All About Spike - Print Version
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The Slave Series
By jodyorjen

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



Chapter One: Willing Slave

We have never danced before. Well, not to music anyway. The band onstage at the Bronze rocks the house, pounding out a throbbing bass line. The beat reverberates through the floor, pulsing through the bodies of the crowd.

I remember the first time I saw her, shaking her ass right here on the dance floor. I'd wanted to screw her even then. It really didn't matter that she was the slayer. I'd just liked the way she moved her hips. It made me wonder what it would be like underneath her, with that silky hair sliding through my fingers.

I know now. Her scent, her skin, her sounds all belong to me now. It is all so much better than I'd imagined. She is the same girl. Then again, she's not. That girl was an innocent, unaware of the temptation she presented. This girl, my girl, she knows what she does to me. She thrives on it.

She radiates sex appeal, knowing every thing she does turns me on. I've got my very own slayer, grinding and moving to the music with me. Dressed in a tiny black leather dress, she is my wet dream come to life.

The band launches into a slow ballad. Grabbing the lapels of my coat, she draws me close. I bend my head down, capturing her mouth in a long, lush kiss. She slips her hands inside the duster, wrapping her arms around me.

I rest my head on top of hers. I love the smell of her hair. It is one of the things that draw me to her. Her scent goes straight to my heart.

Buffy tilts her neck up to look at me. The smile she gives me is unexpected. She doesn't smile much anymore. Her hand moves to the front of my jeans. She starts to undo the buttons of my fly. I try to still her hand, but she flicks my wrist away. Staring up at me, she shakes her head. Pulling my cock out of my pants, she strokes it between her palms.

Baby wants to play. Whipping my coat around her back, I hide us from the surrounding crowd. She steps up on my feet, like a little girl learning to waltz. Buffy curls one leg around mine, bracing herself while she shoves me inside her.

Sweet holy God, it feels so fine. I realize I am at her mercy. I can't move my hands, because they are clenched in the duster, holding it shut. I can't thrust my hips and move inside her, because someone might notice. It occurs to me that we are standing still in a sea of swaying people. Moving to the beat, I slide my feet from side to side. I can't believe Buffy is doing this.

Her strong little hands wrap around my ass, gripping my jeans. She is pushing me slowly, gently in and out of her warmth. The rings of muscle inside her squeeze me inch by inch, back and forth. The sensation is so very strong, more intense for being so slow. I continue the dance, moving us both to the strains of the sad love song.

She looks up at me, her face giving away absolutely nothing. Buffy whispers in my ear.

"Do you like the way I feel?"  Consumed by the juggling act of holding back my orgasm, not making any noise, and keeping up the pretense of the dance, all I can do is nod. "You know what I like about fucking you?"

I shake my head no, hoping she is going to talk dirty to me. "I like the way your hips start to twitch when your orgasm builds." Her tongue glides up and down my neck. "I like the way your eyes get all hazy when you're right on the edge." She is licking me harder now, perfectly in time with the rhythm of sex. "I like making things happen to you."

Buffy presses her sharp nails into my jeans as she keeps working me back and forth inside her. The fabric rips and her nails cut into my flesh. The pain, the pain is so sharp that I nearly lose it. She stares up at me and bites her lower lip. Beads of blood well up in a curve across it.

"I want to give you what you really want."

She kisses me, and the aphrodisiac effect of her blood hits my system like an atomic blast.

Have to come. Have to vamp. Oh, fuck me sideways. I bury my head in her chest as my demon and my orgasm burst forth. Desperately, I try to hide my face and fangs and conceal my cry of ecstasy simultaneously. I am undone by the pain, the pleasure, the blood of a Slayer. In a hundred years, nothing has even come close to feeling this good.

Her heartbeat thrums loudly beneath my cheek. As I calm and still, my demon receding, she sets my pants to rights and slides off my body. As soon as she hits the floor, the band launches into a fast number. We are surrounded by a sea of bouncing, happy people, screaming out the lyrics to a classic 80's tune.

I grab Buffy's arm and pull her through the masses, hustling her out into the alley.

"What the fuck are you playing at? That was dangerous! Have you lost all sense?"

She looks flushed and intense, barely keeping herself in check.

"You said you'd be my willing slave." She wraps her arms around my neck and kisses me hard.

She sucks on my tongue, licking and stroking the inside of my mouth. Buffy pulls away and caresses my cheek. "I wanted you to prove it."

I can smell her arousal and feel the tension in her body. I've left her unsatisfied, shaking with need. Better fix that. Scooping her in my arms, I dash down the alley.

Where's the fucking car? Somewhere in this parking lot.

I dash down row after row. Not my car, not my car, not my car. Ah, there is my car.

I fumble with the key, trying to get it in the lock. Buffy is sucking my neck and rubbing me through my pants. She is driving me insane. The key snaps in the lock. "Bloody hell."

Punching out the lock with my thumb, I open the door, tossing Buffy inside. I slam the door shut behind me and yank up her dress.

The scent of her overwhelms me, as clean and salty as the sea. Spreading her thighs, I lick her swollen clit over and over, until she arches and comes into my mouth. I swallow her juices down, the taste of her essence better than blood, better than anything.

Looking up at her, she is still taut with tension, not yet calm and blissful. I suck her lips into my mouth, my tongue swirling and probing inside her. I can feel her orgasm building as I work her with all I can give.

She is chanting, over and over, like she is reciting the words to a spell. "You're mine- I own you- never leave me- I own you-you're mine-" Buffy moans as her climax engulfs her.

She pulls me up to her and I hold her in my arms.

In the light of the street lamp, she glows like an angel. There is nothing in this world more beautiful than her.

She looks over at me, contented and pleased. Something more than desire blazes inside her eyes. In their depths lies something deeper than lust.

Buffy places her hands around both my wrists and holds them tight, binding me to her.

The truth is there in the looks she gives me, the yearning in her voice, and this need for me that cannot be denied. The signs are all perfectly clear. It's only a matter of time until she realizes this claim she's made binds both ways.



Chapter Two: Slave in Shackles

Candlelight flickers off the stone walls of the dark crypt. Propped up on one elbow, Spike watches his lover sleep. Buffy seems so sweetly innocent in slumber, her hair and skin glowing from within. The image is marred by the telltale bruises and scratches etched on the perfection of her skin.

Just looking at the lines of red and patches of blue moves Spike deeply. She is marked as his. His arousal flares once more as he thought of their lovemaking, of the feel of her body and the sound of her cries. He wants her again, badly, too urgently to wait.

Straddling her back, he moves her hair aside and licks her ear. His tongue trails down the lobe, tracing down her neck and nipping at her collarbone. His hands move over the skin of her back, caressing her.

Buffy stirs beneath him. Making small sounds of appreciation, she rolls. Gazing up at him with sleepy eyes, she pulls him down to her, kissing him sweetly. The kiss becomes deeper. Spike rubs against her, stiff with desire. Arching her hips into place, she slides him inside her.

They begin to move together, still locked in their kiss. Buffy's hands wander down Spike's back, lightly scratching his skin.

Spike breaks their kiss, moving his mouth down to suck on her neck. Moaning with pleasure, she arches her back, encouraging him. "Please," she whimpers. "More." Spike sucks her harder and harder, thrusting farther and faster inside her, until Buffy's body locks up all around him, stiffening with orgasm.

"Buffy," Spike cries, the momentum of her release propelling him over the edge.

"Oh, God," she whimpers, her head rolling back as intense pleasure rocks her body.

"Mmm," murmurs Spike, collapsing on her chest. They lay tangled together on the bed, enjoying the closeness of each other.

Buffy looks over at Spike's relaxed face. "That was a really nice way to wake up. You are a super deluxe alarm clock."

He smiles at her, pleased with his prowess. "That's me, love. Your own personal appliance."

They laugh and kiss again.

Buffy rests her head on Spike's shoulder, wrapping her legs with his as they lie together.

"I really like having sex with you," says Buffy.

"Why thanks, Slayer. Happy to be of service," replies Spike, a glint in his eye.

She pulls his head to hers, rewarding him with a deep, intimate kiss. Settling back on his shoulder, she runs her fingers up and down his arm.

"I know that you've wanted me for a long time," said Buffy. "There must have been a lot of fantasies that you had, things that you dreamed about doing."

Spike looks at her oddly. "Uh huh."

"We could maybe try some of them," says Buffy.

He is intrigued by this turn of conversation. "What popped this idea into your head, pet?"

"I looked in the trunk at the end of your bed. That gave me a pretty clear visual," says Buffy teasingly.

Caught off guard, Spike sits up, covering himself with the bed sheet. "You looked through my trunk? Saw my-"

"Ropes, chains and padlocks? Check. You don't have to draw me a diagram, Spike."

"So, you're saying you want to." Spike's voice trails off.

"Tie you up?" says Buffy, blushing.

"You want to tie me up?"

"Yeah. Is that not what you had in mind?" She nibbles at her lip, nervously.

"Well,.yeah. That's what I had in mind, alright." Spike grabs her waist and draws her on top of him. "Slayer wants to play naughty games with me," he teases, loving it. She roughly grabs his wrists in both hands and holds them above his head, pinning him. He pants with excitement, licking his lips. His erection is immediate, poking into her abdomen.

"You like it when I hurt you, don't you, Spike?" Buffy exerts more pressure on his wrists.

He moans, his hips arching against her. "You're a mean nasty vampire," she says, her voice low and husky. "I'm going to punish you." She releases his wrists, leaning over and staring in his eyes. "If you move a muscle, you're going to be very, very sorry." Sliding down the bed, she leans over to open the chest. She rummages around, her naked butt up in the air.

Unable to resist temptation, Spike pounces on her. He grabs her shoulders and slides inside her, clamping his teeth down on her neck. Hands full of chains, Buffy momentarily loses herself to his attentions. Spike's hands slide around her front, cupping her breasts firmly as he thrusts. After letting him take a few strokes, Buffy throws him off of her.

Flustered, Spike lies flat on his back on the bed. Jumping on top of him, Buffy quickly shackles him to the bedposts. "Now you're going to be very sorry," she hisses.

Spike looks at her, his eyes bright with arousal and a touch of fear. Buffy runs her nails down his thighs, red scratches blooming in her wake. Spike rolls and bucks in the cuffs.

"You knew you'd be punished if you broke the rules, didn't you?" asks Buffy. She changes direction, scraping her nails over his stomach to his chest. Spike's head is thrown back, lost in pain and pleasure. Crawling up his body, she sits on his chest. He jerks forward, trying to reach part of her, any part of her. "Tell me that you're sorry, Spike."

"Sorry-" he whispers.

"Didn't sound sorry enough." Buffy  grabs his head in both hands and pulls it backwards, baring his neck. She rushes in quickly, as if she is going to bite him hard. Spike tenses up in anticipation. Instead, her tongue licks him gently all over, taking her time. When he is sliding and moving underneath her, making truly pitiful noises, she stops.

Buffy slides down his body, coming face to face with his twitching red cock. She licks the head all over, using the same tiny strokes that she used on his neck.

Moving further down, she makes equally tiny bites on the inside of his thighs, licking and nibbling. Spike is starting to buck and move rhythmically. Looking up, she sees that he has turned his head to bury his face in a pillow.

"Look at me," commands Buffy. He turns to her, his golden eyes blazing, his demon mask in full force. Crouching over him, she bares her neck. She grinds her bottom against his hard cock. "Which one do you want more, vampire?" asks Buffy. "Sex or blood?" She slides against his erection, letting him feel how wet and ready she is.

Carefully, she draws a nail against her neck, bringing forth a small trickle of blood. "Do you want Buffy? Or do you want the Slayer?" Growling, he pulls his wrists forward with a powerful jerk. The bed gives a sharp creak. The shackles break open, pieces of metal clinking to the floor. Spike shakes his wrists, sending the remnants of the cuffs flying.

Wrapping his arms around Buffy, he sinks her down onto his cock. He sucks the blood from her neck as he comes, pulsing forcefully inside her. His orgasm receding, Spike pushes back her hair.

His sweet, smiling human face looks into her nervous one. "I want all of you, Buffy," Spike says quietly. "Not just the slayer. Not just the girl. Every single part of you. Slayer bits. Buffy bits. Dark bits. Silly bits. The whole package. Nothing you can come up with will scare me away." He kisses her gently, continuing to move inside her.

They stare into each other's eyes as they make love, caressing and touching each other in wonder. They both feel the bond between them tightening. Neither pulls away.



Chapter Three: Triple X

The slayer and the vampire stand toe to toe in the most unsavory part of Sunnydale. Around the corner, the sound of a fight breaking out erupts from the Fish Tank. The breeze from the docks rolls past, whipping their hair in the breeze.

"You've got to be kidding." Arms crossed, Buffy faces off with Spike in front of the blacked out windows of the storefront.

"You promised that you would do whatever I wanted," said Spike, in a low sexy voice.

"I was- distracted- at the time. This wasn't exactly what I had in mind," said Buffy. She gestures at the red neon signed that blares, "XXX! ADULT VIDEOS AND BOOKS!"

"There is absolutely nothing in there that I am interested in. I guarantee you."

Sighing, Spike pulls out a cigarette and lights it up. "Look, a deal's a deal, pet. You do anything that I want to do. I do anything you want to do. You want to have your fun later, you hold up your end of the bargain."

"I'm not going in there with all those freaks and perverts," says Buffy firmly.

A fresh-faced couple holds the door open for a matron who is exiting with a large, brown paper sack.

Exhaling a cloud of smoke, Spike sighs. "You really need to think outside the box, love. Not everything is black and white."

Buffy holds her ground. Clasping her arms around her, she looks as immovable as Acathla.

Spike throws down his cigarette, grinding it down with his heel. "OK, Buffy. I can see you're going to be stubborn about this. So let's cut to the quick." Crossing his arms, he stares down at her. "Either you come in there with me now, or I'm going back to the crypt. End of evening, end of fun."

Leaning over, he bites her gently on the neck. Moving up to her ear, Spike whispers to her softly. "No licking. No sucking." His hands trailing down, he slips his hands inside her jacket, rubbing and fondling her breasts. She makes a hissing noise, her head tilting back. He grabs both of her nipples and gently pulls. "No fucking." She pulls him to her, wrapping him into a deep, intense French kiss. Buffy grabs his ass, grinding against him with fervor.

Breaking the kiss, Spike steps back. "What's it going to be?"

Flushed with desire, Buffy stares at him. Her expression is stormy as her jaw clenches.

Without a word, she bangs the door open and stomps inside. Spike follows her, a sly grin on his face.

The store is glaringly bright, lit by fluorescent lights blazing overhead. Racks of adult videos line the front of the store. A long counter on the right side is adorned with signs about proof of age and store policies. A young woman sits behind it, reading a large paperback book.

A few low steps at the back of the room lead to another room, filled with racks and displays of sex toys.

Buffy stands just inside the threshold, looking intimidated. Spike grabs her hand, leading her to the back of the store. Buffy looks at the titles of the videos as the pass the racks.

"Video Virgins? Blowjob Adventures Part 4? Knocking on The Back Door? Who the hell watches this stuff?"

Reaching his destination, Spike stands next to Buffy in front of a wall of dildos, vibrators, and other items. She looks over at him. "I don't even know where to begin here, so help me out a little."

He looks at her intently. "Just look things over, see if anything seems appealing."

"Not likely," she mutters. Dropping his hand, she turns at looks at a shelf behind her, brimming with various potions and lotions. "Hmm. Edible body lotion. Strawberry, pina colada, cherry." She laughs. "Cherry seems a little inappropriate." She picks up a bottle of hot fudge flavored lotion and sniffs it. "Hmm." She holds it in her hand as she continues to peruse the shelf.

"Kama Sutra Pleasure dust." Picking up the tin, she reads the label. "Enter an exotic world of sensuality. You and you partner will enjoy the tingling sensation of pleasure dust as it is applied to your body with the enclosed Royal Feather Wand." She cracks up, grinning at Spike.

"Who writes this stuff? Can you imagine?" Buffy mimics a sultry phone sex voice.

"Baby, tickle me with your royal feather wand." She hands the lotion and dust absently to Spike.Looking pleased, he grabs a shopping basket from a stack and follows her.

Continuing on, she hits a display of handcuffs, blindfolds and whips.

Picking up a large whip, she whips it around. "Bad lion! I'll show you who is boss!" The whip shifts pitifully, barely making a crack. Buffy looks irritated. Angling her wrist she snaps it down with more effort. "Take that!" The whip arcs and jumps, giving a very loud crack.

Pleased with her effort, Buffy smiles, putting it back in the rack. Grinning evilly, Spike pulls it back down, tossing it in the basket

Buffy moves a little farther down, picking up a riding crop and moving it experimentally.

She swipes the riding crop through the air, making a lot of noise as she snaps it around.

She swings her arm back and forth, enjoying herself.

Spike watches her, naked desire in his eyes. "Slayer," he says huskily, "if that appeals to you we've got one waiting back at the crypt."

Realizing that she was getting into it, she drops the crop like a hot potato.

"Yeah, right. As-if." Picking up a blindfold, Buffy pulls it over Spike's eyes.

"Hey now, none of that," he complains.

She pulls away from him, out of his reach. "You can't see me," she teases. "You're at my mercy."

He grabs her quickly, holding her wrists. As they kiss, Buffy hears a snap and feels a pinching sensation at her wrists. Spike has locked her in a pair of sturdy handcuffs. Looking up, she sees a grinning Spike, his eyes still covered with the blindfold. "I can't see you, but I can hear you," he says Annoyed, she rattles the cuffs.

"Take these off." says Buffy.

"Take off the blindfold," counters Spike.

"Take them off right this minute," snaps Buffy.

Leaning forward, Spike licks her bottom lip. "Make me."

Buffy puts her handcuffed wrists around his neck, biting hard on his cheekbone.

"Let me go, Spike."

He grabs her around the waist, rubbing into her. "Never. I'll never let you go." Ardently, they kiss, leaning heavily into each other.

An annoyingly familiar voice pops up behind them. "Hey, are you guys going to have public sex?"

Breaking free of the kiss, Spike and Buffy turn around. Anya stands there, holding an anal plug and a large bottle of lube.

Buffy pulls off Spike's blindfold. She twists her hands beside her back, trying to hide the cuffs.

"Anya! This isn't what it looks like," says Buffy.

"You guys weren't groping and rubbing and getting all excited? I must have missed something," chirps Anya.Spike stares at Buffy, looking amused.

"Well, deny it all you wan," continues Anya.. I was just looking for Xander. He must have wandered off to look at those girl on girl tapes again." Patting Buffy on the shoulder, she turns to leave. "Don't worry, I won't tell Xander. Hearing about you two would throw him off his game tonight, which would ruin my fun." Looking down at their basket, she says, "Good choices. I don't recommend the fudge lotion, though. The strawberry tastes much better."Looking up at the display, she grins. "Oh, nipple clamps!" Delighted, Anya grabs a package of them and leaves.

"Oh, my God!" exclaims Buffy. "That was totally-"

"Hysterical!" interjects Spike. "Did you see what the girl was holding?"

"This is not funny," hisses Buffy. `Now Anya knows, Xander will find out. What the hell will they think of me?"

Sighing, Spike grabs her wrists and removes the cuffs.. "Look, Buffy. If we don't admit it, no one will really know. We could be pissed, stoned, under a spell. Whatever. No one will believe that you were here with me of your own free will anyway."He looks down at her."No one would ever believe that you would touch me."

Looking up into his eyes, she is struck by the resignation and pain that she sees there.

She gently pulls his mouth to hers. He deepens their embrace, kissing her as if it was the last time. Buffy breaks free, pushing him away. "Go home, Spike. We're done here. This is over."
His jaw locking into place, he leaves, his coat flowing out behind him.



Chapter Four: Cuts Like A Knife

Everything had gone horribly wrong tonight. She'd broken up with Spike. On her way home, a gang of vampires had waylaid her. She dusted their sorry asses, but one slippery little creep got away. She had wasted over an hour playing hide and seek with him.

After he was out of the way, she got home to find a distraught Willow crying at the kitchen table, grappling with withdrawal. Getting her calmed down and back in her bed had taken another hour. A bad feeling coiled tight in Buffy's stomach.

Buffy made Dawn's lunch, smoothing peanut butter onto slices of bread. How could she have just let him walk away? Worse than that, told him to get away. She scrawled out a note for her sister.

Grabbing her duffel bag, she ran back down to the docks to take care of some unfinished business. BAfter her errand was done,, she stuffed her purchases in the bag.

She glanced at her watch. It had been nearly four hours since Spike had walked away from her.

Her stomach ached, waves of uneasiness flowing over her. Angry and hurt Spike was capable of a whole lot of damage in four hours. Throwing the bag over her shoulder, she took off for Spike's crypt at a run.

Breathless, she pushed open the door to his crypt. It was even worse than she had imagined.

The furniture that he had chosen so carefully was reduced to wisps of stuffing and splinters of wood. Chunks of wax from broken candles lay everywhere. Shards of glass and puddles of liquid lay on the floor. Worst of all, a trail of blood meandered from the center of the crypt to the hole that led to the lower level. Buffy climbed down.

Reaching the lowest rung of the ladder, Buffy stepped down onto something squishy. It was Spike, lying in a crumbled heap. She carefully picked him up and carried him to the bed.

She was able to see what he had done to himself.

A wooden stake protruded from his chest, blood soaking the front of his shirt. Removing the long sleeved shirt he wore, she tugged on his wrist. Feeling something damp there, she pulled up his cuff. He had slit his wrist. Pulling at his shoulders, she ripped the shirt into two pieces.

Throwing it off, she grabbed his other wrist. He had slit that one too.

She stared up in his face. He looked like a corpse. His lips were tinged blue, his face a bloodless white. It was wrong, deeply wrong, to see him so still. He was the most vibrant person she had ever met.

Fighting down panic, she carefully pulled the stake from his chest. She pulled the top sheet off the bed and ripped it into strips, trying to remember the combat medical training Riley had taught her. Looking around, she found an open bottle of grain alcohol.

Did she need to clean the wound? He was a vampire. He couldn't get an infection. Could he?

She was so stupid, so stupid, so fucking stupid. She knew how to kill vamps, not fix them. What if she did the wrong thing?

Wincing, she poured alcohol over the wound. Spike didn't even stir. She bound his chest and wrists tightly, doing the best job that she could. Buffy settled him back on the pillows, pulling the coverlet up over his chest. He hadn't moved since she had been there. He couldn't die, right?Spike was a vampire, so he couldn't die. Then why was he so still?

She wrapped her arms around herself, shaking. What was she supposed to do?
He'd been hurt badly before. Yeah, like when she dropped a church organ on him. She remembered the scars that had bubbled over the side of his face. The wheelchair he'd been in for months. Drusilla had taken care of him, cured him. How do you cure a vampire?

She thought of Angel. Blood, he had taken her blood and it had cured him.That was poison.

This was-. Well, a suicide attempt, really. Quite possibly a successful one. He hadn't dusted, though.

Running upstairs, she finds the little refrigerator on its side, door ripped off. Inside it are three slightly warm bags of blood. Hurrying back to Spike, she sits beside him. Ripping a bag open with her teeth, she opens his mouth and slips the corner of the bag inside, squeezing it.

Blood pours over the sides of his mouth, dripping down his neck. She tries again, with the same result.

She starts to cry, powerless and desperate. "Don't do this to me," she whispers.She rests her head against his forehead, her tears dropping onto his face. "I need you." Buffy kisses his cold lips over and over. "Please don't leave me."

She paces back and forth in the crypt. What can she do? Call Giles? Would he know what to do?
She doesn't have a phone and can't leave Spike. It's up to her. Focusing, she concentrates.

Blood. It's all about the blood. She has to get him to drink it. He has to wake up enough to drink.

How do you get Spike's undivided attention? Hurt him, or fuck him.

Determined, Buffy strips off her clothes. After finding what she needs, she returns to him.

Pulling off the coverlet, she straddles Spike's body. Clenched in her hand is a sharp, small dagger.

She presses down on the wound in his chest, increasing the pressure steadily until blood blossoms on the white bandages. Getting no response, she slices her wrist, pressing the wound into his mouth.

At first there is nothing. Then there is a gentle, barely noticeable sucking. She feels him drawing her blood in. She knew he couldn't resist the blood of a Slayer. He nurses her wrist for several minutes, his features never changing.

Blood. With vampires, it's all about blood. She cuts a fine line across his shoulder. Buffy fastens her lips to the wound, sucking his blood into her mouth. Drinking deeply, her throat burns with the richness of it.

Images and feelings sweep over her in a torrent. Angelus embracing Drusilla, biting her neck as he fondles her breasts. Jealousy. Willow and Tara, looking lovingly into each other's eyes. Envy. Dawn talking animatedly, waving around a textbook. Tenderness.

She focuses on the images and feels a thread connecting them.She pulls hard on the connection, following it with her mind.

Suddenly, she is elsewhere. She is surrounded by darkness. A dim glow arises from a distant corner.

Buffy works her way towards it, stumbling and squinting in the dark. Feeling her way along the wall, she rounds a bend and sees a line of objects displayed on the wall, illuminated by candlelight.

A plastic box, its surface lightly traced with metal tendrils. Inside it is a pitcher, steadily pouring blood into a chalice. The stream is never ending, the chalice never overflowing.

A mirror, its surface flowing with moving images. She sees a slashing sword; a burning sun; a flaming cross.

A rack of weapons. Dried blood coats the tips of arrows, the blades of swords, the edges of knives.

A torch on the wall illuminates a display case of miniatures. Holding the torch, she bends close to see them clearly. Some of them look familiar. One looks like Willow. Several are smashed to pieces. One lies facing inward and she turns it over. It is her mother.

A flat panel of glass holds Dawn's image. It continually shifts, constantly in motion. Buffy continues to follow the light.

She knocks into a bookshelf that holds leather bound books with large gilded titles. Holding the torch close, she can make out a few. "Poetry" "Lore". "Magic." "Demons." "Music".

Rounding the last corner, she reaches her destination. She blows out the torch and tosses it aside.

She is in a chapel, a stained glass window filling the room with daylight. The walls are covered with growing vines of roses heavy with blooms, their fragrance powerful. Racks of flickering votive candles surround a low marble altar.

Lying on the altar, on a bed of thousands of rose petals, is she. Golden tendrils of hair flow over her shoulders. Clad in a pink gown, golden slippers adorn her feet, and a delicate crown tops her head. Her chest rises and falls, deep in slumber.

Kneeling in front of the altar is Spike. His head bent in supplication, his quiet sobs echo through the chamber. "I've lost you," he weeps, "I just keep losing you."

The truth of the situation hits Buffy. She is inside his fears, his desires. Somehow, she has trespassed into his mind.

"That's not me, Spike. That perfect, unattainable princess. That was never me."

He turns around to face her. Blood mars his temple and covers the right side of his face, dripping down his neck. 'How dare you?" he hisses. He stalks over to her, burning with fury.

Buffy stands her ground.

"Always barging in where you're not wanted. I want some peace, Slayer. I want to be alone," says Spike angrily.

Buffy smiles at him, and then slaps him across the face.

"Right. So you can just sit here feeling sorry for yourself, worshipping at the altar of your failure."

Spike raises his fist, swinging to hit her. She catches it, holding his hand in a steel grip.

"I need you to come back with me." She turns his hand over, unbending his fingers, and slips it into hers.

"You think you failed me. But you're wrong."She gently kisses his fingers."You brought me back to life."
Lifting her head to hers, she kisses him, putting all of her feelings into it.

She feels his features change. Pulling back, she looks into the face of a demon.

"You can't bring yourself to see me as I am. I'm a demon," he growls.

"You're more than a demon. It's just a part of who you are."

"It's a part you can't ignore. It's the reason you hide away what we have,"says Spike.

"It's a part of you that I desire, Spike. It's part of why I need you." He pulls her into his embrace.

Suddenly she is elsewhere.Spike has her pinned to the bed, pounding away inside her as he drinks her blood. Relief that he is here, alive, sends her over the edge.Sparks of color and light explode inside her mind, as she is overwhelmed with pleasure. She hears him roar his release as comes.

He lies on the bed next to her, his golden eyes flaring in the dark. Beads of sweat cover his body and he is shaking hard.

"More blood," he rasps.

She fetches him the bags of blood and watches while he consumes them quickly. pike lies back, completely spent. She pets him gently, rubbing the ridges of his forehead. He turns to her, pulling her close to him.

"I'm sorry," says Buffy," this whole thing was my fault."

"I knew the score, Slayer," he croaks." We have a bit of fun, no one finds out, everything's grand."

She rolls on top of him, bracing herself with her arms so she doesn't hurt him. She leans down to kiss his lips. "That's not all this is."Cupping his head in her hands, she gazes into his eyes.

"There is a bond that we have between us. I can feel it when I'm not with you. I can close my eyes and see it, this long silvery chain that connects us. I felt sick inside, knowing something had happened to you. I went inside your mind when I drank your blood. What we have- I don't even understand it."She bites her lip, looking confused.

Gingerly, he rolls her off him, spooning her. "Rest now, pet." Exhausted, they lie together, falling into sleep.



Chapter Five: Lesser of Two Evils

It is dark as a tomb. Well, actually, it is a tomb. Crypt, really. I am lying in the arms of my beloved. I come awake to the smell of her, the feel of her, the fact of her. It is the most content moment I have experienced in my unlife.

An electronic beeping breaks the peaceful silence. The sound is naggingly familiar. I lie there, trying to place it, until Buffy rolls over, jostling me. Immediately, my chest flares up with pain.

"Bloody buggering fuck!" I yell.

The lamp flips on and Buffy rolls back towards me. She clutches a small blue cell phone to her ear.

"No, Dawn, that wasn't directed at you."She pulls a face at the telephone."Yes, you can go to Janice's. I will call her mother and make sure it's okay, and then I will call later and make sure you're there. Call me if you need me."

Hanging up, she leans forward and kisses me gently."Morning, sleepy head. I think you've been out since last night. You were still sleeping when I left this morning, and when I got here tonight."

"What's with the cell phone, love?"

"Got it today. I need to be able to stay here and take care of you. Now Dawn or the Scoobies can call me with the latest emergency."She holds up the phone and pretends to listen to it."Apocalypse, anarchy, mayhem? And we're out of milk? Sure, I'll be right there."

Turning for a moment, she hands me a black phone. "This one is yours." She shows me how it works, punching different buttons. "Me. Home. Dawn's cell phone. Magic Box." She smiles at me. You'll know your phone is ringing when you hear this." The electronic chimes of "Mexican Hat Dance" begin to play.

Placing the phones on the nightstand, she turns back to me. "How are you feeling tonight, sleeping beauty?"

I try to sit up and am wracked with another wave of pain. "Like I shoved something wooden into my chest."

"We're going to have a really long talk about that when you're feeling better." Buffy helps me sit up, propping me up on some pillows. She must have brought them from home; they smell like her.

"Time for you to take your medicine. Slayer blood, it's good for what ails you."She bares her neck, revealing two fresh bite marks. "You have to keep your energy up. You need my blood."

"Not your blood. It is an aphrodisiac, love. If I try to drink it, I'll want to have sex, and there is no way I can do that in this condition."

"Well, you did last night," she says.

"And it nearly finished me off." I can barely remember making love to her or feeding from her; the whole experience seems distant and unreal, like an opium dream.

"I spoke to Giles to find out how to heal your wounds. He said that my blood would enhance your healing."

"You told Giles what happened?"

"That you were staked in the chest," says Buffy, " I  skipped the self-inflicted part." She takes a deep breath. "I told him that we're lovers."

I am completely stunned. "Is that some kind of joke?"

Buffy looks at me, her eyes deep and serious."What we have, it's not going away. Not ever. If I can accept that, so can everyone else."

I am reeling. I never thought that she would do this."But, Buffy-"

"Anya already knew," she says. "The cat is out of the bag. End of discussion." Buffy studies me closely, apparently not liking what she sees. "I can't stand seeing you this way. You need to drink." She stands up and strips off her clothes.

The girl is so damn stubborn."Slayer, will you just give it a rest-"?

Buffy pulls off the covers and slides between my legs. She takes me in her mouth, sucking me in slowly, inch by inch. She licks me gently, delicately.My body responds, my erection growing in her mouth.

Bliss pours over me in waves. The one I love, the one I never thought I'd have, sucking me.

Her tongue flickers over the head of my cock. It feels so very good, and my orgasm begins to build.

The warmth slips away from me. "Baby, don't stop," I moan. "Suck me. Fuck me. Anything."

I feel something slither up my legs. Her lips envelop mine as she slips me inside her. "Now, oh God, now-"I grit my teeth, trying to hold back.

Buffy's voice whispers in my head. "Come inside me."

She slides her neck across my mouth, and clamps her muscles around my  cock. I plunge my fangs into her neck as I explode into her. Heightened by the affect of her blood, I ride a prolonged wave of  release. Her sweet blood burns inside me like the finest whisky. I am drunk with her, drunk with love.

"You're mine," she whispers softly. The last thing I hear is her voice.

****

The world starts to come together again. I hear Buffy's voice, raised in panic."Well, he's not getting any better! He's still unconscious and his bandages are soaked through with blood again."

Opening my eyes, I see Mr. Gordo.The stuffed pig is lying on the pillow next to me.Looking around, I see Buffy pacing, talking into her phone. She turns and looks at me. "He's awake. I have to go."

She pulls me into her arms, rocking me back and forth like a child. Buffy kisses me deeply, frantically.

I kiss her back, enjoying the taste of her. Her kiss deepens, her tongue slipping inside my mouth.

Salt. I pull back, and see the tears running down her face.

"You've been out cold for two days. It was like- you were in a coma. You were just lying there," she says, her voice quivering. She sobs harder, her whole body shaking. "I can't stand losing you. I just can't take it."

I let her cry it out while I pat her shoulder."It's alright, pet. So I slept for a while. Just a bit knackered."

Buffy pulls away from me, anger flashing in her eyes. "Spike, you're an idiot! You have no idea-."She stands up, wringing her hands."The wound in your chest isn't healing the way that it should. It's been three days and it's still an open wound. My blood isn't helping. In fact, it seems to have made things worse.

"She wraps her arms around herself, staring at the floor. "I did some research while you were out. Spoke to come contacts. Tara stayed here, watched over you."Buffy speaks softly, still staring down. "You have to drink the blood of your sire."

I am stunned, absolutely floored. "I have to drink- from Dru? But that would mean that-"

She turns and glares, her eyes red from crying. "You're dying. Something has gone wrong. Giles thinks maybe there are splinters from the stake in your chest that are keeping you from healing. Or- someone else suggested that you just lost too much blood all at once."

This is impossible. "But I feel fine," I interject."Hurt but fine. I've been hurt worse than this and mended."

"Look, there is no time to argue with you," snaps Buffy." Just trust me on this. Time is running short. You have to drink blood from the Master's line. Drusilla was last spotted somewhere in Mexico. Darla is - unavailable."

The muscle in my jaw starts twitching involuntarily. "Angel."

"He's willing to do it," says Buffy.

"Fuck that!" Furious, I swing my legs over the bed and stand...Only to look up into Buffy's concerned face.I am flat on my back on the floor, and my chest is throbbing in constant waves of pain.

"Spike? Sweetheart?"

The Slayer called me sweetheart. I really must be dying. "I drink from Angel or I kick it?"

"That's about the size of it."

"Bollocks," I whisper, as I pass out again.



Chapter Six: Drink Deep

When the vampire turns and sees my face, he lets out a shrill scream. Plunging my stake into his heart, I dust him. Stalking through the graveyard, I search for more prey.

A group of vamps sucks the life from a girl in an empty crypt. One feeds at her breast, one at her thigh, and one at her neck. They are all dead before they even know I’m there. Rivulets of blood flow from the girl’s body. She turns her head and looks at me. “The blood is nearly gone,” she whispers.

It is Drusilla. Sitting up, she stretches out her arms, beseechingly. “Help my child,” she says. Her face shifts.

“Hold my child,” says Darla. An infant rests in her arms. I take it, cradling it close to my chest. “He has his father’s eyes,” says Darla, in a voice filled with love. Looking down, I stare into the midnight blue of Spike’s eyes. I lose my grip on the baby, and he begins to fall. Slowly, slowly, he falls, and I am helpless to stop it.

I awaken to a knock at my bedroom door with a start, my heart pounding. “He’s here,” says Dawn, her face swollen from crying.

I kiss her gently, smoothing her hair. “Everything is going to be alright, Dawnie.”

I try to compose myself as I go downstairs. He and Cordelia are waiting there, Angel holding an infant in his arms. “You brought the baby,” I say softly.

Angel smiles at me.“Would you like to hold him?” I take a step back. “No, no thanks.”

I grab my coat from the banister. “Well, let’s do this thing.”

Angel kisses his child and hands him to Cordelia. “You know what to do.”

She sighs impatiently. “Yes, Mr. Overprotective, I can handle it.” She grabs the blue and white bunny blanket off his shoulder and steps into the living room.

Angel and I walk outside through the dark, quiet streets of Sunnydale.

“Seems like old times,” he says.

“Yeah, just like.” I wish it were like old times, it was a lot simpler then.

He gives me a thoughtful look. “How is he?”

“He’s worse. Worse than I can describe.” I find myself hurrying a little.

“I’m so sorry, Buffy." It seems like he really means it. "I came as soon as I could. Things are really complicated right now.”

I give him a small smile. “I understand complicated.” We reach Spike’s crypt. It is empty and bare, devoid of any personality.

We climb down the ladder to the lower level. The interior is welcoming, flooded with light. Tara is sitting next to Spike in his bed. She is reading to him from a book on her lap. “Come to me in dreams, that I may live my very life again though cold in death-" She breaks off, looking over at us.

Angel stares at Spike, his face rigid with shock. My lover is dying. His skin is as pale as the white sheets he is lying on, his cheeks sunken. There is no movement, no spark of animation there at all. His body has become a bloodless husk. I touch him, reaching out with my mind to feel the link between us. There is nothing there. “I can’t feel him anymore.”

Angel takes my hand. “Oh, Buffy, I didn't realize it was this bad.”

I drop his hand and move to Spike. “Please, just help me make him better.” Tara and I exchange a look. “Let’s get this started,” I tell her.

Tara sets down a wooden tray on the bed. With a long wooden match, she lights several tapers and a cone of incense. The smell of sandalwood permeates the crypt. Touching us gently, she marks a crescent moon on each of our foreheads with oil.

Next, she lights a bunch of sage. “Define our circle," she intones. White smoke fills the air, then forms into a visible barrier enclosing the four of us. “Lilith, we invoke you." She cuts her wrist, dripping the blood into a bowl, and repeats the action with Angel and myself. “Lilith, accept this blood as our offering.” She lifts the bowl with both hands. “We implore you to restore what has been broken.” The blood begins to spiral and churn inside the bowl.

A red mist envelops Spike. Beginning at his head, the mist swirls down his body. As it reaches his chest, it spits forth several splinters of wood. He shakes and twitches, his back arcing in a seizure. I move to go to him. “No!” says Tara firmly. “You must not interfere.”

The mist continues down to his feet and fades away.“With the force of love the claim was made, " Tara chants. "With the blood of the kindred the bond was forged. By the will of Lilith may the link be restored.” The bowl shakes and spins, the blood draining down to the bottom until it is empty. A metal chain appears on my wrist, the long silver links reaching to a similar cuff on Spike’s.

“Mighty Lilith, dark goddess, we thank you for your favor and entreat you to depart.” The bowl turns to dust in Tara’s hands. “Dissipate.” The circle around us disappears. Tara collapses, and Angel holds her up.

I lean over Spike. The bandages that cover his chest are intact. I rip them off, using them to wipe off the blood around the wound. As soon as I wipe it clean, it begins to seep blood again.I shut my eyes, pulling along the cord that ties me to him. I follow the chain, moving through a series of black rooms. All I can see is darkness. For what seems like hours, I search, finding nothing. I return to myself. “I can’t find him. I can’t find anything.” I turn and look at Spike. He is fading away before my eyes.

Tara takes my hand. “We’ll do this together.” She takes Angel’s hand. I take his. We form a circle, bound together. I am walking through the dark rooms again. “Illuminate,” says Tara.

The room floods with light.

She and Angel follow behind as I trace the chain to its source. We walk through room after room. Some are recognizable, some obscure. None seem familiar. I walk through a doorway and stop. The chain has ended in nothing. I look around the room. In the farthest corner, Drusilla sits next to a roaring fireplace. She is curled in an armchair, reading a book. I turn to Angel and whisper. “My chain has ended. But Drusilla is in here. Do you think she knows how to find Spike?”

Angel grimaces. “It’s worth a shot. Depending on her mood, we could just get a bunch of gibberish.”

He walks over to her, kneeling in front of her. “Hello, Dru.”

She drops the book in her lap, clapping her hands. “Angelus! You came for the farewell party for my William. ”

“Do you know where Spike is, Dru?” he asks patiently.

She nods her head, eyes flashing with excitement. “He was in all these lovely books.”

Drusilla gestures behind her to the empty bookcases. She holds up the one from her lap.

“Now there is only this one left.” Angel grabs it from her and tosses it to me.

Drusilla turns to stare at me, amusement washing over her face. “The quest is over, princess. The blood is nearly gone.”

I turn to Tara. “Get him out of there. Now!”

“It’s up to you, Buffy," she tells me encouragingly.

“I don’t know what to do.” I open the book on a table and look at it. There is a watercolor, covering two pages. A tranquil field stretches to a wide blue lake. At the edge, there is a figure. I lean forward, as if diving into a pool and find myself sitting on the grass, watching the play of sunlight on the water. Spike turns and smiles at me. His hair is a glorious blond in the sunlight. His cheeks bloom with health. He's wearing chain mail, bright and unmarked.

He reaches out and touches my face with a warm hand. The chain on his wrist pulls on mine. “I’m glad you’re here, pet. I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye.” He kisses me, deeply and sweetly.

I grab his hand, placing it on my heart. “It’s not time to say goodbye. What we are. What we have. It has only begun.”

“Too much time has passed. Love has failed. The quest is done,” he says, staring at the horizon.

I stand, forcing him to his feet.

I pull my arm over his head, wrapping the silver chain around his neck. “Angel, Tara,” I speak in my mind. In my free hand a chalice appears, golden and bright. “Drink,” I say, raising it to his lips.

He looks into my eyes. “You don’t understand what this means, Slayer.”

Power rips through my body, blazing across the chain that connects us. The words come to me unbidden. “For love I have claimed you. By blood I have bound you. Return to me.”

His eyes blaze defiance.“You need to release me, Buffy. You don’t understand what you’re playing at here.”

I pull tightly on the chain, forcing his head downwards. “For love I have claimed you. By blood I have bound you. Return to me.” Slowly, unwillingly, he drinks. I release the chain.

The sun disappears under a cover of clouds. Darkness falls, a crescent moon visible in the sky. The wind whips the water into fierce, churning waves. Spike stands before me, his leather coat whipping around his legs. The moonlight reflects the stunning white of his hair.

His eyes burn into mine over the rim of the chalice. Draining the cup, he hands it to me. Blood stains his lips. “The ritual is done. The claim is made. We are bound, as one.” Jerking my wrist, he pulls me close. He whispers in my ear. “Bound for eternity.”



Chapter Seven: Ties That Bind

The stupid girl has no idea what she has done. As I stare down into her eyes, there is no flicker of understanding within them. Love, fear, desire; I recognize them all. But there is no knowledge, no acceptance.

“What do you mean, eternity?” Buffy asks me. As I open my mouth to answer, the chip fires in my head. Sparks flare and scorch within my brain. The agony overwhelms me. Suddenly I am elsewhere.

A familiar body lies in my embrace. I know the muscles under my hands, the dark hair brushing my cheek. His scent has been in my head for over a century. The taste of him fills my mouth. It is Angelus. Angel.

Pulling away from him, I look around. We are in bed, in my crypt. Fang marks in his neck are purple and vicious. Buffy is lying beside me, sleeping. Tara is on the floor, grasping for breath. A dark bruise is forming on the witch’s cheek. “Tara, what is going on?”

She looks dazed, her hand touching her cheek. “You hit me. I was trying to get you to let go of Angel. He had begun to struggle, and I thought you were hurting him.”

Guilt washes over me. “I’m so sorry, love. I didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t in my right mind.”

She sits on the edge of the bed, smiling at me. “I forgive you. At least you didn’t punch me in the nose this time.”

Between us, Angel stirs. He looks up at me, wincing with pain. “You always were a greedy little bloodsucker, William. You could have shown a little restraint.”

“Don’t see any reason to start changing now, mate,” I say.

He gives me a searching look. “I can think of a few.”

Tara puts her hand up. “Don’t start with all the male ego posturing now, guys. Buffy really wouldn’t like it.”

We all turn in unison to look at her. Buffy is deeply asleep. Dark circles under her eyes and the tense set of her jaw show the depth of her exhaustion.

“Buffy needs her rest. She’s been running herself ragged trying to heal you, Spike. Not to mention the spells that we did tonight and the work on the astral plain,” says Tara.

She stands, reaching out to Angel. “Speaking of which, we should be getting our rest too. Cordelia must be waiting up for you. You shouldn’t worry her.”

Angel rises to his feet. “I want to make sure that Buffy will be okay.”

“It’s my job to take care of her, not yours.” Bloody poof always does horn in where he’s not wanted.

He stares at me. “You’re right. I have responsibilities of my own now.”

Tara kisses my cheek. “I’m so very glad that you’re all right. As soon as you can, you have to see Dawn. She has been worried sick about you.” She climbs the steps to the upper level.

Angel turns to follows her. I call after him. “Angel. I’m- grateful. Sharing your blood. You doing that for me.”

He doesn’t turn back. “I didn’t do it do it for you.” I hear the door to the upper crypt slam shut as they depart. I get out of the bed, pulling back the covers. Taking off Buffy’s clothes, I tuck her in. Delighting in the sight of her in my bed, I play with her hair, stretching out tendrils all over the pillow. Her mouth opens, her tongue flickering over her lips. I bend down and kiss her.

God, I want her. I want to lick every inch of her. I want to fuck her until she screams. Sighing, I climb back underneath the sheets. Turning out the light, I roll away from her so that we do not touch. Slayer needs her rest.

I wake up to the sound of screaming. “Dru, love. It’s alright,” I say groggily. Reaching out my arm, I touch warm flesh. I remember, and fully awaken. Snapping on the light, I embrace Buffy. She is still screaming.

I shake her gently. Her eyes pop open, wide and searching. Seeing me there, she falls forward, wrapping herself around me. “You were gone. You were dead,” she says, holding me tightly.

“I’m right here, love,” I say, “I’ve got you.”

Her mouth covers mine. Her hard nipples brush against my chest. I run my hands through her hair, cupping the back of her head. Her nails scrape down my back, stinging trails rising in their wake.

My hands trail down her back to her ass. I grab her roughly, lifting her. She sinks down on top of me, throwing back her head. We move together, falling into a trance of shared sensation.

“You’re mine,” she says, and I know she is about to come for me. I increase the pace, burning with need for her. She begins to chant, “You’re mine, I need you, you’re mine,” as she moves around me. I work within in her, pounding at her with all the passion I feel for her.

Suddenly, she stops, looking deeply in my eyes. “I love you.” We stare at each other, not moving. “I am in love with you.” Still joined together, she rolls on her back, pulling me on top of her. She unwraps her arms from mine, grabs both my hands, twining my fingers with hers.

I brace myself on my elbows as she stares up at me, holding my hands. “I love you,” she says again, “and I never want to lose you again.”

“Never happen,” I tell her.

“Swear it,” she whispers, her eyes filled with need.

“I will never leave you, Buffy, I will be with you until the very end.” I kiss her, and we both feel the truth in it.

I move within her. Slowly, gently, we make love. I close my eyes and see fleeting visions that I can’t grasp onto and don’t understand. As we move, I hear her whisper in my ear, words of love repeated over and over. Words of devotion, of secrets revealed, of paradise gained.

I hear her scream and I scream along with her. The pleasure that I find with her scalds me, burns me through and through. I feel the sun, the bright rays burning down on me. Warm, glowing, I rest upon her chest.

We must have fallen asleep, because when I awaken, the room is black, the only illumination the small pool of light from the lamp. Buffy sits in my chair, chatting quietly on her phone. I sit up, and she turns to me.

She covers the phone with her hand. “Are you up for going home and having pizza with Dawn?”

“Sure, sounds good.” “We’ll be there in half an hour, Dawnie. Be sure to find out what Cordy likes on her pizza. Can I pick up what? Sure, I can do that.” Hanging up, she jumps on my bed. “Up, up, lazybones. Get up, up, up.” I grab her leg, knocking her down. She kisses me, then slaps my ass. “Get a move on. We’ve got company waiting.”

I get up, pulling on my clothes. “Just the great bleeding poof and his prissy little sidekick. No great shakes there.” Buffy shakes her head. “There’s someone there you’re definitely going to want to meet.”

We walk together, hand in hand, through the cemetery. “We have to come back later and patrol,” says Buffy. “I’ve been pretty slack lately.” “I’m up for kicking some ass,” I say. She laughs. “Yeah, you always are.”

Walking through Sunnydale, Buffy stops off at a convenience store. She goes in, while I take the opportunity to grab a smoke. Leaning against the wall outside, blowing smoke in the air, I look up at the stars. I can’t remember ever feeling so good, so content.

Buffy comes out, handing me a paper sack holding bottles of soda. She carries a plastic bag of diapers. “Why are you buying nappies?” I ask her, grinning. “Something biologically impossible that you’re trying to tell me?”

“They’re for Connor,” she replies. “Angel’s son. The biologically impossible baby.”

I stop, staring at her. “What in the bloody hell do you mean?” She turns, looking at me. “Darla and Angel had a son. His name is Connor.” My mind reels. “But that’s-“

“Not possible,” she says, “I know that, you know that. But he’s here.”

“Darla too?” Is still can’t believe it.

She shakes her head. “Darla’s dead.”

“How?” Darla …dead?

“I don’t know, I just know she’s gone,” she tells me. “Angel’s not really into chatting about the whole situation.”

We continue on, carrying our bags. “This should be one hell of an interesting evening.”

Walking into the house on Revello Drive, we are hit with a cacophony of noise. A crying baby and a screaming match are right in front of us. Cordelia is patting the back of a sobbing baby, glaring at Willow, who is screaming at a crying Tara and a stony faced Angel.

“How could you be so stupid?” yells Willow. “I didn’t bring her back from the dead so that she could-“

Turning to look at us as we enter, Willow falls silent. Cordelia turns, stalking into the living room. I turn to look at Buffy. Her face is hard, her eyes cold as they bore into Willow. ”Please do finish that sentence, Will. I’m sure you weren’t going to say anything you wouldn’t tell me to my face.”

Willow lifts her chin, meeting Buffy’s eyes. “I didn’t bring you back from the dead so that you could spend all your time screwing yet another vampire.”

Stalking over to Willow, Buffy raises her arm to strike her. Angel grabs her arm, holding it still. “Don’t do this, Buffy. Don’t do something you’ll regret.”

“Get your goddamn hand off my woman, Angelus.” My woman now, not his.

Angel smirks at me, not moving his hand. “Your woman? Don’t you mean to say your wife?”Buffy spins and stares at me, eyes open wide.

The jig is up.



Chapter Eight: Revelations

I look at Spike, my mind spinning with disbelief.

Grabbing my hand, he pulls me back outside, slamming the front door. He steers me over to the tree in the front yard, bracing my back against the trunk. Holding tightly to my shoulders, he stares down at me intently. “I love you.”

“Just tell me if it’s true. Are we married? How is that even possible?” I look at him in disbelief.

“When you brought me back. The words you spoke. They were a vow, Buffy.” He looks at me earnestly. “I tried to tell you what you were getting into. It was sealed with blood, girl. It linked us together forever.”

I remember the words that I spoke to return him to me. Raising the chalice to his lips, forcing him to drink. “I told Tara that I was willing to do anything, to risk everything, to get you back. She told me the ritual would bind us, that we would be pledged to each other.”

He sighs. “But you don’t understand the consequences, Buffy. We are joined as one, eternally. You don’t comprehend what that means.”

“All I need to know if that you’re here and you’re not going anywhere. Nothing else really matters to me.” I pull him down, kissing his lips.

He tries to break away. “Buffy, we have to talk about this…”

“Why didn’t you explain this in the crypt? Why didn’t you tell me then?” I’m really not in the mood for talking.

“I wasn’t sure how to tell you, how to explain it. You finally told me that you love me. I’ve wanted it for so long, Buffy. I was afraid you’d get scared, run away…“ I pull away, turning around. He grabs my shoulder. He looks at me, his eyes hard. His grip on me tightens painfully. ”You can’t push me away. Not ever again.“

I break free of his hold. “Look, Spike. You can explain all of this mystical marriage stuff later. But I have to go in there and try to cool things off in the real world.” Turning my back on him, I go back inside.

The foyer is empty. My friends are gathered around in the living room, looking stiff and uncomfortable. Everyone except Willow and Dawn is there. There is no sound, no conversation.

“How could you, Buffy?” Xander looks up angrily, his face stern. “Tara and Angel told us what they did. How could you let them manipulate you?

Tara leaps to her feet. “That is not true, Xander. I would never manipulate anyone-“

Xander glares at her. “I am so tired of witches playing God-”

I raise my voice. “Okay, that’s enough. Let me just explain. You don’t need to attack Tara.”

Xander steps in front of me, his face close to mine. “You didn’t even tell us that you were seeing him, much less that loved him, and now we’re just supposed to accept that you married him in some voodoo hoodoo magic thing? This is insane. You can’t love Spike. He’s a vampire, a big bad. He’s the evil stalker guy. How could you even let him touch you?”

Anger and humiliation wash over me. ‘What gives you the right to judge me? Judge him?”

Spike pulls me in closely, wrapping his arm around my waist.“There is something seriously wrong with you. The Buffy I loved, that Buffy wouldn’t have done this. That Buffy didn’t give Spike the time of day. We never should have done that spell to bring you back.” Xander’s disgust is palpable, infusing every syllable of his words.

Horrified, I cover my mouth, biting back a sob. Spike steps in front of me. “Leave her alone,” he says menacingly.

“You’re the one who needs to leave her alone,” Xander shouts. ”Screwing with her head. Using her for your perverted-“

Xander flies against the wall, crashing down. In a flash, Spike is holding him up by the collar, hitting him again. Xander slides across the floor, crashing into the opposite wall. “You don’t know anything about what we have,” hisses Spike, appearing over him.

Angel grabs Spike, pulling him down the hall towards the kitchen. “That’s enough, Spike. You’ve made your point.”

Cordelia follows, Connor on her chest in a baby carrier. “I’ll make Xander an ice pack for his face. Sure looks like he needs one.”

Anya and I both bend down to help up Xander. Blood flows from his nose. ‘Get away from me. I don’t want to have anything to do with you,” he says, pushing me away again. Anya helps him up, pressing a tissue to his nose. Without another word, they leave.

I stand there, stunned. Tara pulls me into a hug.” It’ll be okay, Buffy. He’s just shocked. This will all blow over before you know it.”

I let her rock me for a moment, feeling comforted. Reluctantly, I break free. “I don’t think he...”

The doorbell rings. I run to the door, throwing it open. “Xander-“

A pizza delivery boy is standing there, laden with boxes. “That’ll be $35.62, ma’am.”

I turn around, looking for my purse. I grab the cash and hand it to him. “Keep the change.”

I put the pizza boxes on the table in the dining room. Willow is typing on her computer. She won’t make eye contact. Walking into the kitchen, Dawn is holding the baby, chatting with Cordelia.

“He is so cute. But I don’t know how you can stand listening to him cry. I had to put some music on, slap on my headphones to drown it out…” Seeing me, she smiles. “Where is Spike?”

Right on cue, Angel and Spike come in through the kitchen door. They have on matching grim expressions. Spike’s face lights up when he sees Dawn. He wraps his arm around her shoulder and kisses her cheek. “Missed you to pieces, bit.”

She hugs him back hard. “I’m so glad that you’re okay.”

Spike looks down. “So this is the spawn of Angelus, right?” He looks at Angel. “Can I hold him?” he asks. Angel looks at him as if he has grown another head. “I just want to hold him, not eat him,” he says sarcastically. Dawn carefully hands him Connor. Spike cradles the baby, looking at him with delight. He paces around the room. “You look like your mum,” he says. “What a bitch she was. Bleeding gorgeous woman, though. Good thing you take after her. Your dad’s got an ugly mug. What with the big brow and all.” Spike gestures at his forehead.

I look over at Angel, expecting an imminent meltdown. But he is just watching with a small smile on his face. At that moment, it hits me that he really is a father. His face is full of pride, and unconditional love. The baby starts to cry. Spike whispers in his ear, patting him gently on the back. Soon the baby is asleep. Spike watches him closely, his face open and happy. I’ve only ever seen him look that way at Dawn, or me.

It feels like someone is squeezing a fist around my heart. The love that I feel is overwhelming. I don’t even realize that I’m crying until Angel puts his hand on my shoulder. “Buffy, are you okay?” I try to answer him, but I can’t choke out the words. Turning, I walk through the door onto the back porch. I sit in the dark, pulling myself together.

The door opens and Spike sits down next to me. He turns my face towards him, wiping away my tears with his thumb.

“I’m never going to have a normal life,” I say. “Xander and Willow, they understand that being with you is not normal. They want me to be happy, to have all the stuff everyone else wants. Marriage, house, minivan, kids.”

I look over at him. He is staring at me, thoughtfully. “Well, truly enough I’m not the white picket fence kind of guy.”

“We’ll never have that. No big, fancy wedding. No Tupperware parties.” I fight to keep tears out of my eyes. “No babies. I mean, not that I would even know what to do with a baby. But knowing, that it will never, never be us. It hurts.”

He sighs, stroking my hair. “Well, you could have that. Just not with me. With someone else-”

Turning to him, I cup his face in my hands. “I’m yours. You’re mine. There is no one else.”

He kisses me fiercely, his hands threaded in my hair. I slip my hands underneath his shirt, feeling the coolness of his skin.

Our kiss continues, deepens. I can tell him everything with my body that it is so hard to say. How much I need him. How desperate I was at the thought of losing him. How beautiful he is to me.

He pulls me into his lap, holding my hips and rubbing me against his erection. It feels too good, leaving us panting. “God, I want to take you,” he murmurs in my throat. He bites my neck, small bites that deepen as his arousal grows. My nipples harden and I grow wet, needing more. He slides his hand in my pants, slipping a finger inside me. “I’ve got to get in there,” he says, biting my ear.

“We can’t, not here,” I whisper.

Take me elsewhere right quick then,” he says, “I’m not going to wait.” His hand slides up to my waistband, ready to rip off my pants. Looking in his face, I see he is barely holding on. Spike’s ready to take me right there, on the porch.

Pulling him through the empty kitchen, we hear laughter and chatting from the dining room. We run upstairs. Slamming and locking the door, Spike tosses me on my bed. He sheds his clothing as I strip off mine. He stands there, staring at me. “I’ve dreamed of this so many times,” he says. “You waiting for me, warm and naked in this bed.”“

Suddenly, he is on me, in me. “My sweet girl, mine,” he growls, raising up my hips and driving deeper inside me. I clench my muscles around him, making him moan. “You’re mine to take, mine to fuck,” he growls. “No one else will ever touch you, never again.” His jaw sets, and I know he is already on the edge.

I tighten my hold on him, increasing the pace. Licking his neck, I can smell the blood under the surface. I crave it inside me, wanting it as much as the cock pulsing between my legs. Biting down hard on the throbbing vein in his neck, I drink deep, gulping greedily. The blood in my mouth is so rich, so good. Dimly, I feel a pain in my shoulder as Spike sinks in his fangs. We both come, groaning in unison.

My mind expands as knowledge pours into it. I gain the memories of well over a hundred years. Birth, love, fear, pain, death, filtered through the mind of someone I don’t know. I witness the birth of a vampire. I am flooded with the essence of Spike. Learning how to seduce, how to kill, how to hide. The rush to be gained from mortal fear, the thrill of the chase, the eternal temptation of blood, burn into me. I gain the shame of being helpless, the blooming of affection, the crush of rejection. I am filled with the light of hope, the ecstasy of the claiming and the triumph of love.

Suddenly, I am elsewhere. Turning around, I see that I am in Spike’s crypt. The windows are thrown open, flooding the room with light. Spike is lying on my bed in the center of the crypt. He naps like a cat, basking in the glow of direct sunlight. Walking around, I see a pitcher on a side table, blood pouring into two cups simultaneously. A weapons rack holds shining swords and brightly tipped arrows. Walking down the stairs, I venture into the lower crypt.

I am inside the chapel where the sleeping princess was. The roses are in bloom, filling the room with their scent. But the altar is gone. In its place is a large mirror on a stand. Standing before the mirror, I look into its depths. I see the ebb and flow of human life laid out before me. Generations are born, live, and die.

Tilting the mirror, I can see my reflection. Standing next to me is Spike. He is wearing chain mail, brandishing a sword. I realize my image is dressed in a long flowing gown, crown on my head. I hold a golden chalice in my hand. Cuffs and a chain connect our wrists. I turn my head away from the mirror, expecting to see Spike. But I am alone. I turn and leave the chapel.

I turn and leave the chapel and go back upstairs. This time, I pay more attention to the room around me. My trunk lies in the corner. A display case of miniatures is mounted on the wall. The people I love are there, laid out row after row, interspersed with many I don’t recognize. Picking up a smashed one, I reassemble the image. It is Drusilla.

A large wooden bookshelf is filled with volumes. They are bound in either black or white, titles lettered in gilt. I scan the titles: “Slayers”… “Demons”… “Fighting Moves”… ”Poetry”… “Skating”… “Magic”… “Heaven”.

I turn back to the bed, where Spike still rests. Lying down with him, I rest my head against his, and sleep.

A knocking at the door wakes me up. Looking around, I am back in my room. Spike lies next to me, sleeping. Pulling on a robe, I cover him up with a blanket before opening the door.

Tara is standing there. “I’m sorry to disturb you, but you’ve been up here for a while now and Dawn is worried that something is wrong.”

I step out onto the hall, closing the door behind me. Tara looks at me. “You should straighten yourself up. You’ve got blood on your mouth.” Wiping it away with my hand, I wander into the bathroom. “Want me to slip in there and get you some clothes?” she offers.

I nod, brushing my teeth. Tara returns with a pair of underwear, a soft blue sweater and skirt, placing them on the toilet tank.

“That boy sleeps like the dead.” She turns and grins, then stares at me oddly. “Are you okay?” “I’m fine, Tara.” I tell her.

She really does look worried. “You look a little- weird.”

I take a good look at myself in the mirror. I look pale, and my eyes are bloodshot. Pulling my robe aside, I take a good look at the bite and bruising on my shoulder. They are barely visible. As I look at the injury, it heals completely, the black and blue marks fading away and holes disappearing. Tara gasps. “Buffy, what was that?”

“I’m not sure.” I try to sound reassuring. “It must have something to do with the bond. Super healing. Craving blood. It’s like parts of us are merging together. We are wed, literally.”

She is horrified. “But if you’d known. What it would mean. You’d never have- “

“I would have.” Don't do this, Tara. I owe you everything. You gave him back to me. “Whatever the consequences are. I just can’t lose anyone else I love, not again.”

She looks into my eyes, and sees the truth there. I see the strain leave her face. She gives me a searching look. “Are you going to be all right, Buffy? Do you even understand what this bond really is?”

“No. But I’ll figure it out.” I give her a weak smile. “I’ll be fine. Tell everyone I’ll be down in a minute.”

I shower quickly. Dressing myself in clean clothes, I comb my hair and put on a little makeup. Looking in the mirror, I see the same old regular Buffy. It’s like nothing has changed.

All of a sudden, I feel a chill down my spine. The chip. Spike hit Xander, and nothing happened to him.

On second thought, everything has changed.



Chapter Nine: Pay The Piper

I awaken abruptly, disturbed by an unfamiliar noise. A heartbeat. The sound rings all through my head, echoing in my ears. I put my hands over my chest, but I don’t feel anything. Without warning or volition, my demon is called forth. I try to control it, to force it back down. For the first time in a century, I can’t.

Pictures rise unbidden in my mind. I see a stake flying through the air, smashing into a vampire. More come forward to attack. Buffy. I can see what Buffy is seeing. Feel what she is feeling. Hear her heart beating, throbbing frantically.

Pulling on my clothes, I run down the stairs and into the kitchen. Tara and Angel are sitting at the counter, quietly talking. Seeing my face, Tara squeaks in surprise and Angel shoves her behind him. “I’m not going to hurt her, you nit,” I say.

I go to the living room and pull out a crossbow and stakes from the weapons chest. Angel follows me. “Why do you have your game face on?” he asks.

“I don’t know what’s going on, alright? I can see through Buffy’s eyes and I can’t control my demon,” I explain. ”What’s important now is that she’s in trouble, seriously outnumbered.” I stuff bolts for the crossbow in my jacket, handing one stake to Angel and tossing another to Tara as we race out the back door.

‘Where is she?” asks Angel.

The images in my mind continue to flow. “She’s in the cemetery, near my crypt. Just follow me.”

Angel and I are running as fast as we can, leaving Tara behind. Angel scoops her up and we take off again. My mind continues to see the fight. Buffy is agile, amazingly fast, her movements a blur.

Jumping over headstones, cornering around tombs, we run to her. Turning a bend, I duck just as something flies over my head. A puff of dust bursts against the wall of my crypt.

Buffy stands a little ways away, holding two vamps, a collar clenched in each of her hands. “You know guys, I really have something better to do.” She looks up, catching my eye. “Speaking of which, there he is.” She smashes their heads together with tremendous force, dusting them instantly.

A quartet of vampires advances on her. A small female vampire comes over to me, waving her hands in supplication. I move into a fighting stance, fists up and ready. “Please, I don’t mean you any harm,” she says earnestly. “I have a message for you from our mistress. She sends her congratulations on your marriage-“

Suddenly she disappears. Tara stands before me, wielding a stake. “Got her!” she says proudly.

“Uh, yeah. Good job, kitten.” I pat her on the shoulder, sighing.

Buffy and Angel are fighting back to back. They are both in rare form, sending vampires scattering with strong punches and kicks. Buffy seems much stronger than usual, her movements a blur.

“Any of you other idiots got a message to pass on?” I yell. One vampire comes towards me. Tara rounds around behind him and dusts him.

“Look, Wicca, I understand that you’re trying to help here,” I say impatiently. “But will you knock it off long enough for me to find out who sent these twits?”

Tara furrows her brow, instantly contrite. “I’m sorry, Spike. I just don’t want you get hurt again.”

I feel like a total ass. ‘Sorry, love-“

“Look out!” screams Tara, just as something lands hard on my back.

A voice whispers, “Drusilla says to tell you that Miss Edith knows how to undo what your Slayer has done…“

The voice cuts off as I hear Buffy scream, “Get off my boyfriend, you creep!”

Rolling over, I look up at Buffy. She hauls me to my feet, patting me all over. “Are you okay?” Her face is tight and looks scared.

“I’m fine, pet. I really can take care of myself, contrary to what you birds seem to think.” Next they’ll be trying to tie my shoelaces for me.

Angel looks over at me, a smirk on his face. Buffy sticks her stake back in her coat. She is glowing, all pumped up from the fight.“Buffy,” I begin, but I am cut off by her kiss. Her mouth is so soft and warm. Deeply, thoroughly, she plumbs my mouth with her tongue. Her breathing is fast and urgent, her heartbeat more rapid. She breaks the kiss and look up at me. Pressing me up against the crypt wall, she whispers in my ear. “I have to drink you now.” She brings her mouth to my neck and bites down hard. She sucks strongly, her hands pressing hard on my chest. I close my eyes, lost in the feeling of pleasure. Slowly, her heartbeat fades, and I feel my demon recede.

Buffy pulls away. She turns around and sees Tara and Angel standing there. Angel looks both aroused and angered, while Tara has covered her mouth, her eyes wide and horrified.

She turns back, looking at me. Her mouth is dark with my blood. “Something strange is happening to me,” she says. Her eyes roll up as her knees buckle. I catch her before she hits the ground, cradling her in my arms.

“Let’s go inside,” I say to Angel and Tara. We go into my crypt. I lay Buffy gently on the couch, giving her a peck on the forehead.

Angel turns on me, furious, pointing at Buffy. “I never should have let her do the ritual,” he says. “I thought it was a stupid, dangerous idea from the time she mentioned it. She just wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

“If she’d bothered asking me what I wanted, I’d never had let her do it,” I say softly.

Angel scoffs. “Sure, Spike. You’d really have told the woman that you love that you’d rather die than be with her.”

“I would have, you great stupid poof. She had no idea what she was doing.” I sit down heavily in my chair. “I’m beginning to think that I didn’t have any idea what we were getting into either.”

”Buffy told me that she craved blood,” says Tara shakily. “But what she did to Spike, biting him like that...” She looks up at Angel warily. “What is going on?”

“The bond is supposed to unite two vampires for eternity,” explains Angel. “It increases their vampire strengths, because they are combined. Any advantage is made twice as great.” He glares at me. “And any weakness is increased twice as well. If one of them dies, they both die. They are tied, unlife to unlife.”

“But that didn’t apply to Buffy,” Tara argues. ‘She a human being, she doesn’t have vampire strengths. We talked about this. The strengths and weaknesses of the bond can’t apply, because she’s not a vampire. She can’t tie her life to Spike’s. She’s alive.”

Blown away by their stupidity, I stand up and yell at her. “You stupid bints!” Tara stares at me, shocked.

“You thought this was just some meaningless lark? That there wouldn’t be any consequences, any debt to be paid for gaining my life?” I walk over and punch the wall, causing bits of stone to trickle down. “Buffy’s not just a human. She’s the Slayer! She has her own strengths and weaknesses. Not to mention, her own altered lifespan. The girl has died twice, the last time for months!” I turn on Angel. “I thought you said you’d argued with her about it, that she rebutted your arguments.”

He looks over at me, his eyes dark with pain. “She said that she’d discussed the bond with Tara, and she’d already made up her mind. We didn’t discuss the ramifications, she seemed to know and accept them.”

I grab Angel by the lapels. “So you mean to tell me that neither of you had the slightest idea what was really going on?”

Angrily, Angel pushes me back. Towering over me, he snarls, his demon taking over his face . “So help me, William, I…” Tara grabs him arm, holding him back.

“Am I turning into a vampire?” a small voice asks. Buffy is sitting up on the couch, her knees pressed to her chest, arms holding her tight. I go to her.

Picking her up, I settle her back down in my lap. Tara and Angel look at her worriedly. “No, love,” I reassure her. “ No more than I’m going to have my heart start beating or taking strolls at noon. But our traits do seem to be overlapping.”

“Your traits, like the blood drinking.” She looks up at me with wide green eyes. ‘So the immortality thing is true, too? It really does apply to us? You get dusted by someone, and I die?”

“And the opposite is true. You die, and I die too. That’s what it means to be bonded, love,” I explain. “We’ve wedded strengths and wedded weaknesses. Wedded our entire existences, our entire lives.”

Buffy looks serious, but not overwhelmed. I’ll take that as a good sign.

“But that may not be the case,” interjects Tara. “If what’s happening to you is different because Buffy is the Slayer, we have no way of knowing what else is going to happen. We don’t know what other weird side effects this is going to have.”

Buffy looks up at me. “Your chip. When you hit Xander, did your chip go off?”

I pause, taken aback by the question.“ Well, yeah, of course it did.” I think back. “The chip went off, but I could work past it. It happened once before. He really pissed me off and I slammed him into a tree. This time, I was so angry at him for hurting you…” I trail off, confused. “ I don’t know if it did or not.”

“Hit me,” says Tara. She pulls a face at me. ‘Hey, this time I’m volunteering.”

I get up and stand in front of her, hesitantly swinging at her. Nothing happens. ‘I really don’t want to hurt you, Tara. It won’t work if I don’t want to cause you harm.”

She looks thoughtful, and then gives me an assessing look. “I learned some interesting things about you when I was healing you, Spike.” She wraps her arms around my neck, whispering in my ear. “Things haven’t changed a bit in a hundred years, William. No one likes you. No one respects you. Underneath all the attitude and leather you’re no threat to anyone, Spike.”

Hurt, I shove her away, knocking her into my chair. Instantly contrite, I go to her, but she waves me away. “Just for the record, Spike. I don’t think that’s true.”

Angel and Buffy are staring at me closely. “Did you see any chip in head action there?” asks Buffy.

“Didn’t see anything like what you described,” replies Angel.

“Your turn, Buffy,” says Tara. Seeing Buffy’s surprised look, she explains. ‘If you’re sharing traits, maybe hurting a human would hurt you instead of him.”

Laughing, Buffy walks to Tara. ‘Yeah, can’t you just see me being all ‘ouch’”. She raises her hands to her head, yelling in mock pain. Reaching out, Buffy lightly punches Tara. “Oww!” she yells, grabbing her head in real pain. Angel and I both go to her, but I pull her into my arms.

“Are you okay, love?” I ask her, concerned.

Buffy pulls away from me. She strides over to the door. “I should go. I need to talk to Giles, see if he knows if any Slayers have ever been claimed before.”

I sit up. “What the hell, Buffy? You’re not phased by immortality or drinking my blood, but the notion that my chip zaps you sends you running to Daddy?”

She whirls around. “That’s not fair. I’m not running anywhere.” She paces around, staring at the floor.

Tara stands up. “Angel and I should go, give you some privacy to talk everything out. We’ll see what we can come up with. See you back at the house later.”

Buffy gives Tara a weak smile. ‘Yeah, I’ll be back before sunrise. I need to get Dawn off to school.”

Tara gives me a hug. “Just remember how much she loves you,” she whispers in my ear.

Angel stands up, looking uncomfortable. “If you hurt her,” he says, staring at me.

Buffy gives him a light kiss on the cheek. “He would never hurt me.”

Buffy and I stand there in silence as the door to the crypt closes. She turns and stares at me, face blank.

I go to her, holding her around the waist. “You can’t run away from me any more. Anything that needs to be faced, we have to do it together.”

She jerks back, pissed off. “What, I claimed you and now I need to have you around every second? I don’t think so, Spike.”

“First hint of trouble and you trot off to the Scoobies? I sit around my crypt until you decide you want to punch me or screw me? Have we sunk back down to that level again?”

Buffy looks up at me. “I love you, Spike. You know that things are different now.”

“Then prove it, Buffy. Let me in. Tell me what you’re thinking. Tell me how you feel.”

She turns her back to me. Minutes pass as I give her the time she needs. I see the set of her shoulders soften; the muscles of her back lose their tension. Turning back around, Buffy collapses against my chest.

“Please hold me,” she says, looking up at me. I carry her downstairs, and we lay together on the bed. She strokes my hair, her head resting on my shoulder. I rub her back, trying to soothe her.

“I’m scared,” she admits. “When I was fighting earlier, it was like I was in an altered state or something. Everything seemed richer, deeper. I was so much stronger.” Buffy looks up at me, troubled. “I wanted to slay everything in my path. It was fun, causing so much destruction. And when the slaying was done, I still wasn’t satisfied. I needed something more.”

“Bloodlust. That’s what you’re having, sweets. My bloodlust.” I try to sound calm and matter-of-fact. “My demon came over me, but the force of it was channeled into you. Moved in you. When you drank my blood, you appeased it. Then it returned to me.”

‘So I was possessed? By your demon?” she says slowly, as if it is a foreign language she doesn’t speak.

“That’s right. It moved in you, gave you it’s strengths, required the blood sacrifice. Same as any other vampire.” I watch her, waiting for her to cut and run.

Buffy looks truly sickened. “I’m no better than a vampire.” She looks up at me. “I don’t mean you. I mean…“ She closes her eyes. “God, I just can’t say what I really mean.”

“It’s alright, love. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to feel like an evil, disgusting thing. That’s what you think we are. No nuances, no differences between me and the vamps you like to slay.” It hurts so much that after everything we’ve had, nothing has really changed.

“I love you. I know that you’re different.” Buffy says the words, but they don’t quite make it to her eyes.

“Do you, now?” Try as I might to push it down, pain comes across in every word.

She pulls me close, pressing her head against my chest. “I can see myself in you. And I can see you in me. I can feel your demon. I can reach out and touch it. I can even make it mine. Just as I can make you mine.”

She stares at me deeply, intently. I feel her bring my demon forth, pulling it out of me. Pulling my head down, she licks my brow, running her tongue over the ridges there. Bringing my finger to her mouth, she bites down hard, drawing blood. I gasp, in equal parts pain and lust.

I brush the tip of my bloodied finger across her lips. Buffy’s mouth opens, her tongue emerging to lap up the bead of blood. An expression of pleasure washes over her face. She sucks in her cheeks, sliding my finger in and out of her mouth. Her breathing speeds up even more, her heartbeat pounding faster. She stares at me with intense eyes. “It’s not enough. I need more.”

Without warning, her hand plunges into my pants, sending buttons scattering. Buffy straddles my knees. She clamps her thighs around my legs as she pumps my cock with two hands. A strangled noise gurgles up from my throat as she leans forward and bites my lip.

“Blood,” she whispers, staring at the red trail dribbling down my chin. She licks the blood away, pumping my cock all the while in a grip of steel.

My hips thrust wildly as I begin to come. “Slayer,” I scream, the pleasure so immense I feel like my head will blow off. She slides down my body in a flash. Suddenly, my cock is encased in her warm mouth, and I explode. I pour into her throat, my hands coiled in her golden hair.

Buffy swallows me down, watching my face. With gentle strokes, she licks my cock clean. Leaning back on her heels, she pulls off my boots and pants as I lie there, still stunned by my orgasm. She wanders off to a dark corner and comes back holding her duffel bag. Unzipping it, she peers inside and smiles wickedly. Looking over at me, she says, “Close your eyes.” I comply, and feel her pull a blindfold over my head, tightening it in the back. I open my eyes, feeling my eyelashes rustle against the leather.

“All that bitching and moaning at the sex shop and you went back and got the blindfold?” I tease her, uncertain what her plan is. Something silky slides over my thighs. I can feel the brush of her boots against the sides of my legs. Her hair tickles my face, the scent of her filling my nostrils.

Something smooth and cool trails over my thighs, running up my stomach. “Looks like now is the time to explore my dark side,” she says softly. Her mouth closes over my ear as I hear a slap and feel a sting. I see an image in my mind, a dark shadow crashing down. Buffy just hit me with a bloody riding crop.

“Please,” I moan. She bites down gently on my ear. ”Are you a good slave or a bad slave?” she purrs.

“I’ll be good, I’ll be so very good,” I whisper. I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t do, just to keep this going.

Her tongue traces my earlobe as the crop cracks down on my thigh. “Wrong answer, slave,” she says cheerfully.

I hiss with the pleasure of it. My cock springs to attention, ready and willing. “I’ll be bad, I’ll be dirty and nasty and evil. I’ll do bad things,” I moan. The crop cracks down again across my belly, close to my pulsing cock.

“You’ll do,” she says, “whatever I tell you to do.” Her voice is breathy and excited. The fact that I can’t see her is driving me crazy. The image in my mind shows my face, starkly white against the mask, contorted with pleasure.

Her hand drifts down my body, flitting across my pubic hair. “Touch me, “ I plead. She strikes me again, making a large snap.

“No,” she says, guiding my hand across her breast and belly, across something satin, and places my hand on her mound. I reach down, sliding my fingers into her sopping depths. I knead her breast with my other hand. I slide my fingers in and out of her, leaving her moaning my name.

“Make me come, slave. Make me scream,” she says. The song of her heart pounds faster in my head. I am so aroused I can barely think straight.

“Please, Buffy, let me fuck you. I’ll be so good for you.” I move my finger inside her skillfully, knowing just what it will take to bring her over.

She twitches around my fingers, bringing the crop down over and over, hitting my chest and stomach, her pace increasing as she nears her peak. “Tell me you want it,” she says, her voice harsh.

“Oh, sweet God, I do, you know I do.” The crop hits me again, and the sound of her hitching breath combined with the blow has me ready to burst. I feel her fluids flow over my fingers as her orgasm overtakes her. Buffy stops moving, held fast by the moment.

Seizing the opportunity, I flip her on her back, replacing my fingers with my cock. I rip off the blindfold. She writhes underneath me, her head thrown back, face flushed. Her arm is splayed back on the bed, the crop dropping from her hand. The straps of her black satin teddy have slipped down her shoulders, revealing one creamy breast. I struggle not to come inside her as her muscles throb and ripple around me. I move gently within her, drawing out her orgasm. “My love,” she moans. I wrap my arms around her, holding her in my embrace as I move within her. The feeling of the silk and leather against my skin, and the sting of the marks on my body, drive me insane with lust.

She opens her eyes and stares into mine. “Hurt me,” she says. She wraps her legs around me. I move deeper inside her, and we both moan with the intensity of it. “Spike, hurt me, please,” she says it again, scratching my chest. I bite down on her shoulder, not drinking. She moans. “Harder, faster, hurt me,” she cries, her body shaking. She is whimpering now. I hold her waist as tightly as I can, biting her hard on her neck. She screams as I lose control inside her, lost in the pleasure of her body. I watch her come, seeing myself do the same in my mind’s eye. Her heart beats fast in my head, throbbing along with the wave of feeling. The orgasm rolls on and on, intense to the point of pain, leaving us both exhausted and spent.

I pull out of her and pull her to my chest. Her hands run through my hair, over my neck and shoulders, caressing me. We kiss softly, gently. Buffy rests her head on my shoulder, looking at me seriously. “You belong to me, and nothing can take that away now.” She drifts off to sleep, her breath blowing against the side of my face. I rest my head on her chest, comforted by the sound of her heart.



Chapter Ten: Smoke

My alarm goes off with its usual cheerful ringing. I move to hit it, but the sleeping body lying next to me blocks my arm. Sitting up, I lean over Spike and hit the bell. Lying back down, I roll on my side and look into Spike’s blue eyes. He looks quite at home resting on my fluffy girly pillows.

“Good morning.” I reach over and kiss him. “Last I recall we were up to no good at your crypt. When did we come back here?”

He rolls onto his back, stretching like a cat. “I carried you here while you were sleeping. I knew you wouldn’t want to stay at my place, when you need to be here for Dawn.”

He looks absolutely gorgeous, tousled with sleep and bruised and battered a bit from last night. I run my hand across his stomach and chest. “Sexy and thoughtful. Who knew?” I kiss him again, this time more intensely.

Spike smiles, then lunges, rolling on top of me “I’m very thoughtful. Chock full, in fact, of some very entertaining thoughts.” His eyes are dark with lust. He looks down at me, licking his lips. Holding my hips and rubbing his stiff cock against me, he leaves no doubt of what he has in mind.

He leans his head forward and sucks in my nipple, his hand trailing down to caress my clit. He continues rubbing against me, the movement making me warm with desire. I feel him harden even more as I grow wet, and then with one quick movement he is inside me.

I reach up and grab his shoulders, digging my nails into his skin. He still suckles my nipple in his mouth, bracing himself against the bed with strong arms. He moves slowly in and out, in no hurry. Letting my nipple free with a small pop, he gazes down at me as if I am an object of worship. If I ever doubted his love for me, it is there, radiating out from his eyes in waves of adoration. He moves his hips in circles, staring at my face. His movements grow deep, faster, building upon themselves in gradual cycles. When I can wait no longer, needing to come, I slowly rake my fingernails down his chest. I watch him begin to fall apart and pull his mouth down to mine. His body jerks and shakes, taking me over the brink, undone by the intensity of his orgasm.

I break free of our kiss, gasping for breath. A gentle tapping knocks at the door. “Buffy?” asks Angel’s voice.

“Coming,” I squeak, in a high-pitched voice, still lost in orgasm.

“Damn right you are,” growls Spike. He nips me on the neck and I moan.

“Um, I’ll be downstairs. Tara’s making pancakes,” says Angel, his voice sounding oddly distorted. His footsteps hurry away.

Spike still moves within me, drawing out every drop of pleasure for us both. We both sigh and curl together for a moment. I feel utterly at peace with the world. Then it sinks in. Angel. Angel, someone I used to love, right outside my door, hearing us moaning. Knowing we were-

“God, how embarrassing. Poor Angel, ” I say to Spike, pulling away. “He can’t have what we have. It’s not fair to rub his nose in it.”

He gives me an icy look. “Right, pet. Wouldn’t want to hurt the feelings of the same sod who fucked Dru six ways from Sunday within earshot while I was in a bloody wheelchair.”

I’m a little thrown by this. He’s still jealous about Drusilla? Isn’t he utterly over her now?

Getting up, he stalks over to the door. “Spike, you’re naked…”

He opens the door to reveal Cordelia exiting the bathroom in the hallway. Cordy gives Spike the once over. “Hey, Buffy, good for you. I mean, really. The boy is hung like-“

Spike slams the door in her face and turns back to me. He is blushing from the roots of his hair down to his chest. “Wow, Spike. I didn’t think vampires could blush.” He looks like a cherry tomato.

Shooting a glare at me, he pulls on his pants and shirt. After throwing on some sweats, I go over to him.

“I know you’ve got issues with Angel, “ I say. “I’m not saying that you don’t have a right to feel that way. But all three of us have done some pretty awful things to each other, so we’re all just going to have to let go of the baggage.”

Spike looks down at me, thinking hard. He pulls me tightly to his chest. “As long as I have you, I can try to be the better man.” He looks down at me, smiling. ‘Of course, taking the high moral ground will be an new experience.”

Holding hands, we go downstairs. Cordelia, Willow and Dawn are having breakfast. Angel is holding his son, feeding him a bottle. He gives us a dark look, but doesn’t say anything.

Willow looks up at me. “Xander is coming to move out my stuff. I’m going to stay with him and Anya.”

She gives Spike a look of seething hatred. ‘He’s asked that Spike not be here.”

“Xander telling me not to have my boyfriend in my own house? That’s so not gonna fly.” The boy’s lost his mind.

“Try having respect for someone else’s feelings, Buffy. It’s a human trait, and I’m guessing you’ll need to be working on those now.” Shoving her chair back, Willow leaves the room, stomping up the stairs. Distantly, her door slams.

Dawn looks up from her plate, her eyes sad. ‘I wish that everyone could just get along with each other. I hate all the fighting.”

I pat her on the shoulder. ‘It’s okay, Dawnie. Things will be back to normal soon.” I stop, considering that. “Well, not normal, but as close as it gets for us.”

“I wish she wouldn’t leave,’ Dawn says. “Dad, Mom, Tara, Willow. And you were gone…” She looks like she is going to burst into tears. “I have to go to school. “Grabbing her backpack, Dawn dashes out the front door. Turning to Spike, I sigh. “Well, that went well.”

Tara comes in from the kitchen, bearing a platter of pancakes and a paper sack. “Round or funny shapes, I made both. Eat up,” she says, putting down the platter. Looking around, she turns to me. ”Where is Dawn? I have her lunch.”

“Thanks, Tara. I’ll catch up with her.” Grabbing the sack, I run out the front door. Dawn is just turning onto the sidewalk.

“Dawn, wait. I have your lunch here,” I call. As I walk towards her, I feel odd. My skin feels heated, like I have bad sunburn.

“Buffy? You’re smoking.” says Dawn, her eyes wide. I look down at my hands, seeing the smoke rising up.

“Oh My God,” I scream, as I turn and run back to the house. I feel the heat rising as I run. Clouds of smoke surround me, making it hard to see. I trip and stumble, finally making it up the stairs of my house. I am screaming, over and over, burning with pain. “Stop, drop and roll,” says my mind, as I collapse inside my open door. I feel my back ignite into flame.

‘Christ, Buffy!” Spike yells, as something presses down on my back. The last thing I hear is my sister’s screams, ringing in my head. I fall through spinning stars, landing in a blanket of darkness.

Later, I hear distant voices, echoing from far away. “You have to take her to a hospital,” I hear Xander say.

“They won’t know what to do with her, monkey boy. Not to mention, taking her back outside will cause her to burst into flame again!” Spike’s voice is dripping with sarcasm, and an undercurrent that I can’t place.

“And whose fault is it that, huh?” says Xander. “You got her into this mess. This is your fault, Spike! You did this to her. Just to satisfy your filthy-” I hear a scuffle, and the two large thumps.

“Knock that crap off, now!” growls Angel.

I hear sobbing in the background, familiar cries falling and rising. Dawnie? I try to lift my head, but it hurts too much. The dark is sweet and soothing, and I drift back into it.

***

My love lies on her stomach in her metal bed. She looks so delicate and frail. The skin of her back is glossy from Tara’s salve.

I turn to Tara. ‘What did you say was in that stuff?”

“Comfrey, coltsfoot, heals all. Just herbs, ordinary stuff for healing spells. Plus dragons blood, yarrow, mandrake root. Angel told me to what to put in for the vampire side of the house.” She gives me a smile. ‘We’re covering both bases.”

“I never wanted this to happen to her, Tara. I wanted her to acknowledge the darker part of herself, to feel an affinity for it. I never wanted it to swallow her, to eclipse her humanity entirely.” I look over at Tara, and her face is full of understanding. “The binding, Tara. It can’t be undone. But we have to do something.” When I look at Buffy, all I can see is my sweet vibrant girl, trapped in darkness forever.

“We need to talk to Giles, pick Angel’s brain, research on the Internet. Fuck, let’s hop on the ouija board and channel Darla and the Master,” I go on. “ I don’t care what we have to do. We need to see if there is any way around this.”

I think of Drusilla, of the message that she sent me. She knew this would happen. One of her visions, no doubt. She had seen the claiming come to pass, and the affects of it. Most likely, she really did know how to undo it. But what would be her price? “She deserves better than this. It takes too much away from her.” I press a gentle kiss into Buffy’s hair, and stand up. “Tara, I need a smoke break. Can you call me on my cell phone if she wakes up? I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Tara looks up at me, holding Buffy’s phone. “She’ll probably sleep for a while. She needs her rest. But I will call if anything changes before she gets back.”

Walking through the house, I step out into the bright light of day. The wind rushes around me. It is a beautiful, sunny afternoon, and here I stand. I am surrounded by the glory of a Southern California day. I can’t think of anything I have enjoyed less than this. The price of admission for this moment has come at much too high a cost.

Snapping open my Zippo, I light my cigarette and breathe in deeply. “Spike?” says a small voice.

‘Dawn?’ I turn and see her peer around a corner. “What are you doing here, love? Xander dropped you at school an hour ago.”

“I couldn’t just sit there not knowing what was happening.” Her long hair blows in the breeze, falling across her trembling lips.

“Niblet, you know that if you ditch school it’s only going to make things harder on Buffy. Give her more things to worry about,” I tell her in my best “parent” voice.

Dawn turns her back to me. Her breath hitches and I realize that I have made her cry. I toss aside my cigarette and wrap her in my arms. “Shh, sweets, its alright,” I say. “ I’m a sodding idiot, pay me no mind. I wasn’t trying to make you feel worse. This whole thing’s not your fault.” My throat tightens. “It’s mine.”

“I don’t blame you Spike,” she says earnestly. “I think Xander and Willow are wrong. I know how much you love her. I know you’d never hurt her.”

“But I sure enough did a good job of it.” I kiss her forehead. “Don’t worry, pet. I’ll get this figured out and she’ll be right as rain.”

I lead her into the house. Angel is talking on the kitchen phone. “Yes, we need a California King delivered today. Uh huh. You got any sheet sets? Uh huh? Okay, I’ll make another call for that. Be here by three, I’ll throw in an extra fifty bucks.” He hangs up the phone, making a notation on a large sheet of scribbled notes. “Well, it was handy of Willow to clear out today,” he says. ”Cordelia is tired of sleeping on the cot in Dawn’s room and I’m sick of sleeping on the couch. “

‘So you’ll be sleeping with Cordy in that nice big bed?” It seems unlikely, but who knows?

He shoots me an exasperated glance. “No, I’ll be sleeping on the other bed that is being delivered. We’re setting up camp down in the basement.” He gives me an appraising look. “It doesn’t look like we’ll be going back to L.A. anytime soon. Which is actually good. With you and Buffy here, it’ll be the last place anyone will look for us. So, Cordy and I are getting comfortable. Buffy had said we could stay as long as we liked. So, we’re going to. Beds, crib, clothes, couch. It’s all coming today.”

Cordelia comes in, carrying Connor’s baby carrier. The baby is wide eyed, sucking happily on a pacifier.

Angel sighs. “I told you, Cordy, I don’t think pacifiers are good for the baby. And he should be in his baby sling. Dr. Sears-“

Cordy holds up her hand. “Stuff Dr. Sears! I’m not buying any of that attachment parenting crap. Dr. Spock was good enough for my parents-“

‘What does Star Trek have to do with taking care of a baby?” I honestly don’t see a connection there.

They give me identical glances of infuriation. “Uh, I’d better get back to Buffy,” I mutter.

Dawn and I retreat hastily, leaving Mum and Dad to duke it out downstairs.

Tara is laying crystals around Buffy’s body, waving a smoking stick of sage in the air. A black cauldron next to the bed holds herbs smoldering on the red-hot coals within. “Great mother, hear my plea…“ Seeing us, she waves us out of the room.

Dawn looks up at me. “There doesn’t seem to be anything for me to do.” Her face is tight with strain. “I can’t deal with this, Spike. I need things to stay the same. I’m tired of everything being up in the air all the time. I just want something normal.”

“Everything will work itself out, love.” I try to think of something fun to do. “You want to play some cards? Paint our fingernails?” I get a faint smile out of her, and then a shake of the head. “Why don’t you rest, sweets? I’ll come and get you as soon as anything happens.” She shuffles down the hall. The door closes behind her, and the faint strains of Enya pour out. I remember Joyce playing it when she was feeling blue, and when she was sick.

Going into Willow’s empty room, I brace my back against the wall. I bang my head against it, over and over again. The pain is familiar, reassuring even. I slam my head against the wall until it is wreathed in a dull throbbing pain. I feel something snap inside of me, and I hear myself sobbing, sobbing so mournfully. I cry, waves of tears that seem as if they will never end. Grieving, again, for Buffy.

***

I am lying on a bed in the middle of Spike’s crypt. The sun shines through the windows and the open door, hitting my skin. It feels soothing and peaceful. My lover lies next to me, staring at me. I reach out and touch his hair. “Time to go, sweetness,” he says. “We have places to go, disasters to avert.”

I smile at him, still feeling heavy and drugged with sleep. “I like it here. Things are better, easier.”

Spike’s eyes are dark and deep, and seem sad. “We need to face the world, slayer. We can relax after everything gets worked out.”

I wrap my arms around his neck and pull him close. “I’m tired of dealing with the world. I just want to stay here with you.” He kisses me, the sweet gentle kisses that I love best. After a few minutes, he pushes me away, sighing.

“We have forever to kiss, love. But there are some kinks that need working out.” He reaches over and scoops me in his arms. “Time to go.”

“I’m too tired, I don’t have the energy.” I am exhausted, much too tired to go anywhere.

He looks down at me, his face pained. “Do you want to drink?”

“I do,” I say, realizing that is what I need, what I’ve been missing.

Settling me down in the pillows, he moves to cut his arm. “Not there. I want your neck.” Staring in my eyes, he tears open the skin of his throat. Pulling me to him, he holds me tight as I seek out the wound and drink. With every sip, I feel stronger, clearer, better in every way. When I am fully satiated, I let him go. His head is thrown back, his mouth wide with the pleasure of our embrace. The wound in his throat is nearly closed.

He lifts his head, looking at me with eyes a deep turquoise. “We have to go now, Buffy. I need you with me.” I rest my head on his shoulder, feeling replete and content. I edge back into slumber.

Grabbing me by the shoulders, Spike recites the blood vow. “For love I have claimed you. By blood I have bound you. Return to me.” I feel myself pulled towards him, returning to the missing part of myself, and becoming whole.

Suddenly, I am elsewhere. I am lying in my bed. “My back hurts.” Spike gently helps me sit up. He hands me two pills and a cup of water. “Take these,’ he says, and I do. “The pain will be better in just a few minutes, love. We have to get you dressed and downstairs.” His tone is dark and serious. He looks at me. “Your father is here.”

“Why is he here now? He didn’t even come for Mom’s funeral.” I roll my shoulders, wincing with pain. “I don’t think I can do this, Spike.”

“You have to, pet, “ he says. “You have to put on a good show for your Dad, right now, or we could lose Dawn. Why else would he show up here today?” Spike bandages my back and dresses me in an oversized black silk shirt. He pulls soft suede slacks up my legs and guides my feet into black leather mules. He takes me in the bathroom, and I am pleased to discover that I can walk on my own.

Spike brushes my hair gently, smoothing it back with a wide headband. With delicate strokes, he blends foundation into my skin, covering the pallor with a healthy tint. He powders my face softly with the puff of my compact. He smoothes blush on my cheeks and eye shadow on my lids, even lining my eyes with a steady hand. Lastly, he fills in my pale lips with pink, expertly tracing their shape.

“How do you know how to do this?” I ask curiously.

He looks at me, eyes blank. “Drusilla. She wasn’t always in control of herself, but I knew she always wanted to look pretty. So I made sure she did.”We go downstairs. No one is in the living room. Sitting at the dining room table is Dawn, and my father. Spike looks at me, and I nod reassuringly. He walks into the kitchen.

“Hi, Dad.” He looks up at me uncertainly. Coming over to me, he gives me a tentative hug. It is so gentle; I don’t even feel any pain.

He pulls out a chair for me. I sit down, looking up at him. “Before you say anything, Buffy, let me tell you about my day. I get in this morning from a business trip to Spain, and there are two messages waiting for me. One is from your friend Willow, telling me that you girls are in trouble, and the other is from your friend Xander, telling me I need to come to Sunnydale. I go to a briefing, am gone two hours, and then I get a phone call from Dawn. A very illuminating phone call, I might add.”

He shoots me an icy look. ‘I know exactly what’s going on here, young lady.” My father leans forward, staring in my eyes. “You have been trying to play the hero. Trying to solve all of the world’s problems. You think that it’s up to you to slay the demons for everybody else?”

Taken aback, I start to interrupt. “But Dad, I’m the-“

He hits his fist on the table. “Shut it, missy. I know the score. Dawn explained to me exactly what is going on here. ”

I look over at Dawn, and she looks at me reassuringly, giving me a small smile. He reaches behind him and pulls papers out of a briefcase. “Dawn’s school records. Abysmal. Your school records from UC Sunnydale. Doing fantastic until your mom fell ill, then you withdrew and didn’t sign up for the fall semester.” He takes more papers off the table in front of him. “The mortgage on the house has fallen behind. There is nothing in the bank, nothing in savings. I understand that your mother’s car was repossessed over the summer.” He looks up at me, sorrow in his gaze. “I can’t even begin to tell you how horribly disappointed I am.”

I thought there was nothing else that my father could ever say to me that would hurt so much. I was wrong. I feel the tears burning at the back of my throat, and I try with all my might not to cry. Not in front of him. Not again.

He gently puts his hand under my chin and pulls up. His eyes are so much like mine. “I am so very disappointed in myself, Buffy. I let you down, and I let Dawn down.” He looks down at his hands, his fingernails bitten to the quick. “I let your mother down.”

Leaning back, he sighs, running his fingers through his hair. “It never occurred to me to dig deeper. I assumed that what Dawn told me all summer was true, that things were just hunky dory here. I should have known that you girls had too much pride to come clean.” He smiles at us both. “Summers pride, girls. That, you got from me.”

Reaching back in his briefcase, he pulls out more documents, and three checkbooks. “The mortgage is paid off, Buffy. I spoke to the lender this afternoon, and it is taken care of.” He tosses Dawn a set of keys, and places another set in my hand. “Cars for you both. You’ll need them to get between home and school.”

He hands me a set of forms and catalogues for UC Sunnydale, handing another packet to Dawn. “Buffy, I expect you to select your classes as soon as possible for the spring semester. You have been reenrolled, but the classes are filling up quickly. Dawn said that evening classes would be best for you, and there seems to be more availability in those anyway.” He picks up the schedule of classes, showing me where he has highlighted class sections. “These are the next series of classes for your psychology major. You should focus on those first, I think.”

“Dawn and I discussed this and she would like to go to Mission Grove Prep here in Sunnydale. She will be a boarding student during the week and is free to come home on weekends. This way, you will both have the time and energy to focus on academics and lead your own lives without worrying about each other every minute.”

He hands me the checkbooks. “One of these is for household expenses, one for yours and one for Dawn’s. There is ample cash in these funds for the next semester, and the same amount will be coming until you are both done with school.” He rests his finger together on the tabletop. “I expected you girls to show some initiative. You have done that, and I am so proud of you both. But you need someone to take care of you. Right now, that’s me.”

He gives Dawn a hug and kisses her cheek. “I want a word alone with your sister, sweetheart.” She leaves the room, looking over her shoulder at me.

“There is something going on here that I would like an explanation for, Buffy.” Dad looks at me searchingly. “I know you’re an adult, and you don’t answer to me. Both Xander and Willow said that you were in a bad relationship, that some guy was making you do things that you don’t want to do. That he was a monster.” My father’s brow wrinkles in consternation. “But Dawn said that you were in love with Spike, the same Spike that I’ve been hearing so many good things about from her for years now. I know how much he helped her through the rough time she has after your mother passed. So is he the monster that your friends say that he is, or is he a good man?”

My father looks at me seriously, and I can tell that whatever he has failed to do before, he cares. He really is concerned.

“Spike comes from kind of a rough background,” I explain, searching for the right words. “He made a lot of mistakes. But he really has changed. He loves me, and he loves Dawn. I would trust him with my life.”

“Are you really serious about this boy? In a long term kind of way?”

I smile at my dad. “As long term as you can get, Dad.”

He pats my cheek lovingly, and then rises. ‘And what this Xander fellow said about Spike being violent, attacking him?”

“Well, Dad, Xander accused Spike of just using me for sex…”

He holds up his hand. “Say no more, honey, please. Good for Spike. I’d have done the same thing.” He smiles at me. “I shouldn’t have doubted him, based on gossip alone. But you know that old saying, ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’. Just wanted to look out for my girls.” He stops, looks at me questioningly. “I think you may need to reevaluate who your friends are, honey. I don’t think those two acted very loyally, coming running to me telling tales.”

Dad frowns, looking at his watch. “I’m taking Dawn over to Mission Grove. The headmistress is expecting us for dinner at her home in a half hour. Then Dawn’s going to spend the night over there, meet her new dorm mates.” He gets up and goes in the kitchen and I follow him.

Dawn and Spike are eating peanut butter out of the jar. She is speaking in a low voice, brandishing her spoon in punctuation. Spike’s eyebrows are raised high, looking completely shocked.

“I think it’s time we met, young man,” says my father, in a serious voice.

Spike jumps, startled. “Yes, Mr. Summers. I’m, uh, Spike.” He offers a peanut butter streaked left hand to my father, and then offers his clean right one. My father shakes his hand firmly.

“You got any other name, son, or is it just Spike?”

“William, sir,” says Spike, his posture stiff and formal.

“That’s a bit more like it,” My father says with a grin. “Makes you sound like a real person instead of something you’d find at the hardware store.”

A tiny smirk passes over Spike’s face before he quashes it.

“Dawn? Can I speak to you outside for a minute?” I ask. Dawn and I go to the back porch. We both look up for a moment, watching the stars twinkling in the night sky.

She turns to me, clearly scared. ‘Do you hate me for calling Dad? I just didn’t know what else to do to help you, Buffy. Things have gotten so screwed up.”

“No, Dawnie, no. I haven’t been taking good care of things since I got back, or before it, really. Calling Dad was what I should have done, a long time ago.” It hurts to admit that I haven’t been doing as well as I wanted to. “But going to boarding school, Dawn? Are you just trying to get away from me because you’re afraid of me?” My voice starts to crack as I say the last words, and she pulls me into a hug.

“I’m afraid for you, Buffy. I lost you once and I can’t bear to lose you again. You need to figure out all these changes that you’re going through, and to how to deal with them. I don’t want to see you hurt, not physically and not with all the fighting. “ She sighs. “And I don’t want to hurt you too, Buffy, but I need more than this. I need to be a normal girl for a while, and I can’t do that here. Not while all of this is going on.”

“And you think you’ll like it there?” My voice is tinged with disbelief.

“Janice’s mom sent her to board at Locust Grove after Halloween,” she tells me. “She really likes it there, and we’re going to be roommates. It’s going to be great, Buffy.”

“And if you hate it you’ll come home?” I know the answer, but I need to hear it just the same.

“Cross my heart, Buffy. I’ll always come home to you.”

She hugs me again. She smiles at me, dangling her car keys. “Can we go see the new cars now?” Grabbing my hand, she pulls me around the side of the house, giggling like the teenage girl she is.



DEDICATION: To Kelly Hodgson Kline, whose support has been invaluable in continuing this series.



Chapter Eleven: Old Friends and New

“You don’t know your ass from your elbow,” said Spike vehemently, his hands braced squarely on his hips.

“Well, I can tell a corner bracket from a center bracket, which makes me smarter than you, ” retorted Angel, tossing a small object from one hand to the other.

Grabbing it in midair, Spike held it up. “This one is the corner bracket. The one that looks like a “T” is the center bracket. ”

Angel picked up the object in question, peering at it.“ No, you’re wrong. The diagram clearly indicates that…” He held up the instructions, waving them for emphasis.

The blonde ripped the paper out of Angel’s hand, voice rising. “Listen, I don’t need a bloody schematic to put a crib together, Angelus. Its just slats of wood, with some metal bits thrown in.”

‘Oh, sure! Let’s do it your way,” Angel said sarcastically, grabbing the instructions back. “Let’s just throw it together. It doesn’t really matter, it’s only my child’s life that we’re taking about.”

Spike guffawed. “Oh, please. Why do you have to be so melodramatic about everything?”

As she entered the basement, Buffy winced at the mess they were making. Angel and Cordelia had it cordoned off into two areas, one for each of them. The paper screen that separated Cordelia’s space from the chaos surrounding it had toppled over onto her bed. Angel’s bed and couch were drowning in a sea of boxes.  The shipping box lay on its side, spilling forth the pieces of the crib. The mattress was propped against the wall nearby. There was no clear space anywhere to be seen. “Spike, why don’t you go upstairs and help Tara and Cordelia with the research,” she said cheerfully. “We need a fresh brain.” He gave her a sour look, but kissed her and went upstairs without protest.

Angel smiled at her in appreciation. Picking up the instructions, she studied them for a moment. “He was right. They mislabeled the brackets,” she said quietly.

Methodically, they grouped the pieces of the crib together. With both of them cooperating, it was finished in minutes.  “Good job,” Buffy told him as she pushed the mattress into place. ‘Do you want to put on the bedding?” she asked, looking around.

Angel scratched his head. ‘I ordered a crib set. It’s around here somewhere.” He looked through the boxes and bags, finally locating the bedding.

Angel scratched his head. ‘I ordered a crib set. It’s around here somewhere.” He looked through the boxes and bags, finally locating the bedding.

“Oh, that is so cute,” said Buffy, admiring the set, which was a midnight blue pattern, covered with gold suns and silver stars.

He looked at her oddly. “I guess so. Cordy picked it out.” Angel put on the bedding and the padded bumper, while Buffy assembled and installed the mobile. Once finished, they stepped back to assess their work.

“It looks great,” said Buffy. Leaning forward, she twisted the knob on the mobile. A circle of suns and moons circled around, spinning to the clockwork tune.

“I’m really glad that you are here,” Buffy said.  “I never thought you’d stay in Sunnydale again, not even as a safe place for Connor.”

“Cordy and I were going to leave. We didn’t want to impose on you. But I couldn’t just walk away from you while you’re going through this,” he said sincerely. “You have no idea how scared we all were, seeing you burned, wondering if you’d be alright.”

“You, and Tara, and Cordelia, you’ve all stayed, doing everything you can to help me understand the claim, understand the effect it has on me. Even thought it scared you, or hurt you to see it, you didn’t run away. You didn’t turn your backs on me. I guess it just goes to show who my real friends are,” she said bitterly.

“They’ll come around,” reassured Angel. “Xander and Willow don’t understand your relationship with Spike. If you’d told them what you told me, they would see.”

“They’ll never understand,” replied Buffy. “They don’t know what it feels like to be dead, and then to feel alive again. To have love, after having nothing.” Angel stared at her, his eyes filled with pain. “I’m sorry. That was insensitive. I wish you could love again, feel about someone the way I feel for Spike,” she said earnestly, reaching out her hand. He turned away.  After a pause, he turned back. She was already at the top of the stairs. “I do,” he said, as he watched the mobile spin in endless circles.

She stepped out into the kitchen. “So, how are things going on the making Buffy nonflammable front?” she said brightly.

“Not so good,” Cordelia replied, sipping from a mug at the kitchen counter. “I think we need to get some help. These sources Angel gave us didn’t really know anything. It seems that the vampires don’t really have the answers on the Slayer front.”

“I’ll try to call Giles again,” said Buffy. “We really need his expertise on this. I wonder where he is. I’ve been trying to reach him for over a day now.”

‘I know we haven’t really gotten anywhere, but I need a break. My head hurts from staring at the monitor,” said Cordy, as she rubbed her eyes.

“Why don’t you go upstairs and take a nice hot bubble bath? Connor’s sleeping, and you should take some down time,” suggested Buffy. The other girl looked tempted, but hesitated. “I’ve got scented candles from France, and soothing environmental music, and a very expensive face mask waiting. Not to mention a nice, clean Egyptian cotton robe...” her voice trailed off enticingly.

Cordelia smiled widely. “That sounds absolutely perfect.” She headed upstairs.

Buffy watched her go, then turned and entered the dining room, where Spike and Tara huddled conspiratorially. Thick volumes and stacks of papers were everywhere. “Okay, so are we good?”

‘She has no clue that we know it’s her birthday,” said Tara. “We are going to totally surprise her.”

“I hope she likes it,” said Buffy. ”The surprise birthday celebration thing kind of sucks when it’s for me.”

Angel came in the room. “Okay, so what is the plan?”

Spike rustled some papers on the table. “We’ve got a reservation at the Armory for nine o’clock. The cake is here. Tara slipped it past her. Did you get her presents?”

Angel made a face. ‘Yeah, I got everything.”

‘What is it? What’s so terrible?” Tara asked

‘What’s terrible,” replied Angel,  “is she is going to make us….” A knock at the door interrupted him. “I think that’s for me,” he said, moving to answer it.

A young woman wearing a black dress and a white cap stood at the door. “Hello, I am Penelope Travers,” she said in a clipped British accent. “Wesley told you I’d be coming?”

‘Yes, absolutely.” He looked over his shoulder. “If you don’t mind, let’s just step outside for a minute.”
As they stood on the front porch, he peered down at her. “So, you understand the situation.”

She nodded at him, eyes grave. ‘I was made aware of the threat that you are facing. I will protect the child with all of my powers.”

Angel looked at her hesitantly. Leading her over behind the tree, he stopped her. “If you don’t mind, would you drop the glamour for a minute?”

She looked at him seriously and then shut her eyes. Her features blurred and reformed. Before him stood a winged creature taller than himself. Blue scales covered humanoid features. Sharp talons curled at the ends of powerful arms.  She opened her green, reptilian eyes, turned her head to the side and breathed a stream of blue fire. As she pivoted back to face him, she returned to human guise.  ‘I am perfectly harmless cloaked in my mortal appearance,” she explained softly. “But any hint of threat to your son, and I will change instantly and address it.”

Angel cleared his throat. ‘Well, I’m convinced of that. Please come in, Miss Travers.”

He took her coat and hat and led her over to the bassinet. ‘This is Connor,” he whispered. After hanging up her things, he led her to the dining room. “Everyone, this is Miss Travers,” Angel announced. “She will be helping us take care of Connor while we stay in Sunnydale.”

Buffy smiled. ‘Wow, you’re actually going to let someone else take care of the baby?” She turned to Miss Travers. “Hi, I’m Buffy. It’s a pleasure to meet you. You must be some kind of superwoman, if Angel thinks you’re up to the job.”

Spike gave the nanny an assessing look. “Not a super woman. More like a…”

Angel laughed nervously. “Super person. A really super person. No need to be sexist, right?” He shot Spike a glare, clearly wanting him to shut up.

For once, Spike took the hint. ‘I’m Spike. Pleasure to meet you,” he said. He tilted his head, staring at her.

“And I’m Tara,” the witch introduced herself. “So, are you from Sunnydale?”

“No,” Miss Travers replied. “I’m from elsewhere.”

“So, can I get you a drink, or something to eat?” Buffy offered.

A small wail arose from the living room. ‘Excuse me, ‘ the woman said, “I must tend to the child.” She turned towards the living room, Angel following right behind.

‘Wow, that is cool,” enthused Buffy. “So we can actually have an adult evening. Maybe we could go to The Bronze after dinner. I bet that Cordelia and Angel haven’t gone dancing in a while.”

“Last time we went there, we didn’t do much dancing,” said Spike seriously. Buffy looked over at him in disbelief.

‘Why not?” asked Tara, as she looked up from the notes on the table. “Was one of you not feeling well?”

“We had to leave,” explained Buffy, flushing slightly. ‘I got overheated.”

“Well, if we’re going to go dancing, I should change clothes,” said Tara.

“Willow left some boxes of yours behind. I put them in the closet in your old room,” said Buffy.

“I’ll take a look, see what I can come up with. “ Tara went upstairs.

Buffy turned to Spike. “What is with you?” She poked him in the chest. He grabbed her waist and pulled her close.

“I just like teasing you,” he said quietly. His hands wandered up her body, thoroughly touching her from hips to shoulders. She sighed, rubbing against him. He pulled her head down for a kiss, as his hand pressed the back of her head. The embrace deepened, growing tighter and closer with every moment of the kiss.

Buffy broke away, breathless. “We can’t, not now,” she whispered. “There’s a houseful of people.”

He nibbles her ear. “You know, the second that I walk in the Bronze I’m going to get hard,” he said matter of factly. “Just thinking about the last time we were there. What a naughty girl you were, fucking me right there on the dance floor.” His breath hitched and his hand slipped under her skirt. ‘Strike that. I’m already there.” She felt his erection pressed against her.

“Let’s go to my room,” she said breathily.

“Can’t, Tara’s there,” he said.

“Bathroom?” Buffy suggested.

‘Cordelia,” he replied, as he gently nipped at her neck.

“Basement?” she said hopefully.

Spike picked her up and threw her over his shoulder, running down the stairs. “Shall we break in Angel’s bed or Cordelia’s?” he asked as they reached the last step.

‘Neither,” said Buffy. “That’s just gross.”

“Neither of them are using them for anything fun, “ said Spike with a grin. “Really, it would be doing them a favor. We’d be testing the mattress for quality and endurance.”

“You’ll just have to test your endurance over there,” said Buffy, pointing to the wall where the washer and dryer were.

“Against the wall? We’d bring the house down again,” said Spike. “And we want to keep living here, right?”

‘I have an idea,” said Buffy. Several minutes later, Buffy lay on a twin size air mattress covered with a Barbie sleeping bag. They were wedged in a corner between some boxes and the staircase.

Spike looked down at her. “I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but I’m not really in the mood anymore. Moving boxes, pumping up the mattress. Kind of ruined the moment, love.”

Buffy pulled off her skirt, showing a garter belt and sheer white stockings. She took off her blouse, and revealed a creamy satin bra.

“I’m good,” said Spike, unbuckling his belt and kicking off his pants. He pounced on her, ripping off her panties. “This is a different look for you,” he said, popping a clip on the garter belt.

Buffy grabbed his hand. “I kind of thought we might do it with them on,” she said. “I could wrap my legs around you while you fucked me,” she said in a low voice, biting his earlobe. “It would feel so silky, so smooth, sliding against your skin.” She stared deeply into his eyes.

He returned her gaze and swallowed. “Works for me,” he said weakly.  He refastened her button, fumbling a little before he got it right. She slid her foot up the inside of his leg. He shut his eyes, biting his lip.

“You like that, don’t you?” she asked. He thrust against her, showing her exactly how much. She grabbed his ass in both hands, guiding him inside her. He nipped and bit at her collarbone as he moved in and out of her warmth. “I love the way you feel,” she whispered, wrapping her legs around him. He pulled up his head, kissing her thoroughly. She pushed his chest, pulling him away slightly. He looked down at her, confused. She slid her right leg up, pulling it over his shoulder, and then her left. He rocked forward slightly, and she gasped.

“Am I hurting you, love?” he said, concerned.

“Don’t stop,” she said, ” you’re so deep inside me.” She closed her hands around his wrists.

He moved cautiously within her, fearful of hurting her. As her response became more and more avid, he moved faster within her.  Her color heightened, her head thrashed from side to side as she scratched him with her nails. “I’m coming, I’m coming, come for me,” she moaned, arching in climax.

“Buffy, I love you,” he said brokenly, following her into bliss.

Upstairs, in Buffy’s room, Tara tried on her outfit. She looked in the mirror critically, turning from side to side.

“Are you going somewhere special tonight?” asked Cordelia from the doorway. She looked relaxed and flushed, a terry turban on her head matching the robe she wore.

“We all are. It’s kind of a study buddy field trip. All hands on deck.” She turned, smiling at Cordy. “So you’d better go get ready.”

“Where are we going?” asked Cordy, her eyes bright. “Someplace dressy?”

‘Yep, and you’ll need to wear shoes you can move in,” said Tara.

Cordelia gave the witch an appraising glance. “You look really nice, Tara.”

The girl’s face lit up. “Really?”

“Yeah.” Cordy gave her a thoughtful look. “But I think we can do even better.” She walked to the bathroom, returning with her vanity case.

Pulling out some makeup and a curling iron from her bag, she motioned for Tara to sit down at Buffy’s desk. “I want to add some sparkle to your cheeks, put a little curl in your hair. Are you ready for a little change?”

Tara smiled up at her. “Definitely.”

In the living room, Nanny Travers took detailed notes. “You prefer him to be held on demand, fed on demand, changed as necessary. No set sleep schedule.” She looked up at him. ‘So you wish me to do what the child wants when he wants it?”

‘That’s correct,” said Angel, staring down at the child in his arms. “I don’t want him to feel neglected or unloved for one instant. The second that he cries, I want him to be held. To feel secure.”

‘As you wish,” said the nanny. “I tend to agree with you sir. A happy child is a secure child.”

He handed her a piece of paper. ‘These are the numbers where you can reach us. My cell phone, Cordy’s, Buffy’s and Spike’s. Additionally, the number of the restaurant and the club are there. The number for Connor’s new pediatrician here in town, poison control, police and fire department.”

“You’re very thorough, sir. I’m sure that everything will be fine, but I will contact you with the slightest concern.” She looked up at him, the very picture of capability.

He smiled at her. “Do you need anything? Can I help with any arrangements?”

Nanny Travers shook her head. ‘No, Wesley arranged for my private accommodation in town and transportation. I’m all set up to stay as long as you need me.” She held out her arms for the baby. “Why don’t you go prepare for your evening?  I’m perfectly capable of looking after Connor.”

Looking hesitant, Angel handed over the baby. As he stepped into the kitchen, he saw Spike drinking from a mug. He grabbed a bag of blood from refrigerator for himself.  

‘Great minds think alike.” Spike raised his mug. ‘So, is there a reason that you’re not telling anyone the nanny is a beastie of the godlike strength, setting things afire variety?”

“I don’t want to worry Cordelia. I’ll tell her later.” At  Spike’s sidelong glance, he continued, “Really, I will. I just want to have one nice evening where nothing goes wrong.”  

An hour later, Buffy slammed shut her door and turned the key in the ignition.

‘Are you sure you want to drive, Buffy?” asked Tara nervously from the back. Her hair cascaded over her shoulders, tightly curled into ringlets. “I mean this thing is huge.”

Carefully, Buffy backed the Suburban down the driveway. ‘Dad said that he wanted me to drive something safe. Like a tank.”

“Which does kind of begs the question of why the niblet got the convertible,” said Spike drolly.

‘Well, the convertible is huge too. Dawn is probably the only person under sixty with a Cadillac. Therefore,” said Buffy chirpily, “there is no need to draw any unflattering driving comparisons. No one is saying that Dawn is a better driver than I am.”

“I taught her how to drive, Buffy,” said Spike. “I can safely say that she is a much better driver than you are.”

“I’m a perfectly fine driver. Dawn can’t even drive yet without an adult in the car to watch out for her,” snapped Buffy.

‘Stop sign!” Tara exclaimed loudly from the back. The truck screeched to a halt, barely stopped in time to avoid being clipped by another car.  “Not a word,” said Buffy firmly. The rest of the ride took place in silence.

Cordelia was stunned by the ambiance of the Armory. “Wow, this place is really unbelievable.” Mahogany paneling accented stained glass windows.  The floors were paved in gray cobblestones, with varying types of arms and armor hung on the walls.

The host led them to their table. Angel assisted Tara and Cordelia into their seats as Spike did the same for Buffy. They looked over their large burgundy leather menus.  “These prices are insane, Angel,” murmured Cordy.

“It’s your birthday, Cordelia. The day that you were born was a very special day. It deserves to be celebrated,” he said, as he stared at her.

She looked over at him, eyes wide. “Thank you,” she said quietly.

The waiter came and took their orders, then came back with a bottle of champagne. After they were served, Angel raised his glass. “To Cordelia.”

“To Cordelia!” they all chorused, clinking their glasses.

Three bottles of champagne later, things had become progressively less sophisticated. “I kissed a girl once,” said Buffy. “It was at summer camp. Her name was Amanda. She had really soft lips.”

Cordelia handed her empty glass to Angel, who refilled it. “I kissed a girl at summer camp, too! I can’t remember her name, but she had the prettiest hair. It was a deep rich red, like Willow’s.”

At the mention of Willow’s name, the effervescence faded from the mood. Buffy and Tara both looked sad. The two men shared a look. Spike clapped his hands and stood up. “Let’s go girls. The Bronze is calling. Time to go shake your moneymakers.”

He helped Buffy up, as she lurched unsteadily in her heels. “Whee,” she said loudly. “I’m weeble wobbly.” He smiled down at her.

Angel peeled bills off a roll and threw them down on the table. Cordelia sank back her glass of bubbly and grabbed her wrap. Angel placed it gently around her shoulders as the group walked outside.

“It is such a pretty night,” said Tara. “The stars are so clear, and you can smell the ocean from here.” Spike helped her into the truck and then placed Buffy into the passenger seat. Angel helped Cordy step inside the massive vehicle.

“As the designated driver, I am responsible for your welfare,” intoned Spike. “Everybody buckled up?”
As everyone shouted their assent, he took off. “Let’s put the pedal to the metal.” He drove very fast, but in perfect control of the big truck.  “I love this thing, Buffy,” he told her. “It’s got a lot of kick to it.” He smiled over at her, grinning wickedly.

“Yeah, that’s true. Enjoy trying to parallel park it, though,” said Buffy.

A short drive later, Spike pulled into the very first space on the end of the lot at the Bronze. “The parking gods have smiled upon me,” he joked.

They went into the club and sat down at their reserved table. ‘Can I fetch you some drinks, ladies?” the blonde offered.

“More champagne,’ said Cordelia. “Keep it coming.”

“Your wish is my command.” Spike went over to the bar.

“Buffy?” said a voice. She turned around and saw Xander.

“I really don’t want to fight any more,” she said unsteadily. “I’m having fun, with friends. People I love, who haven’t stabbed me in the back lately.”

He looked down at her, his eyes earnest. “Please, Buff. I don’t want to fight either. I just want to talk.”

She got up very carefully. “OK, let’s talk.” Wobbling slightly, she followed him upstairs. Angel turned to Cordelia. “Why don’t we go dance?”

“I thought you didn’t dance,’ she said. He gave her an appreciative look, admiring her and her strapless dress. “For you, I’ll make an exception.” She placed her hand in his with a smile as they walked to the dance floor. Angel was glad of the slow love song that gave him an excuse to pull her close.

Tara sat alone at the table, looking a little lost. She drummed her fingers on the table, absently looking around. Her face brightened when Spike appeared. He was laden with champagne in a metal bucket of ice, four flutes precariously pressed to his chest. He placed them down on the table, then opened the bottle with a small pop. “Where’s the rest of our little party?” he asked as he poured Tara a glass.

“Angel and Cordy hit the dance floor.” Tara paused slightly. “Bu-bu-buffy went off to talk to Xander.”

He tensed up and scanned the crowd. “Xander is here?”

She grabbed his wrist. He looked down angrily. “They’ve been friends a long time, Spike,” said Tara calmly. “If they can work this out, it would be good for both of them.”

Upstairs, Buffy sat with Xander, Anya and Willow. “We are so worried about you, Buffy,” said Anya. “We just want to make sure you’re okay.”

“Well, I’m not okay,” said Buffy shakily. “My best friends aren’t even talking to me, so how can I be okay?”

Willow looked at her, pain in her eyes. “Buffy, you know that we love you. But we can’t stand seeing you throw your life away on someone who isn’t even alive.”

Buffy pointed a wobbling finger at her friend. “You don’t understand, Willow. Spike is the person who saved my life.” She took a moment as she attempted to find focus. “I died,” she said, “to save all of you. I was in heaven, and I was so happy. I was at peace, content.”

She bit her lip as she held back tears. “When you all made your decision, and yanked me out, I was so lost.” She looked up and made eye contact with each of them. ‘You all saw how out of it I was when I came back. All I wanted was to die again. Dawn stopped me from ending my life. But it was Spike who made me live it.”

She pressed her shaking hands together, and hid them in her skirt. ‘When I saw him for the first time, I saw in his eyes how much he loved me. And I felt it too. I knew I loved him, that I’d loved him even before I died. When he looked at me, it was like a magnet to steel. It pulled me in. It kept me here, kept me strong. When I wanted to cut my wrists, or hang myself, or overdose on pills, I went to him. He’s the only reason I’m still alive.” Her voice broke, and she choked back a sob.

Xander’s eyes were full of sorrow and guilt. Willow’s tears ran down her face, unchecked. “I couldn’t tell him that I loved him. I knew it was wrong. I knew you all would hate it. I knew all the reasons why he wasn’t worthy of me.” Buffy smiled bitterly. “I was Saint Buffy, up on my pedestal, keeping the evil vampire in his place.” She paused for a second. “And even when I made love to him, when we became lovers, I stayed on that pedestal. I didn’t give him so much as a grain of affection. It was too close to the truth.”

Buffy looked up into Xander’s eyes. “Anya saw us together. I was horrified, ashamed that you all would learn my little secret. And so I threw Spike away.” She looked at Willow. ‘He tried to kill himself. He nearly died. That’s why Angel and Tara helped me with the ritual. I begged them to. I told them that if Spike died, I’d kill myself.” She stared at them, her eyes a hard, dark green. “It was the truth.”

Xander leaned forward. “But how can he mean that much to you, Buffy? How can one person mean the difference between life and death?”“He’s my heaven,” she said softly. “Being with him, it’s being back in heaven.” Willow’s sobs rang out. Buffy went to her. They rocked together, crying. Xander wrapped his arms around them. Anya placed her arms around his waist and rested her head on his shoulder. The four friends rocked back and forth, moving as one.

Down on the dance floor, Spike and Tara danced, moving gracefully. “I’m really glad that you’re my friend,” he said. She looked up at him, surprised. ‘You saved my life, healed Buffy. You went toe to toe with the Scoobies, even though I know it hurt you.” He looked down at her, his eyes sparkling. “Plus, now you’ll dance with me. And I can see all the way down your dress.” Taken aback, she looked downward. ‘You cannot, you creep!” she said with a flush, as he howled with laughter. She smacked him lightly, laughing herself, as they continued their dance.

Across the room, Cordelia and Angel swayed together. Her head rested gently on his shoulder. His hand was splayed widely across her bare back, touching as much of her as possible. They were lost in each other, held in a moment of rare peace.



AUTHOR'S NOTE: Lyrics to "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" by Culture Club, "Our Lips Are Sealed" by J. Wiedlin and T. Hall, and "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred used without permission.

DEDICATION: For Jeff, the most kick ass husband ever. His evil mind is to blame for the Boy George action.



Chapter Twelve: Slaves to Love

"Make a wish," said Angel softly. Cordelia leaned forward and blew out the candles of her birthday cake. His eyes were locked on her face as she smiled widely.

"What did you wish for?" asked Willow.

"That would be telling," she replied. Tara pulled out the smoking candles from the cake and set them aside.

Buffy brought over a stack of plates and silverware and a cake server from the china cabinet. "I'm breaking out the china in your honor," she said.

"I want my piece with that big pink flower on it," said Cordy. Buffy cut a generous slice and handed it to her, then passed forks and plates of cake to everyone else. "Thanks!" said the birthday girl. "Can we open my presents now?" She was as excited as a child at the prospect.

"Whatever you want," said Spike, through a mouth full of cake. "Open ours first, though. It's the pink one."

She obediently reached for the flat box and opened it. Seeing the soft ivory colored sweater inside, she stroked it with her hand and peeked at the tag. "Oh my God," she enthused. "You bought me cashmere?" She gave Spike a big hug, causing Angel to glare at him. She then hugged Buffy too. "This is the best present ever!"

"Cashmere is so nice," said Anya, looking a little envious. "Nice and expensive. I wish I had a cashmere sweater." She gazed at it longingly.

"Maybe for your birthday, An," Xander said as he ate.

"Why don't you open mine now?" suggested Angel. "It's the really big one."

"I want to open Tara's next," said Cordy. She opened up an intricately wrapped box to reveal a set of three glass bottles.

"They're homemade," said Tara apologetically. "But I know how much you like gardenia, and they are all scented with it. It's bath salts, shower gel and lotion."

"Thanks so much," said Cordelia enthusiastically as she hugged the other girl.

Angel cleared his throat and pointed at his gift. "Did you get me what I think you got me? The thing I dropped eight million hints about?" asked Cordelia.

"That would be telling," Angel replied with a small smile.

Cordelia clapped excitedly and unwrapped her present. Silence descended upon the room as they regarded her gift. "Isn't it great?" gushed Cordy. She turned to Angel and he opened his arms for a hug. She placed the box in his arms. "Can you carry that into the living room for me?" she asked him.

Buffy pulled the blender out of a cabinet and set it up on the kitchen counter. Spike walked into the kitchen and playfully slapped her ass as he grabbed a bottle of rum from a cabinet. "Angel's going to be the first up to sing karaoke," he said delightedly. "You don't want to miss this." He went out to the living room.

"Really classy guy you picked for yourself, Buff," Xander said as he grabbed a can of frozen margarita mix and a bowl of ice from the freezer.

"Yep, he's a total Neanderthal. But I kind of like that in a guy." She rummaged in a cabinet, coming up with another bottle of rum.

"I understand that you love him," he said, "but the appeal is really lost on me."

"This party is supposed to be a smoothing over the edges, bonding experience," she reminded him. "So save the snarkiness for another time." She poured the ingredients in the blender and Xander hit the button. He poured them each a cup and they drank.

"Tasty," he said as he slurped loudly.

"Margaritas are such a good thing. I can feel the tension melting away," she said, as she rolled her shoulders.

"What's cooking, drink-wise?" asked Willow as she came in the room.

Feedback blared loudly. "Strawberry margaritas," said Buffy, as she handed her a cup. The three friends followed the noise to the living room.

"Totally Eighties Hits or Pop Hits of the Nineties?" asked Spike.

"Eighties," said Cordelia. The vampire popped a disk into the karaoke machine and fiddled with the connection to the television set. A slow electronic beat filled the living room as lyrics scrolled across the screen.

"Come on, Angel, you're up," said Cordelia. He took the microphone from her and looked at her plaintively. "Please?" she asked. "For me?" He sighed and nodded.

"Give me time to realize my crime, let me love and steal," sang Angel uncomfortably, "I have danced inside your eyes, how can I be real?"

"This is fucking brilliant," said Spike as he flopped into a chair. "Everyone should have one of these. You can torture all your friends in the spirit of a having a good time."

"Be nice," said Buffy as she sat down at his feet.

"Tell me this isn't hysterical," he said, enjoying the spectacle. "Admit to me that this is the funniest thing you've ever seen in your life."

"Do you really want to hurt me?" sang Angel stiffly. "Do you really want to make me cry?" Buffy cracked up, and so did Spike. Tara covered her mouth and turned around.

"Don't be so mean," said Willow. "Singing in public is very embarrassing for some people. Especially if you don't sing very well." Angel threw down the microphone and stormed off.

"That didn't come out how I meant it," said Willow to Tara. The blonde girl smiled at her sympathetically.

"You go apologize to him, Spike," said Cordy angrily.

"I'm going," said Spike as he rose. "I'll make nice." He grabbed his bottle of rum and left the room.

Buffy got up and sat next to Xander on the couch. "I want to sing 'Xanadu','" said Anya excitedly.

"Cordelia said I could be next and I want to sing 'Total Eclipse of the Heart'," said Willow. The two girls glared at each other.

"I found one we can all sing together," said Cordy. The quartet of girls gathered around the microphones and peered at the screen. "Can you hear them, they talk about us," she sang.

"Telling lies, well that's no surprise," sang Anya.

"Can you see them, see right through them," sang Tara.

"They have no shield, no secrets to reveal," sang Willow tunelessly.

Spike stepped out onto the back porch. Angel stood there and looked off into the distance. "Does she know you love her?" asked Spike softly.

Angel looked at him. "I don't know what you mean."

"I know you love Cordelia," Spike said. "There's no way you'd make such an ass out of yourself otherwise."

"There's no point telling her," said the other man. "Nothing could ever come of it."

"Why not?" asked Spike. "Because you can't fuck her?"

"Don't talk about her like that," growled Angel loudly.

"Is it just the sex that's holding you back?" asked Spike directly. "Or is it something else as well?" He held out the bottle to Angel.

"Pretty much just the sex," admitted Angel, as he swallowed the rum.

"The woman obviously loves you," Spike said. "She takes care of your child, tells you how to spend your money, argues with you night and day. You're as good as married already."

"But I can't ever be there for her, not completely," said Angel. "I can't fulfill her needs."

"Think about it this way," said the other man. "Imagine you've already shagged her every way imaginable, the sex is beyond belief, everything's great. Suddenly, there's an accident. You can't make love anymore; your equipment is out of commission. Do you tell her to go find a better man, a whole man?"

"Well, yes, I would," said Angel. "Because I love her, and I want her to be happy."

"That's your fucking problem, Peaches. You get all noble, and make the grand sacrifice, instead of using your brain." He looked at Angel. "You let Buffy go; you left her to make a life without you. And she has. Can you tell me that you don't regret it?"

"No," the other man admitted. "I can't."

"Then don't make the same mistake twice." Angel took a deep swig of rum. "You've got hands, and a mouth, and a heart, same as any other man. If you love her, show her how you feel." Spike patted him on the back and stepped inside. Angel sat on the porch, and slowly polished off the bottle of rum.

Anya and Xander looked through the karaoke discs. Anya put one in and handed a microphone to her fiancé. "I'm too sexy for my love, too sexy for my love, love's going to leave me," she sang.

"I'm too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt, so sexy it hurts," sang Xander.

Spike walked in and grabbed Buffy's hand. "We need to leave," he said.

"Why, what's wrong?" she asked, concerned.

"We need to go patrol," he said as he handed her a coat. "We should get in a bit of the rough and tumble, you know?" he said distinctly. He arched his eyebrow.

"We do? Oh! Yeah we definitely do," she exclaimed as she put on her coat. "We're going to go patrol, we'll be back later," she said to Xander. "There are sheets in the closet if you want to sleep in Dawn's room."

"Thanks!" said Anya loudly into the microphone. It squealed with feedback as Buffy and Spike slipped out the front door.

"I think I'm going to turn in," said Willow. She made her way to the stairs. Tara followed her into the foyer. "Can I talk to you for a minute? Privately?"

Angel walked into the living room. "Cordelia, I need to talk to you," he said urgently.

"Is it Connor?" she said. She pulled a baby monitor out of her pocket and held it up to her ear. "I don't hear him."

Angel gently took it away from her. "The baby's fine," he said. "Come with me." He took her hand in his and led her from the room.

***

Buffy and Spike were stretched out naked on the seat of her Suburban. His blond head moved between her thighs as he energetically lapped at her swollen clit with his tongue. "Oh yeah, oh God," she said breathily. She let out a prolonged moan as she arched her back up to meet his mouth. He held her hips tightly as he brought her to orgasm. "You have the most amazing mouth," she said as she calmed. Her hands moved down to his head and pulled him up to her.

"I love the way you taste," he said. "There's nothing compares to it." He nipped her neck as he moved inside her. "I love you," he said in her ear. "You mean everything to me."

"I love you, so much," she sighed.

"You're mine," he said breathily as she shifted underneath him and he penetrated her more deeply. She kissed him deeply as she moved her hips to match his thrusts.

"Tell me," she gasped.

"I love you," he said. They stared at each other in wonder as they moved in rhythm. "No one else makes me feel the way you do."

She clawed at his back as he stroked deeper and faster within her. "Yeah, that's so good," she said. "You're perfect. Fuck me, fuck me harder."

"Buffy," he said frantically as he threw his head back. He pulsed harder and harder within her, as they both climbed towards orgasm.

"Spike," she cried, as he came inside her with a moan. She clenched around him as she buried her face in his shoulder.

***

Willow and Tara sat upstairs on the bed they used to share. "I've really missed you," said Tara. "It's been really hard doing all this research to help Spike and Buffy, and doing the healing spells for her is exhausting."

"How is she doing?" asked Willow seriously.

"She gets headaches a lot. And high fevers that nothing other than magic will break," the other witch replied. "We still don't know what's causing them, or what else might happen because of the claiming."

"I want to help," said Willow. "Now that I understand what's really been going on, I want to help. I want to be here. For Buffy, and for you." She reached out and touched Tara's hair gently.

"Things are going to have to be different," said Tara. "I need to know that I can count on you, that I can trust you."

"You can trust me," said Willow, as she leaned forward and kissed her lips.

Tara pulled away. "You really hurt me," she said uncertainly. "We can't just go on like nothing happened."

"I love you," said Willow. "I'll make it all up to you. Please don't push me away." Tentatively, Tara lifted her chin, and Willow stroked her hair as she gave her a long, slow kiss.

"It's a pretty night," said Cordelia, as she looked up at the stars. She turned and smiled at Angel. "Thanks for the gift. It really made my night."

"It was my pleasure," he replied. "I liked seeing you sing and laugh."

"Yeah, as usual, fun and happiness are in short supply in Sunnydale," she said. They sat in silence for a moment as they took in the stillness of the night. "So what did you want to talk about?"

"There's something that I really want to say," said Angel. "I should have said it a long time ago." Cordelia turned to look at him. He reached out his hand and touched her hair. "I love you."

"I love you too," she said warmly.

"I'm in love with you, Cordelia," he said softly.

She looked at him with a shocked expression. "In love?" she said uncertainly.

"I am," he said, his face serious. "Every day I love you a little bit more. When I see you holding Connor, or the way that you smile, or how hard you work, the drive that you have. Every minute that I'm with you, I need you a little more." Her eyes grew wide and soft, and she reached out her hand for his. He reached towards her, and abruptly she stood up and turned away.

"We can't do this," she said quietly. "This can't happen."

"Do you love me, Cordelia?" She didn't answer. He went to her and turned her around. Her eyes were full of tears. "I think you do," he said firmly. "The same way that I know I love you. I see the way you look at me, how you speak to me, how you touch me. Tell me that I'm not imagining things. Tell me that I'm not insane."

"I'm afraid," she admitted.

"The curse," he said. She nodded. "I can't have a moment of happiness," he said. "But there's nothing that says that I can't give you one." He leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers. She stood stiffly for a moment, and then relaxed into the kiss. She wrapped her arms around his waist, and he held her tightly.

She pulled away. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm sorry, I just can't."

***

Spike and Buffy slipped upstairs and settled into their bed. He pulled her close to him as they fell asleep, and she smiled at his touch. A few hours later, pain pulsed through her head, awakening her. She pulled on her clothes and went downstairs. Happily, there was some orange juice left. She poured herself a large glass and took a big gulp to wash down six aspirin tablets.

Xander walked into the kitchen and peered into the refrigerator. "You're a little low on food, Buff," he said. He shook the empty juice carton.

"I wasn't planning on a sleepover," she replied. "Although I am glad that it worked out that way."

"Want to make a food run to the Quick Stop and we can get some doughnuts? It'll be a nice surprise when everyone wakes up."

She checked her watch. "I've got an hour until sunrise. Let's go for it." He grabbed his jacket and they left through the back door.

***

Cordelia lay awake, and stared at the ceiling, her mind filled with racing thoughts. Connor let out a small cry, and she made her way to the crib. "It's alright, pumpkin," she said soothingly. She adjusted the pacifier back into his mouth and he sucked greedily. She sang to him softly and gently rubbed his back until he fell asleep again.

She turned around and stared straight into Angel's bare chest. She gasped and looked up. He stared down at her hungrily. Her heart began to race, and he reached out his hand to rest it against her pulse. They stared into each other's eyes as the awareness passed between them of how close they were to each other. He couldn't stop himself from sliding his hands sensuously over her bare shoulders. She didn't push him away, just shut her eyes and moaned at the caress. He bent his mouth down to hers, enfolding her in a scorching embrace.

***

Xander and Buffy perused the aisles of the convenience store. Buffy looked at a shelf of donuts. "What's your vote, crullers or chocolate dipped?" she asked Xander.

He walked over, his basket full of milk and juices. "I vote for chocolate dipped," he said. "But Spike and Anya are both cruller fans."

She picked up a box of each variety and tossed them in the basket. "Problem solved."

The lady behind the counter rang up their purchases when the chime rang on the door. Buffy was shoved aside as a man stepped in front of her and pointed a gun at the clerk. "Empty the register, bitch," he said gruffly. The clerk began to cry as she fumbled with the key. "Hurry the fuck up." She cried harder and her hands shook. "I said hurry up," the man yelled, his hand shaking. He turned and shot out both of the security cameras. Xander startled at the noise and dropped his basket to the floor with a loud crash. The man turned and shot him in the chest. Blood exploded everywhere as Xander fell to the floor. The clerk began to scream, and the man shot her in the head. Brains and blood splattered as the girl fell behind the counter, out of sight.

Buffy felt cool and calm for a second. It seemed surreal, too surreal to happen. She looked down at Xander's pale face, at the blood that pooled all around him. The man turned, and she saw him raise the gun at her. Rage filled her veins, and she felt the demon rising, felt the bloodlust pour through her. Abruptly, she reached out and snapped the man's neck as pain fired through her head.



WARNING: Contains disturbing plot elements, including character death and nonconsensual sexual contact.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The title comes from “Levi Stubb’s Tears”, a song by Billy Bragg. The line that I kept hearing over and over in my head when writing this fic was “When the world falls apart, some things stay in place.” Which, actually, has very much to do with the story.

Drusilla’s song is from “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot and Tara reads from “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats.

DEDICATION: To Annie, beta dominatrix, for whipping my sorry ass into shape until I got it right.



Chapter Thirteen: When the World Falls Apart

Giles walked through the airport terminal, his garment bag slung over his shoulder. A willowy brunette and a harried looking man in a business suit waited for him at the gate. “Cordelia,” he said, enfolding her into a hug. “Hank,” Giles was noncommittal as he shook Buffy’s father’s hand. “So good of you to come.”

“I’m afraid I’m here to catch a flight myself,” Hank said apologetically. “I have business in Madrid that I wasn’t able to get out of. The doctors tell me that Buffy’s coma isn’t likely to reverse itself and it wouldn’t do any good to stay.”

Giles regarded the other man for a moment. “You do what you think is important. I’ll be here when she awakens.”

Hank smiled uncomfortably. “Yes, of course.” He paused. “Dawn is settled back in at school and trying to go on normally. She doesn’t need to be upset unnecessarily. If anything changes in Buffy’s condition please let me know before you tell her.”

“Of course,” Giles’ voice was sharp. “I wouldn’t want to overstep my place when it comes to your children.” The two men stared at each other.

“Thanks again for coming,” said Hank. He plucked nervously at his tie, then turned and walked to the ticket counter.

“Only two weeks and the bloody bastard has given up on her already,” Giles said angrily.

“It’s been hard to deal with all this,” Cordelia said. “Everyone is doing the best they can.”

“How is Spike? If his condition improves, or vice versa, there must be hope for them both,” asked Giles.

Cordelia shook her head. “They have both been comatose since Buffy killed the gunman. Tara tried magic to deactivate the chip, but nothing she tried worked. She takes care of Spike at home, but it’s taking more and more of her magic just to get him to feed. He’s skeletal; he doesn’t look remotely human anymore. He won’t last much longer, even tapping out all she has to give.”

Giles sighed and cleaned his glasses. “And Xander? Has there been any improvement?”

“He’s still not breathing on his own. He had a living will made, and it’s clear that he wanted to be taken off life support if there was no chance of recovery. His parents have scheduled a memorial service for tomorrow.”

****

Willow held Xander’s hand as the respirator pumped life into his body. “I know you can hear me,” she told him. “I love you so much, and I really need you.” She tightened her hold on his hand. “I’ve needed you my whole life. You’ve always been there for me. Don’t leave me now.”

Anya patted Willow on the back. “They’re going to turn off the respirator,” she said, her voice thick with strain. “We should leave now.” Mrs. Harris stood on the other side of the bed, sobbing into a handkerchief, as her husband stood behind her with a stony face.

“I’m not going to leave him,” responded Willow fiercely. “He could wake up any time.”

“We’ve gone through this, Willow,” rebuked the other woman. “This is what Xander wanted. He left a living will, and he was very specific. This is the way he wanted to end his life.”

“I’m not willing to let him go!” Willow’s face was red and swollen from weeping. “Am I supposed to just walk away? Buffy’s in a coma; are we going to go unplug her next?” She laughed hysterically as she plucked at the front of her crumpled shirt with her free hand.

“Please don’t make this any harder on me,” Anya whispered painfully. “I love him so much. This is the last thing I would ever want to do.” She covered her face with her hands and cried. Willow held her and rested Anya’s head on her shoulder.

“This can’t be happening,” declared Willow. “I won’t let this happen.” She pulled away, her eyes pure black. “Subsisto!” The world froze in its tracks. The tears on Anya’s face halted in their path. The respirator stopped its motion. The sobbing of Xander’s mother ceased. Everything was still, clear, and quiet.

She went to Xander and placed her hand on his chest. Her red hair swung down and brushed his cheek as she intoned over him, “vivo vixi victum.” Tears fell from her eyes and moistened his face. Crackling trails of blue energy cascaded from the witch’s fingertips, cocooning Xander and flickering brightly. She eased the surgical tape from his mouth and pulled the respirator tube from his throat. Healthy color replaced the pallor of his skin. She gently placed her hand on his chest, and felt the rise and fall of his breath. She kissed him gently on the forehead and caressed his cheek. For several minutes, they sat together as Willow watched him sleep peacefully, a smile on her face.

With no warning, her expression became stormy again; Willow rose from her seat beside Xander and stalked down the hall. The other people in the corridor stood frozen, trapped in the moment. Opening the door to Buffy’s room, she found the bed empty and Angel on the floor in a pool of blood, his throat slit. Willow placed her hand on his chest and electricity sparked from her fingertips. “Sano.” The wound reversed itself, the blood flowing back into his throat, tissue mending. “Tempis resumo,” intoned the witch. The hospital sprang to life around them, phones ringing, machines functioning, and people talking. Angel grabbed at his throat.

“Drusilla,” he gasped. “She took Buffy.”

“How could a vampire just waltz in here and take her without anyone noticing?” Willow cried in disbelief.

“Magic,” he croaked. “She has a mage with her.”

Willow smiled, and darkness filled her eyes again. “Good. I’m up for a fight.”

****

“This is the way the world ends, the world ends, the world ends,” a voice sang sweetly. “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” The garden was dark and peaceful; the only sound was the gentle trickle of the fountain. Buffy rested in white, fragile arms, rocked gently like a child. Blood trickled down the Slayer’s throat and she drank it greedily. “Such a good girl for Mummy,” Drusilla purred in her ear. “Sire’s blood will heal you. Silly doctors don’t know how to heal my baby girl.” Dru pulled her wrist away from Buffy’s mouth and gently kissed her lips.

Buffy slowly stirred. “Where am I?” she asked. “What happened to me?”

“You’re dying,” the vampire said calmly. “A little whizbang popped you in the head and you’re dying.”

“I don’t want to die,” whispered Buffy. “I’m finally happy.”

“You can live forever,” crooned Drusilla seductively. “You can be loved forever.” She ran her fingers over Buffy’s neck, and her features morphed. Buffy opened her eyes and looked up at the vampire.

“I don’t want to lose my soul,” Buffy struggled weakly. “I don’t want to be evil.”

Drusilla grabbed Buffy by the throat with one hand. Pointing her fingers at her eyes, she commanded, “Be still and listen.” Entranced, Buffy obeyed. “If you don’t do as I tell you our William will die. Your mortal body is failing and he is fading away. ”

Drusilla leaned forward and licked Buffy’s neck. “You taste so sweet, so warm.” She nuzzled Buffy, trailing her mouth down to the juncture of Buffy’s shoulder. “Such a good girl,” Dru crooned. “When you wake up from your sleep we will have a wonderful party.” The vampire sank her fangs into Buffy’s throat, and her heartbeat rang loudly in the vampire’s ears, until it stopped.

Drusilla stood up slowly from the ground and looked down at her handiwork. Buffy’s dead eyes were open and staring. The golden strands of her hair spilled over the dark ground. Drusilla tilted her head back and smiled up at the night sky. “Take her,” Drusilla said to the man who stood in the shadows. He lifted the slayer and rested her gently in a shallow grave.

****

“I just want to take a brief rest and then go to the hospital,” said Giles.

She looked at her watch. “Visiting hours will be over soon. You may as well get a good night’s sleep tonight and see Buffy in the morning.” He looked at her. “Eat, and rest,” she said gently. “There is nothing that can be done now.”Buffy’s bedroom was filled with soft light and flowers. Incense burned in a cauldron as Tara gently turned Spike onto his side. His eyes stared vacantly forward. She bathed his nude body with a damp sponge and lay him carefully back down. She rubbed oil into his hands and feet, then covered him with the sheet and blanket. She moistened his lips with balm and wiped his face clean. She sat next to him and positioned his head on the pillows before she opened a book of poetry. “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold,” she read quietly. “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere, the ceremony of innocence is drowned. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. “

He turned his head and looked up at her. “Spike?” Tara asked, disbelieving.

He smiled at her, his blue eyes blazing with affection. He slid his hand into hers and held it tightly. “The first time I died it hurt. This is so easy. It doesn’t hurt a bit.”

He turned his head away, and disappeared in a soft puff. “No,” Tara cried out. “No!” She held out her hand, and stared at the shimmering dust within.

Giles and Cordelia entered the Summers house. “I made up Dawn’s room for you,” she said. “And Tara made a casserole for dinner if you’d like to eat.”

They walked into the kitchen. Nanny Travers fed Connor baby food as he sat in his high chair, gurgling and smiling. “You must be Connor,” said Giles with a smile. He leaned down and caressed the baby’s cheek. “I’m Rupert Giles,” he introduced himself to the nanny.

Screaming rang out from upstairs. Giles took off running and dashed up the stairs. Tara sat in Buffy’s bed, hysterical. “Tara?” he inquired, taking her hands. He noticed the empty bed. “Where’s Spike?” She held out her clenched hand, and upended a few wisps of dust into Giles’ palm. “Dear God,” he said his face blanching.

****

Angel peeled out of the hospital parking lot and pressed a cell phone to his ear. “Cordelia. Let me speak to Giles.” He paused. “Drusilla has Buffy.”

“Spike is gone,” the Englishman told Angel. “If what I understand of the claiming is accurate, that means Buffy must be dead.”

“Dru will turn her,” Angel said. “We need to find out where she’ll rise. It has to be somewhere with enough dirt to bury her, and it will have a view of the night sky.”

****

Drusilla carefully moved handfuls of dirt over the grave. “Good night, sleep tight,” she sang, “don’t let the bed bugs bite.” She continued her task until all that was before her was a smooth mound of dirt. She tilted her head back and looked up at the stars in the sky. “Star light, star bright,” she said ecstatically. “Shine brightly on my child tonight.”

****

“It’s a miracle,” cried Anya. “Oh, thank God.” She held Xander’s hand tightly as she peppered it with kisses.

“What happened?” asked Xander, his voice raspy. He sipped on water through a straw.

“You underwent surgery to remove a bullet from your lung,” the doctor explained. “You went into arrest on the table and have been on life support ever since.” He smiled broadly. “It really is a miracle that you’re moving and breathing on your own.”

“Where is Willow?” asked Anya. The Harrises shook their heads. “Where could she have gone?”

Willow sat in front of a computer in a darkened hospital administration office. “Nurseries Sunnydale,” she typed into a search engine. She waved her hand at the screen and a list of names and addresses popped onto the screen. “Stars Sunnydale,” she typed. More information appeared on the screen. “This is taking way too long,” she muttered to herself, impatiently.

She stood up and outstretched her arms, closing her eyes and spinning in a circle. “Locate,” she said as she spun. She focused on Buffy, and came up with nothing. “Locate,” she said, spinning faster. She focused on Drusilla, and images flashed into her mind. Sky. Lights. Street. House. Room. She watched Drusilla in her mind’s eye.

*Giles, Angel,* she said telepathically. *She’s at the mansion on Crawford Street.*

“I really hate it when she does that,” Giles muttered under his breath. He grabbed weapons and shoved them into a black bag.

“She’s supposed to have given up magic,” Angel said as he flicked on a butane torch. Blue flame burst out from the nozzle.

“Well, we’ll deal with that disastrous turn after we deal with this one,” replied Giles. He slid a stake into each sleeve of his shirt.

Cordelia walked up from the basement and handed them small glass globes filled with holy water. Each man tucked one a few into their pockets. “Don’t trip and fall on that or anything,” she said to Angel. “It’s to hurt the other vampires, not you.”

He shot her a look and his face softened when he saw her worried expression. “It will be all right,” he soothed.

“You guys are going to kill Buffy,” she pointed out. “How can anything be all right?”

“The Buffy we know is dead already. Being turned was her worst nightmare,” Giles said quietly. “It is our responsibility to prevent that from happening.”

****

Willow ran out of the hospital. “Open”, she said to a gray sports car. The door popped open and she slid inside. “Drive,” she commanded, and the car sped out of the parking lot.

****

“Oh, darling,” Drusilla said happily. “This will all be so wonderful.” She clapped her hands and twirled around.

The tall black haired vampire wrapped his arms around her. “Whatever makes you happy, my dark rose,” he said as he kissed her neck.

“It shall be like old times. All my boys and I. We shall hunt, and dance, and make glorious love in the moonlight.” The soil under her feet began to crack and move and she stepped back. “We shall be a family again.” Buffy’s white hands burst out from the ground. She sat up inside the grave. Dark soil streamed over her, running from her hair down her chest. Drusilla grabbed her hands and lifted her to her feet. “Happy Birthday to you,” she sang brightly.

“I’m hungry,” said Buffy roughly.

“Of course you are, my sweet child. Let’s just get you cleaned up, and we shall have a feast fit for a princess.” She took Buffy by the hand and led her inside the mansion.

****

“Are you sure this is the right thing to do?’ asked Angel as he drove.

“If there was any way to reverse this, any way to restore her life, I would do it gladly,“ Giles replied. “But there is no other way. For Buffy to live as a soulless demon, for her to become the thing that she hated most, that is worse than death.”

“She loved Spike,” said Angel. “She’d moved beyond the hatred. She saw him as a man, and more than that, a good person. Even without a soul.” He paused. “And the way that I understand the claim, it is eternal. If one lives, they both live. If Buffy rises, Spike will rise too.” He looked directly at the Watcher. “You won’t just be killing Buffy. You’ll be killing Spike as well.”

“Spike existed for over a century as a vampire,” said Giles. “And he lived a mortal lifespan as well.” He snapped a bolt into the crossbow. “If he truly loved her, he would want me to do this.”

****

Willow ran down the steps and entered the garden of the mansion. She saw the open grave and the path of dirt that led inside. She rushed to enter. A tall figure walked from the shadows and stood in front of her. “I will not let you interfere,” a low voice said.

Willow’s eyes glowed brightly as blue fire flared up and down her hands. “Nothing can stop me,” she said.

He waved at her hands and smoke drifted from them, the fire extinguished. “Apparently your logic is a bit flawed.”

The witch backed away as she blazed bright with energy. “I am strong! I am powerful! No one can stop me.”

The vampire walked towards her, and his features became clear in the moonlight. He tilted his head at her and smiled widely. His brown eyes were warm. “You are nothing but an angry little kitten.” She brought up her hand and tossed a ball of energy at him. He caught it easily and threw it into the wall, where is shattered the stone. “Why don’t you save some time and sheathe your claws.“ He crossed his arms and stared at her. His long black hair swayed slightly in the breeze.

“Who do you think you are?” she hissed.

“I am Aurelius,” he replied.

********

Drusilla paced around an opulent bedroom, the silk of her kimono sliding across the carpets. A fire blazed in the fireplace, casting shadows on the walls. Buffy was shackled at the wrists to a large four poster bed, her body clothed in a sheer black gown. She stared up at the ceiling, her face expressionless. Drusilla picked up a small chain with a twist of metal at each end from the bedside table. “Our clan has many traditions.” She slithered onto the bed in a blur of white silk and straddled the other girl. The mass of Dru’s unbound black hair draped around Buffy’s face as she leaned forward. She ran her tongue along Buffy’s eyebrow as the chain twined through her long pale fingers. The other woman didn’t respond at all. “You’re part of our family now, so it’s up to Mummy to teach you.” She bent her head and pressed her lips to Buffy’s. The fledgling turned her head, breaking the embrace.

Drusilla grabbed Buffy’s chin tightly in her grasp. “I am your sire. You submit to me,” she said in firm tones, her eyes blazing green. She clenched her hand and Buffy whimpered in pain. Drusilla brought her mouth to her child’s and kissed her deeply. “You taste so sweet. No wonder they all buzz around you. Bees want to drink such sweet nectar.” She slipped the straps down Buffy’s shoulders and revealed her breasts. The blonde girl was a pliable as a doll, not providing any resistance. “You’re a very good girl,” enthused the dark haired vampire. “You obey me well.” She drew her nail down Buffy’s cheek and licked the trail of blood that formed there.

Drusilla cupped her hand underneath the other woman’s breast and delicately pinched the small nipple between her fingers. Buffy startled in response, a faint noise escaping her lips. Drusilla repeated the movement on the other nipple, then brought the chain up and snapped a clip to each one. Buffy gasped, shocked at the pain. “You have to work through the pain to gain the pleasure,” purred Drusilla. She yanked on the chain, making Buffy cry out. “You’ve only come half of the way.” She drew her hand down to the hem of Buffy’s gown. “You’ve done the claiming, but you’ve never been claimed. You have to give over, let someone else take the reins. You haven’t let anyone master you, not since Angelus.” Her hand tugged the gown off, the fabric sliding across Buffy’s stomach and down her legs. Nude, Buffy shivered as she stared at the other vampire.

Drusilla grinned, a predatory smile full of promise and anticipation. She gently brushed her hand across the soft curls of the blonde’s mound. “You’re my slave now, as William was before. Just as we were Angelus’, and he was Darla’s.” Abruptly, she morphed into her demon self, and sank her fangs into the soft flesh of Buffy’s thigh. The girl screamed, her cry echoing off the walls and ceiling of the room. Drusilla pulled away, leaving bite marks and a trail of blood in her wake. “I will make you sing a beautiful song of pain, my dear,” she said, pleasure animating her delicate human face.

She walked to the fire and pulled out a red-hot poker, the tip glowing orange. “I will break you as Angelus broke me. I will mark you forever, as he marked me. It is our way, our tradition.” She swung it close to Buffy. The new vampire stared at it as if mesmerized, making no attempt to get away.

“I never did think highly of tradition,” announced a cold voice from the doorway. Spike stood there in full demon visage, his face tight with anger. In his hand he held a large battle-ax.

“Spike!” Drusilla cried with delight. “I knew you’d come.” She got up from the bed and ran to him. He took the poker from her and threw it into the fireplace, shattering it.

“I’ll kill you for this, Drusilla,” said Spike as he backhanded her savagely across the face. The female vampire flew back and hit the wall.

“I saved you, Spike,” she said in confusion. “I saved you both.” She darted away, her hands aflutter.

“You killed my wife!” He roared in anguish as he advanced upon her.

“You were both going to die,” she pleaded. “I didn’t want to lose you.”

“You stole her life,” he raged. “You made her a demon. You made her a slave.” With a mighty swing of the axe, he lopped off Drusilla’s head.



PAIRING: Spike/Buffy, Giles/ Drusilla
RATING: NC-17, folks.
SPOILERS: Season 6 through "Wrecked".
DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. GO team! Theirs, not mine.
DEDICATION: To each and every one of you who have followed the series and kept the faith. There’s a happy ending in store, I promise.
AUTHOR"S NOTE: Spike quotes from ‘She Walks in Beauty’ by Lord Byron.
DISTRIBUTION: Please ask my permission first, just so I know where it’s headed. All of my stories may be found at http://www.willingslave.com
FEEDBACK: I ain’t too proud to beg. Please, for the love of all that is holy, and if you really do want to know how this freaking epic ends, send mail to jodyorjen@yahoo.com



Chapter Fourteen: Domino

Don't want to discuss it
I think it's time for a change
You may get disgusted
And think I'm strange
In that case I'll go underground
Get some heavy rest
Never have to worry
About what is worst and what is best

- "Domino", Van Morrison

****

Willow blinked. "Am I supposed to have heard of you or something?" She looked at Aurelius’ smiling face and her temper flared even higher.

Aurelius laughed. "You have no idea how refreshing you are. So innocent, so naïve." The patronizing tone made her really, really want to hurt him. The conceit he demonstrated proved that it had been way too long since he’d been truly on his guard. He was smug, secure in his reputation and big bad vampire mage status. Willow decided to use that to her advantage. She sent a brightly pulsing ball of light spinning past his head, and her hunch was confirmed when he turned to watch it pass.

"You’re not a stellar judge of character," she observed as she pulled out one of the chopsticks that held her hair into a loose chignon. "I lost my innocence a long time ago."

"You’re a child. You’re no match for me," he scoffed as he turned his head to the side to watch the glowing orb zip past again.

"I have backpacks smarter than you," she said calmly, as she shoved the wooden stick into his chest with a fierce jab. He looked at her, shocked, as he teetered and fell to his knees.

****

"Buffy?" Spike asked, as he strode to the bed and placed his hand on his lover’s cheek. She turned her face to him, her eyes blank. Her nude body was pale as chalk, and the chains that held her down clanked as she shifted.

"I’m hungry," she said softly.

"I know you are, love." He bent over her to break the shackle at her wrist. Abruptly, she sank her sharp fangs into the flesh of his neck.

He cried out at the sensation. It had been years since he had been bitten by another vampire; no one had dared to dominate him that way since his fledgling days with Angelus. Buffy sucked greedily at his blood for several seconds, and then suddenly he flew across the room, his head slamming into the wall. Spike’s eyes fluttered shut as he lost consciousness.

Drusilla’s headless body stood at the foot of the bed. "You need living blood, my sweet," said a distant voice. "Drinking from Spike will make you all rumbly in your tummy." Buffy looked over at Spike’s prone form, then made a face and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.

The vampiress walked across the room and retrieved her severed head. "It’s a good thing dear Aurelius gave me my precious magick ring," said Dru. "Or I’d be very angry at my Spike." She murmured an incantation and the shackles unlocked, freeing the Slayer. "Time to dine, my lovely girl." She took Buffy’s hand and they walked together into the corridor. "And when you are done, I will make you sing, sing with pain."

****

Tara lay on her stomach in the middle of the floor, surrounded by piles of books. Cordelia sat on the couch, reading "Pat the Bunny" to Connor. "Judy can pat the bunny," Cordelia read animatedly to the baby. "Now you pat the bunny." The infant stretched out his hand and touched the soft fur on the page. Cordy turned to Tara excitedly. "Did you see that? He’s brilliant."

Tara nodded distractedly. "He’s amazing, Cordy. Smartest baby ever, no contest."

Connor stuffed the corner of the book in his mouth and chewed it enthusiastically. "No no, muffin," chastised Cordy. "Don’t eat the nice book." She took away the book and handed him a teething ring. He squealed in pleasure, flashing the two tiny white buds that were poking out of his gums.

"I’ve go it!" said Tara excitedly, pointing at a passage in her heavy tome.

"What?" asked Cordelia.

"I know how to undo what happened to Buffy," said Tara. "It’s right here in the prophecy of Reynault. "The Slayer shall become the fruit of the tree of Aurelius," she read. "Both the dark and the light child shall sacrifice all to undo this reckoning. When the pure has become dark, the weak become monstrous, and the wise man become a fool, the root of the tree shall be destroyed and the unholy children will be restored to human life."

"What does that mean?" asked Cordelia. "Sounds like your standard issue prophetic gobbledygook to me."

"It’s actually pretty simple, at least in theory. If we kill the root of the line of Aurelius, then all the vampires of his line will become human again," explained Tara. "We just need to find the very sire, the one who is their ultimate ancestor, and take him out, and we can save Angel, Spike and Buffy. We can make them all human again."

Cordelia thought of Angel being human again. No more blood. Skip shanshu, thanks. Sex without Mr. Leather Pants making a command performance. No more brooding, hopefully. "We have to try," she said decisively. "I’m totally onboard for this. How do we find the prime root guy?" she asked, grabbing the book from Tara’s hands.

"With magick," said Tara, as she shut her eyes and began to glow.

****

Angel and Giles walked up the stairs to the mansion on Crawford Street. The front door stood open, the inside empty and quiet. They stepped over the threshold, Giles with a crossbow held at the ready, Angel brandishing a sword. Their footsteps echoed on the cool marble as the sound of bubbling laughter reached their ears, quickly followed by a sharp scream.

"I’ll take the laughing, you take the screaming," said Giles as he dashed up the stairs to the upper level.

"Gee, thanks," muttered Angel, as he ran out into the garden.

Willow was stabbing a vampire in the chest repeatedly with a long, thin branch. "Poof, damn it," she yelled in exasperation. "I poke you with wood, you go poof. That’s how it works. It’s a universal invariant."

Angel took a look at the skewered vamp and his eyebrows rose. "Actually, it’s not. I don’t think the master went poof either," he commented. "And you’ve got a very, very old vampire there. Aurelius is thousands of years older than old Heinrich." He looked at the unmoving figure. "Well, he was."

"So it’s an age thing?" said Willow, as she turned to face him. "The older the vampire, the less poof?"

"Could be," he said. "They get harder to kill the older they are, so maybe there is some kind of correlation."

Willow looked at the corpse at her feet. "I like the comfort of the dead vamp disappearing into a cloud of smoke." She smiled at Angel. "I like closure."

"He’s dead, and we’ve got other problems," said Angel. "We need to find Buffy."

"That’s why I’m here," said Willow. "I’m here to save her."

"You can’t save her, Willow," he said earnestly. "We have to do the right thing, do what she would have wanted us to do."

She looked at him askance. "And that means that you want to kill her?"

He flinched. "She’s dead already, Willow. Giles said-"

"I don’t give a fuck what Giles said," she said angrily. "I’m not letting anyone hurt Buffy. She’s not dead; she’s a vampire now. She’s just- exploring a different lifestyle choice. We all have to learn to accept it."

"I’m sorry, Willow," said Angel. "But Giles and I are committed to doing what Buffy would have wanted. Dawn and Joyce would never choose this path for Buffy, and we have to respect that, too. It’s for the best, Willow."

She looked at him for a long moment. "I’ve never really considered you the voice of reason. I don’t buy it now." Her jaw set as she let fly with two bolts of energy from her hands. His face registered surprise as the green lightning slammed into his chest.

****

The basement was an abattoir, the stench of death thick in the air. Two bodies hung from chains on the wall, their limpness indicating no signs of life. Buffy sat on a filthy mattress on the floor. She was dressed in a flowing blue gown, the sleeves hanging inches beyond the ends of her fingers. Her fangs were buried in the neck of a slim, blonde girl, and her throat lifted and fell furiously as she avidly sucked the blood from her victim. Drusilla looked on approvingly as she ran her hand across her throat. A large opal ring came into contact with the cut that circled her neck. The ragged edges of the wound glowed and fused together into flawless skin at the touch of the stone.

Giles kicked the door open and sent a wooden stake flying from his crossbow, and it landed with a meaty thud between Buffy’s shoulder blades. She hissed and turned around, dropping the drained corpse. "Christ," he said explosively, confronted with a sight even more terrifying then her broken body had been after the fight with Glory.

"I remember you," said Dru wonderingly. "Angelus smashed your fingers once." She tilted her head and regarded him, a cruel smile on her lips.

Giles held a stake in his hand as Buffy advanced on him; her eyes fixed on his neck as she angrily pulled the wood from her back. "Buffy," he whispered, his eyes locked on her face. "There’s nothing left of you in there." The Watcher’s face set as the Slayer rushed at him in a blur of movement. He closed his eyes at the impact and gasped hard as the wind was knocked out of him. He waited for another onslaught, but all was still.

He opened his eyes, and saw Drusilla holding back the newly turned vampire. "You smell good," the dark haired girl said. "I remember how rich your mouth tasted, how warm. You loved me so sweetly, when you thought I was your gypsy girl."

Her eyes bored into his, clouding his mind, making her the woman he still missed, the love that had never died in his heart. "Jenny," he said wonderingly, his eyes filling with tears.

"You have such lovely soft lips," she purred to Giles. A look of annoyance crossed her face and she turned to Buffy. "We’ll play later. Sleep now," she commanded, and the Slayer fell to the floor in a heap. She smiled at the Watcher as she stepped up to him; her small hands slid down the front of his shirt, her tongue flickering over her lips. "Did you miss me?" she asked. "Do you ever dream about me?"

He leaned forward and twined his hands in her hair as they kissed voraciously, hungrily. His large hand cupped the swell of her breast, and she slashed her nails through the thin silk of his shirt. He gasped in pleasure. "Bed," he said huskily. "I want to take you to bed."

She took his hand and led him out of the room. "We shall have such fun, Rupert," she said seductively. "Naughty games, where we both shall win."

****

Tara’s eyes opened wide. "Crawford Street," she said in a weak voice.

"Congratulations, you located the wrong vampire. That’s Angel," Cordelia said, in an exasperated tone. "You’re supposed to find Aurelius." Connor slept peacefully on her shoulder, his rosebud mouth blowing tiny spit bubbles.

Tara turned to the nanny. "You have to go to Angel," she said seriously. "You’re the only one who can save him."

Cordelia turned and looked at the slight, English girl in disbelief. "How is she going to take out a who knows how freaking many year old vampire?"

Nanny Travers looked at her seriously, and then let her true self be revealed. The blue scales that covered her draconian form glowed in the dim light, her eyes large amber orbs, intelligent and wise.

Tara quickly grabbed the baby from Cordelia’s arms as she sank to the floor in a faint.

****

Spike opened his eyes. He was in bed in his crypt, bright light from the windows washing over him. He turned onto his side and saw Buffy. She was sleeping soundly, her mouth smiling. He leaned over and kissed her on the eyelids.

"I love you," she declared with a yawn.

"As I love you," he replied. He pulled her mouth to his and kissed her slowly. She moved her mouth to his chest, kissing and sucking his nipples.

"I feel like there’s something we’re forgetting," he said as his hands stroked the soft skin of her back.

"It can’t be important," she murmured. "Nothing can be more important than this." Her tongue circled the rim of his navel, and he pushed his hips into the soft skin of her belly.

"I want you now," he said, pressing gentle kisses into the skin of her neck.

She plunged down on his erection, her tight walls holding him firmly as she began to move up and down. They locked eyes as they made love, their bodies moving in a familiar rhythm. She bent down to kiss him, and he sighed as her lips ran gently over his. "Spike," she whispered.

He ran his hands down her spine to cup her ass, moving her faster. "Come for me," he begged. "Now-" He exploded within her, shaking as he was jolted by a wave of pleasure.

She cried out, her body tensing as she arched backward in orgasm. As she came down and began to calm, she leaned forward, and Spike could see the pronounced ridges on her face, the shining white of her fangs.

He closed his eyes and crashed hard into reality. He was lying on the stone floor of the mansion, his head pounding. His right eye was stuck closed, and he wiped his thumb along it, feeling the tacky sensation of his own blood. He had to find Buffy and get her out of here. He finally found her in the basement, a freshly drained body lying on the floor in front of her. The young man’s dead eyes stared blankly at the ceiling.

Buffy turned to look at him. "Spike," she said slowly.

He kneeled down next to her. "I’m here, love," he told her quietly. "We have to get going. This place isn’t my idea of a good time."

"I killed people," she said, her voice odd and broken. "I couldn’t help it."

"I know," he reassured her. "We’ll sort it all out. Just come with me, sweetheart. It will all work out in the end."

"Can you take me home?" she asked, confused. "I’m dead, now. Can I still go home?"

He looked at her seriously. "I’m sorry, love, but no, you can’t go home. Let’s go to the crypt," he said softly.

"They’ll try to hunt me," she said, staring at the corpse. "And I don’t know if I want them to- stake me, or not. I’m dead, so I shouldn’t be afraid of dying. But I’ve died too many times now, and it keeps getting worse, like a bad dream that I keep sinking into deeper and deeper."

He wished that he could raise Drusilla and kill her, over and over again, just to make her suffer for all the pain that she’d caused the fragile woman that he loved. "If you want to be free of eternal life, we’ll take a nice walk together in the sun come morning. If you want to live with me in my world, I’ll take you away from here, and we’ll have a bloody good time, alright? But, for now, just stop thinking, pet. Let it all go."

He helped her up and covered her in his coat, holding her tight as they walked down the hall. "Do you still love me?" she asked, her voice wavering. "I’m not special. I’m not the Slayer, anymore. "

"Course I do," he said softly. "I’ll love you forever. No matter what." And anyone who tried to take her away would pay and pay. Slowly, and painfully.

****

Drusilla was no innocent. She had traveled the globe, lived for well over a century and had vampire, demon, and human lovers. But she had never experienced anything like this. Sex was pain, and blood, and violence. Whether giving pain, or receiving, didn’t really matter; she enjoyed both. But this long, careful, exploration of her body, this delicate moving and stroking, was outside of her experience.

Without the pain, everything seemed so out of focus. It was like wandering in a watercolor fairyland, all the edges blurred and indistinct. She’d drunk something forbidden, and fallen to paradise, she thought. I want to live here forever, in this shining, secret world. She was Titania, and golden trails and lights and sparkles danced under her closed eyes. She twirled and pirouetted, the beautiful queen of this glorious kingdom. Dru sang free and loud, her voice full of all the glory and wonder of her realm .

Her Watcher bit down hard on her shoulder as he groaned loudly, and the enchanted world broke apart, collapsing in a falling shower of golden mist. Pleasure twisted and broke inside of Drusilla, and she cried out at the beloved mixture of pleasure and pain, as familiar and comfortable as the tang of blood, the white beauty of the full moon. Giles pulled her close, and her dark hair tumbled over the muscles of his chest. "I love you, " he said softly.

She smiled up at him. "What a funny thing to say. Love hurts, and rips and tears. That was all sweetness and silvery slithery."

He looked at her, his eyes warm and soft. "I feel so light with you, so unburdened. I wish this moment would never end."

"All good things come to an end," she said seriously. "Comets, flowers, puppies. And especially love. They all have to end."

He pressed a kiss to her forehead and began to doze. Drusilla watched him intently. She slid out of bed, taking down her doll from the bureau and smoothing out its petticoats. "I like him," she said seriously. "He’s a big strong man, but he’s very gentle with me. He knows how to treat a princess. He took me to my fairy kingdom, and it was so lovely." Her brow furrowed, and she bent her head closer to her doll. "I know he smells good. But if I eat him, then we won’t be able to play any more. You know I don’t like to stop until they are quiet and still." She listened to what her doll had to say, and smiled. "That’s a very good idea, little miss."

Dru pulled a small silk wrapped package out of her valise and laid out a careful pattern of tarot cards over the floor. She looked down at the arc, and then at Giles, sleeping peacefully in the bed. "It’s in the cards," she whispered to him. "It’s fate, now, my handsome prince."

****

"I can do this," Cordelia told the sleeping child. "I am a strong, self sufficient woman. I’ve battled my fair share of scary creepy things in this town. There’s nothing that I can’t handle." She looked down, her eyes filling with tears. ‘I’ll be back, I promise, Connor. I’m the only mommy that you’ll ever have, I swear it."

"Angel would not want you to risk yourself in this way," Nanny Travers said anxiously. She looked at Cordelia seriously. "I still think that it would be best that you stay here at the house, where it’s safe. I will fight the battle, and Tara can stay here to protect you and Connor."

The witch came in through the front door. "The spell works," she informed Cordelia. "Do you remember the incantation I taught you?" The other girl nodded, her brow furrowed.

"I really must insist," said the nanny firmly.

Cordelia put her hands on her hips and glared at the Englishwoman. "I was brought up to be a good wife and mother," Cordy pointed out. "And one thing that I had drummed into my head, is that you stand by your man, no matter what. Even if he loses all his money, or is a big geek nerd loser dork, or has a little blood drinking, sun avoidance problem. And I’ve got two men to be strong for now, two men who are worth everything to me." She picked up the heavy bag and slung it across her shoulders. "I’m ready to go fight for my happily ever after."

****

Anya slept next to Xander, her back resting against the metal rail of his hospital bed. He woke up from his sleep and turned his head, pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead.

He stared up at the ceiling and thought over the day he’d had. Awakening from a coma, being told that his parents and fiancée had been ready to pull the plug on his life support. It had been a miracle that he’d been healed, his doctors had said.

He knew it wasn’t a miracle. He knew it was Willow. He looked out of the window at the starry sky. Somewhere out there, his best friend had set her magick free. He shuddered and pulled the warm body of his lover close.

One thing he’d learned, being born and raised in Sunnydale. He knew that when funny things started happening it never turned out well. He’d seen enough of magick to know that there was no such thing as a free ride. Consequences, Spike had yelled at him so long ago. Always.

He hoped that when the time came to pay, no one he loved would be handed the bill.

****

Buffy lay in bed in the crypt and shivered, even under the layers of sheets and blankets that she no longer really needed to keep warm. She had opened her arms and Spike had wound himself around her. The strength of his long limbs held her down, stilling her shaking body, and allowed her to finally sink into sleep. Spike rested his chin on the top of her head and kept vigil over her in the dark.

As dawn neared, she turned to him and opened her eyes. "For love I have claimed you. By blood I have bound you," she said to him, with a sweet smile.

"Return to me," he replied, as he finished the vow that had bound them to each other for eternity, the blood oath that had begun the path that had led them to this moment.

"I’ll always return to you," she said. "When I’m so lost that I don’t even know who I am anymore, I can look at you and know. The woman I see in your eyes is who I really am, the best part of me. Nothing else matters." She pulled his mouth to hers in a long, searching kiss.

Spike felt her uncertainty and every touch of his hands and mouth was a reassurance, a promise that his love was, literally, eternal. As he rolled onto her and pulled off her gown, he whispered into her ear. "She walks in beauty like the night, of cloudless climes and starry skies. And all that’s best of dark and bright meet in her aspect, and her eyes." He parted her thighs and filled her with the core of himself, bestowing everything his body and heart had to offer. He held nothing back, revealing all, living their vow.

Tears trickled down her cheeks as she moved underneath him, her body craving to take him in and shelter him, to comfort and hold him, and keep him safe within her, forever.

****

Tara descended into the garden of the mansion, Cordelia close behind. Willow turned to see her lover appear at the foot of the staircase. "You shouldn’t be here," Willow said. "It’s dangerous."

"I felt you use your magick," Tara said. "If you continue down that path of using and abusing, you know that I can’t be by your side. And by your side is the only place I want to be."

Cordelia saw Angel lying on the ground, unconscious. She ran to him and cradled him in her arms, her face tight with worry. "Angel," she said softly. "You have to wake up."

"I have to help Buffy," Willow began.

"Spike will take care of Buffy," said Tara, "he’ll protect her until the end. He loves her, the same way I love you. I need you to come home, and stay out of all of this. There’s a big supernatural battle brewing. I need to protect Connor, and you can't be in a situation where using magick is the only option. We need to find Giles and get him out of here too. "

"But I can fix all of this," Willow said. "I can just turn back time, and make Buffy alive again-"

"No more magick, Willow," said Tara. "We’ve all lost so much because of the risks that you take. You and I lost our love, and Xander nearly lost his life. You need to step back from the abyss, and admit that some things are beyond your control. Today is the day you learn to let go."

"Just this one last time," Willow pleaded.

"No," Tara said gently. "No more. It’s over now. It’s not in your hands anymore. This is no longer something that you can fix."

Cordelia shook Angel's shoulders her voice becoming more and more frantic. "I need you," she cried. "I need you to help me fight Aurelius."

Willow turned and looked at the dark haired girl. "But Aurelius is dead, Cordy. I killed him." She gestured to the vampire that lay on the grass, a thin stick protruding from his chest.

As they turned to look at him, the eyes of the vampire mage slowly opened.



RATING: NC-17, folks.
SPOILERS: Season 6 through "Wrecked".
DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. GO team! Theirs, not mine.
DEDICATION: For each and every one of you who have followed the series and kept the faith. Thanks to Mezzibelle and Colleen for the beta, and Chris for the kick in the ass.
FEEDBACK: I have no dance, sadly, so this is what I do for fun. Please feed my ego and send mail to jodyorjen@yahoo.com
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Drusilla reads from ‘Brown Penny' by Yeats. Previous chapters may be found at
http://www.geocities.com/jodyorjen/slave.html
DISTRIBUTION: Please ask my permission first, just so I know where it’s headed. All of my stories may be found at http://www.willingslave.com



Chapter Fifteen: Revolution

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know you can count me out

-"Revolution", The Beatles

****

The vampire mage slowly sat up, his hand clutching the branch that was stuck in his chest.

"I already killed him, Cordy," Willow explained, "but he didn't poof. Angel said it was okay, but I knew there was something wrong."

"Don't worry about it," Cordelia said, her eyes fixed on Aurelius. "You guys go find Giles. I- I can handle this."

Willow opened her mouth to protest, and Tara gently covered it with her hand. “ Cordy knows what to do."

Aurelius stood up, his eyes flashing with anger. With a hiss, he pulled the wood from his chest and tossed it aside. The two witches turned and ran into the mansion. Cordelia walked backwards, leading him away from the grass where Angel lay unconscious.

"You have no magick," the vampire said calmly. "You're just a human. How can you even presume to think that you can best me? I have seen the rise and fall of empires, the ebb and flow of civilizations."

Cordy had her back against the wall now, the ancient vampire inches from her. She raised her chin and looked into his eyes, not flinching as he leaned in to her throat.

*****

Buffy and Spike slept, contented from their lovemaking. Spike curled around her protectively, his face pressed into her neck. Buffy dreamed, a smile lighting her face briefly, then flickering away.

Buffy sat on the shore of a lake. It was a beautiful summer day, the sun shining high in the clear blue sky. She watched the wind from ripples in the water, the ruffle of her long skirt blowing in the breeze.

"You left your parasol," said a familiar voice. She looked up to see Spike, dressed in a white suit, a straw boater topping his head.

"Thank you," she said, as he handed it to her.

He spread out a cloth beside her and laid out a picnic. "Do you want sugar in your tea?" he asked somberly. "Or just milk?"

"Both please," she replied, and he hoisted a samovar, filling two delicate china cups with steaming liquid.

"There they are now," he said, pointing at two figures walking towards them, a tall man in a tweed suit, and a woman with long dark hair. "They've brought the croquet set."

Drusilla smiled as she walked up to them. "Help me set up the wickets, William?" she asked sweetly.

“You need your rest,” said Giles sternly, as he set down a bag and an armful of mallets. “The lad and I will take care of it.”

"She likes to play games," Spike said. “She’ll be unhappy if you don’t let her have some fun. She cheats, though, you know." Drusilla sat down next to Buffy on the blanket. "Which color shall you be, my dear?" he asked Buffy.

She looked at the pile of mallets and balls piled next to the blanket. "I’m tired of being red. Why do I always get stuck with red?"

"We're not the ones playing for keeps today,” Spike assures her. “We can just enjoy the sun, and the fine company." He kissed her hand, and he and Giles began setting a course with the metal wickets.

“You should have a glass of milk,” Buffy suggested to Drusilla.

“I can live on poetry alone,” Drusilla replied. “Would you like me to read for you?” Buffy nodded her assent, and rested her head on the other girl’s shoulder.

"Oh love is the crooked thing," Dru read, her voice quiet amidst the gentle breeze. “There is nobody wise enough to find all that is in it.” Spike’s laughter rang through the air, followed by the deeper sound of Giles'.

****

Tara and Willow wandered through the mansion. “There are a whole lot of dead bodies here,” said Tara, as they mounted the staircase to the upper level.

“Well, we’ve got Drusilla, Aurelius, and Buffy,” Willow replied. “Three vamps equal quite a body count.”

“And there’s usually minions,” Tara said nervously.

They walked down the hallway and opened doors, cautiously looking inside. “What will we do when we find Giles?” the brunette Wicca asked.

Willow opened a door and made a wheezing noise. “Oh no,” she said breathily.

Giles lay in a large, ornate bed. A fire burned high in the fireplace. He was nude, and very pale against the red sheets. Drusilla lay next to him, her dark hair spilling over his chest. The two witches exchanged a look. “Is- is he dead?” Tara whispered.

Holding hands, the two girls crept across the scattered Oriental carpets to reach the bed. They looked down at Giles. His chest moved up and down and he was quite obviously alive. Drusilla shifted, throwing her leg over Giles’ body. “How are we going to get him out of here without disturbing her?” Willow whispered.

“Maybe a levitation spell,” Tara whispered. “Or we could just-”

Drusilla’s eyes opened and she looked up at the two girls. “Do you mind?” she asked softly. “If you keep talking, you’ll wake up dear Rupert. The lovely boy needs his rest. I wore him quite out.”

Stunned, Tara stammered. “W-W-W-”

Drusilla reached up and touched Tara’s hair. “Aren’t you a pretty one? Your hair is so ripe and pretty, like corn.”

Frowning, Willow said quickly, “Sorry to disturb you.” In a blink, she teleported herself and Tara from the room.

“How odd,” Drusilla remarked. Giles murmured faintly, and she closed her eyes, slipping back into sleep.

*****

Aurelius’ fangs were closing in on Cordelia’s neck when she whacked him in the head with a sachet of herbs. He looked startled and she sneezed as a spray of dried leaves flew into the air. “Freeze,” she said faintly, as she sneezed again.

A frost crept over Aurelius’ skin, immobilizing him. Cordelia pushed against his frozen torso and the vampire toppled backwards onto the lawn. She looked up at the sky. “Now I just need to wait for dawn,” she said, ”and you’ll be one crispy critter.”

She walked across the grass and kneeled next to Angel’s unconscious form. Cordelia’s brow furrowed with anxiety as she smoothed her hand over his cheek. “Wake up,” she whispered. “If this prophecy thing is true, when the sun comes up, and Aurelius goes all dusty, you are going to be human. That means that we can have a future, and I can let myself love you. We’ve got everything to look forward to now. Just wake up, and see it.”

*****

With a start, Buffy’s eyes opened. She turned her head to see her lover sleeping and smiled at the sight of him. Shards of dreams fluttered through her brain, so tenuous that they slipped away. Something had awoken her, buzzing in her mind and tickling her throat. She couldn’t really pinpoint it, until she felt her face shift. She needed to feed.

Images flooded through her mind, reminding her of what she was and what she needed. She had learned her lessons from Drusilla: the most sensitive spots to bite, the perfect angle to tilt her head, so the rich blood would slide down her throat in a glorious stream. She could taste the blood of the prey she had already taken; feel the urge to run, and hunt, and revel in her newfound power.

Tapping down on the urge as best as she could, she began to shake. The bed rocked with the force of her spasms, and Spike’s eyes flew open. “Love,” he said firmly. “Sweet love.” He ran his hands over her shoulders and arms, repeating it over and over until she was nearly still. “You must feed,” he said softly, his eyes boring into hers. “Denying it makes you sick, or insane, or both, especially in one as newly turned as you.”

“I don’t want to kill people,” she whispered. “I know it’s wrong. I just can’t help it.”

“The demon inside you, it doesn’t offer any options,” he explained. “The only way for you to survive is to feed. That’s what it means to be a vampire. You’re a slave to the rhythm of each day, and the appetite of your demon.”

“I want to hunt,” she said, her voice cracking. “I know it’s wrong, but I need to.” She rolled out of the bed and frantically paced around the room.

“If you continue to kill, and feed, the knowledge that it’s wrong will pass,” he said. “The more human blood you drink, the more your own humanity will slip away.” He walked over to her and stopped her movements, kissing her gently on the forehead. “If you drink, you’ll become the very thing that you slayed, the demon that you have spent your life fighting.”

“What choice do I have?” she asked.

“Theoretically, you could do as I have been forced to do,” Spike explained. “You can subsist on animal blood, never causing a human any harm. But you’re a slayer, and even if your mind recoiled at the prospect of hunting, your body would rejoice. Your slayer senses combined with your demon, you don’t stand a chance of fighting your urge to kill.”

“I can try,” she said. “I could do it.”

“And what do you think would happen to the first person that you met? You’d rip their throat out, just as you did to those people last night.” She shook her head. “What if it was Willow, or Giles, or Dawn?” She looked up at him, her eyes full of pain.

 “ I’d never hurt the people I love,” she said adamantly. “I would never do that.”

“No,” he replied. “Buffy Summers would never do that. Your demon would. “

“How can you be sure?” she asked.

He took her hands and guided her back to the bed. They lay down together, holding each other tightly. “The night that I rose as a vampire, I woke up in my coffin,” he began. “I was frightened, and frantic. I slammed my hands into the satin lining and the wood over and over, finally breaking through and getting out.” She shivered, and he kissed her palm gently. “I sat up, and I was in the parlor of the house where I had been born and raised. I climbed out of the coffin and walked upstairs, opening the door to my mother’s bedroom. She was sleeping fitfully, tossing and turning. I put my hand on her shoulder, and she awakened with a start.

‘William,’ she said. Her face glowed with happiness at seeing me. ‘My William.’

‘Mother,’ I replied.

‘I knew it was a mistake,’ she said, sitting up and clasping my hand. ‘I knew you’d come back to me. God has heard my prayers.’

I looked down at my mother, the woman who had loved and nurtured me all of my life. In the blink of an eye, my fangs were in her throat. I drank her quickly, her life draining away in seconds. She never struggled, never made a sound, her hands clasping the back of my head as I killed her.”

Buffy looked at Spike, her eyes full of tears. “I’m so sorry.”

 He reached out and brushed one away as it rolled down her cheek. “You’re still capable of tears, Buffy,” he said quietly. “You need to make a decision while you still can.”

She thought of all the people that she loved, and how much it had hurt to lose some of them. She imagined how much it would hurt, to lose Spike. “I don’t want to leave you,” she said.

He smiled sweetly, his face lighting up as he looked at her. “Wherever you go, I’ll go, Buffy,” he promised. “You want to greet the sun, I’ll be right there by your side.”

“I couldn’t ask that of you,” she said. “I wouldn’t ask you to die for me.”

“I’ve lived without you, Buffy,” he reminded her. “It was hell, every minute. The pain, it never stopped, not until I saw your face again.” He gently kissed her hand. “That was before we loved each other, pet. We are still bound, still one. The claim is eternal.”

“You’ll do whatever I want?” she asked. “If I choose to go on like this, or end it all?”

“I’ll be by your side, forever,” he promised.

*****

Tara and Willow materialized in the living room of the Summers home.  Nanny Travers turned, a burst of flame shooting from her mouth. The two Wiccas fell to the floor, dodging the fire.

“Terribly sorry,” said the dragon, as she transformed back into her human form.

“That’s okay,” said Tara, as she helped Willow to her feet.

“Where are Angel and Cordelia?” Nanny Travers asked.

“They’re back at the mansion,” Willow explained. “Cordelia’s got the spell to freeze Aurelius, and Angel-“ she paused.

“And Angel?” prompted the nanny.

“Angel’s kind of unconscious,” she said shamefully. “I- sort of knocked him out.”

“Willow!” said Tara, shocked.

“He wanted to hurt Buffy,” the redhead explained. “I couldn’t let that happen.”

The dragon glared at Willow. “So Cordelia’s in dire peril, and Angel is defenseless?”

“Well, Cordy’s got her spell-“ Willow replied.

The dragon turned to Tara. “Do you know how to cast Dione’s spell of protection?”

“Yes, and I have the spell components here,” Tara replied.

“Cast the spell, and protect the child,” the dragon said. She held out her palms, and slowly breathed a stream of blue fire. She formed it into three distinct globes, and handed them to Willow. “To activate the fire, just say ‘fire’.”

“Just say ‘fire’?” Willow said, eying the orbs of dragon flame in her hands.

“After you throw them, obviously.” The dragon regarded them seriously. “Can one of you kindly tell me how to get to the mansion?”

****

Buffy pulled her gown over her head, as Spike fastened his built.  “The sun will be up in less than an hour,” he explained. “We need to get going.”

“There’s something I need you to do first,” she said. 

“Anything, love,” he said, as he kissed her cheek.

“I want you to go to Xander for me,” she said softly. “I need him to pass on a message to Dawn.” She reached over to the bedside table and handed him a folded piece of paper.

“I can’t leave you, Buffy,” he said seriously. “The feed is upon you, and you can’t go out hunting so close to sunrise.” He raised his brow. “Although-” He steered her across the crypt, to the shackles that hung on the wall.

“Do you think the chains will hold?” Buffy said anxiously, as he locked the sturdy cuffs around her wrists.

“Worked well enough last time,” he said wryly.

“Thanks for the reminder,” she said softly. “I was already thinking of Drusilla.”

“I’m so sorry,” he said, contrite.

“It’s not your fault,” she said earnestly.

“Drusilla would never have come for you, if it wasn’t for me,” he pointed out.

“If I’d never claimed you, none of this ever would have happened to us,” she responded. “Please, let’s not do this. Just do what I asked you to do, and hurry back.”

He bent to kiss her lightly, but she took control of the kiss, escalating it into something flaring and passionate. Buffy’s hands flailed uselessly in her cuffs as she strained towards Spike with all her might. “My love,” Spike murmured.

“I need you inside me,” she pleaded. “Please, just once before you go.”

 “We’re running out of time,” he reminded her.

She pulled up on her wrists and locked her legs around his waist. “I need you,” she said. “Your blood, your body. I want all of you, so badly, right now.” She pulled his collar aside and bit his jugular, her fangs sliding into his neck.

He whimpered, his body surging with arousal. He unzipped his jeans and pulled up her skirt, sliding inside her in one fluid motion. Their eyes locked, and he remembered the first time they had made love, feeling her all around him. “Buffy,” he moaned. She was bleeding him heavily as they moved together, and his head swam with the combined sensations.

She pulled away from his neck, and they kissed hungrily. Their movements were punctuated by the clank of chains, tinkling faster and faster as they surged together towards their release. His hands closed around hers, their fingers clenching tightly. He rested his head against her chest, his body trembling. Together, they cried out, reaching their crescendo.

Spike kissed her gently and then pulled away. “I hate to leave you,” he told her as he fastened his pants. “I’ll hurry.” In a flash, he slipped off through the tunnels.

****

Angel opened his eyes and looked up at the sky. It was beginning to lighten, the black of night now a lighter gray. He turned his head and saw Cordelia tapping her stake on her shoe, humming tunelessly.

“Cordy?” he asked, as he stood up slowly.

“Thank God!” she exclaimed, as she wrapped her arms around him. “You were knocked out for such a long time.”

He smiled at her enthusiasm, and hugged her back tightly. He looked over her shoulder, and spied the frozen figure of Aurelius lying on the ground. Abruptly, he grabbed her by the waist and turned her around so that his back was to the other vampire. “Get out of here,” he growled as he shifted to gameface.

“Why?” Cordelia asked. She peered around his shoulder. “Oh, yeah, Aurelius. Don’t worry about him.”

Angel turned around and chopped off Aurelius’ head with a stroke of his sword. The head rolled merrily across the lawn, and the body stayed where it was. “Why isn’t he dusted?”

 Cordelia moved around him and stood in front of him. “We have to wait for sunrise, and then he’ll go poof.”

“Willow staked him, I cut off his head, and he is still here.” Angel turned and looked at Cordy.  “Why do you think sunlight will do the trick?”

With identical expressions of worry on their faces, they looked down at the headless vampire. Angel took a glass globe of holy water and dropped it on Aurelius’ chest.  The glass shattered as it hit his frozen body, and the holy water harmlessly sheeted over the surface.

“Oh, that’s so not good,” Cordelia said, her eyes wide. She knelt down and unzipped the bag she had brought. She pulled out a flare and lit it, tossing it onto Aurelius. They watched as the fire flared brightly, then died away, not having hurt him in the slightest.

******

Spike walked into Xander’s hospital room, finding him awake, Anya sleeping in a chair next to the bed. “How is Buffy?” Xander asked anxiously.

“She was turned,” Spike said.

Xander closed his eyes in pain. “This is all your fault,” he said bitterly. “This whole mess, all the pain we’ve been through. It’s because of you. I really wished we’d staked you when we had the chance.”

“I wouldn’t have wished this on her,” Spike explained. “But I’m running short on time, so I’m going to have to strip the mea culpa down to the bare bones.”

“What’s the rush?” Xander said venomously. “Don’t you two have all of eternity together now?”

“We’ll both be gone soon,” Spike said. “Sunnydale’s seen the last of us.”

“Can we see her?” the other man asked. “One last time, to say goodbye?”

Spike shook his head. “Seeing her now, it would bring too much pain to all of you.” He pulled a note out of his coat. “This is for Dawn. Please see that she gets it.”

Xander took it. “I’ll see that she does.”

Spike turned to leave. “Spike,” Xander said. The vampire turned and looked at him. “Take care of her.”

“Until the very end,” Spike promised. With a flick of his duster, he was gone.

****

The sky was lightening considerably now, pink and purple streaks heralding the arrival of a new day. Cordelia took a deep breath and wiped sweat off her brow. “What haven’t we tried yet?” she asked Angel.

“Chopping him into tiny bits and shoving him in a blender?” he suggested.

Cordelia looked thoughtful. “Do you think that would work?”

He looked at her in exasperation. “Cordelia, this is a lost cause.”

“We can’t give up,” Cordelia said flatly. “It’s just not an option.”

“Well, what do you suggest we do?” he said.

She looked up at the sky. “Well, right now, I suggest you head back to Buffy’s house before you become a tiki torch. Plus, I’ll feel better knowing that you’re with Connor.”

“Nanny Travers will take good care of him,” Angel assured her. “I can’t just leave you here with Aurelius.”

“I have to trust that sunrise will make him poof, like Tara said,” Cordelia said. “I have faith in her. So much is depending on this.”

“When that freezing spell wears off, he’ll attack you,” Angel ground out. “There’s no way I’m leaving.”

“There’s no way I’m leaving him,” Cordelia countered. “If he’ll just freaking die already, we can go home and make love and get married and be a real family. I’m not giving up on that.”

Angel stared at her, his eyes wide. “What did you just say?”

“Sorry to interrupt,” said a quiet voice, “but I believe I have the solution to your dilemma.”  They turned to see the draconian form of Nanny Travers walking down the stairs. “Aurelius may be impervious to human methods of destruction, or even magickal ones. But supernatural means should do the trick.” The dragon opened her fanged mouth wide, and released a torrent of blue flame.

****

Willow pulled back the curtain from the window, watching the rising sun. “I hope Buffy’s somewhere safe,” Willow said.

Tara wiped baby food from the corner of Connor’s mouth and smiled at Willow. “She’ll be fine. If Cordelia performed the spell, they will all be back to normal, come sunrise.”

“I hate waiting,” Willow said. “I hate the not knowing.”

“Everything will work out,” reassured the other witch.

The doorbell rang, and Connor squealed with surprise. Willow went to the door, and opened it to see a crying Dawn, with Xander and Anya. “Buffy’s gone,” Dawn sobbed. “Spike’s gone too.”

“No, Dawnie,” assured Willow. “Tara and Cordelia, they found a way to make Buffy and Spike human again. When the sun comes up…”

“When the sun rises, their going to dust themselves,” Dawn cried. “That’s what Buffy wanted me to know.”

*****

Buffy and Spike walked along the docks, holding hands. “The sky looks so beautiful,” said Buffy. She held a bag of blood, taking long sips from it with a crazy straw.

“Feeling better now?” Spike asked, as she finished off her drink and tossed the bag into a trashcan.

“Muchly,” she replied. “Pretty odd, considering I’m going to die. Again.”

“You were happy in heaven,” he reminded her.

“That was before I had you,” she said. “I don’t want to be parted from you. Not ever.” She furrowed her brow in thought. “You saved a lot of people, fighting with me, saving the world. That’s go to count for something. So when they tally up the slate and figure out if you’re going to heaven or hell, maybe you’ll just wind up in purgatory.”

“Say a Hail Mary for me right quick then,” Spike said with a grin.

They strode together down the pier, the rising sun creating glints on the water. At the end, they turned to one another. “I don’t regret a moment,” she said. “Not a single moment we had.”

“I just wish we’d had more,” he said with a grin. As the sun rose high into the sky, they leaned together for one last kiss.

****

Giles kissed his lover as they moved together in rhythm. She was so ethereally beautiful, and he was entranced by every inch of her. He ran his mouth along her collarbone, admiring the delicacy of her body. He loved the silken feel of her skin. Such overwhelming beauty, distilled into a small frame.

She cried out in release, and he shuddered as he followed her. A glowing incandescence began to swirl around her, and her eyes opened, panicked.  She ripped her nails along his arm, as cried out in fear. The glowing intensified, completely enveloped her and then burned away, falling to the floor in a rain of golden dust.

Reality crashed into Giles with the force of a tidal wave. The watcher was stunned to find himself in Drusilla's bed, inside her body. He scrambled off the bed, conscious of his nude state. He looked at the floor in dismay, seeing the shredded scraps of what had one been his favorite shirt. The pants had fared no better. Someone powerfully strong or seriously impatient had ripped the front fly open in one fell swoop. He reached into the pocket, and closed his fist around a globe of holy water. He whirled around to confront the vampire.

He turned to see Drusilla staring at him, pulling the covers up to her chin. "Are you an angel?" she asked, her voice soft. He took in the tinge of blood in her cheeks, the rise and fall of her chest.  Carefully, he unsealed the glass that held the water and poured a handful into his palm.

She slid out of the bed and walked over to him, her face alight with wonder. "You are," she said ecstatically. "You are my guardian angel, like the nuns say."

Cautiously, Giles placed his hand on her forehead. He was amazed to find it warm, and the holy water spilled in delicate drops over her pale brow. Thoughts of research, prophecies, and the Council overflowed in his mind. "Ah- um- ah-" he stammered, trying to spit out an appropriate response. ‘Consult your books,’ his brain supplied helpfully, but his mouth opened and closed futilely. "I'm just a man," he said, suddenly able to speak.

She smiled at him, a smile filled with radiance and peace. There was no demon here any longer. She was just a young woman, once more. "You are a gift from God," she said reverently, as she reached out and placed her hand over his heart. “You’re so beautiful.”

As he opened his mouth to deny it to, his heart was seized with a powerful longing. For love, and innocence, and all the beautiful things that overflowed from the eyes of this girl that he'd thought he'd knew, but now was certain that he'd never met.

****

Cordelia looked at the spot where Aurelius had once lain. “Damn,” said Cordy. “That was really impressive.”

“Just doing my duty,” Nany Travers said, once again in her human guise.

“Your duty was to protect Connor,” Angel said. “You shouldn’t have left him.” The shimmer of golden dust surrounded Angel in a nimbus, and then faded away, revealing his annoyed expression.

“You know,” Cordelia interjected. “She just saved all of us from big vampire doom- and made you human again. You might want to back off a little.” The dragon smiled, and walked up the garden stairs into the sunlight.

 Cordelia walked over to Angel and took his hand, placing it on his chest. He closed his eyes, and felt his heart beating. “This- can’t be,” he said in awe.

“It’s real,” Cordelia assured him. “This, now, this is no dream. It’s never going to be taken away.” She cupped his face in her hands and kissed him, a long, rapturous embrace.

****

Buffy and Spike sat at the end of the pier, their heads tilted back to the sun. “We should have dusted by now,” Buffy remarked.

“Sure enough,” Spike agreed.

“Has this ever happened to you before?” Buffy asked. “The golden sparkle thingy?”

Spike shook his head. “Can’t say that it has.”

“It’s been a weird few weeks,” Buffy said. “Should we just chalk this up as normal?”

“Probably safer that way,” Spike agreed. He helped Buffy to her feet and they headed back into Sunnydale.

Buffy grimaced, making a succession of weird faces. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Trying to vamp out,” she said. “Doesn’t seem to be working.” She put her fingers on her neck. “I’ve got a pulse.”

“Me too,” said Spike. “I’m not going to get too excited about it, though. Last time I felt a little human, it was at your expense.”

“I feel fine,” Buffy assured him. “No smoking of the skin, no urge to revisit a liquid diet.” She stopped on a street corner, and with a roundhouse kick, knocked a dumpster across the street. “Still got the Slayer powers,” she commented.

“I’m hungry,” Spike said, and Buffy turned and looked at him. “For breakfast food,” he clarified.  “Juice, maybe a donut.”

“That sounds really good,” she said. “I’ve still got this totally rancid taste in my mouth.”

“It’s a beautiful day on the Hellmouth,” Spike observed, putting his arm around the woman he loved as they headed for home.

The End



PAIRING: Spike/Buffy, Giles/ Drusilla, Angel/Cordelia
RATING: NC-17, folks.
SPOILERS: Season 6 through "Wrecked".
DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. GO team! Theirs, not mine.
DEDICATION: For Kimberly. Without you, this would never have happened. Props to Kelly and Chris for the handholding.
AUTHOR"S NOTE: Previous chapters may be found at http://www.geocities.com/jodyorjen/slave.html
DISTRIBUTION: Please ask my permission first, just so I know where it’s headed. All of my stories may be found at http://www.willingslave.com
FEEDBACK: I have no dance, sadly, so this is what I do for fun. Please feed my ego and send mail to jodyorjen@yahoo.com



Epilogue

And she says 'I've come to set a twisted thing straight'
And she says 'I've come to lighten this dark heart'
And she takes my wrist, I feel her imprint of fear
And I say 'I've never thought of finding you here'
- “Solitude Standing” by Suzanne Vega

I ran my hand gently alongside the long deep gash. "Do you not understand what 'dodge left' means, Slayer?"

"I dodged," she protested as she unfastened her bra.

"No, you rolled your eyes," I corrected. "And the Torloth took the opportunity to stab you with its talons."

"Talon not talons," she muttered.

I slid the tweezers into the wound and Buffy dug her nails into my thigh. "Right," I said dryly. "What was I thinking? He only skewered you a little." She mewled softly as I dug deep, pulling out a thin shard of black talon. "All done now, baby. I'll just clean it up a bit."

I poured alcohol onto a gauze pad and began cleaning the wound. She shivered. "That stings," she said softly. "Can you blow on it?"

I did as she asked, sending a steady warm stream across her skin. Casting the bloodied cotton aside, I ripped open a sterile bandage and pressed the adhesive to her skin, over the wound. I repeated the process three times before I covered the cut that slashed across her back.

She moved away, pulling off her pants and lying down on her side of the bed. I undressed and joined her, pressing a soft kiss above her bandage. I rested my head on her shoulder, listening to our heartbeats, pounding together in time.

Her life was such a fragile tenuous thing. One day, one horrible day, her heart would stop, and it would never beat again. These moments would be lost. I would never feel her touch again, never breathe in the lemony tang of her scent.

"Stop it," she said quietly.

"Stop what?" I asked.

"Worrying. I can hear the wheels whirring in your head. Stop. Worrying. I am fine."

"This time."

She sighed deeply. "One day, I won't be fine. You know that, I know that. Stop dwelling on it."

The metallic taste of fear filled my mouth. "Can't."

She rolled over to face me, and rested her hand against my cheek. "You know this isn't helping anything." I stared into her eyes and swallowed hard. "You know this makes things harder for me."

"I don't mean to," I told her. "I want you to be happy, love."

"I am happy," she said, smiling wide. "Every minute that I'm with you, every morning we meet together, every patrol with you. It's my life, only better, because I have you. Every moment counts, every day we have is so precious to me." Her eyes filled with tears.

I'd made her cry, with my weakness, my fucking walking daymares. "I'm happy too," I said. "I just can't seem to stop worrying.”

She bit her lip. “You could talk to someone. Cordelia said Angel does the same things. The anxiety, the nightmares are the same. He’s afraid to let her out of his sight.”

“And did the poof go sprawl out on a couch somewhere, get his head examined?”

She laughed. “Mr. Chatty? No. He said he’d deal with it on his own.”

“And so shall I.” She frowned at my determined expression, then rolled on top of me in a fluid motion, pulling my wrists over my head with one hand. Her eyes gleamed with mischief and my body tightened in response. It knew what was coming next.

“Well, you know what I’ll have to do to help this process,” she said. She leaned forward and circled my ear with her tongue.

I shivered, arousal spilling through my bloodstream. “What’s that, love?”

“I’ll just have to fuck every last thought right out of your head,” she purred. She tightened her hold on my wrists until it was deliciously painful, and her head tipped down. She sucked my nipple between her lips and bit down hard. I cried out as she ground her teeth across my tender flesh, pulling and stretching. Her hand clenched around my cock and began to stroke. Everything she did was harsh and jagged, designed to smash down my defenses and sweep away all resistance. A dozen flicks of her wrist and painful bites later, I was lost.

“Oh, please,” I begged. “Please Buffy. Please Buffy.”

“Love you,” she said breathily as she slowly slid down on my stiff cock. Inch by inch she engulfed me in her warmness, clenching and tightening around me.

“Oh, fuck,” I cried out. “Oh, sweetheart. God.” She moved fast, shimmying up and down upon me.

I watched her face, pleasure washing over her features, her rosy mouth agape. “Spike. Spike. Spike.” She chanted my name like a mantra, the end of every syllable a pounding downstroke.

She let go of my wrists and I grabbed her ass in both hands, slamming her down hard on the base of my cock. “Talk. Talk to me.”

She tilted her head back. “Need you need you love you oh god hurt me please.” She whimpered and I took her wrist, biting down hard. The sweet spot, pushing her over. “Gotta come,” she said raggedly. "Oh, please now. Please. Now now now now.”

She leaned her head back, the telltale flush of building orgasm spreading across her chest. I pressed my thumb against her clit and stroked, and we both exploded.

She scratched her nails across my chest, still rambling. “Love you love you never so good oh my...”

I sizzled from my head to my feet, jolted by a cataclysmic release that left me breathless, my heart pounding. “Buffy!”

She collapsed on my chest, still panting. I wrapped my arms around her and she squealed with pain. “Owie back,” she reminded me.

"Sorry, baby,” I murmured.

Post coital twilight descended upon us both. I felt myself drifting into sleep. “I love you,” Buffy said.

“Until the end of the world,” I replied.

******

I woke up, my mind clear and alert. I turned and checked the clock. Three AM. With a sigh, I got out of bed, making sure to cover the Slayer with the quilt. I kissed her forehead gently and she smiled in her sleep.

Quickly I dressed and opened the door silently. I crept downstairs, pulling my duster off the banister and putting it on. The kitchen light was on, and I saw Dawn, sipping from a mug at the counter. She was fully dressed, her hair tangled.

“Can’t sleep?” I asked.

She startled, nearly spilling her drink. “First day of school tomorrow.” she said. “Too nervous.”

“Go on up to bed when you’re done,” I told her. She hugged me tight and kissed my cheek. A crumpling noise sounded, and she looked at me severely.

“Don’t let Buff catch you smoking,” she warned. “You’ll get the big black lung lecture again, with the slides and everything.”

“Yes, mum,” I said. I flicked her hair back from her neck, displaying a large purple hickey. “Don’t tattle on me, I won’t tattle on you.”

She blushed furiously, and I laughed as I walked out the door.

The moon was high in the sky, and the air was crisp. A slight wind rustled the trees, the only sound I heard. I was alone in all world, a wraith that walked alone in a world of darkness.

A streetlight burnt out with a buzz, a dog barked, and the illusion shattered. My footsteps rang loudly in my ears as I trod the pavement. I crossed the silent field, the swings of the playground twisting in the breeze. Under the familiar archway I strode, and arrived back in the world of the dead. A world that was no longer my home.

It was a slow night. I wandered the paths of the cemetery, but there was nothing stirring in the night. All the vamps and beasties were tucked away, except for me. Then again, now I was just another man who couldn't sleep.

I heard her singing before I saw her. Drusilla was lying on a blanket, looking up at the stars. “Salve Regina,” she sang. “Mater misercordiae. Vita dulcedo et spes nostra salve.” Dru’s soprano was light and clear, full of joy.

She shivered, and I noticed she was wearing only a cotton nightgown. "You have to take care of yourself," I scolded her, taking off my duster and covering her with it. "You don't want to get ill."

I sat down next to her, and she turned to me with a sweet smile. “Do you see her?” I looked up at the clear night sky, the stars twinkling in an indigo infinity.

“What do you see, petal?”

“The Queen,” she said. “Her eyes are so full of love, for she is our mother once more.”

I lay down beside her, crossing my hands underneath my head. “That’s a nice thought, love.”

“I don’t much like the son,” she said. “But his mother is lovely.”

I tried to see what she saw, to feel the love of something larger than me, a loving presence that watched over us all. But all the love I felt was from a girl, a strong sweet girl who had captured my soul.

“She breaks her leg badly. A snap and a crack, and it’s never the same. The lineage is passed to a new girl, and your champion wears a crown of laurel.” She turned to me, her eyes serene. “She will die in her bed, and so will you. Your-“

I pressed a finger to her lips, stopping her. “That’s more than enough, Dru. That’s more than enough to know.”

She looked back up at the stars. “Don’t tell Rupert I told you. He gets very testy about the voices.” She shook her pocket, the sound of pills rattling in a bottle. “He thinks all cures lie with the apothecary.”

Familiar anger rose through me. Pompous ass, unable to accept what he had. Unable to appreciate her gifts. "You deserve more," I argued. “You deserve someone who understands you, who isn’t ashamed of you.” I bit my lip.

"Let things lie, sweet William. Set aside your shield and scabbard. Some battles were never won, or even fought.” She sounded wistful, and I turned to see silver tears spilling over her cheeks.

I wiped them away with a fingertip. "I want you to be happy, Dru. Why stay with someone who refuses to let himself love you?"

Dru patted my hand. "He doesn't have to love me, Spike," she said. "He's not my minion, my possession. It never was the loving back I needed, you know."

“Not like me,” I said quietly. “That was always what I craved from you.”

“I’m sorry about Daddy,” she said. “But now you have your Slayer, and I have my Watcher. The bell rings true; all is as it was meant to be.”

“I love Buffy so much,” I said.

“And so it was destined,” she said happily. “Bound as one, eternally.”

“Not anymore,” I argued. “The bond is gone.”

She laughed loudly. “So very little he knows! He has earned one who is only his.” She claps her hands. “Well played! For Spike does hate to share.” She turned and waved vigorously. “My Angel!”

“Hello, Dru,” says a tired voice. Angel stood beside me, and I scooted over next to Drusilla. He sat down on the blanket with a soft sigh. "Can't sleep."

"We always do seem to wind up here," I replied.

"No rest for the wicked," Drusilla said with a grin.

I pulled out my flask and offered it to Angel. "How's your happily ever after working for you?"

Angel shrugged and took a swig. "Life- it's just as hard as before. Only in a million different ways."

“Of course it’s hard.” She looked at him thoughtfully. “We were all slaves. Slaves to our natures, bound to the roles that we had been forced by destiny to play. Now we are cut loose, our strings dangling. We are free to be what we can be, what we wish."

“The freedom to make mistakes, to fail, to lose,” Angel said bitterly.

"That is part of life," Drusilla observed. "There are no guarantees, no certainties." She pointed up at the sky. "Shifting, changing. But beautiful.”

I lay back on the blanket and looked up at the sky. Drusilla lay down beside me, and a minute later Angel did as well. The infinite stars shone down on us, flooding us with light.

I belonged. Just one man, one scrap of humanity, with a future and a past and a love that pulled it all together and gave it meaning. A love worth living for, no matter what happened next.

“Beautiful,” I agreed.

The End!