All About Spike - Print Version
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Breathing for Two
By OneTwoMany (Sabre)

Spike breathes when he sleeps.

Not that she's ever seen someone who didn't breathe when they slept. Well, except maybe Angel, but she never noticed it with him, if she's ever seen him sleep at all, which she supposes she must have although she can't remember an occasion. Would she have noticed if Angel didn't breathe? Is it stranger that she notices that Spike does, or that she expected that he wouldn't? Maybe it's just that the breathing is Spike a thing. Or maybe she's only noticing because it's obvious, now, as she stares at the rise and fall of his narrow chest, his pale skin a chalky white in the weak light. It's probably wrong to look like this; to stare, really. Bad mannered. She's a bad friend. She should look away. Looking away right now.

And then Spike stirs, mutters a little, and her gaze is instantly drawn back to him as his body convulses and his hands twist into the sheets. He mutters words that are barely discernible, but agonising in tone.

"Don't...Gotta do it...NO!"

Fred starts to move toward him, bare feet covering plush carpet, but he's woken before she gets there; bolts upright in bed, gasping.

Waking like this, chest tight and head pounding, it's nothing new for Spike. Sleeping has been a bitch since he got the soul, consciousness chasing away fragments of memories he tries never to disturb during his waking hours. Bloody nightmares and memories. Back in one piece, all solid-like and real, and still it's the intangible that fuck with his so-called life.

Spike shakes his head, concentrates on feel of the sheets, the creaking of the bed beneath him. Waits for the world to clear. Finally, senses awaken and his bleary eyes focus on a slender figure standing just inside the doorway.

"Fred?"

"Yeah, it's me." She takes a few more tentative steps toward him. "Just makin' sure you're all right."

Spike nods concisely. Lies just as simply. "Dandy."

The word's almost a croak, and Spike groans inwardly at the broken, pansy note in his voice. Why the fuck is she here? Witnessing this? Seems someone's there to see his every embarrassing moment these days.

"Life's a bleedin' circus." He mutters, but he can't quite summon the snark to ask her to leave.

Fred chews her lip at his words, wonders briefly if she should leave. But she's a clever girl, and doesn't for a moment believe he's really okay, nor that he really wants to be left alone. She can hear the dullness in his usually animated voice, see the whiteness of his knuckles where they clutch at the fabric. More weirdness, because with no circulation shouldn't a tight grip make no difference? But she tells herself to concentrate on what's important, to concentrate on the strangely distressed and suddenly corporeal former vampire-ghost. And isn't that a mouthful?

She's never seen Spike scared like this, so vulnerable and nervous and, well, so quiet. Not even when that exorcist guy who tried to vanquish him to hell, or that shadow-creature thing that lived off negative energy tried to make him into dinner. Cursed or not, frustrated and incorporeal, he'd always been the one same Spike: snarky and rude, irreverent and impulsive, with a talent for showing up at extremely embarrassing moments and a knack for knowing just what to say to drive Angel insane.

Nothing like the shivery creature Angel had brought home last night, pale and naked and swamped under the weight of Angel's leather coat. So much smaller than the other vampire-man who held him. She'd never really noticed that before, when he was a ghost, just how small he was. It's painfully obvious now, though, what a little guy he is. Small and slender, skin stretched over a narrow frame, the nodes of his spine and his ribs starkly visible. But nice arms, she notices. All muscled and cut and... Stupid mind with its runaway thoughts.

"I thought you might like some blood," she offers quickly, thrusting the now lukewarm cup in her hand in Spike's general direction.

Spike perks a little at the offer. He can smell the wafting scent and it tantalizes his senses, teases the demon within him, causing it to bristle and stir at the thought of food. Bloody funny that it now gets worked-up over Angel-style hogs-juice. How the mighty have fallen.

"Ta..." he nods at the desk. "Drink it in a sec..." once his stomach stops lurching and he gets a grip on the rising creature within.

Following Spike's gaze, Fred puts the mug on the bedside table and steps back. He doesn't move immediately, and she fidgets a little, wrings her hands, and glances around the room. One of the many spare rooms, it's his now. Not bad, really, but desperately in need of a decorator. Didn't Willow mention that he was good at that? Something about fixing his crypt up for Buffy? But then, Fred's heard so much about Buffy, fancies she's probably the kind of woman it's worth acquiring all kinds of skills for. Spike went and got a soul for her and everything. In comparison to that kind of torture, what's a couple of hours of Martha Stewart?

She's internally rambling again, mental babbling. Does it lots, because she's good at filling the loneliness and silence herself. Got plenty of experience in Pylea. Really wants to talk though, but suddenly it's all so hard. Shouldn't be, because they use to chatter away all the time. Ridiculous. Joke and exchange looks and roll their eyes across the room at oh-so-serious Angel. Maybe even flirt, but she thinks that wasn't serious. Just part of Spike. All bravado and sultry eyes and sexy swagger and a tongue that's really quite obscene.

She hopes to God that Spike isn't gone. He has to be in there somewhere. Maybe he's just suffering from shock?

"That must have been some nightmare, all that moaning and crying and ..." She begins slowly.

A beat, and Spike picks the cup up from the bureau, nods. "Yeah, well, let's just say it didn't feature free cable and flowering onions."

He takes a sip with some caution, feels the sticky, metallic taste on his lips. It flows down his throat, thick and smooth, and sends a shiver down his spine, a rush of deep-buried feeling from his stomach and his heart. Been so long since he's eaten anything, or since he can remember eating anything. Since he'd enjoyed the unique feeling of consuming blood, drinking life. So long, the fact it's pig don't matter a bit. Deep within him, his demon roars and stretches, and he can feel his body strengthen and harden in response.

Almost unconsciously, he adjusts the sheets.

"You get them often?" Fred asks.

"Huh?" He blinks.

"Nightmares?"

Oh. Right.

"Use to...before. Didn't have to sleep so much as a ghost, though, so I kinda forgot. Definite downside to being back to my touchy feely self." One of many downsides, probably. Not that he wanted to stay a ghost, fought bloody hard to find a solution. But success has brought it's own range of problems. Grass is always greener and all that.

He grinds his teeth and swirls the remaining blood in the cup, before swallowing it down. "I take it from the lack of ribbing that I didn't say anything too scandalous? No big admissions about my tender affection for the Great Green Queen? "

"No, nothing like that."

"...Cause that would explain the screaming..."

Fred giggles at the mental image. Pauses for a moment, then takes a cautious step toward the bed. Rests her hand on the edge, not quite touching him, but temptingly close.

"No, just random words and stuff. But now you've got me all fascinated. Next time I think I'll have to listen closer."

Next time huh? He raises an eyebrow. She flushes a little, continues quickly before he can open his mouth.

"And anyway, it's understandable that you're a little stressed. It's big change and all, being fully corporeal again. Being able to touch things again..."

"Yeah."

Touch things again. Yeah, he can do that. Doing that now. Holding the cup, sitting on the bed, grasping the sheets like some wilting bint from a B-Grade horror flick. Lots of touching. But not the good sort, really. Unconsciously, his eyes fall from Fred's face to her hand, where it rests on the covers beside him. She notices his gaze and seems to tremble slightly, and he feels the sudden wave of guilt, the inner insistence that maybe she's afraid of him. She's a sensible bird, she should be. But even though she's timid as a sparrow at times, Spike knows she carries the heart Boadicea. Fear's not an issue for his Fred, not when it comes to her friends.

God, he hopes he's her friend.

A shake of his head, and Spike licks his dry lips. Longs for another drink, but the blood's all gone. Needs a different lubricant for his dry mouth and sandblastered nerves, anyway. Has an intense desire for a good dose o' alcohol, and he's sure there's gotta be plenty round here somewhere. Doubts that Watcher gets through the day without a tipple of the good stuff. He almost gets out of bed at the thought, before remembering that he's the proud owner of exactly nothing in the way of clothing, and Fred isn't the kind of bird who'd respond that well to full-naked Spike. He settles for a plaintive look at the empty cup, but she doesn't seem to get it

Fred watches Spike gaze fall to her hand, then fly around the room and back to her face. Can't control a quiver of excitement beneath the simmering intensity of his gaze. Swallows hard against the lump in her throat, tries to tame the millions of hyperactive butterflies in her intestines.

Stop. Imagining. Things. Make polite conversation. Help your friend.

Desperately, Fred blurts out the first thing that comes to mind. "You breathe when you sleep. Or exhale, anyway. Which seems a bit strange, because you don't really need oxygen."

"Habit...kind of embarrassing," he answers automatically. A pause, and then he turns and flashes her something that looks a little like a smirk. "You watching me sleep then, pet?"

Wow. His words are like liquid honey, melting into her skin, and providing an immediate, buzzing sugar-high to those already-over caffeinated butterflies in her tummy.

"What? I mean, No. Well, yes. Yes, I was. But I was making sure you're all right...and it's very involving watching you sleep. I mean interesting. It's interesting. From a scientific perspective ..."

Spike chuckles a little at the rapid-fire answer. Good to know he can still cause a little panic now and again.

"I breathe because I've just never gotten out of the habit of doing so," he answers, truthfully enough. "And because it's comforting, you know. Use to be a bit uneven, but I've practiced, got the rhythm right good. Found humans appreciate it. "

A beat, and Spike drops his gaze quickly after the last sentence, realizing he has said too much and suddenly uncomfortable. It takes Fred a moment to understand the meaning in the last sentence, and she can feel the heat rising in her face the moment she does. Back to the silence. Which, of course, means she has to fill it with something appropriately foolish.

"I used to chew my hair a lot, so I get that," she offers. Oh, such a geek. "Your habit isn't anyway near as gross as that."

Spike can't help but laugh. Can't stop himself, either, from imagining Fred at 16, hair in braids, clutching books to her chest. Probably a bit like Red when he met her, although likely not dancing to trendy alt-rock at the Bronze. No bouncing blonde and in-a-band boy to drag her into that. Not entirely a good girl, though. Too pretty for that, too curious and spicy too. Probably got her first kiss in the library, sneaking in some snogging in the carrels behind the biology books. Right little minx...

"Do your lungs work?"

Spike blinks away the fantasy image to try to concentrate on the question.

"When you breathe, your chest rises and falls, so to your lungs still work?" She can't quite believe she's still asking this. Questioning the befuddled vampire like, well, like a horrible questioning thing. But she can't help it. Doesn't want to stand in silence, isn't ready to leave.

She does ask the most ridiculous things, but it's really a part of her charm. Her wide eyes and touching, clever innocence speak to a part of him he has tried to ignore for so long. But truth is, Spike's never wanted to think too much about what went on inside of him, about shrivelled organs and dead tissue and an empty stomach. Not when he knows he's got what matters - the spit and blood and spunk. What he doesn't have doesn't warrant too much thinking lest it send a bloke mad.

"Dunno, really." He answers honestly. "Guess so. Never much thought about my bits and pieces. Long as I'm moving around and flapping my mouth, I'm good."

But Fred, ever curious, can't let it go. Starts to babble in that way of hers about breathing and circulation and words he can't remember, or never knew, brain and mouth at that impossible speed. Not stoppin' her once she gets going. Tries to concentrate on the words, but instead he finds himself watching her lips. Painted pink, pale and natural. He wonders what they taste like, how sweet they would be, whether they'd wash away the salty blood.

What's she saying now?

"And so everything seems to work but your heart..."

She watches as Spike starts at the words, a small movement, but the look on his face is painful and lost. Hastily, he drops his gaze. Oh Spike. She didn't mean it like that. She really does say the silliest things at times.

A moment's consideration, and Fred takes a breath, sits down beside him on the bed. The sheets rustle beneath her, and he doesn't move. Doesn't retreat. Teeth gnawing at her lip, she reaches out gently, lays a hand on his chest. It's the first time she's touched him, a moment paused in time, and the world seems to stand still around her as their eyes lock in mutual shock at the sudden connection.

The effect of her touch is instantaneous, five points of fire burning deep on his chest. Sweet pain, burning agony. It feels as if his skin is crawling back to allow her to reach straight to his broken heart. He can hear himself gasp, and he swears his chest lurches and beats.

"So silent," Fred whispers softly, eyes flitting from his gaze to where her hand rests on his chest. "And yet, I think your heart speaks louder than any I have ever heard."

Spike swallows hard, blinks hard against what are certainly not tears at the corners of his eyes. He's not entirely sure what this is, what she wants, what he can possibly offer. Tired of mixed signals and wrong signals and having his heart torn out. But he knows he's never had the sense to steer clear of temptation, and he considers for only a fraction of a moment. Screw it. He goes for broke.

"Doesn't feel at all silent to me," he whispers.

His voice is soft, raged, beautifully intense. Like the rumble of thunder of an approaching storm. It's followed by the tingle of electricity, dancing down her spine, her limbs, the tips of her toes and fingers. Fred knows it's the release on endorphins. Body chemistry, totally biological. Easy to rationalize. But it's coupled now with an entirely less explainable sensation, doesn't even want to. It's as strong and intoxicating as that magical night at the opera, the same and yet so very different. Unique.

And so she does what she's longed to do for months, when touching him wasn't an option. What she's not dared to contemplate in the painful hours since he's been fully back, even though the possibly has danced intoxicatingly at the back of her mind.

Leaning in, she kisses him.

It's the last thing Spike expected, and yet it's not quite the shock it should be. A gentle touch, soft lips against his. Warm, ripe, willing. Different. Never really been kissed like this. Tentative, laced with a longing for more but without the expectation of it. Fuck, it's great. If he wasn't such a wanker, he'd be taking advantage of it. Prying those lips open, pulling her too him. Heat and warm and, god, touch. Solace and safety and home.

Oh, how he longs to, but the moment's so perfect and he's powerless to move.

And then she's gone.

She sits back up, eyes cast down on the bed. Spike sits frozen, except for the rise and fall of his chest and that damned, curious and unneeded breathing. She thinks she's made a terrible mistake.

Blinking back tears, Fred tries very hard not to give into the rising wave of humiliation and pain. A woman surrounded by men, so often a prize of a pedestal, it's been a long time since Fred's felt the nip of rejection, since she hasn't been an object of hunger. Stupid self, acting all impulsive, submitting to all those buzzing hormones. And stupid vampire, what did he expect, when he was all half naked and looking at her with those eyes and making comments about his heart? She wonders if maybe she's going to cry, but starts with the babbling instead.

"Oh, geez, look at me, getting all silly because you're so, um, oh God, because you're all touchable and, well, naked. I shouldn't have taken advantage like that and I know that we're just friends and that you're in love with Buffy and I'd be really grateful and much less humiliated if you would maybe believe it was just curiosity..."

"Pet..."

"And I'll just move away from you now because I'm obviously not able to control myself around you. I'm just a big barrel of hormones and that's not good. Really not good, so I'll just, er, take a few steps back and maybe you want more blood?"

"Fred!"

She stops at the sound of her name, pausing like a wide-eyed, long legged deer in headlights. Cornered prey. Thought makes him shiver for a moment, never likes raising his voice anymore. Not outside of a good scuffle anyway. Or around Angel, when it's funny. But getting up and laying hands on her isn't a great option either, not with barely a sheet to cover him and when his body is still quivering and tense from the lingering sensations on his chest and lips.

He knows he should do something, get a grip. But he's still sitting there, sheets bunched over a ragging hard-on, mouth open, and nothing coming out. There's so much he wants to say, or should say, and it's bloody frustrating because usually he doesn't have a problem with words, and talk, but he's drawing a blank right now. He swallows hard, summons the remnants of his ego and builds them back together. She's as nervous as him, skittery and angsty. Thinks, maybe, she wants him too, he can hear the beat of her heart, smell the first hints of arousal. Bloody wonderful thing, these vampire senses, and he can feel the corners of his mouth begin to turn up in a smirk.

"Can't control yourself eh?" He flashes her a white-toothed smile. "Been told I am pretty irresistible."

Was he making a joke of this? Fred can feel the blood rise to her checks. Of all the nerve!

"Well, I'm sorry you think this is so funny, but it's not, because we had a great friendship and now I've gone and ruined it and we'll never get it back to what it was and - oh..."

A roll of his eyes, then a movement almost too fast for human eyes, and Spike pulls her too him. There was just no talking to this girl!

"Don't wanna go back to where it was," he says firmly. And Fred knows her face must have betrayed her surprise, the sudden pang of pain, cause he adds quickly. "Nothing wrong with it, mind. Fuck, nothing at all. You were my anchor, luv. Never had a mate like you. Kept me sane when I came back. Whole time I was here, and yet I wasn't, and there was always you and your friendship. Appreciate it more than I can say." He draws a breath, catching her doe-like gaze. "But if you're offering more..."

She grins. "More, maybe. Or different. Kinda of hard to say in abstract, without, you know, actually testing things..." More confident now herself, she trails a hand down his shoulder, over his chest, feels him tremor slightly beneath her touch. "But hopefully more. Same old gets boring, right?"

"Yeah, does." He nods, almost seriously. "And we can always come back to it after trying something else. I'm getting bloody good at that."

She grins. "Lucky for me."

This time, he kisses her. Captures her lips, traces them with his tongue, before she opens her mouth and draws him in. The gentle touch of tongues, but fast becoming furious and hungry. Fred climbs over to straddle him, hands on his arms, kissing him deeper, hot little tongue half way down his throat and deceptively strong little body pushing into his, flattening herself out on top of him, wiggling against him in exactly the right way. He groans.

Fred can feel his cock against her, hard and insistent beneath the sheets, grinds herself against him in a way she hopes is alluring and seductive. He must like it, because the sounds he's making are delicious. Rumbling, groaning sounds, chest vibrating, almost a purr. She feels her insides melt. His hands - skillful, knowing hands - move under her shirt and along her back, tracing muscles and bone. There's definitely too much fabric between them. She breaks the kiss, and feels him stiffen slightly, then watches his eyes fade from worried to soft as she reaches for the hem of her pajama top. Pulling the garment over her head in one easy movement, she throws it carelessly behind her. So easy to be messy when there's naked men and sex involved.

Spike feels his cock jump at the sight. Naked flesh, small high breasts.

"Gorgeous," he murmurs, and she beams.

Tentatively, he raises his hands to her skin, runs his fingers over her ribcage, unconsciously counting the ribs. Unable to resist, he moves to take a breast in his mouth, gently pushes her over and he lathes attention on her hardened nipple. She moves beneath him, tracing his shoulder, down his arm, drawing lazy circles across his bicep.

His tongue feels amazing and she loses herself to the sensation.

Fuck, this is good. Been so long since he's touched anything at all, and now he's got handfuls and mouthfuls of warm, inviting woman. Handfuls of Fred. Beautiful, wonderful, adorable Fred. Gotta be a dream...

Bugger. He stiffens as he remembers just how often do they become nightmares. Unbidden, memories flood back. He's made mistakes like this before, jumped in, fucked up badly. Inexcusably. Not gonna happen again, can't. Not gonna wreck another friendship by thinking with his dick...

Beneath him, Fred stiffens and freezes. Eyes as wide as saucers "Spike?" Her voice tiny and nervous, "what's wrong?"

Got her all worried again, and he curses himself. "Just...look at me for a moment, yeah?"

She does, pulls back and meets his intense, sapphire-eyes. Gazes locked, blue and brown.

"Just wanna know you want this? That, you know, it's right by you as by me."

A wave of relief, and she almost giggles. Never expected this from Spike, but it's so sweet. "Of course I do silly. Didn't I just get topless in your bed? Don't do that for just anyone, you know!" He chuckles at the mock indignation, little sparkles of mirth in his eyes. There's her Spike. "And since when did you become a gentleman?"

"Since I got a lady trying to take advantage of my distressed state?"

She giggles. "Yeah, that's me. Having my way with the weakened vamp boys. Finding all their soft spots..." She kisses a line across his jaw, under one ear. He shudders.

"Right then, take advantage of my vulnerable self."

She nods, voice suddenly serious. "It's okay, Spike. I made a choice, and I know what I'm doing."

As if to prove herself, she traces her fingers back up his arm, down his pecs and over his abs. He stiffens and shudders at the trail of fire they leave. More touching, so damn good.

He feels wonderful beneath her fingers, cool and hard. Beautifully defined, all muscled and slender. Sneaks her hands below the sheets, watches his eyes bulge as she closes her grasp around his cock. It's warmer than the rest of him, nearly hot. Filled with borrowed blood and magical potency, it feels as alive as the rest of him, eager and ready.

"You're not half as innocent as you look," he gasps.

A wicked smile, and she runs a finger over the tip, strokes again with expert skill. He arches and groans beneath her touch, pushing himself further into her grasp.

"I'm not innocent at all."

"God no. You're a right little tart." He leans over and licks the curve of her neck, almost cat-like. His tongue feels amazing against her skin. "A sweet, delicious little tart, gonna eat you and enjoy every last crumb..."

His pillow talk is cut off by an embarrassingly un-man-like squeak, followed by a truly crude curse, as she slips her hand lower and cups his balls, stroking gently. He pulls back to stare at her with something resembling awe, and she takes the opportunity to start to lick a path down his chest.

"God."

She giggles again, girlish and womanly at once. "Haven't you heard?" His never heard her voice so sultry. "It's always the quiet ones..."

One of her legs around his calves, Fred starts to push the sheet aside, begins to pull herself back on top on him. But Spike's having none of that. A sudden surge of power through his limbs, and he grabs her and flips her over, pining her slight weight beneath him. He rubs his cock against her stomach. Let her feel how hard she makes him, how much he wants her.

She looks up at him with eyes both lusty and defiant, raises her stomach in reply and wraps a leg around him. Amazing.

"Hopefully you're not gonna be too quiet for too long, pet. " Unable to resist, he dips his mouth to taste her lips again, lap at the pooled sweat at the base of her neck. "Got plans to make you scream."

God, she hopes so. She can feel the tension building within her, core heating and liquefying. His hands beneath on her skin are surprisingly warm, dry, and she wiggles as he pulls her pants off her, his lips tracing a course down her body in between sultry words. She can feel his chest rumble and vibrate as he talks.

"Gonna wake up Angel, let him know what he's missing." Another stroke of his tongue against her neck. "Gonna take care of you so good, you're gonna up the whole bloody neighborhood."

The sheet is tangled around his legs, and he tries to kick it free as he kisses his way down her body. Her soft skin beneath her ear, the delicate, fragile clavicles, the ridges of his ribs. His can't touch enough of her, feel enough of her, and his hands trace everywhere his lips can't reach. Her muscles of her back, the bones of her shoulder blades, her bumpy spine, the malleable skin of her flank. Venturing lower, he finds the waistband of her pajama pants. Hooks his fingers under and starts to pull them off as he dips his mouth to capture a nipple. She helps him kick the fabric off.

"Gonna make you come so hard you'll be going into next week..." he purrs. "Come like you've never come before."

Oh, there's not doubt that she believes him. Cool, talented tongue, experienced fingers. She's quivering and shuddering and grinding against him. Wanton, she feels, and desperate. It's fantastic. But, oh, he's so arrogant. Deliciously so, but she can't resist.

"Given what I've used the science lab to make myself, you got your work cut out for you."

He pauses, looks up, and laughs out loud. So good to see him laugh, especially when his chin is bobbing enticingly, inches from her curls. But, God, what was she thinking, disturbing him like that? She needs him back where he belongs, her body aching and betraying her, thrusting toward him without her consent. He smirks in that self-satisfied way that is so Spike. Great, she's made him even more insufferable.

Or more adorable.

"Fuck, you're fabulous." He snickers. Then a wicked grin. "And, fortunately, I just love a bit of a challenge."

He inhales deeply as he talks, the wonderful smell of aroused woman filling his nostrils. Nothing like it, the knowledge that he can do this. That she's melting and creaming and readying for him. She whimpers again. Really whimpers.

Being all merciful and soul-like now, he obligingly ends her agony and buries his face between her legs. Her resulting cry, wonderfully loud from such a little thing, is instantly gratifying.

He's good at this, she realizes. In her occasional sweaty fantasy, she's known he would be. He knows it too, and it shows. Confident and daring. Clever, knowing tongue, finding all the right places, long fingers sliding in inside of her, touching all the rights places, making her writhe and beg. She can feel her toes curl and her legs rise, fall, close around his head. God, she didn't know quite what do with them, doesn't really care. Feels all her thoughts shatter and fall beneath the torrent of sensation.

Spike's every sense is active, heightened. She's salty and tangy and wet beneath his tongue. Pulsing around him, blood coursing and rushing through her folds, down her legs. He can hear it, pounding in his head, the intoxicating beat sending ribbons of pleasure straight to his cock. Soft skin beneath his hands, sweaty and sticky on her thighs, slippery where his fingers stroke within. Her hands in his hair, grasping and pulling with surprising strength, urging him closer as she gasps, high and feminine and breathless.

It's not like he needs the encouragement.

All his senses, no longer impaired, suddenly overwhelming in their sudden intensity. God, how he missed this.

It's almost too soon when he feels her flutters and quiver beneath him, and he succumbs to the tension and release in turn, pleasure rolling over him in a few short waves. Comes on the sheets like a bleedin' teenager after his first taste of woman. But finds he doesn't much care. Feels too lethargic and pleased and just damn good.

Feels.

It takes a few moments - maybe longer, she loses track - for the world to reform for Fred. Become aware, first, of Spike continuing to nuzzle and lick at her until she gently pushes him away, skin suddenly too painful and tender to stand even the most tender of touches. The air is thick with the scent of their coupling, and her body still trembling and coated with sweat. Spike sighs, breath tingling against her thigh, and she glances down, watching him rest his head on her thigh. His skin is so pale against hers, but their intertwined bodies are otherwise so similar. Sharp angles and spare flesh, the both of them. Her other men have all been big, bear-like, protecting and smothering, but Spike's almost her perfect match. She's not sure, but she thinks they're even almost the same height. Wonders what advantages that'll bring.

Still, she giggles when she realizes his legs are dangling off the bed. Not that short. Her eyes rack up his body, over his now flaccid cock. And not that small all over. She reaches down to caress the tousled hair. It's messy and spiky and clumped rather unattractively where she'd grabbed at it. Bed head. Even funnier, she thinks it might actually be starting to curl.

"Your hair's curly," she announces.

He can hear the amusement in her voice. Goddamn Shirley-temple do. He feels an immediate instinct to be defensive, but it's conquered easily. Post-coital, even his rabble-rousing demon is apparently just as lethargic.

"Only when I don't use enough gel."

This time she laughs, and he can feel the vibrations beneath his cheek.

She buries her fingers a little deeper in the sticky mess. "I like it like this."

He snorts. "Yeah? Well, you liked the Shiz Tzu that Yin woman had too. So 'cuse me for not taken' your fashion advice yet."

His words are mocking, but his tone is gentle. No harshness. Spike, but tamed. A sleepy lion.

"Give it time," she promises.

Time. Yeah, he can do that. He's got lots of that. But Fred, he's not so sure. Time for humans passes so quickly, and yet they seem to waste so much of. Days, months, years. It always feels to Spike that the world's in an incredible rush, and yet still nothing happens quickly enough. Not when it comes to getting the only thing he really wants.

Spikes not the introspective type, but he knows all to well exactly what it is that he wants.

Home. Acceptance. Love.

Absently, he traces patterns across Fred's thigh and his mind wanders, unbidden, to now-gone Sunnydale. To making love to Buffy in the darkness of his crypt, a house of death. The rejection, the darkness, the act of desperation. Dark times. Seem so long ago, and yet only yesterday. The memories are precious still. Never loved anything like he'd loved Buffy. Loves Buffy. Will always love her, because that's what he does.

Fred watches him in silence, chews on her cheeks. He's gone for a moment, she can tell. But she knows he'll come back to her.

Finally, Spike closes his eyes, brushes the cobwebs from his mind and places a gentle kiss to the soft skin where Fred leg joins hip. A sigh, and he half shimmies, half crawls his way up her body to lie next to her. Rests a hand on her hip and their legs entwined. Still touching her, because he can't stop that, doesn't think he ever wants to. She's warm, and she's here, wanting him, looking at him with soft, brown eyes. Never been looked at like that before, not really. Never been with anyone so open, so laden with emotion and gentleness.

But beneath the joy, there's a sinking feeling of wrongness, of guilt. The suspicion that, should he allow himself to love her, he'll only destroy her.

"I dunno what I can offer you pet..." he begins.

Fred silences him with a finger to his lips. Unable to resist, he kisses the tip of her fingers.

She smiles, runs her fingers gently over his lush bottom lip, across his cheek, down the side of his face, over the razor-sharp cheekbones and sunken cheeks. His skin is smooth, but she can feel the pores, the occasional bump, the bristle of facial hair around his jaw. So human, this vampire. Much more so than Angel.

Wonderful to touch him at last.

"Doesn't matter," she says firmly. "We'll muddle along."

He closes his eyes, shakes his head. "It should matter, pet. Things like this? Should know where you stand. Not right that you don't have everything."

But she shakes her head. "Not everything has to be all or nothing, Spike. I learnt in Pylea, you know, sometimes you got to go with it." She shifts slightly to gently run a leg down his calf. "Take things as they come, and just enjoy the moment."

She runs a hand over his chest, and pulls herself closer. Feels him jump and harden again against her abdomen.

He grins. "Enjoyment of this moment not a problem."

They kiss again, and she rolls on top of him, pinning him to the bed. She's so tiny, deceptively fragile, weighs nothing as she straddles him, wet heat pressed against his chest and hair loose and falling over her chest. Almost a veil, but he's not likely to think her quite so innocent again.

"I would hope not," she answers, eyes flashing with mischief. "Because you didn't live up to your promise, Mister. Still got to get me to scream before you succumb to that male biological imperative and fall asleep."

"You're assuming you can wear me out, pet?" He flashes her another smirk.

She feels her brain turn to mush as he does that ... thing ... with his tongue. Is surprised at the calmness of her voice as she answers him. "That a challenge?"

He nods. "Bloody right it is."

She kisses him again, smiles and sighs. They'll have to it as it comes. All their challenges, and especially those that won't be quite as pleasant as this one...

"When I win," she whispers, kissing him deeply, then smiling, "and you conk out on me, just remember that the trick is to keep breathing."

He kisses her back, and rolls her over, hand under her hip to pull her leg around him as he sheathes himself in inside her. She moans beneath him and he captures her breath with a kiss.

Of course he'll keep breathing. Not like he could ever forget.