All About Spike - Print Version
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Healing Touch
By Ariana

Buffy/Spike - [NC-17] - 22/01/2003
Set after "Showtime" (7x11) Safe in the Summers house with all the Slayers in Training, Spike is still suffering from the aftermath of his torture at the hands of the First. But Buffy knows how to cure him.

It was near dawn. Spike could sense it, almost feel it in his blood; time to sleep, to hide from the daylight, from all that was pure and good in the world. Soul made no difference. He was still a bloody vampire, still damned and banished from the light. Didn't deserve any better anyway.

As his senses fluttered out of unconsciousness, Spike kept his eyes closed and assessed his location. He was lying on something incredibly comfortable, which seemed to soothe and support every broken bone and torn muscle in his battered body. The air around him was filled with the scent of Buffy. The dye in her silky hair, the sweat on her soft skin, the moisture from her lovely pussy. It had to be a dream again, the kind where Buffy would touch him and kiss away his fears, only for him to wake up in the cold, damp cave, with that damn ghost jeering at him again.

But when he opened his eyes, all he could see was the cracked, white surface of an ordinary ceiling. Spike was lying in a bed. Buffy's bed. Even without moving his sore head, he recognised the pattern on the bedcover. He stared up at the ceiling again, trying to remember how he had got there. For so many months now, every waking hour had been a blur of pain and remorse, every hour of sleep filled with nightmares of torture and suffering. Or was it the other way around? He didn't know anymore. He remembered Buffy appearing in the cave, the two of them stumbling unhindered through the tunnels. Spike decided that he must have passed out with exhaustion shortly before they reached the house. Maybe Xander and Buffy had carried him home... to Buffy's place.

The scent of Buffy still filled his senses, taunting him with the bittersweet loss of the little she had given, and the promise of what he would never have. He turned his head slightly to one side and realised he was lying next to... a pair of leather boots? Despite the pain lancing through his neck, Spike lifted his head to look at the slumbering form beside him.

Buffy was asleep on the covers, lying on her side with one arm bent beneath her head. She was still dressed, and sleeping the sleep of the exhausted, as if rescuing Spike had drained her last strength. Her face was level with Spike's knees; he could just make out her calm expression in the dim morning light. There was even a slight smile on her lips, as if she were having a pleasant dream. It was good to see her resting so peacefully after watching over so many of her restless nights.

Spike wondered why she hadn't put him in chains in the basement after what had happened the last time. Perhaps she thought he was too weak to do any harm. Spike certainly didn't feel as if he would have the energy to go out killing people right now. He felt his eyes grow heavy. He was starved, and all the defiance which had kept him strong in the face of his imaginary adversary and its bony sidekick was ebbing away. He closed his bruised eyes and fell asleep.

The next time he woke up, Buffy was standing in front of the mirror, humming an indistinct tune as she applied makeup to cover her rapidly healing injuries. She had just come out of the shower; the air was full of the strong artificial smells of shower gel, shampoo and depilatory cream. Spike allowed himself a nostalgic smile when he recognised the camisole and knickers she was wearing. But his smile faded; he had no right to think about that.

He wanted to talk to her, tell her she was still the most beautiful thing in his universe, even after all the ghost's efforts to corrupt her image. But he was afraid it would make her angry. She had been so unexpectedly kind to him; he was terrified that the slightest word out of place might remind her who he was and make her revert to the cold Buffy he had known, the one the shapeshifter imitated so well. Better to remain quiet, holding his unnecessary breath like a child, afraid to break the spell.

Buffy raised her arms to pull on her polo-neck jumper and for a moment, the camisole was drawn tight across her chest, outlining the curves of her small breasts. Spike longed to join her, wrap his arms around her slender frame and rest his head against hers to better watch her reflection in the mirror. But she would be alone in the image they saw. Even with the soul, Spike was one of the damned. He had no reflection; he wasn't real.

He closed his eyes and pretended to sleep when Buffy abruptly turned towards him to pull on her trousers. He heard her come nearer, then the sound of the zip on each boot. Buffy walked over to the head of the bed and stood there in silence, her breath the only sound in Spike's ears. She was watching him, perhaps wondering whether to wake him now that it was daylight. But she said nothing, and walked away.

Young women. Pretty dresses with pretty girls in them. Party frocks and flapper bobs, love beads and horsehair bustles, plaits so long they could be sat upon, Sinead O'Connor skinheads, Doc Martens boots and false eyelashes. Oh, there had been thousands of young women. The air around him was heavy with the aroma of their perfume and hairspray, sweat and menstrual blood, desire and fear, innocence and corruption. So many women.

Spike opened his eyes.

"Bloody hell!" he exclaimed, sitting up against the metal headboard and clutching the sheet to his chest. "Who the hell are you?"

The half-dozen young girls assembled around the bed drew back and stared at him wide-eyed, as if he were a gorilla at the zoo. Presumably a very sick and battered gorilla at a zoo.

"We're Slayers in training," said the girl closest to him.

She was a handsome woman with dark, possibly Hispanic features, and seemed older than the others. She had a crossbow aimed at his chest. Spike noticed that the other girls were also equipped with crosses and stakes, though none looked as ready to use them as she was. He thought about telling them that Buffy might not appreciate finding her bed covered in the dust of her ex-boyfriend, but reconsidered. After all, it made sense that the first thing potential Slayers would learn in training was how to kill a vampire. Best not to startle them.

"Well, I'm Spike," he said, eyeing the crossbow and trying to look less weak than he was. He didn't want to appear too threatening, but on the other hand, he didn't want them to think he was a sissy either.

"We know, Buffy told us all about you," blurted out a girl with her brown hair done up in long bunches. She sounded English. Or possibly Australian; he wasn't hearing very well. Nosferatu's kicks to the head had probably damaged some essential internal organ.

"You're a vampire," said a girl with a silly hat.

"So that's why I can't get a suntan," said Spike wryly.

A couple of the girls giggled. Not a bad start. The thin metal bars on the bedstead were biting into Spike's bruised back, and the effort of sitting up made him dizzy. He slid back into a lying position, even though it probably made any illusion of strength evaporate.

"My Watcher told me vampires are cold, like corpses," continued Silly Hat. "Are you, like, really cold?"

"More like room temperature, luv." What was he, the subject of a Death Studies of Vampires course? Well, there were worse things to do with his time. "You can feel my hand if you want to know how cold I am. Might help you identify vampires when you come across them."

"Can I?" asked a South American girl who had been hiding behind the others. Spike nodded. The girl approached him warily and tentatively poked at one of his bruises. Spike winced.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to-- I guess vampires do feel pain," she told her companions gravely.

"Constant pain in my case," muttered Spike. There didn't seem to be a single part of his body that wasn't aching.

"Guess that thing tortured you real bad," said a black girl in overalls.

At the mere suggestion that he was weak, Spike tried to pull himself up into a sitting position again, but his body was determined to let him down. What good was it being a demon-infested corpse if the demon just gave up after a little starvation? He lay back on the pillow and tried to pretend that he was in this prone position by choice.

"Maybe we should leave you," said Dark Beauty, lowering her crossbow, her face full of sympathy. Great, they thought he was a wimp. "Buffy will be back to take care of you later."

Buffy was going to take care of him? "What do you mean?" he asked guardedly.

"Well, being your girlfriend and everything." Dark Beauty ran a significant look over the bed Spike was lying in.

"Oh, that's just-- Buffy always takes good care of the people she--" Cares for? Has known for a few years? Used to sleep with? "We're not together. And anyway, where is the lady of the house?"

"She went to work," said Bunches. "Dawn's at school, and Xander's at work, and Giles--"

"Giles is here?" asked Spike. "I thought he was hiding in Britain."

"He came back because of the--" started Silly Hat, but Dark Beauty silenced her with a glance.

"I think we've tired you enough," she said, before ushering the rest of the girls out of the room.

As she followed them, Dark Beauty turned back towards Spike. "Buffy left a note for you." She pointed at the bedside table. Spike saw a folded piece of paper he hadn't noticed before. "She said I should give you the blood that's in the refrigerator. Willow is out getting you some more. Does it need to be heated up?"

"Don't worry about it, luv," said Spike, smiling at her. "I'll be all right. But thank you, that's very kind."

"You're welcome. And I'm bringing you that blood. You're really important to Buffy; guess you need to keep your strength up."

She cast an amused glance at the bed again and went to join the other girls downstairs. Spike allowed himself a private chuckle at the girl's not so subtle innuendo. He pulled himself up onto one arm, wincing as the pressure on his elbow sent lancing pain up to his shoulder. He grabbed the letter Buffy had left and fell back, holding it up to read her large, uneven handwriting.


I have to go to work. I'll tell the principle I've got a sick reliti relative at home so I'll be back at lunchtime. We only have one bag of blood and it's kind of old. I told Kennedy, one of the girls whose staying here, that she should give it to you when you wake up. Guess I'll explain about the girls later. Giles will be around so talk to him if you have any problems.


She'd written him a letter. She knew he would talk to the schoolgirls before she came home, but she had still written him a letter. A real, handwritten letter, complete with spelling mistakes and crossed out words. Spike slid the letter under his pillow. Maybe she did care about him after all.

The effort of retrieving the letter flooded his body with pain, and he collapsed back on the bed with a groan. He could tell his injuries were serious. It might be weeks before he was fully recovered. God, he hoped old Turtle Head didn't come after him before then.

The girls were downstairs in the kitchen, directly under the master bedroom. With his vampire hearing, Spike could just about make out everything they were saying. Maybe his hearing wasn't so bad after all.

"Why can't we talk to him?" asked the South American girl. "He seems okay."

"Chloe's right. I think he's really fit!" said Bunches.

"'Fit'?" asked Overalls.

"That's English for 'hot'," explained Dark Beauty, presumably the 'Kennedy' mentioned in Buffy's letter.

"Fit is English for hot? Man, I'm never gonna understand this stuff."

"You think that...thing is hot, Molly?" exclaimed Silly Hat. "But he-- it's a vampire! They're evil and kill people! My Watcher says they don't have souls, and should be staked on sight." She lowered her voice; Spike could just imagine the earnest look on her little face. "We know Spike's been killing people. Maybe we should stake him now, before he kills us all!"

"Well, I ain't never had a Watcher," said Overalls, "and I've sure as hell never seen a soul. But it ain't up to us to go murder Buffy's boyfriend. She says she trusts him, that's good enough for me. Anything else is her problem."

Blimey. He spent two years trying to help and be good, and all he got was grief. Then he murdered a bunch of innocent people under the influence of a figment of his imagination, and now Buffy trusted him? He would have to have a word with her about this blind trust accorded to the souled.

"Rona is right," said Kennedy. "We've not here to judge whether this Spike deserves to be staked or not. But we shouldn't tell him anything about Buffy's plans. He might still be under the influence of the First."

The First? Uh-oh. Alarm bells went off in Spike's mind. He had heard vague rumours about it, underworld whispers saying that the First Evil was behind Angel's mysterious return from Acathla three years earlier. Maybe it had a special interest in souled vampires. Bloody hell. He went to do the most noble thing he could imagine to please Buffy and become a better person, and he unleashed the blimming essence of all evil on her instead.

"Oh, Spike, you bloody plonker," he whispered.

Spike woke up again a few hours later. He glanced at the sunlit curtains and wondered why he was having such trouble staying awake. Clearly, weeks of torture and famine in a cave hadn't done him any good. He closed his eyes again; the pain from his broken bones seemed to be getting worse. Kennedy had brought him the leftover pig's blood in a glass as instructed. But the coagulated, out of date mess didn't do much to make Spike feel better. If anything, it made him feel worse.

He realised that people were talking very close by. In fact, from the sound of things, all the original Scoobies were standing in the doorway to the room, including Giles. Spike wondered what the old Watcher made of him getting a soul. Probably not a lot, considering everything else that was going on. Spike allowed himself an ironic smile; bloody First, stealing his hard-earned thunder like that. Sure sign of evil.

"Well, I'm not exactly a specialist in vampire medicine," Giles was saying. "But judging by the bruises on his head, it's possible that Spike has a concussion. I should imagine it will be weeks before he is back to full strength."

"Maybe he'll get better when he's had some pig's blood," suggested Willow. "I can always go get some more, though the butcher kinda looked at me weird this morning."

"Human blood would have more effect," said Buffy quietly. "And Slayer blood might heal him in a matter of hours."

Spike wondered how she knew that, but then decided he would prefer not to know.

"Woah!" That was Xander. "So not liking that idea. We need Spike, sure; but we need you more. We can't have you weakening yourself when we have proto-Slayers to pick up and protect from all the First's little minions. It was bad enough last time you fed yourself to a vamp boyfriend."

That answered Spike's earlier question. He definitely would have preferred not to know. The thought of Buffy, barely older than Dawn, feeding herself to that great oaf Angel disgusted him. The soul had given Spike a stronger sense of connection and compassion for human beings, but had done nothing to lessen his dislike of his grandsire.

"Spike's not my boyfriend, and I wouldn't let it go that far," said Buffy. She lowered her voice. "But I need him. I know I can fight anything the First throws at me, but I can't be everywhere at once."

"We understand that." Spike could actually hear Giles cleaning his glasses. "But Xander is right, Buffy. Slayer blood might well cure him faster, but we only have one source of it. If Spike... loses control again, that could be the end of you. It would be best to put him in restraints in the cellar and feed him pig's blood until he recovers. Although he is very weak, we can't be certain that the First won't use him as a tool again."

Spike had to admit that the Watcher had a point; a person as dangerous as him shouldn't be lounging around in Buffy's bed. He drew in a deep breath and was about to express his agreement when Buffy spoke.

"Giles, I know that, but I need backup," she said. "I don't have time to wait for the pig's blood to heal him. I need Spike on his feet tonight."

"Maybe we can kinda compromise," suggested Willow with false cheeriness. "There are lots and lots of humans in the house; we can all donate a pint and he'll be back on his feet in no time! I mean, it's not like he'll come after us in a murderous rage because he's drunk our blood... right?"

"No, I don't think--" Buffy didn't sound sure; neither was Spike. He didn't like the turn this conversation had taken at all.

"So that's settled. You get a fit Spike, we get to do something useful. Everyone's a winner. Plus I have way more blood than you do anyway," added Xander. "Won't miss it a bit. Come on, if it's human blood he needs, I'll get a knife and we'll get started."

"I'm not going back on the juice."

Spike opened his eyes. They were all staring at him as if they had forgotten his presence. He tried to pull himself into a more dignified sitting position, but his body didn't want to comply. He would have to be content with some more dignified lying down.

"I agree," said Giles. "It would be detrimental to Spike's psychological recovery if he were to drink human blood again after what has happened. And we don't know what effect drinking our blood in particular would have on him."

A 'but' formed on Buffy's lips, though she glanced at Spike and said nothing. She was holding a brown paper bag; presumably the pig's blood Willow had mentioned.

"Okay, I'll give him the blood," she told the Scoobies. "You go downstairs and see how the potentials are doing. I'll join you later."

Willow said something about making lunch, and trotted out; Xander followed, looking very relieved. Under different circumstances, Spike would have enjoyed teasing him about his generous offer, but he decided to leave that for later, when he was feeling better. Giles lingered a little longer, observing Buffy with concern. When she failed to take her eyes off Spike to meet his gaze, the former Watcher left as well, closing the door behind him.

Buffy locked it and came towards Spike, her expression unreadable. She stood beside the bed, holding the grocery bag to her chest and observing Spike thoughtfully.

"Did Kennedy give you my note?" she asked, before looking away, her face crumpling into an amusing expression of embarrassment. "Did I misspell 'principal' in it?"

"Yes." He decided not to mention that she had also misspelled 'who's'. "But it was very kind of you to let me know what you were doing." He eyed the bag she was holding and felt a pang of hunger. "Kennedy gave me the blood, too. I feel a lot better." He mustered all the strength he could to prop himself up against the pillow. "I'll be ready to help you any time you need me."

Buffy didn't look convinced. "Yeah. You always were a terrible liar." She pulled out a bag of blood and handed it to him. "Willow got you some more blood this morning; at least this is fresh. We kinda figured you'd be hungry. Andrew said he thought the First would try to bleed you dry." She looked at the symbols carved on his chest and winced. "Guess he got that bit right."

"I'll be fine," Spike assured her, though he felt less than fine. He looked at the shining red bag of blood; it felt heavy in his broken hand.

"Can I have it in the glass?" he asked, not fancying his chances of holding the bag up for any length of time. He wasn't even sure he had the strength to shift into game face.

"Sure. Sorry."

Buffy ran into the bathroom to wash the glass, then came back to pour out some blood for him. He winced in spite of himself when he tried to grasp the glass and raise it to his lips. Buffy sat on the bed beside him and lifted Spike's head, tipping the glass towards his mouth. With his head leaning against her chest, her heartbeat echoed in his mind, calling to his demon even as the smell of her arousal called to the man in him. Arousal? He decided that his senses were deceiving him. There was nothing arousing about feeding a broken vampire; perhaps he wasn't finished with his hallucinations after all.

He realised that the hand which held his head to her breast was now idly running through his hair, sending small tingles of pleasure through his tired body. Buffy's unexpected tenderness was a hundred times more effective than the weak animal blood. Spike stopped drinking and leaned against her, closing his eyes and breathing in her kindness like the sweetest fragrance. Buffy put the glass back on the bedside table and hugged Spike closer.

"Oh, Spike, I'm so sorry," she murmured, her breath caressing his forehead.

"Shh, nothing to be sorry about," he answered. He didn't care what she said as long as she kept holding him. Unfortunately, Buffy appeared to be in a loquacious mood. She loosened her hold on him as she continued.

"If I'd saved you sooner... I should have gotten you out of that basement months ago. But it was just -- I guess I knew things had changed and I couldn't admit it. If I'd helped you, I would have known sooner about the First, and--"

Spike pulled out of her embrace and lay back on the bed. "If wishes were horses, pet. You don't know what might have happened. I thought I was protecting that seal; turns out the First just brought me there to raise Nosferatu. And I probably caused it to manifest itself in the first place. I gather it's got a thing about vampires with souls."

"I don't know." Buffy lowered her eyes. "The Eye of Bilge-Oxy said it was something to do with me. A weakness in the Slayer line. Upset balance. Giles and Anya kinda tried to explain but with everything going on, I didn't really get it. But I guess I was meant to stay dead."

Buffy was visibly upset by the idea; Spike didn't like it at all either. Because if the weakness in the Slayer line was Buffy's existence, then it logically followed that the way to restore balance was to kill her. And for all his determination to become a better man, Spike couldn't imagine saving the world from evil if it was at Buffy's expense. Now he knew how she had felt up on that tower.

"I wouldn't put any great store in what the Eye of Beljoxa says, love," he assured her in a light voice. "Oracles like that are two a penny. Just because they're in another dimension, they think they know everything. Besides, we can't undo the past..."

His voice trailed off as a wave of dizziness came over him. So this was a concussion, eh? He'd seen worse, when some big nasty decided to cave his skull in over some imagined slight or gambling debt. But back in those days, Dru had been there to feed him fresh humans. The blood Buffy had given him was useless; it would take ages for him to recover at this rate. But maybe some sleep would help. Spike reached for Buffy's hand and closed his eyes.

"Spike! Wake up!"

Buffy's shrill voice broke through his sleep. Spike opened his eyes, trying to understand why she was shaking him so hard that his teeth were chattering and tearing at his lips. But then he realised that the taste of blood in his mouth wasn't only his. He could taste her too, the unmistakable potent savour of a Slayer's blood on his tongue. Spike recoiled in terror, paying no attention to the pain in his body as he huddled against the bed frame.

"God, what happened?" he exclaimed. "Did I hurt anyone?"

He was still in bed. Buffy was sitting beside him, sucking at a cut on her thumb. Giles stood nearby, with Willow and Xander behind him. Further away, Spike could see the girls observing the scene from the doorway. Most of them looked worried, or even concerned, but Giles was visibly furious with Buffy.

"What happened?" asked Spike again, his eyes begging Buffy to tell him the truth.

She ran her tongue along the wound on her thumb; in spite of himself, Spike felt a surge of desire.

"You were in a coma," she explained. "I couldn't wake you up!" There was fear in her voice.

"You fed me some of your blood?" he said with distress.

The concern in her eyes was replaced with anger. "It was the only way to save you."

"Save me from what? Oblivion? The inability to hurt anyone else?"

Spike hugged his knees under the covers. He could feel the effect of her blood already; the pain in his limbs had eased, and although it was still bruised, his head no longer felt as if it were full of cotton wool. Unfortunately, he was now clear-headed enough to grasp the enormity of what Buffy had done. He had never fed off someone and let them live very long. For all he knew, Willow might have been right, and he would think of Buffy as food from now on.

"Spike is right, it was a foolish thing to do, Buffy," exclaimed Giles, his high forehead furrowed in anger. "And completely unnecessary!"

"You don't understand," growled Buffy, turning her wrath on her former Watcher. "I know what I need to do."

"Okay, folks, I think the show's over," said Xander, turning to usher the Slayerlings back out of the room. "Let's go get some cookies and celebrate our first day with no Turok-Han."

The girls protested, their chirping only gradually fading as Xander escorted them down the stairs. Willow hesitated, but then followed them, leaving Giles to argue with Buffy. And Spike to sit huddled up on the bed, wondering if he should get involved in the argument.

"Explain it to me, Buffy," demanded Giles. "What is so important that you feel the need to endanger your life? Spike will recover on his own; he's a vampire. There was no need for you to weaken yourself just to wake him up."

Buffy got off the bed, her little face raised towards her Watcher's in defiance. Spike knew that determined expression; it was the one that got her anything she wanted, whatever the cost. Spike still wasn't clear why she was that desperate for his help, but he was beginning to think that if it was really that important to her, perhaps Giles should trust her to know what was best. Buffy could always stake Spike if things turned sour.

"One drop of blood isn't 'weakening myself', Giles," said Buffy, visibly trying to sound patient, but just coming off as seriously annoyed. "I can kill the Bringers, I can kill the Turok-Han, but I can't be everywhere at once. I need every strength I've got, and when it comes to combat, Spike is my only backup." She stared at Giles intently, but then her eyes dropped to the floor. "I'm sorry, but anything else is none of your business."

"Is it not?" said Giles through clenched teeth. "I think that after what happened the last time you took a fancy to a vampire, it is very much my business to ensure that you don't make the same mistake again. These creatures seduce you with whatever it is that draws you to them, but it cannot end well, Buffy. The same things which separated you from Angel apply to Spike."

Buffy shook her head, a sarcastic smile on her lips. "Yeah, except when Spike left town for my own good, he fixed his problem and came back! And why does everything have to be about Angel? That's over and done with. I'm not going to let something that happened years ago ruin my life now. Not anymore. You're the one who skipped town to make me grow up, right? Well, I'm grown up now. And if this is a mistake, it's my mistake to make."

She folded her arms in a way that brooked no contradiction. Giles glanced at Spike, shook his head with disgust, and left the room. Buffy sat down on the edge of the bed with a sigh.

"I don't want to be trouble, pet--" started Spike.

"Oh, shut up."

Spike sank back down, resting his painful head on the pillow; the cotton wool had disappeared, but the bruises were still there. He heard Buffy's letter crumple beneath the pillow. Glancing at her tense form beside him, he wondered how she would react if he tried to comfort her.

"That was quite a speech," he said, before realising that complimenting her for defending him wasn't a great way to display detachment from the situation. She'd probably think he liked her speech because she had put Angel down. Which was true, of course, though Spike also admired her for standing up to her Watcher.

"Yeah, I'm kind of getting the hang of speeches these days." Buffy turned towards Spike, an apology written on her face before she even continued. "I'm sorry about that. I mean, Giles being so-- I don't know what's up with him these days; he's been acting weird ever since he came back. Kinda cold. I guess it's either because of all this stuff with the First, or because he's not used to me being in charge."

Spike frowned, trying to place himself in Giles' shoes. "He's been gone a while, doing other things. Sometimes it's hard to get back in the saddle."

"I guess. We've both changed; we can't go on the way we did before."

To Spike's surprise, Buffy lay down beside him, her back only a short distance from his front. After a moment's hesitation, Spike reached out towards her; his hand hovered over her shoulder and the dip of her waist before coming to rest at the apex of her hip. He could feel the warmth of her body through the rough denim, and once again smelled the heady scent of her desire rising through the air.

That Buffy had once wanted him sexually was not in doubt. As a soulless being, he had been blind to her real needs; now that the scales had fallen from his eyes, he knew that it wasn't really him she had wanted. And no matter how much she wanted it, a dead body was not what she needed. Spike removed his hand.

Buffy rolled onto her back to catch it, her large eyes filled once more with steely determination. Spike's heart sank; he had a feeling she was going to tell him something he wasn't going to like.

"I guess Kennedy told you already, but the girls downstairs are Slayers in training," she explained, absentmindedly stroking the back of his hand. "The First has some thing about eliminating the Slayer line, starting with all the potentials and ending with Faith and me."

Spike was about to ask who Faith was, but decided that would waste too much energy. After a moment, it occurred to him that she was the other Slayer, the one he'd never met.

"It's something to do with this imbalance in the Slayer line that the Eye of Buyaka mentioned," continued Buffy. "Anyway, the First's minions, the Bringers, have been killing potentials all around the world, so all these girls are coming here to help me. Two more are coming in tonight. One by bus, one by boat. I know the Bringers will be there to meet them." She swallowed, her thin pale throat undulating briefly before she spoke again. "I need you to meet one of them while I meet the other."

"That's why you want me to get better."

"Well, that and I do actually want you to get better," she assured him, before adding, "Besides, I want my bed back."

Spike smiled, but then became serious again. "What happens if the First sings its little tune, love?"

Buffy looked away, an embarrassed expression on her pretty face. She squeezed his hand tighter. "Xander and Willow can come with you. Make sure you don't... Just in case." She looked at him again, her long-lashed hazel eyes boring into his soul with the intensity of her determination. "But I need someone strong who can fight the Bringers in hand-to-hand combat. You're the only one."

"Haven't done so well against them before, pet. Let them kidnap me, after all." Spike pulled his hand out of Buffy's; his encounter with the Bringers had probably been one of lowest points of his existence as far as his pride was concerned. It was right up there with being kidnapped and experimented on by GI Joe and his army of men in pyjamas.

"Well, you were chained up; guess I kind of made it easier for them. I know you will beat them this time," said Buffy, as if speaking the words were enough to make it happen. "For me. For the girls."

Spike thought of the young girls he had met that morning. The idea that he could help Buffy rescue others like them made him hesitate. With his thousands of murders in his head, the idea of saving lives instead of taking them was appealing. It wasn't as if he had to kill Buffy to regain his strength; Slayer blood was probably potent enough to cure him with only a small quantity. Not that he would know, having completely drained his first Slayer and not bothered to drink from the second.

He really hated being a vampire right now; he should have stuck to his original plan, and asked to become human. He would probably have been dead by now, and done everyone a favour. But no, he had to be clever, and stay a vampire so he could be Buffy's bloody knight in shining armour, and have the illusion that he was actually any use to her. What a plonker.

"I don't want to drink from you," he said. He looked at the ceiling, trying to express how he felt in spite of his distress. Blood play had never been part of their relationship. Ever since he had fallen in love with Buffy, Spike's ambition had been to be a man to her, to hide the monster as best he could. Even at his worst, he had been a man, not a vampire.

"You-- The whole point of all this is that you made me feel like a man. Made me want to be a man. Don't ask me to be a monster again."

Buffy turned onto her side to face him fully. "Spike, part of you is a monster. And maybe trying to ignore it won't help. It's like me..." She too was struggling to find the right words. "It would be like me denying that there's a part of me that enjoys the death and violence that being the Slayer entails. Even though I know it's wrong to give into it completely, I know it's there, and I know I can use it to do good."

She touched the bruises on his face. "I guess what I'm asking you to do is your worst nightmare. You're afraid you'll drain me..." She paused. "...And I guess I'm afraid I'll let you. But we have to overcome our fears if we're going to fight this thing. We have to face the evil in us and use it to do good." Spike didn't like the sound of that, but Buffy seemed resolute. "You told me you knew how much blood to drink without killing someone, right? That means you know how much to take from me without making me too weak."

Spike shook his head. "I was trying to frighten you, pet. It wasn't a treatise on vampirism."

"Well, I trust you," she said simply, as if this Earth-shattering pronouncement were the most natural thing in the world. "I know you're strong, Spike. Let me give you strength."

Spike hesitated, mesmerised by Buffy's certitude, but at the same time terrified at the idea of drinking from her. Unleashing the demon, giving in to the blood lust he had successfully mastered all these years -- with a little help from the chip -- and becoming once more what he abhorred; he wasn't sure he would be able to control himself.

But then perhaps that was the point. Buffy was offering him a test; to face the evil inside him head-on and use it to do good. If he won, he would have proved to himself -- and to her -- that he really was a man. If he lost...

"What if I don't stop?"

Buffy pursed her lips, a wrinkle appearing on her forehead at the suggestion that he might fail. She turned over and pulled a stake out of the bedside cabinet. It was mahogany, dark and smooth, well rounded at the top and sharp at the end. He would die a good death from such a weapon. Though he would still be dying a failure.

Buffy gave him a wan smile and leaned over to kiss his lips, a sweet soft caress unlike the needy, passionate kisses they had shared the year before. Spike closed his eyes a moment, savouring the taste of Buffy's lips and the smell of her breath. When he opened his eyes, Buffy turned her head to expose her jugular to his lips. The pale artery was marred by the superimposed scars of two bite marks. Spike's demon could feel the blood pulsing under the scars, but he felt sick at the idea of feeding on her. It wasn't something a man would do. It was something Angel and Dracula would do.

He turned away in disgust. "They'll see it," he pleaded, hoping that the threat of her friends finding out would make her change her mind.

Buffy pulled away and kneeled beside him, her hands on her knees, the stake resting in the hollow between her legs. She observed him in silence, questioning him with her large, thoughtful eyes. Spike thought about the girls on their way to Sunnydale; if he hadn't been such an idiot and let bloody Dr Evil drain him of all his blood, he would have been out there with Buffy in a flash. And even now, he couldn't let them all down just because he was afraid. He nodded.

To his surprise, Buffy didn't offer him her neck again. Instead, she unbuttoned her trousers and sat on the edge of the bed to wriggle out of them. The manoeuvre was lacking in dignity and Spike couldn't help smiling.

The smile faded when Buffy kneeled on the bed again, and he was faced with the sight of her naked legs and the dark hairs curling out of her lacy panties. He looked up at her, took a deep breath, and called the demon forward. Buffy stared at him for a moment, as if she had forgotten the look of his vampire face. But then she lifted one leg over his head to straddle his face.

Spike ran his lips along the pulsating line of her femoral artery, dizzy with hunger, desire, and the effort of keeping his game face when he was so weak. Lifting his eyes to Buffy's face, locking his demon gaze with hers, Spike opened his mouth and bit down on her warm flesh.

Buffy threw her head back with a sensual groan, and bit on one finger to stifle any further cries. Her heartbeat had quickened and the air was filled with the unmistakable scents of arousal and fear. Her blood filled his mouth, ran through his veins, giving new strength to his torn muscles and broken bones.

Spike was fully aroused now, drunk on her blood and the smell of her desire. He shifted back into his human face and moved his lips further up her leg to kiss the front of her knickers. This was what he wanted to be; her lover, not her parasite.

Buffy fell onto her back beside him, breathing hard, her hands tangled in his hair to keep his face between her legs. She turned onto her side, facing his hips, and lifted her wounded leg to give him better access. There was a wet patch on her knickers now; Spike lay on his side to kiss it, then licked off the trickle of blood running down her milky thigh. He was back to full strength for the first time in months, in control of his destiny, and in Buffy's bed. This was one of the most exhilarating days of his existence.

His head snapped away from Buffy's groin when he felt her slide his erection into her mouth. Spike stared at her with surprise, watching his member disappear between her rosy lips. He bucked into her automatically, too amazed at this whole turn of events to remember all the speeches he had prepared to turn down any offers of sex, should any arise. He had believed he was unworthy of any woman's attentions after the existence he had led, let alone Buffy's. She evidently didn't agree.

Buffy's ministrations driving all other considerations from his mind, Spike plunged his face back between her legs, pulling her knickers aside to lick her hard. Buffy moaned then suddenly released him. Her thighs tightened around Spike's head and she bit on her knuckle again as her whole body shook with the force of her orgasm.

Her scent, her moans, her taste were all combining to make Spike light-headed with desire. Buffy had started sucking him again; he groaned and ran his hands through her hair to warn her that he was close. Her violent reaction to him coming in her mouth the previous year had ensured that he had never tried to repeat the experience. This time, though, she continued her ministrations. Pushed even further by this unexpected development, Spike came, grasping her hips and watching as she continued to lick him, and swallowed.

They lay in silence for a moment, watching each other, lying side by side on the bed.

Buffy looked at the stake she was still grasping in one hand, then threw it over the side of the bed. She moved to bring her face closer to Spike's. Her pink lips curled into a dazzling smile which seemed to illuminate her pretty little face, uncovering her even white teeth and spreading to her lovely down-turned eyes.

"You're smiling," said Spike with wonder.

"I do that sometimes," she said brightly. "I practice in front of the mirror."

Spike sat up and stroked her face. "You're beautiful."

"You're not looking bad yourself." Buffy gave him a flirtatious look he had only occasionally seen her cast in his direction. She leaned over to kiss one of the fading symbols carved on his chest. It had vanished by the time she straightened up.

Buffy touched Spike's forehead, then brushed her fingers over his left eye and down his cheek.

"Your bruises are all gone," she said in a low voice.

Spike caught her hand and held it to his lips. "Yes, pet, you've healed me. Thank you."

"Shh. It was long overdue," she whispered, leaning forward to kiss his mouth. "I don't want to hurt you anymore, Spike."

"Is this different with the soul?"

Spike raised one eyebrow at Buffy's daft question, though any thought of teasing her vanished when he noticed the tender look in her eyes. She was gorgeous, her skin and hair golden in the glow of the afternoon light, her arms warm around his neck, her body light on his lap as they sat entwined in the middle of her bed.

"The soul is still there, right?" asked Buffy, only half serious.

"Yes, as far as I can tell, the soul is still there. And this is a bit different; not physically... It just feels--" He couldn't find the right words. "It's different," he concluded, running his fingers through her shiny hair. He grinned. "And what do you mean, is the soul still there? You don't think I would go to the end of the world just to get a dodgy soul, do you? This is quality stuff, this soul. Not going anywhere."

"Good," she said with a grin. "It would be a shame to miss this."

Buffy lifted her hips up for a moment before slowly lowering herself down onto his lap again. Spike groaned, gripping her thighs to encourage her to repeat the movement. He really could have lost a soul over this. The afternoon had been bliss; wild sex with Buffy had seemed the height of perfection the previous year, but it was nothing compared to making love in her bed, basking in the warmth of her affection.

Her arms still around Spike's neck, Buffy leaned back slightly, changing the angle of penetration and closing her eyes when she found just the right spot. Spike held her waist to help her maintain her position, then thrust very slowly into her, watching her face to gauge the correct rhythm. Buffy had always wanted it hard and fast before, as if the violence could distract her from her feelings of alienation and self-loathing. But everything was different now.

Buffy opened her eyes to smile at Spike, her lips parted by her ragged breath. She leaned forward and kissed him, her tongue lapping passionately at his before she threw her head back and moaned. Spike thought about reminding her -- again -- that loud moans were liable to bring the whole household running into the room. But he could hear the potentials and Scoobies talking downstairs; whatever they were doing, they didn't seem to be worrying about Buffy and Spike.

Further aroused by the sight of Buffy's naked body arching away from him, and the ecstatic smile on her face, Spike dug his fingers harder into her hips and started to thrust faster. Buffy didn't protest at the change of rhythm; she smiled at him again, her hazel eyes locked on his until she closed them and cried out, digging her nails into his shoulders as her body shook with pleasure. Spike also cried out as he came, the sight of Buffy's orgasm almost as overwhelming as his own. They collapsed into a heap on the bed.

Spike curled up against Buffy's hot body, resting his head on her chest to listen to her thundering heartbeat. When she got her breath back, Buffy craned her neck to look at the clock above the bed.

"Oh God," she said. "I did see the time right; it really is 5 pm." She looked at Spike accusingly. "How did it get to be 5 pm? We've been here for hours. I don't understand why no one came looking for us."

"Maybe they didn't because they were afraid they'd be looking at this," said Spike, indicating their naked bodies.

Buffy made a face. "Ew. I mean, Giles is like my father! Anyway, come on. We need to go downstairs and show we're still alive."

She got off the bed and tried to drag him with her, but Spike was quite content to lie down a moment longer. Buffy tried tickling him, then poked him a little. Spike just laughed and pulled her on top of him to kiss her.

"Spike, get up!" she admonished. "We have Bringer ass to kick, remember?"

Kicking ass had been one of his favourite occupations without a soul; he wondered if it would feel different now. Perhaps he would feel compassion for the creatures he killed. He thought about the First's hooded minions and decided that was unlikely to happen. If they were killing young women like the ones downstairs, they deserved to die.

As Spike got up off the bed, he was seized with a sudden reluctance to leave the room. Even though it seemed unlikely given what they had shared that afternoon, he was afraid that stepping over the threshold would break the spell, and restore Buffy's usual cold attitude towards him. But they couldn't stay locked away in her bedroom forever. As Buffy turned away to put on her camisole, Spike took her letter from under the pillow and slid it into the pocket of his jeans. If nothing else, he could always keep the memories.

Xander had evidently brought over all the clothes Spike had left in the 'closet'; there was a stack of black garments on the chair by the wardrobe. As he selected a shirt to wear, Spike made a mental note to thank Xander when he next saw him. Given their past animosity, he was touched by the man's kindness.

As he prepared to put on the shirt, Spike was surprised to feel Buffy's hands on his shoulders, and then running down his back to his buttocks. She leaned against him, her small breasts pressed against his skin, and her hair tickling his back in a way that made him shiver. Spike felt his arousal rise again when Buffy slid her arms around him and fondled his chest.

He smiled and turned around, taking her hands in his and gazing mischievously into her eyes.

"Do you want me?" he asked with a flirtatious smile.

"Oh, yeah," she responded enthusiastically.

"Do you l--" He caught himself just in time, and shook his head, smiling at the stupid question he had been about to ask. He knew the answer already; why cause himself more pain?

"I don't know," said Buffy, as if the question had been asked after all. "I know I have feelings for you, but I-- it's complicated."

Spike stepped away and pulled on his jeans. "It's all right, pet. I know how you feel. You don't have to say anything."

"No, I do. I don't want you to think that what just happened--" She nodded in the direction of the bed. "--was like last year. I've changed. You've changed. I just want to-- I don't know what I feel." She looked down at the floor, her eyes unfocussed. "Sometimes it's like you're everything I want, everything I need. And you used to be everything I hate too, and that made things easier in a way. But now that's changed, and it's-- scary, I guess. I don't know if that's love."

Spike stared at her, trying to make sense of what she had just said. "You think it's not love because you don't want to write my name with little hearts around it?"

"Something like that." Buffy smiled at that mental image, then looked up at Spike. She ran her hands over his chest, the tenderness in her eyes enough to make his undead heart flutter with hope. "Or maybe I'm just kidding myself."

"Well, whatever you feel for me, it's more than I deserve," he said, shaking his head.

Buffy leaned her face against his chest, as if listening for a non-existent heartbeat. "Sometimes, I think you're more than I deserve, too."

Spike started to protest, appalled at the idea that his princess of light might feel unworthy of a man like him. But Buffy shushed him with a gentle finger on his lips.

"Maybe we deserve each other," she murmured, looking up at him again, her chin resting just beneath his collarbone. "Come on, let's see what everyone is doing."

As they came down the stairs, they could hear the sound of voices and laughter from the living room. Spike felt his earlier fear return. Buffy wouldn't want to enter the room with him in tow; it would be too obvious what they had been doing, and she would have to be cruel to him to show there was nothing untoward happening between them. Even if everyone knew, she would probably want to be discreet. With this in mind, Spike turned the corner at the bottom of the stairs, heading for the kitchen. Buffy caught his hand.

"Hey, where are you going?" she asked in a low whisper.

"Don't want to give them the wrong idea, love," he replied, indicating the living room door. "I'll get something to eat, come in later. Less obvious that way."

Buffy shook her head in amused disbelief. Saying nothing, she squeezed his hand tighter and pulled him into the living room with her.

Some of the potential Slayers were in a circle on the floor, playing cards. Giles was on the sofa, reading a book, while Anya, sitting beside him, curled Dawn's long brown hair with a pair of dangerous-looking curling tongs. At the other end of the room, Andrew and Xander were at the research table, arguing over the plot of some comic book. Kennedy was helping Willow with something on the computer. The witch kept giving Kennedy strange looks, as if she wasn't quite sure what the girl wanted from her.

Everyone turned to stare at them when Buffy and Spike entered the room hand in hand.

"Hi, guys," said Buffy. "I guess I didn't really introduce him last night..."

She turned towards Spike and smiled at him before casting a defiant look at the people assembled in the living room.

"This is Spike. He's on our team."

This story is copyright 22/01/2003 by Ariana. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the property of Mutant Enemy.