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tosavealady

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Title:  To Save a Lady

Author: Slaymesoftly

Rating: NC17 do I even remember HOW to write anything else?)

Word count: 77780

Season: Imaginary Season V

Disclaimer:  Joss never hired me, so obviously all the characters still belong to him.  No sense his suing me; he’s got way more money than I do, I’m sure.

Warnings – hints of non-consensual sex, hints of slash, and hints of torture. Nothing graphic, but there is a bit of each of those things in one chapter. Also, character deaths.

 

Many thanks to Oracle Holly for her read overs and suggestions as I struggled with how to get the story going. *hugs* Holly.  And to Always_jbj whose fic gave me the way to get Buffy out of the hole I was digging for her.  And to Megan, whose entertaining betas made all the difference.

The banners are by the wonderful Selene and the talented  Bloodshedbaby       .

 

This fic has won Best Long Fic, Best Claiming, Best Love Story Runner-up) and Best Written Runner-up) at the Lost in Spike Awards, round 7, as well as Best Time Travel and Best Saga at Round 1 of the Fang Fetish Awards and Judges Pick at the Blood Ties Awards.  Many thanks to the wonderful readers who nominated it at those sites.

 

 

 

Author’s notes/summary:  Ok, here’s the sitch.   It’s early in a Season V that has been tweaked to suit my purposes.  Spike hasn’t had his little revelation about his feelings for Buffy, and she, of course, is clueless.  Riley has had his surgery and begun his macho identity crisis.  Dawn won’t be mentioned much because she isn’t part of this story. Riley has gone back to Iowa for an extended leave, partly to recover from his surgery and partly to figure out what he wants to do next.  He was apprehensive about being gone from Buffy for so long, and not at all reassured when she tells him she will take Spike with her for extra muscle if he’s so worried about her.  He reminds her of her words to him before he lost the enhancements that were killing him, when she told him that if she “wanted somebody with super powers, I’d be dating Spike!” She rolls her eyes at his implication and they do not part on the best of terms.

 

 

 

To Save a Lady

 

 Prologue:

 

            “Hey, watch it, Slayer!  You almost got me with that thing.”  Spike growled and moved a little further away from Buffy and the axe she was carrying.

 

            “Don’t be such a baby, Spike.  I didn’t even come close to hitting you.  Did I, guys?”

 

            “Uh, actually, Buffster, you did kinda…” The look she sent him had Xander backpedaling quickly.  “…kinda go out of your way to miss him.  Yep, that’s what I saw.  You tried really hard to miss him.”

 

             He gave the glaring vampire an apologetic shrug as he retreated behind Giles until Buffy forgot about his almost-treason.  The ex-watcher just sighed and continued moving forward.

 

           “If you two can stop squabbling until we find something you actually need to fight, I might be able to do a better job of following this map of the facility.” 

 

            He had to bite his tongue to hold back what he wanted to say about the bickering. Giles knew that Buffy had argued with her current boyfriend about Spike, but as much as he disliked the man, he had to sympathize with him.  The only people who didn’t recognize the sexual tension between the two bickering super-beings were Buffy and Spike themselves. Everyone else was just waiting for the feelings simmering so blatantly between the Slayer and another master vampire to boil over.  Giles had already resigned himself to the inevitable, grateful that this vampire had no soul to lose and was restrained by a government chip that prevented him from harming humans.

 

             “Well, it’s boring in here, Giles,” Buffy almost whined.  “No left over demons to kill, no soldiers, and, apparently, no mystical books hidden away anywhere.”

 

            “I’m confident they are here.  We just have to locate Walsh’s office.  I cannot in good conscience leave knowledge like that lying around for anyone to find.”

 

         “Well, we’d better find them soon.  I’m getting hungry and it’s getting late. I was hoping to get some sleep tonight.”

 

          “Soldier boy been keeping you up too late with the boring shaggin’, Slayer?” Spike snarked, earning another glare and a raised axe.

 

         Before she could follow through on her implied threat, Xander moved off to peer into a small, metal room standing by itself in the middle of the larger area. 

 

           “Hey, I wonder what they did in here?” he said as he ran his flashlight around the bare interior.  “Look at all the fancy dials on the door.”

 

           Curiosity getting the best of them, Spike and Buffy both moved over to peer into the room with Xander.  They jostled each other good-naturedly to be the first to look in the room.  In spite of their constant arguing and insulting each other, the two had reluctantly formed a very powerful team against the constant influx of demons that the Hellmouth attracted to Sunnydale.  The weeks of fighting side by side had brought a grudging respect for each other’s abilities and courage and coming to the other’s aid if needed had become second nature to them both.

 

              While Xander wandered around the outside of the small, isolated room, admiring all the dials and switches, Buffy stepped inside and looked around for something of interest.  What she found was a floor that slanted toward the center and she was quickly sliding in further than she had intended.

 

          “Spike!” she yelled, reaching for his hand to stop her slide.  He immediately stepped into the doorway and grabbed her wrist, halting her precipitous slip towards the deceptively flat center of the room.  Just as Spike began to back out, pulling her with him, Xander completed his circuit of the exterior, coming around the outside corner and stumbling into the open door.  His stumble caused the heavy door to hit Spike in the back, propelling the vampire into Buffy and the dark room.

 

            “Whoops?” he said, as the door slammed closed on them, muffling their angry curses.  He reached for the handle, only to find the door was firmly locked.

 

            “Okay, not a big deal here.  All I have to do is find the right dial or switch and it’ll pop right open.  Looking for a switch that says, ‘Open, door’. How hard can that be?”

 

             He began to run his hands over the numerous buttons and switches on the outside of the door, mumbling to himself and trying to ignore the glare from Buffy’s watcher.  When Giles realized the boy was actually turning dials and pushing random buttons, he ran over and grabbed his hands.

 

            “What are you doing, you stupid git?  We have no idea what those dials are designed to do.” 

 

              Before he had even finished speaking, a humming noise began and a green glow permeated the walls of the room.  Xander frantically hit more buttons, trying to halt whatever process he’d started, but the humming just got louder and the glow brighter. 

 

             “Oh,oh.  Glowing. Humming.  Not of the good.  Giles, we may have a situation here!”

 

               A frustrated snort was the only reply from the older man as he grunted in effort, trying to get the door open.

 

             Inside the pitchblack room, Spike and Buffy were trying to stand up on the small center circle onto which they had slid when Xander slammed the door on them.  They were so busy calling Xander names that they failed to notice the hum and glow at first.  Not until they realized they could see each other again did they begin to worry about the noise and light.

 

            “This cannot possibly be a good thing,” Buffy moaned. 

 

            “You think?” he snarled, looking desperately around the smooth floor for something to use to pull himself back toward the door.

 

              “This is what you get for stepping inside instead of pulling me out!  This is all your fault, Spike.”

 

              “MY fault?  You’re the stupid bint that walked into the room and grabbed ME for a lifeline.  This is YOUR fault, Slayer.”

 

                Her automatic retaliatory remark died in her throat as the hum reached uncomfortable levels and she had to shut her eyes against the bright glowing walls.  Suddenly she felt like she was in a whirlpool as the wall spun around her and she felt herself being sucked into something large and empty.  At the last second she reached out for Spike, only to find his hand already reaching for hers.

 

             “Here we go, pet. Ready or not,” he growled as the room disappeared around them and it became very dark and quiet.  There was no sound from the Slayer, just a quick squeeze of his hand in acknowledgement before she gave herself up to whatever was happening to them.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

             Outside the room, there was an eerie silence as the glow faded from the walls and the humming stopped abruptly.  Two sets of eyes went to the door, now swinging slowly open all by itself. 

 

             “Bugger,” Giles said softly as he stared into the now nearly empty room.

 

             “I see your bugger, and I’ll raise you an ‘oh, shit,’ ” Xander gulped as he too took in the not quite empty space in front of them.  Sitting in the middle of floor, looking more than a little bewildered and snarling ferociously was an eerily familiar-looking vampire in 19th century clothing.

 

 

 

Chapter One                      

           

 

            Buffy landed hard, stumbling against Spike as her booted feet settled on a bumpy surface.  Automatically, he caught her and held her upright until she had her balance, taking advantage of the brief closeness to breathe in her scent and enjoy the feel of her strong little arms in his hands. 

 

          “Careful, pet. These cobblestones can be treacherous,” he said almost absently as he looked around and took in their surroundings.

 

            “Cobblestones?  How did we get on cobblestones?  There aren’t any cobblestone streets in Sunnydale.”

 

            “Don’t think we’re in Sunnydale anymore.”

 

              Buffy looked around at the darkened street, noting the lack of traffic sounds and lights.  “I…I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore either, Toto,” she said slowly.  “I have a bad feeling about this.”

 

              “Kansas?” the vampire gave her a confused look as he slipped into game face and began looking around.

 

               “Yeah, Dorothy? Toto?  Kansas? Oz?  Never mind,” she huffed, wondering why she’d been so sure Spike would be familiar with a 1939 children’s movie.

 

                He grinned behind his fangs and enjoyed the increase in her heart rate that anger at him always provoked.  As he used his vamp senses to try to figure out where they were, he wondered idly if she had any idea how often he deliberately riled her up just so he could enjoy the increase in blood temperature and heart beats that it evoked.  One of his primary regrets about having the chip – right after not being able to kill anyone, of course – was that he could no longer fight with Buffy and enjoy the heady scent of her arousal while she beat him up.

 

               Sighing for lost pleasures, he listened as hard as he could for sounds of traffic, cell phones, loud music – anything that would reassure him that they were still in 21st century California.  However, his enhanced ears picked up nothing but the soft clopping of horses’ hooves at the far end of the dark street upon which they had landed.

 

           He began walking towards the flickering street light at the end of the block, not looking back to see if the Slayer was following or not.  He heard her stumble and curse, quickly followed by an “ewww” as she realized what she had slipped in.

 

           Smothering the laugh he was afraid might get him staked, he came back to where she was shaking the horse manure off her boots and held out his arm to her.  She looked at him blankly for a moment, struggling to see his face in the still dim light of the poorly lit street.

 

           “What do you want?

 

           He gave a sigh of exasperation and offered his arm again.

 

           “I’m offering to help you walk around without ruining your fancy boots there.  Seein’ as how I’m the one with the good night vision an’ all.”

 

           “Oh.”

 

          “Yeah, oh.  Now do you want my help or not?”

 

          She tossed her head haughtily, catching herself just before the expected, “As if!” left her mouth. 

 

           Until I know more about where we are and how to get out of here, I’d better not piss Spike off.  I might need him for something more important than keeping my boots clean.)

 

           Keeping her face carefully neutral, she wrapped one small warm hand around his muscular arm and stepped a little closer to his side.  Aside from the clasped hands a few minutes ago, it was the first time they had touched for more than a violent second or two since the end of Willow’s disastrous will-be-done spell of almost a year ago, and she found herself having to fight back the memories of what the rest of his body felt like under her hands.

 

            By silent, mutual, agreement, they had limited their physical contact since then to only what was necessary in the nightly dispatch of Buffy’s slaying duties.  If any of the Scoobies had tried to tell them they were not touching out of fear that they would find themselves unable to stop, they would have stomped away, empty threats of violence filling the air.

 

          As they got closer to the gaslight at the corner of the street, another couple passed them going the other way and Spike folded his free hand over hers and ducked his head down as though talking to her.  He nodded politely at the other man, still sheltering Buffy with his body.

 

          “Stay close and hope they don’t notice your short skirt,” he murmured, his cool breath stirring tendrils of hair around her face.  He’d felt her heart rate go up when she touched his arm and wondered about the cause, then felt it increase again as he leaned into her.

 

             Probably just disgusted at having to touch me again) he thought angrily. Afraid she’ll soil those dainty little hands by touching the Big Bad with ‘em.)

 

         He shook her hand off as soon as they got close to the light, ignoring the bewildered look she sent him.

 

          “Sheesh! What’s your damage?” she growled, snatching her hand away.

 

          “Don’t want you getting Slayer sweat all over my good leather,” he grumbled, fumbling for an excuse for his sudden temper.

 

          “Oh, like I WANTED to be touching you!” she snapped back at him.  “And my hands are NOT sweating, bleach boy.”

 

          They stood under the flickering light glaring at each other until another horse drawn carriage approached and they had to admit they might have bigger problems than not wanting to be touching each other.  When Spike noticed the driver of the horse-drawn cab staring at Buffy’s booted legs and short skirt, he whipped off his coat and threw it around her shoulders.

 

           “What are you—?”

 

           “You’re gonna get arrested for indecent exposure if you don’t keep those legs covered up,” he hissed. “Now put this on and keep it closed until we get somewhere safe to hole up for the day.”

 

            “News flash, bloodsucker. I don’t have to hole up for the day.  I’m all about walking in the sunshine and finding out where we are.”

 

            He tilted his head and looked at her curiously.  “Are you just whistling in the dark or are you really that dumb, pet?  Cause, you HAVE noticed we’re not surrounded by all the comforts of modern technology haven’t you?”

 

            “I’m kinda picking up on that,” she grumbled.  “But we could be in, like, a theme park or something. You don’t know.”

 

            He tapped his nose and ears for emphasis as he said, “Vampire here, Slayer.  I haven’t smelled air like this in a hundred years.  And I can’t hear any trace of the sounds we’re used to.  No cars anywhere, no phones ringing, nothing but the sights and sounds of a long, long time ago.  So, it’s not so much WHERE we are, although I’ve got to admit I’m curious about why it looks so familiar, but WHEN we are that we should be worrying about.”

 

           “Fine, Mr. I’m-older-than-dirt.  Then you figure out when we are and find us a place to stay.  I’m tired and I want to get some sleep before we try to get home.”

 

            Spike looked around the intersection in all directions; finally, narrowing his eyes and absently taking her hand, he began pulling her down the side street.  Buffy left her hand in his cool grasp, fighting the urge to link her fingers with his.  To her surprise, Spike initiated a more intimate hold as he turned his hand and interlocked their fingers.  After they’d walked that way for a few blocks, she could see that he was heading toward a large house with darkened windows.

 

           I know he’s just doing that so I don’t slow him down in the dark.  It’s not like he wants to be holding my hand.)

 

           Spike stopped in front of the big, empty seeming house and stared at it with a bemused expression on his face.  He listened carefully, but heard no heartbeats that would indicate there might be human beings inside.  He tilted his head at the puzzled Slayer, wondering if he wanted to share this much of himself with her.  The tingles on the back of his neck telling him the sun was coming up forced his hand, and he started through the open gate toward the empty building.

 

            He’d gone most of the way to the house before he noticed that she wasn’t with him and he turned around to say, “Come on, pet.  I need to get in before I fry.”

 

           “We can’t just walk into somebody’s house, Spike.  There are probably people sleeping in there.  And even if they aren’t home, you won’t be able to get in, anyway.”

 

           “Yes, I will,” he answered and turned back toward the path leading around to the back of the house.

 

           “Spike!” she hissed, “You’re still a vampire.  We-you can’t go in without an invitation.”

 

            “Don’t need one.  I know this house.”

 

            “Why do you think you …Oh my god. Did you eat the owner?  That’s it, isn’t it?  You know where we are because you ate the owner of this house!”

 

            “You’re partly right, Slayer,” he ground out through clenched teeth.  “I DO know where we are, I just don’t know when we are.  But if the house is empty…”

 

              “If it’s empty, then it’s sometime after you ate the owner.”  Her voice was flat and dull as she was forcibly reminded of his violent past.  “You know you can go in because you know the owner is dead.”

 

               She heaved a deep sigh; then raised her eyes to his in resignation. 

 

              “It’s all right, Spike.  I know what you used to be.  I can’t help the owner now, so we might as well—“

 

               The angry vampire cut her off explosively.

 

             “Bloody hell, Slayer.  Would you stop your yammering long enough for me to get word in edgewise? I didn’t eat the bloody owner!”

 

             “Then why do you think you can get in?  He IS dead, isn’t he?”

 

             “Yes, he’s bloody well dead, if you must know.”

 

              “Aha! And you know that…how?”  She stubbornly stood her ground in the front yard, refusing to follow him around the house.

 

             “Because I AM the owner, you irritating bitch!”

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

       He turned his back on her and marched off around the corner of the house, leaving the astonished slayer staring after him with her mouth open.  As soon as she could no longer see or hear him, she realized how very silent the early morning darkness was and with a shiver she hurried after the muttering vampire.

 

       By the time Buffy got around to the back of the house, Spike was rooting around under a large rock, clearly searching for something.  With a triumphant, “Ha!” he stood up, holding a large old-fashioned looking key in his hand.  Without looking at the semi-contrite Slayer, he walked up the steps of the back porch and inserted the key in the door.

 

       He opened it with a flourish, pausing from force of habit to hold it open for the girl right behind him.  Buffy gave him a suspicious look, although she already knew from when they were “engaged” that Spike had manners he was usually careful to keep well-hidden.  She slipped past his outstretched hand just as he realized what he’d done and they both turned away to pretend it never happened.

 

       The interior of the room they’d just stepped into was hidden from Buffy’s eyes.  Even with her Slayer enhancements, she couldn’t see in the nearly pitchblack room as well as Spike could.  He stayed in vamp mode as he looked around the kitchen, sniffing to see if anyone had been there recently.  All he could smell was a faint trace of Cook’s scent and another, less familiar one.  Neither one indicated a recent presence in the house, and he relaxed a bit.

 

       Taking Buffy’s hand again, he led her into a hallway, stopping at a small table to use his lighter to fire up a kerosene lamp.  By the flickering light, he continued down the hall and into the front parlor, pausing and shutting his eyes briefly in pain when he saw the piano at which his mother had spent so much time before she became ill.

 

       He set the lamp down and walked around the room, lighting a few others as he came to them.  He was pleased to see that all the lamps had oil and the wicks had been recently trimmed.  Turning to look at the Slayer, he saw that she was looking around with wide eyes.  She caught sight of the portrait over the fireplace and, picking up the lamp, she walked over closer to it to gaze up into a pair of blue eyes that mirrored those watching her so carefully.

 

       She turned and asked softly, “Is that your mother?”

 

       “Yes,” was the short reply.

 

       “She’s…she was…very pretty,” Buffy offered somewhat timidly.

 

       “Yes, she was,” he replied, doing nothing to encourage her line of questioning.

 

       “When did she…I mean was it before you were turned?  Or did you…?”

 

       “She had TB,” he said flatly.  “I don’t want to talk about it.”

 

       “I’m sorry,” she amazed him by saying softly.  “I didn’t mean to bring up—“

 

       “It’s fine. Just leave it, alright?”

 

       With a last look at the sweet-looking woman in the portrait, she nodded and sat down in a wing chair.

 

       “So, now what do we do?” she asked, casting another look around and noticing the lightening skies outside.

 

       “Don’t know what you’re going to do,” he said impatiently.  “I’m going to find a room with heavy drapes and catch some kip.  Got a feeling it’s going to be a long day…or night.”

 

       Buffy yawned in spite of herself.  “I guess I could use some sleep too,” she said hesitantly.  “Since you don’t think I can go out dressed like this.”

 

       “You can’t,” he said, running his eyes up her bare legs appreciatively. “Not unless you’re planning to earn us some dosh the hard way.”

 

       She blinked at him in confusion for a second; then flushed with anger and embarrassment.

 

       “You are such a pig, Spike!”

 

       “Oink, oink,” he agreed cheerfully, laughing as he caught the leather coat she’d shrugged off and thrown at him.

 

       He picked up the lamp and nodded toward the double doors leading to the front hall.

 

       “Come on, pet.  Let’s find a place to bed down for the day.”

 

       She followed him meekly, telling herself she was not noticing how the muscles in his butt flexed as he took the stairs two at a time.

 

       I am NOT watching Spike’s butt!  I’m just keeping my eye on him so he doesn’t leave me alone here in the dark.)

 

       He stopped at the top of the stairs and looked at her speculatively for a minute before pointing toward the first bedroom.

 

       “That was my mum’s room.  You can sleep there today.  And there should be some dresses in the wardrobe that might fit you.  Don’t go out until I’ve checked what you’re wearing – it’s important to have on the right kind of dress for the time of day.”

 

       “I’m NOT an idiot, you know!” she huffed.  “I’ve been dressing myself for years.”

 

       “ ’S why I mentioned it, luv,” he snickered, handing her the lamp and moving toward another door. “Been watchin’ you for years, haven’t I?  And I know Victorian England is not ready for Buffy Summers and her wardrobe.”

 

       “Hmph!” she snorted, tossing her head and walking toward the closed door.  She stopped when she had her hand on the doorknob and asked, without turning around, “You’ve been watching me?”

 

       “Well, yeah.  Had to know all about you if I was gonna kill you, didn’t I?”

 

       “Oh.”  She tried to keep the disappointment out of her voice as she concentrated on opening the heavy door.

 

       Spike’s deep rumble stopped her for a second.   “Wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, pet.  Watchin’ you.”  He waited to see if she was going to look at him, but she just nodded her head and kept walking.  “I think you’re very watchable.”

 

       She turned her head just enough that he could see the twitch of her lips as she tried not to smile.

 

       “Well, it’s not like I actually care if you like watching me.” She tried to sound uninterested, but her accelerated heartbeat told him different.

 

       “No, ‘course not,” he agreed.

 

       “Just so we’re clear on that.”

 

       “Got it, Slayer,” he said with a small smile as he opened the door to his bedroom.  “Sleep tight, pet”

 

       “You too, Spike,” she said, closing the door softly and turning to look at the room his mother had used.

 

       In addition to the beautiful four-poster bed and matching wardrobe and dresser, there was a small writing desk near the window and a comfortable looking chair and ottoman close to the fireplace.  The sheets on the bed had a musty odor from being unused and in a closed house for so long, but the mattress was comfortable and Buffy was soon asleep.

 

       While she slept, she dreamed that she was running along a dark street, wearing a long dress that hampered her movement and slowed her down in a frustrating manner.   She became aware that she was being chased by someone or something and that it was rapidly gaining on her.  Picking up the impeding skirts, she pushed herself to a faster pace, rounding a corner only to find herself facing two familiar looking people also wearing 19th century dress. 

 

       A closer look at the large man with the shoulder-length hair had her reeling back in surprise as he licked his lips and stared at her.

 

       “Well, seems like Will has done something right for a change,” Angelus said with a leer.  “Drove this little darlin’ right to us, he did.”

 

       The blonde woman at his side sneered and dismissed Buffy with a toss of her head.

 

       “She’s hardly big enough to be a snack,” she sniffed. “Just kill her and be done with it.”

 

       Buffy had just recognized Darla under the powder and hair when a slender brunette seemed to float out of the mist to join them.

 

       “Oh no, Grandmummy. Daddy.  That is my William’s sunshine.  You mustn’t try to take it.  He will be very cross with you.”

 

       “Shut up, Dru,” Angelus said absently.  “She’s mine if I want her.  Will has nothing to say about it.”

 

       “You willin’ to argue that point, Angelus?” came a growl from the shadows as a Spike Buffy had never seen before stepped up beside her.  He was dressed in the same old fashioned clothing as the other vampires and his much longer hair was threatening to block his vision as soft, brown curls hung over his forehead. The sharp cheekbones and startlingly blue eyes were the same ones she saw every day, though and she had no trouble recognizing him.

 

       Although she had been running from him at the beginning of the dream, Buffy realized that he was now the only thing standing between her and the rest of the Scourge of Europe.  Even as she chastised herself for behaving in such an un-slayerly fashion, she shrank into his side and allowed him to place a protective arm around her.

 

       Angelus shook his head in mock dismay.  “Ah, Will, Will, Will.  Poor boyo.  You still don’t get it, do you?  If I want her, I’ll have her.  She’s mine. Always was, always will be.  They’re all mine,” he gestured expansively to include Darla and Dru.  “I only let you borrow them sometimes.”

 

       “Not this one.  You don’t get to touch her.”  She could sense Spike shifting into game face as he pushed her behind him and challenged the much larger vampire.

 

       Moving faster than the eye, Angelus was in front of them, holding Spike/William up by the collar.  “I take what’s mine, boyo.  You’ll want to be pickin’ your battles a little more carefully.  She’s not worth losing your unlife over.”

 

       With a snarl, he tossed the smaller vampire into the street and turned to reach a hand toward a frozen Buffy.  Just as he was about to touch her breast, a growling blur flew into him and knocked him down.  Buffy watched in horror as the two vampires rolled around snarling and snapping, their claws rending and teeth tearing flesh.  The older, heavier vampire was soon on top and switching back to human guise, he began pounding William’s face with his fists, turning the beautiful human features into a mass of broken, bloody flesh.

 

       When there was no longer any movement from the younger vampire, he rose to his feet and spat contemptuously on the inert body.

 

       “I’ll be back for her, William.  And she WILL belong to me.”

 

       With that, he offered his arms to the two waiting female vampires and they walked off as though they were strolling through the park.

 

       Released from her immobility, Buffy fell to her knees beside the bloody, broken body of the only person she knew in this time and place.

 

       “Spike?” she whispered softly, “Spike? Can you hear me?”  Her voice rose as there was no sign of life or movement from the vampire.  “Spike!  Spike!” She could feel herself almost screaming as she tried to revive the very dead-looking man on the ground.

 

       Suddenly, she felt a gentle shaking on her shoulder and she woke up abruptly to find a concerned-looking Spike bending over her asking what was wrong.  Without thought, she threw herself at him, wrapped her arms around his neck, and sobbed into his chest.

 

       After a startled second, he tentatively put his arms around her and began rubbing soothing circles on her back as he murmured comforting words in her ear.  He tried to ignore the effect her warm, barely covered body was having on him as she clung to his neck and repeated, “You’re ok, you’re ok,” over and over.

 

       “It’s all right, pet.  It was just a nightmare.  I’m right here.  Spike’s got you, luv.  You’re all right.  Stop crying, Slayer.  It’s okay.”

 

       As Buffy woke up more completely, she realized that not only was she completely overreacting to the dream, but she was pressed up against Spike’s body wearing nothing but a tee shirt and her underwear.  The vampire, she noticed with a blush, was only wearing a pair of jeans and the hard object pressing against her stomach told her he wasn’t wearing anything else.

 

       The jeans were barely zipped, the top button undone, as though they’d been thrown on hastily.  As awareness came back to her, she realized that she must have been screaming in her sleep and awakened the vampire. Spike sleeps in the nude) irrelevantly crossed her mind as she somewhat reluctantly pushed herself back from his chest, and stopped crying.

      

       “I…I’m sorry,” she hiccupped.  “I didn’t mean to wake you.  I was dreaming.”

 

       “Yeah,” he said softly, letting his arms drop to his sides with a small sigh of regret. “I think I got that.  Must have been a really bad one to get you that upset that you’d be calling for me.”

 

       She blinked at him in shock; then remembered her reaction when she’d seen him standing over her, alive and uninjured.  She blushed and ducked her head as she mumbled.  “In my dream I was afraid you were dead.”

 

       “I am dead, luv,” he said gently.  “You already knew that.”

 

       She rolled her eyes at his deliberate refusal to get what she was saying. “You know what I mean,” she grumbled.

 

       He grinned at her and sat down cautiously on the side of the bed.  “So, then, pet.  Want to tell me about this dream of yours?  I mean, I’ve got to be curious when the Slayer has a dream and wakes up screaming my name…”

 

       At the sight of her glare, he lost his grin and hastily added, “Not that I think you were screaming my name in anything but sheer terror.  Was I trying to kill you?”

 

       “Yeah,” she growled, still glaring at him. “I was screaming in fear that you were killing me, that’s why the first thing I did when I woke up was give you my best octopus imitation.”

 

       “Jus’ teasing, pet,” he said mildly.  “So, if I wasn’t killing you, and you weren’t in the throes of passion… were you?” he gave her a hopeful leer, causing even more eye rolling.

 

       “You wish!” she huffed.

 

       Remembering how it had felt to hold her warm, trembling body against him a few minutes ago, he was tempted to nod his head in agreement, but the expression on her face told him she was still too traumatized by her dream for that kind of revelation.

      

       “So, what was it then, Buffy?” he asked seriously.  “What got you so upset about my possible demise?  ‘S not like you don’t threaten to dust me yourself every couple of days.”  He stared at her curiously, waiting for an explanation of her out-of-character behavior.

 

       The Slayer started at his use of her name, but began to recount her dream in a shaky voice.  When she got to the point where Angelus said she was his, Spike’s eyes flashed amber for just a second.  He nodded at her to continue and she described the fight, ending with his lifeless-seeming body on the ground.

 

       There was silence for a minute as he digested her story.  Skipping over, for the time being, the fact that she seemed so upset over his apparent death, he mulled over her words and tried to make some sense of it.  When Buffy shifted uncomfortably he looked over at her and asked, “Is there more?”

 

       She twisted her hands together in her lap, drawing his eyes to where her tanned thighs disappeared under the hem of her tee shirt, and said slowly, “I think it might have been a slayer dream.”

 

       “A what?”

 

       “A slayer dream.  I have dreams sometimes… about things that are going to happen…or that might happen.  Sometimes…they’re hard to understand.  Giles usually has to help me figure them out.”

 

       “Well, the watcher’s not here, is he?  So I guess we’ll have to suss this one out by ourselves.”  He looked at her worried face and before he could stop himself he ran a hand lightly up her cheek, pushing a stray strand of hair behind her ear.

 

       “What’s got you so worked up, pet? Know it can’t be seeing my old body being abused like that.  You’ve done worse to me yourself.” 

 

       She gave a ghost of a smile and looked up at him gratefully. 

 

       “In my dream, I couldn’t move.  I was all…girly.  I hid behind you and then when Angelus came toward me I froze. I couldn’t defend myself and I couldn’t help you.  It was…I hate that.  I don’t like feeling helpless,” she finished in a rush.

 

       He stood up, the filtered light from behind the curtains giving her a good look at his flat stomach and the line of soft brown curls that plunged into his precariously zipped pants.  She unconsciously licked her lips as her eyes traveled down his torso to the obvious bulge just behind his zipper. 

 

       “You’re not helpless, pet.  Know that first-hand, don’t I?  An’ I’m not all beat up.  I’m my usual handsome self…” He deliberately ran his hand down his body, smiling as her eyes followed it to where he hooked it into the waistband of his jeans, causing them to open even further.

 

       Terrified they were going to slide right off his narrow hips, Buffy squeaked out, “You need to zip your pants!”

 

       “Sorry, pet.  Just had an armful of warm Slayer.   They’re just a mite too tight to fasten right now.”  The leering smirk he gave her said he wasn’t sorry at all and she jumped to her feet to glare at him.

 

       “Have I mentioned lately what a pig you are?

 

       “Not in the last couple of hours, no.”  He paused for effect, then added, “Course we’ve been asleep most of that time, so…”

 

       “Well, you can go back to sleep now,” she said with asperity.  “Nightmare’s all gone.  No more screaming Buffy to keep you awake.”

 

       She deliberately turned her back on him and got back into the warm bed, sliding under the covers and shutting her eyes against the morning light.  She kept her eyes squeezed tightly shut until she heard him give an exasperated sigh and the sound of the door shutting behind him, then she sat up and put her head in her hands.

 

       “I’m in Victorian England, dreaming about Angelus trying to turn me and all I can think about is how sexy Spike looks without his shirt on.  This cannot be good.”

 

       Giving up the idea of getting any more sleep that morning, she got out of bed and wandered around the room looking for a bathroom.  Buffy’s grasp of history in general was pretty shaky, and she had no idea whatsoever when the indoor toilet had been invented but she sincerely hoped it was before whatever time they were in.  When she found nothing in the bedroom, she ventured down the hall quietly opening and shutting doors.

 

       She thought she was being very quiet about it, but an amused drawl behind her told her that she wasn’t.

 

       “It’s the last door on the hallway, pet.  And there may or may not be water in the cistern for flushing.  It’s not like anyone’s been living here for the last several years.”

 

       “Thank you,” she muttered, coloring with embarrassment at his having guessed what she was looking for.

      

       “You’re welcome, pet.  Make yourself at home – jus’ don’t go outside without asking me first.”

 

       Before she could expel the indignant response in her mouth, he shut the door to his room and went back to bed.  Buffy huffed silently and went into the surprisingly large bathroom at the end of the hall.  She looked longingly at the large, claw-footed bathtub, but remembering Spike’s warning about the water, she decided to skip the bath and just take care of her business.

 

       When she found that there was water in the tank to flush the toilet, she took a chance and turned the tap, allowing a small amount of cool, not overly clean water to fill the sink.  One look at the greenish water and she decided to skip the face washing for the time being and went back to her room to look for something to wear.

 

       She rummaged through the wardrobe and dresser, discarding undergarments that she had no idea how to wear, and examining the plain, but well-made dresses with a critical eye.  She pulled out a light green dress that looked like it would be appropriate for day time wear and shrugged out of her tee shirt.  She pulled the dress over her head, and buttoned the tiny pearls on the front as she walked toward the window.

 

       She pulled the curtain back and looked out onto what was obviously a well-planned, but neglected garden.  Tiptoeing back out of the room, she listened for a second at Spike’s door, but when she didn’t hear anything, she went silently back down the stairs to the kitchen.

 

       I don’t know what I thought I was going to hear. Vampires don’t breathe, so they obviously don’t snore.  And I doubt Spike ever wakes up screaming from nightmares.)

 

 

Chapter Three

 

       Contrary to what Buffy was thinking, Spike WAS dreaming, although he was still wide-awake.  Lying on his bed, the one he hadn’t slept in for well over a hundred years, he couldn’t get the sight of Buffy in her tee shirt out of his mind. He could smell her scent all over him and if he shut his eyes, he could still feel her warmth as she pressed her body against his.

 

       She was such an incredible combination of soft femininity and Slayer strength that his whole body ached to feel her against him again.  With his eyes shut, he could almost feel her as he inhaled her scent off his chest.  With a growl, he buried his head in his pillow, ordering his body to stop wanting what it couldn’t have.

 

       His body wasn’t listening, though, and his throbbing cock told him he wouldn’t be getting any more sleep this morning.  He groaned and gave in to the demands, wrapping one of his large hands around the turgid shaft and pulling up and down.  With Buffy’s scent so heavy in his nostrils, and her heartbeat still audible as she went down the stairs, it didn’t take long before he was arching off the bed and spurting into the sheet he was holding in his other hand.

 

       He gave a satisfied sigh, and turned over to try to catch some more sleep before tackling the problem of when they were and how they were going to get back.  Pulling the pillow into his chest, he dozed off with a small smile on his face and his arms wrapped around an imaginary Buffy.

 

       Blissfully unaware of the effect she’d had on him, Buffy prowled around the lower floor of the house, lightly touching things that caught her attention and absorbing the feeling of the house.  It was pretty obvious that Spike’s whole “I’ve always been bad” persona was a sham.  The house definitely had an air of genteel poverty about it.  She could see that some of the furniture was worn in places and the clothes in his mother’s room were of good quality, but well-worn.

 

       At the same time, the size of the house, the paintings and other art objects, and the tarnished silver tea set on the dining room buffet told her that they had obviously seen better times.  She wandered into the kitchen, her growling stomach reminding her that she hadn’t eaten since the previous night’s dinner. There was, of course, no refrigerator, although it took her a few minutes of searching to realize with an embarrassed flush that she was looking for an appliance that did not yet exist.

 

       She was just starting out the door to the garden, hoping that there might be some fruit or vegetables ready for picking, when she was startled by the appearance of a portly middle-aged woman and a younger, but strongly built man.  With a “whoops!” Buffy retreated to the kitchen, closing the door quickly on the advancing couple.  She backed up to the far wall, hoping against hope that they weren’t planning to come in the house.

 

       Damn Spike! I knew he was going to get us in trouble.  There are people living here and now we’re going to be arrested or thrown out, or something.)

 

       When the door opened to admit the frowning woman and her companion, Buffy offered a tentative smile and small wave as she said brightly, “Uh, hi, there!”

 

       The woman gave her a cold look, her frown deepening as her eyes ran over the dress Buffy was wearing and she recognized it as one she had seen before.

 

       “Who are you and what are you doing in Mr. Sinclair’s house – and wearing poor Mrs., God rest her soul, Sinclair’s gown?”

 

       The rather strong looking woman was advancing on her threateningly and Buffy was wondering if she should use her Slayer speed to escape or just wait and see if she would need it to keep from being thrown out the door bodily.

 

       “It is quite alright, Cook,” she heard a familiar voice behind her, “This is my wife, the new Mrs. Sinclair.  She is wearing Mother’s gown because our luggage was stolen and we have nothing with us but what we had on our backs last night.”

 

       Buffy turned around, knowing it was Spike speaking, but completely thrown by his accent and the explanation for her presence.  She gawked at the sight of him in tight fitting trousers and a loose shirt very similar to the clothing he’d been wearing in her dream.  Before she could respond, he took her arm in a very strong grip and turned her back toward the now smiling woman, putting his other arm around her shoulder as he introduced her.

 

       “Darling, this is Mrs. Barstow, better known in the Sinclair household as “Cook”.  She has been with us since I was a small child.”

 

       Inwardly seething at his easy familiarity, Buffy gritted her teeth and sputtered, “How nice to meet you.”

 

       She tried to pull away from Spike’s iron grip, but he held on and squeezed her in warning. 

 

       “Let me go, I’ll behave,” she hissed low enough for only his vampire hearing.  “You don’t have to hold on to me like I’m a possession.”

 

       Spike let go of her arm with a low warning growl and edged his way into the kitchen, carefully avoiding the patches of sunlight coming in the windows.  He was suddenly very grateful for Victorian stuffiness as he realized that in any other time the old family servant would have been hugging him, and, as shrewd as Cook was, no doubt picking up on his lack of body heat and heart beat.   He nodded briefly when she introduced her grandson, saying he had seen the lights the night before and offered to accompany her to the house to be sure everything was all right.

 

       “That was very thoughtful of you, George.  And we certainly do appreciate it.  I can see that you’ve taken your responsibilities quite seriously,” he added, turning to Cook with a smile.  “Everything looks just as I left it.”

 

       “I’ve done my best, sir,” she said with a worried air.  “But if I had known you were coming…”

 

       “It’s quite all right.  It was actually a rather spontaneous decision on my part.  I wanted Mrs. Sinclair to see my home country and the house in which I grew up.”

 

       She turned to Buffy and looked her up and down with interest.

 

       “You’re not from here, then?” she inquired politely.

 

       Answering for Buffy, who was still somewhat thunderstruck by the whole conversation, he said, “No.  Buffy is from America.  This is her first trip out of her own country, so we must make some allowances for her and help her become accustomed to our ways.”

 

       Mrs. Barstow nodded in understanding and immediately began thinking out loud.

 

       “Well, then, she’ll need a lady’s maid, and of course a dressmaker if you’ve lost your luggage.  And I’ll need to get some girls in here to dust and air the house out.  It’s very stuffy from being closed for so long.  And, you’ll be needing some food….Oh my!  It’s almost noon and you’ve had nothing to eat!”

 

       She bustled over to the table and began jotting down things she would need from the market, at the same time telling George to get some men to work out in the yard and garden.  Spike disappeared for a minute, coming back to hand George a couple of handwritten notes.

 

       “Before you worry about the yard,” he said smoothly, “I will need for you to take these notes to my solicitor and to the bank.  Your grandmother will need money for all this food she is intending to purchase.”

 

       “Yessir,” George replied, ducking his head in respect.  “I’ll take them right now.”

 

       After answering Buffy’s timid question about whether there was anything edible growing in the garden, Mrs. Barstow hustled off to order the supplies she was going to need to feed them and to get some servants in to clean the house.

 

       Once they were along again, Buffy whirled on the vampire to demand, “Wife?  You couldn’t come up with anything better than your WIFE?”

 

       “No,” he growled. “I couldn’t.  Go pick yourself something to eat so you aren’t so cranky, and I’ll explain it to you.”

 

       He turned and stomped back into the main part of the house, heading for the library, which he knew got no direct sun at any time of the day.  He slammed down into an overstuffed chair, wondering why he was so angry at Buffy’s reaction to having to pretend to be his wife.

 

       “It’s not like I’m asking you to sleep in my bed,” he was growling when the flushed Slayer entered the room with a handful of small fruits.

 

       “Really?” she asked in a chilly tone. “Exactly where will they be expecting your wife to sleep, then?”  The disbelief was clear in both her expression and her voice and only the knowledge that the chip would fry his brain kept him from smacking the look off her face.

 

       Instead, he took a deep breath and said as calmly as he could, “This is Victorian England, pet.  No one has sex – not that they allow anyone to know about, anyway.  Should any of the servants be upstairs, they won’t blink an eye at your sleeping in another room.  They will just assume I visit you when I get the urge to assert my marriage rights.”

 

       “Oh,” she said, somewhat deflated by his ready explanation.  “Well, I still don’t see why you had to call me your wife.  Couldn’t I be a distant cousin or something?”

 

       “Again, you’re not understanding the times.  There is no way a young, unmarried woman could live in my house without a full-time chaperone. Nor could she go out and about in the city, as you will undoubtedly have to do at some point if we are to find a way back from here.  As my wife, you will be free to go places and conduct business for me during daylight hours.”

 

       He glared at her challengingly and she finally shrugged and said more meekly than he’d expected, “Oh.  Well, okay, I guess that makes sense then.  But don’t expect to be exercising any rights around me!” she finished with what she hoped was a haughty glare.

 

       “Don’t flatter yourself, pet.  If I want to get my rocks off, I know where to go around here.  I prefer my women skilled and willing.  Not ice queens.”

 

       He stood up angrily and missed the startled, hurt look that crossed her face at his words.

 

       “Well, as long as you know where to find the ho’s, then I guess you’ll be happy,” she snapped back, smothering the urge to pout at his angry dismissal.

 

       “Know exactly where to find them,” he said, leaving the room and heading for his bedroom.  “I’m going back to sleep,” he threw down the stairs at her, as she followed him.  “Wake me up when George comes back with some money, or if the solicitor shows up.”

 

       “I’m not your servant!” she yelled up at him.  “Wake yourself up!”

 

       “You’re my wife, Slayer.  Same thing almost.”

 

       His laughter echoed down the stairs as he closed the door to his bedroom, leaving her fuming with nobody to take it out on.

 

       A long walk in the over grown garden, enjoying the warm sun, and she was much calmer about their situation.

 

       “It’s not like we haven’t been close before,” she muttered to herself, taking a vicious swipe at a weed.  “I mean we were engaged, for cripe’s sake.  I can stand pretending to be Mrs. William the Bloody for a few days.”

 

       She wandered back to the house to find that Cook had returned with several boys in tow, all laden with bags and boxes of food stuffs.  With nothing else to do, Buffy followed her around, watching as she put potatoes and onions in the cool root cellar, and flour and rice in the large canisters.  When she saw Buffy staring hungrily at the loaf of bread she’d brought in, she immediately insisted on cutting off several slices of both bread and cheese for her.

 

       “You need to put some meat on those bones,” she said cheerfully, adding a glass of cool, clear water from the pump to the food.  “The master won’t want me to let you get any thinner than you already are.”

 

       “The Master?” said Buffy with a squeak. Unpleasant memories of her first year in Sunnydale providing unbidden thoughts of master vampires and their minions.

 

       “Yes,” the older woman answered with a puzzled frown.  “Young Mr. Sinclair.  He’s been the master of the household since his father died.  Whether he lives here or not, he is the master of this house.”

 

       “Oh, yeah, I knew that,” Buffy agreed quickly, embarrassed at appearing so ignorant in front of the other woman.  Changing the subject, she asked quietly, “Tell me about Sp- er – William when he was a child.”

 

                “Oh, such a sweet boy, he was…” The cook immediately began to reminisce about the days when Spike’s father and sister were still alive and the house rang with laughter.  “He was so naughty sometimes, but then he would look at you with those beautiful blue eyes and you just hated to scold him.  Of course, I would never tell him that,” she added with a conspirator’s wink.  “He was already his mother’s pride and joy.  It wouldn’t have done to let him know we all loved him as much as she did.”

 

       Her face darkened and she frowned lightly as she continued, “Of course after the master died, things were harder.  William was too young to take his place in the business world and his mother so wanted him to complete his schooling.  If it weren’t for the scholarship, I’m afraid Oxford would have been out of the question.  As it was, things became more and more difficult for the Mrs. Then, when his sister died and his mother became ill, he had to give up his studies and come home to take care of her.  Quite a shame, it was. “

 

       She shook her head, tsking in sympathetic distress and completely missing Buffy’s opened mouthed shock.

 

       OXFORD? Spike? MY Spike went to Oxford? On a SCHOLARSHIP?)

 

       She was saved from having to make an intelligible reply by a knocking on the kitchen door.  Mrs. Barstow opened it to admit a plump young woman with rosy cheeks and dancing eyes.

 

       “Ah, there you are!” she exclaimed.  “It took you long enough.”

 

       “I’m sorry, Auntie,” she said breathlessly.  “I came as soon as I could.”

      

       “Mrs. Sinclair, this is my niece, Molly.  She has some limited experience as a lady’s maid and should be able to assist you until we can find someone more experienced.  At least you will have someone to help with your dress and your hair, as well as to accompany you shopping.”

 

       “Shopping?” asked Buffy, picking up on the only familiar thing in the conversation.  “There’s shopping?”

 

       “Well, yes, of course you’ll go shopping.  Mr. Sinclair indicating your luggage was lost, so you will have to replace everything.  Molly can show you to the better shops and help you find what you’ll like.”

 

       Shopping.  With Sp – William’s money.  This could be more fun than I thought.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Four

 

When Cook assured her that she would be able to charge to Mr. Sinclair’s account anything she needed to get that day, Buffy and Molly left the house and headed for the nearest shopping area.  In the daylight, the streets were much busier and more lively than they had been in the wee hours of the morning and Buffy gazed around with wonder and curiosity at the sight of late19th century London in full bustle.

 

She was enjoying all the attention she seemed to be drawing as people looked at her intently when she walked by with her free swinging stride and long, loose blond hair.  Just as she was basking in the frequent looks of male admiration she could feel, Molly stepped in front of her and placed her hands on her hips.  She had positioned herself between Buffy and a good-looking young man who was tipping his hat and clearly about to speak to her.

 

“Get away from my mistress,” she hissed.  “Master Sinclair would surely cane you if he saw your disrespectful behavior.”

 

The young man was somewhat taken back by her vehemence, and apologized immediately.

 

“I’m quite sorry,” he said hastily, eyeing Molly’s arms akimbo stance in front of Buffy with some trepidation.  “My mistake.  I assumed your mistress was…” Molly’s darkening face made it apparent that it would not be in his best interest to finish that statement, and with more mumbled apologies, he back away and went in another direction.

 

“What’s wrong, Molly?” Buffy asked in genuine confusion. “He was just going to talk to me.”

 

“He has no business talking to you on the street.  You are a respectable woman,” Molly huffed.

 

Buffy remembered how Spike had shielded her from the eyes of the cab driver the night before, and his comment about earning money with her short skirt. Flushing, she realized that her twenty-first century, southern California friendliness could be easily misunderstood in this extremely up-tight era and she looked at Molly gratefully.

 

“Thank you, Molly.  Things are very different here from the way they are in my…country.   I’m afraid you’re going to have to work very hard to keep me out of trouble.”

 

“That’s quite alright, Ma’am.  In spite of what my aunt said about my inexperience, I know what’s what, I do.”

 

“Ok then,” Buffy smiled at her.  “Let’s make a deal.  You keep me from embarrassing myself…and William…too badly, and I’ll tell your aunt you’re the best maid I ever had.”

 

Molly beamed with pride.  “It will be my pleasure, Ma’am.”

 

“All rightie, then.  Let’s go spend my husband’s money!”

 

Several hours and many pounds sterling later, the two laughing girls stumbled through the kitchen door, their arms laden with small packages.  They both sobered up when they caught Mrs. Barstow glaring at them, but collapsed in giggles again almost immediately.

 

Glaring at her niece, the cook shepherded Buffy out of the kitchen and toward the front of the house.

 

“I believe Mr. Sinclair would like to introduce you to his solicitor,” she said with a trace of disapproval in her tone.  “They have been waiting for you to get back.”

 

“Oh,” Buffy said meekly. “Where are they?”

 

Cook gestured toward the drawing room and then went back to scold her niece for keeping Buffy out so long.  Taking a deep breath, and practicing her newly learned Victorian expression of aloofness, Buffy swept into the room and went straight to Spike’s side.

 

‘Ah, there you are, darling,” he said, an angry glint in his eye that belied the light tone of voice.  “I was beginning to worry about you.”

 

“I’m so sorry, William, “ she shocked him by saying with a smile.  “I was having so much fun spending your money that I just lost track of the time.  Will you forgive me?” she asked with a wicked grin that only he could see, going up on her toes to kiss his cheek.

 

Buffy had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing in an unladylike fashion at the expression on Spike’s face, and she turned her own face into his shirt front until she had it under control.  While she was hiding her face in his chest, she couldn’t resist inhaling the unique scent that said “Spike” to her. Ever since the spell Willow had done the previous year, Buffy could not get the aroma of leather, tobacco, whiskey and an earthy scent all his own out of her mind.  She knew that she would know him anywhere, no matter how dark it might be, as long as she was close enough to smell him.

 

The curious expression on the solicitor’s face caught Spike’s eye and he forced himself to shake off the gobsmacked feeling Buffy’s kiss and closeness had caused.

 

“Darling, this is our solicitor, Mr. Saint-John.  He has been handling most of my personal affairs while I’ve been…away.  I was most negligent and had not told him about our marriage and he has been scolding me shamefully.”

 

It was Buffy’s turn to appear to have been smacked in the face with a cold fish as she gawked at the suddenly urbane, well-spoken man wearing Spike’s face.  If it weren’t for the tiny amount of platinum hair curling softly around the nape of his neck and the sardonically lifted eyebrow, she would have needed to be close enough to smell him to recognize him.

 

Recovering herself, she turned to greet the patiently waiting man in front of her.  Spike’s warning hand on her arm stopped her before she could extend her arm for the handshake she was expecting.  Pulling her arm back, she blushed and said softly, “How nice to meet you, Mr. Saint-John.  I hope my tardy return from shopping has not kept you here too long.”

 

.Ha! Put that in your stuffy pipe and smoke it, vampire!) she thought triumphantly as she felt Spike’s incredulous gaze on her.  The other man smiled warmly and insisted it had been no trouble at all, that he and her husband had caught up on many things while waiting.  He had risen to his feet as soon as Buffy entered the room, and continued standing, leaning down to pick up his briefcase and extending his hand to Spike.

 

“I will be getting to work on those things we discussed immediately, Mr. Sinclair.  I should be able to wrap it up and have the papers ready for you to sign by this time tomorrow.”

 

He turned to smile at Buffy again and said smoothly, “Let me be among the first to congratulate you on your happy union.  I would be very pleased if you and your husband would do me the favor of allowing me to host a small gathering to introduce his lovely bride to his…friends.”

 

A shadow crossed Spike’s face, but he said smoothly, “That would be extremely kind of you.  I’m sure Mrs. Sinclair would enjoy that thoroughly, wouldn’t you, Darling?”

 

“Huh? What?  Oh, a party?  Yes, that sounds like wonderful fun,” she stumbled back into her nineteenth century voice.  “We shall be looking forward to it.”

 

While Spike walked the man to the door, carefully avoiding the slanted rays of the waning sun, Buffy walked around the study.  She studied the well-worn books, noticed with curiosity the many pens, large supply of paper and bottles of ink spread around on the desk.  She was just picking up a sheet with what appeared to be lines of poetry on it when Spike came back in the room and snatched it out of her hand.

 

“What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” he demanded, looking more embarrassed than angry.

 

“I was just looking at it.  Sheesh! What’s wrong with you? You’d think it was something you’d written it or someth—“

 

She stared at the mortified vampire with her mouth open as he looked all around the room in an effort to avoid her eyes.  Buffy’s mouth gradually curved into a smile as Spike crumpled the paper and stuffed it in his pocket.

 

“Not a word, Slayer,” he snarled. “Not one bloody, fuckin’ word.”

 

In spite of the snarl, she could tell he was more embarrassed than angry and she moved closer to him and ran her hand playfully up his chest to play with the collar of his shirt.

 

“What’s the matter, Spikie? Don’t you want me to see your poem?  Are you afraid it isn’t good enough? Huh? Come on, Spikie, show your wife what you wrote.”

 

Spike was torn between the pants-tightening effects of having the Slayer pretending to be coquettish with him and his absolute determination that she never, ever read the half-written sonnet he’d been working on before the solicitor arrived.  Biting his lip, he grabbed her hands in his just before she was about to plunge one of them into his pocket to retrieve the paper.

 

“Much fun as I think it might be to have you rootin’ around in my pocket, luv, that’s private property there and I’m gonna have to tell you to keep your hot little hands to yourself.”

 

Buffy pretended to pout, leaving her hands in his as she batted her eyelashes at him.

 

“But I want to see the poem, William.  Please, show it to me.  Come on, pleeeeese.”

 

Spike blinked at her switch to his human name, frowning slightly at the uncharacteristic flirting behavior.  The Slayer he knew would have just twisted his arm until she wrenched it away from him.  When she moved even closer, her hands slowly pulling out of his to rest on his wrists, he was sure they had fallen into another alternate dimension.

 

“This is not negotiable, pet,” he groaned.  “Now stop that.  It’s cheating!”

 

As he spoke, he stood helplessly while she ran her hands up his arms to wrap around his neck, standing on tip toes to whisper in his ear.

 

“Mrs. Barstow is watching us, and I think she heard me call you Spike.”

 

“Bollocks!” he whispered back, putting his arms around her waist and pulling her closer.  “Do you think she heard me call you Slayer?”

 

Even as his mind raced frantically trying to recall if they’d said or done anything so out of character that the long-time family servant might suspect something awry, he couldn’t stop himself from taking advantage of the situation by inhaling the scent of warm blood, lavender soap, and Buffy’s own unique scent that he would recognize anywhere.

 

“I…I don’t know,” Buffy stammered, shocked at how overwhelmingly good it felt to be wrapped in Spike’s arms, his mouth ghosting over her ear as they kept on with their whispered conversation.  “May…maybe she’ll just think they’re pet names we have for each other when we…”

 

“Better make it look good then, luv,” he crooned in her ear just before he slid his lips over to capture hers in a chaste, but warm kiss.  When his cool, soft lips touched hers, Buffy couldn’t contain the small sigh that escaped her parted lips and he shuddered at the sensation caused by her warm breath in his mouth.

 

The presence of the older woman was forgotten as they used the excuse of her watchful eyes to prolong the tentative exploration going on between them. They’d kissed before, of course, during the previous year’s magical “engagement”, but those had been loud, ostentatious lip smackings – meant more to publicly demonstrate their feelings to others than to please each other.  Now, what had begun as another demonstration of a pretend relationship quickly deepened into something neither one wanted to examine too closely.

 

When Mrs. Barstow’s embarrassed throat clearing caused them to break apart, they could do nothing but stare at each other in shock and horror.  Tearing his eyes away from Buffy’s wide, green pools of confusion, Spike turned to the cook and said politely, “I’m sorry, Cook.  That was most unseemly of us.  Please forgive us and remember that we are newlyweds.”

 

“Yes sir, Master William.  I’m quite sure I didn’t see anything untoward.  I just wanted to know if you and Mrs. Sinclair would be having supper here tonight.”

 

“Yes, Cook.” Buffy spoke up briskly.  “I believe I’ve spent enough time out and about today and I would enjoy a quiet dinner at home with my husband.”

 

“Very good, Ma’am.  I will send someone to tell you when it’s ready.”

 

“Thank you, Cook,” Spike said quickly, “That will be most appreciated.”

 

When the older woman had turned and left the room and Spike’s enhanced senses told him she was safely away at the other end of the house, he moved even further away from Buffy, going behind the desk and studying the loose papers on it with great interest.

 

The Slayer stood where he’d left her, mentally trying to reconcile the tenderness of the kiss they’d just shared with the snarky vampire who annoyed her so often.  Ignoring her own, more than willing, participation in the kiss, she snapped at him, “What was that all about?”

 

Equally eager to forget the way she’d made him feel, and unaccountably angered by her question, Spike snapped back, “Jus’ got caught up in the moment.  Don’t be getting your knickers in a twist about it. Won’t be happening again, pet.  You can count on that!” 

 

“Oh, I know it won’t!   You just keep your lips to yourself there, William,” she emphasized his name with a sneer.

 

“Not a problem, pet.”  With a nonchalant shrug that belied the empty feeling causing his belly to clench up, he sat down at his desk and pulled a ledger out of drawer.  When she hadn’t moved to leave the room, he glanced up with a raised eyebrow, holding his place with his finger.

 

“Something else, Slayer?”

 

Buffy was at a loss for something to say.  She’d been gearing up for a good fight and instead, Spike was ignoring her and acting like he didn’t care what she did.  Her lower lip came out in an unintended pout as she tried to come up with a reason for still being where she clearly wasn’t wanted anymore.  She ran her eyes around the room, looking for an excuse to be there, thereby missing the look that flashed across Spike’s face when he saw that plump lip poking out.

 

“I just thought…maybe we need to start calling each other Buffy and William all the time.  Just in case…I mean, we don’t want this to happen again, do we?”  His eyes flew to hers as her voice faded from a firm suggestion to a hesitant question.

 

        “I…I meant…almost getting caught fighting and saying things that…”

 

  “I know what you meant, pet,” he said gruffly.  He leaned back in his chair and rubbed his eyes, sighing loudly.  “And you’re right.”  He ignored Buffy’s start of surprise.   “We’re going to have to be careful all the time, even if we’re alone. That way we won’t be as likely to slip up when someone’s watching.”

 

            “That…that sounds like a good idea.” 

 

            This time it was Spike’s turn to twitch in reaction to words he never expected to hear from the Slayer.  Putting on his unnecessary spectacles and looking back down at the ledger in front of him, he asked carefully,  “Is that all, luv?  Because I need to go over these books before I meet with the banker tomorrow.”

 

              Leaving the questions raised by Spike’s having a solicitor AND a banker at his beck and call, Buffy nodded silently and turned to leave the room.  His soft voice stopped her just outside the door and she couldn’t be sure if he was actually talking to her or just thinking out loud.

 

              “I’ll explain about the solicitor an’ all at supper, Buffy.”

 

              “ ‘K,” she replied so softly even his vampire hearing strained to hear her.

 

           She went back to the kitchen, only to find that Molly had already carried her purchases up to her room and was supervising the unpacking of the larger items that had been sent directly from the shops.  When the young maid insisted Buffy take a nap before dinner while she put things away, Buffy found herself thinking, I could get used to living like this. just before she closed her eyes and drifted off to the sound of rustling tissue paper.

 

 

 

           Chapter Five

 

             When she joined Spike in the dining room for a light supper, served by a silent, but attentive, young girl who had been brought in to help Molly around the house, Buffy was feeling quite rested and energetic.  As soon as the serving girl was out of earshot, she said quietly, “I’m getting antsy.  Do you think I should patrol tonight?  There must be vampires in a city this big.”

 

                “I don’t doubt there are, pet.  But I’m not sure you want to be drawing that kind of attention to yourself just now.  Not till we know what that dream was all about, anyway.”

 

            “You think Angelus is here?”  Buffy couldn’t control the way her voice rose anxiously at the thought.  “I never thought about that.  Angel doesn’t have his soul in this time, does he?”

 

             “Nope, the bloody great poof is his original sick, mind-fucking self right now.  And I don’t know exactly where he is.  Should be somewhere in mainland Europe, or even Asia, but I can’t be sure.”

 

            “Would—where do you think you are?  The other you, I mean.”

 

            He frowned and said honestly, “I don’t have any idea.  I feel like I’m me; but I know there’s got to be another me running around somewhere out there just beginning to scratch the surface of what it means to be a vampire.  And he’s not chipped.”

 

              He looked up at her abruptly and said, “You need to remember that, pet. Make sure I’m me before you let your guard down.  He’s not the fighter I am now, but if he catches you by surprise…”

 

             Buffy blinked at him, not sure how to react to his obvious concern for her well-being.

 

             “The Spike in my dream…he wasn’t you.  At least I don’t think he was. You would never have lost a fight to Angel that easily.  But he was still trying to protect me.”

 

            “He was trying to protect his PROPERTY, pet.  The demon was fighting Angelus for possession.  Doesn’t mean he didn’t intend to do you harm of some kind. Jus’ be careful, all right?”

 

           “All right,” she agreed softly, wondering at the sudden change from the cold shoulder he’d given her earlier.

 

              While they finished their meal, Spike filled Buffy in on how his solicitor - “that’s another word for lawyer, pet.  Means he handles my affairs for me when I’m not around or can’t go out because of the sun.”-  supervised the running of Spike’s various business interests and maintained his bank accounts for him.

 

              “So, you’re rich?  You have money in this time?”

 

            He grinned ruefully, “Yes, my poor father wanted so much for me to forget about my poe--other interests and go into business with him, but I wanted no part of it.  We used to fight about it all the time.  After he died and I had to make sure my mum was taken care of, I had to get involved.  It took awhile, but it turns out I’m pretty good at managing money – even if it did take me until I was a vampire to really make it work for me.”

 

           “What happened to it?”

 

            “What happened to what, pet?” he asked absently, toying with the very rare meat on his plate.  He realized he was going to have to find a way to get fresh blood delivered to the house without Mrs. Barstow finding out about it and was pondering that and not really paying attention to Buffy’s question.

 

            “Your money, this house,” she waved her hand around the room. “All this stuff.  Where did it go?”

 

           “Didn’t go anywhere – I still have it.  House is rented out in our time, but if I wanted to come back and live here, I could.”

 

           He still wasn’t paying attention to her and missed the looks of amazement, disbelief and anger that flew across her face.

 

            “You have MONEY?  In our time, you have money?  And you steal your cigarettes from the 7/11?  You charge us money for information?”  Her voice was rising and he gestured for her to keep it down.

 

             “Shhh, Buffy.  What happened to staying in character?”  He looked at her, completely puzzled by her surprise and anger.   “I haven’t asked any of you for money for a long time, pet,” he said mildly.  “You know that.”

 

              “Well…well, you steal!  And you…you live in a crypt.  With dead people.”

 

              “Now, darling, that’s not a very nice way to talk about our neighbors.  I know they aren’t very lively, but comparing them to corpses is just not sporting. And I do not steal.  I am merely a very good businessman.”

 

             Buffy didn’t need the warning jerk of his head to realize he had heard someone coming back toward the dining room, and she subsided immediately, only mumbling, “Well, I didn’t know you were rich.”

 

             “And that’s how I know you married me for my good looks and charm,” he said with a smile.  “None of this is anything you need to worry your pretty little head about, my love.  I just wanted you to know where to go for help if anything happened to me, and to have some idea to what you are entitled.  It was very difficult for my mother to deal with things after my father’s death because he had never told her anything about the family assets.  I do not want that to happen to you.”

 

            Buffy gawked at him momentarily, wondering briefly if this was how Spike would be treating a real wife if he had one.

 

            “Oh,” was the best response she could come up with immediately and she waited impatiently until the serving girl had returned to the kitchen to get their dessert before following up her original question.

 

            “So, if you still have all this stuff – why do you—“

 

           “Vampire.”

 

           “Where?”  She leaped to her feet, cursing the lack of a handy stake.

 

            Spike rolled his eyes at her.  “Here, you silly bint.  I’m a vampire. If we want things, we take them.  We’re evil, you know, or did the Council of Wankers forget to include that in your Slayer handbook?”

 

            Buffy glared at him, then, to his amazement, relaxed and laughed.

 

           “No, it was included.  I just forget sometimes that you’re still evil.”

 

           “Well, I am,” he huffed. “And don’t you forget it.

 

             She rolled her eyes, still laughing and snickered, “Ok, Big Bad.  I’ll remember.”

 

              “See that you do,” he growled, still feeling offended but happy to see her laughing and enjoying herself.

 

               When they had finished their meal and gone into the living room where Spike had an after-dinner brandy, Buffy repeated her remark from earlier in the day.  She settled back on the sofa and said with sincere appreciation, “I could sooo get used to this.”

 

             He cocked his head curiously and she elaborated, “No dishes to do, no cooking, no homework, somebody to pick my clothes up off the floor, somebody else’s money to spend…”

 

            “Speaking of that, pet, do you have any idea what you did spend today?”

 

            “Nope!” she replied cheerfully.  “Not a clue.  But I don’t think you’re as rich as you used to be.  Is that okay?” she added, less cheerfully as he growled and came over to sit at the other end of the sofa.

 

            “Guess it’ll have to be, won’t it?  What kind of husband would I be if I couldn’t keep my wife in frillies and baubles?”  He smiled over at her and toasted her silently with his brandy. 

 

             Buffy smiled back and leaned forward to delicately sniff the dark liquid in the glass.  She wrinkled her nose, inspiring a full belly laugh from the vampire when she said, “Ewww! It smells like cough syrup!”

 

             “It IS an acquired taste, I suppose,” he laughed. “But I like it. And it helps me relax so I’ll sleep tonight.  This being on the same schedule as you humans is going to kill me if I don’t start sleeping at night when you do.”

 

            His reminder of the differences between himself and humans reminded her abruptly of his eating habits and she gave a guilty start as she asked, “Where are you going to get blood?  I didn’t even think about it today, or I would have got you some when I was out.  I’m sorry, Spike,” she said, surprising him with her genuine sympathy,   “You must be really hungry by now.”

 

              Warmed by her apology and concern, he just shrugged and said, “I’ll be all right.  Mr. Saint-John is going to arrange for a regular delivery.  I just have figure out how to get it past Cook’s eagle eyes.”

 

              “Mr. Saint-John?  Your lawyer knows what you are?”

 

             “Well, yeah, pet. Wouldn’t be much use to me if I had to come up with reasons why I couldn’t be about in the daytime now, would he?”

 

             “But, but, his company…the people he works for…don’t they…how can…”

 

              “He works for a very unusual law firm, Buffy.  They’ve been handling my affairs for over a hundred years.”

 

              Their conversation was interrupted by a soft, “Excuse me,” from the doorway.  Mrs. Barstow stood there waiting patiently until they noticed her.

 

            “If it’s all right with you, sir, I’ll just be on my way home now.  Molly will stay here tonight to help Mrs. Sinclair and to get the fire going in the morning.”

 

            “Yes, thank you, Cook.  That’s quite all right.  Please do go home and get some rest.  You’ve done wonders today and you must accept my apology for not warning you about our arrival.”

 

            “That’s quite all right, sir.  I’ll just be off, then.  Goodnight, Master William, Mrs. Sinclair.”

 

             “Good night, Mrs. Barstow,” Buffy said politely. “Thank you for everything and please be careful going home.”

 

                With a nod, she left the room and they could hear the kitchen door shutting behind her.

 

              “Should we have gone with her?” Buffy worried.  “It’s dark out.”

 

               “This isn’t Sunnydale, pet.  She’ll be fine. I think the sight of either one of us skulking along in the shadows would bother her more than the walk by herself.”

 

               “I suppose you’re right,” she sighed doubtfully.  “I guess we – I’d better get to bed. I don’t think either one of us got much sleep today.”

 

             He rose easily to his feet and offered her his hand as he said, “Right you are, pet.  Between your nightmare and Cook’s arrival, I don’t think we got more than a couple of hours of kip.”

 

               Flushing, Buffy took the proffered hand and allowed him to pull her to her feet.  They stood, facing each other, her hand still in his, each of them remembering the kiss they’d shared earlier in the day.

 

               Simultaneously, they let go and turned away, neither one willing to revisit the afternoon’s events. Each equally sure the other was disgusted with their behavior.

 

             I’m sure he doesn’t want any reminders of what happened this afternoon.  It was just like that stupid spell of Willow’s.  For a minute it was so easy to believe we were…gah! What is wrong with me?)

 

            I’m sure she didn’t mean for that little performance to go as far as it did this afternoon.  It was almost like Red’s spell there for a minute.  Could almost believe we really…bloody hell! This is the Slayer, you stupid git. Get over it!)

 

          When Buffy reached the top of the stairs, Molly was waiting for her and she gave Spike a quick peck good-night before turning to go into her own room.  She saw that Molly had laid out a soft, embroidered nightgown on the bed and had a basin and ewer of water on the dresser waiting for Buffy to wash her face and hands.

 

               She smiled her gratitude and turned so that Molly could undo the buttons on the back of the new dress she’d chosen to wear to dinner. She asked about bathing arrangements and when Molly assured her she could take a bath anytime she wanted to, as long as she let her know in time to heat the water, she breathed a sigh of relief. 

 

            “How about tomorrow morning?” she said with an apologetic smile.  “I feel so grubby from the trip.”

 

             Molly assured her that tomorrow would be fine, that she would have the bath ready by the time Buffy awoke.  With a sly smile, she told Buffy that she would be sleeping downstairs in a small room off the kitchen where she probably wouldn’t be able to hear Buffy if she called her. She showed her the bell rope that she could pull if she needed to wake Molly up for something.

 

            Blushing just like the new bride she was pretending to be, Buffy nodded vigorously, forcing herself to sound unembarrassed as she assured the girl that she would be fine and that if she needed anything, William would be close by and could undoubtedly take care of her.

 

            She then blushed even more as Molly couldn’t smother a giggle and an eye roll.  When the girl stopped giggling long enough to agree that “Master William” should be able to take care of anything she needed, they both collapsed onto the bed giggling like schoolgirls.

 

          ‘I’m sorry, Ma’am,” Molly gasped.  “Please don’t tell my aunt. She’d let me go for sure if she knew I was behaving like this.  I’m just so pleased that Master William has come home and that he has you.  He was so lonely before, and those other girls were so mean to him.  I was only small when he left, but I can remember how unhappy he was that he didn’t have anyone and I could never understand why someone so handsome and nice couldn’t fall in love with someone who would love him back.”

 

           Buffy smothered a twinge of guilt at deceiving this friendly and caring girl, but played her role as best she could and sent Molly off to bed convinced that her “Master William” had made a love match.

 

 

 

Chapter Six

 

            She slipped into the freshly made bed, enjoying the fresh sunshine smell of the new sheets and vowing to get up early and get to work on figuring out how to get home before she became completely spoiled.

 

            A few hours later, she was tossing and moaning as she was immersed in another Slayer dream.  This time, she and Spike were walking through a park in the moonlight when suddenly Angelus, Darla and Dru appeared in front of them.  Once again, Angelus threw Spike away from her, and once again she could do nothing but shrink away in fear as he ran his hands over her body and licked his lips.

 

           While Drusilla and Darla kept a raging Spike from reaching them, she cowered and cried while Angelus touched her all over and whispered in her ear all the things he was going to do to her.  When he lifted the hem of her long gown and slid a hand up her leg, she screamed for Spike, squirming to get away while the vampire struggled with his sire and great grandsire.

 

          She was still screaming, “No, no, Spike, help me!” when she realized that she was still in her bed and the vampire in question was holding her tightly and trying to wake her up.

 

          When she relaxed and slumped into his arms, he loosened his hold and began rubbing small, soothing circles on her back.  As soon as he was sure she was awake and under control, he reluctantly let his arms slide down and off, moving off the bed to give her some space.

 

          “You alright, pet?” he asked softly.

 

          Buffy nodded tiredly.  “Yes, I’m fine now.  Thank you,” she added softly, looking up at his concerned face gratefully.  “I don’t know what’s going on.”

 

            “Was it the same dream?’

 

            “Not exactly, but it was the same situation – I couldn’t do anything to defend myself, you were trying to help me but you couldn’t get to me…” She stopped and looked up at him.   “Spike, I need to go kill something.  I need to know I’m still the Slayer, not some fragile little girl that...”

 

            He stroked her hair tenderly, confusing them both, then said, “You’re still the Slayer, pet. I’d bet on it.  Here, why don’t you hit me?” he asked, only half joking.  “I’ll tell you if it feels like a Slayer’s punch or like a little girl’s.”

 

          “I don’t want to hit you,” she said wearily, causing him to put his hand on her forehead in a mock attempt to take her temperature.  “Very funny,” she growled, shoving him away hard enough to put him on the floor.

 

           “Oops?” she said meekly as he glared up at her from several feet away.

 

            He stood up and shook himself, growling softly, “I guess we can agree you’re still the Slayer, strength an’ all.”

 

            Buffy looked up at him apologetically.  “I’m sorry, Spike. Really I am.  And I’m sorry I woke you up again.  I’ll be fine now.  You can go back to sleep.”

 

             She slid back into the bed and pulled the covers up to her chin.

 

           “See? All tucked in and ready for non-dreamy sleep.”

 

          He shook his head with a soft laugh and said, “Ok, luv, but if Angelus comes around this time, how about if you put a stake through his miserable heart, yeah?”

 

          “K,” she said with a smile.  “One dusty Angelus coming up.”

 

           In spite of her brave words to Spike, she didn’t close her eyes for a long time, only shutting them when exhaustion forced her into another troubled sleep.  Before long she was moaning and crying again as she found herself held immobile by some force that left her unable to move but wide awake.  When she realized she was naked, her heartbeat went up as fear seized her body.  There was no surprise this time when Angelus stepped out of the shadows and leered at her frozen face and the panicked eyes looking back at him.

 

          “What do you think, Will?” he threw over his shoulder.  “Looks right tasty all spread out like that doesn’t she?”

 

            Buffy’s eyes followed his voice to the other side of the room where a battered and bleeding Spike was chained to the wall, his demon snarling in impotent rage.  Angelus laughed at his grandchilde, then moved toward the bed, beckoning Darla and Drusilla forward as he did so.

 

            “I guess Will doesn’t want to play,” he said, laughing cruelly.  “But he can watch us.”

 

            Dru moved closer to Buffy, meeting the Slayer’s frightened eyes with an almost lucid gaze.  She leaned in and whispered in Buffy’s ear, “Don’t worry, Sunshine.  William takes good care of his things.  He won’t let Daddy have you.  You just have to tell him—“ She stopped abruptly as Angelus yanked her away.

 

          “Quit babbling nonsense, Dru,” he growled, backhanding her across the room to crumple beside Spike’s struggling body.  “The chit is mine and after I get tired of fucking her unconscious, I’m going to turn her and add her to our little family.  William will just have to get used to it.”

 

            Darla had been running her sharp claws down Buffy’s body while Angelus was disciplining Dru. Buffy hissed at the pain as the vampire left bloody trails from Buffy’s nipples to her knees.  She leaned over and ran her tongue up from Buffy’s knee to her breast, licking the blood as she went.  Angelus moved to the other side, applying his own tongue to the bloody line on that side and moving up to her bleeding breast.  He ran his tongue around her nipple, then suddenly sank his fangs into it causing Buffy to scream in fear and pain.

 

              She could hear Spike raging against the chains holding him while Dru rocked herself and sang about Sunshine and Slayers.  It briefly crossed Buffy’s mind that if Dru actually wanted to be helpful, she could let Spike loose, but she knew the dark-haired vampire would never disobey her “daddy” no matter how insane she might be.

 

             When Angelus stood up and undid his pants, allowing Buffy a glimpse of his rather modestly-sized cock, she began to scream in earnest, tears of fear and frustration pouring down her face as she fought whatever drug or magic was keeping her from moving.  The big vampire leered at her and knelt between her knees, forcing her to look at him as he stroked himself and stared at her exposed sex.

 

             Spike burst into the room just as Buffy’s screams were reaching a crescendo, picking her immobile body up and speaking into her ear, “Slayer!  Buffy!  Come on, luv.  Come back to me.  Wake up, Buffy.  Wake up.  I’m here. I’ve got you, luv.  Spike’s got you, pet.  Come on,” he pleaded as she continued to cry and moan.  “Wake up, luv, Please.  Wake up for me.”

 

            Buffy’s heart was beating so fast he was afraid it was going to break out of her chest and he tried frantically to bring her back from whatever was frightening her so badly.  Where once, the smell of fear on this slayer would have made his mouth water, now he just wanted to make it go away.

 

            Afraid that her screams would awaken Molly, Spike sought for a way to smother her cries before he had to deal with more explanations than he cared to.  Finally, frustration took over and he fastened his mouth on hers, swallowing the sounds she was making and willing her to calm down.  To his surprise, her lips began to respond to the cool pressure he was exerting and the terrible sounds tapered off to soft moans.

 

             He felt her body shudder and then go limp in his arms as her lips continued to press back against his.  He softened his mouth, no longer feeling the need to swallow her cries, and began kissing her gently, murmuring soothing things to her in between light kisses.  When she began to stir and he felt the light flutter of her eyelids, he pulled his mouth away and looked down at her carefully.

 

             “Slayer?  Buffy?  Are you back with me, luv?  Gave me quite a scare there, you did.”

 

              “Spike?” Buffy’s voice was raw and scratchy, her expression disoriented. “Are you really here?”

 

              “Course I’m here, pet.  Where else would I be?  Wouldn’t leave you there, luv.”

 

              Buffy slumped against him, not caring that she was wearing nothing but a light muslin nightgown that was twisted around her hips.  She briefly noted that he was not wearing his jeans, but seemed to be wearing a large shirt made out of the same fabric as her gown.  She spent several minutes just basking in the safe feeling she got with his strong arms around her and letting her heart rate go back to normal.  When she felt more like herself, she took note of the fact that he was rubbing her back soothingly with one hand, while he cradled her in his other arm and dusted light kisses all over her closed eyelids, nose and cheeks.  All the while, murmuring reassurances to her that he was there and nothing was going to hurt her.

 

             As wonderful and safe as it felt, now that the dream was fading she was ashamed of her reaction and she struggled to sit up straight and look in control of things.  Which did her no good at all, as the vampire took her by the shoulders and forced her to look at him.  In the dim light all she could see was the amber glow of his eyes as he used his vampire senses to check her over.

 

           “Now, Slayer,” he growled, giving her a little shake, “You’re going to tell me everything about these soddin’ dreams you’re having.  I want to know what can turn the strongest, bravest Slayer I’ve ever met into a…a…”

 

           “Crybaby?” Buffy suggested wearily.

 

           “Wasn’t going to say that, pet,” he said gruffly, “but, yeah, what’s with all the waterworks and screaming?  Was it Angelus again?”

 

            She nodded dumbly, unwilling to even say the name.  “And Dru and Darla.”

 

           “What was he doing to you?  Was the bastard torturing you? Did he kill you? Turn you?”

 

            “He hadn’t quite got to that part of his plan yet,” she answered dully, looking away from his probing stare.  She really didn’t want to tell Spike what Angel had been doing to her, but he wasn’t giving up.

 

            “Tell me,” he said grimly, his voice suddenly hard and cold. He had a pretty good idea what he was going to hear, but he wanted to hear it just the same.

 

           “It didn’t happen.  It was just a dream.  Let’s just drop it.”

 

          “Let’s not and say we did,” he said firmly.  “I want you to tell me what was going on – in both dreams.”  He titled her chin up to look into her eyes. “And I want to know everything, every bloody detail.  If these dreams are prophetic, we need to suss out what they’re trying to tell you.”

 

           “I really don’t want to talk about this,” she said, trying to move away from him.

 

           “Don’t care,” he said stubbornly.

 

            Buffy took a deep breath and in a flat, uninflected voice she recited the two dreams, even including Dru’s cryptic whisper in her ear before Darla and Angelus went at her.  When she got to Angelus opening his pants a guttural snarl was ripped from Spike’s throat and she almost flinched away from him in fear before she realized it wasn’t her he was snarling at.

 

            “Where the bleedin’ hell was I?” he demanded, his voice almost shaking with emotion.

 

           “You were chained to the wall.  You couldn’t get loose and I couldn’t move anything except my face.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so helpless – and then he…and I screamed and then you were here and I was awake and….oh, Spike, he was going to…going to rape me and then turn me. And I couldn’t do anything about it.”

 

           As she finished speaking, she began trembling and he immediately pulled her back into his lap, doing his best to soothe her while his demon was screaming to be let out to kill something. Flashbacks to tales of how Angelus had tortured Drusilla for months before finally turning her, made him tremble in fear for the slight figure in his arms. 

 

           The feel of Spike’s arms and the surprisingly reassuring rumble of the low growls coming from his chest soon calmed Buffy down and she pushed herself away again.

 

            “What the hell is wrong with me?  I’m the Slayer.  I’ve been stabbed, bitten, tortured… hell, I’ve even been dead for a few minutes.  Why is this dream scaring me so badly?”

 

            “Because it’s the poof?” Spike ventured.  “And because you think it might be a warning.”

 

              “I guess,” she sighed.  “I wish Giles was here to help me figure out what the dream is trying to tell me,” she grumbled.  “I’m all action girl; he’s all researchy guy.”

 

              She peered up at Spike from under the curtain of hair hanging in her face.  “What do you think they mean?”

 

              “That you have bleedin’ awful taste in boyfriends?” he teased, pleased to see the tiny smile she couldn’t hide.

 

              “Well, then, what does that say about you, husband?” she teased back, beginning to feel more like herself with every second.

 

              “Clearly, it says that your taste has improved tremendously in the past few days.”

 

              They smiled at each other for a few seconds; then Spike pushed her gently back down on the bed.  When he covered her up, then laid himself down beside her she frowned and, in a much squeakier voice than she intended, asked, “What are you doing?”

 

              “Saving m’self another sprint from my room to yours, is what, pet.  Now close your eyes and let’s try to salvage something from what’s left of this night.”

 

              He extended his left arm and pulled her against chest ignoring the stiffening of her body.  When she realized he was only trying to provide a sense of security for her while she slept, Buffy relaxed against him.  She was quickly lulled to sleep by the soft purring sounds coming from the vampire’s chest and spent the rest of the night in a restful and dreamless sleep.

 

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

When Buffy awoke much later in the morning, her bed was empty and she had to smother a small pang of regret when she realized Spike had gone back to his own room.  She stretched, knowing from the way the sun was coming in that she had slept quite late.  A soft knock on the door and Molly stuck her head in to ask if Buffy was ready for her bath.  She gave an eager nod and jumped out of the bed to follow the cheerful servant girl down the hall to where the bathtub had been filled with clean, steaming water.

 

          After thanking Molly effusively, Buffy sank into the warm water, sighing in satisfaction.  She tilted her head back to wet her hair and began the process of cleaning off the grime of the past two days. 

 

          When she emerged from the bathroom sometime later, wrapped from head to toe in fluffy towels, she was startled to find Spike heading in her direction. His warning frown told her Molly was somewhere nearby and she bit back the question she was going to ask him as he headed into the bathroom.

 

         Molly was waiting in her room, holding up some complicated-looking undergarments and one of the floral gowns Buffy had purchased the day before.  In spite of Buffy’s insistence that in her “country” she didn’t have to wear such confining things under her dresses, Molly was quite firm that she had to have the proper underwear on in order not to embarrass her husband.  With much grumbling, Buffy allowed the giggling girl to dress her in a tight-fitting corset that pushed her breasts up into plump mounds and huge bloomers that covered her from waist to knees.

 

           Putting her foot down, Buffy refused to put on the stockings and garters until she was actually leaving the house, and Molly reluctantly gave in and allowed her to put on the dress and go downstairs barefoot.  As she enjoyed the delicious and filling breakfast Mrs. Barstow had made for them, Buffy remembered that Spike had not had any blood since they left Sunnydale and she worried about how she was going to get it for him.

 

           The problem was taken out of her hands when an errand boy showed up at the kitchen door saying he had a package for the Mr. Sinclair from the solicitor.  Mrs. Barstow tried to take it from him, but he stubbornly insisted that he was told to give it only to Mr. Sinclair’s hand.  Buffy heard Spike’s footsteps coming down the stairs and quickly intervened saying, “I’m Mrs. Sinclair. You can give the package to me and I will see that he gets it.  Tell Mr. Saint-John that we are most grateful.”

 

           She gave him her most dazzling smile and took the package out of his hand while he was busy staring in awe at the blonde goddess who was speaking to him.  She went into the hallway and intercepted Spike before he got to the kitchen, saying loudly enough for the other humans to hear, “William, Darling, here is the package you’ve been expecting from Mr. Saint-John.”

 

           Giving her a grateful smile, Spike took the package into his study and placed in a locking drawer of his desk.  Then he rejoined Buffy and they went back to the kitchen where he pretended to eat breakfast with her.

 

            When Mrs. Barstow and Molly had left to go to the market, after being assured that Spike and Buffy would be perfectly all right by themselves, he carried a large glass into his study and poured the newly arrived blood into it. Buffy watched curiously as he drained it quickly, an expression of pure delight on his face as the still-warm liquid slid over his tongue and down his throat. After watching him lean back and close his eyes, rubbing his newly filled stomach, Buffy suddenly realized why he looked so satiated.

 

              “Oh my God!  That was human blood, wasn’t it?  He sent you human blood!”

 

           The vampire opened one eye and looked at her happily.

 

           “Yes, it was human.  First I’ve had in a very long time, I might add. And it was wonderful.”

 

           “I’ll find a butcher shop tomorrow,” Buffy vowed, ignoring his pained expression.

 

           “Buffy-” he started.

 

             “Spike! You cannot drink human blood!  I can’t just sit here and let you—“

 

          “Bloody hell, Slayer!  It’s not like I went out and killed somebody for it!  And if I ask for pig’s blood, Saint-John is going to wonder what’s going on.  Don’t forget, in this time I’m part of the Scourge of Europe.  I don’t drink pigs’ blood.  I don’t even usually have to buy it.  He’s probably wondering why I don’t just go out and get my own every night.”

 

           Their eyes met and held as they silently battled to a standstill.  Buffy realized Spike was not going to yield on this issue and she surprised both herself and him by, after several minutes, nodding her head in agreement and saying, “I guess you’re right.  I’ll just have to hope the donors were willing.”

 

          He tilted his head and studied her for a few seconds, then said simply, “Thank you.”

 

          Buffy blushed slightly under his lengthy look and said sternly, “Well, don’t think I’m going to let you get away with that when we get home, though!”

          

           He laughed, causing her to stick her lip out in a pout.

 

           “I mean it!”

 

           “Know you do, pet.  I was just laughing because I’m not sure we SHOULD go back to Sunnyhell.”

 

            “What?”

 

           “Think about it, luv.  You like being rich and waited on, I like having human blood delivered to my door….”

 

            “You are SOOOO evil!” She couldn’t stop the grin that accompanied her words and he laughed again.

 

               “Does that mean you’re tempted?”

 

             Buffy sobered and said softly, “Not if it means I’ve got to have those dreams every night.”

 

             “You didn’t have another one after I went back to my room, did you?” he asked anxiously.  “I waited as long as I could, but the curtains aren’t heavy in that room and I didn’t think you’d feature waking up next to a pile of dust.”

 

            “No,” she blushed again, “I was fine even after you…left.  But I don’t know what will happen tonight…each one has been worse than the one before…”

 

           “Got to be a warning, pet.  We jus’ need to figure out what it’s warning you about.”

 

          “I guess so.  In the meantime, maybe we could sleep with the doors open…?” She looked away from Spike as she said it, so that she wouldn’t have to see if he hated the idea, but he just said calmly, “Sure, pet.  That sounds like a plan.”

 

            Her look of relief tugged at him briefly and he vowed to do what he could to prevent any more of the frightening dreams about his vampire family.

 

             Buffy spent the rest of the day wandering around the garden and trying to read, but she found the few Victorian novels William had in his library to be hard going and wordy.  By the time evening had come around and they had eaten another delicious meal, she was pacing from room to room with barely disguised impatience.

 

            In spite of the way he laughed at her attempts to hide her desire for physical activity under a veil of lady-like behavior, Spike was getting as restless as she was for some kind of release for his pent up energy.  When Molly had retreated to her bedroom and her rhythmic breathing told Spike she was asleep, he peered into Buffy’s room to find her staring out the window and bouncing on her toes.

 

           “Fancy a spot of violence tonight, luv?” he asked teasingly, knowing she was not used to the kind of inactivity that was the lot of well-to-do Victorian women.

 

           “Do you think we could find some?” she asked hopefully, turning around to face him.

 

             “I’m sure we can find something or someone to beat up on, Slayer.  Get out of that oversized nightie and let’s go find something to slay.”

 

             Grabbing her least restrictive dress and her own boots, Buffy ran behind the dressing screen and quickly got ready to go out.  Spike fought down the urge to peek behind the screen and waited patiently for her near the door.

 

           Buffy quickly came out from behind the screen, cursing the way the long dress wrapped around her legs when she tried to walk fast.

 

            “I have got to find a way to get some pants to wear slaying,” she grumbled, twitching the hem of the skirt to make it hang straight.

 

             “Leave it to me to marry a woman who wants to scandalize the entire population of London,” he laughed. 

 

            “I mean it, Spike!  Surely the current slayer doesn’t try to fight in an outfit like this?”

 

            “Don’t know pet, this was a little before my ‘slay the slayers’ phase.  The Chinese girl was wearing pants, but that’s what the women wear in that country. Kinda like pajamas, they were…” His reminiscing trailed off as he caught a look at Buffy’s face and realized he had just blown two nights of good will by reminding her of his past activities.

 

            “Bollocks,” he muttered as she stormed past him and down the stairs, her good mood completely forgotten.

 

           They went quietly out the front door of the house so as not to awaken Molly, walking in tense silence for several blocks before Spike touched her arm gently to stop her and said, “Buffy, I’m sor-“

 

           She shook her head, interrupting his attempt to apologize.  “No, Spike, I’m sorry.  I know what you are and what you’ve done.  It’s my fault for letting myself forget that sometimes. It’s me I’m mad at, not you.”

 

          She shrugged and continued walking, slower this time as she began to cast her senses around for any trace of demons or vampires. Spike stood staring after her for a few seconds; then hastened to catch up.

 

          “If that was supposed to make me feel better, luv, it didn’t quite get the job done,” he said quietly once he was even with her again.  “I’m not that same vampire, Buffy.  You know I’m not.  I’m changing – don’t know if it’s the chip or if it’s being around you so much, but whichever it is, I’ve got a different outlook about Slayers now.”

 

          “Which would be?” She stubbornly refused to look at him until he stepped in front of her, forcing her to halt or run into his chest.

 

           “Which would be that I could no more think about killing you than dusting myself.” 

 

            The complete seriousness of his expression and the words she knew in her heart were true, ratcheted the tension back up several notches.  Her heart rate accelerated and her breathing became faster as she tried to deny the bolt of happiness that had gone through her at his words.

 

           “Is that so?” she snarked in an effort to break the tension and put them back on a more normal footing.

 

           “Well,” he said, just as glad as she was to drop the subject, “it would be a lie to say I never THINK about killing you.  You are a really irritating bint sometimes.  But I wouldn’t do it.  Would make my life too boring.”

 

          “Right back at you, fangface,” she answered with a small smile.  “Now, can we go find something we DO want to kill?”

 

          “Think it might be on its way, Slayer,” his voice had changed tone and he was staring up the street to where several young men loitered under a gas lamp.

 

          Buffy looked at the small group and raised her eyebrows.  “Are they vampires?”

 

         “No, they’re human enough, but the excitement I sensed when they saw us coming tells me they see us as easy victims for them.  I won’t be able to do much, pet, so I guess you get to take out your extra energy all by yourself.”

 

              “Pooh!” Buffy pouted, “I really wanted to be able to slay something.”

 

 

Chapter Eight

 

               As the men approached and surrounded them, she shrugged and said, “I guess I’ll have to settle for beating something up.”

 

              Spike laughed as he ducked a blackjack that had been intended for his head.  “Guess so, pet. Have fun.”

 

              After the man had ducked and twisted away from them so many times that they had decided to forget about him, the gang of muggers focused on the small woman who was watching Spike’s dodging and weaving with admiring interest.  Since the man had made no attempt to hit anyone, and seemed unconcerned with the girl’s safety, they concluded he was a coward and would not interfere with their plans.

 

             The leader of the small group reached out a hand to tug on Buffy’s long hair, using it to pull her toward him.

 

             “Ow!” she complained loudly.  “Did anyone ever tell you, you fight like a girl?”

 

              Instead of pulling away as the man expected, she stepped in closer and grabbed his belt in one tiny hand, using it to lift him up in the air until his feet were off the ground.  She could hear Spikes snort of laughter behind her as the man’s eyes bugged out when he realized what was happening to him.  To his credit, he recovered quickly and threw a punch at Buffy’s face.

 

             Compared to being hit be a vampire or demon, the punch really didn’t amount to much, but it did split Buffy’s lip and she heard Spike growl behind her at the scent of her blood.

 

             “Ok, NOW, I’m mad,” she said angrily as she dropped the man to the ground.  “That was not very nice.”

 

            While his gang members looked back and forth in confusion between the tiny, angry blonde girl and the laughing man leaning against the lamp post, the leader threw another punch at Buffy only to find it blocked very effectively by the still annoyed looking girl.  He tried two more times, finding each one blocked with a speed he couldn’t even follow with his eyes. Then he found himself flying backwards to land in the street, his jaw aching and his arse in a fresh pile of manure.

 

            With a snarl, he leaped to his feet and charged the eager-looking girl, waving at his men to get behind her.  As he reached Buffy, intending to carry her to the ground with his greater weight, he was once again propelled through the air, this time over her shoulder and into two of his advancing cronies.  Buffy shifted her weight, intending to land a roundhouse kick on the other men quickly moving in to the fray, only to find her kick impeded by the voluminous skirt she was wearing.  Instead of knocking the remaining footpads out of the picture, she found herself off balance and unable to stop her momentum as she stumbled and tripped on the long dress. 

 

           With a triumphant shout, her intended victim brought his black jack down on her head.  If he was surprised that the blow that would have killed most people only stunned the surprisingly aggressive woman, he didn’t let it slow him down as he advanced for the killing blow.

 

            Suddenly he was being held up in the air by her previously forgotten escort who was snarling in his face, “You really didn’t want to do that, mate.”

 

            When Spike’s face shifted and the men got a look at the monster they’d discounted as a factor in the assault, anyone not currently suspended in midair with a master vampire’s hand around his throat took to his heels, leaving the hapless blackjack wielder behind.  Spike was squeezing the man’s neck, waiting for the chip to kick in and stop him, when he realized that the silent mugger was almost dead.

 

            He quickly dropped the unconscious man on the street and backed away. He was still waiting for the pain to hit him as he checked the man’s vital signs, breathing a sigh of relief when he found the heart beat to be fairly strong and heard the man gasping in much-needed gulps of air.

 

            Leaving the would-be murderer on the ground, he went over to where Buffy was sitting up and rubbing the back of her head.  She was swearing a blue streak and Spike had to grin at the look on the man’s face when he focused his bleary eyes on the sweet looking little girl that had almost single-handedly wiped out his whole gang and realized that the words were coming from her mouth. 

 

            Spike helped Buffy to her feet, ignoring the man trying to scuttle away without being noticed by the now human-looking monster.  The vampire leaned in without thinking and gingerly licked the blood off her rapidly-swelling lip.  Not having realized what he was about to do, Buffy’s own tongue was coming out to lick off her lip and she froze when she realized why there was no blood left to lick. The tip of her tongue just brushed Spike’s before he withdrew with a gasp and looked at her apologetically.

 

           “ ‘M sorry, pet,” he whispered, resisting the temptation to run his tongue lightly over her lip again.  “It’s the best way I know to stop the bleeding.  Should have warned you what I was gonna do, I guess.”

 

           “Ye-  yes, warning would have been good.  Then I wouldn’t have put my tongue out there and your tongue and my tongue…oh, God…”

 

            Before they could follow up on the way their bodies were leaning toward each other, the potential mugger/rapist/murderer made a noise as he got to his feet and tried to run away.  Spike was in front of him before he had gone three steps and he whimpered in fear, turning to go the other way, only to find himself facing the girl he’d tried to kill.

 

            Buffy hiked her skirt up around her waist, freeing up her lower legs, and swept her leg around toward his face in the kick she’d intended to take in the first place.  The man’s head snapped back and his eyes crossed as he flew backwards and landed in the gutter.  When it was clear that he was down for the count, Buffy released her breath in a relieved “whoosh.” 

 

              “I feel much better now,” she said brightly, dropping her skirts and shaking them out.  “Let’s go find something else to fight.”

 

               Spike was staring at her with glazed eyes and she walked up to him, waving her hand in front of his face.

 

              “Spike?  William? Are you in there?”

 

             He blinked a couple of times and then gave her a slow, lip-licking smile.

 

           “You do know you aren’t wearing any knickers under there, don’t you, Slayer?”

 

          “What?  That’s crazy!  Of course I’m wearing…knick- whatever.  I distinctly remember…remember…remember deciding I didn’t want to wear those ridiculous bloomers and getting my own…own…oh…my…god.  I forgot my underwear.  I’m naked under here!” 

 

           She clutched her skirts tightly around her and tried not to notice the way Spike’s eyes lasered in on her crotch as though he could see through the layers of fabric. One look at his face and she knew she’d said the wrong thing.

 

           “I…we…need to go home now,” she said in a small, squeaky voice.

 

           “Oh, I don’t think so,” he replied, licking his lips again and moving closer to her.  “I thought you wanted to slay something.”

 

            “If you don’t get that look off your face, it’s going to be you,” she said as firmly as she could while she backed away slowly.  Her heart was beating like a trip hammer and she could feel moisture seeping from her as the vampire continued to advance, still boring holes in her with his darkened eyes.  She suddenly felt more naked wearing the modest, ankle-length dress than she did in her smallest bikini.

 

             Who knew not wearing underwear could feel so…so…sexy. No! Not sexy.  So freeing.  That’s it.  It’s freeing.  I’m free to….to kick people and flash the sexy vampire.  No, no flashing the vampire. Bad Buffy!)

 

               “Oh, look!  I think I see a vampire!  I’ll beat you to him!”

 

               With a frightened squeal, Buffy took off running just before Spike’s reaching hands could touch her shoulders.  She threw a look over her shoulder to see him glaring after her with a frustrated look on his face.  Laughing, she shouted, “If you’re just going to stand there, you’ll miss the show when I kick this one.”

 

              She heard him growl and sped up, hiking up her skirt just enough to give her some freedom of movement.  She could hear his pounding feet behind her and knew she wasn’t going to be able to stay ahead of him dressed the way she was.  The vampire, though, had stopped growling and was laughing himself as he chased her, staying close enough to keep her running, but not so close as to end the chase.

 

             After a couple days spent in enforced lassitude, Buffy was reveling in the feeling of the wind in her face and the comfortable stretching and flexing of her muscles.  She had given up the pretense that she was chasing a vampire and was just enjoying the run through the velvety night when the nagging thought occurred to her that they were mimicking the scene in her first dream.

 

             No sooner had she had that thought and begun to slow down, then she felt the tingles that told her there was a vampire near-by.  She was so used to Spike’s signature, that she easily discounted it coming from behind her and focused on what was in front of her.  She slowed even more, waiting for Spike to catch up to her before going into a fighting stance. 

 

            She could sense that he was in game face, and knew he was feeling the same thing she was.  Just as she was pulling the stake from the deep pocket in her dress, he grabbed her arm and said, “No, Buffy. Not this time.”

 

           Frowning at him in confusion and anger, she asked, “What do you mean, not this time?  There are vampires ahead and I’m the Slayer.”

 

            “I can feel the vamplres, pet.  They’re family.  MY family. And you’re not dressed to take them on, even if you do have me to help you.”

 

              “Family?  You mean…” Her head spun back toward the shadows ahead of them, her eyes frantically searching for any sign of Angelus or the two female vampires she knew would be with him.  She was seized with a sudden fear that left her almost hyperventilating as she flashed back to her dream and her helplessness.

 

              “My dream,” she whispered, backing up behind Spike just as she had in the dream.

 

               “Hiding behind Will isn’t going to help you, little girl,” came an eerily familiar, yet cold and cruel voice from the shadows.

 

              “Wrong again, Peaches,” Spike snarled, placing himself between Buffy and the now visible vampires ahead of them.

 

             Angelus stopped in confusion, taken back both by the nickname and the completely defiant and unafraid stance of the vampire in front of him.  Drusilla drifted up beside him to coo, “Ooooh, it’s my darling William, all grown up.  How delicious he looks.”

 

           “Time to go, pet,” Spike whispered, taking her hand and backing away.

 

          Although Buffy was furious at herself, she knew that he was right. She was in no shape, mentally or physically to take on three fourths of the Scourge of Europe.  And she had no idea where the fourth member might be.

 

           She yanked her dress up again, not caring if she flashed all of London, and flew off behind Spike, sprinting until they were back in a busier part of the city and among crowds.  As soon as they could sense there was no pursuit, Buffy dropped her skirts and ran as best she could with the long dress flapping around her legs and tangling between her knees.

 

            When they had reached the relative safety of a populated area and mingled with the crowds leaving nearby theatres and bars, they slowed to a brisk walk.  Spike didn’t drop her hand and Buffy found herself grateful for the continued physical contact as she tried to deal with the terror she’d felt when pieces of her dream seemed to be happening in front of her.

 

           They walked slowly back toward the residential area, hands still linked. When passers-by gave shocked glances at the young couple strolling along hand in hand, one flash of Spike’s true face was enough to make them avert their eyes quickly and find something else to be shocked about.

 

            They reached the house and let themselves back in quietly. When Buffy went to speak, Spike squeezed her hand for silence while he listened carefully to be sure Molly was still asleep.  Nodding his head in satisfaction when he heard her rhythmic breathing and steady heartbeat, he reluctantly released Buffy’s hand and gestured toward the stairs.

 

           As soon as they were safely in her room, Buffy threw herself back on the bed, exclaiming, “Well, that wasn’t exactly how I hoped the night would go, but at least we’re safe from them now.”

 

           Spike looked at her, lying spread across the bed, her arms out in a gesture of relief and wondered when and how this slip of a woman became so important to him.

 

          “Wish you were right, pet,” he said slowly, taking a hard look around the room.

 

        She sat up abruptly, glaring at him.

 

        “What do you mean, you wish I was right?  We’re inside, they’re outside, they can’t get in without an invita-  oh, shit.” 

 

          She threw herself back on the bed in disgust.

 

          “The house’s owner is a dead man.  They don’t need an invitation, do they?”

 

          “Fraid not, luv. Not at the moment, anyway.  Gonna fix that tomorrow, but for now, want you to sleep downstairs so I can watch over both you and Molly for the rest of the night.”

 

           “How are you going to fix it?” she asked, picking up her nightgown and going behind the screen.

 

           “Don’t you worry about it; I’ve got it figured out.  Just can’t do anything about it until tomorrow.”

 

            She frowned at him curiously, but didn’t press the issue.  She changed quickly and, carrying her pillow and a blanket as well as a couple of stakes, she followed him downstairs to the study. 

 

            “This ought to do it,” he said, looking around at the leather couch by the window.  “Although I think I’d be more comfortable if that was over here.”  As he spoke, he was moving the couch effortlessly into the middle of the room in front of his desk.

 

             “What are you going to do while I’m sleeping?” Buffy inquired softly as she settled herself on the old, but comfortable couch.

 

              “I’ve got some paperwork to keep me busy.  You just get some kip.” He came over to the make-shift bed and knelt down beside her, stroking her hair softly.  “And how about no more dreams about the great Poof until we suss out what’s going on?”

 

          “You don’t think I LIKE being terrified every night, do you?” she demanded indignantly.  “Maybe I should just stay awake with you – no sleep means no more Slayer dreams and…oh god, it almost happened.  They ARE Slayer dreams.”

 

       With a groan, she dropped her head onto the cool hand still touching her hair.  After a second’s hesitation, Spike began to rub his thumb in gentle circles on her cheek as he tried to reassure her.

 

          “Seems like,” he agreed, “but it didn’t go like your dream, did it, pet?  You didn’t go all catatonic on me, and I’m not all beat up and what not.  We got away without any damage, so that’s all good, yeah?”

 

           “That’s the thing about Slayer dreams,” she grumbled, still leaning into his caressing hand.  “You never know what parts are real and what parts are just embellishment to confuse you!”

 

          He grinned at her pouting tone and stood up after giving her one last lingering caress.  In spite of the danger they were in, her nearness was having it’s usual effect on his libido and he needed to get behind his desk before he was tempted to follow up his reassuring touches with something less reassuring and more demanding.

 

Chapter Nine

 

            Buffy settled down on the sofa, giving Spike a grateful look when he dimmed the lamp for her.  In spite of her determination to stay awake, she fell into a restless, but dream-free sleep, while Spike pulled some papers from his desk and began writing out letters and instructions.

 

           Sometime before dawn, he realized that the tempo of Molly’s heartbeat had changed and he leaped to his feet, heading for the kitchen and the small servant’s room just off the hall.  In spite of his vampire stealth, his movement woke Buffy and she grabbed her stakes and slipped down the hall after him.

 

           When they saw the kitchen door swinging on it’s hinges, both leapt toward the door of Molly’s room, only to find it opening onto a frightening sight.

 

           Molly was standing in the center of the small room, staring mindlessly ahead, while Drusilla walked around her, lightly running her claws around the immobile girl’s throat, leaving thin trails of blood behind. 

 

             “Please tell me I’m having another dream,” Buffy said softly as she watched the insane vampire licking the blood off her fingers.

 

               “Sorry, Slayer,” Spike breathed softly, “Looks like we have the real thing here.  He held out his arm when Buffy went to rush past him, saying quietly, “She’ll be dead before you get there, pet.”

 

          Remembering Kendra’s slit throat caused by those same talons, Buffy stopped beside him, her body trembling with the need to destroy the vampire dancing around the servant girl she was coming to like so much.   Drusilla cocked her head at them, her claws never leaving their position over Molly’s jugular and said sadly, “It’s true, isn’t it, my grown-up William?  You don’t love your dark princess anymore.  You want to bask in the sunshine.  I should be very cross with you.”

 

           “No need to be cross with me, luv.  You know you’ll always be my ripe, wicked plum.  But we’ve moved on, we have.  You left me, Dru.  Left me for your ‘daddy’ and then for a chaos demon.  A vamp’s got his limits, pet.”

 

           Dru switched her gaze to Buffy’s cold, angry face and cocked her head in sudden understanding.  “Oooh, Daddy’s going to get a surprise from this one,” she said with delight.  “You must be careful, William.  He will not want you to have her.”

 

          “Not his choice,” he said flatly.  “You’ll be wanting to stay out of it, Dru.  Jus’ telling you that for old times’ sake.  Now why don’t you be a good girl and let the chit go?”

 

         The former seer cocked her head again and hummed to herself.  “If I kill the girl, your sunshine will stake me, won’t she?”

 

         “Most likely,” he agreed, still holding Buffy back.

 

         “All right, my love,” she said, stepping away from Molly’s swaying body.  “But Angelus is not going to be so kind.”

 

          “You let us worry about the big poof, Dru.  Just get yourself out of here.”

 

          Buffy glared at him in fury as he backed away to let the brunette vampire out of the room.  Her body thrummed with the need to plunge her stake into the other vampire’s heart and she couldn’t believe Spike was standing between them. 

 

           “What are you doing?” she hissed furiously, trying to get around him.  “I’m not letting her walk out of here!  Look what she did to Molly!”

 

           “Molly’s alive, Slayer,” he said in a flat, cold voice that she hadn’t heard from him in years.  “Let it go.”

 

           By the time Buffy had shoved him away, Drusilla was out of the room and out of the house.  Buffy whirled toward Spike, ready to beat him to a pulp for denying her the kill, when she saw him gently laying Molly down on her bed.  He bent over the girl and quickly ran his tongue around the bleeding marks on her neck.  Before Buffy could scream at him for taking advantage of the unconscious girl, she remembered how he’d stopped her lip from bleeding and saw that the very shallow cuts on Molly’s neck were no longer oozing blood. 

 

           She watched in barely restrained anger as he wrapped the girl in her blanket and carried her carefully into the study, laying her down at the opposite end of the couch from where Buffy had been sleeping.  He didn’t even acknowledge Buffy’s presence until Molly was sleeping peacefully on her side.  When he was sure she was as comfortable as he could make her, he stood up and took a deep, unnecessary breath before turning to face the still angry Slayer.

 

           “Do you want to hear my reasons before you start hitting me? Or shall we just go right to the beat-down and get it out of the way?”

 

           With a shaky sigh, Buffy relaxed and dropped the stake still clenched in her hand.  “I’ll listen,” she said tightly, “But they’d better be damn good ones.”

 

           Holding up a slender, yet powerful hand, he bent one finger down as he said with no inflection, “Number one - we don’t know whether we are back in time in our universe, or if we have been sent to another dimension.  So anything we do here can have permanent repercussions back in Sunnydale.  That includes killing Dru, or Angelus or anybody else whose absence might have an effect down the road.  Number two – if you remember your dreams, Dru never touched you; in fact she tried to warn you in some of them.  Seems to me, if those Slayer dreams are gonna start coming true, it might be useful to have somebody on our side.  Number three – if she’d wanted Molly dead, she could have done it long before we got here.  She had her in thrall, all she would have had to do is walk out the door with her.  I don’t think she was planning to kill her, I think she was trying to make a point.”

 

             “Which would be?”

 

             “That Angelus can get to us whenever he wants to.  That we’re not safe here.”

 

             “Anything else?” Buffy asked with the beginnings of a pout at being presented with such good reasons, none of which she’d thought of in her desire to dust the insane vampire.

 

             He tilted his head at her and said quietly, “And I could no more stand by and watch you dust Dru than I could let her kill you.   I’m sorry, luv, that’s just the way it is.”

 

               Choosing to ignore the second part of his remarks as not fitting her preferred world-view, Buffy said haughtily, “I guess that’s all I can expect of a vampire, chipped or not.”

 

              She saw the pain flash across Spike’s face, but before she could apologize he said coldly, “Right, Slayer. That’s all you can expect.”

 

               He turned his back on her and walked to his desk, sitting down heavily and slumping back against the chair.  He didn’t look up as he growled,  “So then, I suppose that means if you get a chance to stake the big poof, possibly preventing him from ever finding his way to Sunnyhell and into your virginal little knickers, you’ll do it.  Is that right?”

 

               Buffy stood still; scenes of long, yearning kisses in the graveyard, fighting side by side against the Mayor’s minions, Giles’ devastation after finding Jenny’s body, memories of her one night of passion with Angel that ended so badly all flowing through her head.  It occurred to her that not having Angel in Sunnydale or her life wouldn’t necessarily be such a bad thing.  Then she realized that no Angel probably meant no truce with Spike; perhaps no Spike at all, and she opened her mouth to say so, only to discover she was too late.

 

               His head was thrown back, his eyes squeezed shut as he gritted out between clenched teeth, “Yeah, that’s what I thought, Slayer.  Makes a difference if it’s somebody YOU love.”

 

              She wanted to blurt out that he was a soulless demon and couldn’t love, but she knew in her heart that was a lie.  He’d loved and cared for Drusilla for over a hundred years, and he obviously still loved his long-dead mother.  Then anger took over again as she realized he thought she wouldn’t stake Angel only because she loved him when she was sixteen.

 

             Stomping over to where he sat leaning back in his chair with his eyes still closed and a sad look on his face, she stood in front of him tapping her foot until he opened his eyes and glared at her.

 

          “What? You aren’t done yet?”

 

          “No, I’m not done yet.  I didn’t answer you right away because I was thinking about it.  About all the things that would and wouldn’t happen if there was no Angel.  And I decided that –“

 

            “And you decided that it was important to have the great brooding one in your life.  Yeah, I got the picture.”

 

             “No you didn’t, you moron.”   She was so angry her cheeks were bright red and her chest was heaving as she breathed in and out.  Spike was so distracted by the way she looked, he almost missed it when she said in a growl that would have done credit to a vampire, “I don’t want there to be no Angel, because then you would never have come to Sunnydale and made that truce with me, and you wouldn’t be here with me now, and I…”

 

            “And you what?” he asked carefully, sitting up straighter in his chair.

 

            “AndIwouldmissyou,” she muttered quickly, turning away with a flushed face.  She stamped back over to the couch and curled up at the end away from Molly, refusing to look at him anymore.

 

             The vampire stared at her flaming face in astonishment for several minutes, then gradually relaxed back into his chair, a slow smile spreading across his face. “All right, then,” he said softly.

 

               With the coming of dawn, Spike knew they were safe for the day and he allowed himself to drift off to sleep as well as he could in his less than comfortable chair.  When he woke up, it was to see Buffy shepherding a puzzled Molly back to her room with an explanation of how some animal got in her room last night and they couldn’t wake her up so they put her with them to keep her safe.   

 

             The confused girl nodded her head as though she knew what Buffy was talking about, and went in to her room to dress.  She gave a little shriek when she saw the blood stains on her night gown and Buffy hastened in to show her how the scratches were already healing and that the blood made it look worse than it was.  She could see from the girl’s worried frown that bits and pieces of the past night were flitting through her head and she hoped they could convince her she’d had a bad dream brought on by the “animal attack”.

 

             Buffy said “good morning” to Mrs. Barstow as she bustled in the door preparing to start breakfast and then went back to the study to check on Spike.  She could feel the older woman’s eyes on her back as she walked away, her nightgown swirling about her ankles.  She giggled to herself at the idea of the woman spotting Spike sitting at his desk with nothing on but his own nightshirt, and determined to send him upstairs to sleep before he shocked his old family cook.

 

               To her surprise, he was awake and yawning when she entered the study and they both looked away uncomfortably, neither one sure what to say about the night’s events.  Finally, Spike picked up some notes he’d been working on and gave them to Buffy saying, “Give these to the boy who brings my blood and tell him to take them to Mr. Saint-John immediately.  We need to get this situation fixed before sunset.”

 

               Buffy wasn’t sure what Mr. Saint-John was going to be able to do to remedy their problem, but she nodded and took the notes back into the kitchen, repeating the message to Molly and Mrs. Barstow in case she wasn’t back down from getting dressed before the boy arrived.

 

                 When she was ready to go back downstairs, having managed to dress herself except for buttoning up the back of her dress, she ran into Spike as he came out of his room tucking a shirt into his unfastened pants.  She resolutely turned her eyes away from the bulge in the front of his pants, thereby allowing him to see that her dress was not buttoned.

 

             “Come here, pet,” he said with a sigh.  “You can’t go downstairs like that.”

 

            When she walked over to him obediently, he turned her around and began the tedious process of buttoning all the tiny pearls running up the back of her gown.

 

            “Bloody brilliant, he was,” he growled, trying to fit his large fingers around the small buttons.

 

            “Who was?”

 

            “The bloke who invented zippers, that’s who.”

 

             Buffy giggled and tipped her head back to look at him over her shoulder.  “You don’t have to do this, you know.  Molly’s right downstairs.  She can do it for me.”

 

             “I don’t mind,” he mumbled.  “I kinda like it.”  He brushed a chaste kiss across her lips, startling them both with its tenderness.  To save face, he immediately leered at her and said boldly, “Course, I’d rather be undoing them…”

 

              “You are such a pig,” she breathed in a voice that made it sound more like she’d just told him he was a hero.

 

               “That I am, luv,” he answered, equally softly.  “I truly am.”

 

                “Okay then.  Just so you know.” She blushed and moved away from the cool hands that had remained resting lightly on her shoulders.  He shook himself and went back to fastening his pants.

 

                  “I’ll be down in a few minutes, pet.”

 

                “Why don’t you stay up here and sleep?” she asked with uncharacteristic concern.  “You were up all night.”

 

                 “’S’allright, luv.  Got a lot to do this morning.  I’ll catch a nap this afternoon if we’re done with everything.”

 

                  By the time Buffy got downstairs, the delivery boy had been and gone with the messages and Spike’s package containing his blood was sitting on the hall table.  Buffy picked it up quickly and carried it into his study, putting it away in the drawer he’d used the day before.

 

                 While Molly and her aunt worked on preparing the evening meal, and the other girl went around dusting and polishing the pieces of furniture that hadn’t been cleaned yet, Buffy walked out into the garden.  She sat on a bench for a while, almost falling asleep in the warm sunshine as she basked in the warm day that Spike assured her was not typical of London’s weather. 

 

                She didn’t see the shadow staring out at her from the upstairs window; the shadow that watched her hair glowing in the sunlight and remembered Dru’s “your sunshine”.   He watched her basking in the light, head back and eyes shut as she absorbed the warmth and wondered what he was thinking, hoping she would want to spend time in the dark with him.

 

 

Chapter Ten

 

              When Buffy came back into the house carrying an armful of freshly cut flowers, she found that Mr. Saint-John had arrived and she was needed in the study.  She gave the flowers to Molly to arrange, taking just one long stemmed aster with her into the study.  She smiled politely at the solicitor, not too sure how a slayer should feel about meeting someone whose law firm apparently did business with vampires and demons.  He smiled tightly back at her and she got the impression that he and Spike had been arguing before she came in.  She walked over to Spike, tickling his ear with the flower in her hand and greeting him softly.

 

               “Look what I found in the garden, William.  Just like we have at home.”

 

             “Very pretty, pet,” he said, sliding an arm around her waist.  “Mr. Saint-John has some papers for you to sign.  They are quite important,” he said, emphasizing the “quite important” so she wouldn’t argue.  Buffy frowned at him for a second, but was unable to think of any way her signing anything in an alternate dimension London or generations in her past could impact her life in twenty-first century Sunnydale.  She leaned over the desk and took the pen Spike handed her, glancing over the papers in front of her.  She could see where William James Sinclair had already affixed his signature and the date – 1898 – she noticed. 

 

             The attorney pointed to the places she needed to sign and offered to read the document for her.  She gave him a glare and said, “I can read just fine, thank you.”  However, after spending long minutes trying to decipher the archaic legal terms, she gave up and looked at Spike helplessly.

 

             “It just says, darling, that I am making you the owner of the house.  All you have to do is sign where you’re shown and it will be all yours.  Just put your full signature, Buffy Anne Summers Sinclair,” he emphasized in case she should forget that they were supposed to be married.

 

              Buffy’s mouth fell open and she looked at the vampire in shock.  “Wha-? William, I can’t do this.  It’s your home…” 

 

               He interrupted her and said to the attorney, “Would you be so kind as to let me have a moment alone with my wife?”

 

                As soon as the man left the room, he turned to a still-protesting Buffy and grabbed her shoulders.  “You have to do this, pet.  If it’s your house, no vampires can get in.  As long as it’s mine, there’s nothing to stop them.  I’m quite fond of Mrs. Barstow and Molly and I have no desire to leave them at the mercy of Angelus.  Not to mention, I don’t fancy having to play guard dog all night every night to keep you safe.”

 

                ‘But, but…it’s your HOME,” she almost wailed.  “You shouldn’t have to give it away.”

 

                “I shouldn’t have to be talking you into taking possession of a very nice house in a good area of modern London, either, but here I am.  Now when you get called on the carpet by the Council of Wankers you can have your own place to stay.”

 

               “I’ll sign it,” she said seriously,  “But it will always be your house, Spike. I wouldn’t take it from you.”

 

             “No, luv, it’s yours.  There can’t be any caveats or half-measures.  Anything less and it won’t serve its purpose.”

 

            “Well, go me. I’m a homeowner!” she said in a somewhat subdued voice.

          

             “Will be as soon as you put your dainty little autograph there,” he agreed, going to the door and inviting the lawyer back into the room.

 

               Once Buffy had signed her name, Spike and Mr. Saint-John concluded their business and the man left for his office, the transfer papers tucked in his briefcase.

 

               “Oh, by the way, Slayer,” he said offhandedly tossing her a package. “He brought something else for you.”

 

                 Buffy turned the soft parcel over in her hands, finally ripping off the paper to find a pair of boy’s trousers.  She held them up to her waist, saw that they were just the right length and ran over to Spike to hug him and kiss his cheek.  “You have no idea how glad I am to have these!” she said, kissing him again for emphasis.

 

               “Daft bint,” he chuckled. “I give you a house and you want to argue. Buy you a pair of cheap pants and you get all girly on me.”

 

                “I’m sorry,” she said, blushing for her enthusiasm.  “I just hated not being able to fight well last night.  I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

 

                “Didn’t say I didn’t like it, luv,” he rumbled, pulling her into another hug.  ”Jus’ caught me by surprise is all.”  When she didn’t pull away, he nuzzled her ear, inhaling the scent of sun-warmed skin still coming off her body.  They remained like that – neither one willing to admit they wanted more and neither one wanting it to end – until Molly came in to announce luncheon in the dining room.

 

               After Buffy had eaten a light lunch, and Spike had gulped down his blood in the privacy of his study, the night’s activities began to catch up with them and Buffy couldn’t stop yawning while Spike appeared to be falling asleep at his desk again.  If the servants wondered why he spent so much time in the darkened study, they didn’t say and Buffy concluded that their ability to ignore what they didn’t want to know would have made them excellent denizens of Sunnydale.

 

              Finally they gave up pretending they were anything but exhausted and Buffy went to the kitchen to tell Molly that she and William were going to take naps for a couple of hours and would be back down in time for supper.

 

             Molly gave her a surreptitious wink when her aunt wasn’t looking and Buffy blushed as though caught out.  As she followed Spike upstairs, her heart rate went up as she wondered where he was planning to sleep.  She knew her room was too bright for the vampire to come into safely in the daytime, but she didn’t want to alarm the rest of the household if she had one of her dreams of Angelus during her nap.

 

             As though he’d read her mind, Spike said softly, “Put something more comfortable on, pet and come in my room to sleep.  I don’t fancy going up in flames if you start screaming again.”

 

            She nodded her head silently and turned to go into her room, stopping with a gasp as she felt a cool hand on her neck.

 

           “Let me get those for you, first,” he said in a low rumble as he began to unbutton the dress he’d buttoned for her earlier in the day.  By the time his fingers had undone the first four buttons, Buffy was sure that she was going to melt into a puddle before he was finished.  She thought the slow process of unbuttoning her dress was the most erotic thing she’d ever been part of; and yet, Spike had done nothing overtly sexual.  All he did was undo each button one at a time, very slowly.  Each undone button exposed a little more of the skin on her back to his cool breath and she shivered in response to that and to his touch barely skimming her exposed skin.

 

             Spike found himself mesmerized by the tan skin being bared in front of him.  He was taking deep, unneeded breaths that were matching the Slayer’s heavier inhalations breath for breath. When he felt her shiver as his hand grazed her back, he bit back a groan, his engorged cock throbbing from the close proximity.  When he smelled the arousal she couldn’t hide, he gave in to his body’s demands and leaned down to run his lips along her exposed shoulders.

 

            Buffy’s whimper at the touch of his mouth emboldened him and he slid his hands into the partially unfastened dress, running his cool fingers around her ribs to just below her breasts. 

 

            “St…stop,” she whispered, as she leaned back against him.  “We have to stop…”

 

           “Can’t,” he said shortly, stroking the bottom of her breasts with his thumbs.  “You’ll have to stop me, Slayer.”

 

            “I…I don’t want to…ah!” Buffy arched into his hands as he finally cupped her breasts and began rolling her nipples between his fingers until they were hard little knots aching for more.

 

            Spike’s mouth was running freely from one ear lobe down the column of her neck to where her dress was just barely clinging to her shoulder, then across her upper back to the other shoulder and back up to the other ear.  As he left wet, open mouthed kisses over her heated skin, he was murmuring about what the feel and scent of her skin was doing to him and Buffy lost herself in the sensual pleasure of letting his voice wash over her while his lips coaxed goosebumps from her flesh and moisture from her throbbing center.

 

          She was almost swooning from the need to feel more of the vampire than the parts currently pressing against her back and she let her knees buckle, somehow knowing that he would catch her.  When his strong arms picked her up and carried her into his room she gave up any pretense that she didn’t want him as much as he wanted her.  She squirmed around until she could reach his mouth with hers, fastening her lips on the soft coolness that had been teasing her neck and back.

 

                When Spike’s tongue came out to lick her lower lip, she met it eagerly, swirling her own tongue around it and pulling it into her mouth to suck on it.  Without breaking the kiss that was fueling the heat they were both feeling, he carried her to the bed and set her on her feet beside it just long enough to push the dress off her shoulders to pool at her feet on the floor.  Which left Buffy standing there clad in nothing but the voluminous bloomers that passed for underwear in that era.  She was covered from waist to knees in baggy underwear and he couldn’t control the snort of laughter that escaped his lips.

 

               Buffy put her hands on her hips indignantly, then looked down at herself and smiled ruefully.  “A real mood-killer, huh?”

 

              He shook his head, the heat from his eyes making her skin burn everywhere they landed.  “Not possible, luv.  Not bloody possible,” he growled as he ripped off his shirt and pulled her against his bare chest.  With her overheated skin pressing against his cool body she was surprised not to see steam pouring out between them.  She melted into him as he captured her mouth in another searing kiss, his cool temperature the perfect compliment for the heat coming off her body.  Her hands were running over the muscles in his back, enjoying the way they rippled under her hands as he moved his own arms around her body.

 

             With a guttural growl, he twisted, falling back on the bed with the Slayer on top of him, their mouths devouring each other and her soaked sex pressing against the bulge trying to burst from his pants.  He groaned aloud at the heat he could feel through the layers of cloth.  He wanted to feel that heat all around him and pushed his hips up against hers with a whimpering growl.  Without removing his mouth, he shoved the unflattering underwear down her hips and groaned again when she shimmied it down her legs to where she could push it off with her toes.

 

            Buffy’s whimpers as she ground her pelvis against his were making him babble incoherently as he reveled in the scents and sounds coming from her.  When he could feel her building toward a release that was going to leave him still pressed against her through a layer of cloth, he summoned up the will power to push her away with one hand while the other frantically ripped open his pants and shoved them down his hips.

 

            Buffy’s whimpers turned to angry moans as she was denied the release she had been seeking and she clawed at him, trying to reestablish the contact she needed.

 

            “Easy, pet, easy, know you think I quit on you, but I didn’t.  Just want to feel you around me the first time you come for me.  Want to make it good for you, luv, want you to feel me inside you…”

 

            Flipping them over, he poised himself over her still moving hips, marveling at the way she looked with her head thrashing from side to side, mouth twisted in determination as she tried to pull him down.  Giving in to her demands, he slid inside her, shuddering all over as her heat enveloped him.  He tried to hold still for a minute, wanting to make it last, but Buffy was so intent on continuing the build up they’d begun while they were still half dressed that she began moving immediately, wrapping her legs around his waist to pull him in tighter.

 

            Even as she tried to pull him in deeper, Buffy was gasping at the way he filled her up, touching places she hadn’t even known wanted touching until his cool cock reached her innermost parts.  Slowing down her frantic pursuit of the orgasm she’d thought he was trying to cheat her out of, she relaxed and allowed him to establish a rhythm for them that soon had her climbing back up to the peak she was seeking.

 

           Spike could feel her walls beginning to clench around him and knew he wouldn’t last.  “That’s it, luv.  Squeeze me, make me come with you, let me fill you up. Want to make you scream, baby.  Scream for me, Buffy.”  He pistoned his hips harder, making sure he was hitting the little internal bundle of nerves he was seeking with every thrust.  He could feel the tension building in the strong, supple body beneath him and he was ready when she began to shudder around him, capturing her mouth and swallowing the scream of release just as he’d swallowed her screams when she’d been dreaming.

 

           As her body arched up into his, shaking with the force of her orgasm, her vaginal muscles tightening down until the point of pain, he found his own release.  His hips continued to jerk in reflexive motion long after he was spent, responding to her continued trembling.  Gradually, they stilled, both gasping for air and shaken to their cores by the power of their combined release.

 

           “That was….I never…nobody else…never…” Buffy gasped out unfinished phrases, trying to express her reaction to the experience.

 

            “Me too, luv.  Never.  Only you, Buffy, only you.”  Although the vampire was more coherent, the basic awe-struck tone in his voice was the same as hers. 

 

               Spike pushed his pants the rest of the way off and sprawled on his back next to the equally spent Slayer.  Although they were lying spread-eagled side-by-side, they weren’t touching anywhere but their two hands lying on the bed between them.  He linked his fingers with hers, bringing them to his lips to kiss her hand reverently before dropping it back down between them.

 

               As exhaustion took over, they both drifted off to sleep, lying naked on the top of the bed covers, hands firmly clasped together.

 

 

 

Chapter Eleven

 

             Sometime during the course of their rather lengthy nap, the two had curled up together, the Slayer tucked inside the embrace of the vampire who had killed two of her sisters.  When Spike awoke enough to feel Buffy shivering, he pulled the bedspread over them and pulled her closer, regretting for the first time in over a hundred years his lack of body heat.

 

              A timid knock on the door, followed by a slightly louder knock when there was no response, finally penetrated Buffy’s restful sleep and she murmured without thinking, “Yes?”

 

              Molly’s bright red face appeared briefly in the doorway as she hastily mumbled that supper would be ready soon.  She looked everywhere but toward the bed, trying not to see her obviously naked mistress peering over the body of the man she’d known since she was a little girl.  Spike couldn’t resist a smirk when Buffy’s face colored to match Molly’s as she woke up enough to realize what sort of picture they made.

 

               With Molly’s quick departure, Buffy dropped back down onto her back, groaning with embarrassment.  She could feel Spike’s body shaking with laughter and she leaned up on her elbow to glare at him.

 

              “What are you laughing at?  We’ve probably traumatized her for life!”

 

             “She’ll be all right, love.  I don’t think the serving classes are as uptight as my tight-assed social circle.  She’s probably downstairs wishing she had a boyfriend to go home to right about now.”

 

              “You’re not a boyfriend,” Buffy said with the beginnings of a pout.  “You’re my husband.  That’s different.  I don’t have a boyfriend. I—oh my god!” her eyes flew open wide as realization set in.    “I DO have a boyfriend.  Riley!  I forgot about Riley.  I just cheated on my boyfriend – with a vampire. With the vampire he thinks I-- Oh, this is sooo not going to help his inferiority complex.”

 

              She dropped her head onto Spike’s chest in mock despair, thereby missing the amber flashes in his eyes at the mention of the man she’d been dating back in Sunnydale.  He silently cursed himself for opening his mouth and reminding her of someone she hadn’t mentioned the whole time they’d been in London.

 

            “You’re planning to tell him?” he asked carefully, lightly running a hand up and down her arm as he pretended to be only mildly curious.  Buffy shivered slightly, but didn’t move away.  With her face pressed up against his muscular chest, and his hand stroking her arm sensuously, she was finding it hard to worry about Riley and Sunnydale.

 

            She shook her head slowly, unconsciously rubbing her cheek against his cool skin as she did so.

 

             “I don’t know what I’m going to do.  I don’t…I’m not that kind of girl. I don’t cheat on the men I…” She struggled to say the word love, but just couldn’t make it fit the way she was feeling.  “…the men I’m dating,” she finished lamely.

 

            Spike picked up on her choice of words and used his free hand to turn her chin so that he could look her in the eye.

 

             “How about the man you’re married to?  Would you cheat on him?”

 

             Buffy lost herself in the seemingly bottomless blue pools staring at her.  His question had been asked so quietly she wouldn’t have heard it if she hadn’t been facing him from a few inches away.  She stammered, unable to look away from the emotions laid bare in those beautiful eyes.

 

             “We…we’re…we’re only pretending to be married.”

 

             “Right you are, pet,” he agreed, hiding his disappointment.  “We’re just play acting.  I almost forgot - we gave such a bloody good performance.”

 

             He wriggled his eyebrows at her lasciviously and she giggled in agreement.

 

             “Yeah, we were pretty…” She stopped, at a loss for words to describe the incredible passion and heat of their lovemaking.

 

             “Amazing?  Wonderful?  Bloody brilliant?  Stop me when I get to something that doesn’t fit, Slayer.”

 

               “We were very good together,” she said primly, sitting up and clutching the bed spread in front of her.  “And now we have to get dressed and go downstairs and behave like a proper married Victorian couple so we don’t frighten the servants.”

 

              “Wouldn’t want to frighten the servants,” he said with a sigh, sitting up and grinning as her eyes went immediately to where the cover was tented over his pelvic area.  She licked her lips as she ran her eyes up his taut abdomen to his smooth, pale chest and back down to where the bedspread barely covered the light brown curls at the base of his shaft.

 

             “You…you can’t go downstairs like that! “ she squeaked, pointing at him as he stood up and let the bedcover fall.

 

             “News flash, pet.  That’s what I’m like most of the time around you.  Don’t worry about it, I’ll tuck it away so nobody notices.  Gotten bloody good at that over the last few months, I have.”

 

             He held out his hand to help her up, rolling his eyes when she blushed and clutched the bedcover more tightly.

 

             “What’s this now?  All of a sudden you’re getting shy on me? Is this the same woman who almost strangled me with her—“

 

             “Do NOT finish that sentence!”  Eyes flashing, Buffy raised her chin and stood up quickly, trying not to cringe away from his eyes as they ran over her body from head to toe.  Her anger faded immediately as she took in the awed look on his face and heard his barely whispered, “Most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen…”

 

            She blushed again, this time embarrassed not by her nudity, but by his unabashed admiration of it.  When she ducked her head and refused to look at him, he moved closer, saying softly,  “Com’ere, Buffy.”

 

             Hesitantly, she stepped closer, stopping before the bobbing cock between them could brush her stomach.  He tipped her chin up and kissed her with the tenderness that caught her by surprise every time he showed it.

 

            “You’re bloody gorgeous, Buffy, and you should never be ashamed to let me see your body. There isn’t a single inch of it I don’t want to worship with my mouth and hands every day for the rest of my un-life.”

 

             While Buffy gaped at him, he turned her around and gave her a gentle push toward her dress, saying casually,  “Of course, if you let anybody else see it, I’ll have to bite ‘em.”  He emphasized his point by planting a sharp slap on her ass as she bent over to pick up her bloomers, earning himself a look that made him laugh and put some distance between them at the same time.

 

             When he had pulled on his trousers and tucked his shirt back in, he calmly walked over and began re-buttoning Buffy’s dress for her.  When he had it completely fastened, he rested his hands on her shoulders briefly before sliding them down her arms to link their hands.  He leaned over her, enjoying the sound of blood rushing through her veins as he took her ear lobe in his blunt teeth and worried it briefly.

 

             “Now lets get downstairs before we scandalize the servants by missing supper completely.”

 

            “Hey, I’m not the one nibbling on body parts instead of walking out the door,” she complained, even as she leaned back into him and shut her eyes.  She tilted her head up and back, unconsciously baring her throat to his mouth and making him groan against her skin.

 

            “Ah, Slayer, you don’t know what that does to me,” he almost gasped, running his tongue up the side of her throat, pressing it against the pulse he found pounding there.  He fought his demon down as his fangs threatened to drop into the buttery skin under his lips and his mouth began to water.

 

           He pushed her away almost roughly, ignoring the hurt look on her face while he grappled with his desire to make her completely his.  Buffy looked at him with hurt confusion, then turned and headed for the door.  “I’m sorry,” she snapped.  “I thought you might like it. I didn’t realize it would make you think I was food!”

 

          He was in front of her before she could turn the knob, holding her stiff angry arms while he tried to explain.

 

          “The demon wasn’t thinking food, luv.  He was thinking, Mate.   Seems like he wants you just as much as I do – or more.”

 

          “Mate?” she squeaked.  “What do you mean, ‘mate’?”

 

          He sighed and opened the door, gesturing for her to precede him through it.  “So, your watcher never told you about vampire claiming rituals?”

 

          “Uh, no.  Guess the subject just never came up – what with me more interested in slaying them than …anything else.”  She stopped and frowned in confusion for a second.  “Although, come to think of it, he did say something about you and Drusilla when you first came to Sunnydale….” She turned and looked at him, her face unreadable.  “Aren’t you already…mated?”

 

            “No,” he said tightly in a voice that left no doubt that he wasn’t saying any more about it.

 

           She studied his closed face for a few seconds, but he didn’t change expression or offer any more information.  Spurred by an impulse she didn’t want to examine too closely, she reached up and placed a soft kiss on his tightly shut mouth.  She was just pulling away when his arms went around her and she found herself being held so tightly she knew a normal human girl would have had broken ribs.

 

           “Uh, Spike?  Air?  I need it to live.”

 

           “Sorry, luv,” he said, nuzzling the side of her face and loosening his grip.  “Didn’t’ mean to hurt you.”

 

            “I know,” she agreed, squeezing him back gently before dropping her arms and continuing down the stairs.  “I guess your chip must have known you weren’t trying to hurt me too, since it didn’t fire.”

 

              If the vampire hadn’t already been so pale, he would have blanched at her casual remark.  Suddenly the lack of pain from the chip the night before loomed larger in his thoughts than it had at the time.  And the slap he’d just planted on her backside, while not intended to injure, had certainly hurt her.

 

               Alright, once is an aberration, twice is a coincidence…three times and I’m in big trouble.  Got to find a way to test this out without Buffy knowing why I’m worried.)

         

               Vowing to find a way to test out the chip’s status, he followed Buffy down the stairs and in to the dining room where they enjoyed another of Mrs. Barstow’s fine meals.  Spike looked around the newly cleaned and polished room with satisfaction, almost glad that he’d had this opportunity to fix up the things that had been allowed to slide when money was so tight.

 

               When dinner was over and they had supposedly retired for the night, Buffy slipped into the pants Spike had bought her and prepared to go out again.  When she emerged from her room, tight pants hugging her feminine hips and a loose shirt hiding her other curves, she crossed to Spike’s room and knocked hesitantly on the door.

 

            It opened immediately and she could see that the vampire was ready to go out for evening’s slaying.  He was dressed in dark brown casual trousers and his own black tee shirt.  He looked at her approvingly, turning her around and cocking his head speculatively.

 

           “What?” she demanded. “I did the best I could.  It’s not pretty, but…”

 

           “Doesn’t need to be pretty, pet.  In fact….” He walked away from her and rummaged in a drawer, emerging with a wool cap in his hand.  “If we can fit all your hair under this hat, you might pass for a boy.  A very pretty boy,” he added with a smile.  “But that won’t be a problem unless we run into a bunch of poofters.”

 

            Buffy quickly ran to the mirror and stuffed her hair under the knitted cap. She studied her reflection and nodded in satisfaction.

 

            “It might work,” she said.  “At least I won’t be scandalizing the neighbors every night.  Although,” she raised her eyebrow in a good imitation of his own trademark smirk, “they might begin to wonder about your sexual orientation.”

 

           “Let ‘m wonder, pet.  We know the truth, don’t we,” he smirked, stepping up behind her and reaching around to cup her breasts. 

 

           Buffy watching with interest as her shirt moved around seemingly of its own accord as Spike’s hands moved over her nipples and massaged her breasts.

           

            “That’s kind of cool-looking,” she mused to herself.

 

            “If you think that’s interesting, wait until we get home tonight and see what else I can do in a mirror.”  He slid his hands down into the pockets of the pants and stroked the insides of her thighs.

 

             Buffy giggled, grabbing his wrists and moving them away from her rapidly heating up body.  She pirouetted away from his pouting mouth and ran to the door.

 

            “Come on, William.  Let’s go find something to slay.”

 

 

Chapter Twelve

 

              Buffy’s disguise worked well as long as they didn’t get too close to people in well-lit areas.  And in this day of gas and oil lamps, they found that not difficult.  When Buffy insisted on looking for something to slay, Spike took her on a tour of the nearest cemeteries, warning her they would be nothing like what she was used to in Sunnydale.

 

           Buffy was completely awed by the age and size of London’s graveyards.  Although Sunnydale had an unusually large number of cemeteries for such a small city, none were more than 150 years old, at most.  Here, some of the graves she saw were so old it was impossible to read the dates on the tombstones.  When Spike told her that they dated back to the 10th century, she became less of a Slayer and more of a tourist, walking through the empty, quiet grounds and shivering at the history she could almost feel in her bones.

 

             With not having vampires and demons popping up every few feet the way they would have at home, Buffy felt free to look around and Spike became her tour guide as he showed her around the rest of 1890’s London.  He walked her by the museums and historic buildings, assuring her that she could come back in the daytime to look inside.

 

              “I wish I could take you myself, pet,” he said wistfully.

 

               “So do I,” she admitted softly.  “It would be fun.”

 

                She had found that Spike was full of historical information as well as less well-known facts about much of the city, and she found herself enjoying what she would have been sure, had Giles suggested it, would be an incredibly boring time.  The night flew by and in what seemed like a very short amount of time, he was steering her back toward their house, saying,  “Time to get back, luv, or we’ll be having to sneak past Cook to get upstairs.”

 

                “But we haven’t been everywhere, yet,” she pouted in mock disappointment.

 

                “True enough,” he whispered in her ear, his cool breath causing her to shiver in anticipation.  “But I have something else in mind for the rest of the night. There are other places I want to be…”

 

               As they neared the dark, silent house, they saw a light in the front parlor.  The light from the inside cast a glow onto the front porch – just enough of a glow that they could see a figure standing there knocking on the door.

 

               The light from inside the house was nearing the door as Spike’s feet hit the porch steps and a fledgling vampire whirled to snarl at them, not recognizing quickly enough what sort of beings had come up behind him so rapidly.  Buffy raised her stake as she came up the stairs behind Spike, but before she could plunge it into the unsuspecting vamp’s heart, he grabbed her wrist.

 

               “Hold up a minute, pet.  I don’t think this is a coincidence.”

 

               The unwary fledgling charged the two people in front of him, forgetting completely about the bewildered maid now opening the front door.  Spike quickly pinned the surprised vamp to the floor, holding him there while Buffy perched on his chest, her stake poised over his heart.  When Molly started to open the door, Spike shouted at her to “Shut that bloody thing, now!” frightening the poor girl into almost dropping her lamp in her haste to obey.

 

                 “What are you doing here?”  Buffy demanded, pressing down until a drop of blood leaked through his shirt.

 

                  “Looking for an easy meal,” he snarled, still not fully aware of his danger. “They told me this house didn’t need an invite and there were a couple of juicy women there for the taking. Couldn’t get in, though, so I thought I’d see if I could get one ‘em to come out.”

 

                “Who told you?”  Spike’s voice was cold and deadly and for the first time the pinned vampire got an inkling that he was not being accosted by humans. He could hear the girl’s heartbeat and knew she was human, but was confused by her lack of fear. Not to mention the stake she held at his heart.  As the fact that he could only hear one heartbeat began to sink in, he asked, “Are you him?”

 

              “Am I who, wanker?”

 

               “They told me a vamp owned the house, but they said he wasn’t much older than me and wouldn’t be a problem if he was home.”  The fear on his face indicated how quickly he was realizing he’d been lied to.

 

               “WHO told you?” Spike and Buffy snarled together, although they were both sure they knew the answer.

 

                “Big Irish guy – had a blond with him.  They were old, both of them. Told me after I ate to come back and tell them what I found. I wasn’t going to argue with them – just did what I was told.”

 

                 “Angelus,” Buffy breathed, her stomach clenching in fear.  The vamp she was sitting on misunderstood her fear and smiled in satisfaction as he thought she’d finally realized the danger she was in.  The smile was still on his face when he turned to dust under Buffy’s stake.  She hadn’t even bothered to look at him as she thrust it home, her eyes were on Spike who was in game face, looking around and sniffing the air.

 

                 “Let’s get inside, pet,” he growled.  “I don’t feel them anywhere, but I think he’d want to watch and see if his minion made it inside.”

 

                   She stood up, nodding her head, ashamed of her willingness to get to safety when there were vampires about.  Just before they opened the door, she ran her hand along his forehead ridges, smiling slightly as she said, “You might want to lose your wrinkles before we go in or Molly’s going to have a whole new understanding of the word ‘master’.”

 

                As soon as her hand touched his face, he was slipping back into his beautiful human features and by the time she was finished speaking William Sinclair was looking back at her.

 

                Spike opened the door, holding it for Buffy and snatching the cap off her head as she went in ahead of him.  Just before he stepped in behind her, he felt the presence of his vampire family and whirled to stare into the night, cursing Molly’s presence, which kept him in his less perceptive human state.  He could feel Buffy stiffen beside him and knew she had sensed them too.

 

                He forced himself to turn around casually and pull the door shut behind him, giving Buffy a little nudge to move her forward.  The fact that the minion had not been able to get in, told him the barrier was probably working and he mentally thanked Stuart Saint-John for his efficiency.

 

                Molly was staring at the two blonds with an open mouth – looking back and forth from Spike’s tight tee shirt to Buffy’s tight pants.

 

                “Uh, uh, Sir?  Who was that man pounding on the door and where did he go?”

 

               “I believe he was someone who meant to do us harm, Molly.  He was knocking in hopes you would let him in.”

 

                 Spike looked at her intently.  “It is extremely important that no one invite any strangers into the house after dark.  Or during daylight, for that matter,” he added quickly at Buffy’s frown.  “Is that clear, Molly?  It is most important that you take me seriously.”

 

                 “Ye-yes sir.  I understand, Sir.”

 

               “Good girl.  Well, then, we’ll let you get back to sleep.  I’m sorry that you had to be awakened so rudely.”

 

                 Molly knew a dismissal when she heard one, and she bit back the questions she wanted to ask about their clothing and what they’d been doing out in the wee hours of the morning.  She retreated to her room and, after checking that the tiny window was fastened, she blew out the lamp and went back to sleep.

 

             As soon as Molly was out of sight and hearing, Buffy turned to Spike and said anxiously, “You felt them too, didn’t you?”

 

              “Yes, love, I did.  But if the minion couldn’t break in through a window or a door, then the barrier is up and they can’t get in here.  We’ll just have to be sure the entire staff is careful about who they invite into the house.  Have to come up with some sort of story…I’ll work on that tomorrow.”

 

              Buffy nodded and turned to walk toward the stairs.  She stopped when she realized Spike was not behind her, and turned to look at him anxiously.

 

             “Spike?”

 

             “Call me William, pet,” he answered absently, turning to lock the front door.

 

              “Are you coming upstairs, William?” she asked in a much less sure tone that she wanted.

 

              He looked at her in surprise, noting her hesitance to go up by herself.

 

            “Are you all right, Buffy?”

 

            “I’m fine.  I just wondered when--if you were coming to bed.”

 

             He rolled his eyes at her and winked lasciviously.  “Oh yes, love.  You can count on it.  Just as soon as I check that the downstairs is all locked up and secure.  Wouldn’t put it past that wanker to send humans to do his dirty work for him if he felt he needed to.”

 

             “That’s stupid. He can’t know about your chip.  He would have no reason to think humans would have a prayer against you.  Not to mention me.”

 

              “The great poof doesn’t always think things through.  I’m just saying he might try that, just to get someone inside the house.  And I’m pretty sure he hasn’t noticed that you’re a slayer yet.  Dru picked up on it right away, but Angelus is a little dense sometimes.”

 

              “He doesn’t recognize slayers when he sees them?”

 

             “He stays away from any country where there is known to be a slayer.  Doesn’t seek ‘em out like some vamps do.”

 

              “cough, Spike, cough”

 

            “I’m gonna be seeking a Slayer in just a few minutes when I get done down here – and she’d better be naked when I find her,” he threatened with a leer, grateful for the change of subject.

 

           “Or what?” Buffy challenged, starting up the stairs with an exaggerated sway of her tightly clothed hips.

 

           “Or we’ll have to be asking old Saint-John to be sending us another pair of trousers,” he growled, showing her his claws for just a second.

 

            “Promises, promises,” she giggled, running up the stairs and into her room.

 

            “That it was, pet,” he chuckled softly. “That it was.”

 

              When Spike had made a complete circuit of the downstairs and ensured that all windows were closed and locked, he headed for the back stairs.  With his foot on the first riser, he froze, feeling once again, the presence of his grandsire.  No sooner had he felt Angelus presence, than he heard Buffy’s heart rate go up and she gasped loudly enough to be heard in the kitchen.

 

             He took the stairs in two leaps, hit the floor at the top and raced to her room to find her clutching her shirt to her chest and staring at the window fearfully.  Spike followed her frozen gaze to see his grandsire’s grinning face peering in the open window.  As Spike walked toward him, Angelus licked his lips and growled softly at Buffy.  Instead of rushing the window and pushing him off the small ledge he was standing on, the Slayer remained frozen in place, her fear plain to see.  The older vampire laughed and leaped to the ground a scant second before Spike slammed the window down and pulled the curtains.

 

 

            Buffy’s color went from white to bright red as she recovered herself and began cursing Angelus and his sire in amazingly colorful terms.  Spike beamed at her proudly as she threw in a few “Bloody’s” and “soddin’s” along with the all-American “mother-fucking sonofabitch!”

 

             When she stopped for air, he applauded softly and walked toward her laughing.

 

            “Well that would have blown your well-brought-up lady disguise right out of the water,” he laughed.  “What brought all that on?  Didn’t like Peaches playing peeping Tom at you?”

 

            Buffy shuddered briefly, bringing another smile to the vampire’s face, then said with a grimace, “I’m mad at myself for letting him get to me again.  It’s just like in my dreams.  I see him and I freeze.  Dammit!”

 

          “Come on, love,” he said, stroking her hair soothingly, “You couldn’t have done anything without risking being pulled out the window.  So, standing still and covering up those perky little breasts was probably your best move.  He’s trying to rattle you and now he thinks it’s working.  Bloody wanker’s still too stupid to recognize a slayer when he sees one.”

 

          “Probably because I’m not acting like one,” she grumbled.  “Why would he be afraid of me when all I’ve done so far is run from him and squeal like a little girl?”  She began to put her shirt down and undo her pants when movement at one of the uncovered windows caught her eye and she froze again.  She automatically started to cover her breasts, her heart pounding in fear, when she heard Spike growling and saw him move toward the window. She shook herself and said in trembling voice, “No, wait.  Let me.  What’s the British version of the finger?”

 

        She stood up proudly, allowing the watching vampire outside a good look at her slim, muscular, but very feminine, body before she walked over to the window, held up her two fingers in an obscene salute and casually pulled the curtains closed.

 

        She turned triumphantly and smiled at Spike.  “There!  That was more like it!”

 

        “Yes, it was, Slayer,” he agreed with a grin.  “I’ll bet he won’t be bragging about that response anytime soon.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

       “Xander,” Giles spoke softly, but firmly, “Would you be so good as to hand me one of those tasers, please?”  He held his hand out behind him for the device, never taking his eyes off the confused vampire crouching on the floor of the room.

 

        “Uh, okay, but wouldn’t a stake be more useful?  Just saying...”

 

      “Until we know where Buffy and Spike have gone, and why this—“ he stopped speaking when the vampire jumped to his feet at hearing Spike’s name and snarled again.  “Oh, dear Lord,” he breathed as he studied the figure in front of him. 

 

        The vampire glared back at him, gradually relaxing his tense posture and assuming a very familiar spread-legged posture.  As his face faded back into his human features, the young man peering over Giles’ shoulder choked back a gasp when he saw the curly haired vampire’s face.

 

      “It’s...it’s Spike!” he squeaked.

 

      “Heard of me, have you?” the young vampire asked, swaggering a little. 

 

     “You might say that,” Giles responded, relaxing a little when the vampire made no attempt to attack.  As soon as the youthful Spike saw the watcher drop his arms, he charged the door, only to find himself unable to get enough traction to climb up.

 

     The two humans had jumped back at the attempted attack and were studying the vampire from outside the room.

 

      “What are we going to do with him?” Xander asked. “He’s obviously gone nuts and reverted to his old evil self.  Not to mention, he’s done something with Buffy.”

 

 

       “I don’t think so,” Giles muttered, looking around for some restraints.

 

       When he glanced back at the vampire, he could see him crouching to leap and shouted for Xander to take the other side of the door.  As Spike’s leap carried him close enough to grab the sides of the door, Giles hit the hand closest to him with the taser while Xander did the same on the other side.  Rather than allowing the vampire to fall back into the room, the older man grabbed the immobilized arm and yanked him out on to the floor where he could put the taser on a more central part of his body.

 

       He winced in sympathy as the vampire trembled and convulsed under the taser’s touch.  When Giles felt sure he had rendered this younger version of Spike out for the count, he lifted his arm and stepped back, motioning for Xander to bring the restraints he’d found in another part of the facility.  They quickly chained Spike up, fastening the chains to a metal pole in the middle of the room.

 

       The vampire came to slowly, opening only his eyes until he noticed the chains, then leaping up with a roar and pulling on them with all his strength.  He raged and yanked on the unyielding restraints until he was exhausted, then slumped back against the pole to glare at his captors.

 

       “Where am I?” he growled.  “And who the bloody hell are you?”

 

       “Well, actually, Spike, that’s an interesting story...”


Chapter Thirteen

 

         Buffy quickly changed into her nightgown and followed Spike across the hall into his room.  The drapes in that room were already closed tightly as Buffy had told Molly and Mrs. Barstow that they were to be kept closed at all times unless she or Spike opened them themselves.

 

         “You all right, pet?” he inquired as casually as he could.  He didn’t look at her while he asked, just went about taking off his shirt and pants.  When he was naked, he picked up his nightshirt and threw it across the bottom of the bed.

 

       “Uh, Spike?  Aren’t you supposed to actually WEAR that?”  She hoped her snarky question would make him forget about his.

 

       For a minute she thought it had worked, as he leered at her and moved closer.  “ ‘S long as it’s where I can grab it if I need it, that’s good enough.  Haven’t slept any way but naked for well over a hundred years and I don’t plan to start now when I have a beautiful woman in my bed.”

 

      “Oh,” she said softly.  “You think I’m beautiful?”

 

      “You know I do, love.”  He ran his hand through her rumpled hair, combing it with his long slender fingers.  “Think you’re beautiful, and brave, and strong, and sexy...” His hand left her hair to trace a path along her collarbone and dip into the front of her gown.  “And wearing an excessive amount of clothing,” he continued with William’s accent as he lightly stroked the tops of her breasts. Buffy didn’t respond as he expected; instead looking around the room and asking apprehensively, “Do...do you think Angelus is still outside?  Listening to us?”

 

        “Bloody hell, I hope so!” Spike laughed. “Maybe I can teach the old wanker a thing or two.”

 

        He reached for Buffy, only to find her backing away stammering, “What!  You think I’m going to...while Angel is...that we...oh, no, mister.  There will be no teaching of...of anything.”

 

        “Come on, love,” he said, still laughing.  “You can’t seriously care if that wanker hears us...”

 

        When her expression didn’t change, Spike realized she was serious and threw himself on the bed, growling in frustration.  He tried to ignore her slip, calling Anglelus “Angel”, but it bothered him more than he cared to admit.

 

      “Fine, Slayer,” he huffed, turning down the covers and grabbing his night shirt.  “You stay on that side and I’ll stay over her.  Heaven forbid we should upset the great poof by letting him overhear you shaggin’ somebody else.”

 

      He started to put the shirt on, then growled and tossed it on the floor.  Turning his back to the confused slayer, he squirmed around until he was comfortable and shut his eyes firmly. 

 

      Buffy stared at his rigid back, knowing that she’d somehow angered him all out of proportion to the situation, but bewildered and confused about what she might have done. Responding in what seemed to her the most appropriate way, she snapped at his unresponsive back, “Well, I guess that tells me what you’re really interested in, doesn’t it?  Just forget it.  I’ll sleep in my own bed.”

 

     She whirled and stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind her angrily.  As she entered her own room, she heard a noise from outside the window. With anger fueling her determination, she continued her angry march in that direction, pausing only to grab a stake from the pants on the floor.  She yanked the curtains open to find Angelus’ surprised face looking back at her.

 

      He licked his lips, allowing his fangs to show as he leered at her, expecting the frightened girl he’d seen before.  When, instead of screaming or crying she glared at him and raised the stake threateningly, snarling, “Get the hell off my roof!” he flinched back, losing his balance and falling to the ground.  Buffy laughed delightedly and saluted him appropriately – sure that he would get her message even if he did have to wait until he came to America to understand it fully.  She allowed the curtain to fall back into place and walked toward the bed, satisfied that she’d ruined at least one vampire’s night.

 

      She crawled into her own bed and pulled the covers up, keeping her stake beside her just in case, and resolutely shutting her eyes.

 

      I don’t need to be with him to sleep.  I’ll be just fine by myself.  Stupid vampire.)

 

      After a good bit of tossing, turning, muttering and struggling to resist the urge to slink back across the hall to the security of Spike’s bed, Buffy finally fell into a restless sleep.  Once again, her sleep was troubled by the vivid, very real-seeming pictures of a Slayer dream.  And once again, in her dream she was at the mercy of Angleus and Darla, now wearing modern dress and hair styles. She could see Drusilla dancing in the back ground, humming to herself and seemingly oblivious of the activities.

 

        She looked around for Spike, since his presence had been part of all her other dreams, but couldn’t see him anywhere.  Her fear, already close to paralyzing her, escalated when her frantic search of the area didn’t show any trace of the blond vampire.

 

        Angelus moved closer to her immobile body, stalking around her and sniffing. 

 

        “What’s the matter, lover?  I don’t smell your guardian vampire on you anymore – did you finally give him the boot?”  He moved in closer and ran his tongue up one side of her neck, lingering over the artery through which her blood was rushing in such delicious panic.

 

       “I guess he realized you wanted a real vampire; not that pitiful excuse for a demon Dru created.”

 

       Buffy’s eyes flew to the insane vampire who had drifted closer to them while Angelus talked to her.  The willowy brunette shook her head sadly, saying softly, “I tried to tell you, Slayer, if you wanted to be William’s sunshine you had to tell him so.  My sweet William doesn’t think he’s worthy – he’s gone away to cry for you. Poor sad William...poor foolish Slayer.”

 

       She danced away again, avoided the large fist that Angelus had thrown toward her face and laughing at his anger.  “Daddy doesn’t like to hear that you might have chosen William if you could.  He will punish you for wanting our sweet boy...You should have—“

 

       Her voice was cut off by Angelus’ large hand grasping her throat. “I’ve heard just about enough from you about that traitorous childe of yours. You’ll stop it now or the Slayer won’t be the only one being punished.”

 

       “Spike?” Buffy’s tried to shout for the missing vampire, but her voice box was as frozen as the rest of her and nothing came out but a slight squeak.  Which was enough to attract Angelus’ attention back to her and he dropped Dru to the floor.

 

       “You would still call for him?” he snarled.  “He can’t protect you now – you’re going to be mine, in every possible way, now and forever.”

 

      While she silently screamed and tried to fight the fear that was holding her immobile, the big vampire systematically stripped off her clothes and unzipped his pants.  Once again, she found herself faced with the prospect of being raped by her former lover, but unlike the Angelus of long ago,it was obvious this one knew who she was and remembered their time together.  

 

       The fangs visible behind his lips and the hungry look in his yellow eyes made it impossible not to understand his true intentions and she struggled with her last ounce of courage to throw off the paralyzing fear holding her prisoner.

 

      When the vampire lunged for her throat at the same time as he knocked her to the ground and prepared to enter her, she could feel the tears sliding down her cheeks at the knowledge that her worst nightmare was going to come true.  Mentally bracing herself for the pain, she was shocked when the vampire reared back from her neck snarling in rage.

 

       “He DARED!” he roared.  “That arrogant bastard...I’ll kill him!”

 

       Completely bewildered, Buffy lay where he’d dropped her, grateful for the reprieve, but at a loss as to what had caused him to back off.  Suddenly, through the signatures of the other vampires in the room, she felt Spike’s presence and closed her eyes in relief.

 

       He came for me.  He always comes for me.  He won’t let Angelus have his one good day.)

 

       She sat up, having gained some small amount of control over her muscles now that she knew Spike was there.  Darla was snarling toward the dark entrance and she quickly moved to stand beside Angelus and glare at the blond lounging with deceiving casualness in the doorway.

 

       “Hi, luv.  Did you miss me or were you having too much fun with Peaches to notice I wasn’t here?”

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