his eyes again, Spike was tearing Buffy’s clothes off and bent over her neck, still fully vamped out, mouth stretched wide to strike. Buffy moaned again and yelled something Giles couldn’t understand. She shoved him off her, and Spike landed with a thud on the cemetery ground. She jumped on him like a cat, and started to tear his shirt off, biting his neck and chest, then tugging at his jeans. She roughly bent his arms backwards and made a shimmying movement with her hips. Only when she started to move up and down did it penetrate to Giles’ fuzzy brain what he was seeing.

His stomach immediately gave up the struggle and Giles had a few extremely unpleasant and humiliating moments, still on top of the cemetery wall. He did manage to vomit on the street-side, a small victory.

Giles must have dozed off for a bit, for when he regained awareness of the world around him, his left cheek was cold and numb where it was still lying on the cemetery wall, and his neck hurt. He opened his gummy eyes with difficulty and immediately beheld Spike and Buffy dressing each other and checking each other for grass stains.

Spike’s bright head was tenderly bent over Buffy’s, and Giles saw him picking bits of leaves and grass out of her hair, and smooth the long locks behind her ear. Buffy was doing up Spike’s shirt, softly talking to him. The moonlight shone on her bare breasts. Spike was smiling happily, and they exchanged a few more kisses. The scene contrasted so starkly with the one he had witnessed before that Giles felt utterly confused. How could they reconcile these two different worlds to each other? The tenderness and sweetness of the one with the brutality and violence of the other? Had he never really understood Buffy? Was this what she needed? This was beyond his Watcherly or even fatherly powers to comprehend. She would have to decide for herself.

“I love your hair, you know. It’s gone a really weird color in the moonlight, I can’t describe it,” Spike said softly as he combed out the tangles in the long tresses with his fingers.

“I’m sure I remember you saying I had stupid hair,“ Buffy teased, equally softly. “You were still my mortal enemy then, I guess.”

“Yeah, right!” Spike said. “I’d been staring at your window for hours, plotting your death, and all that I came up with when you saw me was a bloody lame remark about your hair and that I didn’t like you?”

“Um, not?”

“Of course not! I’d just realized I’d fallen in love with you, and it bloody well scared me, You Slayer, Me Vampire and all. So I said the exact opposite if what I meant, as people do when they’re shaken.”

“Yeah,” Buffy answered softly, playing with his shirt. “I get that. Last year and all. I said all those mean things to you, or nothing, while in reality…You know I love you, right?”

It came out of nowhere. Spike reeled, the world spun, and he had to hold on to Buffy to keep form falling. He tried to swallow away the huge lumps in his throat.

“I do now….” he answered, trying to keep his voice light.

Buffy buried her nose in his chest and clasped him inhumanly tight.

Giles groaned softly when the snogging and mutual grooming seemed to go on and on. Weren’t they done yet? If he was unlucky, he would be treated to another bout of what they called making love. Thank God. They started to walk to the cemetery gate, closely entwined. Giles stayed motionless on his awkward perch, and begged whatever Powers would listen that they wouldn’t discover him.

He could hear soft words exchanged as they passed him on their way home. The voices receded. Giles gingerly slid off the wall and made his unsteady way back to 1630 Revello Drive. He didn’t think he could drive home, but he vowed again this would be the last night he would ever sleep on the lumpy couch.

Epilogue

Buffy woke up in the middle of the night on full slayer alert. She lifted herself on her elbows and tried to assess what had woken her. Her eyes met Spike's. He was awake, too. His teeth gleamed in the moonlight as he stretched his lips in a feral grin.

"Let's go out and kill something, Slayer," he growled.

 Buffy felt an answering grin on her own face, and a rising anticipation, and something she couldn't quite identify. Happiness maybe? They dressed and loped out into the night, two perfectly matched warriors on the warpath. Anyone who was out that late, walking a dog perhaps, might not have known what manner of darkly clad creatures passed him by at great speed, eyes and bared teeth glinting under the street lamps.

Their extended predator senses led them unerringly to their opponents. A throng of assorted demons was trooping down Main Street, intent upon mayhem and plunder. Wordlessly they divided their tasks, one approaching the little troop from the front, the other circling to get behind. In the eerily silent town shouts rang out, dull thuds of bodies hitting hard objects, the ring of steel upon steel.

They met again over the bodies of slain demons. They stood looking at each other, battered and covered in multi-colored gore. Without speaking, they came together, completing the need that had risen out of bloodlust and victory.

Buffy didn't know what made her put her foot on the neck of her vanquished foe. She lifted her face to the moon, chest heaving, preparing to-- to do what exactly?

"Come on, Buffy," Spike urged, "let it out already!"

The victorious hunter threw her head in her neck and gave voice to her exhilaration. The other monsters in Sunnydale shivered in their lairs when they heard the cry of the Slayer, and cautioned their offspring to stay in at night. The hunter and her mate went home and slept the sleep of the well and truly satisfied.

THE END